March 18, 2004

Miss Rumphius Lesson

Today we had our homeschool support group literature based class. The first class was "I'm Gonna Like Me" by Jamie Lee Curtis, find out more here. Today we studied Miss Rumphius by Barabara Cooney. This is one of my favorite children's books of all time. I really enjoyed the group activities we did as well.

We began by sitting in a circle and reading the book to all the kids. Then we talked about how Miss Rumphius traveled to far away places and let the kids each share a place they would like to travel to, several of the older children had drawn a picture to represent where they would travel too and each took a turn explaining why or answering questions that people asked. Some places people wanted to visit included: Mars, Egypt, Hawaii, a cave, and the inside of a spinning potato (complete with a demonstration of how a potato would spin). Ciaran wanted to visit the Star Wars family in space on their spaceship and shared a book with pictures of the Star Wars characters. Rhiannon brought in a book and map of Ireland - her location of choice. She held the book on her lap and showed the pictures. She said she would like to visit because of the castles, pretty gardens, and nice sunsets. She wore her Irish step dance costume including her ghillies and demonstrated an Irish dance. She did not do the complete dance - but it was nice to see her willing to stand up in front of her peers and do what she did.

After that we painted lupines. Two of the older children had prepainted the green stems and a mother brought pretty pastel paints. The kids used their fingers to make lupine flowers. Each child made one - we used this example as a basis. Though each child's flower looked very different. Ciaran made a purple one and Rhiannon made a light blue one. While we were painting the lupines we talked about some ways we could make our world a more beautiful place. Some ideas the kids came up with were: to clean up trash, to plant flowers, to plant trees, doing art, performing dance, and writing poetry. We talked about possibly following this class up with a service project and linking it back to the book - perhaps using some ideas the kids came up with today.

We ended the class with planting lupine seeds in individual flowerpots so each child took a flower home as well as their painting and whatever picture they drew of the place they would like to visit. The kids seemed to enjoy planting the seeds. While some mothers cleaned up the room (we painted and used soil today) another mother led the kids in several games of "Duck Duck Goose", "Red Light, Green Light" and something that appeared to be moving together as butterflies or ballet dancers.

This was definitely a fun lesson and I would encourage you to try it out with a group of kids. It is even a nice lesson to just do at home with one or two children - though I do think having the interaction between the children was valuable and fun! This lesson can be adapted for a variety of ages. Today our range was 2-11 and it worked out nicely. With older children you could enhance the presentation given on location to visit to include maps, artifacts, trip itinerary and travel guides for what they might do there. You could also enhance the "Make the world a more beautiful place" discussion to include citizenship and stewardship, community service and philanthropy. This is a great book to use as a springboard for many lessons. The illustrations are beautiful and the story is wonderful and appropriate for all ages. Truly a children's classic that parents will like as well.


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