We spent three weeks exploring the explorers. We jumpstarted our journey with Five in a Row book “Henry the Castaway” by Thomas Taylor, and then drifted off to other exciting adventures. What I love about “Five in a Row” is that it really ignites interest in a topic, no matter how simple a picture book seems to be.
Our first week was spent learning about pirates because I was busy at that time and needed something easy to do with the kids. Our second week was all about explorers in general. But we stumbled upon Magellan’s story during that time so we just had to delve on Philippine history on the third week. I’m excited to write a post about that, but for now, read on about how we learned about explorers, pirates, and the seas.
About the story
“Henry the Castaway” was first published in 1972 and is considered a classic picture book. It is about Henry and his dog Angus who set out one morning to look for an ocean. They got stranded on an island but with Henry’s skills as an explorer, they were soon rescued by Henry’s mother and father.
This is an exciting story that both 6-year-old Little T and 3-year-old Little Sir enjoyed. Their play from the time that we first read the book until now has revolved around ships, exploring, and pirates!
The whole premise of “Henry the Castaway” is pretend play. Henry has breakfast with his parents and declares that he and Angus will be looking for an ocean. His mother says, “I hope it won’t take all day.”
Pretend play is always a big part of my kids’ day to day life. When I suggested that they pretend to be explorers and pirates, Little T jumped eagerly into it and converted our bed into one big ship. Before long, I heard them using the words galley, sail, and Aye Aye captain! I didn’t need to provide them with anything. They “played exploring” by themselves every afternoon for days!
The picture of the
mess on our bed ship is too embarrassing to share. My kids have a second pretend ship, though, and it’s this play equipment in our neighborhood playground. It’s just too bad that Typhoon Yolanda blew away (or perhaps tore) the fabric cloth that looked like sails before.
There is no mention of pirates in the story, but since I have a little boy and explorers encountered pirates in their adventures anyway, I made it a point to take a look at pirates as part of our “lessons.” (Sorry I have to put the word lessons in quotes because I don’t have another word for what we are doing around here!)
I bought a pirate box from our friends from KaHone Art (check out their new website here) and let Little T and her older cousin (who didn’t have school for some reason one day) work on it by themselves. They made a treasure chest, a map, a pirate mask, and a parrot!
Henry and his dog Angus ride a canoe, which floats downstream. “Five in a Row” suggests learning about currents – upstream and downstream – and reading “Pooh Invents a New Game,” which we have. It is a part of “The House at Pooh Corner,” the original Winnie-the-Pooh stories by A. A. Milne.
In the story, Pooh and his friends throw their sticks down the upstream part of the river and watch whose stick appears first on the downstream side. They called their game Pooh-sticks. So, we biked to a small bridge near where we live and played Pooh-sticks too!
The stream under the bridge leads to Marikina River. While watching the little stream and the river farther down, Little T excitedly recognized what Pooh said in the story about how the “small” river runs fast while the “grown” river flows slowly. When I looked at where the little stream and the river meet a few hundred meters away, Marikina River was indeed slowly meandering while the little stream under the bridge was going fast. I declared our activity to be a success!
In the story, Henry and Angus go exploring in a canoe. So, we just had to go boating with the kids! I initially thought of bringing them to the Pasig River for a ferry ride. Good thing though that I came across this post by Michelle of Mom Friday about the amusement center in the Quezon City Memorial Circle. We spent one happy Sunday afternoon there!
The cover of “Henry the Castaway” shows a kingfisher bird. Such birds live near rivers, hence its presence in the story.
I was only too happy to make a connection between the kingfisher in the book and our previous “lesson” about birds by watching a short video clip about kingfishers. Our bird-watching experience made me excited about the birds around us. I even try to bring a pair of binoculars every time I bring the kids to the playground where there are lots of trees and birds around.
We read three other wonderful books about explorations, which we jut we just happen to have. I think the key to having “all the books you need” is to just hoard all the good books that you can find and then use them when the opportunity comes up!
“Follow the Dream: The Story of Christopher Columbus” by Peter Sis is a wonderful book about 15th century Europe. It tells the story of Columbus and his dream to explore the world by travelling through the west. Though he didn’t find Asia which he sought, he found America.
Explorers News is an interesting book about all the major explorers in history. It is written in news format and as if each story is a current event. For example, Magellan was mentioned to have “died in an island war” instead of in the Philippines.
Mariner’s Tale is an interactive book about explorers that I shamelessly borrowed from my nephew when we went to their house. I gave it to him last year and thought it fit our topic! Here we read another mention about Christopher Columbus and Ferdinand Magellan. The flaps and little wheels are great fun for little hands.
I collect biography books for my kids because I believe that reading about great men and women of history can be inspiring and motivating. This is one of our biography books and I included it in our learning basket because Christopher Columbus is featured there.
I will be writing about a more exciting adventure next time… and that is how we answered the call of Magellan and Lapu-Lapu! Come back soon!