Five in a Row Lentil

Life has been busy and I am just now catching up on some blogging that had been intended for the summer! Homeschool can be like that.

We like to homeschool all year round, but there’s something about summer that insists on a little more relaxation and downtime. This year, we decided to ease up on several subjects, and to focus on math and reading. It also seemed like an ideal time to row one of our Five in a Row books just for fun.

We decided on the book from the curriculum Five in a Row, Lentil, by Robert McCloskey. Lentil was McCloskey’s first book, written in 1939. We decided to read it right before July the 4th for it’s slightly patriotic aspect. This book is about a boy named Lentil who desperately wanted to be able to sing. When he found that he could not, he instead bought a harmonica and learned to play it, using his gift to bless the entire town.

Social Studies – Geography

The story of Lentil takes place in the fictional town of Alto, Ohio. Clark and Luci were able to find Ohio on our world map, along with it’s capital, Columbus. We compared this to where we live in Texas and decided it would be a very long drive.

Five in a Row Lentil

“My Place in the World” Craft

In order to help plant the picture in their minds, we made a quick and simple craft, identifying “our place in this world.”

Five in a Row Lentil

Five in a Row Lentil

Finding and using ever-increasing circle sizes, we traced six different circles, representing Me, My Home, My City, My State, My Country, and My Planet. We could have added a few more increments in there but decided to keep it simple.

Five in a Row Lentil

Five in a Row Lentil

We then cut out each circle, and fastened each circle together with a fastener. Then on the first circle, they each wrote their name and drew a simple self-portrait. On the second circle, representing My Home, we learned and wrote our address. Clark and Luci drew something that represented their city on the third circle, My Home. They love the town library, so Luci drew shelves of books and Clark drew the elevator that takes us to the kids’ section. The fourth circle represented My State, so they traced a puzzle piece of the state of Texas, identifying our city with a star. Next circle is My Country and they decided to draw a picture of the American flag. Finally, on the last circle, My Planet, the children drew a picture of Earth.

Five in a Row Lentil

Five in a Row Lentil

We had, I thought, learned our address, but had not retained the information. This little project finally did the trick. I had then look for our house number and then go find the street name (literally across the street from us). Once they knew this, they were able to complete our address easily with the city we lived in and our state. Finally!

Five in a Row Lentil

Social Studies – History

Since this book was originally written in 1939, the illustrations reflect that time period. As we read through the book, we were able to identify how many things have changed. We were even able to identify a steam shovel, that we’d read about in another of Robert McCloskey’s books, Mike Mulligan and the Steam Shovel.

Patriotism

We deliberately read Lentil over the week of the 4th of July so that we could incorporate in some fun patriotic learning and activities. We sang the “Star Spangled Banner” every morning and recited the Pledge of Allegiance. As homeschoolers, we have not always incorporated these into our morning routine, so it was important to me that we set time aside to learn them well.

Five in a Row Lentil

While reading, I had the children point out the flag each time they saw it. Then, while driving about town on an errand, I had the children once again point out the flags. It became a contest between our town and Alto – and we won. I may have driven around a little to be sure we won.

We learned about the symbolism of the American flag, along with flag etiquette. We finished off the day with a 4th of July celebration and fireworks!

Five in a Row Lentil

Science – Taste Buds

Luci’s big question after reading Lentil was: “Why did the lemon make their mouths pucker up?” So, we decided to explore a little human anatomy and the science of taste. You can read more about our Testing the Tongue Mapping Theory HERE.

Testing the Tongue Mapping Theory

Art

Clark and Luci were delighted with the illustrations in this book. They found the exaggerated expressions on the characters’ faces hilarious. Since we love drawing, we decided to make our own characters faces.

Five in a Row Lentil

Five in a Row Lentil

We chose 4 different feelings – happy, sad, disgusted and surprised. Looking at the characters in the book, we noticed how a person moves their mouth, their eyes and their eyebrows with each expression. Both Clark and Luci love to draw, and are incredible at portraying expression, but they have not often included eyebrows on their characters.  Now they have another tool to play with in creating expressions!

Five in a Row Lentil

Music

We finished our reading of the book, Lentil with a quick study of sound and music.  I did a separate blog post about this here.

The Sound of Homeschool Music

We really enjoyed this book, and the opportunity to dig a little deeper, and to develop a stronger interest in sound and music. I’m hoping Clark and Luci will continue to develop this interest and perhaps want to learn an instrument in the near future.

Five in a Row Lentil

The Sound of Homeschool Music

We’ve been reading the story of Lentil, by Robert McCloskey. A big part of this story revolves around music, which led us on an entertaining rabbit trail all about music, sound, instruments, and bands. These rabbit trails are my favorite part of homeschooling. As we pursue our interests, the children come alive with delight, and learning is simply a by-product of our experiences.

In the story, when unable to sing, a boy named Lentil saves up his money to buy a harmonica. He then decides to become an expert in it. Becoming an expert in any musical instrument takes years of learning and practice. We learned this quickly when we bought our own harmonica and tried to play a song! It wasn’t very easy!

The Sound of Homeschool Music

Lentil found that his harmonica sounded best in the bathtub. This led to many questions while reading, which led to a discussion about sound. We talking about how sound bounces off different surfaces, just like a ball. I found a couple of ways to demonstrate this to the children.

First, we created a sound stick out of a used paper towel tube, a coffee filter and and rubber band. We covered the end of the tube with the coffee filter and secured it in place with the rubber band.

The Sound of Homeschool Music
The Sound of Homeschool Music

Clark and Luci then took turns singing – or shouting (because that’s what really went down) into their tubes, while placing their fingers gently over the coffee filter on the other end. This way, they were actually able to feel the sound waves. They noticed that it felt different if their voices were higher, lower, louder or quieter. The vibration was also different depending on the size of the tube.

DSC_5858
DSC_5854

Clark did some extra experimenting, including trying to play the harmonica into the tube. This didn’t work out quite as he would have liked, but he was still able to feel a small amount of vibration.

The Sound of Homeschool Music

We know that we can hear the effect of sound waves. And we just discovered that we can feel the effect of sound waves, but is it possible to see the effects of sound waves?  Could the vibration of the sound waves actually cause something to move?

This called for a second experiment! We pulled plastic wrap tightly and firmly over a large bowl. Then Luci place some beans on the plastic.

The Sound of Homeschool Music

The Sound of Homeschool Music

With a wooden spoon, Clark made as much noise as he could by banging an old pan. It was an awful lot of noise, but the beans didn’t move at all.  The children took time to hypothesize why the beans were not affected by the sound waves, and decided that maybe the beans were too big and heavy. We replaced the beans with tiny grains of salt, and guess what?

The Sound of Homeschool Music

The little grains of salt jumped all over the place when Clark and Luci took turns hitting the metal pan again. They jumped so much that many of them fell off the plastic onto the table.

The Sound of Homeschool Music
The Sound of Homeschool Music

Now, armed with a little understanding of how sound waves work, Clark and Luci went around the house, testing different surfaces to find the best tone. We even took the harmonica grocery shopping, so that we could test the tone in the entrance of the store. The children concluded that the harmonica sounded the best when surrounded in a hard surface because the sound waves were bouncing off the hard surface.

Musical Instruments

I grew up in a family who loved to play music. My Grandfather was a professional musician and my Mother was the most incredible piano player I have ever heard. From the time that I was 5 years old, I took piano lessons and this continued throughout high school. Music was an escape for me. It was a way to relax and unwind. I would like to pass this appreciation on to my children.

Since there were several mentions of musical instruments in the story of Lentil, I thought it would be a good opportunity to talk about the different types of musical instruments with Clark and Luci. We divided our learning up into 4 parts, one for each of the 4 groups of musical instruments: woodwinds, brass, strings and percussion.

In the story of Lentil, the young boy learned how to play the harmonica, which is actually a woodwind. It is made up of reeds, separated into slots. The sound comes from blowing your breath into the instrument, causing these reeds to vibrate. The reeds can be made of our several different types of material, such as bamboo, wood, metal, or even grass! Instruments with reeds are called woodwind instruments, and include the oboe, bassoon, flute, and saxophone.

The Sound of Homeschool Music

The book also mentions a brass band, another group of instruments. These include the trumpet, trombone, tuba, and cornet. The sound in these instruments, comes from the player making a buzzing with their lips, kind of like blowing raspberries.

The next group of instrument group is the Strings. My husband plays the guitar, so we have several of these in our home, along with a piano. We introduced the children to them but they have not shown much interested as of yet. However, we took the time to play with them, so that we could experiment with the vibrating strings. Besides the guitar, these instruments include the piano, violin, cello, and banjo.

Finally the last instrument group that we learned about was the Percussion group. This groups consists of all types of drums, cymbals and tambourines – parents’ least favorite group, I imagine. We’re a crafty family, but I have enough sense not to make homemade drums.

The Sound of Homeschool Music

What is your favorite type of instrument?