Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel {FI♥AR}

~Bo is 5 years, 8 months~

I thought Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel, which is a classic book about hard work and good stewardship, would be a great book to start on Labor Day, so we celebrated September 5th this year with red, white and blue cupcakes and my fav - BBQ chicken and baked potatoes.

(That's the first baked potato I've had in a very long time - and with butter and sour cream, too!)

But, that's all we did that week, which was also our first week back to school. So, I tried again the next week starting on Tuesday, September 13th.

After reading Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel, I had Bo paint his Land of Make Believe map so we could place our Story Disk on the map. 

We'll be rowing around the world next year, so I thought I'd focus on books that have a fictional setting first, which include: Mike Mulligan and His Steam ShovelHarold and the Purple Crayon, Henry the Castaway, and Katy and the Big Snow (links to my rows with Mali and Elli). I'm only planning one row a month - we'll see how it goes. Bo sits in with us on Prairie Primer, which is geared towards the older kids, and I am reading through the Old Mother West Wind collection to him, but I really want to make Bo's kindergarten year special and memorable, and rowing with Five in a Row is the best way I know how right now. 

Since we had paint out, I had him paint a Digger from LearnCreateLove.

Social Studies

We watched the History of Steam Power on YouTube and visited a CB&Q steam locomotive on display. 

Language Arts

We talked about the Elements of a Good Story, and I had Bo name each element:

Setting: "Poppervile"
Characters: "Mary Anne and Mike Mulligan"
Conflict: #1 "There were no jobs."
Important Events: "Mike takes good care of MaryAnne"
Resolution: "They go to Popperville to build the town cellar."

Theme: Stewardship (I explained this to him since he said Mike takes good care of MayAnne).

And that's all we did that week. I think we got off to a slow start with this row because I printed out a lot of projects, including a lapbook, and Bo didn't want to do any of it. I had to scrap it all and start over the next week doing what we did with Before FIAR, which is reading lots of books and doing hands on activities.

The following is from my "week in the life" that I did to share how we use All About Reading in our home:

Week in the Life of All About Reading 1 {Day 1} 19th - Day 4 of our row
Week in the Life of All About Reading 1 {Day 2} 20th - Day 5 of our row
Week in the Life of All About Reading 1 {Day 3} 21st  - Memory Making
Week in the Life of All About Reading 1 {Day 4} 22nd - FIAR Recipe & Narration

Go-along Books

It was so fun to discover Mike and Mary Anne in The Little House, which is also by Virginia Lee Burton, and in Mike Mulligan and More

And see what construction workers do all day in What do People Do All Day?


I used the Characteristics of Molecules unit in Science Units for Homeschoolers (Chapter 13: Atoms and Molecules) to teach Bo about molecules. 

I explained to Bo that everything in the world is made up of atoms. Then I showed him a molecule of water and explained that it is made up of 2 atoms of hydrogen and 1 atom of oxygen. Then I had him make a water molecule with marshmallows and toothpicks

Next, I told him that molecules move through a process called diffusion, and that they move faster or slower depending on temperature. I had him add food coloring to a glass of hot water and a glass of cold water and observe how fast or slow the food color diffuses through the water. 

I explained that when molecules are cold, they are slow and move slowly, and when they are hot, they  move quickly. Then I had him pretend he was each as he moved around the room - moving slowly or quickly depending of if he was hot or cold.

Of course, we also boiled water in the tea kettle and watched the water turn to vapor to make the kettle whistle while the steam escaped from the pot.

Then in Chapter 14: Matter, we covered states of matter. This is where I explained that molecules that are cold move closer together (as in ice) and father apart when they are hot (as in steam).

We read about States of Matter and What is Energy? in The Berenstain Bears Big Book of Science and Nature.

We also read Actual Facts about Energy and we talked about how steam helps Mary Anne do work. 

I was happy today when I reviewed the three states of matter that Bo remembered gas when I showed him the steam, then liquid when I showed him the water in the kettle, and then solid after I showed him an ice cube. 

Art & Music

Bo listened to Maestro Classics Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel.

Then I did the Drawing Tress lesson from the manual. I looked up this neat Guide to Sketching Trees (mentioned in the manual) and printed the Lesson Guide for Bo to use. 

We did do the movement in art lesson from the manual finding illustrations in the book for examples.

Math/Memory Making: Neat and Square Sugar Cookie Butter Dump Cake

FIAR Recipe: Mike's Irish Beef Stew With Mashed Potatoes

Mrs. Mcgillicuddy's Hot Apple Pie for desert.

Bo's Narration of Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel:

"Mike Mulligan and his shovel dug the great canals for the boats. Mike Mulligan and Mary Anne, and some others, built the long highways for the automobiles. Mike Mulligan and Mary Anne, and some others, dug the mountains for the trains to go through. Then the diesel motor shovels and the gasoline shovels and the electric shovels came in and took all the jobs away.

One day, Mike Mulligan read in the newspaper that there was a new town hall. So they left the big cities and went to country to a town named Poppervile. They started early the next morning, and a little boy came long. They dug a little better and a little faster. Then the town constable and other people came along, and then the little boy had an idea. He told the milkman with his cart and horse and the farmer and his family coming in for the day and they all stayed to watch. The fire department came and the little boy said, "Do you want to stay and watch?" Then the teacher called a recess and the kids all came running out, and they stayed to watch. Mike Mulligan and Mary Anne dug a little better and a little faster.  
They dug the town hall in one day. The boy said, "How is Mike Mulligan going to get his steam shovel out?" Then they all had different ideas. The little boy had an idea to build the town hall over them and let Mary Anne be the furnace. They finished the town hall before winter and Mrs. McGillicuddy brings some hot apple pie. If you ever go to Poppervile, remember to go to the town hall to see Mike Mulligan and Mary Anne."

Since Mike and Mary Anne dig a little better and a little faster when people were watching, I asked Bo what he would like to do better and faster.

Things Bo would like to a little better and a little faster:
"reading words, cleaning up my room, putting my clothes away"


  1. Oh my goodness gracious me! This post makes my heart go all a flutter :) What fun :) Mike Mulligan was one of the first FIAR books we did way back when. I wasn't blogging back then, but I wish I had been. These are such special memories <3

  2. Love your rows! And, oh, I remember that delicious stew! Such special memories come to heart and how fun that you are doing them again with Bo.

  3. What fun! I plan to do one or two books a month with my two little boys to get in our science and social studies lessons. We have never read this book, but my boys would adore it.

  4. Bo looks really mature! God guide and bless him

  5. What a fun row! I love that you have the chance to go through the books again and make those memories with No. It reminds me of our rows and makes me smile!

  6. Thank you, all! ♥ It's really my heart to make memories and instill a love of learning and I hope to do that even more this year as they are all just growing up so fast!!