Today's selection was something I originally planned to write about in July for the Favorite Book Friday post due closest to Independence Day. But my plans are always subject to change, and they always seem to be changing. You'd think I'd stop planning and just go with the flow, but nope.
Any who, this past Tuesday was the meeting of the co-op our family participates in. I've mentioned before I teach the middle and high school class, and the theme for this year has been American history, literature, and geography. Since this most recent class was the last meeting with instruction we will have for this term, I wanted to do something fun to tie everything we've learned together.
I've also previously mentioned using picture books in this class. A good picture book is ageless and can be instructional. The book I'm highlighting today is no exception.
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The picture link above takes you to Amazon, but this book is originally available from Usborne Book and More. If you've read any of my other articles, you probably you know my love for Usborne and Kane Miller. You also know one of my closest pals, Erin, is a direct source for such books. Here's a link to her Facebook page.
I Love You Americanly by Lynn Parrish Sutton is a very cleverly written set of rhyming similes explaining ways to love someone using American cities, monuments, and features. Here's an excerpt for example: "I love you intensely like Niagara Falls. I love you immensely like the Grand Canyon's walls."
I adore the book for it's own sake. It's interesting, beautiful, informative, and well-made. The covers are sturdy and the pages are thick, and it's a good size and shape for little hands and bookshelves. More importantly, it's a sweet book to read to your kids. Additionally, it's also a great tool, as evidenced by my use of it in Tuesday's co-op class.
To begin, we quickly reminded ourselves of the meaning and function of adverbs and similies. Then, we simply read through the book. After that, we went page by page examining the true meaning of each adverb and mapping the feature or location mentioned.
Why did we examine each adverb? Shouldn't middle and high schoolers have a pretty good grasp of such commonly used words? My answer is thus: We use language too loosely. Words such as awesome, extreme, and so forth have lost their power as we use them to describe the truly mundane. I am guilty of this. Pretty much everyone is. My goal was to help show the real significance and correct application of the words as they are used in this book. This was the literature component of class.
Obviously, mapping things mentioned in the book covered the day's geography goals. But we also used the mapping assignment to cover history. When, for example, we labeled the Public Garden in Boston, I gave the students historical information relating to its creation (and also pointed out that it is the setting for the classic children's work Make Way for Ducklings).
If you look closely, you may notice that some places are slightly off from their real locations. Our goal in the limited time we had and the large group I was working with was to get the general idea about where things are. We wouldn't and, in the setting we were in, couldn't seek perfection and accurate scaling. Obviously, doing this project one-on-one or one-on-few with your own children with more time to complete will yield better accuracy. Even with our constraints, these kids now know quite a bit more geography than many adults.
Another good example is Route 66. In the book it is, for rhyming purposes called Will Roger's route. So, I provided and explained some of the various names for this road (Route 66, Will Roger's Highway, The Mother Road, and The Main Street of America), told the class who Will Roger's was, discussed how it was used by "Okies" during the Dust Bowl migration (something we had discussed in a previous class) and gave some other historical information about it.
It was a good class and, I think, a fun assignment. This is why I bumped up my time for sharing this book with you all. On its own the book is great. It's one I will definitely keep for reading to my future grandchildren. However, I thought some of you might be interested in recreating the project we did. My class was middle and high school age kids, but almost any age could complete and benefit from doing the same assignment.
We actually started class with a discussion of baseball. We had previously learned about World War II, so we talked about its importance during the war years--particularly for women and Japanese-Americans held in internment camps. One of the phrases I used at the beginning of class was "as American as apple pie and baseball". How fitting it was for our class, then, that the spread above is among the last pages of the book!
As the school year is coming to a close, this may be something to think about doing with your kids over the summer break. It would be a memorable project to complete together at a slower pace. We only had a few hours, and we didn't finish (we got close, though!). I'm thinking completing a page a day with even more information provided for each location or feature would be fun and low stress.
Should you attempt this suggestion, I would be greatly interested to hear about it! I would also love to see your completed maps and perhaps share them here.
Speaking of maps... Below is a link to a page of various free maps you can use with this book. They're from Mr. Printables--a cute site I like and have gotten great ideas from more than once. The maps I'm linking to are not the ones we used in class. I'm linking to Mr. Printables page because there is more than one option provided, and one of the options is for an oversized map. I think a bigger map would work better for the project as I've explained it, especially for younger participants.
What do you think? Is this something you might try with your own kids?
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