Lentil: Harmonicas, Lemons, and Charcoal Pencils


Lentil, published in 1940, is a classic picture book by multi-awarded author-illustrator Robert McCloskey. Lentil is a young boy who decides to become an expert at playing the harmonica after realizing that he can’t sing, or even whistle! His harmonica-playing leads him to become the town hero when the town band fails to welcome a very important person at the train station.

The Five in a Row manual is sooo rich in material that we can go as light or as deep as we want to. I am trying to slow down a bit because Little T is just four, so I chose the easier topics from the wonderful manual. We will definitely row this book again! Here’s a peek at the fun we had…


MUSIC      Music was a natural choice because we just love music around here! After looking at the drawing of the different instruments that the town band members are holding in the book, we got our own and talked about the four instrument families: percussion, string, woodwind, and brass. 



Of course, we also played our harmonicas! The two that we have are part of Kindermusik’s Away We Go home materials. I tasked Little T to learn how to play Hey, Tswana using the activity guide (blow for a triangle, and suck for the inverted one) with the objective of playing from memory.



CHARCOAL PENCIL     Robert McCloskey’s drawings in Lentil were done in charcoal. Five in a Row encourages experimentation with the material, so we bought ONE charcoal pencil at National Bookstore – just one because it costs 98 pesos! We drew, shaded, and smudged to get the same effect as the book illustrations. We also compared two boxes that we shaded with lead pencil and charcoal pencil.

TASTE     The town band musicians fail to play their brass instruments because they see Old Sneep sucking on a lemon. (Now, doesn’t the mention of lemon make you sour-mouthed too?!) We experimented with different tastes and then made some lemonade. Little T got mad that I made her taste “bitter.”

MEMORIAL PARK     Lentil passes by Carter Memorial Park while playing the harmonica on his way to school. So, we went to Quezon Memorial Park and looked at the shrine dedicated to President Manuel Quezon. We also made it a point to look at several monuments or statues in Makati City when we went there as Lentil also passes by a monument in the story. In all of those outings, we talked about how we remember and honor heroes in our history through monuments and statues. I love it that we were able to connect elements of this story with the books we just read: The Chair King (heroes) and The Red Carpet (welcoming important people).
WHITTLE     The “villain” in the story, Old Sneep, grumbles and whittles wood all day. I wondered how I could show Little T what “whittle” means, and came upon the idea of carving soap – hello, or rather goodbye, Perla!

LENTIL DINNER     We finished our week with Lemonade and Chicken Lentil, which was quite easy to make… and yummy too, I think!
All in all another wonderful week full of fun and learning, care of Five in a Row!
Make magic!
  • http://www.thelearningbasket.com/ Mariel @ The Learning Basket

    Hi! The music is the Family Activity Guide which came with the harmonicas :) 

  • Christophandsarah

    Great ideas!! We did the Away We Go Kindermusik class and have the harmonicas (which we love to play). Where did you get the music with the triangles? We would love to try that.

  • http://www.thelearningbasket.com/ Mariel @ The Learning Basket

    Yes, I don’t like too much crafts too! Conversations and experience are on top of my list! :) 

  • Chat

    Wow! Great ideas, especially for us, non-crafty moms! Thanks so much! Got to print this for future reference!

  • http://www.thelearningbasket.com/ Mariel @ The Learning Basket

    it is, it is, its!!! :D

  • sanne

    i love it!!! no wonder you were so excited about the harmonicas last week! :) BFIAR/FIAR is love!

  • Chris

    We are rowing this book now :D

  • http://www.thelearningbasket.com/ Mariel @ The Learning Basket

    Hi Chris! That’s great! I assume all your books arrived already? :)