Monday, April 30, 2012

The Salamander Room, FIAR


(4/16 – 4/27)  We spent the last two weeks rowing The Salamander Room by Anne Mazer.  We had so much fun with this book, our studies that were centered around it, and our time outdoors in nature that we ended up needing almost two full weeks with it!  This was one of my favorite rows by far.  Not only did we all love the book and the sweet story of Brian as he uses his imagination to create a home for a salamander he finds, but we made some wonderful memories together.  The FIAR manual has so many ideas that stretch the imagination, evoke deep thinking and truly build memories learning together that will last a lifetime.  It is much more than a ‘textbook’.  It is a formula for lifelong learning that stems from the heart and builds a true love for learning not only academics, but the beauty of the world around you.  It is priceless.
While we rowed we:
  • learned how to make lists
  • studied the butterfly life cycle in depth
  • took a five mile nature hike
  • talked about our imaginations and how they can take us anywhere we want to go and what a powerful tool they are.  That it is important to use them and be as creative as we want to be without any fear.
  • focused on the letter ‘B’ in our preschool
  • used watercolors and oil pastels to create a butterfly picture

Jack focused all of his efforts on the letter ‘B’.  He made a butterfly ABC poster and we completed pages from Confessions of a Homeschooler’s Letter ‘B’ activities.IMG_0103 His pencil grip is improving and I am so proud of him.  I am determined to make it a priority each week now to have real school work for him.  I love seeing him progress and he always asks for school and is eager to participate.  IMG_0090 IMG_0089I put butterfly number cards on the floor and called out numbers at random and he would hop to the correct number card.  I used to do this with Joe and it was fun.  Jack liked it just as much!  He picked up on identifying numbers 6-10 within a couple days.  Up until last week he could only point out 1-5.  Yes, another of my boys that doesn’t like to wear their pants :-).

IMG_0083We played Elefun throughout the week and caught butterflies.
Jack worked on his preschool pack and Jesse had fun with learning toys and ‘read’ lots of books.
IMG_9926 IMG_9933IMG_0091 Jesse and Jack made coffee filter butterflies.
IMG_0099 Joe made a butterfly picture using oil pastels and watercolors as suggested in an art lesson from Art Projects for kids.
IMG_0100 Joe read a book from our Life Cycles set on butterfly metamorphosis, completed an activity on the butterfly life cycle and labeled the parts of a butterflyHe colored the sheet, used sesame seeds for the eggs, curled pipecleaners around a pencil for the caterpillar, rubbed a cotton ball in green chalk for the chrysalis.  I sprayed the chrysalis with hairspray to harden it and let it dry before he glued it on.IMG_9949 IMG_0094
Joe made a list of all the things he could remember that Brian used in the story for his room and then he drew a picture of his own salamander room.
IMG_0106 IMG_0107







Over the course of this two weeks we watched our own butterflies go through a complete life cycle.  I ordered painted ladies from Insect Lore.  We enjoy watching our caterpillars go from tiny to big, then to butterflies each year.  I think it’s sweet that Hanna still enjoys this process just as much as she did the first time we did it when she was Jack’s age.IMG_8789IMG_9905 IMG_9910 IMG_9914 IMG_9903 I wanted to take the kids on a nature walk.  I thought it would be a fun memory to go along with our row. I took them on a five mile hike at a nearby national park.  It was perfect and they were all troopers!

There were lots of critters found by all the kids!  Hanna found this tiny snail, Joe and Hanna both found numerous inchworms, caterpillars, butterflies and lizards.  Snail (1 of 1) HannaInchWorm (1 of 1) JoeInchWorm (1 of 1) Jack found a turtle.  Hanna looked at it from the side and bottom and told us it was a box turtle.Turtle1 (1 of 1) Turtle2 (1 of 1) There were honeysuckles everywhere.  Hanna has loved honeysuckles since she was in kindergarten.HannaHoneysuckles4 (1 of 1) HannaHoneysuckles (1 of 1)The trail was beautiful.  It was so peaceful.  You forget living in all the noise of the city that the sights and sounds of nature are truly amazing.  YellowFlowers (1 of 1) knees (1 of 1) River (1 of 1)Hanna wanted to climb down for a frog.  He got away, but not for her lack of trying :-)!HannaRiver2 (1 of 1) Everyone ended up having a very good time when all was said and done!MeJesse (1 of 1)Jesse2 (1 of 1) HannaJesseBEST (1 of 1)We are already having fun this week studying about frogs and pond life as we do a ‘Five in a Row’ style unit study with Song of the Water Boatman.

Ideas, inspiration and printables for The Salamander Room can be found at:


  1. We love the Salamander Room! They pastels and watercolor picture is really nice. I also like the butterfly life-cycle picture. Cool idea!

  2. Another fun row! I love all of the pictures and projects. Seeing Joe's butterfly page from the Life Cycle book reminds me of when Abby made one. That was so fun.

    Joe's pastel piece is beautiful!

    LOL about your boys not ever wearing their pants.

  3. How fun! I will have to get that book. My boys LOVE salamanders. We have tiger salamanders all over in our yard. We rescue them when they fall in our window wells and have kept 3 as pets. They are so fun!

  4. These pictures are gorgeous. It's great that you had so much fun with this row.

  5. R has butterflies in her class right now; I have to get some for home. I think your boys and their aversion to pants is so cute! I love all of your FIAR posts.