Friday, May 28, 2010

The Hatmaker's Sign - FIAR Vol 4 Co-op

For our last co-op, we rowed the book, The Hatmaker's Sign.  It's a story about Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin and the Constitution.  It's a fun story with so many neat lessons.  I have to admit as I approached the idea of teaching that I was not excited.  I'm a little burned out and in need of a break.  (We have been going full steam since after Christmas with no break.  This is our last week of school!)  Anyway, as I started reading, I began to get excited.  I was learning about Benjamin Franklin and the more I read, the more excited I became.  I think that there are enough fun ideas related to Ben Franklin that we could do a week of summer camp on him!  It was a blessing to have this excitement as I know it made the day more fun for me and for the children too I'm sure.

We started our day the same way we always do - with a reading of the story.

I began the morning talking about Ben Franklin.  I shared that he was an observant and curious man who learned much just from watching and noticing things as well as asking many questions.  We played a game to see how observant the children were.  One child was picked and they spetn a few minutes observing the child.  The child left, changed 3 things and then came back to see if the others could pick out what was different.

Things changed included socks (they were different colors, jewelry, hair part, etc.)  We did this several times and the children got all of the changes.  The next game was one of patterns  - to see if they noticed a pattern.  One child was sent from the room.  The rest of the children picked an object.  When I went to get the child who was "it", I explained the game to them.  I would point to various items.  When I pointed to a black item, they were to say no.  The next item would be it. 

The child and I would go back into the room and I would point at various things.  Until they got the right item.  I asked the other children to try to find a pattern.  They tried several things but weren't coming up with it.  I then told them the name of the game was "Black Magic".  Then they observed again.  It was still tricky, so I helped them to figure it out.

For the next section on Ben Franklin, I explained that he was a man who "wore many hats" (get the tie in to the title of the book?).  We talked about what that meant.  I had a box with 7 items in it representing 8 of the hats that he wore.  We looked at each item and talked about the different areas of interest that Ben Franklin had.  Here are the 8 areas.

1.  Inventor - He invented numerous thing, many of which are still in use today.  I showed the children pictures of various items to see if they could guess what they were.  These are the items - Franklin stove, glass armonica, bifocals, daylight savings time, lightening rod, an odometer and the Gulf Stream Current.  I loved learning that when he served as postmaster he noticed that letters coming from England took about 2 weeks longer to get to  American than letters going the other way.  He wondered why and began studying to find out!  He was the first to discover and map the  Gulf Stream!

2.  Biologist - He was fascinated with ants and believed that they communicated with each other.  We tested this out by placing a sugar water mixture into a jar and tying it to a tree.  We then placed one ant in there.  He crawled out and we waited (over an hour) to see if he led others back to the sugar.  This experiment didn't work for us. 

3.  Mathematician - Ben  Franklin was fascinated with numbers.  We learned about his Magic squares and worked on solving some ourselves.

4.  Scientist - They all knew about his experiment with lightening and electricity, but we decided to try a few with static electricity.  This was a really neat one.  I told the children that they were having a dinner party and someone mistakenly mixed the salt and pepper into the same bowl.  It was their job to separate it.  LOL  Then I gave them wool sock and a balloon. 

When you rub the sock against the balloon it became charged and attracted the pepper.

5.  Physicist - Ben Franklin liked to study basic parts of the universe and the effects on them.  He was particulary interested in oil and water.  WE did an experiment, but the pictures aren't so great showing the effects of oil on water with the wind blowing.  The oil "smooths" out the water so that it doesn't wave as it does when it is clean.

6.  Linguist - He enjoyed making rebuses.  Here is a site with some of his sayings in rebus form.  The children did a great job figuring them out.

7.  Printer - Just discussed briefly as we were tying in another activity with this one.

8.  Civil Servant - From postmaster to fireman, from militia leader to assembly recorder, Ben Franklin served in many roles.  One of the best known is his work with the Constitution.  The children tried their hand at signing their names using a quill pen.

We had a snack in the middle as I was so excited about Ben Franklin that I probably went long.  We had cheeses, cornbread muffins with honey, devilled eggs, some sausages and dried cranberries.  The kids really enjoyed drinking from the pewter mugs.

We had a devotion while they were finishing their snacks on the importance of words. 

For the last activity, each child made a sign. 

They practiced on a small piece of paper (like the man in the story who was designing a sign for his shop).  When they were happy, they drew with pastels to create their own sign on a large piece of wood. 

My sweet Daniel (with some coaxing) participated.  Happy mama here.  I think being outside made all the difference for him in this activity. 

This is a group shot of everyone with their signs.  They did a great job!!!

Did you notice that someone was missing?  It was Joshua.  He and his Daddy left for a long week-end trip to Gettysburg.  It was so odd for me to have him gone.  I have not been away from him for more than a couple of hours - in a year!  They had a great time!!!  I'm so happy they were able to take this trip with Roger's work.  I'm happy to have them home again too.

This was our last co-op of the year.  A little bittersweet.  I'm not sure I can explain what a blessing this group has been.  When I had the idea late in the summer to do a co-op, I just put the idea out to our group with no expectations of what would happen.  God brought together 7 moms to plan and teach a wonderful set of lessons.  The creativy, laughter, learning and fun was sweet.  As was the sharing and deepened friendships.  I knew that this would be fun for my children.  I didn't expect for it to be such a blessing for me.  As we close out our year, we don't have plans yet for next year.  No matter what we do, it won't be the same as one of our families is moving.  I'm thankful that God gave us this sweet year - filled with many memories. 




  1. Your co-op experience sounds wonderful and so much fun!! Holly

  2. Ok, so you have no plans heh? well we need you with our new co-op dear, it is but a smallish drive one way-about 12 hours or so but hey, that is not too bad-LOL...I am planning on having the co-op we're creating, do a FIAR type of program for the elementary kiddos. I love all the ideas and such you have here-it is amazing. Thanks so much for sharing everything-lots of good stuff here!

    What's in the Box?

  3. What a blessing Leslie! Really enjoyed your coop pics! Wish we could have joined y'all! ;-)

  4. Leslie, I'm so glad you post these fun things! We don't have a co-op or even other FIAR'ers' in our area and it's so fun to pick up these great ideas. We'll be using Volume 4 next year for our then 10 year old and I can't wait to implement some of these fantastic ideas!


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