Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Higgens Bend Song and Dance: Five in a Row

We've wrapped up our final few weeks of school here at School of Good Books. We finished our year off with another book about fish--this time a tale tale about a grumpy old man named Simon Henry and his quest to catch an elusive catfish named Oscar, Higgens Bend Song and Dance by Jacqueline B. Martin. The lessons for this book are in Five in a Row Volume 4. I wasn't sure if this book would appeal to my kids, but they loved it. They thought the characters were hilarious, and loved the phrase, "You're as sour as your socks!"

For art, we learned about cross-section paintings, and tried to make our own watercolor versions of Brad Sneed's artwork. We also compared and contrasted Sneed's artwork in this book with his illustrations in The Pumpkin Runner, which we read earlier this year.I thought all their paintings came out great!
by Ella (10)
Beatrix (6)
by Mabel (8)
by Gilead (4)

A few weeks ago, my husband was taking our dog out at night,when he heard a rustling in the yard. He thought it might be a squirrel or a cat, so he turned on the flashlight on his phone and shined it at the yard. There were dozens of nightcrawlers squirming and tunneling back underground. Apparently, our yard is a worm heaven. So, this seemed like a great time to learn about worms.We read two great books about worms:We Dig Worms by Kevin McCloskey, and Wiggling Worms at Work by Wendy Pfeffer. Then we went on a nature walk in our backyard and quickly found a worm under a rock. Then we noticed that there were dozens of little holes in the dirt. Beside each hole were piles of little dirt pellets: worm castings! Then later we saw a robin pull a worm out of the yard and eat it. 
We got out our nature journals to draw some worms. Mabel used her imagination to picture a worm's home underground. I love the worm making dinner!
Ella catalogued all kinds of worms, and insects we've seen lately.
Trixie found some old drawings of birds in her journal, and added worms!
For geography, we learned about rivers, and why they bend and form meanders. We tried a fun experiment from a library book called Geography for Fun. We filled a shallow tray with sand and then poured streams of water down it, making our own rivers. It was a great demonstration of how rivers branch and connect together. We also experimented with putting obstructions in the way to see what would happen. We really enjoyed the book River Discoveries by Ginger Wadsworth. The book showed the same river every hour through a day and night and highlighted the different animals that made their homes there. There were so many creatures to look and find in the illustrations.
On our last day of school, the kids had the idea to turn the book into a play. They put together some costumes and props. Gilead was Simon Henry, the grumpy fisherman. "Mom, I don't know if I can frown that long!"
 Mabel was Potato Kelly, owner of Potato Kelly's Bait and Chowder Shop and an enormous pair of glasses.
 Trixie played Oscar, the catfish.
 I read the book, and Ella was our photographer. 

Simon Henry's frustrating attempt to catch the catfish.
Potato Kelly bets him new boots and a new hat that he can't catch the catfish. Simon Henry says he'll come to her potluck and dance with his fishpole if he doesn't catch Oscar.
Simon Henry falls asleep in his boots, trying to find a bait that the catfish won't steal.

Simon Henry finally finds the perfect bait. His sour socks! Potato Kelly saves him from falling off the raft. A dogfish joins the catfish in the water.
Simon Henry loses the bet, but gains some new boots and a new friend. He does show up at that potluck and dance with his fishing pole, sing with a bullfrog, and even taste some sour socks soup.

For our final adventure, our science class took a field trip to the Robert E. Barrett Fishway at our local hydroelectric dam.
We learned about the Shad that migrate from the Atlantic ocean up to their birthplaces on the Connecticut River. After a short class with our tour guide, we got to see the fish in the observation tank, and the turbines that make electricity. Then we went out on the platform and saw them operate the fish elevators that take fish up over the dam, through the observation tank, and into the river above the dam. We even got to see some Great Blue Heron fishing in the river below the dam. Then we played a fun scent game to demonstrate how the fish find their way back to their river birthplaces. Three moms volunteered to be New England rivers. They were each given a bottle with a special scent inside. Each kid was then given a bottle of scent and they had to match up their scent with their home river. We had a great time and enjoyed a fun afternoon at the park afterward.


  1. What an interesting post. The children did such a great job with the play. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Your children are very talented. They always enjoy their lessons .

  3. What an interesting post. The children did such a great job with the play. Thanks for sharing.
    School Books Online