FIAR – The Little Red Lighthouse & the Great Gray Bridge

The kids have really been enjoying our morning Circle Time before delving into the book for the week.  They sometimes get antsy during the Bible story, but they love using the musical instruments while we march around the house, singing songs. 

Geography/History/Social Studies
You know it’s a classic when my mother-in-law has the book in her collection!  Tucked among the pages of the copy she gave me was the record that goes along with it – the record!  Man, I used to love playing records. *sigh* 

There were a lot of things to touch on in this story – New York, the Hudson River, bridges, types of boats, lighthouses, and the issue with pride.  We identified America on the globe, found New York, and using Homeschool Share’s printables the kiddos colored some stage pages.  They even asked to put together their state puzzle, at which they’re getting better.

I had quite a few activity pages on boats left over from our S is for Sail week, so I took those out and we went through them. 

The kids were fascinated to learn that the lighthouse and bridge in the story are actual places!  We watched an “It’s My Park” video on the The Little Red Lighthouse in which a park ranger gives a tour of the landmark and the kids loved it.

The story says that the Little Red Lighthouse was “VERY, VERY PROUD” so we talked about pride and made a couple lists in Gwen’s journal – things of which we can be proud of in ourselves, and things that make us prideful. 

We didn’t have the exact materials on hand for building a mini lighthouse, but Gwen had fun putting hers together nonetheless.

Language Arts
I got the excellent idea from Delightful Learning to touch on compound words while reading this story.  Using a sheet from Homeschool Share’s Little Red Lighthouse lapbook printables and the First Grade Parade’s compound words sorting cards, we discussed what compound words are and identified the separate words in a bunch of compound words.  Since Gwen doesn’t have much patience for tracing and writing, she simply drew the first letter in each word, and both she and Josiah loved matching the single words to make the compound word.

Sometimes big words for literary and artistic devices scare them off – like “personification” – but they thoroughly enjoyed looking through the story and picking out examples on each page – the boats and lighthouse with faces, the fog with arms.  They drew faces sad and happy faces on a pair of lighthouses. 

Fine Arts
The artist for the story uses only three colors in his illustrations, and after having the kids identify the three colors used throughout the book they each colored their own lighthouse picture with black, blue and red oil pastels.  I showed them how to use draw a lighthouse then let them have at it with the pastels. 

“Perspective,” another big word – but fun to learn about.  We compared the size of the “little” lighthouse in relation to the “great” bridge.  By itself, the lighthouse is bigger than us… but next to the bridge, it seems tiny in comparison.  I made Gwen stand up, and pointed out how she’s a big girl, bigger than Josiah… but when she stands next to her Daddy, she’s smaller!  We talked about several other examples, including types of vehicles, using toys as props.

We read Follow the Water from Brook to Ocean, a Let’s-Read-and-Find-Out Science book, and discussed where water comes from, where it goes, and the nature of water flowing from brooks to streams to ponds and so forth until it reaches the ocean. 

We did the “Tricks of Light” experiments from the Usborne Book of Science, putting straight items into a glass of water to see how the light makes them look bent.  It was also fascinating to tape a penny to the bottom of a bowl, move back just far enough until we couldn’t see the penny, fill the bowl with water and magically be able to see the penny.


One day when Daddy was home we took a field trip to over the Jamestown Bridge to Beavertail lighthouse.  This spot has special significance with our family because that’s where Phil proposed (*swoon*)!  It was beautiful weather and we ate a picnic lunch on the rocks, then we climbed across the rocks and investigated the waters, finally going to see the lighthouse.  I was disappointed that the museum inside was closed, but there were some interesting historical facts posted on the building, and Gwen got a more tangible idea of the purpose for a lighthouse.  Afterwards, the kiddos flew kites in the breeze and we got a glimpse of a baby bunny nibbling on grass before getting in the car and heading home.

New York is known for its rich cuisine, but I decided to stick with Italian.  I made the yummiest, ricotta-free lasagna for dinner and New York Cheesecake from the Usborne Children’s World Cookbook, which we topped with fresh whipped cream and peaches.  Yum!