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.


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,


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.


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.








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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One thought on “FIAR: Madeline

  1. […] series – including Madeline, Madeline in London, and Madeline and the Bad […]

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