I like most of the books we’ve read with Five in a Row this year but our latest is definitely my favorite – The Rag Coat by Lauren Mills. The Amazon description sums it up pretty well, “With paintings that capture all the beauty of Appalachia in authentic detail, this tender story about a resourceful mountain girl’s special coat will touch readers with its affirming message of love and friendship.”
Not only did I really love the story, I loved how many different activities we could do with the book this week. Here’s a peak:
Read the Story
Five in a Row suggests reading the book every day for a week while you work on the related activities but M is pretty resistant to repeating the book. We read through it once and it led to a wide ranging conversation that covered why the kids in the story were being mean, why some people can’t afford a coat, why the little girl’s dad died and more. By the time we finished the book, I was mentally exhausted. It was worth it though to see M take such an interest in the book and what was happening.
Since a large portion of the story revolves around quilting so we did our own “quilting” projects. I cut a bunch of scrapbook paper into small squares and M designed her own quilt and rag coat using them. If you have some actual fabric scraps lying around, that would probably make these project even more fun.
As I explained what a quilt was, M was excited to realize that the blanket on her bed is actually a quilt, courtesy of very talented Aunt.
I used to lapbook to talk about the Appalachian region with M. We looked at the map to see what portion of the country was included in that region and talked about how we would be going on a family vacation this summer to that exact area.
For handwriting, she practiced by writing out the states that make up the Appalachian region.
We also discussed the concept of direction and how to read a compass. I wish I had planned to have a real compass for M to explore with but I wasn’t that prepared. Oh well!
To learn more about coal mining, we watched these two videos. Afterwards, M declared that she never wanted to be a coal miner because you seemed to get very dirty. Narrows down the list of potential careers by 1 🙂
M and J then had some hands-on fun learning about coal. We used a basic salt dough recipe to make our own lumps of coal. To make this, mix together:
- 2 cups flour
- 1 cup warm water
- 1 cup salt
Mix the ingredients together and then place balls of dough onto a baking sheet. Remember you want it to look like coal, so don’t make it neat! Once the lumps of coal are formed, bake it in a 275 degree oven until dry (ours took about an hour).
Once they are completely cool, the kids can paint them black to look like coal. Let them dry and then have fun playing coal miners! We spread this project out over 2 days to allow for drying time. Then I hid the coal around the house and the kids went “mining for coal”. They really liked this activity and played themselves a few times throughout the week.
We topped off the week by making coal cookies! We used this recipe and they were a hit. We will definitely make these again soon!
Our adventures with The Rag Coat kept us busy all week but in a wonderful way. I hope you and your little ones have fun with it too!
If you’d like to see any of the other Five in a Row or Before Five in a Row books we’ve finished, check them out here.