Rose and I rowed Another Celebrated Dancing Bear the week before last. This is a cozy, sweet tale that is just right for November. It’s about two bears and the lovely friendship they share, even in the face of jealousy. Max is a famous dancer, while Boris works at an animal hospital. When Boris expresses dissatisfaction with his job, Max encourages him to try dancing…and the title gives away the ending! This story is set in Russia, and we had lots of fun with that.
Here’s what we did!
- We used the notes in the manual to discuss the geography and culture of Russia.
- She found Russia and the cities mentioned in the story on our globe.
- There is an illustration of nesting dolls in the book.
So we spent some time playing with Grace’s set of nesting dolls, which I bought for her when she was little (her set came from HearthSong). I may get Rose her own set for Christmas, because she really enjoyed these.
- We discussed occupations, since Boris is unhappy with his. Rose wants to be a gymnastics teacher when she grows up. Boris is a doctor, but wishes he was a dancer like Max.
- We listened to some Tchaikovsky, specifically the Nutcracker Overture. She was pleased that she recognized the music; it is part of our regular Christmas CD rotation. Kind of a preview of what’s to come!
- We went over the vocabulary from the manual.
- She acted out some of the action words from the story, like kicking, leaping, and pouring tea…and Daddy taught her how to waltz a bit.
- We talked about the title and how it foreshadows the ending … Another Celebrated Dancing Bear.
- We discussed etching…there is a wonderful note in the book itself about how the illustrations are done, so we read that together. Then she tried her hand at etching (or scratch art, in this case!). To do this, she covered a sheet of white cardstock with bright crayon, then painted black acrylic paint over it all. Once the paint was dry, she used a toothpick to scratch in her design. Fun! I forgot to take a photo of the finished scratch art though.
- Using the manual, we discussed the warmth of the book…most of the illustrations are done in a burnt umber tone, with highlights of brighter colors.
- I pointed out the onion domes in one of the illustrations. The FIAR manual had a reproducible sheet of onion domes to color and turn into a Russian skyline, but she wasn’t interested, so we skipped that.
- We spend a lot of time just noticing all the interesting little details in the illustrations…the carved handles on the umbrellas, the shapes and animals carved into stonework, the initial on the doorknocker…there are lots and lots of little things to notice and appreciate.
- We reviewed the hours on the clock and briefly discussed the boiling and freezing points of water.
- To wrap up this row we had a wonderful Russian tea. Our FIAR manual included a list of typical foods that might be served. We had cherry tomatoes, radishes, pickles, ham, salami, cheese, and Russian buns and tea cakes from the FIAR cookbook. And of course, we had tea. It was quite a spread! I did end up doing much of the baking myself because Rose lost interest partway through, but that was okay.
And speaking of wrapping things up, we are wrapping up our row of Cranberry Thanksgiving this week, so I’ll share that soon.