Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Appalachian Week: The Rag Coat by Lauren Mills

One of the first books we ever did with Five in a Row was The Rag Coat by Lauren Mills.  I was surprised I had never heard about this book since I thought I had read all children's books set in Appalachia. It's the story of a little girl named Minna whose father dies and her mother's friends ban together to sew her a quilted coat from scraps. It's definitely a tear-jerker and reminded me of Dolly Parton's song "Coat of Many Colors."

I wrote several blog posts about our adventures with The Rag Coat on my old blog so here's a flashback to our first year. I can't believe how they've all grown.

The weather happened to get really frigid just as we were starting this unit in November. So it was the perfect weather to huddle around the pellet stove, wrapped up in our favorite blankets and read aloud. The quilt they are sitting on is one my grandma made and they each have their special blanket Brent knitted for each girl when she was born.
 Listening to The Rag Coat

We also colored our own rag coats from a free lapbook by Aussie Pumpkin Patch.
Our Rag Coats
As we were thinking about other kids who may not have warm coats and other things this winter, it was also a great time to pack up our shoeboxes for Project Christmas Child. We put together four nice boxes to send to kids in other countries for Christmas.
 Project Christmas Child
We also learned a lot about quilts. First we learned that quilt started with the letter Q and cut and pasted strips of scrapbooking paper onto the letter Q.
Q is for Quilt

For math, I printed out these quilt grids and shapes from Mathwire's quilt activitities. I had some scrapbooking paper that looked like fabric so I cut it down to 8 1/2 by 11 and printed the shapes from Mathwire onto the pretty paper. We've been learning about rectangles and triangles in math, so it was a great extension of that. Mabel's square is first and Ella's is second.
  Shape Quilt squares
Shape Quilt Squares
Then in our Rightstart math lesson, we were learning about triangles. We made this Ten Triangle. Again I just copied the triangles from the book on scrapbook paper.
 Ten Triangle
 The most popular activity was something I created for my toddler who likes to rip things apart. I made a sticky quilt table. I taped a piece of clear contact paper on our small table so the sticky side was up. Then I gave the girls a lot of fabric squares we had left over from various baby quilts we've made. I thought it would mainly interest Beatrix, but all three girls had a ball putting the squares on. Sticky Quilt Table
 And, of course, ripping them off.
 Sticky Quilt

On our last two days, we studied Appalachian culture. Since I grew up in West Virginia and my mom's family is from Eastern Kentucky, it is a favorite subject of mine.

We read a lot of my favorite books including:
When I was Young in the Mountains by Cynthia Rylant
Appalachia: The Voice of Singing Birds by Cynthia Rylant
M is for Mountain State by Mary-Ann McCabe Riehle
My Mountain Song by Shutta Crum and Ted Rand

Boy, do Cynthia Rylant books make me homesick!
 Dancing to Doc Watson 
We also listened (and danced!) to some mountain and bluegrass music. Of course, we had to listen to Dolly Parton's "Coat of Many Colors." Then we listed to June Carter Cash and had this funny conversation with Ella.
"Her voice sounds funny!"
me: "She has a Southern accent. People talk differently in different parts of the country. Haven't you noticed that Mamaw and Papaw talk differently than you do?"
Ella: "No they don't, Mom! Everybody's voice is different!"

Ella's favorite by far, though, was Doc Watson. "Mom, let's listen to 'A Frog Named Gordon.'" "Um, you mean, 'Froggie went a Courtin'?" "Yeah!"

We ate some Appalachian foods like beans and cornbread. Okay, so we have this for dinner almost every week, but it is Appalachian food.

We also made some mountain collages, which I thought turned out really nicely.
Mountain collages
by Mabel
Mountain collages
by Ella

Then, finally, for science, we learned about how coal (or any sedimentary rock) is formed. It was a really yummy science lesson. We made what Ella called "Coal Mine Bars." Really they were S'More Granola Bars. The recipe was from the King Arthur Flour Baking Companion. We pressed down a layer of granola for the earth, then chocolate chips for the decaying plants, then marshmallows for more sediment and more granola on top. We pressed it all down and baked it and yum! See the coal layer?
Coal Mine cookies

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