This school year I am doing a mixture of Five in a Row Volumes 1, 2 & 3 with Flash, Hulk and Princess together. We recently finished our first FIAR row of the new school year with the book Henry the Castaway from FIAR Volume 3. It was such a fun book and a great way to start our new school year!
(Please note: this post contains lessons from the Five in a Row Volume 3 Manual as well as activities added by me and inspired by other homeschool moms.)
We spent two weeks on this book and these activities were spread out over that time. This was the first year Princess has transitioned from Before FIAR to FIAR Volumes 1-3 and she has really enjoyed it! This is also my boys’ last year doing Volumes 1-3, as they will be moving onto Volume 4 together next year. Vol. 4 is longer books with more in depth lessons. We typically spend a month on each of the Volume 4 books, compared to 2 weeks with the Volumes 1-3. Some people like to do just one week and go back and “re-row”, but we’ve always just done each book once with two weeks to have plenty of time on each. This seems to work the best for our family.
Henry the Castaway by Mark Taylor and Graham Booth is about a little boy who loves to explore. He goes out exploring with his dog, Angus and they end up getting stranded on an island.
We started out by reading the book and placing our story disk on the world map. They decided to place the disk on central USA. There was no set location that the story took place and so they chose a place that they thought Henry might have lived. (By the way, the little red star on our map indicates where we live. It helps the kids to understand where other places in the world are, based on where we live.)
Also, in order to “beef up” our studies for my older boys, especially Flash who is 11 and in 6th grade, I have chosen chapter books to read aloud that go along with each of our FIAR books. I have tried to choose books that are in a series, in hopes that Flash may be interested in reading the other books in the series on his own. He really doesn’t enjoy reading for pleasure unless I’m reading it to him, so I thought this may help with that. For Henry the Castaway, I chose My Father’s Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannett. I chose this book because it is about a little boy who is an explorer and goes on an adventure, just like Henry did in the book. We began on our first day and read about 1 chapter each day of this book, typically later in the day. I didn’t really expect Princess to follow along as much as the boys, but a lot of days she enjoyed listening in.
For Social Studies, our main focus was on Explorers. We used these books to learn a little about other famous explorers in history.
For Language, we learned some new vocabulary words that are in the book and talked about what Allusion means and how the author used it in this story. Then we acted out the story. They had a lot of fun doing that.
For Art, we looked at the Expressions on the faces of the characters throughout the book and how they changed in each picture. Then we looked at what medium the illustrator used and how they showed water. After that, we used watercolors and practiced painting water by painting a river scene.
For Science, we learned about River Currents (Henry and Angus end up in a boat floating downstream on a river). We used this book to learn about Rivers and River Currents.
As recommended in the manual, we also looked at the Winnie the Pooh story about Pooh where they float pine cones down a river. We also looked at another library book about exploring a river. We used this book, Geography from A to Z to learn more about Rivers.
Another Science lesson was about the Kingfisher bird, since there is one pictured in the book a few times. We used these books to learn more about this bird. We also looked them up online and listened to the sounds they make and watched a video of them.
After that, we used our Draw Write Now book and practiced drawing a bird.
For Science we also talked about Survival Skills. We talked about the different ways Henry practiced good survival skills. One was he created little flags to mark his path and to let others know where he has been. We made some flags of our own. We just used paper and glued it on popsicle sticks then used markers to decorate them.
The last Science lesson was on Dog Breeds, specifically the Scottish Terrier since that is the kind of dog that Henry’s dog Angus was. We used this book to learn a little about this breed of dog and looked through the book at pictures of the other breeds of dogs as well. This book is very beautifully illustrated.
For Bible and Christian Character we talked about explorers in the bible and the story about when Jesus got separated from his parents when he was a boy.
Some of the go-along books we used for this unit were the other books about Henry and Angus, including Henry the Explorer, Henry Explores the Jungle and Henry Explores the Mountains. We picked up Henry the Explorer at a booksale years ago, but the other two I ended up having to get from Inter-Library Loan because they are really hard to find. But they were definitely worth the extra effort!
I also read these books about a Scottish terrier also named Angus from the Before Five in a Row books with Princess. She was sure that this is the same dog as the one in the books about Henry!
We used our Five in a Row Cookbook to make a recipe called “Backpacker Bars”. The kids always love cooking for school!
The last thing we did was to go to a new place and be explorers ourselves! We picked a local park that we’d never been to before that also has a lake. We took a picnic lunch and spent a little time exploring the area. We even found a little island in the middle of the lake like the one Henry got stranded on! Princess had fun collecting shells, rocks and feathers. It was a fun way to end our unit on Henry the Castaway!
So that finished up our time with Henry the Explorer. We’ll be moving onto their next Five in a Row book, Gramma’s Walk soon.