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If you are familiar with Five in a Row, you know that the idea of this curriculum is to read the selected book five days in a row and explore that book and related themes for five days. And then discuss and complete activities related to the book in the areas of social studies, language arts, art, math and science. It has been described as a complete curriculum for ages 4-8.
This semester I am using it as a basis, but it’s not our sole curriculum. I am also using Math U See for all three children, All About Spelling Level 3 for Kellan (age 8), All About Reading Level 1 for Jenna and Alaina (both age 5) and Zeezok Music Appreciation. Additionally, I am expanding upon the suggested exercises and activities for Five in a Row and adding projects and books that relate to the themes and topics in the selected book for the week. If you are interested in knowing why I switched gears mid-year, you can read more about my decision to use Five in a Row.
Our Mirette on the High Wire Five in a Row Unit Study
We began our study of France with a week of reading Mirette on the High Wire and then continued our study while reading Madeline for a week. Much of our reading of additional books related to France and Paris was done during our week of reading Mirette, while many of the activities related to Paris were completed during our week of reading Madeline. So, be sure to check out my post on our Madeline unit study for information on those activities.
With Mirette on the High Wire, we explored the high wire, balance, determination, France and Paris.
Balance & Tightrope Walking
Have you ever heard of CooCoo the Rocking Clown? He is a great example of how difficult balancing can be and how even the slightest shift in weight can make something (or someone) tumble over. This was a fun way for us to explore balance and relate that to the balance that is needed for tight rope walkers, including Mirette and Bellini, to be successful. We also discussed the importance of practice, determination and perseverance.
It’s a lot more difficult than you might think to balance the pegs on CooCoo!
Throughout the week the children were often trying to balance on their own imagined high wires. It warmed up a bit outside and the snow melted so we were able to set up our own “high wire” with some tape on the deck. The kids had fun trying to walk across, frontwards, backwards, and in other silly ways.
Made By Joel has some wonderful free printables, including this high wire walker/circus coloring page. The children all colored the page and Kellan added Bellini to the page, hanging from the high wire because, of course, he wanted to make it funny. 🙂
Kellan wrote his own story about a guy who walked a high wire. This was completely unprompted and just something he wanted to do. He wrote his story and added it to his journal.
We began our France study with this Madeline unit but many of the projects and activities we completed the following week during our Madeline unit. We did however read many books and completed a couple of French projects.
The children painted an Impressionist Landscape of France. We followed one of the projects from Home Art Studio First Grade DVD. We talked about some of the Impressionist painters, such as Monet, and looked at some of their artwork. I then began the video, which we always watch all the way through first. We then begin the project and follow along with the video, pausing when necessary.
We read together A LOT this week. I borrowed many books from the library related to the high wire and France and we read nearly all of them over the course of a week.
Books About Tight Rope Walkers
The Man Who Walked Between Two Towers by Mordicai Gerstein is a fascinating book about a man who set up a high wire and walked between the Twin Towers in New York. There are a couple of movies available about him and the event, there’s both a documentary and a scripted movie. After reading some information online about the movies I decided they may not be appropriate for the children so we didn’t end up watching them.
But just reading the book with the children prompted a lot of discussions and we spent quite a bit of time talking about the Twin Towers, high rises, September 11th, what happened that day and why. They had many, many questions so I answered them as best as I could and we ended up spending quite a bit of time in discussion. But I felt it was important so I’m glad we took the time to do that. Which is what I really love about Five in a Row…..how one subject can lead into another and allows for the flexibility to explore and discuss events and topics as they arise.
The Man Who Walked Between the Towers by Mordicai Gerstein
Starring Mirette & Bellini by Emily Arnold McCully
High-Wire Henry by Mary Calhoun
Books With Characters in France
The Cat Who Walked Across France by Kate Banks
Adele & Simon by Barbara McClintock
Anatole by Eve Titus
Books That Will Walk You Through Paris
A Walk in Paris by Salvatore Rubbino
This is Paris by Miroslav Sasek
Everybody Bonjours! by Leslie Kimmelman
And a Couple More Books Related to France
France ABCs by Sharon Katz Cooper
Charlotte in Paris by Joan MacPhail Knight