Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Apples to Oregon - Literature Unit

Covering most subjects can be done starting with any topic. I like to start with a fun book and spend the morning, day, or week with it. 

Right now we are reading Apples to Oregon by Deborah Hopkinson and illustrated by Nancy Carpenter. According to the cover, this is "the (slightly) true narrative of how a brave pioneer father brought apples, peaches, pears, plums, grapes, and cherries (AND CHILDREN) across the plains."

The children love the funny tall tale with its many exaggerations and delightful illustrations.

Although we had read the book before, we are reading it again and loving it just as much. We read it yesterday. We enjoyed the story and talked about exaggerations and tall tales. Then we watched another tall tale...Paul Bunyan DVD. 

Today we again read the story. The children were watching extra closely for the exaggerations. Their favorite is Delicious's description of the Plate River. She describes it as "as wider than Texas, thicker than Momma's muskrat stew, and muddier than a cowboy's toenails." The part about the toenails sends them all into fits of laughter. I guess the fact that summer is just past and they easily remember the days of being barefoot with muddy feet and toes, gives them a very clear picture of this.

The map of their journey, which is included inside both the front and back covers, fits right in with us learning the states. 

Here Charles is pointing out Oregon to his cousin Jacob.

Before Jacob and Aaron arrived this morning, the other children worked on their US geography. We are learning the northern border states. So while putting the US map together, the Northern Border States song played over and over.
 When the map was completed the children took turns pointing to the states while we sang the song a few more times.

And back to Apples to Oregon. We waited for Jacob and Aaron to arrive before we read the story today because they were not here to enjoy it yesterday. 

This is a good moment while I am reading (and slightly posed). The two littlest ones have a hard time sitting still for stories unless they are on my lap. So I used some events in the story to give them a moment to move.

When they are crossing the Plate River on a raft, the raft begins to sink. Delicious (the oldest daughter who is telling the story) gets the idea for all the children to take off their shoes and put their feet in the water and kick FAST. 
So the children lined up along the edge of the rug (pretending the rug was the raft) and kicked!

Another opportunity to move during the story was when Delicious described how the trees they were transporting began to droop from lack of water. So the children all stood and first pretended that they were strong, straight, well-watered trees. Then we talked about the long time in the desert between waterholes and the "trees" began to shrivel. The children were eventually almost to the floor. BUT...Delicious saves the day again. She finds a water source. So our "trees" began to perk up and gradually were once again tall and straight.

 Since we wanted to learn a little more about Oregon we turned to our favorite collection of state books by Sleeping Bear Press. Here Wesley is holding B is for Beaver, An Oregon Alphabet by Marie and Roland Smith. Below Douglas is showing some of the beautiful illustrations by Michael Roydon.
The "O" page which tells about the Oregon Trail reminded the boys of their other favorite book series Little House. They think the girl looks just like Laura or Mary Ingalls.

The "J" page tells of Chief Joseph, of the Nez Perce tribe.

So Douglas is going to read the American Girl book, Meet Kaya. Kaya is of the Nez Perce tribe.

After we finished reading today, all the children drew a picture from the story. 
Charles also wrote a few sentences and Douglas did a couple paragraphs about a part of the story.

This was a fun part of our morning today.

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