The Story About Ping {FI♥AR}

I love Before Five in a Row, but I LOVE how Five in a Row is laid out! I used the planner from the book and did each subject by day, but the 5 days were spread out over 2 weeks (3 days 1 week, and 2 the next).

"Ping is a little duck living with his 50+ relatives on a boat on the Yangtze River. Every day the ducks leave the boat to swim and hunt for food, and at night the master calls them all back. Ping is always careful not to be the last duck back up the little bridge into the boat, for the last duck always gets a spank upon the back. One day Ping gets careless, and too afraid to take his punishment, he decides to hide instead of joining his family on the boat." ~ Rainbow Resource

We listened to the book on CD each day. This was fun and a wonderful addition to the story! The information at the end explained many things from the book, such as why the ducks were spanked, the name of the fishing birds (cormorants), the history of fishing in China, and much more.

Day 1: Geography: Physical
  • Where does Ping live?
  • Find China on a map, noting that it is located in Asia.
  • The Yangtze River is the longest river in China (4,000 miles long).
  • Malachi colored the flag of China and pasted the map of China.

Geography: Social and Cultural

We learned how to say hello and good-bye in Chinese and had an {American} Chinese dinner of homemade eggrolls and rice noodles.
We followed up with Egg Drop soup for lunch the 2nd day.
Day 2: Art

I printed this poem and Malachi drew a picture of a duck from Draw Write Now (love those books!). Our art medium was colored pencil and the technique he learned was how to draw water moving. I showed him several examples from the manual.
Eliana texture painted and Malachi meticulously painted his paper plate - very slowly.
This was Eliana's idea. I was going to trace her hand and cut them out, but I loved her idea more!
Materials for the craft. 

Day 3: Math

Counting Skills

Color Ping's Family (from Homeschool Share)
I had Malachi mark the ducks with the right color for each member of the family (he got tired of coloring them all in). He missed two numbers counting to 42 (30 and one other but I can't remember).


Day 4: Science

Ducks Don't Get Wet

We read the book Ducks Don't Get Wet by Augusta Goldin and learned that "ducks don't get wet" because they cover themselves with oil (a process called preening) to waterproof their feathers.

We did an activity to show that oil and water don't mix.

I traced a duck onto a brown paper bag and cut out 2 each. They painted one with oil and used a water dropper to add water to both ducks. The water droplets rolled right off the oiled duck's back ~ just like a real duck.

How a Duck Floats

We learned that a duck has an air sac that fills with air to help him float. He lets the air out when he wants to dive. To explain this process, we filled a balloon with air to show that it floats and left one empty to show that it does not float (as well). Malachi spent the whole time trying to get the empty balloon to sink to the bottom. :-)

Float or Sink

Lap Journal: Types of Ducks, Habitats and Preening

Day 5: Language Arts

I had Malachi narrate the events of the story to me and then I had him do the story sequencing activity cards from homeschool share. I gathered the cards to put into a little book for him.

Another day we had quite an adventure with Ping, the duck we raised for our fun memory for this book. We have a small pool for Ping that we let him out to swim in occasionally, but we thought it would be fun to see him swim and dive for small fish just like Ping in the story. . .

Ping liked the idea too. 

And as soon as he swam away, I knew it was a big mistake to let Ping free. 

He swam away and hid in the bushes! 

We tried to lure him with rice cake crumbs (just like in the story) but that did not work at all.

We (Jordan, Nathan and I) had to corner Ping at the end of the pond. Jordan and Nathan both waded in to try to catch him and we finally did.

We took Ping home and gave him a bath. And this past weekend, we took him to live with Nanie, the kids' great grandma. She has a nice duck habitat and another Pekin duck. I think Ping will be happy. =) 

My youngest two may forget Ping, but I know for sure my older boys will never forget him.

Delightful Links:


  1. Michelle, I love what your did with this FIAR unit. Every time I read your FIAR posts I so badly want to do it with my middle two. You are having such fun while you learn, and I absolutely love the way you are making memories with your kids at the same time. It is wonderfully sweet.

    How in the world did your Ping grow so fast?! Wow!! She is very pretty. I bet she is super happy in her new home:-).

    I can't tell you how much I enjoyed seeing all that you did and how inspiring your homeschool posts are to me.

    Blessings and hugs to you! You are over the top!!

  2. Dear Michelle, I so remember reading this book when we followed the FIAR, it feels like so long ago. I miss my two when they were this age. Leah now 14 and Zachary now 15, both in high school. We have to enjoy every moment. Thank you for sharing.
    blessings in Messiah ~ Carmen

  3. LOL! What a wonderful FIAR....glad the boys were there to retrieve Ping....

  4. What a wonderful way to really experience a story! I think the raising a duck would be so fun!

  5. Hearts_In_TrainingAugust 6, 2010 at 6:17 AM

    Oh what such fun! I just love all the fun activities you do to teach your children :D
    I am exited to get started on FIAR with Noah and Jacob :D

    Love to you, and Shabbat Shalom :D

  6. Oh what such fun! I just love all the fun activities you do to teach your children :D
    I am exited to get started on FIAR with Noah and Jacob :D

    Love to you, and Shabbat Shalom :D

  7. Just wanted to let you know I enjoy your blog and passed on an award to you. :)

  8. Wow! What an amazing unit study. I love all of the activities ya'll did. I especially like the fact that ya'll go to eat Chinese food!

  9. Wow! Thanks for sharing! I am amazed by all that you came up with!!

  10. Wonderful post, we enjoy FIAR and this will be a great help. Thanks, Karen
    Sippy Cup Central

  11. You gave the duck a bath...but did you give your son one too? :) You make this all so much fun!! I'm sure your kids are going to remember this for years to come!

  12. I agree makes me want to do FIAR too. :)

  13. You will get an award on my blog tomorrow! I love the stuff you do and are an inspiration!

  14. I am seriously thinking about buying this book and beginning it our next quarter. Holding out to see if there are any in the Curriculum Clean Out first:-).

  15. Wow!! How fun... those ducks are so cute & to have a duck of your own is such a great idea! I also LOVE the texture painting you did... great ideas!

  16. What a great unit!!! The egg rolls look SOOO yummy! I can remember my mom making homemade egg rolls when I was young. I need to try my hand at them! :-) Also, do you mind sharing where you got the sink/float page? It would be perfect for one of my kid's lessons.

  17. Thanks Susana! =) I love that it is focused around a story ~ I know my children may forget the things we do (I can hardly remember being 3!), but they will grow up with a love for reading and have a fondness for the books we row.

    Oh, and that is one of the things I love about blogging ~ because your posts inspire me too!

  18. Carmen ~ it so neat that you did FIAR too! I hope to treasure each moment because they do grow so fast ~ I am sure that you can attest to that! =)

  19. Thanks Loni! I can't wait to see what you do {especially since we won't pick FIAR back up until we finish B4FIAR} :D You always do such neat things!

  20. ha ha ha! :D After I hosed him down outside, I made him strip at the back door before heading inside to shower. ;-) I'm sure he won't forget that soon! :D

  21. Thanks, Jenn! I got the sink/float page at the Ping Resource page on HSS ~ ~ it is called the Float/Sink Chart. =)

  22. I love all that you did with Ping! Our of all of the things that we have used in our homeschool, Five in a Row has been our very favorite thing. We started using it in 2001 when our oldest were young. That is so cool that your kids had the opportunity with the real duck!

  23. HomeschoolerconfessionsAugust 11, 2010 at 4:01 PM

    Wow! That looks so FUN! We're reading that book for my Geography Curriculum! Guess I"m going to have to do a couple fun activities, thanks for sharing! You're way more creative then I am!

  24. Michelle!
    I pray all go according to Father's plan, and may He bless your school year as you honor Him :D No need to be nervous, just do what comes natural. You are an excellent teacher to your children. =)

    Love you!

  25. What a fun week with Ping! I can't believe your son went into the water to get Ping. lol

    So glad you are having fun!


  26. This has been selected one of my great posts of the week. Here is the link:

  27. Visiting your site for the first time! I LOVE it! Great ideas! I'll definitely be coming back!

  28. Thanks Jennifer! I'm off to "meet" you!

  29. I have a questions for you! (by the way, I LOVE your blog!) I was wondering where you got the template for the "narration sheets" you use. you know, the ones with a pot for mali to draw and then you type in his retold version of the book you are rowing. We are starting PreK at home with my 3 and 5 year old in 2 weeks and I am hoping to use something similar. We are using BFIAR first and I enjoy the Charlotte Mason style of doing things, so narration is important to us. Thanks so much! Blessings!


  30. I make the narration sheets as we go ~ I type Malachi's narration (as he is narrating it), add a box on top and print it for him to illustrate.

    We use Getty-Dubay Italic handwriting, so if I am using a poem, I type it in Italic and print it for him (like I did this lesson).

    If I make a notebooking page someone might be interested in I will upload it to Scribd and share a link.

    . . . and thank you! =)

  31. Hi Michele,

    I just wanted to let you know that I am passing on a blog award to you.

    ~Jen Unsell

  32. This was phenomenal....I thank you for sharing. I love this so much I wrote a bit about your article...hope it is ok...and refered them back to you...

    BUT I had to come back today to plan for my ping class tommorrow...your photos say it all...I will forward this to my co-teacher who is learning about 5 in a row=)

    Thanks again=)

  33. Would you mind sharing where you bought your tangrams pattern cards? I've been searching, printing and laminating (hit and miss) but it sure would be nice to have a nice set :) Thanks for any help!


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