This book by Barbara Joosse is a pretty classic story about a little girl pushing boundaries and seeing how much she can get away with. The mama’s response, without fail, is that she will always love her no matter what she does (even if she turns into a polar bear). The unique thing about the book is that the mom and daughter are Inuit, so there are lots of new creatures, vocabulary words and traditions for my kids to learn.
Day one was all about family and emotions. We talked about family relationships (parents, siblings, aunt, uncle, cousin, grandparents, etc.) and we looked through some photos of family members and identified the relationships. We counted all of the people in the immediate family and Bo practiced writing 5’s on the board. He had a hard time remembering how to write them and then couldn’t follow verbal instructions very well, but did well once I demonstrated it. Then I had each of them draw a member of the family on the chalkboard. Bo drew a picture of his daddy and Maggie said she drew our house…she can be so special, that girl. She said the house held our family.
Then we talked about what an emotion was and gave lots of examples. Maggie kept saying the same two: happy and sad. Bo was much more creative and even though he got distracted by rhyming words (sad, mad, glad, bad) he did really well. We made some masks to show emotions, which was another place where Maggie and Bo showed different levels of understanding. Maggie’s masks were more abstract but Bo’s had definite features.
We finished day one by talking about unconditional love as demonstrated by the story we read. I asked them who loves them that way and they immediately said “You!” (That always feels good especially when you spend so much time scolding them.) Then they said daddy. And finally Bo says, “But God loves us even more than you do.” And we had a great talk about how God demonstrated his love for us by sending His Son to die for us on the cross.
On Tuesday, we immersed ourselves in Inuit culture. We started by talking about some of the hardships of living in a harsh winter climate. We had gone strawberry picking with my mother on Monday and we talked about the hunter/gatherer aspect of Inuit culture, using the strawberry picking as a picture of the hard work. It kind of backfired because Bo thought it was fun to pick strawberries. We looked at lots of historic photos. We emphasized storytelling and ancestors and talked about how important dogs and canoes and igloos are.
We saw some photos of double thumbed mittens (apparently, with two thumbs, they could get one side wet and turn it around instead of using new mittens) and made a set out of paper. Bo got a little frustrated “sewing” the mittens with yarn, but he did a great job and could even put his mitten on.
Then we took a field trip to the kitchen and engineered igloos out of marshmallows and frosting. Maggie was more interested in eating them, but Bo was determined to make it work. He even got his daddy to help. I think it would have worked better with a mold and with mini-marshmallows instead. I let each of them have five marshmallows when we were done.
We looked at some pictures of Inuit sculptures and took out some clay to sculpt some arctic creatures. Bo made a polar bear, I sculpted a seal and Maggie made a purple worm. We baked them so we could “keep them forever.” Bo really loved this process and had been showing off his bear sculpture to everyone who comes to visit.
We ended the night by taking the canoe – excuse me, the UMIAK – out on the lake. Maggie was a little afraid to sit by herself in the umiak and I sat on the shore with baby Joe, but they really did have lots of fun. Then for dinner we ate some Alaskan cod that Bo liked so much he had seconds! He said he really thought he’d like to go to Alaska one day.
On Wednesday we had our Bible lesson. Daddy taught us about God’s commandment to love your neighbor as yourself. Maggie proudly exclaimed that she loved herself a lot and Bo tried to say it was bad to love yourself. Great discussion about love and what it means to put other people ahead of yourself. We sang “Jesus Loves Me” about a hundred times both with and without hand motions.
Bo went to the board and sounded out the word “love” and we talked about the silent e. I asked Maggie what symbol we use for love and she immediately identified the heart and made a heart with her hands. Then we practiced drawing hearts on the board. Finally we made paper hearts and wrote the names of people we love inside them and hung them from the ceiling. I told them they had a top secret mission to love someone in the family in a special way today but I think that was over their heads. They weren’t extra nice to anyone, but they are usually pretty good anyway.
Day Four was a shorter day. We sang “Jesus Loves Me” again and then practiced writing M’s on the board. Maggie can write this letter since her name starts with it, but she was feeling extra defiant and refused to do anything. It was a rough day with Maggie. I had plans to talk about If/Then statements and stuff, but she was stuck on not following directions and I had to address that before we could do anything else. While she was in trouble in the corner, I had Bo doing some basic addition and subtraction with Legos. He built towers with the number of blocks I told him and then with the number of blocks on a card (so he had to identify the number in written form). Then he did some simple math operations with them. He kept wanting to call the six an eight so we did a worksheet on 6. He really loved this.
I want Maggie to love learning but I have to balance the obedience thing with the fun thing. It was so hard. She doesn’t have to know how to draw an M or how to write her name. She does have to listen to me and not cross her arms and pout when I ask her to pick up a pencil, you know? Wonder where she gets that defiance from…
Our last day with Mama, Do You Love Me? was this morning. I haven’t been feeling well these last couple of days, so I wanted to keep it simple. We looked at photos of the arctic animals mentioned in the book (polar bear, humpback whale, walrus, musk ox, salmon, puffin, lemming, ermine, ptarmigan) and watched some National Geographic and BBC videos of them. Bo absolutely adored this. He really loved the video of the whales and listening to their songs. We talked a lot about how to identify a mammal (hair/fur, external ears and if the mommies make milk) and discussed their diets. Maggie was so interested in what they ate and drew pictures of fish all over the coloring pages I gave them. I was pretty proud of the logic that Bo was demonstrating. For example, I asked where puffins live and he says, “They have to live near the water if they eat fish! But not in the water.”
We also discussed things like camouflage (why are polar bears white?) and what it means to be wild (are polar bear cubs dangerous even if they are cute?). Maggie really liked coloring the pictures and talking about them. She wasn’t so interested in the videos and photos. Bo loved the whales, polar bears and puffins best. He got mad when someone in a video called walruses ugly.
We had a great time this week and I love that they are still excited for school. Bo follows me down the stairs every morning and says he’s on the bus. He loves it so much that he has requested that we do school next week even though we will be on vacation in North Carolina.
So next week, we’ll have some guests (Bo, Maggie and Joe’s cousins) and we’ll be doing Night of the Moonjellies by Mark Shasha.