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Love As Strong as Ginger, a literature-based unit study for the book by Leonore Look

Love as Strong as Ginger

  Author: Lenore Look
Illustrator: Stephen T. Johnson

Summary: Katie longs to go with GninGnin's work, to crack a mountain of crabs alongside her at the crab cannery.  One day Katie gets her wish, but nothing is the way she’d imagined it.  Based on childhood memories of her Chinese immigrant grandmother, the author beautifully recalls her story. 

ISBN: 0-689-821248-5

Unit by: Debra Tangren, with lessons added by Ami, Wende, and Celia 


Geography -- China:  China is the largest country in Asia.  Show your child where China is on a map or Globe.  Point out the Capital of China---Beijing.  China has the largest population of any country in the world. 

One of the vocabulary words is a dialect of the Chinese language, Taishanese, and comes from a place in China.  Find the Pearl River Delta on a map of China.  Find the Western portion of the area. This is where the people live that speak this language and is where the grandmothers’ parents and family comes from.

China Shutterfold minit book 

Flag of China minit book

Outline Map printout from Enchanted Learning

Geography -- Seattle, Washington:   Washington was the 42nd state in the USA; it became a state on November 11, 1889.   Show your child where Washington State is on a map or globe.  The state of Washington was named after our first president, George Washington.  It is known as the "Evergreen State," for its beautiful forests of Western hemlock and Douglas fir.

Mount Rainier is the tallest mountain in the Cascade mountain range of Washington.  It is really an active volcano!   Mount St. Helens is another active volcano in the Cascade range in Washington.  In a catastrophic eruption in 1980, Mount St. Helens' height was reduced over 1,300 feet.  The ash from the eruption shot up into the air and spewed into the atmosphere for hours.  540 milLion tons of ash fell over an area of 22,000 square miles.  This ash blocked the sun in some places and drifted around the globe in about two weeks.

The capital of Washington is Spokane, but it's largest city is Seattle.  Point out both on a map or globe.  Our story takes place in Seattle.  Note that it is near the Puget Sound and the Pacific Ocean.   Seattle is home to a famous landmark--the Space Needle.     It is a 605 feet tall.  500 feet up the tower is the famous Skyline Restaurant, where visitors can look out over the city of Seattle.   It was built for the 1962 World's Fair.  

More information about Washington state at Enchanted Learning.
Washington State Symbols tab book

Where is Washington State shutterfold

Washington State bird and flower coloring page

Washington State bird and flower minit book

Geography - Chinatowns in the United States:   Has your student ever heard of Chinatown?   Did you know that many major cities in the United States have a Chinatown?  Chinatown is not a separate city, but a large area within a city that caters to the Chinese Americans living there or nearby.  American cities that have a Chinatown include (but are not limited to):  New York City, San Francisco, Seattle, Chicago, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and Honolulu.  Point out each of these cities on a map or globe.

Historically, Chinatown arose from the places where the Chinese immigrants settled in the 1800s.  The Chinese, like many of the various ethnic groups that came to America, tended to live close to one another to have others who speak the same language, share the same traditions, etc.  

Chinatown is rich in Chinese history, culture, arts, and entertainment.  Chinatown celebrates many of the traditional Chinese holidays, including the Chinese New Year and the Autumn Moon Festival.  Celebrations include traditional foods, parades,  dances, demonstrations of the martial arts, and more--all reflecting the people's Chinese ancestry.  

If you walk down the street of Chinatown, you will see lots of signs in Chinese and signs that are decorated with Chinese art.   You will find tea shoppes; herbal medicine shops; open markets, restaurants, and delis with traditional Chinese foods, etc.  Employees of restaurants, hotels, banks, and other businesses in China Town speak Chinese.  There might even be a school or hospital, where most employees are fluent in Chinese.

Asian-Americans: An Asian-American is generally defined as a person of Asian ancestry and American citizenship. 

America is known as a "melting pot," in reference to the many different people who immigrated to this country.  Many come for religious freedoms, better paying jobs, better government rule, more opportunities, and a host of other reasons.  It is not easy to immigrate to a new country.  For Asians, the language, both written and spoken, was so vastly different than their own.  Show your child some examples of Chinese or Japanese writing.  Worksheet for writing Chinese numbers.   (More about the Chinese language is the Language Arts section below.)

Most immigrants continue to celebrate holidays and traditions as they did before.  These were passed down to their children.  Perhaps your child would like to read about the Chinese Moon Festival in Round as a Mooncake or about kites in A Fish in the Air.  

One yummy thing immigrants bring with them are their foods!  Does your student like Chinese food?  What about other ethnic foods?  Discuss with your student how the immigrants brought over their recipes and continued making their traditional foods.

Being with others who spoke the same language, at the same foods, and celebrated the same events gave the Asian Americans a connection to their homeland, their ancestry.

Human Relationships & Genealogy (Grandmother-granddaughter):  Draw a simple tree with your child.  Write their name on the trunk of the tree.  On the bottom branches of the tree write you and your spouses name (or names of the child’s parents).  Then on the above branches write each of your parents names.  Show the child that you are all related.  Another Idea: Use any genealogy form that you have available or find online to complete a Five generation chart. 

Employer-Employee relationship:  Draw a box and put the word Employee in it.  Draw a building around the box and write the word Company or Employer in it.  Show that each worker works for the employer to make the company a successful one.  Take a trip around town explaining that each person that works inside each business is an employee and they work for their employer, the company.

Canneries/Docks:  Canneries and Docks are located in near Ocean ports.  If you live by the ocean, take a trip there to a town or city that has a port.  Show the child what happens at the port.  Tell the child that this is where items from far away or from the ocean come to your town, city or state.  People take the items off the ship and bring them to places that can package them to be either sold in stores or sent further on to other places in the state or country.


Working Joyfully -  Katie spent the day at her grandmother's workplace, watching her cracking crabs in the very harsh conditions of the chong. GninGnin needed this strenuous job, to make money to live on and to help pay for Katie's college.

GninGnin is a strong, dedicated woman and she found a way to pass the time and make her job more fun. What did GninGnin pretend to be while she was working? She told Katie that she was a famous actress just playing the part of a star in a movie about a crab chong. Discuss with your child what motivates you or your husband to work hard. Some factors most likely include love and devotion to family, wanting to pay for food, shelter, and clothes, and/or to provide a nice life for our children.

Ask your child if he has ever had a particularly strenuous or boring job. Are there any ways he could have made it more fun? Sometimes it is fun to dance or race against a timer while cleaning the house, just to lighten a job you'd rather not be doing. The next time you have a job you would rather not be doing, remember GninGnin, and how even the most tiring, smelly job can be made fun.

Copywork – “To be happy, don’t do what you like, like what you do.” – Abraham Lincoln


Inspiration for writing a story:   At the beginning of the book, the author’s note says, “This story was inspired by my grandmother, who worked in a Seattle cannery in the 1960s and 70s.”  What does Lenore Look mean when she says the story was inspired?  Lenore’s grandmother’s life gave her the idea behind this story and moved her to write this story.  

An author may find inspiration in many places - an occurrence in history, a story passed down from ancestors, an episode from childhood,  a conversation overheard or event witnessed in public, etc.  

Sometimes inspiration comes from the strangest places or things!  A. A. Milne, the author of the beloved Winnie the Pooh stories, was inspired by his young son Christopher Robin's stuffed animals!  He made up stories for his son about adventures Christopher Robin had with his teddy bear.  Little did he know what timeless classics his stories would become!

Point of View:  The point of view is the vantage point from which the story is told.

In first-person point of view, the story is told by one of the characters. In third-person point of view, someone outside the story tells the story.

Ask your child from what point of view Love as Strong as Ginger is told. Katie often refers to "my grandmother." Who does the "my" refer to? Love as Strong as Ginger is told in first-person point of view from the perspective of Katie.  As you read other stories to your child, he will now be able to recognize this literary detail.

Chinese language—dialects (Taishanese):  China is a large country and so large that the people that live there do not all speak the same way.  A dialect is a different version of the same language.  People that live in certain areas usually speak the same dialect. 

More information (taken from the HSS unit, A Fish in the Air)
Chinese characters are usually written left to right but they can also be lined up vertically, with more than one character sometimes representing a single English word. Each syllable has a character for it and since most Chinese words have multiple syllables, the words are usually made up of more than one character.   In addition, there is a traditional as well as a more simplified version of the characters.  Mainland China has adopted the simplified version where as traditional characters are still used in Taiwan and Hong Kong.  All of the Chinese dialects are written the same way, but the pronunciation varies.

Sentence Types (with emphasis on Exclamatory Sentences)
There are four main types of sentences.   You may want to introduce them to (or review them with) your student or just focus on exclamatory sentences since there are several in this story.  Here is a brief overview of the four types of sentences, then we will focus the lesson on exclamatory sentences.

Four types of sentences and their correct punctuation:

  Declarative -- makes a statement and ends in a period.
  Interrogative -- asks a question and ends with a question mark.
  Exclamatory -- makes a statement that shows strong emotion and ends with an exclamation point.
  Imperative --  gives a direction or a command or makes a request and ends with a period.

Let's discuss exclamatory sentences.  An exclamatory sentence communicates a strong feeling such as anger, joy, surprise, excitement, urgency, awe, or sincerity.   When read aloud, they convey strong emotion.    Demonstrate reading some of the exclamatory sentences in the story using strong emotion; have your student practice doing the same.
  “I’ll crack a hundred crabs for you!” 
  “Every minute is another penny!”
  “Suddenly, a bell rang and we hurried into a warm room filled with a zilLion crabs!” 

As writers, we should be mindful of using exclamatory sentences when appropriate, but we need to avoid the overuse of exclamatory sentences.  When we use too many exclamations, they lose their effect on the reader.

For an on-line quiz that reviews the sentence types and their correction punctuation, click here.

Descriptive Language
This story is classified as realistic fiction—a made-up story that deals with events that could happen in real life.   This story does seem like it could happen in real life, doesn’t it?  Part of the reason why is because the author incorporates lots of details in her writing.  She is a master of descriptive language.   Your student has probably learned about similes, onomatopoeia, vivid verbs, and sensory details before; these devices are all part of good descriptive language.  Lenore Look uses all of these and wraps them into one package to produce a real story – not a true story, but a story in which we believe could really happen.

Similes:  Beginning with the title, Lenore Look uses an abundance of similes throughout this story.  Point out the title to your student.  Love as Strong as Ginger.  What does it mean?  Get some ginger from your spice cabinet and smell it together.  Is it strong?  You bet!  The author takes an abstract idea (such as love) and gives it a concrete description by comparing it to ginger.  This is descriptive writing at its finest.  It takes the abstract and makes it tangible for the reader.

Here are some other examples of similes in the story:

~GninGnin was covered with tiny cream colored hairs.  She looked like a strange bird.   GninGnin is being compared to a strange bird. 

~A man with cheeks as orange as cooked crab shells and boots as tall as trees stomped over through broken shell.  His cheeks are compared to with the color of cooked crab shells and the height of his boots were compared with the height of trees.

Adjectives:  In the examples above, you should also note the use of adjectives.  How did Look describe the hairs?  (tiny, cream colored)  What about the bird (strange).   And the man didn’t just stomp through shell, he stomped through broken shell.   Adjectives are important in writing.  They help the reader visualize the people, places, and things in the story.  Adjectives can be tricky, though.  You don’t want to go overboard.  Too many adjectives will leave the reader trying to sift through to find the story.  Remind your student to be choosy with adjectives in her own writing.

Onomatopoeia is the use of a word whose sound suggests its meaning.  In the crab chong, the readers get to hear the Crack! Bang! of the mallets coming down.  Have your child think of other onomatopoetic words or phrases such as Crash! or Buzz! and be on the lookout for them in other stories.

Vivid Verbs:  Choosing the right word when you write, is as important as using the right ingredient when you cook.  Look at some of the verb choices that are used in this story --

“Tears leaked out of the corners of her eyes.” 
Is leaked a better word choice than fell?  Why?

“I slurped my soup.”
Is slurped a better choice than ate?  Why?

“Rain misted our faces.”
Why is misted a great word choice?

Look for other vivid verbs used throughout this story and discuss them with your student.

Other Details:    Any time you can give a reader a picture of what is happening, you should!  Look does this when she writes – “the sky was pebble-dark” and “…We waited, hand in hand, for the bus.”  What if she would’ve just said, “we waited for the bus”  What different feeling does the sentence have?  What does the hand holding show us?   Remember to let the reader see, smell, touch, taste, and hear the story. 

Activity to go with this lesson:    Make a list of people/things/places in the story, then record the words used to describe each one.  Here are some ideas (this is not all inclusive) to get you started (don’t let your student see this list!).

~Shells- jagged
~GninGnin’s skin- baggy around the fingers; delicate like the rice paper around candy
~Gloves- smelled of the sea; thick with patches from a tire repair kit
~Kitchen- salted butterfish and flounder hung like laundry above our heads
~Chives- floated like confetti among the shrimp
~Crab- tastes like hard word, creamy-orange hard shell
~Ladies on the bus
~Crab Chong

Vocabulary Words

Mallet—a hammer having a head of wood or rubber
Profit—the amount received for goods which exceeds the sum originally paid for them
Employee—one who works for another in return for a salary
Employer—the person or business that employs persons for a salary
Dialect—a manner of speech characteristic of members of a certain nationality, class, trade, or profession.
Singsong—monotonous rhythm in speaking or reading
Startle—to excite suddenly
Starched—stiffened with a white, odorless, tasteless carbohydrate called starch  
Confetti—small pieces of colored paper thrown at celebrations  
Immigrants—immigrants are people that leave their country that they were born in and move to another country to start a new life

Glossary Words

Chiubungbung (CHEW bung bung): Stinky-stinky.  Since Chinese words repeat for emphasis, this means a very bad smell.

Chong: A cannery or factory.

Chowing: Frying food quickly in a little fat.

Doong: A sticky rice cake wrapped in bamboo leaves, often filled with pork, salted duck yolk, peanuts, or red-bean paste.

GninGnin (NYIN NYIN): Paternal grandmother.  Literally translated means “person-person”, or the fullness of two people.

Taishanese: A southern dialect from the western Pearl River delta region of China.

Comprehension Questions


Story Problems 
The book says that GninGnin tries to crack 200 pounds of crabmeat per day in order to generate enough money for bus fare and fish for dinner.  Have your student figure the math on the following:

How many pounds of crabmeat would GninGnin crack in two days?
(200 x 2 = 400 pounds)
How many pounds of crabmeat would GninGnin crack in five days?
(200 x 5 = 1000 pounds)
How many pounds of crabmeat would GninGnin crack in one week?
(200 x 7 = 1400 pounds)

If GninGnin makes .03 per pound and bus fare is $2, how much will she have left for dinner?
(.03 x 200 = $6.00     $6.00 - $2.00 = $4.00 left for dinner)

What if GninGnin makes .04 per pound and bus fare is $2.50.  How much will she have left for dinner?
(.04 x 200 = $8.00     $8.00 - $2.50 = $5.50 left for dinner)

Have your child make up his own word problems to stump you!

Income:  Income is something that you receive from your employer in the form of a paycheck or cash.  Gather a handful of coins, counting out the pennies, nickels, dimes, quarters etc.  IDEA: Give your child a “job” for the week.  Tell them how much income they are going to receive for their job.  After completing their job for the week give them their income for that week.  You can discuss taxes etc, if they are old enough and show that as well.  Give them a paystub! 

Here is a link to print your own Monopoly Money

Here is another link for money

Measurements:  Set out measuring spoons and measuring cups.  Show your child the different amounts that these give you. Have them measure sugar or flour into a bowl.  If you have a sandbox them have them use the measuring spoons and cups (or get them a set of their own) to scoop into buckets.  This is a start to fractions.  Show them how two cups equals the same as 1 cup.  Also show a ruler that can measure the length of something, which is different then the amount something holds.  Again show that 2 -- inch equals 1 inch.


Physics -- Positive, Negative, and Neutral Buoyancy:  At the crab chong, a lady gave the crabs baths.  When she stirred salt in the bath, the meat floated and the shell pieces sank.   This helped separate the meat from the shell.  

Some objects sink when placed in water, others float, and some neither sink nor float.   How well it floats refers to an object's buoyancy.  Buoyancy is the upward force that keeps things afloat.   An object will float if its buoyancy is greater than its weight.  An object will sink if its weight is greater than its buoyancy.

If an object floats, we say that it is positively buoyant.  If it sinks, it is negatively buoyant.  If it neither sinks nor floats, it is neutrally buoyant.  

Understanding Check:  Ask your student if the crab meat was positively, negatively, or neutrally buoyant? (positive)  Ask the same for the shells. (negative)

The kind of fluid in which an object is placed makes a difference as to whether or not the object will float.  Something that floats in water, might not float in oil.   Even the kind of water also makes a difference.   Salty water is more dense than regular water because the salt makes it heavier.   Because freshwater is not as dense, things tend to sink easier.  That means salty water makes things tend to float better.   Has your child ever been in the ocean?  Ask him if he found it easier to stay afloat in the ocean, as opposed to in a pool.

Let's demonstrate the difference in buoyancy for fresh water and salt water.


   1 egg (may be hardboiled or uncooked, but it must be fresh)
   a wide mouth jar (or similar tall, see-through container with a large enough opening to allow you to add the egg to the bottom without breaking it)
   salt  (get a container of it, not just the salt shaker)
   a long-handled slotted spoon taller than the jar


1.  Gently place the egg in bottom of the jar, without breaking it.

2.  Add fresh water, until it is about 1.5 inches from the top.   (The egg should NOT is does, the egg is old.  Remove it and use a fresh one instead.)

Understanding Check --  Ask your student:  What type of buoyancy is the egg in fresh water?  (negative)

3.  Remove the egg from the water with the spoon and set it aside.

4.  Add quite a bit of salt (1 to 2 cups) to the water and stir thoroughly.   You want to add so much salt, that it does not dissolve in the water anymore.   Keep adding salt, a half a cup at a time, and stir thoroughly until you can see that the salt granules are no longer dissolving.

5.  Place the egg on the spoon and gently lower it into the water.    If you have indeed mixed enough salt in the water, the egg will now float.   (If not, remove the egg and stir in more salt and repeat until it floats.)

Understanding check -- Ask your student:  What type of buoyancy is the egg in salt water?  (positive)   Why is the egg more buoyant in the salt water?  (The salt that was added to the water made the water more dense, allowing the egg to more easily float.)

Research Opportunity:  Your student may be interested in researching Archimedes, the mathematician in Ancient Greece who first discovered this important law of physics.
Water Cycle:  Water is a liquid.  It can change into many forms. It can become a solid by changing into ice.  How do you change water into ice? Place water into an ice tray or bowl.   Place this container in the freezer.  Check on it in one hour.  Has it changed at all?  Check back in 2 more hours.  Has it completely changed into a solid?  After the water has completely changed into ice take the ice out of the freezer.  Place it in a bowl and watch it melt.  To speed up the process, place a student desk lamp over top of it and turn the light on, shining down on the bowl of ice.  See it changes back into water.  Water takes the shape of the bowl or container it is in.  Water can also become a gas.  Place water in a pan and place it on the stove.  Turn on the heat and have child “safely” watch the water boil and turn to steam.  Another way—but takes a day or two to see the difference, is to place water in a see through plastic bowl.  Mark on the side of the bowl the level of the water.  Place the bowl in a sunny window and have the child check the bowl every day.  They will notice that the water disappears or the level goes down.  It is evaporating.  When the water evaporates it is changing form again, into a gas.  Water vapors go into the sky and make clouds.  When the clouds get heavy with many droplets of water vapor it falls as rain or snow. 

In Washington state, it rains a lot there.  Find the National news online or watch the Weather Channel.  Have the child find Washington State on the TV or a map.  Have the child note the weather that is happening there.  This is something that the child can do months later…..just ask the child to find how the weather is doing in Washington that day.

Pacific Ocean:  Find the Ocean on a globe that separates China from Washington State (or the USA), the Pacific Ocean.    It is the largest of the oceans and is 15 times larger than the United States!  It is also the deepest of the oceans, with the Marianas Trench being over 11,000 miles deep.  More than half of the world's fish catch comes from the Pacific Ocean.

Visit to find a 15 page ocean mural that can be printed out and colored and hung.  (You will need to register, but it is free—there are other great ocean lesson plans here as well.)

Crustaceans -- Crabs and Shrimps:    Crustaceans are a class of invertebrate (no backbone) animals.  They have a hard outer skeleton called an exoskeleton, legs that are jointed, and a segmented body.  Crustaceans are the most numerous animals in the oceans.

Crabs have 10 legs (four pairs of legs and two legs that have claws) and can walk (or run) sideways.  Some crabs have long legs and almost look like spiders.  Others have polka dots or blue feet!  A crab's exoskeleton is thick.  Most crabs are omnivores, meaning they eat both plants and animals.  Crabs are eaten by octopus, otters, sea turtles, and other species of crabs.

Shrimp have an exoskeleton that is almost see-through.  They are also omnivores.  Shrimp are eaten by fish, birds, octopus, and man.

Crustaceans grow, but their exoskeleton does not.   So they have to shed their exoskeleton periodically.  This sis called molting.    When a crustacean molts, the tissue under the exoskeleton detaches and a new exoskeleton begins to grow, so for a time a crab or shrimp has two skeletons.  When the new one is done forming, the old exoskeleton splits and the crab or shrimp with a new and larger exoskeleton emerges.

For pictures of a blue crab molting, click here.  

Life cycle of the Crab:   After a female crab lays eggs and they hatch, the crab goes through four stages.   After the egg hatches, the tiny crab is called a zoea (zoh-ee-uh)  and it looks nothing like a crab!  After a month or so, it molts and becomes a megalops, where it begins to look more like a crab.  The next stage (which occurs after molting) is the juvenile crab stage, which in turn grows into a mature (or adult) crab.  Here is a picture of the life cycle of a crab.  

Life cycle of the Shrimp:  The eggs that are laid by a female hatch about 24 hours later into tiny nauplii (nop-lee-eye).  The nauplii feed on a yolk within their body until a few days later, when the nauplii  then undergo a metamorphosis into zoea.  Just a few days later, the metamorphosize again int a third stage where they become myses (my-sees).  Finally they look like tiny shrimp!  Three or four days later, they metamorphosize a final time into postlarvae, where they have all the characteristics of an adult shrimp, just smaller.  Postlarvae grow and mature until they are adult shrimp.  

Here is a link to many pictures on crab fishing and shrimp that are caught to eat. Also this link shows the fisherman who catch them.   This link, from the same site, shows shrimp fishing.    Select a few pictures from each for your student to see.  People who catch shrimp are called "shrimpers" and the act of catching them is called "shrimping."  Likewise, people who catch crabs are called "crabbers" and the acting of catching crabs is called "crabbing." (And just in case you have a boy who delights in this kind of thing.....people who catch crabs are also often called "chicken neckers" because they use the necks of chickens to bait the crabs. :)

A good show that shows the fisherman catching the crab is Discovery Channel's Deadliest Catch.  Parents are advised to watch as well.

If your child likes to color on the computer and you are a member of Enchanted Learning, you might allow him to color crustaceans on-line.   They also have a worksheet for both crabs and shrimp to learn more about their anatomy.

If your student is particularly interested in crustaceans, you may wish to purchase some brine shrimp or triops for further learning and investigation and fun.

Dermatology—Cause of Aging Skin:   There are, in fact, two distinct types of aging. Aging caused by the genes we inherit is called intrinsic (internal) aging. The other type of aging is known as extrinsic (external) aging and is caused by environmental factors, such as exposure to the sun’s rays.

Intrinsic Aging
Intrinsic aging, also known as the natural aging process, is a continuous process that normally begins in our mid-20s. Within the skin, collagen production slows, and elastin, the substance that enables skin to snap back into place, has a bit less spring. Dead skin cells do not shed as quickly and turnover of new skin cells may decrease slightly. While these changes usually begin in our 20s, the signs of intrinsic aging are typically not visible for decades.

Extrinsic Aging
A number of extrinsic, or external, factors often act together with the normal aging process to prematurely age our skin. Most premature aging is caused by sun exposure. Other external factors that prematurely age our skin are repetitive facial expressions, gravity, sleeping positions, and smoking.

Let's look at a primary cause of premature aging:  the Sun. Without protection from the sun’s rays, just a few minutes of exposure each day over the years can cause noticeable changes to the skin. Freckles, age spots, spider veins on the face, rough and leathery skin, fine wrinkles that disappear when stretched, loose skin, a blotchy complexion, actinic keratoses (thick wart-like, rough, reddish patches of skin), and skin cancer can all be traced to sun exposure.

“Photoaging” is the term dermatologists use to describe this type of aging caused by exposure to the sun’s rays. The amount of photoaging that develops depends on: 1) a person’s skin color and 2) their history of long-term or intense sun exposure. People with fair skin who have a history of sun exposure develop more signs of photoaging than those with dark skin. In the darkest skin, the signs of photoaging are usually limited to fine wrinkles and a mottled complexion.

Senses—smell and taste:   Review the 5 senses (sight, hearing, touch, smell, and taste).  

Activity:  Play What Scent is This?   Gather four or more different objects with different scents, like vanilla, mint, lemon, popcorn.  Blindfold the child, then place the object close the the child's nose, and ask the child to smell it and try to identify what it is. 

Activity:  Play What Taste is This?   Gather four or more different food objects with different tastes, Skittles can be used. Blindfold the child, then ask the child to taste the food, and ask the child to taste it and try to identify what it is.  Note:  If doing this with a group, remember that some children may have allergies or diet restrictions, please keep these in mind when choosing items for children to taste.  Find out from parents before hand if there are any known allergens that should be avoided.


Medium—pastel and watercolor:    Illustrator Stephen T. Johnson used watercolor and pastels for his illustrations.   Can your student identify these two mediums?   The watercolor is smooth and flowing.    The pastels look more like scribbles.   Allow your student to paint with watercolors, and let it dry overnight.  Then have him use pastels (or chalk) to go back over his painting to add details.

Homemade Paper (and a bit of the history of paper):   Have your student study the paper surrounding the illustrations, as well as the pages with the text.  Does he notice anything about the paper?   Doesn't it look like there are tiny threads in some of them?  It has the look of homemade paper!  

Does your student know that it is believed that the Chinese invited paper-making?   You may have studied how the Ancient Egyptians made parchment from papyrus (which is where we get the word paper).  They peeled strips of the papyrus plant, layered them, and pounded them into sheets.  Parchment paper was made in this manner for about 3,000 years!

According to historical accounts, in 105 AD, during the Han Dynasty, a government official named Ts'ai Lun  (also seen as Cai Lun)  presented to Emperor He Di  paper that he had created by mixing mulberry bark, bamboo fibers, and hemp from rags with water.  He then poured the mixture through a piece of coarsely woven cloth to drain the water.  Once it dried, he had a piece of paper.    

It was many years before other countries learned of this method.   (If desired, read  The Cloudmakers by  James Rumford.  This picture book is one author's rendition of how the Chinese secret of making paper might have been first told to others.)

Activity:  Make your own paper  

There are many sites on the Internet that tell how to make paper, so instead of listing the instructions here, I will make a list of sites to check out.  This is such a fun activity and I highly recommend doing it with your children!

Pioneer Thinking

Wisconsin Paper

A video from  

Mini Farm Homestead




Spices—Ginger:  In China, for example, ginger has been used to aid digestion and treat stomach upset, diarrhea, and nausea for more than 2,000 years. Since ancient times, ginger has also been used to help treat arthritis, colic, diarrhea, and heart conditions. In addition to these medicinal uses, ginger continues to be valued around the world as an important cooking spice and is believed to help the common cold, flu-like symptoms, headaches, and even painful menstrual periods. Native to Asia where its use as a culinary spice spans at least 4,400 years, ginger grows in fertile, moist, tropical soil.  Ginger is a knotted, thick, beige underground stem (rhizome). The stem extends roughly 12 inches above ground with long, narrow, ribbed, green leaves, and white or yellowish-green flowers.

Spices--Chives (Allium schoenoprasum): Chives are the smallest species of the onion family Alliaceae,  native to Europe, Asia and North America. They are referred to only in the plural, because they grow in clumps rather than as individual plants. Allium schoenoprasum is also the only species of Allium native to both the New and the Old World.  Its species name derives from the Greek skhoinos (sedge) and prason (onion).  Its English name, chive, derives from the French word cive, which was derived from cepa, the Latin word for onion.   Culinary uses for chives involve shredding its leaves (straws) for use as condiment for fish, potatoes and soups. Because of this, it is a common household herb, frequent in gardens as well as in grocery stores. It also has insect-repelling properties which can be used in gardens to control pests.

Fun foods make with your child. 

Gingersnap cookies

Makes 2 dozen cookies.  25 minutes total time and 10 minutes preparation time.

2 cups flour
1 tablespoon ground ginger
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
teaspoon salt
cup margarine or butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg
cup molasses

Instructions: Cream margarine, gradually add sugar and beat until fluffy.   Beat in egg and molasses.   Add dry ingredients and blend well. Form into small balls and place on a cookie sheet covered with parchment paper.  Flatten with the bottom of a glass.   Bake at 350 degrees for 12 to 15 minutes or until tops are slightly rounded, crackly and lightly browned. 

Shrimp Soup Recipe 
Yield: 4 Servings

1 md Onion; chopped
1 lg Carrot; chopped
1/2 c  Dry white wine
 1 tbsp Dry white wine
 1 tbsp Water
 3 c  Hot beef bouillon
 1 tsp Sage
 1 tsp Tarragon
 10 oz bag of Frozen peas
 Salt and pepper to taste
12 oz Medium shrimp; cooked
 1/4 c  Evaporated milk
Place onion, carrot, 1 tb. wine, and water in Dutch oven. Cook over medium heat until onion is soft. Add bouillon; simmer for 12 minutes. Add sage, tarragon, and peas. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer for 8 minutes. Puree in blender or food processor and return to pan. Season with salt and pepper. Add shrimp and simmer for 2 minutes; do not boil. Stir in remaining wine and evaporated milk. Simmer until heated through and serve.

Crab Spring Rolls and Dipping Sauce recipe

Chili and grated ginger add a hint of heat to these sensational treats. Serve them as a starter or with other Chinese dishes as part of a main course, serves 4 - 6

1 tbsp groundnut oil
1 tsp sesame oil
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 fresh red chili, seeded and finely sliced
1 lb fresh stir-fry vegetables, such as bean sprouts and shredded carrots, peppers and mangetouts
2 tbsp chopped coriander
1 in piece of fresh root ginger, grated
1 tbsp Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
1 tbsp soy sauce
12 oz fresh dressed crab meat (brown and white meat)
12 spring roll wrappers
1 small egg, beaten
oil, for deep-frying
salt and ground black pepper
lime wedges and fresh coriander, to garnish

For the dipping sauce
1 onion, thinly sliced
oil, for deep-frying
1 fresh red chili, seeded and finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
4 tbsp dark soy sauce
4 tsp lemon juice or 1 - 1 1/2 tbsp prepared tamarind juice
2 tbsp hot water

Instructions 1. First make the sauce. Spread the onion out on kitchen paper and leave to dry for 30 minutes. Then half-fill a wok with oil and heat to 375F. Fry the onion in batches until crisp and golden, turning all the time. Drain on kitchen paper.  2. Mix together the chili, garlic, soy sauce, lemon or tamarind juice and hot water in a bowl.  3. Stir in the onion and leave to stand for 30 minutes.  4. Heat the groundnut and sesame oils in a clean, preheated wok. When hot, stir-fry the crushed garlic and chili for 1 minute. Add the vegetables, coriander and ginger and stir-fry for 1 minute more. Drizzle over the rice wine or dry sherry and soy sauce. Allow the mixture to bubble up for 1 minute.  5. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the vegetables to a bowl. Set aside until cool, then stir in the crab meat and season with salt and pepper.  6. Soften the spring roll wrappers, following the directions on the packet. Place some of the filling on a wrapper, fold over the front edge and the sides and roll up neatly, sealing the edges with a little beaten egg. Repeat with the remaining wrappers and filling.  7. Heat the oil for deep-frying in the / wok and fry the spring rolls in batches, turning several times, until brown and crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon, drain on kitchen paper and keep hot while frying the remainder. Serve at once, garnished with lime wedges and coriander, with the dipping sauce.


Proper work attire:   Discuss the use of proper work attire: apron, hair net, tall rubber boots and gloves

Extras: Dreams (discuss dreams and what they are) this can also be turned into goals—goals for the future in what we want to be when “we grow up”.  Have the child write down 5 things that they would like to do in the next year.  Have them write down 5 things that they would like to do when they grow up and are an adult. 

Field Trip ideas: Cannery, grocery store, bus ride, making of a movie---actresses and actors, go to a community theater and watch a performance—ask to speak with an actor after the performance.