Homeschool Share: an online homeschool curriculum cooperative hosting over 500 unit studies, lapbooks, printables, and other resources.

Fireboat -The Heroic Adventures



Author/Illustrator: Maira Kalman

ISBN: 0399239537

Summary: A fireboat comes out of retirement to help itís city during the events of 911. 


Unit Prepared by:  Michelle Light

Note: Please pre-read this book to determine if the content should be shared with your child.  It is not easy to tell our children about tragic events, but we don't want to downplay them, either.  This book does an excellent job of telling the story of 911 in a way that children can understand ("many people were hurt--many lives were lost") without the blood and gore. 


Locate New York on a map. (You can place a story disk there if you plan to make one.) New York  borders Canada as well as two of the Great Lakes--  Lake Ontario and Lake Erie.   The story mentions Staten Island and the Hudson River.  Using an outline map, have your student mark these two geographical landmarks.  You may also want to discuss other New York geography such as Niagara Falls, Ellis Island, the Erie Canal, and the Adirondack Mountains.

Enchanted Learning Outline Map
Enchanted Learning Flag


Significant Dates in History
Throughout history there are significant dates. (Where the actual day is remembered rather than simply the time era.)

Defining events like these don't come often in one's lifetime; but, when they do, the moment is etched in one's memory--never to be forgotten.

Some people are old enough to remember the unprovoked attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 -- "A day that will live in infamy." (Franklin D. Roosevelt) Many people are old enough to remember where they were the day President Kennedy fell to an assassin's bullets, the day President Reagan was shot, or the moment they learned that the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded on its way to orbit.  We will forever remember the moment we saw two hijacked commercial airliners crash into the World Trade Center twin towers in New York City. September 11, 2001, will go down as another day of infamy.  Discuss with your student what you were doing on this date.  Perhaps you have stories from your student's grandparents about some of the other dates mentioned.   If your child was alive on 911, maybe he can recall where he was and what he was doing (and even how he felt) when he heard the news.

History and Timeline of New York
Mandy different aspects of 1931 New York City history are mentioned at the beginning of this story.  Have your older student choose one (or more) of these topics for an in-depth research project--
Babe Ruth
Snickers Candy Bars
The Empire State Building
The George Washington Bridge
Pendley Calling of Blarney

You could also make a timeline of NYC history with your student.  The above events are all mentioned as 1931 happenings.  The book also gives a bit more NYC history (ending with 911).  If your student is interested, you can continue this project by looking up other significant NYC events online or in an encyclopedia (don't forget to add The Little Red Lighthouse if you are familiar with that story). 

Another idea would be to add your family history (dates of birth, death, marriage, etc.) to the timeline.

Character Building:  Willingness to Help
So many people jumped in on that dreadful day to see how they could help.  We need to be willing to help when the need arises!  Try to teach your children this week to be helpful.  Try also to teach them to go the extra mile by teaching them the phrase, "is there anything else I can do for you?"  Tell them to be alert and keep their eyes out for things that they can be helping with-- to see what needs done and DO it (Is there trash on the ground at the park that needs picked up?  Does someone need help with something that they dropped?  Can I wipe up a spill?  Can I take my brother's laundry to the hamper?)    Think of a creative way to reward happy helpfulness this week.







Prepared Crossword Puzzle

    bustling- excited place with activity; noisy

    elegantly- graceful yet simple

    launched- to cause to move into water
    brave- having or showing courage

    merchandise- anything bought and sold for profit
    celebration- to observe a day or event; to have a happy and lively time

    scrap- to discard; to get rid of

    surprising- causing wonder; amazing or startling

    urgent- requiring immediate attention

    terrified- filled with fear

    snoozing- to sleep lightly

    scene- the place and surrounding of a certain event

    ceremony- a formal act or occasion

    audience- a group of people gathered together to hear and see a certain event

    hero- a person of great courage especially one who had undergone great danger or difficulty

    award- a prize usually given as a result of winning a contest


Choices Writers Can Make: Font
With your student, look at each page in the story paying special attention to the way the font (text) is written.  Look at the way the author chose to write certain words-as to grab your attention--up, down, big, small, capitalizing the whole word.   Can you and your student determine why the author made certain choices for certain pages/words/phrases? 

In poetry, this is an especially common practice (something usually called concrete poetry).  Poets can manipulate the text to help give a visual impact to the tones/themes of the poem.  Encourage your writer to try playing with font sizes and shapes in order to make what is being written more meaningful.


Listmaking (Social Studies connection)
List all the people who helped when the 911 tragedy occurred (firefighters, police officers, doctors, etc.).  Take a few minutes and discuss each occupation.  How could the different people use their area of expertise to help specifically?

List all the maintenance jobs that had to be completed in order to fix the John J. Harvey

Inventing Words
The author mentions the invention of "HOT-CHA"-- a new jazz word.  Since English is a living language (unlike Latin), new words and phrases are frequently implemented into our speech.  A language continues to evolve as long as it is alive and even the rules of grammar, punctuation, and spelling can change over time. 

Discuss other words (especially slang) that take on new meanings with time (cool, sweet, and do you remember when people used to say, "that's bad"-- and it had a positive connotation!  Funny!).   You can also discuss words (or phrases) that your family may have invented and that you use within your own family culture (for instance, at my house we call ketchup DIP-IT). 

Creative Writing:  Newspaper Writing
Your older student may enjoy designing the front page of a newspaper to tell about the events of 911.  Have her study the front page your local newspaper and then use a similar lay-out and design.  If a front page project is overwhelming, you may want to simply the assignment to just one column. 


**Art lessons have not been written at this time**


Story Problems
1.   There were 8 pipes on the Harvey that could shoot 16,000 gallons of water per minute.  If all the pipes shoot the same amount, how many gallons were being shot per pipe?  (16,000 /8= )

2.  How many total gallons could be shot in five minutes? (5x16,000)
                                                                      in ten minutes? (10x16,000)
                                                                      in one hour? (60x16,000)

3.  The story mentions that people worked for 4 days and 4 nights.  How many hours of work total?  (24x4=)

4.  The John J. Harvey could go 20 miles per hour.  How long would it take it to go 60 miles?  10 miles?


Different Types of Boats
(this lesson was originally written to go with the Curious George Unit)

There are many different kinds of boats!  Has your student ever been in a boat?  What kind of boat was it? 
Different boats are used for different jobs-- large barges are used to carry cargo, small kayaks are used for sport and recreation.  Other boats are used for fishing and some boats even serve as houses.  Would your student like to live on a boat? Some boats are used in specific areas of the world like the Jamaican banana boat and the Chinese dragon boat.

Use these
Prepared Boat Cards to introduce your student to some of the many different boats that have been used around the world throughout history. 

Ways to use Prepared Boat Cards (you need Adobe Acrobat Reader to open this file)
1. Classification (classify the boats with your younger student by size making one pile for BIG boats and another pile for little boats; classify the boats with your older student -- boats used in the present vs. boats used in the past.)
2. Have your student find all the boats that have sails, all the boats that use oars (row boats), or all the boats that can be used for recreation (fun).
3. Print two copies of the cards and play concentration or memory.  You may not want to use all 24 pairs depending on the ages of your students.
4. Print two copies of the cards and play Go-Fish!  (Choose about 12-18 pairs depending on ages of your students and how many people are playing.)
5. Let your older student choose a card out of a bowl each day for "boat research of the day" and have him write up a paragraph about that boat after researching it in an encyclopedia or on-line.
6. Ask your student to put the cards in alphabetical order.

Boat Lingo
There is a bit of boat vocabulary used in this book and your student may not be familiar with the terms used. 

pilot's cabin- a small cabin on the deck of the ship that protects the steering wheel and the crewman steering
propeller- A rotating device, with two or more blades, that acts as a screw in propelling a vessel
hull- The main body of the boat, not including the deck, mast, or cabin.

If your student is interested in boats, let him create his own Boat Vocabulary Book
using this website to copy terms/definitions.  Have him copy one term/definition on each page and possibly draw a simple illustration to go along with it. 

The Hudson River is mentioned in this book.  See Five in a Row Volume II (The Little Red Lighthouse and the Great Gray Bridge)  page 139 for an excellent lesson on rivers. 

Animal Classification: Barnacles
Barnacles had to be cleaned off the bottom of the boat.  What are they?
A barnacle is an invertebrate-- a type of arthropod.  There are approximately 1,000 species of barnacles.
Barnacles go through two stages as larva.  The first is called the nauplius-- spends about two weeks eating, molting, and floating wherever the wind and waves will carry it.  In the second stage, it doesn't feed and it becomes a strong swimming cyprid larva eventually settling down in an safe and productive environment such as rocks.  This environment is sometimes a man-made structure and the barnacles will eventually destroy the structure (especially that of ships).    The cyprid larva cements itself headfirst to the surface and undergoes metamorphosis into a juvenile barnacle.  Most develop six hard armor plates to surround and protect their bodies.  For the rest of the barnacles life, it will stay on the structure using feathery legs to capture food. 

You can google "barnacles" and hit the images button to look at pictures of these sea creatures. 

Rabbit Trails

Discussion: Discuss the word useless with your student.  If your student has previously rowed Mike Mulligan ask your child, "Can you remember another story where something else is considered old and useless?" (Mary Anne from Mike Mulligan).  Was Mary Anne useless?  Was the John J. Harvey useless?

Go-Along Books
The Man Who Walked Between the Towers by Mordicai Gerstein
September Roses by Jeanette Winter
On That Day: A Book of Hope for Children by Andrea Patel
Hero Dogs:  Courageous Canines in Action by Donna M. Jackson

Find an emblem of The World Trade Center (to include in your lapbook or notebook) on
this page.  Scroll down to last image.