The Story About Ping

After taking a break for vacation Bible school, it was nice to be back to our schedule. The kids were extra excited about it and spent Monday morning reorganizing the basement school room so we could get started right away.

I chose to do the book “The Story About Ping,” which is about a duck on the Yangtze river who gets into trouble after he hides to avoid punishment for being the last duck on the boat. This book was written by Marjorie Flack and Kurt Wiese in 1933, but it’s a classic.

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Bo is covering the S he accidentally drew backwards.

We started the week by talking about family. Ping lives on the boat with a very large extended family, so we started by talking about what family really means. We discussed adoption and marriage and talked about how people don’t have to be related to you to be family.

They drew pictures of their family. Bo wasn’t sure who to include at first. “Our small family or the big family?”

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Maggie's picture included baby Joe and mommy.

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Bo drew crosses to show the family members that have died.

Both of them started by drawing Baby Joe, which I thought was really cute. Then Bo said his paper wasn’t big enough and he insisted he had no room for bodies – just heads. Then he drew my brother Joe and my uncle Joe (who he calls his Gruncle Joe). He kept adding heads and then when he drew anyone who has died, he drew a cross next to them.

Maggie’s drawings are starting to take form, which is fun to watch. She loves to draw and she takes great pride in her art.

After they finished their drawings, we constructed a family tree/pedigree of our family. We started with my parents and Patrick’s parents, and did all of our siblings and nieces and nephews. Since my family is so large, we had to keep it limited to those three generations. Our chalkboard would only hold that much and I had to keep moving Patrick’s side of the family over to make room for mine.

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I would zoom in more but there are some secret baby names on there.

Bo really loved trying to remember who everyone was and what their children’s names were. It reminded me very much of my grandmother Oa who really values family trees.

We reviewed family relationships and saw them visually on the family tree. We counted all the aunts, uncles and cousins on our tree.

Finally, we ended by thanking God for family. Maggie said, “Dear God, thank you for my family because I love it.” And Bo said, “Dear God, thank you for making my family. I think you did a beautiful job.” So sweet.

On Tuesday, we reviewed the letter P. Maggie did her prewriting page and is doing so much better working independently on these. I had Bo try to draw the cover of the book and copy the title. He really liked that and even tried to make his letters fancy like they are on the book.

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Then we reread the paragraph that counted Ping’s family members and we glued little pieces of paper to a chart to count them. I set Maggie on tearing up and then gluing 42 pieces of paper for his 42 cousins and Bo worked on the rest of the family. They loved using glue.

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On Wednesday, Patrick taught them all about Jonah from the Bible. He narrated and drew pictures on the board. Bo was so intent and interested. He kept asking questions and predicting what was happening next.

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Maggie thought the goggles looked great with her outfit.

Bo really loves whales, so we drew whales with Jonah in the belly. We also discussed how it could be a fish or a whale – that the Bible says fish but they didn’t differentiate between fish and whales when it was written.

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Maggie wanted help drawing the whale, but then drew all kinds of things in the whale, including me.

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Thursday was all about China. We used some YouTube videos to learn to count to ten in Mandarin. We looked at photos of the Great Wall, dragons and the Yangtze River which figures prominently in the story.

We practiced using chopsticks with trainers. I tried to teach them without the trainers, but they got very frustrated. Then we used them to put some pompoms in a baby food jar.

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Then we made pretty simple paper lanterns so they could have some practice with using scissors. They were easy: fold a piece of paper in half, cut some straight lines starting at the fold and ending about an inch from the edge, unfold and roll up.

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My super dramatic son pretending his needs his lantern to see in the dark.

Bo was really disappointed we didn’t do more with dragons, so we made dragons with paper bodies that come off the paper for some 3D flavor.

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Maggie was happy with just this but Bo wanted more.

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Bo added a tail and a head and wings.

The last thing we did was make a great feast of fried rice, spring rolls, fried tofu and fortune cookies.

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Maggie's fortune is actually true!!

The kids helped me cut up water chestnuts and bamboo shoots for the fried rice.

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And they really loved stealing veggies while I cooked. Maggie loves cucumbers and napa cabbage. And Bo was super excited about the tofu. Oh and the green tea with honey was a hit.

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We also found China on the world map. The kids were so excited and kept saying it was the longest day of school ever.

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Friday was our last day with Ping. We made it a water day. We discussed how ducks don’t get wet because they spread oil on their feathers. To illustrate this, we cut duck shapes out of a paper bag and coated one with vegetable oil. Then we sprinkled water on both. The water on the oiled duck beaded up and it soaked into the other duck.

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Then we filled a bottle with three different liquids. We tested each of the three liquids first and tried to predict which one was the heaviest and would be on the bottom. The decided corn syrup would be on the bottom.

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We added red food coloring to the water for fun.

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The corn syrup and water mixed, so our final bottle only had two layers, which was disappointing. But the kids like to shake the bottle up. I asked them to predict what would happen if we let it sit after shaking it up and Bo said he thought it would separate into the layers again. He watched intently until it stated to happen and was so excited when he was right.

My kids already knew that eggs sink, so I asked them what we could do to make them float. We discussed density and and I suggested we add salt to the water to change its density. They were amazed when the egg floated in the salt water.

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Stirring in the salt

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And the floating egg!

We also related this back to the beach and the salt water there.

Then we wanted to test a set of other objects too see if they floated or sank. We predicted what would happen before each object and then placed them on a sheet according to their results.

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Bo kept suggesting further tests. What happens when we fill the objects with water? What if we put all the objects in the bowl – will it still float? Love that scientific brain. Maggie was still better at predicting if an object will float though.

We ended the week by going out on the boat with the whole family and selling out some water birds to observe. We saw ducks, geese,  one cormorant and one great blue heron. It was a beautiful afternoon and we had a great time chasing birds.

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Daddy is never happier than when his whole family is on the boat with him and a line is in the water.

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