Thursday, January 17, 2008

Unit Study: Mittens

Today, as it was supposed to be kind of snowy (but was instead just bitter cold!), we did a mini unit on mittens. We read some GREAT picture books, made fleece mittens and watched the old Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe while eating whole-wheat brownies we made yesterday from flour ground at the National Western Stock Show.
Here are the picture books we read about mittens:
Noah’s Mittens: The Story of Felt by Lise Lunge-Larsen (illustrated by Matthew Trueman). What all happened on the Ark anyway? This picture book (with wonderfully whimsical illustrations) explains how wool felt was “invented”, why and what uses it could be put to once the Ark rested on Mount Ararat.

The Winter Mittens written and illustrated by Tim Arnold tells the story of a little girl who finds magical mittens in a silver box (and the trouble that occurs when she uses them just a bit too long). This book is more a short-chapter book than a picture book – but definitely read-able in a short time.

The Missing Mitten Mystery by Steven Kellogg. Where did Annie lose her mitten (her 5th lost mitten of the season) and who might have taken it? These questions are answered in Kellogg’s classic story – with his signature illustrations throughout.

The Missing Mittens by Stuart J. Murphy (illustrated by G. Brian Karas) is a wonderfully illustrated story that explains the difference between even and odd and easy ways to remember the difference.
and some other picture books about snow and winter:
Annie and the Wild Animals written and illustrated by Jan Brett has all the charm of Brett’s books – but this one tells of Annie’s search for a pet after her cat, Taffy, goes off and Annie has no one with whom to play. The wild animals that offer to be Annie’s friends are “just not right”.

The Polar Bear Son: an Inuit Tale retold and illustrated by Lydia Dabcovich does a wonderful job of portraying/relating the life in an Inuit village, especially for a woman who has no one to help her. The illustrations are gorgeous!

Little Daughter of the Snow by Arthur Ransome (illustrated by Tom Bower) is the retelling of a Russion folk-tale about a childless couple who create a snow-daughter but don’t quite love her enough for her to stay forever.

Wild Horse Winter written and illustrated by Tetsuya Honda is a story about the Dosanko horses indigenous to the Japanese island of Hokkaido. This is a fascinating story of a breed of horse that does unusual things to combat the stormy weather on the island.

All You Need for a Snowman by Alice Schertle (illustrated by Barbara Lavallee) is a rhyming story about “all you need” to build a snowman or two. The illustrations really add to this story – with their pastel-y rainbow palette and the white of the snowmen!

Building an Igloo text and photographs by Ulli Steltzer explains in words and black/white photographs how an igloo is built (right down to an ice block used for a window). This is a really cool book that describes clearly enough to make you own igloo (if you’re lucky enough to have that much snow).

Snowmen: Snow Creatures, Crafts and Other Winter Projects by Peter Cole, Frankie Frankeny and Leslie Jonath – this is a GREAT winter craft book with unique and creative projects to make with snow as well as a few edible and non-edible inside projects. The uniqueness of the projects makes this a really special book.
Here is a quicky tutorial on the fleece mittens. A while back we'd gotten some fleece remnants from Jo-Ann Fabrics (a wonderful fabric store that happily gives a discount to educators -- even homeschoolers!). Today, we pulled out the pieces and the littles picked out their favorite color.
Folded so there would be four layers, I then traced around their hand -- with the fingers closed but the thumb extended.
The kids then picked out embroidery floss in a coordinating color and sewed the mitten-halves together.
Once the mittens were sewed -- for Bam-Bam's, I did a blanket stitch on the right side, for String-Bean's blue mittens she over-stitched on the wrong side, for Lego Maniac's green mittens he did a running stitch on the wrong side -- we turned them out onto the right side and I did snow flakes and a snowman on Bam-Bam's with gold glitter paint while Lego Maniac used fabric paint to decorate his with mountains and a Chinese dragon. Ever-thinking String Bean decided to leave her's plain so that if she wears them on a cold day in the Spring, they don't look "out of season"!
Pretty cool -- or rather, cozy --, huh?


Margaret in Minnesota said...

We are going to see an adaptation of Jan Brett's The Mitten on Monday and this will be an excellent follow-up. Thank you for the resources! :)

Alice Gunther said...

I seriously love this project.