Week In Review: Wee Gillis

I know I've said this before, but this was a great week!  There really hasn't been a Five in a Row book that we've done that I haven't loved.  It is amazing how this program has combined my love of literature with my love of unit studies!  Our time with "Wee Gillis" by Munro Leaf started in February when we went to a local Scottish festival so we could see some sheep herding, hear some bag pipes, watch some dancing, and eat some meat pies.  I have to be honest, this was such a fun book for our family that I'm really sad our week with it is over. 

Some bagpipers at the Scottish Festival
"Wee Gillis" is about a young boy named "Alastair Roderic Craigellachie Dalhousie Gowan Donnybristle MacMac, but that took to long to say, so everybody just called him Wee Gillis."

Social Studies
Several generations ago part of our family immigrated from Scotland, and a few years ago my dad was blessed to be able to go back, so as soon as I decided we were going to "row" this book I gave him a call, and let me tell you he really came through for us!   We had travel brochures, pictures, including one of the family castle, treats, and Bitsy and Manly got a long haired cow, and a little puppy too.  (They were stuffed!)

After we looked through all of grandma and grandpa's pictures we found Scotland on the map, and since Wee Gillis is deciding whether to live in the Highlands or the Lowlands, we colored two maps, one showing the Highlands, and one showing the Lowlands.  We also colored a Scottish flag.
We also talked about the importance of controlling our emotions, as that is not something Wee Gillis' uncles had quite mastered!

Language Arts
Wee Gillis had an extraordinarily long name, because he was named after so many of his ancestors, and since we had our family tree up still, the little ones pointed to the pictures of the people they wanted to be named after, and we came up with Wee Gillis names.  Bitsy's was "Itsy Bitsy Rebecca Jane Cora Burbank Viehwig Lynn Westover" and Manly's was "Little Man Alfred Arthur Wright Aberhart Alfonzo Marcus Hare".  They were both glad that we normally just call them Itsy Bitsy and Little Man!

We read several poems by well known Scottish poet, Robert Burns, and then listened to a reading of "My Heart's In The Highlands" by Prince Charles.  The children loved listening to it!  We listened to it at least 10 times, and they both have it pretty well memorized.  (Totally random fact, did you know Robert Burns is attributed with writing "Auld Lang Syne"?)
We found a picture of Burns in our "Journey Through Bookland" series.  He's the top right.
Bitsy also copied part of "My Heart's In the Highlands".
We also took a chance to look to compare the Highlanders and Lowlanders on our chalk board.  The children loved seeing the balance the author offers in his description of the two sides.
Our Highland cow was observing our lesson on comparisons.
Every once in a while I have an idea that I think is going to be really great, and I get excited for it, and then the little ones are totally unimpressed!  Gratefully this week, they thought my idea was a brilliant as I did.

Wee Gillis is drawn with ink and pen in black and white, so for our art lessons we switched things up and got black scratch art paper and sticks.  I ended up getting the paper in a fairly large quantity and as it turned out, that was a really good thing!  They have been scratching out pictures all week long.
My example of crosshatching.
I had hoped to get white scratch art paper with black underneath, but all I could find was white with rainbows, but no one seemed to mind.  In fact, they were completely thrilled after working with the black and white to discover the color underneath the white.
I was impressed with how much detail the children picked up on in the black and white illustrations.  They enjoyed finding the shadows as the manual suggests, but Bitsy noticed all on her own that there is a tiny little "RL" on the bottom of each illustration.  I explained to her that they are the initials of the artist Robert Lawson, and she went through the entire book looking for them.  I think she wanted to make sure he had illustrated the entire book.  There were only a few pages where we didn't find his initials.

We also spent a lot of time listening to our Putumayo "Celtic Dreamland" CD.
Surprisingly our math lessons this week were greatly enriched by a trip to Costco.  I wanted to introduce the concept of "half" since Wee Gillis is feeling divided by his relatives, and spends half his time in the Highlands and half in the Lowlands.  He also goes half way up a hill.  So imagine my pleasure when we were at Costco and they had shortbread cookies (which are very Scottish) that were half dipped in chocolate!!! 
Who doesn't love cookies, or chocolate, or built in math lessons?  It was a very well received math lesson.  Even Lettie enjoyed it.
We also learned about the months of the year and the days of the week.  We read and started memorizing "The Months" nursery rhyme from our book of poems, and spent time going through our family calendar discovering who has a birthday in which month.  We also colored a little book of pictures that go along with the verses of the poem.  I got the booklet from our now out of print "Hickory Dickory Math" book.
We spent quite a bit of time on science this week.
While we were at the Scottish Festival a few weeks ago we got to watch a lady card and spin some wool, and she was kind enough to share some of the uncarded wool with us so we could compare it to some carded wool we had already received.  We did a touch and smell comparison between the raw wool, the carded wool, and a wool skirt I have.
We also compared the pictures of the sheep Grandpa sent with the ones in our Encyclopedia of Animals, and the children were thrilled to see that the encyclopedia included a picture of the Scottish black face sheep that Grandma and Grandpa had seen.
We briefly discussed the water cycle, because it's something their familiar with from "The Magic School Bus Catches a Wave" DVD, and then we made fog in a bottle
You can just barely see the fog circulating around behind the condensation.
We also read about lungs in our "Usborne Look Inside Your Body" book.

Just for Fun (Science meets Field Trip)
Unbeknownst to Grandma and Grandpa Wee Gillis sits in some heather, which they not only sent us a picture of but also a little clipping of it from their garden.

Because the clippings on our table and the pictures were so pretty we took a field trip to the local nursery and picked up some heather to plant in our own yard.  We got a little extra botany lesson when we learned about the difference between true heather (Erica) and false heather (Cuphea).  We liked the look of the real thing better than the false, so we got two little plants to put in our front yard.
 Luckily we got it in before we got a big storm over the weekend!

Normally I would post our recipes for the week here as well, but we had so much fun with Scottish food, that it really needs it's own post, which I am hoping to get up later this week.

We are going to be starting "Peter Pan" next week as our family read aloud, since Grandpa sent pictures of J.M. Barrie's birthplace, and a picture of himself with a statue of one of the Lost Boys.  The little ones are really interested in hearing the story after seeing the pictures. 
Notice he was gluing so furiously his hand is blurred.
In other learning, Manly has been improving amazingly with his cutting skills.
 And little Lettie has learned how to push the laundry basket around, and is a big help on laundry day!  She likes to throw the lint in the trash can, throw things into the dryer, and push the basket anywhere you'll let her.

Maps, Copywork pages, Maps, and more at Homeschool Share
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Anonymous –   – (March 19, 2012 at 3:11 PM)  

Oh, this looks like so much fun! I wish things could be working out differently. We are finally starting to feel not so sick. Still sleeping much of the day, but we are starting to feel a little hungry again and our fevers are finally breaking. My 7 yr old came down with it over the weekend though and she is fairly miserable. I miss being home. Thank you so much for your encouraging words!

Michelle  – (March 19, 2012 at 3:21 PM)  

Abby, this is such a special and memorable row! So neat that you got to attend a Scottish festival and that you have Scottish relations. Your family tree project was so thoughtful and special. Loved the wool lesson, heather, fog in a bottle and the cross hatching art lesson! Great job! Can't wait to see your Scottish food!!!

JDaniel4's Mom  – (March 27, 2012 at 4:17 PM)  

I love this unit! You found such wonderful ways to explore the book.

Unknown  – (February 6, 2013 at 6:51 AM)  

Abby, thanks for sharing all that you've done. I am so blessed to chance upon your blog! I am going to do Wee Gillis soon and would appreciate your advice. My son is about 4.5 years old. What activities do you think would be suitable for him as there are so many great ones you have done but I am not sure if I am able to do all of them. Thanks so much for your kind advice! - Novice homeschooler :)

Abby  – (February 6, 2013 at 10:37 AM)  

If you're not sure how much you can get done, or what's appropriate for your son I would stick to the activities in the FIAR manual. Many of our activities wouldn't have even been possible for our family if we hadn't had Grandma and Grandpa send us things from their trip to Scotland. Good luck!

Tamara –   – (May 11, 2013 at 9:04 PM)  

Hi Abby,

I have had so much fun re-reading all of your FIAR posts!

Thank you for sharing all that you rowed. I am praying over rowing more books and feel so torn over the work involved.

Happy Mother's Day!

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