Z is for…Zoo

Z is for zoo

Can you believe that we are already at Z in our ABC Blogging? It seems to have just zipped past!

This week’s letter was an easy one – ZOO. We love our zoo and we go fairly often. Truthfully, we tend to go more in the spring and fall. So, it is the time of year that we go more regularly. We went last weekend with Kidz Club. This is what our church calls the kids that are 6th grade and younger. We had a blast! And, best of all, the kids grew closer together as a family. I love to see them growing as friends and family and this picture of E with one of her friends just makes my heart smile and sing.

Z friends

We all have our favorites at the zoo and when you have an opportunity to see or do something different, your experience is enhanced. Well, this is what happened for us during this visit. We were treated to some very special experiences.

Baby Orangutan

Z orangutan baby and momOur zoo has a fairly new baby orangutan. Batari was born May 17. When we arrived at the Asian Forest exhibit, Batari and her mother Mei had just been given their breakfast and were sitting down to open their bag to eat. The kids got a lot of enjoyment watching baby Batari climbing over Mei and up the fence, trying to get at the food. We spent quite a while just observing. KJ, Batari’s daddy, was also out in the exhibit eating his breakfast. We watched him for a bit, as well.Z orangutan eating

 

 

Mukah’s Football Picks

Z football picks

The other male orangutan at the Cameron Park Zoo has a weekly job during football season. Mukah picks the winners for the upcoming weekend. Each Saturday, he makes his choices for the next week and they are published in the local paper. We were allowed to watch Mukah and his keeper Olga working together. Olga explained to the kids that they had to be really quiet and allow her to concentrate since Mukah has the strength on 9 (yes 9!!!) professional football players. She could get hurt easily if she doesn’t pay close attention. We watched Mukah go through his picks and then Olga talked to the kids a bit about orangutans, their habitat in the wild, their abilities, and what they do at the zoo to help them. She also allowed the kids to ask questions. We learned a lot and enjoyed that experience.

Giraffe Feeding

When we got to the exhibit that the giraffes are part of, the zoo had a booth set up to allow the kids to feed the giraffes (with payment and supervision, of course). Since they were low on food and the kids have a generous youth minister, he paid for one and they let any of the kids that wanted a turn to feed the giraffes. This was a great experience for the kids and it made J’s day! She got to feed Penny! Giraffes are her favorite animals ever and she got to feed one! One of the guys helping with the feeding was talking with us and we learned a bit more about giraffes.

Z feeding giraffes L Z feeding giraffes J Z feeding giraffes E

Z feeding shore birdsFeeding Shore Birds

 

Another really neat thing that the girls and other kids from church got to do at the zoo was to feed the shore birds. The zoo had cups of fish available to purchase to feed the seagulls, pelicans, and other shore birds. The fish were a few inches long and dead but they still smelled! The girls had fun tossing the fish to the birds and watching the pelicans scoop them out of the water with their beaks.

 

 

 

Z whistling duckPetting A Whistling Duck

When we were about to leave the area where the shore birds were, a keeper came up with a duck on her arm. Yep, really. On her arm. And the duck was whistling. That is seriously what the duck sounded like! It was a beautiful brown color and it was just whistling away. She allowed the kids to pet it and talked about its habitat a bit. The girls thought petting the whistling duck was neat.

 

 

 

 

These were the unique experiences that the girls don’t have every time. But there is one thing that we just cannot visit the zoo without doing:

Z otter slideThe Otter Slide!

The otter slide is a clear slide that the kids can go down. It goes through the water of the river otter exhibit. If the otters are in a playful mood, and they were Saturday, then they will swim over and around the slide while the kids are sliding down. It is always a lot of fun but we have to limit how long we stay or the giggly girls will stay there sliding all day long!

 

 

 

As always, we had lots of fun at the zoo. We’ll visit again soon and see what else we can learn about the animals that we come in contact with there. At Home.

This post is linking up with ABC Blogging hosted by Benandme.com.

Ben and Me

A Review: Middlebury Interactive Languages

Middlebury title

“Hello.”
“Hola.”
“Hello.” (with more emphasis)
“Hola.” (with equally more emphasis)
“Hello. Hello. Hello.” (said in frustration)
“Hola. Hola. Hola!” (said with enthusiasm and understanding)

With this exchange in the first lesson, J was hooked on Middlebury Interactive Languages. J has been wanting to learn another language, preferably Spanish or Hawaiian, since her sisters are learning those languages. However, programs we have experienced are not easily accessible to a pre-reader or early reader. She was ecstatic when Middlebury Interactive Languages came up. It has been a great fit.

Middlebury Interactive Languages ReviewJ on computerJ is using one of the Spanish Courses, specifically Elementary Spanish 1, Grades K-2. She is using the course without a teacher but there is an option with a teacher. I do not know the details of the differences in the program when you add a teacher. She is five years old and working at a K/1 level so she fit this age group well. Middlebury has done an excellent job of exposing the students to a lot of vocabulary in the immersive approach that they employ in their programming.

An immersive approach to language learning implies that the students will be surrounded by that language and it will be the primary focus of the learning that happens. Each unit contains an story, myth, or legend from a Spanish-speaking culture and the materials for that unit are built on the story, myth, or legend. The K-2 lessons focus mainly on vocabulary. The student learns these words through stories, songs, games, and various practice activities. Middlebury uses the immersive approach effectively. You can read more about Middlebury’s use of the immersive approach and their development of these lessons on their website.

Some Kid-related Information

The very first lesson J logged onto began with a click-to-color activity on greetings. Next, she saw a folk tale told entirely in Spanish. It was illustrated with cartoon characters and the words (in Spanish) were on the screen as they were said. It was done in such a way that she paid a lot of attention to it. She picked up several words and their meanings just by watching that folk tale. She was also exposed to some important elements of the culture. In order to ensure that the student understood the elements that were the focus, there was a review and a repeat of the folk tale. This was followed by three practice activities using the greetings from the folk tale in different ways. The lesson ended with a speaking lab where the student can listen to the word or phrase, record their own speaking, and compare their pronunciation.

activities

Two of the pages to print out and complete.

Throughout the lessons that J has completed, the activities have been varied. Some of the activities and teaching modes used have been a video, click-and-drag activities, coloring pages to print off and use, click-to-activate activities, putting things in order, worksheets to print off and complete, answering questions, speaking labs, and more. The variety of activities has been a definite bonus and has helped a lot in making this a program that J enjoys using. She looks forward to using Middlebury because within each lesson there are a minimum of 5 different activities.

Middlebury Interactive Languages Review

One example of the activities that the student is given.

Each lesson includes what is called a speaking lab. This is an activity that includes a button to click on to hear the program speak the word or phrase. Then it is the student’s turn to record their voice saying the same word or phrase. To do the recording, we used a Logitech camera that plugs into a USB port and has a built in microphone. It worked well on our desktop computer. We would just plug the camera in, hit record and then click allow (only had to click this the first time after it was plugged in), and then speak to be recorded. J really liked having the microphone available to record herself and listen to her pronunciations. She seems to have a pretty good ear for languages and was able to correct some of her pronunciation just by listening to the program and them listening to herself. This was one of the bonuses of Middlebury.

Middlebury Interactive Languages Review

An example of the Speaking Lab.

 Some Grown-up Information

Middlebury Interactive Languages has a dashboard where you can access the lessons via the calendar or the table of contents, as well as accessing the grade book. For our family, the grade book was not very important. It does show the grade for activities that are graded. They are graded by whether or not the student got the answers correct and it doesn’t affect the student’s ability to move on. If you have a need to see each activity and the date it was completed on, you have to make sure that you check the box “show course work” in the upper right hand corner or you will only see the quizzes and tests. If you need to be able to print a grade report, you have that ability. The only “complaint” that I have about the dashboard is that it is awkward. It is not intuitive to use but it is not all that hard to figure out.

One other thing that was a little bit strange is the way the lessons were scheduled. Middlebury suggests 2 – 3 lessons per week for K-2. For us, the lessons were scheduled on the calendar with five a week. This means that if we looked at the calendar, we were behind. Additionally, that shows up on the grade report. It shows as a due date and a completed date for the course work. This means that the student’s dates will be show up as late after the first day. I don’t know if this is typical scheduling for Middlebury or not. It didn’t bother us at all but is just something to be aware of.

Middlebury Interactive Languages is an online course. You will need a computer with internet access to be able to use this course. For the Elementary Spanish 1, K-2 course, the microphone is optional but definitely made a difference in the experience. You will also need to register and pay for the course of your choice. The Spanish Courses differ in cost. The Elementary Spanish 1, K-2 course is $119 for one student for one semester without a teacher.

worksheetThis is definitely a well-liked program here. J asks all the time to be able to do a lesson. Of course, that distracts E who wants to be a part of the lessons. She is ten and in the 5th grade but these lessons are still fun for her to do and be a part of. We try to schedule the lessons so that J can run the computer and answer the questions with E sitting beside her. But, if we can’t do that, E just comes and redoes a lesson. That is easy to do by just clicking the lesson from the table of contents or calendar and starting it over. It is not graded after the first time a student goes through the activity but that didn’t matter for our purposes.

So, Spanish will continue in the lesson plans with J and E enjoying the unique way Middlebury presents the language. At Home.

You can connect with Middlebury Interactive Languages on social media through the following links.

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Make It Work Monday – horse jumps

Make It Work Monday Title

All three of the giggly girls love to play. One of the favorite forms of play at this time is pretending that at least one of the dolls is an equestrian. The horses come out with the dolls and all sorts of ideas go flying. During one of these intense sessions of equestrian play, L decided that she wanted a series of horse jumps for her 18″ dolls. She is very creative and an out-of-the-box thinker. She began thinking about how to make jumps. What came to mind was her favorite medium – paper.

She brainstormed a number of ideas but realized that while paper would work for the bar of the jumps, she would need something different to hold it up. Toilet paper roll tubes were the final decision and they have worked well.

horse jump 2

What she did:

  1. Take the toilet paper tube and cut a narrow half circle out of one side of one end. Opposite that at the same end, cut another narrow half circle. This is where the bar will sit.
  2. Cover the tube with paper. You could also color it or paint it but L chose to use construction paper.
  3. Make another one for the other side of the jump.
  4. Decide how wide you want your jump to be. L wanted it to be as long as a piece of paper and a half. So she took some of our pile of scrap paper, taped two pieces together, and rolled up it long-ways. She then used colored scotch tape and covered the whole thing.
  5. Place your bar on the two posts that you made.
  6. If desired, cut some fabric or felt to be the ground under the jump. This one has “grass” under it. We also cut some blue for water and some brown for mud or dirt. Options are always good.

Here is the final product, with her little sister using it for the pets.

horse jump horse jump 3

She has made two of these so far and there are plans for more. They have worked great for the horses, even for the Barbie-sized dolls, as well as pets. Recycling fun! At Home.

Y is for…Yummy!

Y is for YummyLast night’s dinner was yummy! I got it straight from my daughter’s mouth. No kidding! And it included goat cheese and green chili. Strange, I know.

So what was this yummy dinner? Josephina-inspired burritos. We are currently listening to the books about the American Girl Josephina. We are on the last one and have enjoyed them a lot. Josephina is a young girl from New Mexico, living near Santa Fe in the early 1800s. Her little pet is a goat and they talk about goats being needed for meat, milk, and cheese.

I grew up in New Mexico so green chili is in my blood. I LOVE green chili! I put them in lots of things! Tonight’s dinner was a natural outcome of listening to Josephina’s books and loving green chili. Goat cheese and green chili – YUM!!!

Y burritos

On to the recipe -

Green Chili Goat Cheese Burritos

1 lb ground meat
1/4 of an onion, minced
salt – to taste
pepper – to taste
garlic powder – to taste
diced green chili – fresh or canned (I am picky – mine has to be from New Mexico! It just tastes better.)
2-4 oz crumbled goat cheese
flour tortillas

1 – Brown 1 lb of ground meat with 1/4 of an onion, minced, until done. (We use turkey in our house but you could use whatever you want.)
2 – Season your meat to taste with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. (I use a lot of garlic powder!)
3 – Add 3 large spoonfuls of diced green chili. (This is probably about the equivalent of a 4 ounce can if you are buying it in a can.) You can add more or less to satisfy you desired heat and flavor level. I would have added more but the girls were going to be eating this as well.
4 – Add 2 – 4 ounces of crumbled goat cheese and stir well. As the goat cheese melts, it will stir throughout the mixture well.
5 – Serve rolled up in warm flour tortillas.

Y green chili goat cheese burritos

green chili goat cheese burritos

(Click on the words above for a printable version of the recipe.)

If you decide to try this, I would love to know what you think. Please share your thoughts in the comments section. I’d love to hear from you. At Home.

This post is linked up with ABC Blogging on Ben And Me.

Ben and Me

A Review: iWitness

iWitness title page

When the review came up for Apologia’s iWitness series, I knew that I wanted the opportunity to take a look at these books. I am always on the lookout for materials that will help me show the girls the truth of the Bible and that all that is found within it is truth. I was really hopeful about these materials, though I wasn’t sure they were on the best level for the girls. I wasn’t disappointed in the iWitness series.

Apologia Review

The iWitness series, published by Apologia Educational Ministries that we were asked to review included three books:

Do you know about Homer’s Illiad? Is it real? What about Plato? Did his writings exist? Caesar’s Gallic Wars? Sophocles? How do you know? Do you doubt their authenticity? Why not? The iWitness series, written and designed by Doug Powell, takes the reader on a path documenting the history and authenticity of the Bible, using historical documents, photographs, images, archaeological finds and other facts supported by science, culture, and history.

 

Apologia ReviewLet’s take a look at each of the three books, beginning with the one I felt was easiest to follow: New Testament iWitness. The New Testament is the teachings of Jesus and his apostles, the men who were with Jesus here on earth and were eyewitnesses to his teaching, healing, prayer, mistreatment, death, and resurrection. These teachings are the foundation for Christians around the world, showing by example worship, praise, prayer, and more. The New Testament iWitness brings the reader along to understand the process by which the New Testament came to us today.  The authority of the books, how each of them was included, and how ancient documents and historians support the scripture as truth are all included. I was fascinated by the discussion about the age of the books of the New Testament and how they have been traced back through history. The discussion included the differences in copies of the texts, how those occurred, and why they don’t make an appreciable difference in the text and purpose of the New Testament. This is helpful and gives the understanding needed to be able to take a stand on the truth of the Bible.

 

Apologia Review

Old Testament iWitness was a bit more difficult to comprehend and absorb. There are many words relating to the Old Testament, Jews, and other cultures and their documents that are discussed and defined in the book that, for me, require daily use and handling to comprehend and truly understand. The differences and uses of the Old Testament, the Torah, the Hebrew Bible, the Septuagint, and Tanakh are just a few examples of the things I struggle to understand the relationships of. There are many discussions that help to support the dating and placement of the Old Testament, including defining covenants in the Bible and examples from non-Biblical history that support the form of covenants shown in the Bible. Mr. Powell goes through each of the books included in the Old Testament, talking about the title, additional names it is known by, date, writer, and purpose. This was an interesting section to read through. As the Old Testament is followed by the New Testament in the Bible, Mr. Powell does not close it out without discussing the relevance of the two testaments to each other and including a timeline of Old Testament people and important events.

 

Apologia Review

Many of the people and places mentioned in the Bible have been lost in history for a long time. That is changing, though, as archaeologists look for, and find, support for what is found in the Bible. iWitness Biblical Archaeology is written as a path for the reader to follow. It comes across as a neutral study of archaeology findings. The statements of fact are presented and the reader is expected to connect the dots and follow where they lead. Mr. Powell has given us some highly interesting information, though it is somewhat difficult to follow. Supported by images of ancient documents, archaeological finds, pictures, and other writings, various parts of the Bible are given scientific support. Some of the discussions are simply to show that what is in the Bible is accurate, such as a boat that has been uncovered and dated to the time of Jesus. Other discussions lead you to understand that while different cultures don’t necessarily agree on exactly what happened at a particular time, such as the flood recorded in Genesis, most of them agree that something happened as it is clearly documented in the written, drawn, and/or oral traditions. Some names of kings or rulers in the Bible were not found in secular history until recently, but now science and history are agreeing that these rulers recorded in the Bible did in fact rule and in the time the Bible records. These are the types of documentation that Mr. Powell shares in this book.

iWitness use

This book was mainly used by the adults in our family. Apologia recommends them for ages 11 and up. I do not agree with this at all. These books were not easy to read. They required a lot of thought, a lot of follow up, and a lot of prior knowledge. I think that an age of 15 and up might be more appropriate. The 10 year old giggly girl was able to read some of the Biblical Archaeology book and understand a bit of it but I was reading right beside her, directing her to specific passages to read, and discussing what Mr. Powell meant with some of what he wrote. We also had a Bible right beside us to look up any passages included. She is an advanced reader for her age (reading around a 10th or 11th grade level) and these books would have been a major struggle for her. We have been able to use information from them in some of our Bible discussion and I have used some of it in the Bible class I teach on Sunday mornings.
iWitness books

All three of the iWitness books are written and designed by Doug Powell. Mr. Powell is a graphic designer and you will recognize that when looking through these books. For me, that actually was a drawback of the materials. They are beautiful to look at but the interaction between design, the written materials, and the photographic/image materials all interwove in such a way that I was not always able to discern the intended materials without difficulty. It looks as though the chosen font and the set up of the images on the page are intended to make one think of ancient manuscripts and images. While it does that well, the important material tends to get lost on the page or become difficult to follow. I can see that these would be visually appealing to teenagers and young adults but the importance of the material is lost in the process.

I do not take lightly that I am responsible for the material I place before my children and my readers. If I am presenting something Biblical, I need to be absolutely certain that it is full of truth and only truth before I recommend it. I feel it is a shortcoming of these materials that it required some work to discern that the material is accurate and does not lead anyone astray. While there is an included bibliography and a list of images and their origins, I did not have access to all of the materials. Even if I had, there are no footnotes or citations to know which resource to look in to support and clarify the information. I went to a trusted and knowledgeable person who understood more about these topics than I do to be sure that the information included was accurate and true. Please do the same if you have any questions. Find someone you trust and who has a background to be able to discern the truth and ask them to go through the material with you.

These books are available from Apologia Educational Ministries. Each book sells for $14.00.

These books will remain in our home and on our shelves for our use. We desire to have quality materials available to the girls when they need them, though these may not get a lot of use for a few more years. At Home.
You can find Apologia Educational Ministries on the follow social media:

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/apologiaworld
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Pinterest – http://www.pinterest.com/apologia/

If you are interested in what others had to say about these same books, please visit The Old Schoolhouse Review Crew.

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Field Trip with Friends

FW Bot Gar field tripA couple of weeks ago, we were able to meet some friends in Fort Worth at the Botanical Gardens. We hadn’t seen them in almost a year, even though we live as close as we do. They are almost finished with their time at the Brown Trail School of Preaching. We are praying with them for a wonderful ministry opportunity to be presented for their family.

J has been writing to their daughter, whom we will just call S on here, since they met a year ago. S visited worship services with her family one evening and she and J just had a blast! They have been penpals ever since. J talks about her often and last Halloween, they both dressed up as Cinderella without even discussing it. They are two peas in a pod.

So, we met up with S, her mom and her brother at the Fort Worth Botanical Gardens. All I can say about that experience is that I want to go back to the Botanical Gardens again. It was peaceful, beautiful, interesting. There was so much to see and do.

FW Bot Gar treasures

Of course, along the way, J collected all sorts of treasures. One that I found particularly fascinating was the cap to an acorn from the giant burr oak. She collected some beautiful flower petals that just didn’t make it all the way home intact. The required rocks and feathers were also among her treasures.

FW Bot Gar scavenger hunt

 

 

 

They had a neat scavenger hunt brochure for the kids that had them looking for things that they could see, hear, smell, and touch. It was printed on a nice paper that could be folded up and used as a telescope to view things. What they were looking for was presented as pictures with words so that even non-readers could use it easily. J and S did look for some of the things on it but they also just went along on their own observant way, finding what was interesting.

FW Bot Gar bird calls

 

The Botanical Gardens had a trail that is called the Texas Native Forest Boardwalk. It is extremely kid-friendly! It is a lovely walk through a forested area. It is grown so that you can see an unmolested native forest on one side and a native forest with invasive, non-native plants affecting it on the other side. Along the boardwalk, they have set up learning stations and at each station there is a theme. The theme is FW Bot Gar bird calls 2addressed through a question with answers presented in an interactive way. At one station, the question was “what is an insect?” It had pictures of several animals that we typically call insects. You lifted the picture up and it showed whether or not you were right. At another station, the kids got to press buttons that shared the call of different birds. Still another station had examples of birds’ eggs. I don’t know how much J remembers about each of the stations but I know she had fun looking and spending time with her friends.

 

 

 

One section that J really liked was the lily pad ponds. There are two large ponds in front of the main building that have several varieties of lily pads growing. When we first got there, not all of the lily pads’ flowers were open but by the time we went back at the end of our visit, the flowers were all open. And, the favorite part was all of the frogs that were in the ponds. These are not big, jumping frogs. These were teensy-tinesy little froggies. They ranged in size from about 1/2″ to 1″. They were so small that we missed them for the first 10 minutes we were looking at the lily pads. It was fun to find them hiding on lily pads or swimming through the water. Sometimes, they just hung out there, still as can be, in the water.

FW Bot Gar tree hugging

We easily spent a couple of hours at the Botanical Gardens and everything that we did was free. We also could have gone into some of the other sections of the gardens that they charge a small fee to enter. We chose not to on this day but perhaps another time we will.

This was a relaxing, fun field trip that was right up our alley, though we had to travel a bit to get there. It was definitely worth the trip. Seeing friends and having fun – it is hard to ever get enough of those things. At Home.

FIAR: Madeline

Madeline title

We are using Five In A Row as a literature curriculum this year. It is directed at J, who is a kindergartener. However, all three of the giggly girls want to be a part of it, so we are trying hard to differentiate the activities so that all of them get something out of it. E, at 10, is absolutely loving the FIAR series and is upset with me when I do an activity without her.

Our first book to use with FIAR was Madeline. We have enjoyed this book for many years, since our now 10 year old was a very little one or two year old.

If you are unfamiliar with the story, it begins”

“In an old house in Paris, covered with vines,
Lived twelve little girls in two straight lines.”

Thus, you are introduced to the Madeline and her companions. Miss Clavel is the mistress of the boarding house and the girls have all sorts of fun, some of it sanctioned and some of it not. This is a book that all little girls will be drawn to. Sorry but I cannot speak to whether or not little boys will be drawn to this book.

Activities:

Madeline reading

As suggested in the curriculum, every time we planned to do an activity related to the book, we read the book. Sometimes I read. Other times, the bigger giggly girls read.

 

Geography/Map Work:

Madeline globe

For each book we read, we will be placing the little circle that is provided in the book on a large map that we have. J will be in charge of taping it on because this is mainly for her. J placed the circle for Madeline on France. To be sure we placed it correctly, we looked at the globe. We also pulled out an atlas and looked up where Paris was within France’s borders.

 

 

From the FIAR curriculum book:

We talked about relationships, good vs. bad, the vocabulary words suggested,

Symmetry:

Madeline symmetryAfter discussing what symmetry is, we looked through the book, noticing all the different places Ludwig Bemelmans used symmetry in his drawings. Then, I made a page for the girls to complete. It was half finished drawings that the girls had to complete, showing the symmetry in the shapes. You can download and print this page by clicking on the link below. If you want to print it smaller in order to have older children have to work a bit harder at creating the symmetry, just change your printer settings. For the middle giggly girl, I printed it two sheets to a page, which made it half sized. For E, I changed the percentage for the print and it shrunk it down to 1/4 the size of the original.

Click here for Symmetry activities.

Grouping/Multiplication:

Madeline groupings

Using counting crystals, we created the “twelve little girls in two straight lines.” We used different colors for each of the groupings of twelve that we could come up with. This helped J to see that changing the way you group something does not change the total number that you use.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Landmarks/Architecture:

The Eiffel Tower is prominent on the cover of Madeline. We talked about the Eiffel Tower, where it is located, what is important about it, and why it is famous. We looked at some photographs of it that we found on the internet. Then, we drew it.

Art Work:

Madeline art

Symmetry is prominent throughout the books illustrations, so we discussed that. We also talked about monochromatic color schemes and how that was used in the illustrations. Another concept that Ludwig Bemelmans used in the illustrations was variation of sizing. After discussing various artistic techniques over several days, we got ready to illustrate. Using what we have learned about chalk pastels, we draw an imitation of the cover with the Eiffel Tower, Madeline and her friends, Miss Clavel, and the trees.

Since Madeline is a favorite, we really enjoyed this. Our next FIAR book will be Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel.

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