The Rag Coat: Quilt, Dulcimer, Mining

Our “school week” starts on a Monday. Saturdays and Sundays are for crafting my lesson plans based on the “Five in a Row” manuals and/or other resources, and Mondays are for starting a new book.  It takes me two to three hours to plan the week and to gather our materials, which all go to our Learning Basket.
Selecting Similarly-Themed Books
Cramming Not preparing for weeks in advance has a big advantage for us. It means that I can choose a theme that is related to what is going on in our lives at that particular time. Sometimes, I gather several similarly-themed books to provide continuity and opportunity to explore a topic more deeply.
Last week, I chose several books for a three-week period: The Rag Coat by Lauren Mills, When I Was Young in the Mountains by Cynthia Rylant, and The Mats by Francisco Arcellana.
The first two are set in the Appalachian Mountains in the United States, the theme of the Kindermusik Young Child class that I am teaching this semester and in which Little T is enrolled. On the other hand, I chose the Philippine picture book The Mats because like The Rag Coat, it touches on the subject of death, a sad experience that our family has recently faced, and which I will write about at a later date.

The Rag Coat is about Minna, a girl who lives in the  Appalachian Mountains. Being poor, her family cannot afford to get her a new coat for the coming winter. Their neighbors, who her mother quilts with, offer to make one for her using scraps from their own families’ clothes. Minna is very happy and proud of her “rag coat” that has so many stories to tell. This story has soooo many great topics for discussion, but like always, we’re somewhat just skimming the surface this year to match Little T’s age and interest.

Quilting: Math and Fine-Motor Skills
We made our own mini-quilt by cutting several fabrics into squares and arranging them into a pattern, an important pre-math skill.We then used glue to put it together, and dried it with my hair dryer! It now provides warmth to several of Little T’s dolls. I wanted to make stories about each fabric, like the stories that Minna has kept in her heart to share with her classmates. My student though did not feel like doing it at that time. Something to look forward to next year! 


Lulu under her quilt “coat”


Dulcimer: Culture Through Music
Part of enjoying a book is exploring the setting of the story.  The Appalachian Mountain Range is a long stretch of mountains spanning North America and Canada. One of the poorest regions in America, it has awed artists and writers for generations with the grandeur of the mountains and the distinct culture of its people.
Our “lessons” about the culture of the Appalachian people revolved around their dulcimer, a string instrument that we are learning to play in our Kindermusik class. Little T can play several tunes already, mostly by ear – an objective of the class, so hurray for the teacher! :D



In addition, we also sang songs with nonsense words, a feature of Appalachian music. Really, the class I teach is the perfect supplement for any story set in the Appalachians! You can listen to our favorite song by clicking on this link. Sing and dance along with us!

Hop Old Squirrel (jump three times)

Eidledum Eidledum (tap lap)

Hop Old Squirrel (jump three times)

Eidledum Dee (tap lap)

Coal Miner: Occupation
Minna’s father is a coal miner. We talked a bit about coals and mining, but enjoyed pretending to be coal miners more. We dimmed the lights, put on head lamps (available at CD-R King), and roamed around looking for coal. This has always been a favorite game, starting when we read Corduroy and pretended to be a night watchman searching for the source of the sound he heard.


We are now reading When I Was Young in the Mountains, and I can see the beauty of staying on one theme for more than a week. It gives us more opportunities to connect ideas and “live” in the stories. 
Make magic!

  • http://trulyrichmom.com/ TrulyRichMom/TeacherMamaTina

    Love it! :) Have you seen my special mention of TLB on World Moms Blog? :) http://worldmomsblog.com/2012/07/11/the-philippines-how-to-raise-patriotic-kids-or-at-least-try-to/ Teehee! :D Thanks again! God bless!