Having already covered the topic of slavery during our Who Owns the Sun? week, Gwen was already somewhat familiar with the concept – which made “rowing” this book a bit easier.
We delved a bit further into slavery, reading about and discussing the Underground Railroad… which I think the kiddos thought was an actual railroad! We located the slave and free states on the map, the route of the Underground Railroad, specifically that led by Harriet Tubman into Canada.
The “drinking gourd” was a bit of a mystery to the kids, until we went over some vocabulary words and realized it was talking about a shape in the sky – a pattern in the stars. This led is to talk about constellations – namely, the Big Dipper.
We did a couple literary device activities, including matching up compound word parts from the story, playing a compound word game and working on some analogies (which Gwen picked up really fast – I was surprised!).
I’ve had some popsicle stick stars on my craft to-do list for a while now, and it seemed the perfect time to bring them out. Not only are they Christmas-y, but it went along with star theme from the story – how the slaves followed the constellation in the sky to freedom.
Since the story takes place over a long period of time – the runaway slaves traveling for a long time, stopping at houses here and there, hiding when they were being followed, using various methods of travel, we took the opportunity to discuss time. Minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, etc.
I really wanted to make constellation cupcakes this week, but we really can’t afford to bake goodies every week! Although I had considered constellation muffins to make them a bit healthier…
We read a number of books about stars and constellations, focusing especially on the Big Dipper. I had these grand plans to make pretty constellation books, but we didn’t get very far with them, and Gwen’s star dots didn’t really make a picture. Oh well!
We printed out a nifty star wheel for locating specific constellations in the sky at different times of the year, but I have a feeling it’s specific to a certain geographical area because it doesn’t seem to match up with our sky.
The kiddos continue on in their workbooks, doing very well. Gwen actually welcomes the work, which is a big change from last year. Even Josiah will happily go through pages and pages of preschool stuff, as long as it’s simple enough.
Since starting our advent calendar this month, we’ve been working in fun holiday activities here and there. We cut down our Charlie Brown tree and decorated it, went ice skating (the kiddos have both improved since last year… and it’s really only the third time we’ve ever been!) and decorated Christmas cards.
Aunt Harriet’s Underground Railroad in the Sky
Henry’s Freedom Box
Sweet Clara and the Freedom Quilt
The Big Dipper
The Sky is Full of Stars
Fancy Nancy Sees Stars
Homeschool Share’s Follow the Drinking Gourd resources
The First Grade Parade’s compound word cards
Popsicle Stick Stars inspiration
Sky and Telescope’s Star Wheel
Constellation Books inspiration