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Raising Yoder

Raising Yoder's Barn

Author: Jane Yolen
Illustrator: Bernie Fuchs
ISBN: 0316075930
Summary: Eight-year-old Matthew Yoder tells the story of when fire destroys his family's barn and Amish friends come to help build a new one.

Literature Based Unit Study Written By Rick and Oney Jones

Pennsylvania Symbols Tab Book

Community Concept Map
Windmill Trifold

Where is Pennsylvania? Shutterfold

Personification and Simile Simple Folds
Barn Counting Shape Book

Pennsylvania State Flower and Bird Minit Book

Lightning Accordion
Lightning Accordion with lines
My Story Hotdog Book
Hotdog Book Instructions
Amish Culture Simple Fold
My Barn Art
My Story Pocket

Social Studies

Geography: Pennsylvania
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
Discuss how 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 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
Amish 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 family. 

Community Concept Map

Language Arts:

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

Literary Terms:
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.
Counting skills
Count the number of men working on the barn in the 2 page-spread picture. 
Barn Counting Shape Book

Wind energy
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 in
Windmill Trifold

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!
"Pep-O-Mint" lifesavers
Dark Room

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 of light!

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. 

Minit Books
Lightning Accordion
Lightning Accordion with lines