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Tag: rowing

First up, a little more about this book, which we are rowing with FIAR this week. As of last month, this book seemed to have gone out of print and was selling for $300! As of September, it is now back in stock on Amazon for $19.95, so if you want this own, and it is indeed worth it, I suggest getting it now! Or, be sure to check used book stores and such.

***I was just googling “Who Owns the Sun” and this very post is already on the first page of Google, I had published it ONE MINUTE AGO. Google rocks and they seem to love my blog. 🙂

Friday Satori replicated the glorious artwork of Who Owns the Sun? This sun image is shown on the title and on one of the first pages of the book.


We didn’t want to wait for normal watercolors to dry, so we used our new Neocolor II Artists Crayons, which are water soluble. They worked out GREAT!  We only have a small box of 15 though. I’d love a Wood Box Set of 84, or the Gift Set of 126, but $200+ is out of our budget now.



As you can see in the first photo, Satori then brushed a wet paintbrush outwords from the sun, resulting in our Who Owns the Sun sunburst!0909-arts-049

Since we are doing so much now, we are going to row a FIAR book only every 2-3 weeks, and instead of rowing the book five times in a row, we’ll do it probably just 3-4 times a row. (I guess this is what we’ve been doing all along.) To make things easier, we’re going to do them in order, starting with Volume 1. We may do Owl Moon this fall yet, that sounds like a good one.

This week we’ve started Who Owns the Sun? by Stacy Chbosky. I pointed out that this book was written and illustrated by a young girl, 14 years old.


I was a bit apprehensive covering the topic of slavery with my four year old, especially because she is so innocent about the world, not knowing anything about prejudice, segregation or slavery, but in the end, I am glad we gently introduced these topics this year.

At the end of the book, Satori murmured “That’s so sad.” But it does have a positive afterword, which lifted our spirits.


On Wednesday we picked all these books up at local libraries, it took 2 different libraries to get the books I wanted. We’ve already read 5 of them.  All the books have authors or illustrators who have won awards for their children’s books.

Who Owns the Sun? Go-along Books

  • Henry’s Freedom Box by Ellen Levine – True story of Henry Brown, a slave who mailed himself to freedom! (Caldecott Honor)
  • Almost to Freedom by Vaunda Michaeux Nelson – I knew Satori would love this book, it’s told from the perspective of a rag doll, owned by a little girl running for her life on the Underground Railroad (Coretat Scott King Illustrator Honor)
  • Goin’ Someplace Special by Patricia C. MicKissack – A young girl in segregated Nashville in the 1950’s experiences segregation but is boosted up by friends on her journey to “someplace special”.
  • Under the Quilt of Night by Deborah Hopkinson – Young slave girl leads her family to freedom. We noticed the rich dark purple colors of the night, that lighten as they progress to freedom, until they emerge in a brilliant orange and yellow. We also read Sweet Clara and the Freedom Quilt (by same author) back when we rowed The Rag Coat.
  • Working Cotton by Sherley Anne Williams – A day in the life of a family of migrant cotton pickers (Caldecott Honor Book)

As a fun activity to kick off our Five in a Row rowing of The Rag Coat, I decided to set Satori off in the coal mines and go mining for coal. First, I had to make some coal! This is a very easy recipe and you should have your coal in less than 90 minutes.

Lumps of Coal

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup salt
  • 1 cup water
  • Black Paint and brush
  • Gold paint (if you want to add gold nuggets)


Mix ingredients and knead for two minutes. Mold into lumps of coal shapes. Place on foil covered sheet. Bake at 275 degrees for an hour or until hard. Wait until cool, then paint.

Lumps of coal

Lumps of coal

Then, for mom, the fun part begins! I planted the lumps of coal and gold nuggets in the basement, which has black rubbery floors, perfect for coal to blend in. Plus it was night-time. 🙂 I hid the black coals in easy to find spots. The gold nuggets were a bit more challenging. And I threw in some glow-in-the-dark “rare dinosaur eggs”.
Easy to find black coal, with a small light illuminating its hiding place…


Another easy to find on this big blue glob…


Hidden in an elliptical foot…


A glowing dino egg camouflaged on a glowing “rock”…


Finally it was time for Little Miss Coal Miner to arrive. As she descended down the “mine shaft”, she was presented with her mining headlamp, extra flashlight, and her coal basket. (If you have a helmet, that would make it even more authentic.)


It was dark, so we were lucky for our mining light equipment.


I told her that each find was worth a certain amount of points. Gold nuggets were 100 points, dinosaur eggs were 10 points each, and black coals were 1 point each. A black light helped illuminate the tiny dinosaur eggs, who were in higher places than the coal and nuggets.

(During this time, I had to turn on the outside light, as a bear was prowling around…)


The little Coal Miner found them all!


To throw in a math lesson, I had her lay them out using place value – golds were hundreds, eggs were tens, and coals were ones. And just like in our Math-U-See lessons, she had to write the place values and say the number – Three Hundred Forty Nine!


And after two months, we are rowing again, with The Rag Coat by Lauren Mills. Today we learned about Minna, an Appalachian girl who loses her coal mining father, cannot afford to go to school and helps her mother out at home. The generous Quilting Mamas step in to help. Minna experiences a humiliation, but remembers her father’s lesson and turns it around in such a heartwarming way. I cannot read this book without a little lump in my throat and a few tears escaping.

The Rag Coat by Lauren Mills

The Rag Coat by Lauren Mills

The next few days we will cover the following main topics: quilting, coal, Appalachian mountains and that people are the most important things in our life. We first learned where the Appalachian mountain region was, and put our FIAR story disc up where we thought Minna might live.

Appalachian mountains region

Appalachian mountains region

I’ve found it most exciting to be spontaneous about our next FIAR book to row, to see where the weather, current events, and local activities takes us. 🙂 Our last book was perfect timing for our blizzard-like conditions last week. For example, we’ll save Very Last First Time for the week we can visit tundra at the Rocky Mountain National Park… The Rag Coat for when we’re ready to try quilting… So up until today I hadn’t figured out our next book.

I asked Satori what she wanted to read about, and she said “a little girl who lost her parents and is an orphan”. The only orphan-related books we had on hand were Clown of God (which I want to save for the Colorado Renaissance Festival this summer) and Papa Piccolo. So Papa it is!

Papa Piccolo

Papa Piccolo

Satoris cat, Soma

We read it tonight for the first time. Satori has her own cat, Soma (a Bengal cat), so we’ll take this opportunity to learn more about cats. We’ll explore Italy and Venice, really get into color this week, and learn some common italian words!

I do not think we’ll be doing a lapbook this time around, but focusing more on being more interactive and making cool stuff. I just want to really have fun this week and the last few lapbooks we did were just me cutting and pasting for the most part. We’ll make lapbooks again for sure, but just not this week.

Tonight I spent about an hour and a half making our “gameplan” to row Papa, check it out here. Everything is tentative, but I hope the time I spent tonight will make things more organized and easier this week.

Rowing Papa Piccolo – planning page

The page above will be changing as we row throughout the week, and hopefully it will be helpful for those of you who have yet to row Papa Piccolo!