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I Love You the Purplest Free Unit Study

I Love You the Purplest


Written by Barbara M. Joosse
Illustrated by Mary Whyte

ISBN:  0811807185

Summary:  Two brothers come to realize that their mother loves them both equally but in different ways.

A unit study by Denise Gregson

Social Studies

Loving Relationships

What are some of the ways that the loving relationship between Mom and her boys is depicted either in the illustrations or in the storyline? Discuss the following-- glowing, loving countenance in the illustrations, sensitivity and thoughtfulness of Mom’s responses, affirmation of Mom, spending time together, making memories, unconditional acceptance of Mom, open two-way communication..


Sibling Rivalry

(Some thoughts for you, the teacher, to contemplate):

What sibling isn’t affected by sibling rivalry at one time or another? A competition for the affection and/or approval of a parent often causes strife between siblings.  Children have a need for affirmation for who they are and what they do.  How a parent relates to the individuality of each of his/her children as well as the temperament of the siblings will affect the intensity of this strife. Are you sensitive to the temperament of your child? Do you need to read some more literature and pray about how God wants you to better relate to your child(ren)?   What signs do you see that show you that your children feel secure in your love for them?


Ask you child,

In the story, how does their mom assure Julian and Max that she loves them both equally? Do you think both boys felt deeply loved by Mom?  Why or why not? ( I believe they did feel loved, though they did seem to need some reassurance of that love. Perhaps they just enjoy hearing it as a reminder)


Did your child notice the competition between the two brothers, beginning with the question about who had the most worms followed by who was the best rower, the best fisherman and ultimately who was most loved by Mom? This reminds me of the tragic result of sibling rivalry of Cain and Abel found in Genesis chapter four. 


Another Bible story on the topic of competition is where the disciples were arguing amongst themselves as to who is greatest in the kingdom. Knowing their thoughts, Jesus answered that we should humble ourselves like a child to be greatest in the kingdom of heaven.  (See Matthew 18:1-4,  Mark 9:33-37 and/or Luke 9:46-48).


Our love from the heavenly Father is a sure and consistent thing.  After all, while we were still sinners He died for us. (Romans 5:8) Yet sometimes in our weakness and sinfulness we doubt that love, don’t we?  The Bible says that if the Father cares so much for the birds of the air, how much more does He care for us. (Matthew 6:25-34).  There is nothing that can separate us from the love of God (Romans 8:38,39)!


Once secure in God’s love for us we will be free to obey and serve Him in response rather than serving or obeying in an effort to win His love.


Be sure to take this opportunity to express your love and appreciation for the uniqueness of your child. Be specific and if possible use some familiar word pictures like the story!   See the section on Personality and Temperament for more on this topic.


Personality and Temperament

Ask you child,
How would you describe Julian?  (careful, deliberate, thoughtful, calm, quiet) Note the way he made sure the door was locked, the deliberate way he dug for worms or fished.  The response to Mom’s reply about how much she loved him.


What about Max?  (energetic, excitable, loud,  spontaneous) Note the way he sprung from the cabin, flung the dirt to find the worms and rowed so energetically.  Note how his response to his mom’s reply differed from his brother’s.


There are four basic temperaments that have been widely accepted in the field of psychology (the study of the thinking and behavior of people) for hundreds of years:  sanguine, melancholy, choleric and phlegmatic. Your child may not need to know the specific terms but it would be good to give a brief summary of them. Be sure to emphasize that there are strengths and weaknesses for each one and that life would be boring if we were all the same.  Most people are a combination of more than one of these temperaments.


A choleric is a doer and a leader who usually has lots of ambition and lots of energy,


A sanguine makes friends easily, is very confident and enjoys being the center of attention.


A melancholic has a deeply thoughtful personality. He is shy and doesn’t feel comfortable in large groups.


A phlegmatic person normally has a calm, peaceful, relaxed and consistent personality.


After summarizing these character traits ask them which one would best describe each of the boys.   Which trait best describes your student? 


Language Arts

Catchy Title

After reading the story one or more times, ask you child why he thinks the author chose the title she did and what it means. (since the mom loves the children equally she used the color purple as an illustration of the perfect combination or blend of the “red” and “blue” that represents Julian and Max).


Adjectives - Superlative Form

Adjectives can be used to compare two or more things.  Typically, when comparing two things, one adds the ending “–er” to the adjective and the word “than” is added. 


For example:

Julian’s worms were lively. In fact, his worms were livelier than Max’s worms. (the “y” ending in the adjective “lively” is changed to “i” , “er” is added and the word  “than” is added)


Mom says she loves Julian the bluest, Max the reddest and of course the title of the book is I Love You the Purplest.  These are the superlative form of the adjectives blue, red and purple.  They are typically used to compare three or more things.   For example, Julian’s worms are the liveliest worms I have ever seen.  (this assumes many worms have been seen in the past so in this case the ending “-est” is added to the adjective lively)


Why did Mom use the superlative form of these adjectives if there are only two boys?  Why didn’t she say I love you bluer, or redder. (Mom was probably trying to say she loved them (each) more than any other kid in the whole world).


Other superlatives from the story:

Fattest*, liveliest, juiciest, deepest, fastest, best,** cleverest


*Since “fat” is a one syllable adjective ending in a single consonant, another “t” is added before adding the ending, “-est”

**Note that “best” is an irregular superlative. Does your child know which adjective this superlative is derived from?  (good….better….best)



Did your child hear the similes in the story (comparisons using “like” or  “as”)


“The water turned dark as night”

“Glowing like the evening moon”


Descriptive Language

 The author uses lots of descriptive adjectives and strong verbs to make the story come alive:

“Sturdy, red cabin”

“The lake slowed its thrashing”

“The mosquitoes dipped low to the water and the water bugs skittered on top”

“The moon glowed…the sun shimmered”

“Stars sprinkled the sky”

“What a bountiful fisherman you are”

“Velvety sigh”


Print out the Mini Drama Cards and cut them out.  Play a game with your child(ren) alternately acting out the words or phrases while the others guess which part of the story

is being depicted in the drama.



Different colors are thought to evoke different feelings.  Ask your child what kind of feelings does the color (red/blue/orange/yellow/white etc) bring up in her?  What kind of things does she think of or associate with that color? Does she feel “warm fuzzy” feelings? Excitement?  Peaceful feelings?  (Note:  Although there are some commonly accepted associations with colors, this is still somewhat subjective. Ideas may also vary from culture to culture)


Ask, why do you think Max’s mom associated red with him?

Why do you think she associated blue with Julian?


What color would you say best represents you?  Why?

Let you child know what color YOU think best expresses who he/she is and why. This may take some time of reflection in preparation. 


Medium - Color blends

Could your child identify the art medium as being watercolor?  Does she know why the author may have chosen that particular time of day (sunset) for the story?  It made for some beautiful “purple” scenes didn’t it?


Try painting a sunset scene with your child.  There are a couple of ways to blend watercolor paints.  You could moisten your paper slightly with a damp sponge.  This allows you to blend the colors directly on the paper by simply overlapping the individual colors.  This works well in scenes such as a sunset where the colors seem to transition from one to another. This also works well with sky scenes, ocean, trees/grass, rainbow and so much more.  If your paper starts to curl because of the dampness you may need to tape down the ends with masking tape.


Another way to blend watercolors is the mix the color blends in your palette dishes.  Add enough water so the paint is thin but not too runny. A hint of black will make a shade -- a hint of white, a tint. Have fun experimenting.  However, do not over mix, allowing the colors to retain some of their individuality to look more natural.


Color Wheel

Find a color wheel to refer to for this lesson.  A color wheels helps us to visually see how colors relate to each other. It can also help us in choosing our colors for our artwork, scrap booking or for such things as home decorating. 


The Primary colors are red blue and yellow

Secondary colors are made by the mixing of two primary colors (e.g. violet, orange, green)

Terciary or Intermediary colors are made by mixing a primary color with a secondary color next to it on the color wheel.

Tints are made by adding white

Shades are made by adding black

Complementary colors are across from each other on the color wheel. For example, violet and yellow are complementary colors. So are red and green, and blue and orange.


You could have your child color or paint their own color wheel, using a blank.  Here are some blank templates:


Points of View

The illustrations in this story represent a variety of viewpoints.  In the first illustration, the reader gets a peek through the kitchen window as the three are preparing for their fishing trip.  The second illustration is drawn from a distance, peeking through the field of cattails.  The third illustration is a bird’s eye view.  The next two are close-ups, followed by another distant view and so on.  Does you student enjoy the variety of illustrations?  Does he feel like he is drawn into the story?



Animal Classification

Did your child notice all the animals from the story?:


Mammals:  cat, deer, leopard (imaginary),

Birds:  wren* 


Insects: dragonfly, ladybug, mosquitoes and water bugs (referred to)

Other: Worms


*The bird among the cattails appears to be a wren.  Notice the cocked tail, characteristic of this species of bird. The coloring and fact that it is among the cattails suggests that it is likely a Carolina wren which prefers moist areas.


Check the Homeschool Share Science Resources for Animal Classification, Report Forms and Notebooking resources.   (Note: One of the notebooking pages for fish also shows cattails in the illustration – see Science lesson on Cattails)



Look at the illustration in which the Mom, Julian and Max are starting off to go fishing.  In the foreground you can see the cattails.  Cattail (typha) plants grow in wet areas. The seeds are very small and are easily distributed by the wind like little parachutes.


Cattails are considered by many as weeds because they grow naturally and reproduce easily.  What is a weed?  A weed is a plant that often grows where it isn’t wanted.  Weeds tend to outgrow other more desirable plants, depleting the soil of necessary nutrients and moisture. They don’t tend to have high aesthetic or edible properties and people don’t usually pay money to buy them.


With these definitions in mind, it could be argued that cattails are not a weed when one considers the desirability and the possible uses of cattails…


1) The downy material (seen in the illustration) is used by some birds to build nests.  The plants themselves are often home to many insects.

2)  Native American tribes also used cattail down as moccasin lining. Some people still use cattail down to stuff pillows and other such items.

3) The “down” can also be used to help start a fire.


4) Cattail has a wide variety of parts that are edible to humans.


5) Cattails are often used in flower arranging and home decorating.


6) The plant's root systems help prevent erosion.




With the exception of the chimney, the cabin appears to be symmetrical. If you were to divide it down the center the two halves would be mirror images of each other.



Observe the quilt, wallpaper and clothing designs in the various illustrations and have your child decide if the patterns are repeating or random for each one.


Estimating Time

What time does your child think the three started out fishing?  What time do they think they returned from fishing?  


North South East West

What direction does the cabin seem to face – north, south, east or west? (you may need to give them a hint by asking Where did the sun appear to be setting as they were heading out to fish?)