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Friday’s Vintage Find:: The Story About Ping (and some Go-Alongs and an Art Activity, too)

The Story About Ping probably doesn’t need much of an introduction, but I wanted to share a few of the books we read and an activity we did in relation to this story.  For those who are unfamiliar with this classic tale, it’s Marjorie Flack’s story of a little duck named Ping who lives with his large family on “a boat with two wise eyes on the Yangtze River” in China.  The ducks all leave their home during the day to hunt for food, but once the sun begins to set, the Master of the boat calls them back.  It is unfortunate, though, to be the last duck to return; this duck always receives a spank on the back.  One day, Ping is running late, and rather than be the one to get the spank, he decides to not return at all that night.  What follows is a short little series of adventures which end up with Ping almost becoming a duck dinner.  He learns his lesson, though, and decides that home’s best, spank or no spank.  Marjorie Flack (who also wrote and illustrated the Angus stories) first published this book in 1933, so it’s a real classic.  Kurt Wiese‘s illustrations are colorful and depict the action in the story very convincingly for the preschool set.  (As a side note, Kurt Wiese spent some time in China and later in Australia as a prisoner of war of the Japanese.  This is where he discovered and honed his talent for illustrations.  Interesting, huh?)  The Story About Ping is really too good to miss, which is why it’s included in the first volume of Five in a Row.

We didn’t “row” this book fully, and I decided to dispense with the lapbooking this time.  As much as I want to, I just can’t always make myself love lapbooking.  It’s a love-hate relationship, I guess.  I think that if my children were older and had the motor skills necessary for lots of writing, etc., I might like it more.  I’m not crossing it off the list yet, but I think it will be something we do sometimes instead of all the time.  What we did, though, is share several other books set in China, as well as celebrate Chinese New Year with the reading of The Story About Ping
The book I liked the most that we read is Arlene Mosel’s Tikki Tikki Tembo, a book which certainly deserves its own Friday’s Vintage Find post.  Tikki Tikki Tembo is a book I remember from my own childhood–I loved it!  It takes some practice (or familiarity, at least) to read it well, but the effect is worth it.  Another more recent book we enjoyed is The Moon Lady by Amy Tan.  I was curious to read something by an author I previously knew only as an author of adult fiction, and neither I nor the girls was disappointed.  This book, as well as the books I highlighted here, were perfect to go along with the Chinese New Year festival.  We read a few more, including some nonfiction titles to provide some visual images of the Yangtze River and life in China, etc., but these two were the best picks.

In addition to doing a lot of reading, we also incorporated an art activity into our “study.”  Storybook Art by MaryAnn F. Kohl and Jean Potter is a resource I often turn to for suggestions of art activities to really focus on some of the techniques of famous children’s book illustrators.  It’s chock full of good ideas.  One hundred illustrators are highlighted in this book, so in all likelihood, if it’s a classic story, it’s included in Storybook Art.  This is where we got the idea to make a duck template and repeat the pattern.  (Please excuse the glare and the shadow of my head, etc., on the pictures.  I took these in the afternoon, and while the afternoon sun streaming through our schoolroom windows is lovely, it makes it difficult to take good pictures.)

This first picture includes the one I made.  Until baby brother arrives and is old enough to participate, I suppose Mama will always have to create art, too, to fill up our three frames!  🙂 


Louise once gain had her own idea about how this art activity should go.  Her boat does have “wise eyes,” though.

Lulu included not only the ducks, but also a fishing bird that appears in the story.  (I think the birds are actually cormorants.)  Do you see the “wise eyes” on her boat?

Last, no study of another country is complete without at least looking at a map!  I’ve still yet to get our map up on our school room wall, but I did pull it out so we could find China and the Yangtze River.  The girls loved this! 

I’m linking this post to this week’s stART at A Mommy’s Adventures.  This is a great meme to which bloggers link their children’s literature-related art activities.  Won’t you consider joining in?


Friday Felicities

I’m getting a late start on this Friday morning.  Our schedule is sort of up in the air today due to a wintry mix (rain/sleet/snow?–what we usually get) that might hit our area later this afternoon.  Our homeschool group meeting was cancelled today, so here I sit, with an unplanned Friday ahead of me.  I’m thinking we might do some “catch-up” school and a fair amount of reading.  I also have a lot of cooking and baking to do today for some church events this weekend, so let’s get started on some happies for the last week of January:

  • My girls have played extremely well together this week for at least part of the time.  😉  (I’ll take what I can get!)  One day I even postponed starting school until almost lunchtime because they were having such a good time and playing cooperatively.  Lulu’s in kindergarten, right?  It should be about play!
  • I finished The Hunger Games on Thursday and was blown away.  Wow!
  • We grocery shopped last night (thank you, Lord, for a husband who’s willing to help with almost any chore!), so we have full cupboards, pantry, and refrigerator once again.  Such abundance!
  • Our homeschool group “faculty” met last night, too, to hammer out the rest of the year.  I’m blessed to a part of such a Godly group of ladies who genuinely care about educating our children.
  • I’ve been reliving mine and Steady Eddie’s honeymoon trip which occurred 10 1/2 years ago now through a final post I’m preparing for the L.M. Montgomery Reading Challenge (which ends this weekend!).  Stay tuned!
  • I’ve hit upon a few solutions for our school day that seem to be working (at the moment 😉 ).  One is having Louise illustrate books while Lulu and I work.  Louise can usually entertain herself very well, but during school time she really jockeys for attention.  She loves to draw and write, though, so I staple together several blank pieces of paper and let her create.  Later, she narrates her story to me, and I write it in her book.  She’s written three or four books this week!
  • The other solution has to do with Lulu and encouraging her growing ability and interest in reading.  Up until this week, I’ve kept most of our phonics readers put away so that I can get them.  This week, I pulled them out and put them in a basket in our reading corner where she and Louise can get them.  It’s working!  She has voluntarily read more (and more challenging) books than she has up until this point!

For more Friday Felicities, visit Joyful Mother!

Katy and the Big Snow::Lapbook and Related Activities


In this last installment of the Katy and the Big Snow series here at Hope Is the Word, I wanted to share a few pictures of the lapbooks we made and the artwork we did, all inspired by Katy.  Let me admit up front that I am NO lapbooking expert, as you will soon see.  😉  In fact, after a few attempts last year, I had all but sworn them off.  My girls didn’t seem to get it, or to care one way or another.  I didn’t really get it, either, in fact.  Now I see more value in them, especially after perusing such blogs as Jimmie’s Collage (see her lapbooking category, specifically, but don’t miss her living in China posts, either–some of them are very funny!).  Obviously, her student is much older than mine are, but now I see just what potential is contained in these little projects.  I also really like the fact that Jimmie employs the Charlotte Mason method in her homeschool.  I’m currently having a philosophical crisis as to which direction we should take next year in our homeschool, and there may or may not be a post about that in the future.  🙂

Anyway, back to lapbooking.  For Katy and the Big Snow, I almost exclusively used ideas and resources from Homeschool Share.  (The direct link for the Katy resources is here.)  Honestly, a hodgepodge of activities with no rhyme or reason behind them is not exactly how I like to do things, but for students as young as my girls, I think it’s probably okay.  (I admit that at this point in our home educating journey, I need some hand-holding.)  Besides, that’s how Five in  a Row works; it’s a collection of such varied titles that there really is no theme at all.  (As a side note, this issue is one reason I like Jimmie’s Collage so much–her lapbooks are used primarily for narration, etc., and I like that.  I can see the purpose in it–I just have to remind myself that her daughter is older than mine!)  I think the activities I chose for us to use for our Katy lapbook, though, were meaningful for my girls.

I had the girls draw a picture of Katy for the cover of their lapbooks.  Unfortunately, I chose manila-colored (is manila a color?) drawing paper, which made for a rather visually boring project (minus the girls’ drawings, of course).  The first one is Lulu’s, age 5.  Louise, age 4, liked her drawing of Katy so well that she didn’t want me to cut it, so we ended up putting her first drawing on the back and she made another picture for the front.  Thus, the next two pictures are her handiwork.

(This is a picture of the “bacry” (bakery) in Geoppolis.   That’s Katy drawn in pencil in the upper left-hand corner.)

Next is the inside of Lulu’s lapbook.  Louise’s looks the same, except for the fact that almost all of the activities required more fine motor skills (and patience!) than she currently possesses, so she was essentially along for the ride.  Her drawing skills, though, are par excellence!  🙂  The inside of lapbook itself is where things look a little rough from the teacher end.  (Why, oh why must I be a perfectionist?)  When I look at it, though, we covered a lot of territory:

  • math:  addition word problems made up from the story, counting by fives, and patterns
  • science:  a week-long weather log and compass/compass rose introduction (with daddy)
  • character development:  the meaning of the word responsibility and personal application
  • handwriting
  • vocbulary:  lots of discussion about horsepower and compass/compass rose

The little math worksheets are part/whole circles for addition.  We use RightStart Math, and this is one of the ways addition is introduced.  I was quite proud of myself for figuring out how to make those worksheets in Word, and then I promptly forgot to save the document.  Ah, well–at least I’ll get lots of practice in making them!  😉

We also spent some quality time with our watercolors in some Katy-inspired artwork.  I even got in on the action–that’s my picture (copied straight out of the book!) at the top of the post.  (In addition to being a novice at lapbooking, I am also quite unskilled as an artist.  But I do enjoy it!)  After we got started, I realized that watercolors were probably not the best medium for this type of project, but we were already too far in to turn back.  It’s difficult to read, but Lulu’s piece is a building (the highway department, maybe) with “Geoppolis” on the front. 

I feel like the whole idea of lapbooking and studying different topics based on a common story came together with this Katy and the Big Snow experience. Our study was punctuated by Lulu’s sickness, but I still think she got something out of it.  One thing that we didn’t include in our lapbook that related to this story was our Bible memory work.  Before Christmas we had been working on Psalm 34 , but that sort of fizzled out with all the Christmas activities, etc.  (I believe we got down to about verse 14 or 15.)  However, once we got back into our normal morning routine, I decided to go with something shorter.  Candace’s use of the hymn “Whiter Than Snow” in her snow unit inspired me to come up with a snow-related verse, so we learned Isaiah 1:18:

“Come now, let us reason together,”
       says the LORD. 
 “Though your sins are like scarlet,
       they shall be as white as snow;
       though they are red as crimson,
       they shall be like wool.”

This turned out to be the perfect short memory passage since we actually had a little bit of snow!

If you’re interested in backtracking and reading all of my Katy and the Big Snow related posts, here are the links:

Before I end this marathon of a post, I wanted to share a little piece of our schoolroom.  Back in September, Steady Eddie and I made a dash over to Atlanta to purchase some things for our room.  This marked our inaugural visit to IKEA (!!!), and I brought back these little red frames from there, among lots of other goodies.  These frames are sized 8.5″ x 11″, so they’re made for artwork. 

I hope to one day soon give you a tour of our schoolroom.  We use it every day, and we’re thoroughly enjoying having our own space.  I just need to tidy it up a bit (and keep it tidy long enough to photograph it!) and finish up a few little projects.  Stay tuned!  🙂

Still Working. . .

tables and chairs

It has been a couple of weeks since Steady Eddie put in a twelve hour day to lay the floor in our new school room.  After that LONG but rewarding day, we continued to make progress, but it was much slower progress due to several factors, not the least of which was exhaustion with the whole project.  My biggest hold-up has been that we didn’t have the furniture we needed to finish the room.  Steady Eddie suggested at the end of last week that we make a quick Labor Day weekend trip to Atlanta to shop at Lakeshore Learning and IKEA.  Although Atlanta is not exactly next door the House of Hope, I was game for the trip.  I’ve never turned down a shopping trip.  🙂  I had my eye on one of these tables from Lakeshore, and although the price tag is prohibitive, I thought it might be worth it since a table like this will grow with the girls.  

We visited two Lakeshore Learning stores.  The first one was a new one and it didn’t stock furniture at all.  The nice sales associate told us we could have one shipped to the store for no extra charge.  That’s nice, but it wouldn’t help us at all since we were several hours away from home.  The associate mentioned that they were closing the other store not too many miles away and that the new store was absorbing their leftover inventory.  After purchasing a few art supplies, we left.  I was already envisioning a make-do secondhand table, and I was really okay with it.  Steady Eddie, however, wanted to visit the closing Lakeshore Learning store.  I didn’t have much hope that this would turn up anything after visiting the new store’s clearance section.  I am a bargain hunter in the extreme, and I didn’t see any bargains on the clearance shelves. 

We walked into the Lakeshore Learning store with the red banner announcing their imminent closing and was greeted by a jumble of tables:  wooden, red, kidney-shaped, blue, small, rectangular, large, all on sale.  The large, blue-purple kidney-shaped table sported a tag:  60% off.  I couldn’t believe it.  I really hadn’t planned on one of these since they’re more appropriate for larger group instruction that what we’ll be doing at home, but I know a bargain when I see one.  We began to talk to the sales associate, and he informed us that they had even more tables on sale.  My eyes fell on a cheerful red table, just the perfect size for our little homeschool of two.  The tables were floor models, so they had some scuff marks and their tops needed cleaning.  The manager ended up letting us have them for 70% off because an associate had misquoted the price of the larger one to us at first.  Steady Eddie and I quickly decided to purchase both the larger, purple table and the small, red one.  I had dreamed of an art table and a table for our written work, etc., but I never dreamed I’d find both on this trip.  We even purchased three chairs.  We spent about $250 on five pieces of furniture. 

I had no idea when we left home on this spur-of-the-moment trip that I would come home with TWO of these wonderful tables.  I am so thankful for this blessing!  Thank you, God!

Messy Monday

color wheel garland

I have grand plans when it comes to crafting with my children, but I don’t usually carry them out.  The mess factor deters me too often, but I am turning over a new leaf as a homeschooling mother.  😉  My goal is to do something intentionally artistic with them at least once a week.  Often these projects will relate to our current Five in a Row selection.  However, for our first week of kindergarten, I was inspired by the September 2009 issue of Family Fun magazine.  When my eyes caught the blurb below the title of this craft in the magazine, I knew I had found something perfect for us:  “Color Wheel Garland:  This project involves ripping paper and swabbing on glue–which made it irresistable to our preschool testers.”  I can do this, I thought. 

I had to let go of my perfectionism (an ongoing task), but it was worth it.  The girls had a great time choosing pages to tear out of our used-bookstore issue magazines (recyling!), ripping them into bits (fine motor skills!), categorizing them by color (sorting!), and mod-podging them to the cardboard circles I had prepared from old cereal boxes  (motor skills, mess, and recycling!).  A few hours’ drying time, some trimming, and we have a colorful garland to hang in our work-in-progress school room window. 

I might get used to this.  🙂

(For more kid-friendly artistic inspiration, check out The Crafty Crow.  I’ve seen this blog around for a while, but I’m only beginning to investigate it.  I think it will be a great resource for us!)

Another Piece of the Puzzle

laying the floor


By now Steady Eddie probably feels like lying down on the floor, not laying it.  He’s been at it all day, folks.  All day.  He’s my hero.  🙂

Louise asked me a day or two ago just how daddy would put the floor down.  I responded that it is sort of like putting a puzzle together.  Her response?  “Except it’s not as much fun?” 

Steady Eddie concurs. 

He’s my hero.  🙂

(It’s really coming along since the last post!  We’re almost there.  I think I can. . .I think I can. . .I think I can.)

How to Pick a School Room Color

window with primer on wall

We’re coming to the end of our project, but there are still countless trips to this store and that to pick up what we lack to bring it to completion.  Steady Eddie and I usually do things together when we can, so most Saturday excursions are family outings.  However, this past Saturday he had a good two hours’ worth of work to do in the attic, and we are ready to stamp a big “DONE” on our remodeling project.  So, I got the girls ready and headed out the door to the Habitat for Humanity ReStore and then to Lowe’s to buy everything we needed to finish our project plus the kitchen sink.  (Not really, but it felt that way.)  My objectives at the home improvement store were twofold:  buy stuff to go on the walls (primer and paint) and things to help us see while keeping us cool (ceiling fans–we live in the South, y’all).  The paint and primer I was good with–I’ve done that before, never mind the fact that I still hadn’t picked out a wall color.  The ceiling fans I wasn’t so confident about:  What size fan do we really need for the laundry room?  The larger school room?  What type of lights is best if this will be our only source?  Flush mount or hanging?  (Actually, I knew this one–hanging, due to the high ceilings.) 

 The girls and I went into the store, they having been duly warned, snacked and watered.  We headed to the paint section, and I began studying the chips.  The girls surveyed the lay of the land and proceeded to pick out the one chip or paint folder that I allotted them.  Oh, the joy!  I commented to a fellow shopper that I’d just about pay someone to do this for me, and then I noted that people actually do that, right?  She asked if I was building a house.  No, I said, just enclosing a garage.  Perish the thought, my internal commentary ran–I don’t think I could ever make that many decisions.  I finally settled on what I thought would make a nice, soothing color for the walls and proceeded to get in line behind the other two or three customers already at the paint desk.  After standing there a few minutes, I decided that perhaps going on to pick out our ceiling fans would be a better use of my time (which was quickly slipping by).  I would come back later when (hopefully) the paint desk was not as busy. 

Ths is where the fun really began, folks.  I stood under those fifty or so spinning fans, peering up and trying to read the attached signs blowing in the gentle breeze.  42 inches?  52 inches?   Call Steady Eddie.  Tell the girls I can’t talk to them right now–I’m talking to dad.  Repeat.  Stand peering again.  Call him back.  Discuss more.  Remind the girls not to push the cart while we’re standing there.  Repeat.  Steady Eddie and I  finally decided that we needed fans with the open lights because we need all the light we can get.  We also decided to go with the 42″ fans in the school room, which Steady Eddie based upon the size of the fan in our kitchen.  Surely a smaller fan would work in the laundry room.  Okay, done. 

Well, not quite.  Steady Eddie’s one stipulation was that the light fixtures take regular bulbs, not the candelabra base bulbs that was printed on every box I saw.  I asked the helpful Lowe’s employee, and he informed me that such light fixtures are no longer legal on ceiling fans.  Something about energy conservation.  Huh.  Another decision made for me.  Yay!

I finally hefted three boxes full of ceiling fan boxes into my cart and headed back to the paint desk, which was deserted.  Praise the Lord!  About this time, I looked down at the paint chip and realized the name of the paint I had picked out. 



Prairie Sky.  If you’re a regular reader here, you know that my girls adore Little House on the Prairie in all its incarnations–original books, picture book, television show, audiobook–all of them.  Could it be more fitting that our school room be painted prairie sky?

window corner block with paint

This project is looking up, folks.  It’s looking up.

(If I’m not around again until Read Aloud Thursday, you’ll know why.)

I really should be painting right now. . .

but I wanted to give a quick update on our remodeling project.  This weekend my wonderful mother-in-law took the girls Friday night and kept them until Saturday night so that we could get some serious work done.  This is what I accomplished:

  • finished a TOS review
  • read a lot of blogs
  • began another blog post
  • finished pricing a bunch of stuff for a children’s clothing, etc consignment sale
  • helped put a couple of coats of primer on the laundry room

I sort of felt like a slacker part of the time because there is so much that needs to be done, but much of it just has to wait. 

Steady Eddie, on the other hand, really did do a lot of serious work.  He stayed under the house for a couple of hours working on plumbing and wiring.  He literally worked all day long, but it was mostly on “behind the scenes” stuff.  Therefore, the picture I’m sharing doesn’t look tremendously different from the previous one, but trust me when I say that there’s more going on here than meets the eye. 😉

ouside with siding

Please excuse the van antenna that is bisecting the left-hand window.  If I were any good at Photoshop, I would Photoshop that out.  I’d Photoshop out all of the stuff currently piled up in our driveway, too. . .

Thank you, Lord, for this blessing!  🙂


I wanted to share a bit about the progress on our remodeling project.  Today was a day of big progress!  We actually have an enclosed garage now, with a door that locks and everything!


I am so excited about this!  The door you see here is the one that used to be our kitchen door.  Now the kitchen doorway is open into the garage school room, and the house feels twice as big as it did yesterday!  🙂 Tomorrow the siding should go up. 

They have also made a good bit of progress indoors.  This is a picture I snapped a day or two ago:

sheetrock school room

This lovely green and purple corner is about one-half of the school room.  (Did anyone besides me not know sheetrock comes in such fancy colors?)  The facing wall (which no longer has the little “window”) is the backside of the laundry room.  Now in the opposite corner, next to the kitchen door, we also have a nicely framed-up closet which is awaiting sheetrock. 

Thank you, Lord, for these blessings!  🙂



This is how my girls spent a portion of every morning last week while my uncle, his helper, Steady Eddie, my dad, and my brother-in-law have worked on closing in our garage to make it our laundry room, school room, and closet. 

Frankly, I’ve gone from pure anticipation to having to remind myself exactly why we’re undertaking this project, but I know it will be worth it in the end.  I’m such a routine person that I get (more than) a little antsy when mine gets upset.  Right now I have a backlog of laundry because I have neither a dryer nor a clothesline.  Yesterday we had no water for a while, so we had to hie ourselves to my mother-in-law’s house for bathing. 

However, this one thing makes it all worthwhile:

utility sink

That’s my utility sink in my soon-to-be-sheetrocked laundry room.  I’ve always wanted one of these! 

To date, we have a framed up laundry room, plumbing for the washer and utility sink, a new home for our hot water heater, and, after Steady Eddie has spent the last hour this Sunday night under our house working on wiring, power in the laundry room (I hope!).  It doesn’t look like much, but we’re getting there!

laundry room framed

Although I am pretty excited about the laundry room, I know once we begin on the school room I’ll grow even more anxious to have it completely finished! 

Lord, please give me the patience to endure enjoy my blessings!  😉