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Mrs. Katz and Tush was such a rich Five in a Row unit for us. This was our first time really digging deep as we read the book each day and explored different topics and themes that came out of the story.
It is a story about an elderly Jewish immigrant from Poland who has lost her husband and develops a bond with her young neighbor, Larnel, after he gives her a cat. As Larnel comes to visit every day and help with the cat, Mrs. Katz shares stories of her immigration, her Jewish heritage, and her life.
We took 2 weeks to work through this unit and we read a basketful of books together related to the themes of: cats, immigration, Jewish celebrations/history and Yiddish. We also talked about loving your neighbor and caring for others.
The books prompted many discussions so the children and I talked about anything new as it came up and also made connections as it related to things we already knew.
We completed activities that are related to the some of the themes or topics from the book. I’ll be sharing those with you and while there is certainly plenty of ideas found in the Five in a Row guide, I expanded upon them and made the unit our own.
My intention is to share our study with you in order to prompt ideas as you read, discuss and explore Mrs. Katz and Tush with your own children. Since we read quite a few supplementary books for this unit, I have included a free printable list that you can access at the bottom of the post.
First, I will share the activities related overall to the book, then cats, immigration, Jewish celebrations/history and Yiddish
Mrs. Katz and Tush Five in a Row
After we read the books over the course of the first week, we added our story disc to Poland (where Mrs. Katz was from) on our wall map of the world.
At the beginning of the second week, the children each put together their own notebook binder. I gave each of the children a three-ring binder, they created personalized covers and then we began to put a few items in the binder.
I have been reading about notebooking lately and although I have more to learn, I really like the concept of it and the way in which children learn through the process of it. So, even though I don’t have a clear vision or plan yet, I decided to go ahead and jump in. As I learn more and the children grow older, I’m sure we will enhance how we notebook but for now we’ll keep it simple.
First, the children wrote vocabulary cards of previously unknown words from Mrs. Katz and Tush. Kellan (age 8) completed more of them than Jenna and Alaina (both age 5). We glued an envelope on a page for them to store the cards in.
The children also wrote a story about a cat. I gave them the option of writing their own fiction story or writing facts about cats that they’ve learned through the study. All three children chose to write their own story and I scribed for the 5-year-olds.
I found the free cat notebooking page on the Activity Village website.
On day five, instead of reading the book to the kids myself, I put on the Reading Rainbow DVD and we watched the video. I was able to get the DVD from our library system but when I looked online to share it with you, I only found the Reading Rainbow Mrs. Katz and Tush VHS. This Reading Rainbow episode doesn’t include the whole story of Mrs. Katz and Tush but I found the video to be valuable anyways.
We really got into cats with this study! We read books together, they completed projects, watched a video and played with their stuffed mama cat and kittens!
Jenna received a momma cat with kittens for Christmas which was absolutely perfect for this study. We set her up in a little bed with her babies.
(It is the Manhattan Toy Nursing Nina Cat in case you are interested.)
The children have been so interested in art projects and crafts lately, so I went pretty heavy on the cat projects with this unit which they really enjoyed.
Project #1 ~ Patterned Cat
We combined two art projects from Art Projects for Kids to create our own version of a marker cat. We began by following the steps for Draw a Sitting Cat and then used Sharpies to outline the cat and color it in with each child creating their own pattern. We used the Patterned Marker Cat as a general guide but the kids patterned/colored the cats in their own way.
Project #2 ~ Sculpey Cat
The children each sculpted their own cat using Sculpey oven-bake clay.
We didn’t get a chance to paint them but we may do that this week if there is time.
Project #3 ~ Lost Cat Sign
Just like Mrs. Katz and Myron made lost cat signs and hung them around the neighborhood after Tush went missing, the children each made their own Lost Cat Sign. Jenna and Alaina used cat photos printed off the computer for theirs and Kellan wanted to draw his own picture of a cat.
We talked about what information we would want to include if we were actually putting the posters up around our neighborhood (name of the cat, details about how they look or might respond to you, our name and phone number, etc.).
We also watched the Cat DK Eyewitness DVD to supplement their learning about cats.
I found our exploration of immigration (to America) to be one of the most exciting parts of this unit study. The girls really had no understanding of immigration prior to this so it was gratifying to talk to them about it.
My Mom immigrated to America with her family when she was a baby and she has a very interesting family history so it was an excellent opportunity to talk to the kids about that.
We read a couple of books, both of which were fantastic and relatable to our discussions. I have since found some additional books that I think the children would really enjoy so I have ordered those from the library. And that is part of what is so great about Five in a Row (and homeschooling in general)!
Five in a Row allows and encourages exploration into various topics so you can find out what topics your children are interested in and then dig deep into those. Even though our two weeks are over with Mrs. Katz and Tush I will certainly make time to continue to explore immigration and other topics with the kids as they show an interest.
My Mom shared some old photos and papers with us from when her family came to America. The children and I talked a little bit about that experience and what it must have been like for their family. (Unfortunately, I didn’t get any photos).
We also talked about the Statue of Liberty and what that meant to the people coming to our country.
Theme: Jewish Celebrations/History
Since I am not very familiar with current Jewish celebrations and some of the history, it was interesting to learn a little more about them. We read a couple of books, talked about Hanukkah, Passover, the Jewish people, the Jewish religion and some of the main differences to Christianity. We also made Kugel, a Jewish dish often served at celebrations.
We had a lot of fun making the kugel together, and one child in particular really got into it. I definitely want to make more ethnic foods with the kids as we learn about other people and parts of the world, as it truly enriched our study.
And yes, Joey’s smile is totally staged. He jumped in to get in the photo and put on his best “I am in a commercial” face. This guy cracks me up. 🙂
We used a Kugel recipe I found at allrecipes.com.
We read this two books about a Yiddish chicken which include words and phrases translated in Yiddish. They are both cute, fun books that added to our discussions about the Yiddish language.
Overall, Mrs. Katz and Tush was such a valuable, rich study that allowed us to explore various topics and read quality literature.
If interested, you can read this post about why we decided to add Five in a Row to our homeschool.