Before Five in Row: Caps for Sale

“Caps! Caps for sale! Fifty cents a cap!”  We had fun with this 1940’s classic by Esphyr Slodbodkina this week. “A Tale of a Peddler, Some Monkeys and Their Monkey Business”.  I remember loving this story when I was little and it’s always fun to revisit a childhood favorite.

We’ve probably read this story a hundred times already and the kids already knew it quite well.  We began the week with some acting.   We practiced walking “slowly, slowly, so as not to upset his caps”.  We also talked about how having good posture helps us with balance.  Something I clearly need to work on for myself because when I demonstrated the meaning of  good posture, both kids burst out laughing! Haha!

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We fell asleep under a “tree” with our caps on…

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When we awoke… little monkeys had swiped our caps! LRG_DSC03401

We took turns being peddlers.  Isn’t this the cutest little peddler you’ve ever seen?!LRG_DSC03393LRG_DSC03391

They both preferred to be monkeys, so I spent most of the time peddling my wares.

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“You monkeys, you, … you give me back my caps!”

For Bible we learned Proverbs 29:11.  Umm… yeah… I had A LOT of conviction, confessing, and owning up to do with this one.  In fact, it was just a week later that I had one of the finest moments of my life when I shattered my phone in an angry rage — in front of my kids!   And they are not letting me forget it and are real quick to tell everyone about their “foolish mom”.  This is proof that I do not have it all together, nor do I care to pretend that I do.  But… this is why I love Jesus! Only He can take an outburst like that… and somehow work it for good.

A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man holds it in check.

Proverbs 29:11

We made salt dough peddlers and stacked caps on his head.  Clara helped knead the dough and it was great for those little hands!

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The peddlers… I thought they were so cute.

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A monkey peddler! 

We read about coins and sorted them into like piles .

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We observed many ways in which we could make fifty cents.  This was way over their head, but exposure nonetheless. Benjamin was a bit more interested.

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Teatime was fun this week!  We sang variations of Five Little Monkeys, played Monkey see, Monkey do, ate chocolate covered bananas, and slurped root beer — a favorite for all of us.

On a side note, we read No Monkeys, No Chocolate,  and learned that monkeys have been the only way in which the cocoa bean was spread because they were the only thing in the rainforest able to crack the shell containing the seed. God is good!  His design never ceases to amaze me!
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This was a great week and I’ll be back to wrap it up… at “Monkey Mountain” in Austria!  This was the whole reason I chose to officially “row” this book.  Because… how often do you have access to real live mimicking monkeys running freely around their environment???  Stay tuned!

Five in a Row: Papa Piccolo, part 2

We are continuing on our quest to find Papa Piccolo in Venice.  If  you care to catch up on part 1 of our journey, you can read about it here.



We were determined to find the edge of the main islands and forged ahead exploring the city’s canals, bridges, and alleys.

We passed the Venice Arsenal – the heart of the Venetian naval industry since the 12th century.  This was the first time I have been able to make it this far down the islands.  It was wonderful!  Most of the alleys belonged to us! (At least by Venice standards, that is.)

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We climbed on anchors… 20180426-DSC03209

Gazed at the boats whizzing through the lagoon…20180426-DSC03217

Inhaled the delightful aroma of wisteria… 20180426-DSC03220

And we even found a park! I think it may be the only playground in Venice.  It was a large garden at the bottom of the city.  Somehow, they seem to forget how tired their legs are when there is something to climb!20180426-DSC03223

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Just look at that wisteria!

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After “resting” our legs at the park, we had a long trek back to the hotel for our dinner reservations and it was time to pick up the pace… but not before we stopped to admire the sun slowly sinking over lagoon.  20180426-DSC0323520180426-DSC03230

We made it to dinner — albeit 10 minutes late — but perfectly on time by Italian standards.  And boy did it feel good to sit down and refuel!20180426-DSC03239

We finished up dinner just in time to check off one of my bucket list items — dancing in Piazza San Marco under the light of the moon while the musicians perform every favorite cliche Italian folk song.  That’s Amore!20180426-DSC0324520180426-DSC03244

Sorry for the blurry picture, but nighttime photography with dancing kids is not my forte!20180426-DSC0324720180426-DSC03254

Who could possibly resist another chance to chase pigeons?20180426-DSC0324920180426-DSC03253

They were amazed with the toy demonstrations from the “pesky” sales guys.  Being the only kids out there, we were definitely a target that night.20180426-DSC03248

On our way back to the hotel, we found all of the gondolas “parked”.  We counted them and noticed how the gondoliers (mostly) grouped them in fives.  20180426-DSC0326320180426-DSC0326620180426-DSC03267

We were ready to crash after such a long day of walking when Benjamin found How it’s Made on TV.  He was so thrilled and shouted, “That’s what I watch with grandpa!”  So we capped off a great day by learning how race cars are made.

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We woke up to another beautiful day feeling refreshed and ready for more!  One nice thing about staying in the heart of Venice, is that you have the place to yourself in the early mornings and late evenings.  I was surprised how much they loved wandering the streets — taking notice of every nook and cranny — and especially loving the dead ends.

Benjamin and Clara took turns leading the way and we spent almost the entire morning getting lost.

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I actually took a selfie! IMG_9329 2

I have to post another one, because… look at Clara’s “duck face”!  It was totally unprompted.IMG_9330 2

We eventually found ourselves in the Dosoduro neighborhood of Venice, known for being a tad more local than the other side of the Grand Canal.

We visited the Leonardo da Vinci museum.  It was a bit of a disappointment.  Usually da Vinici exhibits are very kid friendly, but not this one.  We go in trouble twice!  Once for being to loud and once because Benjamin tried to use a machine on his own.

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We stumbled upon the Squero San Trovaso, the oldest boatyard in Venice, which first opened in the 17th century.  We watched them at work for a while.  This gondola was waiting in the canal for some time.  When the workers were ready, they placed rollers on the ground and they all worked together to hoist the gondola out of the water.  It looked heavy!  We compared this to a garage where cars would be worked on and took note that everything requires maintenance to run well.

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Next stop… the Ca’ Macana for a mask painting class.  I highly recommend this if you are traveling to Venice with kids.  The shop was not a bit stingy with supplies and helped the kids with technique.  It was a highlight for all!

They had a huge selection of masks from which the kids could choose. (They had another large table in the back) and the masks felt very sturdy.20180427-DSC03306

After the difficult choice of choosing a mask, they selected a color scheme and got painting. 20180427-DSC0330920180427-DSC0330820180427-DSC0331020180427-DSC03311

The instructor taught them how to blend the colors together.20180427-DSC0331220180427-DSC03313

Time to dry!20180427-DSC03314

Now for the accouterment…20180427-DSC0332420180427-DSC0332720180427-DSC03330

All of that painting gave us an appetite for gelato!20180427-DSC03334

Not sure what is happening in this one, but… doesn’t Clara remind you of President Trump here? Haha!20180427-DSC03336

Our trip to Venice was finally complete after a much anticipated gondola ride.  We named the gondolier Luigi Barbero – just like in Papa Piccolo.  IMG_9333 2IMG_933720180427-DSC0335020180427-DSC0334320180427-DSC03347

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Great view of the Rialto Bridge!

Benjamin marveled at the water level overtaking the ground level of the houses. 20180427-DSC03287

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Some of us left the mask shop with painted faces too!

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We headed out of town in style…via water taxi.   Time to say goodbye.  20180427-DSC0337920180427-DSC0337520180427-DSC03374

Sadly, this brings our adventures with Papa Piccolo to a close.  We had such a fantastic time! The kids have turned a corner in their ability to travel and we had almost zero fighting and whining for a whole day and a half!  That is monumental!

I don’t know how much the kids will remember of this time, but I will treasure these memories in my heart forever.  Ciao bella Venezia! 

Five in a Row: Papa Piccolo, part 1

This week we jumped ahead to a selection in volume 1 of Five in a Row – Papa Piccolo.  Since it is set in Venice, I just had to fit it in before we say arrividerci to Italy.

Papa Piccolo is an aloof tomcat who rules the streets of Venice by night.  His life changes for the better when he becomes less selfish and lovingly decides to adopt two kittens — teaching them everything they need to know to survive on the streets.

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Before we even began the story, Benjamin got to work building a lego Venice.  So darling!   He even made a display with the books for the backdrop.

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He added Papa Piccolo!
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Love the gelato!
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Every canal needs an octopus!

We read many stories and facts about Venice and studied the journey of Marco Polo –   Benjamin loved hearing of his adventures.

We studied the book’s beautiful watercolor illustrations and created some of our own.  I guess I missed a picture of Clara’s. She decided to paint “all different kinds of pictures” instead.  I wish I had snapped a photo nonetheless.

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Benjamin’s Venice
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His Rialto Bridge

We discussed the qualities of fatherhood found in Papa Piccolo and how he had to sacrifice his own desires in order to care for the kittens responsibly.

Of course, we can’t examine fatherhood without including our perfect Father in heaven.  We discussed both God’s heart for orphans and also how He adopts us when we choose to believe and receive His Son Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior.  The Living Breathing God – Creator of the Universe – chooses us! And He delights in us despite of our broken, messy, wandering sinful nature.

Father of the fatherless and protector of widows is God in his holy habitation.

Psalm 68:5

He predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will.

Ephesians 1:5

Then…we got to take our studies to Venice!  Though we live roughly an hour away, getting to Venice still feels like a lot of work and takes much longer than an hour.  When we finally arrived, the first bridge we happened upon was the Ponte Dei Tolentini – the very home of Papa Piccolo!  I believe I was way more enchanted with this than the kids  were, but Venice is tricky and NOT very well signed.  Kids would never understand.

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We slowly meandered through the alleyways while we made our way towards the hotel.

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We passed the Rialto Bridge and admired the view of the Grand Canal.  20180426-DSC0311720180426-DSC03125

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The Grand Canal

If you’ve been to Venice, you will appreciate how empty the Rialto was. 20180426-DSC03127

We stayed at the Hotel Bonvecchiati which was only about a 3 minute walk from Piazza San Marco and it was fantastic!  The room was huge by Venetian standards and had very updated amenities. I got an amazing rate as I was able to book last minute.

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This is the view from our room.  The canal was directly beneath and every now and then we’d be blessed with the delightful sound of a gondolier serenading his way through the canals while accompanied by an accordion.  The kind of atmosphere that makes my heart swoon.

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After soaking in the view and resting our feet, we had a reading of Papa Piccolo and ventured out for more exploring.

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Along the way, we kept our eyes open for some things we had learned about Venice, such as the fact that they use boats instead of cars.  We imagined what it would be like to live there and had fun searching for different kinds of boats.

We found police boats…  20180426-DSC03103

Postal boats…20180426-DSC03108

Construction boats…20180427-DSC03337

Garbage boats…20180427-DSC03380

Ambulance boats…20180427-DSC03296

Food delivery boats…20180426-DSC03277

And we think this was a laundry boat…(?) 20180426-DSC03278

We searched for vocabulary words from the story around the city — gilded decor, trinkets,  pots perched upon a ledge, sardines, and chiming bells to name a few.  We never found sardines, but plenty of other fish we thought cats might like to eat.

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One of our favorite things to play was eye spy with the Venetian flag and the winged lion.  We learned that the winged lion, the symbol of Venice, is holding an open book with the latin inscription Pax Tibi Marce Evangelista Meus:  Peace be unto thee Mark my evangelist.  When the book is open,  Venice is said to be at peace; when the book is closed, Venice is at war.  I have never seen the book closed.

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We logged a lot of time trying to catch pigeons in San Marco.

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After chasing pigeons and more exploring, it was definitely time for a gelato break.

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We loved the pizza faces!20180426-DSC03166

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We found another “tipping tower”.20180426-DSC03199

And best of all… we found Papa Piccolo!  He lived at the Acqua Alta bookstore and was the only cat we saw in Venice.

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The kids loved the Acqua Alta – especially seeing books piled up in gondolas and old bathtubs.  We discussed the flooding Venice is plagued with and how the gondolas and bathtubs help protect the books.  20180426-DSC03191

We braved the wobbly book stairs.

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Love those little legs on the side.

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We were greeted with this view at the top.

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They even had a book courtyard.  The musty, tattered, weathered books were intriguing for us all.

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This post is getting a bit too long.  Join us next time while we finish exploring Venice in an effort to find Papa Piccolo.

Before Five in a Row: The Big Green Pocket Book

This week we combined The Big Green Pocketbook, our Five in a Row selection, with When a Line Bends…A Shape Begins from an Ivy Kids box.  They went well together since there were many shapes to find in both stories.   

The Big Green Pocketbook  is about a little girl who spends the morning running errands with her mother while collecting special items for her pocketbook along the way. In the end, the girls loses her pocketbook and someone kindly returns it to her.

Throughout the story, there are many acts of kindness.  We read about kindness and manners and searched the pages for examples.  We also recalled a time when we have lost something and how we felt.  Benjamin remembered losing a sticker at the grocery store and Clara remembered losing ponies (don’t tell… but I’m pretty sure I lost them for her).

We studied shades of green and tried our hand at mixing our own colors.  I put out  every shade of blue and yellow I could find and let them mix away.

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We also colored coffee filters with yellow and blue, misted them with water, and examined the blending magic!

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We created animals with our tangram puzzles.

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We used clay and toothpicks to make shapes and structures.

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They pyramid was a little frustrating
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Benny made a house

We ate strawberries and whipped cream for teatime.  The kids weren’t too thrilled with  fruit for a treat, but I topped it with a few chocolate chips and that did the trick!

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We finished off the week by running our own errands.  Clara brought her pocketbook and I gave them each two lollipops… one for now, and one for later. Just like the story.

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Before Five in a Row: The ABC Bunny

This week we read The ABC Bunny by Wanda Gag.  It follows a little bunny’s adventure as he makes his way through the letters of the alphabet.  The rhyme was published in 1933 and is actually set to a song.

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We studied the musical notes on the pages and learned that we can also read music just like we can read books.  We watched the song on YouTube, but they hated it  (I won’t lie, I didn’t enjoy it either) so we danced to this one instead.  Much jazzier!

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I was originally going to skip this book as well, but we’re finally finishing up Foundations A  Logic of English with Benjamin so I thought it would a fun book to do since we’ve learned all of the alphabet now.  He’s made so much progress!

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Nothing more satisfying than an empty workbook!

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We didn’t spend much time on this story, but played letter games all week. We made alphabet soup.  They dipped up bowls and had to read the letter sounds. They look so sleepy!

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We used our animal classification cards from Homeschool Creations to search the illustrations for different kinds of animals.  I’m always surprised at how much they delight in hunting for animals on the page. We even have to take turns because there is too much fighting about who gets to find them!

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Logic of English is a bit different in that it doesn’t teach the order of the alphabet or letter names until the second book.  We practiced lining them up in order, reading the sounds, and then found objects beginning with each phonogram.

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On a side note, we  (mostly) had fun making bird houses for teatime.  Clara had fun, but Benjamin clearly had grander visions for his structure and quickly became frustrated when the frosting was to too thin.  In the end he was happy with how it turned out and I loved the addition of a ramp!  I would’ve been intrigued to see what he was actually envisioning.

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We visited a local farm, Agroturismo Gelindo, hoping to see bunnies.  Again, we had no luck, but we did get to see pigs and horses and the weather couldn’t have been more perfect! I cannot believe I didn’t get a picture of Clara with the horse!

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Before Five in a Row: The Runaway Bunny

The Runaway Bunny, a 1942 classic by Margaret Wise Brown, is a delightful tale of a mother’s steadfast love for her baby bunny.  The little bunny threatens to run away and his mother assures him, “If you run away, I will run after you”.

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We had a lot of fun with this story.  I was so close to skipping it thinking it was too babyish, but I’m glad I didn’t because it has been one of our favorites so far this year.  We spent time studying the illustrations and comparing them to Goodnight Moon as they are both illustrated by Clement Hurd.  They loved finding similarities and even found an illustration from The Runaway Bunny in Goodnight moon.  They also enjoyed hunting for the bunny in his hiding place on every page.

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The painting on the wall in Goodnight Moon is an illustration in The Runaway Bunny. 

We made up our own “if you, then I” statements.  I wish I would’ve written them down because they had thought of some really cute ones.

“If you become a sailboat and sail away from me,” said his mother,  “I will become the wind and blow you where I want you to go”.

We blew cotton bunnies just where we wanted them to go.

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“If you go flying on a flying trapeze,” said his mother, “I will be a tightrope walker, and I will walk across the air to you.”

We had a blast walking on our own tight rope!  Clara dressed up just like the mother bunny…

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And of course needed a costume change.

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Benjamin kicked it up a notch with all kinds of tricks.

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For his Lego challenge, he made a fishing pole and then a tight rope!

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I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.

Jeremiah 31:3


For Bible, we related the mother’s endless love for her son to Jeremiah 31:3.  We likened this to God’s love for us and though we may try to run away and hide from Him, He is relentless in pursuing our hearts and will always be with us.

We were blessed with the most beautiful weather for teatime! Being one of the first days we could actually feel heat radiating from the sun, we had to spend it outside.  It was glorious!  We ate bunny pudding cups, sipped some chilled juice, and soaked in the sunshine.

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We finished up teatime with a  quick lesson on round shapes.  We examined the differences between circles, discs, and spheres.

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We had a great week, though I can feel a strong dose of spring fever headed our way!

Before Five in a Row: The Little Rabbit

This week we read The Little Rabbit by Judy Dunn.  It captures a little a little girl’s adventure with her pet rabbit named Buttercup.  We didn’t spend a lot of time on this story, but had a nice relaxed week nonetheless.

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This story was a bit unique as it has been the only Five in a Row book done with photographs.  We spent a lot of time comparing illustrated bunnies with the photographed bunnies.  I’m amazed at how many children’s books use bunnies and bears as the main characters.

Since we were learning about photographs, I let them use my camera to do a photo shoot with their animals.  We may need a little work on composition! I’m particularly fond of the junky backdrops! Haha!

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We tried our hand at color matching and matched crayons to different shades of colors found in the story.  They enjoyed this much more than I thought they would.  It then spurred them to make their own version of the book.  I loved how they turned out!

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Benjamin’s version
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I love the buttercups!
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Clara’s book, though I don’t know what prompted the droppings!

For Bible this week, we talked about Proverbs 12:10.  We discussed all of the things animals need when we take them as pets.  We also listed all of the ways Sarah, the girl in the story, took care of her bunny and her babies.

The righteous care for the needs of their animals.

Proverbs 12:10

Since buttercup has babies in the book, we read a little about animal babies.  Clara matched animal babies to the mamas while Benjamin did math.  Notice the first to be completed was the horse!

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From the Five in a Row Facebook group, someone had the brilliant idea of incorporating a  Lego challenge with each book. I had to do this since Legos are about the only thing that motivate Benjamin!  He made a bunny hutch and I thought it was just darling!

 

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The bunny hutch from The Little Rabbit

This is Benjamin’s Lego bunny hutch.  He was beyond thrilled when I gave him the challenge and constructed it in about 10 minutes.

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This is Clara’s bunny hutch

We watched an Art Hub for Kids video here on how to draw a realistic bunny.  They both LOVED  these videos and wanted to keep working on them.  We drew bunnies, chicks, and easter baskets!   They turned out really cute.  I’m grateful for YouTube because I desperately need the artistic help!  And yet my brother manages to sell paintings for thousands! How different we all are…

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Notice how mine on the bottom is on the same level as Benjamin’s!

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I love the carrots!

We had some Easter fun by decorating foil eggs.  I drew some sample patterns and they went to work! I guess I forgot to get a picture of the final product.

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We had an Easter egg coloring party!  We invited Sofia and Samuel over to decorate eggs.  They were quite proud of their creations.  Though coloring eggs is not huge tradition in Italy, it is gaining popularity.  lrg_dsc02978.jpeg

We went to a local pet story in an attempt to find bunnies… but had no luck and had to settle for fish.

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On a random note, nothing like pancake faces for dinner!  I made the pancakes and they made the faces.  One perk of Dad working nights!

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Clara looked so beautiful in her Easter dress!  Benjamin was a handsome little hunk, but would NOT cooperate for a picture.  The day couldn’t have been more lovely! He is risen indeed!

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Next week we’ll be back for more fun with bunnies while we read The Runaway Bunny!