Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel {FI♥AR}

December 4th ~ 9th
A modern classic that no child should miss. Since it was first published in 1939, Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel has delighted generations of children. Mike and his trusty steam shovel, Mary Anne, dig deep canals for boats to travel through, cut mountain passes for trains, and hollow out cellars for city skyscrapers -- the very symbol of industrial America. But with progress come new machines, and soon the inseparable duo are out of work. Mike believes that Mary Anne can dig as much in a day as one hundred men can dig in a week, and the two have one last chance to prove it and save Mary Anne from the scrap heap. What happens next in the small town of Popperville is a testament to their friendship, and to old-fashioned hard work and ingenuity. ~ Amazon 

As popular as it seems, I was never read this book as a child (that I or I don't remember it). One neat thing about reading a book to a child five days in a row and doing activities around the book, is that they are sure to at least remember the book itself. I hope that my children grow up with fond memories around the books we row. 

We listened to Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel on CD while we read the book each day - having the book on CD is such a nice break for me and the kids enjoy the independence of turning the pages themselves while they listen.

Social Studies: History ~ Age of Steam Power; Character Traits ~ Diligence and Perseverance

Luke started reading Munford Meets Robert Fulton to Malachi for an introduction to the age of steam power for this row (and steamboats for our last row).

I introduced both virtues, but we focused mainly on diligence. We will focus on perseverance in our next row. 

Language Arts: Language ~ Elements of a Good Story; Story Writing ~ Characters; Personification

Elements of a Good Story as narrated by Malachi:
  • Setting: "Popperville"
  • Conflict: "No one wanted them to do a job" (because?) "the power shovels and the gas shovels and the diesel shovels are faster."
  • Rising Action: "Mary Anne digs a little bit faster and a little bit better when someone is watching." 
  • Climax: "They dig the cellar in one day - more than a hundred men could dig in a week." (Now they know they can dig as much as a hundred men could dig in a week!)
  • 2nd Conflict: "How are they going to get out?"
  • 2nd Climax: "The little boy had an idea. He said we could build the town hall over Mary Anne" (and?) "and she could be the furnace." 
  • Denouement:  "Mike and Mary Anne both have new jobs." 
We filled out a "library card" for the book and stamped the dates that we read the book.  Malachi also designed a character for a story using characteristics from each of his family members (in lapbook below).

We just covered personification in Little Red Lighthouse, so we just talked about this again (Malachi has a pretty good understanding of it).

Science: Steam Power

Fron the lesson in the manual on page 47 (pinwheel pattern from manual).

Art: Drawing Trees, Motion

Malachi's branched tree.

Eliana's branched tree. 

From our drawing motion lesson.

Math: Construction Math ~ "Neat and Square;" Fixing Fractions

Mike and Mary Anne dig the cellar "neat and square."

Malachi drew a square, cut out something square from a magazine to glue in the book, and then wrote the definition of a square. 

Eliana made a square on the geo-board, along with a few other "shapes." She just finished the section on shapes in her Singapore K math (Book A). 

Since finding fractions is important in construction, Mali and I played "Fixing Fractions." 

We were not able to finish the game because one of the answers was missing and we didn't understand how to get the answers for the fractions. ?? He used the cones as manipulative to solve division problems, such as: 20 hard hats to share equally with 5 friends, or 16 shovels to share equally with 4 friends. 


Lapjournal Pages:

Memory Making:

We did a "digger" craft from Kid's Craft Weekly. (That link no longer works, so try this one). 

Something Eliana said to me had me looking through bins of photographs looking for just the right photo. . .

Malachi's Digger

Let's just say that I am easily amused because I looked hard for the perfect photo, tried several possibilities and cracked myself up when I imagined the kids seeing how funny the baby photos were. :D 

I also found some more recent photos. . .  

Eliana's Digger

My Digger

FIAR Recipe: Mike and Mary Anne's 'Neat and Square' Chocolate Cake

I'll be honest. This cake is my favorite and just might possibly be why I wanted to row this book. That and well, it is winter here in Wyoming and I had hoped to take the kids down to the basement to show them what a steam furnace looks like. It is no longer coal powered, but at one time was.

It is a vegan chocolate cake. I think it came from my old Joy of Cooking cookbook originally, but you can find the recipe easy enough online. (I use raw sugar in mine).

It's a "Neat and Square" chocolate cake, so we used square cake pans.  

The frosting is my version of a Chocolate Buttercream ~ butter, powdered sugar, cocoa, vanilla and a little bit of milk to thin. (I used the refined, processed stuff for the frosting). ;-) 


Freeze the cake before cutting and frost while frozen. . . and make it as neat and square as you can. Um. . . my cake decorating days are years behind me. But, I found a red square plate for the cake.

I used mini chocolate chips for the dirt piles on top, but then we couldn't find the "steam shovel" to put in the cake.  We decorated the table and sent out scouts to find the digger. . . 

We did eventually find it, but guess where the cake went?

Right back into the fridge for 2 more days! Mali and Elli wanted to save it for company we were having over for dinner on Sunday. So sweet of them! There was a moment where I thought Eliana would cave, because she asked me the next day if they could come over this day instead (ha ha). I told her to be strong and stick to her conviction and she did. =) Oh, the boys were in agony! They kept saying, you know this means that you won't get as much cake? (LOL) She didn't care. =)

And when the day came to share. . .

She was so happy to get the last piece. =)

We still had a nice dinner that night.

"Neat and Square" Casserole baked in the square cakes pans.

Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel is a Five in a Row selection from volume 1.

Delightful Links:

Resources at HSS
Mike and MaryAnne Lapbook

Bo had some digger fun with us too. =)

Bo playing with his digger
He loves this truck. I got a video of him this day while playing - he was making motor noises. So cute.  I can't believe he will be one year old this month.

5 years later, see our row with little Bo, who is now 5. 💙