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

The Year of Miss Agnes

The Year of Miss Agnes

Author: Kirkpatrick Hill
Summary: Teaching the children in an Athabascan village in a one-room schoolhouse on the Alaskan frontier in 1948 is not every educator's dream. Then one day, tall, skinny Agnes Sutterfield arrives and life is never the same for the community. Frederika (Fred), the 10-year-old narrator, discovers that unlike previous teachers, Miss Agnes doesn't mind the smell of fish that the children bring for lunch each day. She also stokes the fire to warm the schoolhouse before the students' arrival each morning, wears pants, and speaks with a strange accent. Miss Agnes immediately packs away the old textbooks, hangs up the children's brightly colored artwork, plays opera music, and reads them Robin Hood and Greek myths. She teaches them about their land and their culture, tutors both students and parents in her cabin in the evening, and even learns sign language along with her students so that Fred's deaf sister can attend school. Hill has created more than just an appealing cast of characters; she introduces readers to a whole community and makes a long-ago and faraway place seem real and very much alive.
ISBN: 0689851243


Literature based unit study prepared by Janee' Lowrance
Various Lapbook Mini-books by Tara

Chapter 1


Zoology:  Muskrats
This chapter mentions a muskrat.  Muskrats are large, aquatic rodents native to North America.  Do some research about muskrats and fill out the Prepared Information Sheet

Health:  Eating Fish
The Alaskan people eat fish made a lot of different ways. Is fish healthy?  The fish left behind an oil. Discuss good oils vs. bad oils. Look on the herb aisle and see the different oils they sell. Fish oil, omega 3 oil, flax seed oil. Look them up on the internet and write down the qualities of each.  



Point of View
This book was written in first person from a 10 year old point of view.  Discuss first person with your student (I, me, my).  Discuss how the author makes it obvious that it is written from the perspective of a 10 year old.   Ask your student to write an account from two different points of view (you can use anything to try this).  Possible topic:  a trip to the ice cream store (from the child's point of view (maybe a 3 or 4 year old) then from the mother's point of view.  You could also write it from the ice cream store worker's point of view. 

Is this book fiction or non fiction? Discuss.


Chapter 2


Geography: Alaska
Find Alaska on your map or globe. Locate Allakaket. 

Allakaket is a 2nd Class City in Yukon-Koyukuk Census Area, Alaska, United States. Allakaket is part of the Unorganized Borough. As of the 2000 census, the population of the city is 97.   Allakaket is on the south bank of the Koyukuk River, southwest of its junction with the Alatna River, approximately 190 air miles northwest of Fairbanks and 57 miles upriver from Hughes. The village of Alatna is located directly across the river.

The area experiences a cold, continental climate with extreme temperature differences. The average high temperature during July is 70 degrees Fahrenheit. The average low temperature during January is well below zero and extended periods of -40 degrees Fahrenheit are common. The highest temperature ever recorded was 94 degrees Fahrenheit and the lowest was -75 degrees Fahrenheit. Average precipitation is 13 inches and annual snowfall is 72 inches. The Koyukuk River is ice-free from June through October.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 4.3 square miles (3.6 square miles of land and 0.7 square miles of water).   (Source -- read more!)

State Bird
State Flower
Bird and Flower Coloring Page


Geography:  England
Miss Agnes was from England.  Locate England on a map.  Estimate how many miles Miss Agnes had to travel in order to get to Alaska. 

United Kingdom Flag
England Outline Map

Tea time!
Miss Agnes shared tea with the girls. Sit down and have tea with your children. Try milk in your tea too!

Learn more about tea time


Bertha was adopted legally. Do you know anyone who was adopted? Talk about what adoption is (to take legally as one's own child) and find out about children in the world that are without parents.


Chapter 3


Character Building: Resourcefulness
If you have a hole in your sock do you mend it or throw it away? Why? (We usually do not mend socks anymore because they are so inexpensive and easy to get.  But, what would you do if things were precious to you because they were not easy to get?)  Find ways to be resourceful around your home (make a list and implement it).


Fredricka likes the big map and can locate England and Alaska. Take out your map and see how many places your student can identify. If you have a Geography Songs CD, pull it out and learn about more places.   (Also take this opportunity to review England and Alaska.)



Research and Communication

Bokko was deaf. What does that mean exactly?  How do deaf people communicate?  What if, like Bokko, they don't know sign language?

Find out what it means to be deaf.  Write a short report on a deaf person. It could be someone you know (or a famous person).  Here are some links to get you started

Deafness at Wikipedia
List of Deaf People

Chapter 4



Disease: Tuberculosis
Fredricka’s dad died of an infectious disease known as tuberculosis (TB). What are the symptoms?  causes?  is there a treatment now? 

prolonged cough of more than three weeks duration, chest pain and coughing up blood, fever, chills, night sweats, appetite loss, weight loss and paling, and those afflicted are often easily fatigued.

The cause of tuberculosis,  is a slow-growing aerobic bacterium that divides every 16 to 20 hours; this is extremely slow compared to other bacteria, which have division times measured in minutes.  It is spread by aerosol droplets expelled by people with the active disease of the lungs when they cough, sneeze, speak, kiss, spit or use the dirty eating utensils of the infected person.  A person with untreated, active tuberculosis can infect 10-15 other people per year.

Treatment for TB uses antibiotics to kill the bacteria.

Various animals are mentioned throughout this chapter.  Choose one and do a short report.
Wolverine Report Form
Otter Report Form
if you student chooses Caribou, she may want to use the blank report form below

Blank Report Form from


Geography: Juneau, Alaska
Fredricka's dad died in Juneau. Locate it on the map. Juneau is the capital of Alaska and located on the Gastineau Channel on the Alexander Archipelago of Alaska. The area of Juneau is larger than that of Rhode Island, Delaware, or Connecticut, and almost as large as Connecticut and Rhode Island combined. Juneau is nestled at the base of Mount Juneau and across the channel from Douglas Island. As of the 2000 census, the City and Borough had a population of 30,711.  Juneau was named after gold prospector, Joe Juneau. 

Mail Order Catalogs and Sears Roebuck
She gets her parkas from Sears Roebuck. Does that name sound familiar? Research the history of Sears? Did you know that in the 30’s they sold house kits? You ordered the kit and it cam with plans, wood, nails, windows, doors, everything you need to build a house. A picture book that tells all about this is called A House in the Mail

Some brief history (from wikipedia): Sears, Roebuck and Company is an American mid-range chain of international department stores, founded by Richard Sears and Alvah Roebuck in the late 19th century. It operates in Canada under Sears Canada and Mexico under Sears Mexico. From its mail order beginnings, the company grew to become the largest retailer in the United States by the mid-20th century, and its catalogs became famous. Competition and changes in the demographics of its customer base challenged the company after World War II as its rural and inner city strongholds shrank and the suburban markets grew. Eventually its catalog program was largely discontinued.  Learn more

Culture Connection
Trapping and fishing are a big part of their lives. Why?
Read to learn more about Alaskan culture. Check your library for other books on Alaskan culture.

Library List
Big Alaska: Journey Across America's Most Amazing State by Debbie Miller (mentioned above)
Children of the Midnight Sun: Young Native Voices of Alaska by Tricia Brown
A Child's Alaska by Claire Rudolf Murphy
This Place Is Cold by Vicki Cobb
The Igloo by Charlotte Yue
The Inuit by Suzanne M. Williams


Industry and Idleness
Mamma thinks working hard is what everyone is supposed to do. What does the Bible say about work?  What does the Bible say about idleness?
Read and discuss  II Thessalonians 3:10.



Try knitting a pair of mittens and making a string to connect them and big pom-poms too!



Chapter 5



How do Things Fly?
Roger drew an airplane.  Airplanes are the villages lifelines to the outside world. Learn how things fly!
excellent website - Boeing How Do Things Fly (kites, hot air balloons, gliders, dragonflies, birds, jet engines, and more!)
resource book:  Usborne’s How Things Fly 

Anatomy: Sense of Smell
Miss Agnes could not smell. The nose is the primary organ for smelling.  Smell, like taste, is a chemical sense. The sense of smell is activated when molecules (odors) are inhaled as they travel through the air. These molecules swirl around in the nasal cavities and hit the olfactory epithelium. At the very top of each nasal cavity, there are about five milLion “smell cells.” Because the nose and mouth are joined, smells can also be detected through the mouth by breathing through your mouth, chewing, or burping. Smells are transmitted to the brain and identified when molecules touch the hairs of the olfactory epithelium.

About two milLion people in the United States have NO sense of smell. This disorder is called anosmia. The most common cause of anosmia is inflammation of the nasal membranes. If no air gets to the olfactory nerves, smell will not happen. A head injury or certain viral infections can damage or destroy the olfactory nerves. It is also possible that damage of the frontal lobes caused by a tumor or surgery can cause anosmia. Elderly people often have a reduced sense of smell.  (source)

Smelling Activity
Most people can experience a wide variety of smells.  Some smells can stir up memories. To demonstrate the sense of smell (olfaction), collect several items that have distinctive smells (choose from the list below):

orange peel (or any citrus peel such as lemon, lime, grapefruit)
perfume soaked cotton ball
fabric softener soaked cotton ball
pine needles
pencil shavings (from the sharpener)



Keep the items separated and enclosed in plastic containers so that the odors do not mix. Put a blindfold on your student and ask your student to identify the item, rate the odor (how strong are the chemicals dissolved in the air?), does the smell trigger any memories for your student?

Extend this lesson-- research the seven primary odors; camphoric, musky, floral, peppermint, ethereal, pungent, putrid and teach your student how to identify each.


Geography:  Italy
Find the peninsula of Italy (in the Mediterranean Sea) on your map; it is a boot-shaped country located Europe. Italy is bordered by Monaco, France, Switzerland, Austria, and Slovenia.

Flag Information
Regions of Italy Outline Map

Inventors:  Wright Brothers
Learn about the Wright Brothers who designed the first working airplane. 
The Wright Brothers at Enchanted Learning

Library List
The Wright Brothers (Landmark Books)by Quentin Reynolds *we loved this book!
The Wright Brothers for Kids: How They Invented the Airplane with 21 Activities Exploring the Science and History of Flight by Mary Kay Carson
To Fly: The Story of the Wright Brothers by Wendie C. Old



Make a picture for your wall just as Miss Agnes had the children do. Make a margin and fill all the inside with color.


Listen to an opera (whatever you can get at your library) while painting.


Chapter 6


Writing Project: Autobiography
have your child write his name, the day he was born, and a paragraph about himself; you can have him extend this into several paragraphs if you choose.
Ideas for paragraphs
1. Birth facts
2. Family Life
3. Friends
4. Christian development/growth (what God has taught him, church activities, date of baptism, etc.)
5. Hobbies/Sports/What I do in my free time
6. What I want to be when I grow up

All About me
is a Christian journal where you write about yourself (we've used this and enjoyed it)

Chapter Book Read Aloud
Has your family read Robin Hood ? Now may be a good time. You could use passages for narration and copywork.


Art of Storytelling
Miss Agnes read the story with different voices, emphasis, and excitement. Have your student read aloud with feeling. Compare to reading with the same dull voice. Select a poem or passage or Bible memory work for your student to memorize and recite for your family.

Chapter 7



This is a good time to go over the various biomes of the world. Find the equator; discuss the type of weather they have there (warmer than anywhere else). Discuss how the weather gets colder the further you move north or south of the equator. Talk about how the both poles - north and south- are cold all the time. Also mention the equator is the dividing line for the seasons- when it is summer north of the equator it is winter south and so on.

Consider giving your student a biome research project.  Here are the names of some types of biomes to get her started:
Taiga or Coniferous Forest
Temperate Deciduous Forest
Temperate Rain Forest
Tropical Rain Forest
Land Caves
Freshwater Marsh
Temperate ponds
Marine (ocean or sea)

You don't have to make this an essay/report project.  Other options:
Biome Chart (comparing/contrasting the different biomes)
Vacation Flyer (after your student researches various biomes, have her choose one and make a persuasive pamphlet trying to convince people to vacation in this biome)
For a simple discussion, learn a little about each biome and try to think of a story you've read that has that type of setting
Assign a biome setting and let your student write a fictional short story that happens within that biome after she has researched the biome so she can include the proper flora/fauna, weather, etc.


Biome Information at Enchanted Learning
Biomes at Wikipedia


Geography:  Seven Continents
Review the seven continents.

Label the continents map from Enchanted Learning

Geography:  Rivers of Alaska
Look at a map of Alaska if available and locate the Koyukuk river, the Yukon river, and review Juneau.  (If you have used an outline map during the course of your student, be sure to have your student add the rivers to the map of Alaska.)

Discussion: Completing a Difficult Task
Fred says she didn’t like math so she just wrote down any ol’ numbers and would cry if they tried to make her do it right. Has your student ever cried to get out of doing something they don’t want? Did Miss Agnes yell at her? What does your student think should happen to her?

History:  WWII
Miss Agnes said she did not want to go home while the war was going on. Do you remember what year we decided this story takes place in? So what war was going on in England (where she was from) during that year? (WWII) Use this time to discuss and do further research on WWII. Who were the Axis powers? (Japan, Germany) Who were the allied powers? (U.S. England, France) A wonderful nonfiction book on WWII for this age is The Good Fight- How World War II was Won.

We also enjoyed this fiction books to learn more about WWII:
The Butterfly by Patricia Polacco
Children we Remember
by Chana Byers Abells
Number the Stars
by Lois Lowry
Winged Watchman
by Hilda Van Stockum
Twenty and Ten
 by Claire Huchet Bishop


What was the point of Miss Agnes story of Sam Dubin? (to motivate and show usefulness of math) Did it work?

Counting Change
How many cents are in a dollar? If your item cost $.76 and you pay a dollar how much change would you get? Use different amounts to ask that same question- $.33, $.45, $.80, $.22, $.38, etc… Try adding in dollars too -an item cost $1.22, you pay $2, (or $5) what is your change ? A hint for making 100 cents is you need 10 ones and 9 tens to make 100. So if you have $,15 to make 10 ones you’d need 5 more, and to make 9 tens you’d need 8 more so the answer would be $.85.


U.S. Coins at Enchanted Learning

Chapter 8



Anatomy:  Ears (much of this lesson was taken from another HSS unit-- Tea with an Old Dragon)
Continue with your discussion on deafness.  Learn about the human ear. 
You may wish to introduce (or review with) your student the parts of the ear that help sound travel.  There is the outer ear, the middle ear, and the inner ear.  The outer ear is the part of the ear that we can see and is called the pinna.  It collects the sounds and directs them toward the middle ear.  Between the outer ear and the middle ear is the ear drum.  It begins to move as sound hits it.  This then causes three little bones inside the middle ear to also vibrate.  These three bones are the tiniest in our body and they are called the hammer, the anvil, and the stirrup.  These vibrations then move on to the cochlea, which is shaped like a snail's shell.  The cochlea contains tiny hairs called cilia, which start the nerve signals that go to the brain.  The brain then processes the sound.

Enchanted Learning sheet to fill in the parts of the ear

Library List
Ears are for Hearing by Paul Showers
Hearing by Sharon Gordon
Hearing (Five Senses Series) by Maria Rius


Learn the sign language alphabet. Maybe take this time to start a sign language program. American Sign Language Alphabet

Continue learning sign language for the remainder of this book.

Chapter 9-10



Disease: Measles
What are measles? Measles, also known as rubeola, is a disease caused by a virus. Measles is spread through respiration (contact with fluids from an infected person's nose and mouth, either directly or through aerosol transmission), and is highly contagious—90% of people without immunity sharing a house with an infected person will catch it. Airborne precautions should be taken for all suspected cases of measles. The incubation period usually lasts for 4–12 days (during which there are no symptoms).  Infected people remain contagious from the appearance of the first symptoms (cough, runny nose, and red eyes) until 3–5 days after the rash appears.

Go along suggestion: No Measles, No mumps For Me.  Note: this book talks about vaccinations and how important they are.


Sled Dogs
Roger’s family used a sled dog to leave town.

Sled dogs are a group of dogs that are used to pull a wheel-less vehicle on runners (a sled or sleigh) over snow or ice, by means of harnesses and lines.
They are expected to demonstrate two major qualities in their work-- endurance and speed.  Endurance is needed to travel the distances demanded in dogsled travel, which may be anything from five to eighty miles (8 to 130 km) or more a day. Speed is needed to travel the distance in a reasonable length of time. Racing sled dogs will travel up to an average twenty miles per hour (32.2 km/h) over distances up to 25 miles (40 km). Over longer distances, average traveling speed declines to 10 to 14 miles per hour (16 to 22 km/h). Sled dogs have been known to travel over 100 miles in a 24 hour period.  Read more at wikipedia

Research Topics
Four different kinds of sled dogs-- Alaskan malamute, Alaskan husky, Inuit/Eskimo Dog, and Siberian husky.
Sled dog Racing (types:  long-distance, mid-distance, sprints, stage races)
Balto (see book suggestion below)
Sled dog team (different "positions" -- what does each dog do?)

Library List
Balto and the Great Race by Elizabeth Cody Kimmel
A Sled Dog Morning
Aunt Lulu
by Daniel M. Pinkwater
Born to Pull
by Bob Cary and Gail de Marcken
Great Serum Race: Blazing the Iditarod Trail
by Debbie S. Miller
Iditarod Dream
by Ted Wood
Puppies, Dogs, and Blue Northers: Reflections on Being Raised by a Pack of Sled Dogs
by Gary Paulsen

Marie had lots of life skills- sewing, cooking, cleaning, taking care of children, - but she knew very little academics. Which is more important? Why?

Just for Fun
Listen to some Hank Williams music if you'd like.

Chapter 11



(Bible) Creation vs. Evolution
Miss Agnes put cavemen on her timeline. This opens the door for an evolution discussion. Discuss your personal beliefs with your student.  Read the Genesis account and read books that support your views. 

Some sites that may be helpful:

The Big Bang Theory (from the NASA website)
Creation vs. Evolution (from Clarifying Christianity)
Answers in Genesis

Institute for Creation Research


Miss Agnes made them a timeline. Do you have a timeline yet? Make one. Mark the things on your timeline that Miss Agnes marked on hers. Mark family birthdays- any other important events (mark things you have studied throughout the course of this unit-- when the Wright Brothers invented the first plane, WWII, when Alaska became a state, Alaska State Gold Rush, etc.).

History:  Alaska State Gold Rush
Everyone has heard about the California Gold Rush, but have you heard of Alaska State Gold rush? More information

Several gold rushes took place throughout the 19th century in Argentina, Australia, Canada, Chile, New Zealand, South Africa, and the United States. Gold rushes helped start permanent non-indigenous settlement of new regions and define the culture of the North American and Australian frontiers. The Yukon Territory in Canada and Alaska itself were the site of a gold rush in the 1890s, and they remained a significant source of mining even after gold reserves diminished.

Just for Fun
Play the time machine game.


Miss Agnes brought out a microscope. If you have the opportunity, use a microscope to look at things (a local university may let you come for a field trip if you don't own a microscope yourself or if you don't know anyone who has one you could borrow). 

A microscope is an instrument for viewing objects that are too small to be seen by the naked or unaided eye. The science of investigating small objects using such an instrument is called microscopy, and the term microscopic means minute or very small, not easily visible with the unaided eye. In other words, requiring a microscope to examine. Microscopes give us a large image of a tiny object. The microscopes we use in school and at home trace their history back almost 400 years.  Learn More

We really like the story- Greg’s Microscope-- it gives a lot of ideas on things to look at under the microscope.  

Library List
Greg's Microscope by Millicent E. Selsam
Complete Book of the Microscope (Complete Books) by Kirsteen Rogers
World of the Microscope (Usborne Science & Experiments Series) by Chris Oxlade
A World in a Drop of Water: Exploring with a Microscope by Alvin Silverstein
The Microscope and How to Use It by Dr. George Stehli
Adventures with a Microscope by Richard Headstrom

Chapter 12



Discuss echoes. An echo is what happens when sound waves reflect off a surface. If you say "boo" in a large, empty room (like a gymnasium) and listen carefully, you will probably hear a quieter version of your voice a second later, saying the same thing.

Good places to hear echoes are large, empty rooms, like gyms, concert halls, train stations, and big buildings. Sound reflects best off a hard surface, so buildings with lots of stone and concrete work well. Canyons and caves also produce good echoes, since they also have lots of stone.

Echoes have many uses. Some animals, such as dolphins and bats, use echoes to find their way around. (See this page for information on dolphin echolocation.) Submarines make use of echoes from underwater objects in SONAR.  Echoes also have medical uses - an example of this is the echocardiogram which uses reflections of very high-pitched sound (ultrasound) to construct a picture of the heart.


Genre: Fairy Tales
A  fairy tale is a fanciful tale of legendary deeds and creatures, usually intended for children.  Read aloud some fairy tales. What
are the characteristics of a fairy tale?  Discuss common characters, settings, and plots found within fairy tales.

Read various fairy tales.  Using these prepared character sheets, discuss the different characters you encounter in each tale.  For each book, use one paper.  Write the title of the story in the blank provided. Circle the character types provided on the page (you can add some at the bottom if needed).  After you read 6-8 stories (or more), look at your character sheets.  Which character types have been used the most?  When you finish with this project, you can compile your sheets into a minit book for your lapbook or notebook.  Note:  you can assign your student fairy tale reading as an independent project.

After you've completed the character project, you student should be familiar with enough stories to discuss common settings.  What settings have you encountered in the stories?  (castles, cottages, mountains, (enchanted) forests, river/pond/body of water, etc.).   For extended learning, make a bar graph of the various settings.  Which setting was used most frequently in the stories you read?

Fairy tales often include common plot elements (rising/falling action, conflicts, resolutions, etc.)   Discuss the following with your student.  Which fairy tales include the following? 

Hero (or heroine) heroine has bad luck
Hero (or heroine) must perform impossible tasks
Hero (or heroine) must fight a villain
Hero (or heroine) meets magical helpers
Hero (or heroine) is treated badly
Hero (or heroine) is in danger
Villain is punished
Hero (or heroine) is rewarded with wealth
Hero (or heroine) is rewarded with a happy marriage
Things happen in threes (three battles, three tasks)


Greek Mythology
Miss Agnes read to them about Greek Myths. You may want to read and discuss Greek mythology with your student. She also read the Story of Ulysses.  This is also referred to as the Odyssey, and it is one of the two major ancient Greek epic poems attributed to the poet Homer. The poem is, in part, a sequel to Homer's Iliad and mainly centers on the Greek hero Odysseus (or Ulysses in Latin) and his long journey home to Ithaca, following the fall of Troy.

Greek Myths for Kids

Library List
Greek Myths and Legends (Usborne Illustrated Guide to) by C. Evans and A. Millard
Mini Greek Myths for Young Children (Mini Usborne Classics) by Heather Amery and Linda Edwards
Favorite Greek Myths by Mary Pope Osborne
D'Aulaires Book of Greek Myths by Ingri D'Aulaire
The Gods and Goddesses of Olympus (Trophy Picture Books) by Aliki
The Children's Homer: The Adventures of Odysseus and the Tale of Troy by Padraic Colum and Willy Pogany
Tales from the Odyssey: The One-Eyed Giant
- Book #1 by Mary Pope Osborne
Tales from the Odyssey: The Land of the Dead - Book #2 by Mary Pope Osborne
Tales from the Odyssey: Sirens and Sea Monsters - Book #3 by Mary Pope Osborne
Tales from the Odyssey: The Gray-Eyed Goddess - Book #4 by Mary Pope Osborne
Tales from the Odyssey: Return to Ithaca - Book #5 by Mary Pope Osborne
Tales from the Odyssey: The Final Battle - Book #6 by Mary Pope Osborne



See if you can find a recording of King’s Choir to listen to.

Chapter 13


"A Christmas Carol" by Charles Dickens
Is your student familiar with the
story "The Christmas Carol" by Charles Dickens?  It was published in 1843.  Dickens described it as his "little Christmas Book" and was was instantly successful, selling over six thousand copies in one week and, although originally written to enable Dickens to pay off a debt, the tale has become one of the most popular and enduring Christmas stories of all time.

If the season's right (or if you feel like adding a little Christmas to your study), find a copy to read (Full Story in e-text) or video to watch.   You may even be able to find a theater close to you that is performing this in December.

You may want to purchase this Dover coloring book -- A Christmas Carol Coloring Book by Charles Dickens (Author), Marty Noble (Illustrator)

Library List
A Christmas Carol: A Young Reader's Edition of the Classic Holiday Tale by Jane Parker Resnick, Charles Dickens, and Christian Birmingham
A Christmas Carol (Great Illustrated Classics) by Charles Dickens 
Go to and do a search (under DVD) for "A Christmas Carol"  -- you will find so many versions (animated and non-animated) that it will make you crazy!  You may want to check out more than one version from the library so your students can compare and contrast the two.  Which one was preferred?  Why?  Which one was closest to the author's story?  How?


Traditions:  Christmas Around the World
Miss Agnes' class looked at Christmas trees all around the world. Have you ever looked at how other celebrate Christmas around the world?

If you own Galloping the Globe, there is a unit for studying this in detail.

Websites that may be helpful
Santa Around the World

Christmas Traditions Around the World

Christmas Around the World

(simply google "Christmas Around the World" and tons of information will be at your fingertips!)

Chapter 14


Author Study: Mark Twain
Tom Sawyer
and Huck Finn are American classics written by Mark Twain (pen name for Samuel Clemmens)  in 1884. You may want to listen to one of these stories on CD with your student.   If you prefer a short story, you may want to try  "The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calveras County."

You could also simply study Mark Twain's famous sayings-- use them for copywork if you like. 

1. A person who won’t read has no advantage over the man who can’t read.

2. Don’t go around saying the world owes you a living. The world owes you nothing, it was here first.

3. I have never let schooling interfere with my education.

More Mark Twain Quotes

Writing Project
Encourage your student to write and illustrate a reader for a younger sibling (or another young child).

Give your students a small notebook for words they need help spelling. I used the small size composition books found at the dollar store.  Help them create a fun front cover page and title it My Spelling Dictionary.  As you notice misspelled words in your student's writing, have him add them to his spelling dictionary where he can simply look up the word next time he wants to use it in his written work. 

Creative Writing
Often times (and sometimes too often!), our student's writing projects are directed by us.  Let your student write a poem or a short story without any guidelines from you.  Encourage this kind of writing frequently.

Chapter 15   Note: There is some feminism that is snuck in, in this chapter. You can discuss your point of view on those statements or just skip it.


This chapter makes a good introduction to proper grammar in speech. Play the speech game. We used this to bring attention to the deep southern drawl we have around here.  


Hudson Stuck
There is a  story about him in Trial and Triumph. It is a great story if you can find it. Also 10,000 Miles with a Dog Sled.  is another telling of this story.  

The boy in the story was on a boat that hit an iceberg. Do you know what that boat was called? The Titanic. Talk about The Titanic.  What happened?  Were there survivors?  Who died?

There are several good books about it. Titanic Lost and Found is a good one for early readers. The Magic tree house book Tonight on the Titanic was a decent book, and it has a nonfiction guide to go with it.

If you want to learn more about icebergs-- Icebergs at Wikipedia

Chapter 16-17


Sound Waves
Why did everything get louder when the snow melted? Sounds were bouncing instead of being absorbed by the snow.

Sound is a form of energy produced when an object vibrates (moves back and forth quickly), causing the air around it to also move back and forth.  Vibrations are all around us but we cannot see them.  These vibrations are called sound waves.  

Activity -- Watch Sound Travel:  We cannot see sound waves as they move through the air.  We're going to do an experiment that will show how sound waves move through the air.  Cut off the base of a one or two liter bottle.   Stretch a piece of plastic (a balloon or Saran Wrap) tightly over the end you cut off and secure with a rubber band.   Now light a candle (a tea light works fine).  Place the smaller end of the bottle near the flame of the candle (about an inch away).  Give the piece of plastic a quick tap.  The flame of the candle should go out.  By tapping the plastic, you are making tiny particles in the air vibrate.  The vibrations travel through the bottle it pushes the air toward the flame, which then goes out.


Communication: Sign Language
Learn more about sign language (who invented it? etc.) and keep practicing it!
More Information

Writing: Story Ending
Discuss the ending of the story with your student. 
Was this a good ending to the story? Can your student rewrite it another way?

Materials and information on this website belong to the original composers. It may be used for your own personal and school use.