FIAR: Katy and the Big Snow, Part Two

Welcome back to the rundown of activities for Katy and the Big Snow. Part Two will go through art, math, and science. If you are looking for social studies, history, language arts, and geography, check out the Part One post.Katy part two

Art: Use of Color – We discussed how the illustrations were done and the use of color in them. The minimal pallet choices is interesting and it makes for some very unique illustrations. We really enjoyed looking at that and how to emphasize things with that limited use of color. Especially in a picture such as the one where Katy is surrounded by the snow and there are no words on the page.

Art: Use of Space – We have been talking about the use of space on a page, when to use it all up and when to not, how to decide, and all that. We studies many of the illustrations in regards to the use of space.

Art: Showing Action – We also studies illustrations to look at how they showed action, such as plowing, movement, and helping.

Art: Personification – As I mentioned earlier, we tied this into the literature/language arts discussion on personification. The illustrations do a very good job of showing the personality of Katy and how she changes throughout the action of the book.

Math: Counting and Grouping – One of the illustrations is a wonderful way to show horse power. We used this with the suggestion from the book to talk about grouping. We then pulled a group of fifty-five items and showed different ways to group them. We specifically grouped by fives and practiced counting by fives. We also reviewed tally marks to make 55.

Math: Grouping – We picked something in the book to count and then looked at different ways to get to that number. For example, if we found 8 of something, we wrote out 5+3=8, 4+4=8. 2+2+4=8, etc. We did this with several different numbers.

Math: Statistics and Operations Research – We are always looking for extremely practical ways to show the use of math in the real world. This book was the perfect opportunity. When talking about city governments and the types of things needed to run a city, the girls talked about how many police officers and firefighters and city might need. Well, this is where math comes in and we talked about how they come up with those numbers. I introduced them to statistics and then had their dad talk to them about operations research. These are where mathematicians use research and number to predict something like how many officers are needed in a city of a given size. Or how many lift stations the water department will need in five years. Or how many electrical poles will be needed and how to decide where to put them. It was an interesting discussion and the girls really found out a lot about how math can make a great difference in our lives on a daily basis.




Science: Snow – We discussed seasons and winter in particular. We looked at some books on snow and different states of matter. We also talked about the various conditions that snow occurs under and what a blizzard is. Weather is always fun!







Science: Weather – We visited our local museum which is currently hosting a special exhibit entitled The Magic School Bus Kicks Up A Storm. We learned a lot about weather and how different kinds of weather form due to the current climate conditions.

Science: Snow Crystals – We painted a solution on black paper that dried in such a way that we could watch the crystals forming. Check out more on that project by visiting this post about it.

Science/Writing: Ice – We did a fun activity that I titled Listen and Write. It was a writing activity based on sounds they hear. After we completed the writing activity, we searched for more videos about ice and watched some really fun ones about various types of ice and its formation.

Well, I think that concludes the activities that we did to go along with Katy and the Big Snow by Viriginia Lee Burton. It was certainly a fun study. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did. At Home.

FIAR: Katy and the Big Snow, Part One

We have fallen in love with Virginia Lee Burton and her stories and illustrations. The most recent one we have worked with is Katy and the Big Snow. It is a simple yet engaging story about Katy, a snowplow who gets to do her job and does it well, in a big way! Our activities came somewhat from the FIAR volume 1 book but it was easy to add a lot to it, as well.

Part One collage

Because there is so much to the activities we did, I am breaking this post up into two parts. Part one will come today and part two will come tomorrow. This post will include Social Studies, Geograpy, History, and Literature/Language Arts. Part Two will consist of the activities for Art, Math, and Science.

Social Studies: Cities – We talked about the requirements for running a city – what city departments are needed, what utilities, what people, what leadership. We looked at the current city we live in (the city website it a good resource) and compared it to where we used to live. This led us very quickly to the way a city government is run. (Check out math activities because the differences in city sizes and governments led us to some interesting math discussions.)

Geography: Maps – There are many map directions in this story. We talked about a compass rose and how to create one, where it goes on a map, what it shows, etc. We discussed various map directions and how to read a map. We pulled out a street map and looked at it.

creating chalk citiesGeography: Maps – We talked about all of the different street signs that you come across and how those affect directions. I created a scavenger hunt for the kids based on images I found with a Google search. They did this one day in the car while we were driving around town. They looked for things such as stop signs, yield signs, street signs with different things on them (Drive, Lane, Street, Boulevard, etc.), a billboard with an address, etc.

Geography: Maps – We used chalk to create our own city maps using the knowledge of maps we had and combining that with what we learned about what things are needed in a city. They drew their own maps on the driveway. Each one came out very different. It was a really interesting exercise.

Geography: Maps – We talked about the amount of snow in the book and where they might see snows like this. We discussed various possibilities in the US. This was happening about the time that the Northeastern parts of the US were getting some major snow and one of my friends posted pictures of her house with snow way above the windows and doorways. We also looked up pictures on the internet, finding several of snow up to second story windows, just like in the story. We looked all of these places up on a map. There was even one news story of a place in Europe, Spain perhaps, that had some major snowfall and that was a very interesting story.

History: The “big snow” pictures also feel pretty relevantly under history. These types of snows are unusual for most of the US, especially when you take into account how many “big snows” places got this year. We looked up some almanacs and found out about other times in history where there were “big snows.” I am not linking these for two reasons: 1) I didn’t save them and 2) looking it up is part of the educational experience if you have older students. They need to learn to look things up.

literatureLiterature Connections: This connected very clearly with a couple of other FIAR books that we had recently studied and so I asked the girls to come up with some literature connections. They did it quickly. Two easy ones were Walking Through Woods On A Snowy Evening and Mike Mulligan. They also recalled some of the chapters in Little House in the Big Woods. We read a book titled Weather that has overlays inside of it that help explain the weather and is an early reader that our youngest could read part of. I also really like the book Its Snowing by Gail Gibbons. She does an amazing job of explaining nonfiction topics. I always try to ask the girls to make connections to other things we have read or studies because it strengthens recall ability and memory but it also allows them to make other connections in author or subject or topic. Transfer of knowledge is a very important ability that I try to strengthen.

Author: Virginia Lee Burton – The collection we were reading this story from had a very nice biography of Virginia Lee Burton. We read that and talked about some of the things mentioned in it. We also talked about what the girls remembered from the Mike Mulligan study. The collection allowed us to read through several of Virginia Lee Burton’s stories.

Literature/Language Arts: Prose – We talked about this word and how it applies to this story. We talked about it in contrast to poetry and other structured forms of writing.

Literature/Language Arts: Personification – Once again, Virginia Lee Burton write an inanimate object with great personality. She give Katy so many human qualities. We talked about those, listing them and giving examples of places in the story. We also tied this discussion into art because Katy is drawn with a lot of personality, as well.

Literature/Language Arts: Vocabulary – We used the vocabulary listings out of the FIAR book and this was mostly done with J, who is 6.

Literature/Language Arts: Capitalization – This book has some great examples of the use of capitalization for proper nouns and their more difficult uses. We also talked about using capitalization for emphasizing the importance of something. Big Snow is an example of that. Directions are another time that it is difficult to remember whether to capitalize or not. It is great for J to start looking at these now.


So that is a run-down of what we did with Katy in regards to literature, language arts, geography, social studies, and history. Part Two will be published tomorrow with the rest of the activities we did. I hope you don’t mind a two part post but I don’t like leaving things out when I feel like we have had a great study. We took quite a while with this one because we were enjoying all the parts of it so much. I hope you all enjoy it, too. See you tomorrow. At Home.


Thick As Thieves – A TOS review

What do you look for in a book for your daughter? Character education? A personality that will intrigue? A good, strong main character? A story line that moves along so fast you can’t put the book down? Susan K. Marlow’s Thick as Thieves is that book. It has been a wonderful product to review and we are going to keep up with the Circle C Milestones series.

Thick as Thieves review

The Book:
Set in the 1880s, Thick As Thieves opens with 14 year old Andrea Carter tenderly caring for Taffy, her beloved horse who is about to foal on the family’s ranch, Circle C. Andi trusts her gut instincts, something that is hard to do as the youngest in a family, and pesters her older siblings until someone listens to her about Taffy having difficulty with the foal. It turns out that Andi was right to think something was wrong but with the help of her older brother, Taffy gives birth. This birth brings new challenges and many changes to her life.

As the book moves along, Andi is struggling with many things as she grows up. She wants to continue with her life as it is but her mother and older sister think it is time for her to begin acting like a young lady. Andi doesn’t enjoy school much because the work isn’t challenging for her and she loves to be outside with her horses. As Andi continue to work on being a good student and a good horsewoman, she is given a much more difficult challenge at school. Her new seatmate is a difficult girl who seems bent on causing Andi problems. To make matters even more of a struggle, there are cattle rustlers in the valley causing problems for everyone.

enrichment guideTheme:

One of the compelling aspects of this book are the themes of family and friendship that ride the ups and downs of the story. We see young Andi learning to grow and stretch within the confines of a family that cares tremendously about her. We also see her figure out just how important it is to choose to care for someone who, at first glance, seems to have nothing about her worth caring for. That alone is worth the reading of the book. Andi caring for someone changes both of their lives. Completely. For the better.

I love that my daughter is able to read a clean, interesting, strong book that has themes that will strengthen her character. Thick as Thieves is an action-packed book that moves along so fast you can barely read quickly enough. Yet, if you can keep up with it all, you get a fantastic journey through the growth of a friendship that no one would ever expect and encouragement to the reader to reach out to someone you might not normally. Susan K. Marlow has done an exceptional job!

Thick as ThievesSeries:

Susan K. Marlow has created several series of books that center around Andi. Published by Kregel Publications, the books grow as Andi does. Circle C Beginnings is where it all begins with Andi at age 6. Circle C Adventures continues the story of Andi growing up. That brings us up to the current series Circle C Milestones, aimed at readers ages 12 and up. Even though E is 10, she was easily able to handle the reading, content and themes of the book. We have enjoyed this book so much that we have looked for Ms. Marlow’s books at our local library. They don’t have any of them so we are going to fill out the request form asking them to get them. These are such wonderful books that every little girl ought to have the opportunity to read them.

Additionally, if you have a little boy, you might want to check out the series she has written about a little boy. I haven’t read them but if the quality of this book is any indication, and I believe it is, it would be worth looking into.

Study Guide:

Another wonderful aspect of Ms. Marlow’s books is that she is offering a free downloadable Study Guide for Thick as Thieves. This is a PDF guide that walks the student through a variety of exercises to strengthen and expand their learning. This guide includes everything from questions about the reading to vocabulary words and usage to additional information about horses and foal. You will find science, history, math, language arts, and so much more in this guide.

working on the enrichment guide

This guide was downloaded for E and she is working through it. She appreciated just how much Andi had to learn when she did some math problems similar to what a student in the 1880s probably would have done. E has learned some new vocabulary words. She has learned a lot about foaling and horses, which she has absolutely loved!

I have liked that the enrichment guide has encouraged her to pull out her Bible for some of the Digging Deeper questions. Often when you receive a study guide or enrichment guide for a book, it is somewhat difficult to find which part of the book the questions go with. This one is not like that at all. It is very clear which set of chapters the questions apply to and finding the answers in the book has not been hard at all. This means that I can help her easily without looking over her shoulder all of the time. This independence has been wonderful.


This is a definite win with us. E has had nothing but good things to say about this book and the story. She has even been caught telling her sisters about it. And with the enrichment guide, her learning has gone deeper and the transfer of knowledge has been strengthened. All while encouraging her to be a friend to others who desperately need one. Win/win!

At Home.

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U is for … Umbrella


U umbrellaDo your kids love umbrellas? Mine do and I really do not understand it at all! They love to play with them and open and close them. They pretend it is raining and they “use” their umbrellas. They also love to use them as a parasol. (By the way, do you know the difference between an umbrella and a parasol? Is it just whether it is rainy or sunny? I think I need to look that up.)

Recently, a couple of the girls have come home from sleep-overs at grandma’s house with new umbrellas. And they love them. And I have had to get onto them for opening them in the house and spinning in circles with the umbrellas thrown as wide as their little arms will reach. Knocking over anything it touches. But the girls have such big grins on their faces! It makes me smile, even while I am telling them to close it up or take it outside.

In honor of these new toys, because that’s really what they are, I’m making the new reading chart an umbrella. She’ll love it! And, it has more numbers on it because she has started reading 5 or 6 books a day. So I’m raising the ante on her and she needs to read 25 books this next week. I am sure she’ll make it. Click on the link underneath the picture to access the file and print your own copy for free.


Umbrella Book Log


Umbrella reading chart PDF

At Home.

What A Girl Needs From Her Mom {book review and giveaway}

What A Girl Needs titleDo you ever wonder what is going on in your daughter’s head and heart? Do you feel a sweet connection one moment and then distance the next? Does surprise seem to be the word of the day, every day? Cheri Fuller dives into the mother/daughter relationship with keen insight and lots of humor and reviewing What A Girl Needs From Her Mom has brought me great encouragement.

Mrs. Fuller relies quite a bit on her own experience in raising a daughter to talk with moms about what might be helpful in our own times of raising daughters. She shares many of her own highs and lows, recalling strength of emotion through so much of it. Because that is what mother/daughter relationships are full of – emotions. She also shares a lot of insight from mothers around the world. Mrs. Fuller has researched and talked with mothers from every walk of life and from a variety of cultures. And she has found that mothers and daughters everywhere have ups and downs, mountains and valleys, emotional highs and lows.

What A Girl NeedsMrs. Fuller walks through what she thinks a girl needs in her mother. There are 14 topics that she addresses. It includes such things as

  • a mother that prays for her daughter
  • a mother to help navigate the digital world
  • a mother who nurtures her potential
  • a mother who encourages
  • a mother who helps her manage her emotions
  • and a bundle more super helpful topics.

Each topic is covered in a chapter. The chapter is an encouraging mix of information specific to the topic, personal stories, and applicable tips. Broken down into manageable bits, I found the topics relevant and helpful. I found that I was able to read through each chapter and find things that I could not only relate to but that I could take and apply to my own life and relationships. Because this book is all about me. Yes, it talks about the daughters but it is not about how to change them. This book is about how to change me as a mom so that I can be the help to my girls that God put me here to be.

Each chapter has a set of questions at the end of it. These questions can be done in a variety of ways. Whether you answer them out loud with friends, write the answers in the book, journal your answers, or just answer them silently to yourself, you should answer them. Anything works but these questions will help you think more specifically about the topic and the way it applies to you and your daughter.

This has been a good book for me to read and a great encouragement for me. I know that I will be coming back to it in the future, as I stumble in my job as “mom.” There is so much here that is practical and easily applicable. This is one that will stay on my shelves. At Home.


Family Christian sponsored this post by giving me a copy of the book in return for my honest opinion of the book. They also are providing a copy of the book to one of my readers. For your chance to win, follow the link below to the giveaway form.

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Dancing Through It – book review and giveaway

passionate view

The fact that our house is home to three giggly girls should leave little room for guessing about one of their favorite sports. In case the title didn’t hint at it, the girls love to dance. They dance for fun. They dance for exercise. They take dance classes to improve their technique, style, and understanding while having fun. They dance for joy. They just dance. More than one of them has expressed a desire to dance well into her adult years.

ballet shoes

The fact that they have the desire to be professional ballerinas, at least sometimes, made this book very appealing to me. Dancing Through It is written by Jenifer Ringer, a professional ballerina with the New York City Ballet. She is very talented and added to that tons of hard, dedicated work. She did what so many little ballerinas dream of: she danced professionally around the world with one of the premier dance companies as a principal dancer. And she started with the company at just 16 years of age. Young. Easily influenced. Naïve. Yet, grounded.

Jenifer wrote a compelling autobiography, sharing her life with her readers and creating new fans along the way. She writes about a love story between her and her art but she is kind enough to speak truthfully about the world of ballet. It is not all roses and beautiful music and gorgeous costumes. She also talks about the grueling hours of work, the pain and insecurity that goes along with working in a world of performance. She takes us along with her as she learns the ropes, struggles to find and regain her true self, and then as she finds the balance for maintaining the truth of who she is and who she belongs to.

This is a story of love. Not just the love of Jenifer for ballet and all that goes along with that world. It is a story of the love of God. How He searches for his children and keeps his arms open for them to return to him at any time. How Jenifer found the love of God through her parents and the firm grounding in faith they gave her. How she faded away from that faith. How God never stopped waiting for her to turn back to Him. How He opened his arms when she returned and gave her the love of a child of God. How she used the love of God to strengthen her life and to be the woman God created her to be.

book cover

This is a fantastic book that was next to impossible to put down. It doesn’t shy away from the truth of the harsh world that ballet is and it shows us what dancers truly go through. Dancing Through It is a book that I would recommend to anyone who has a passion that they are going to pursue. The reason: passion can only carry you so far and if you aren’t careful, you can unmoor yourself from the Truth and God, ending up far away. Jenifer shows us that we can all drift away from our faith if we are not intentional about maintaining it. She also shows us that we can come back to Him if we choose to repent and lead the life He has called us to.

There are a couple of things I want my readers to be aware of. The faith community mentioned here is described as biblical but I do not know what is intended by that. Based on the description of the worship services, I do not believe that it is truly a biblical congregation. Additionally, Jenifer had to work through eating disorders and depression during some of her darkest times. She doesn’t shy away from those moments, weeks, and months, but she does an honest job of describing how she ended up in that place. She also does a beautiful job of describing how she got out of it and how she works to maintain a lifestyle that helps her fight back against those things. She gives much of the credit to God and talks about living her life for His glory.

Dancing Through It is an amazing book and her bravery to share all that she has gone through is tremendous. I just wanted to make readers aware so that they can be prepared and make an informed decision about the age at which a young person might read this. I do highly recommend this and I think our oldest will be allowed to read it if she asks again. (She asked while I was still reading, so I couldn’t let her yet since I didn’t know all it held. Plus, I was reading it!) At Home.

And now for the giveaway:

Family Christian has offered a $10 appreciation certificate to one of my readers. Just enter the giveaway below.

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T is for … Talking pH


One of the fun parts of reviewing products is that we never know what we are getting into. Okay – that is also one of the scary parts but that is a different discussion! Star Toaster is one we are working on right now – you can look for that review mid-April; you’ll want to see it.

Part way through one of the chapters in Orphs of the Woodlands, the story from Star Toaster the girls are reading, there is a video that gives instruction on pH and pH indicators. Well, since it was an easy experiment to do and none of us could easily believe that red cabbage was a pH indicator, we decided we had to try it out.T red cabbage juice

We bought a red cabbage. E cut a hunk of it off and put it in a glass measuring cup. We poured boiling water over it and let it sit until the water was a very dark blue-ish purple. While we were waiting for the color change, we picked a number of different liquids to test the pH of.

T starting line up

Lemon juice, orange juice, lemon-lime soda, water from the tap, water from the Brita pitcher, soapy water, and baking soda water were all chosen. We talked about what the video from Star Toaster had said about acids, neutrals, and bases. Then it was time to test and see if the red cabbage juice actually indicated pH. While the changes were not as dramatic as the cartoon video, the changes did in fact occur. We poured a small ladleful of red cabbage juice into each liquid and talked about the change to show acid or base. We then added some more of the red cabbage juice and looked for additional change. Each ladle was about 3 tablespoons. So we were experimenting to see if there was a point at which it did not change any further. We saw changes with two ladles but not with three.

T lemon juiceT orange juiceT lemon-lime soda collageT filtered waterT tap waterT baking soda waterT soapy water

This was a cheap and easy experiment that the giggly girls loved. And they now know a lot more about how to verify what they are being told, as well as knowing a lot more about acids, bases, neutrals, and pH. It was fun to see that acids are reddish in color and bases are blueish in color. Neutrals, of course, don’t change. So here are our side by side results for all of the liquids.

T starting line up T ending line up

At Home.


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