This story takes place in Amish country in
Pennsylvania. Find PA on the USA map and place your story disk there.
(If you are making a lapbook, please see minit books above)
Facts about Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania Outline Map
Pennsylvania Flag Print-out
Pennsylvania state flower/bird coloring page
Culture/Social Studies: Amish
different lifestyles can be within a state. There are modern cities and
communities in Pennsylvania and a few miles away is a totally different
lifestyle. Discuss the modern conveniences that the Amish choose to
live without and discuss the impact (positive and negative) the plain
lifestyle has on the people. "The Amish are a particular religious
group who live in yesterday. " ---The back cover page of the book
contains a note by Jane Yolen. Here she offers insight about the Amish
people and why she wrote this story. One activity you can do is to go
one whole day without using electricity, your car, the phone etc. You
might do some more research and discuss how the Amish choose to wear
very plain and simple clothing is muted colors, no buttons or
zippers (in some cases). On the title page of the book you can see
the paved highway and the telephone lines of modern times...you can
also see the horse and buggy. The Amish families are very
self-sufficient raising their own food and sewing their own clothes.
They are a God-fearing people; church and church-related activities make
up much of their socializing time.
Record what your student learns/researches in this minit book
Culture Simple Fold
Human Relationships: Community
"Community" is a big part of
the Amish culture. Serive (helping others) is common. The Yoder
family's barn has burned and "teams of men and wagons of women" all
congregate at the Yoder Farm for a "barn raising". The children of the
story were eager to help where needed. The boys at the beginning of the
story working the field with sickles, "Little Sister" bringing them
water, Elam and David sent to work with the hewers, Jacob and Joseph
with the carpenters and the little boys scour the grounds...Matthew
waiting eagerly to be assigned a job. The work ethic and a good
attitude is instilled in the children of the Amish community is very
evident in this story. Discuss "work ethic" and chores your children
are required to do. Explain that it takes all people in the family
working together, doing their part to make things go smoothly in a
Point of View
This story is written from a
first person perspective. It's young Matthew telling the story. This
is evident from the very first sentence in the book. Have your child
write/tell a story in a first person perspective.
Write your story in this book -
My Story Hotdog Book (Hotdog Book
Instructions) or on your own paper. Store in
My Story Pocket
Similes-- A simile is used when describing something
by comparing it to something else using the words like or as.
Example: "...lightening like a stooping hawk" and "pearly blishters
like the barley in mama's soup". This style of writing helps to create
a picture in the mind of the reader. Find other similes in the story
and then come up with one of your own.
Personification-- This is a style of writing that
gives human qualities to non-human things. "Fingers of flames grabbed
at the barn" Again, see if there are others in the story and make up
some of your own.
Personification and Simile Simple Folds
Choice (and use) of Medium
Oil paints or acrylics on canvas were used
to illustrate the "sturdiness" of the culture. The
people have a thick
and rich heritage and perhaps this medium lends itself to that. The
colors chosen reflect the conservative nature of the Amish...there is
not much variation or "loud" color. Nature is celebrated with a
surprise visual of the green grass and the baby...perhaps to emphasis
the excitement of building a new barn and of the "frolic" or fun that
comes from gathering people.
When the illustrated chooses
to use a light (white) color, it is an attempt to make something stand
out to the viewer. Watch for the bright smile and Matthew's white
teeth. You can see he is really pleased to have a job to do! Notice
how the artist uses brown and white to create a "gold" color on the
canning jars' lids in the picnic scene. Can your student point
out other areas of contrast?
Sometimes it's necessary to estimate rather than
measure...perhaps if you need to get a general idea or if you don't have
with you the tools to measure accurately. Samule Stolzfoot "stepped
out" the boundaries twice...probably to get a quick idea of the size the
new barn would be. Activity: "step out" the length of a room and
estimate the length...then measure with a tape measure. Other areas to
"step out" back yard, bedroom, hallway etc.
Discuss using a windmill to
generate power...enough power to work a corn sheller and feed grinder.
Wind power is used to pump water and windmills to generate electricity.
How Windmills Work
Activities and Projects
If you are making a lapbook, record information learned about windmills
Lightning is similar to static electricity (read through the static
electricity information in The
Thanksgiving Wish Unit). Both static electricity and
lightning are sparks created through the attraction of unlike charges--
static electricity causing a small spark (like when you get shocked) and
lightning causes an enormous spark!
Little particles in storm clouds move around picking up positive or
negative energy charges; these are little shocks like when your shoes
scuff the rug. The positive particles are light and rise to the
top of the cloud, but the negative particles get heavy and drop to the
bottom of the cloud. As more particles become charged, they divide
into two groups -- the positives and the negatives. When the
power of attraction between them
is very strong, they discharge their energy at each other. This
completes a path for electricity (lightning) to travel through the air.
The negative charges in the bottom of the storm cloud cause lightning to
strike the ground. When these charged particles group together,
they begin to seek out positive charges from the ground below. The
excess particles (electrons) create a channel of charged air (a leader)
that reaches down to the ground. Leaders attract other
charged ground-base channels (streamers). When the stepped
leader from the cloud meets a streamer that is returning to the cloud
from the ground, the electrical path is ready. A current (the
return stroke) travels back up the path releasing tremendous energy,
brilliant light, and booming thunder. Four to five of these
strokes can happen in the blink of an eye!
Experiment: "Lightning" in Your Mouth!
Take your student into a really dark room; wait a few minutes until your
eyes adjust to the darkness. Put a lifesaver in your mouth; give your
student one, too. While keeping your mouths open, break up
the lifesavers with your teeth. You should see little blue flashes
How does this work?
As you chew the lifesaver, you are breaking apart sugars in the candy.
These sugars release little electric charges into the air. The
charges you release attract an oppositely charged substance in the air,
nitrogen. When the two charges meet, they react in a tiny spark.