Last week we read Make way for Ducklings by Robert Mcloskey. It's a FIAR text which tells the tale of two ducks looking for a place to build a nest, incubating their eggs and looking after their ducklings.
The story is basic but has scope for much discussion. The illustrations are beautiful detailed pencil sketches.
Here are some of the things we did/discussed after reading the story.
The story is based in America. We found America on our world map.
The story is old and this is reflected in some of the illustrations. We looked through and found some things which Hermione felt were old fashioned. She noted the cars, clothes and the policeman's baton.
There were eight ducklings in the story. We worked out how many peanuts each would get if visitors at the park threw in twenty four peanuts, four peanuts and so on.
All eight had names which rhyme. We made a list of eight words which rhyme. That's not as easy as it seems.
The ducks were going to moult soon. We talked about moulting and how many furry and feathered creatures do. Hermione is well accustomed to cat fur, living with three cats. Our hens haven't had their first moult yet. I think Hermione's quite looking forward to this now. Can't say I am as egg production will drop.
When the ducks first arrived at the city park they spoke to a very big bird which didn't have the decency to reply. It was a wooden swan on the back of a pleasure boat. Things aren't always as they seem. It's all too easy to jump to false conclusions.
The duck sat on her nest and incubated her eggs. We talked about incubation and this lead on to the whys and wherefores of how some eggs will hatch chicks and others won't. I decided I wasn't up for the nitty gritty right now and decided to enlist Nana's help to draw two pictures. The first picture showed a lone hen, hen leaving nest with egg in, egg in pan. The second picture showed a hen and a cockerel together, hen incubating eggs and a chick hatching out of the egg.
I know, I know, I didn't rise to the challenge. It didn't feel right. Hermione now knows that in order for an egg to produce a chick two things must happen - the hen must have special friendship with a cockerel and then she must incubate the eggs. That will do for now.
We watched a cool youtube clip of a chick hatching.
We watched this cockerel and noted how he differs from our hens. Obviously there is the noise difference but his wattle and comb are also much bigger.
While we were talking of birds it felt like the time to read a book I picked up from the free table at our local home ed meeting, The Starling by Joyce Pope. A wonderful book crammed with factual information in an easy to read story format.
Finally, talk of birds would not have been complete without a visit to our local Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust. I love this place. It's a place where I can feel really peaceful and really connected to the earth and a special part of me. My Dad worked here as a volunteer for a few years before he died. He died one December, shortly before he was about to play their Santa Claus again. He never got to see his grandchildren. Bringing them here helps to ease the pain and dissapointment that I feel about that.
We fed the birds, watched the waterfall, had fun in the play area and picnicked despite the almost gale force winds. Exhilarating. Just what I needed.