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.
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.
Geography: 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.
Literature 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.