Thursday 10 November 2011

Mike Mulligan and his steam shovel

This week, our Five in a Row book was Mike Mulligan and his steam shovel by Virginia Lee Burton.

This was a popular book and led to several activities. Many of the activities were suggested by the Five in a Row handbook.

I wanted the children to know what a steam shovel is as I don't think that they, or I, have seen one in real life. This video came to our rescue.

I have already posted about the other books that we read along with Mike Mulligan. These were supplemented by a book full of pictures of steam trains.

Again, the book had some words in US English which we "translated".

  • shovel
  • automobile
  • janitor

The book personifies Mary Anne and the sun. Somewhat, to my surprise, this was a concept that interested the children and which Miss Belle seemed to understand.

We looked at the date of publication, 1939, and the "old fashioned" features in the book. This is something that even Mr Exuberance can manage.

The handbooks suggested making a geoboard to make squares and other shapes. Miss Belle loved this. Hopefully, my tacks and recycled board will continue to be used.

Steam is central to this book. Having talked about how water can change into ice and steam, the children made pinwheels to turn under steam power. I don't think that my automatic kettle gives a particularly strong jet of steam before turning off so this didn't really demonstrate the point.

We made our own Mary Anne.
This almost didn't survive to become Mary Anne as Mr Exuberance was so keen to sit in the box.

Having overcome my fear of sensory tubs, this seemed an idea subject especially with a box of cocoa pops which had been spilt. This was both successful and very messy especially as the most of the contents of the box ended up being poured into a tipper truck.

Finally, a cake to celebrate! There are instructions for a cake to go with the book at Homeschool Share. Miss Belle thought that it would be better to make a cake with an icing Mike Mulligan. The photos didn't do it justice and now it is partially eaten.

This book talks about care for possessions and meanness. Again, useful discussion points.

What we didn't do
Part way through the week, I found that there is a musical adaptation of the book. Something to think about for another time.

This was a busy week. There are so many activities in the handbook and even more on the internet. We didn't attempt anything like all.
My feeling is that we were light on writing based activities. We do some along with phonics but FIAR could be a good way to introduce more.
The  lapbook type printables are mainly too old but writing is something that I need include in future weeks.

This is linked to the Weekly Wrap-up at Weird, unsocialized homeschoolers and to Living Life Intentionally linky party.


  1. I never tried FIAR but I've heard wonderful things about it and have friends who enjoy it. We do like the mostly literature-based style of learning, though, so that fits right in.

  2. What fun! I LOVE that you made your own Mary Anne!! So cute!! We haven't rowed this book yet, but when we do I am going to try that too!!! Thanks for linking up to TGIF! I can't wait to see what you do next week.
    Beth =-)

  3. I love your activities! What a great week and your Mary Anne is very cute.