FIAR – Lentil

We had a different book scheduled for this week, but despite how organized I think I am, I totally forgot to request it from the library.  Ironically, I had all the supporting and go-along resources – just not the book itself!  I realized this the evening before library day the previous week and searched for the title in the online catalogue – and discovered there was only one title available in the state and it was not at my library.  I searched for the next couple of titles on our list – not at the library. *sigh*  So… I went ahead and planned for a week of Lentil, since that’s one of the books we already have at home.

Geography/History/Social Studies
The story takes place in the small town of Alto, Ohio.  Daddy helped the kiddos put together the states puzzle and locate Ohio.  Then we colored all the states we’ve covered up till now on a printable map of the USA from Mr. Printables (there are different versions available – black and white blank, states with names, states with capitals, and a full color version).  We read a book on Ohio and, using some of Homeschool Share’s FIAR resources, filled in some facts about the state.

In the illustrations you can get an idea of the time period due to the old-fashioned cars and one-room schoolhouses, so we talked about what it must have been like to live back then and looked at actual pictures of old schoolhouses.

The townspeople throw a big welcome for Colonel Carter and decorate the town with lots of American flags.  We talked about patriotism and the history of the American flag.  We used Joyful School’s Flag Stars, Stripes & Colors Book.  Mommy and Gwen made simple flags with red, white and blue construction paper and silver star stickers.  Later in the day I was both delighted and surprised to hear her telling Josiah about the “thirteen colonies,” represented by earlier versions of the flag with thirteen stars in a circle.

One of the great lessons in the story is that, even though Lentil really wished he could sing, he knew his limits and decided instead to invest in a harmonica.  He practiced all the time until he got really good at it and everyone appreciated his abilities.  The story ends with the statement, “So you never know what will happen when you learn to play the harmonica,” but you could really apply it to anything you set your mind to.  Don’t get discouraged with your inabilities; instead put your energies towards something else, and even though you may not be able to do it well at first, you can practice practice practice.  Gwen made a list of things she can and can’t do and we discussed the importance of learning and practicing.

Language Arts
There are lots of instruments and musical terms mentioned in the book, so we picked all of them out.  We also used some of the printables from our M is for Music week and talked about the categories of instruments – brass, percussion, string and woodwind

We read a little book about noise vs. sound, making instruments from everyday objects like a box and string, and I let the kids experiment with different things – a pan and wooden spoon, cardboard box and pencils for drumsticks, etc.  A favorite of the kids when they were younger was Let’s Make Music; we hadn’t watched it in a long time and I put that on while they were playing their instruments.  It tied it all together nicely, focusing on creating sounds with instruments or your body, soft and loud noises and so forth.  The kids really enjoyed dancing around and making music.

We did a simple experiment to discuss sound, vibration and how our ears hear.  I blew up a couple balloons and the kiddos held them in front of the radio while I slowly raised the volume.  The louder the volume, the more the balloons vibrated. 

Fine Arts

I asked Phil to dig out his charcoal sticks and the kids drew pictures.  Gwen picked a picture from the book to copy – a cat with a fence behind it.  I showed her how to shade part of the picture to create shadows.

Mr. Sneep, one of the characters in the story, sits on a bench and whittles and grumbles.  I thought it would be neat to capitalize on the whittling, but didn’t really feel like giving my kids block of wood or bars of soap and knives.  Instead, I gave them little containers of playdough and plastic knives and explained what whittling is… then they had fun carving things out of the playdough.  Eventually, they started cutting it into shapes and had a blast. 

When I showed them a bag of lentils from the store, they thought it was really funny – why would the character in the book be named after beans?  They made a collage with the lentils, having way too much fun with glue and glitter.  I managed to contain the mess but we keep finding lentils here and there on the floor. 

I told them we were going to have lentils with our dinner that night and they seemed to think that was a neat idea.  Honestly, I’m not crazy about lentils – and they ended up not liking their dinner! – but I thought the Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie was pretty good.  When they weren’t too keen on finishing, I told them it’s good to try new things; even if we don’t like something the first time we try it we may eventually decide we like it.  Then Josiah proclaimed, “I like it now!” (he really didn’t)

Probably the most fun part of the week for the kids was counting out their pennies to buy new harmonicas – just like Lentil in the story!  They literally played them All. Day.  I was proud of their interest, but man, gimme a break! 

While doing our science experiments and making lemonade, we took advantage of cutting up the lemons and learned about fractions – whole, halves, quarters and eighths.  This was reinforced when we measured the lemon juice and sugar for the lemonade – which was a big hit with the kids.   

We read a few books and colored some pictures about taste and how taste buds work, including the four elements we taste – bitter, salty, sour and sweet.  Then we had a little blindfold taste test where I had the kids taste things – chips, really dark chocolate, lemons and limes, and a lollipop.  Then we talked about other foods that would fit into each category. 

We did a simple science experiment about acids, mixing lemon juice with salt and dipping tarnished pennies into the solution – the oxidized coating came right off!  So we soaked a few more pennies and marveled at the results.  We also mixed some lemon juice into milk to see how it curdles into sour milk. 

Math & Phonics

Gwen seems to be getting better at writing her letters and numbers, when she has the patience to do so.  Sometimes she asks to be reminded of what a letter looks like, but instead of saying she can’t write it, she’ll actually look at it and make a pretty accurate rendition.  She’s a pro at recognizing uppercase and lowercase, matching and so forth, so some of the pages in her workbooks are a bit elementary for her.   

I pulled out some shape and color laminated puzzles from last year for Josiah; even Gwen had fun doing them again.  He already knows his colors but still has fun matching them with the pictures and words.  I’m happy to know that Gwen remembers all of her shapes!


For a while now I’ve been wanting some kind of handheld recorder for Gwen. I remember when I was little, I used to love recording my own voice in songs and stories then playing it back.  Not only would it be fun for her, but I thought it might encourage her efforts as well.  I was thrilled when I saw a kids’ tape player/recorder amongst my mother-in-law’s things (she saves everything); we brought it home, stuck some new batteries in it, and it works great.  The kids love recording their voices and using the microphone.  One day I used it during circle time so they could recite their memory verse and sing Bible songs.  It will also come in handy for listening to their books on tape since it’s so portable.

A couple things we didn’t get around to – listening to “She’ll Be Comin’ Round the Mountain,” a song mentioned in the story.  I also thought it would be neat to take the kiddos to the veterans’ cemetery right near us since there are flags everywhere, but we just didn’t get around to it.