“A New Coat for Anna”

Before all the craziness of vacations and nosebleeds and babies this summer, we did one last week of summer “school.”  I don’t remember this in as good detail as I usually do, but it was such a fun one that I didn’t want to skip it!

We were reading “A New Coat for Anna” by Harriet Ziefert which is about a girl in post-war Europe who needs a new winter coat.  Her mother trades all sorts of household goods in order to get what she needs to get that coat and in the process, makes new friends and learns what goes into making a coat.

On the first day of the week, we went to visit a good friend’s farm to see her sheep.  We got to meet all sorts of animals (goats, chickens, cows and sheep) and learn about everything that goes into taking care of them.

As close as the sheep would let us get.

As close as the sheep would let us get.

Notice Bo sneaking up on them in the background. He was practicing his pounce.

Notice Bo sneaking up on them in the background. He was practicing his pounce.

We learned about the things they eat and what sorts of products we get from sheep (milk, cheese, meat, wool) and we discussed all the fun parts of taking care of animals. Then we played some before we left the farm.  Thanks, Krissy for letting us bug you for a day!

We were digging sand out of their clothes all day.

We were digging sand out of their clothes all day.

The second day, we learned about World War II (on a very basic level).  We talked about the Axis countries and the Allies.  They made a chart by cutting out country names and putting them on the right side.  This gave them practice with cutting and gluing.  Then they took a world map and colored the Axis countries red and the Allies yellow.  Finally, they colored a German flag and we talked about famous German composers like Beethoven and Bach.  Bo was excited because he remembered Bach from music class.

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Even Joe got in on the coloring fun. So enthusiastic, this one.

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On the third day, we all got up early and went fishing!  This was daddy’s favorite day.  We tried to catch fish so we could measure them like Anna was measured by the tailor for her new coat.  We also wanted to practice making observations and recording data, because I’m a science teacher, so you know I can’t resist that.  Unfortunately, we only caught one tiny little fish, but we had a beautiful day on the lake relaxing and had lunch in a very cute diner nearby.  A bust in terms of learning, but a great day of spending time together.  And we measured lots of other things besides fish.

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For the next day, we got to spend the day with our resident fiber/wool expert, Nana.  The kids were excited to have a teacher besides mommy and they got a big day full of adventures.

First, she showed them unprocessed wool and asked them to describe what it looked like and what it felt like.  They didn’t like the greasy feeling of the lanolin in the wool.

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Then she showed them how to use very hot water and Dawn dish soap to clean the wool.

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After letting it dry for a while, we then learned how to card the wool using brushes with tiny metal teeth.  At every step, my mom asked the kids to observe how it looked and felt differently than it did the step before.

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Then, she showed them how to spin using her spinning wheel.  Maggie was extra excited about this because she knew spinning wheels from Sleeping Beauty.

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She showed them that yarn can then be knit into clothing by showing them a sweater she was working on and that it can be woven into fabric by showing them her loom.  In the book, there is a weaver that makes the wool into fabric, so this was interesting for them.

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The final step was dying the wool.  The kids chose a bright red color (motivated by Bo who is obsessed with red).

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Of course after this, we had to wait for the yarn to dry before we could do anything with it and then Nana promised to knit Bo a sweater with the red yarn.  Maggie asked for a pink shawl and Joe claimed some very soft blue yarn for his sweater.  Just recently, my mom finished all these projects and my kids are loving it.  I just wish I had pictures of all of them.

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Maggie wearing the perfect pink shawl Nana made her.

The last day was all about appreciating what we have and what goes into making it.  We talked about not taking things for granted and being thankful for what we have.  We prayed together as a family after listing some things we were thankful for.  This was a very simple day, but I think it reminded my kids to think about the work that goes into things.  Maggie went for a week thanking me for all the work I put into making dinner, which was super sweet.

We’ll see how cooperative they’ll be next summer with this whole school at home thing!

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