Sunday, November 30, 2014

FIAR: The Little Red Lighthouse and the Great Gray Bridge

I'm glad to be back online after a long absence.  Our computer broke and went into the shop, and once we got it back, there was a long line of family members waiting their turn to hop on and get caught up with life!  I have several posts to do in a row to get back up to speed, so here we go....

We rowed "The Little Red Lighthouse and the Great Gray Bridge" by Hildegarde Swift during the weeks of October 20th and 27th.  Because we are picking up some extra content in science and reading and those areas are taking up more time in our day, I have spent two weeks on each of the last several Five in a Row studies we have done.  There are only so many hours in a day!  I have mixed feelings about that pace....I find so many creative, hands on ideas for each book, as well as baskets full of add on books from the library.   I want to spend enough time with each FIAR title to include as many of those fun "extras" as possible.  However, I also have a long list of books I would like to cover, so as I plan for next semester I need to evaluate how many activities we do and how fast we want to move.

Anyway.  SO much good stuff and so little time to cover it all.  That's the upside/downside of homeschooling...there's always more to learn!

This was a wonderful story written in the 1940's that we enjoyed very much.   The little red lighthouse is an actual lighthouse in New York City on the banks of the Hudson River.  It is not functioning today (it is part of Fort Washington Park), but it is open to the public for tours.  It's demure size pales compared to the George Washington Bridge towering beside it, and this charming story captures the thoughts and emotions of the little lighthouse as the bridge was built.

The internet is a fabulous resource for this row.  There are videos available on you-tube of the story being read aloud.  There is also a Reading Rainbow episode of Keep the Lights Burning Abby, which is a wonderful go-along with this title.  We "toured" several lighthouses online, including the actual red lighthouse in Fort Washington Park.

There is a fun and easy "How To Draw A Lighthouse" tutorial available at ArtProjectsForKids.

We covered concepts like horizon line, foreground and background, and how to use curved lines to make our lighthouse appear rounded.

In real life, lighthouses are any combination of red, white, and green.  I never knew that before.  I made her limit her choices to those three colors.  We used tempera paints for this project.

New York City is on my bucket list BIG TIME.  I have never been there, and my husband has zero desire to go.  I hope the Lord provides an opportunity one day for me to visit.  My oldest took a trip there last year as part of the fine arts department with her college.  (She is a photography minor.)  Emma and I went back through all her photos from that trip, and also read several books about New York from the library.

Of course, we added our story disk to the map.

We also read many books about bridges, and chose a few structures to study more closely.  We engineered some of our own bridges using building toys to see which ones were the strongest and why.

These experiments were a pleasant surprise in that she expressed quite a lot of curiosity!  She was genuinely interested in which bridges would hold the most, and she herself kept coming up with ideas for how to try more of them.  I had to drag her to the table this day to get her started (ugh), but once she got going, she was unstoppable!  A good lesson on not judging a subject matter before you know how FUN it can be!!

It was a gorgeous day outside the day we studied bridges, so big brother took her down to the 
"log bridge" over the creek behind our house.  He even sent me pictures!

Have I mentioned how handy it can be having helpful, wonderful older kids around???  :-)

Our big project for this row was building a lighthouse from a red plastic cup.  I gave her a roll of Washi tape to make the lighthouse stripes, which ended up looking really junky, but she had a blast with that silly tape!  Used up almost the entire roll!!  I asked her to make the first lighthouse according to the directions I gave her, and then promised her a second cup and set of supplies to make one however she wanted.  This is a good compromise for us from time to time.  I want her to learn to follow specific directions, but I also love to see what she comes up with on her own because she is so outrageously creative!  Since I tend to have a few control issues with crafts (clears throat), making two often keeps the peace.  ;-)

The top of the lighthouse is a battery operated votive candle. They come two to a pack at the Dollar Tree.  (Another reason why making two houses was handy!)

I thought these turned out DARLING, and she LOVED turning them on each day.  They sat in the middle of our homeschool table all week, and she even took them upstairs as night lights one night.

One of my favorite memories from this row......

Emma invited me into the homeschool room one night, long after we had finished school and it was dark outside.  She had our little lighthouses glowing and a snack sitting on the table.  She asked me to read aloud to her by the dim light in her cozy setting...absolutely a heartwarming moment!!

That brings me to the topic of reading.

We have used a lot of Sonlight through the years in our homeschooling.  I absolutely love Five In A Row and it is a great fit for us this year, but there are some really fabulous Sonlight books I don't want her to miss out on.  Also, FIAR titles (from the first three volumes) are shorter picture books, and I want her to develop the discipline of sitting through longer books with more complex story lines.  So, I've tried to incorporate even more read aloud time in our days.  This is a challenge with so many library books that coordinate with our FIAR studies, but I'm trying to find a good balance.

Anyway, Light at Tern Rock is a STUNNING story, and one of my all time favorites.  (I don't think Sonlight currently uses it, but they have in the past.)  I loved sharing this story once again with my brought back sweet memories of early homeschooling days.  I had to text my daughter at college and tell her that, true to form, I started crying so hard at the end of this book I couldn't continue to read aloud.  Emma was looking at me like I was nuts, and I had to explain to her that "it's just this thing Mommy does with almost every Sonlight book"!  This one tugs the heartstrings.

It's also fun when I can get readers that are spot on with our studies.  This was a fun one.

I had a few more activities planned that we didn't have time for.  We talked about compound words quite a bit, but I didn't use my compound word flashcards to play games.  Also, I found some fun printables about personification that we did not do.  I set those aside in hopes there is a future FIAR title with a good personification theme.  Lastly, I bought New York City stickers from the scrapbook section and was going to have her decorate a map of New York for our notebook.  I'm saving those stickers!  Maybe someday I will have my own photos from a Big Apple trip that I can scrapbook!  Ha!

Yet another sweet story under our belt and more fun times spent together making memories.  This book was a winner and gets thumbs up from us both!


  1. Wow, that lighthouse painting is so great! And I am so glad you did the Solo cup lighthouse! Maggie kept hers in her room forever. Great job!

  2. Another wonderful row! Emma's lighthouse painting is lovely! I would love to go to NY someday too!