Homer Price

With my oldest being out of town for the week, I took the opportunity to take a break from our regular schooling and sorta "row" Homer Price, by Robert McCloskey (a Beyond Five in a Row book) with Nathan and Dylan. I say "sorta" because I did not follow the manual (because I don't own it).

We actually read this book our first year homeschooling (with Sonlight) as a read-aloud, but my boys had forgotten! We used the vocabulary, cultural literacy, comprehension and narration questions from SL and the lesson plans from Lesson Pathways (linked below) as a guide.

The book is composed of six funny, witty and charming episodes in the life of Homer Price ~ a small town Mid-Western American boy.

Part 1: Chapters 1-2

Ch. 1: The Case of the Sensational Scent ~

The story of how Homer and his pet skunk trap an interesting group of robbers. {quite funny!}

First the boys and I talked about setting:

Setting: set in the early 1940s, Homer Price lives 2 miles outside of Centerburg, a small town in Ohio just north of Columbus "where Route 56 meets 56A."

We read that odd numbered highways originally ran North-South beginning with 1 on the Atlantic Coast and 101 on the Pacific. Even numbered highways ran East-West beginning with 2 at the Canadian border and ending with 98 at Gulf of Mexico. So, Route 56 generally ran East-West (about right in the middle).

Advertising Slogan:

The robbers steal the prize money (along with some aftershave) that a Centerburg resident won for coming up with a catchy new slogan for the aftershave.  

So we talked about what an advertising slogan is and thought of one we have heard: Nathan came up with: "Fifteen minutes could save you 15 percent or more on car insurance." (Geico)

Spoonerisms: {Mixed up words}

The sheriff is always mixing up his words, so we thought of a few:
  • Sass the Palt
  • Lead of Hettuce
  • Thool of Spread
  • Sparking pot
  • Pay at the plark
  • Bide the rus
  • Beddy Tear

Rope Basket and Pulley

Homer doesn't think his mother would approve of him having a pet skunk (because they run a tourist camp) so he carries the skunk up to his room from a basket in his window. (After Homer and the skunk trap the robbers, she lets him keep the skunk because the publicity attracts more business).

We made a homemade pulley from a thool of spread, I mean spool of thread and a hanger:

Hangar Pulley

To make a "Hangar Pulley" we made a cut in the center of the base of a wire coat-hanger slid the spool on all the way to one side, bent the free end, then took the other free end of the hangar and passed it in a similar way through the other side (right to left) and bent the free end making sure that the spool could turn freely.

Then we attached a bucket for our basket to a rope.

We passed the rope over the pulley to see if our pulley works.

It did!

Then we learned how pulleys decrease workload and watched How Stuff Works ~ Pulleys.

Ch. 2: The Case of the Cosmic Comic ~

In chapter two, Homer and his friend, Freddy, go to meet the "real Super-Duper" and discover that he is, well, not so super. Homer knows all along that he is not real, but Freddy believes he is "real" because he sees him in the comic books and in the movies.

We talked about why the boys decide to not talk about meeting their "hero:" They are pretty disillusioned and hope they can trade the comic books for something of real value. . . which led to a discussion on why we {as a family} don't play with or watch super-heros on TV or in movies ~ they are not real and there is only One who is all powerful Who is real.

Comic books cost $.10 when this book was written ~ how much are they now? The only comics my boys have read are G.I. Joe comic books ~ which are hard to find a price for since they come with the action figures. Otherwise, from what I can find, they start at $3.99 (but we wouldn't read most of them).

Create a comic strip about your favorite scene in chapters 1 and 2 of Homer Price.

We used a template from Donna Young and they both chose Chapter 1: The Sensational Scent.


Then we watched the The Case of the Cosmic Comic on You Tube:

Part 2: Chapters 3 and 4

Ch. 3: The Donuts

Homer, a traveling advertising man, a "labor-saving device" donut maker that won't turn off, 1,202 donuts and a missing diamond bracelet . . . what whimsical fun!

We learned what a Sandwich Board Advertisement is ~ and what "ride the rails" means (Mr. Gabby train hops {illegally} for transportation).

Read a Brief History of the Red Cross and what a box social is.

Watched a video ~ How stuff works: The Process of Making Donuts and How Krispy Kremes Work.

Fluffy Cake Donuts

. . . and made donuts with our own labor saving device ~ a cake donut maker!

Our first ever cake donuts.

We made an extra plate for Pop to take to work, but didn't make as many as Homer!

We followed the recipe in the Norpro Batter Drop Donut Maker recipe book:

Fluffy Cake Donuts

Sift together:
  • 2 cups flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 Tbsp. melted shortening
  • 2 beaten eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 3/4 cup milk
Mix quickly, fill oiled Donut Maker with batter and fry at 375 degrees in melted shortening (I use TT Palm Shortening). They cook quickly! ~ about 45 - 60 seconds per side. We sort of felt like Homer with donuts coming so fast! We then put them in a paper bag with cinnamon and sugar and shook the bag to coat and left some plain.

And we watched "The Donuts" Scene ~ 1963 Film on You Tube:

Ch. 4: Mystery Yarn

A biggest ball of string contest and a witty Miss Terwilliger has me cracking up!

Ball of String

How big can you make a ball of string in ten minutes?

Nathan's winning ball: 10 1/2 inches
Dylan's ball: 9 3/4 inches

The Math Part ~

We divided the winning ball's circumference by pi (3.1416) to get the diameter (3.34) and halved that to get the radius (1.67) and found the area of the ball by multiplying pi times r squared to get 8.76. But I could not figure out just how Telemachus figured out how long his string was!

Of course, I cracked up at Miss Terwilliger's cleverness in winning the biggest ball of string contest. :D

For fun: World's Largest Twine Ball and Rubberband Ball

Part 3: Chapters 5 and 6 ~ Nothing New Under the Sun (Hardly) and Wheels of Progress

Ch. 5: A stranger in town with a "book like" character,  a Musical Mousetrap, and suspicions . . .

The town is pretty board with nothing to talk about with the elections a whole month away ~ but a stranger in town stirs up excitement . . . and a little suspicion with a crazy contraption built onto his car.

Election campaign slogan:

I had the boys make slogans for a "vote for me for class president" campaign. They will present them at dinner tonight.


Did a Homer Price Anagrams worksheet and had the boys find an anagram for their name.

Nathan's name (first and last) ~ A china log knit ~ A noah cling kit ~ A chalk go in tin ~ and my favorite ~ a lack no thing I {we "cheated" and used an online generator} ~ but he came up with one on his own for his first and middle name ~ nathaniel mach

Dylan (first and last) ~ (on his own) came up with: dill yack in go

We contemplated building a model {Musical} Mouse Trap like Michael Murphey's ~ but that is as far as we got.

Looked up the story line of Pied Piper of Hamelin (ha ha! now I get it.)

Ch. 6: 150 years of Centerburg Progress Celebration, a new {far-fetched} mass produced subdivision with no street signs, and a town called Edible Fungus?

Book Report: Filled out a "book report" outline ~ focusing on character, setting, intro, point of view, conflict, rising action, climax, falling action, resolution. . . since each chapter is like a story in itself, they picked a couple stories to focus on, but the boys did a great job (I think this was their first official book report!).

The theme we came up with was "life in small town America."

Blue Plate Special:
Sign for our Blue Plate Special

We looked up what a blue plate special is ~ and will cook up a fried chicken dinner tonight to complete this study! (Homer's mom serves fried chicken to the tourists at their camp and Miss Terwilliger is famous for her fried chicken dinners.)

I'm thinking Ice Cream Soda Floats for dessert ~ they would be considered "all American" afterall, since they were invented in America, right?!

Delightful Links:

Leslie @ Joyful Mother of 6 Children shares about their co-op experience with Homer Price here: Part 1 and Part 2 ~ can't wait to see Part 3!

Homer Price @ Lesson Pathways:


  1. What an incredibly fun time you guys had with this Beyond title! I was just looking at our Homer Price book sitting on the shelf yesterday and thought that we need to row it. We have not done so yet.

  2. So cool! For all the years we've been doing BY, we've never rowed this one...I'm thinking after the holidays would be a great time.


  3. I wanna' do school at your house!!!! I can't believe all the amazing things you did for school. We read Homer Price, but - wow - you gave it amazing life. Thanks for the inspiration. I have some homework to do about those curriculums.

  4. I clicked over here from Jolanthe's blog.

    This was so much fun to read! We read Homer Price with Sonlight a few years ago, but haven't done anything with it for a while. I know my boys would enjoy pulling that one off the shelf again!

    Have a great weekend!

  5. Can I come to school at your house? I always enjoy reading your posts. Such great ideas and activities!

  6. Thanks Jen! I can't wait to see what you do!

  7. Thanks, Heather! It will be neat to see you row this ~ you always do such neat things!

  8. I think they will remember it this time (they forgot the first time we just read it) ~ which is one of the things I love about FIAR. *Ü*

  9. I think they will enjoy that ~ my boys got much more out of it the second time!

  10. Reading about your study of Homer Price is impressive! We are so happy you have incorporated LessonPathways.com into your homeschool. If you have any questions, feel free to drop me a line at ContactUs@LessonPathways.com.

    Be sure to stop by our blog and Facebook page for more education inspiration!

    -Christina S.
    LessonPathways.com Team Member

  11. I simply LOVE your site. Thank you for all of your hard work. It makes me look like an uber mom by following your lead.

  12. Thank you, Christina! I am sure I will be incorporating more literature based unit studies and love all the helpful ideas on Lesson Pathways. :-)

  13. Just found your blog this evening while looking for Homer Price ideas. Thank you for posting! I have a group of 6 boys ages 10-13 that will be reading it this fall and I think you've given me plenty for our group discussion. My son-in-law manages a local donut shop, so we may see about a field trip. :) We also happen to live in OH and hope to find a nice biking day to ride the Rails-to-Trails path that goes from Mt. Vernon to Centerburg!

  14. Val, this is a great choice for that age range! How neat would a field trip to a donut shop be?! And a bike ride to Centerburg would be really cool! Have fun!