First Week! Wee Gillis

In Five in a Row, you read a book every day for a week, and do a different related project or discussion every day. This week we read Wee Gillis, by Munro Leaf. Cute book. Admittedly, when I first picked it up and skimmed it, I didn’t read to the end and I kind of dismissed it as a bit boring. It might be older, but it’s clever and amusing. The boys had about the same reaction. They didn’t want to read it, but by the end of the week they were asking about it every morning.

It was a short week (Henry had school on Monday) so we only did four days of activities. I’d considered doing Saturday as well, but I started feeling pretty under the weather, so despite Henry asking if we could do Five in a Row that day, we gave it a pass.

Wee Gillis is a boy who lives in Scotland, with a lowlander mother and a highlander father. He alternately lives with each family, trying to decide which he wishes to join. During this time, he develops strong lungs from both calling the lowland cattle, and holding his breath stalking the highland stag.

The FiaR manual has a lot of good lesson ideas, but I’ve also found it helpful to just google the title of the book and “Five in a Row”. Homeschoolers like to blog, and there are always things they’ve thought of that aren’t in the manual.

For starters, we talked about the mist in Scotland, fog, and condensation. We actually have talked in the past a fair bit about this topic, I think due to reading some Magic Schoolbus books a while back. It was mostly review, but they never can actually remember the actual term condensation. In the past, we’ve boiled water and allowed it to condense on a mirror, so we didn’t want to just do that again. The internet is a wonderful thing. All I had to do was google “how to make fog” and up came a page on how to make fog. We boiled some water in a measuring cup, poured a bit out, and put a strainer full of ice cubes over it. It wasn’t the most flashy fog ever, but it was fog.

The boys would happily do science experiments all of the time. In fact, when I asked Henry what he wanted to learn about this summer, he said “Science experiments!” So understandably, the hit of the week was learning about lung capacity. First, we read all about lungs in a human body book that we have. Then, well, is any experiment really an experiment unless it involves water or the possibility for making a mess?

We filled up a two liter bottle with water, tipped it upside down in a bowl of water, and stuck a straw up the neck. Each of us took the biggest breath we could, and blew with all of our might. It was a trick getting Henry to not take a second breath, but eventually we made it work.

Lung capacity at work!

We talked about how you can never completely breathe out all of your air. Later on, Henry was digging up on top of the fridge (yes, I know) and found a bag of balloons. “Look mama! Here’s how much air I have in one breath!”

We also found Scotland in our atlas, talked about what the country is like, listened to bagpipe music on YouTube (what would we ever do without YouTube?), made shortbread cookies, learned about shadows in art and in life, talked about pen and ink illustration, and ate oatmeal. We found the movie “Wee Gillis” at the library – you can’t find it by searching, though, it’s an extra short on the Mouse and the Motorcycle Scholastic DVD. The boys pointed out differences between the movie and the book. To learn a little more about Scotland, I also picked up the Rick Steves Scotland/Ireland DVD. They like Rick Steves. Who knew? I was relieved to find the videos – by the end of the week I was exhausted (and, it turns out, sick), so it was a welcome respite.

In addition to all of that, we did math, progressive phonics, reading, a nature walk, and ended it all yesterday with a trip to the Baltimore zoo to see the Kratt Brothers, of PBS Wild Kratts fame. Or maybe that’s how we started this week. 🙂

Unfortunately, I’m still sick. I could suck it up and still keep busy, but this is summer supplementation, not our main school. Up this week is Mirette on the High Wire. Last week we read The Man Who Walked Between the Towers, about a Frenchman who tightrope walked between the WTC towers in ’74. Since then, they’ve been talking about wires and slacklines, so I think they’d be instantly hooked. Extra bonus – the Fourth is Henry’s birthday, and Jeff is going to set up a (low) slackline in the back yard. I can’t wait to see him try it.


3 responses to this post.

  1. You know, if they want to learn more about Scotland, I’m happy to help!

    Oh, and if you want to talk about the Civil War I know an excellent book. Pink and Say by Patricia Polacco (you should probably read it first, to see how the boys might react)


    • Maybe next time we see you we could look through your pictures and you could tell us about them? You ARE the expert! I did tell them that you’d been there, but not sure if they connected it.

      I don’t know that we’ll get to the ACW very soon as any sort of “unit”, but they do have an interest. They picked out the Eyewitness ACW book at Borders once, and love browsing through it. I think it’s the artillery. 🙂


  2. Looks like you had a wonderful first week with Five in a Row, in spite of being sick! Great job. We’re looking forward to similar Wee Gillis fun this week. 🙂


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