Sunday, February 19, 2012

Harold and The Purple Crayon

This past week we've had some Five in A Row fun with Harold And The Purple Crayon.

We have used Five in A Row off and on throughout the six years we have been homeschooling, and some of our fondest learning memories have been made while "rowing". This is not a curriculum review and I'm receiving nothing in return for writing about it, but I do want to give it a quick plug for those of you with younger children who may be looking at curriculum and trying to make decisions for next year.

Five in A Row is not the only thing we use around here, but it is the very first curriculum we used, and I am drawn to it again and again because of how well it fits into a Charlotte Mason education. The short lessons, gentle learning, and cuddling up on the couch each day to enjoy memorable living books with my children are all things that have laid a foundation for loving to learn in our home. Things that all of us can enjoy doing no matter what kind of curriculum we use.

To see and read about some of the Five in A Row memories we've made over the years, you can visit this page.

Even if you never check out the curriculum, I highly recommend visiting their site and printing out the list of books for which the lessons are written. It makes a great reading list to keep handy on trips to the library or used bookstore. These titles are some of the most wonderful children's books you'll ever read with your family. Many of them are old classics such as Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey (one of our favorties), but there are plenty of newer titles included as well, like Arabella by Wendy Orr.

Now on to our week with Harold...

Written and illustrated by Crockett Johnson, Harold is the story of a little boy with a purple crayon and a big imagination. One day Harold decides to take a walk with his crayon and ends up drawing all kinds of adventures for himself, some intended and some accidental. Harold is always able to think fast and draw himself right out of any trouble he falls into though, and the end of the story finds him safe at home where he started.

We began our week by pulling out the butcher paper and drawing our own adventures. Even Superman couldn't resist joining in.

An Ocean Adventure

A visit to a big city

On Tuesday we delved into a lesson on fractions. (Harold draws and eats several pies in the story.) I found these free templates for "fraction pies" at Homeschool Share. They have some wonderful "Harold" resources there...all free and ready for you to download and use. :)

After working with the fraction circles for awhile, the girls came up with the idea of creating fraction pie critters. I love seeing their creative minds at work with absolutely no input from me.

Next up was a lesson on the phases of the moon. To go along with it, we read
The Moon Seems to Change by Franklyn Branley, a Let's-Read-And-Find-Out-Science book. Many of the books in this series have some great experiments that you can do to illustrate the content you've read about. This title's experiment involved an orange stuck on a pencil, a flashlight, three children, and a dark room. It illustrated how and why the moon changes throughout the month, and the kids had a blast with it.

We used a little flap booklet from Homeschool Share to illustrate the moon phases, and we'll include this in a lapbook we're putting together about Harold. You can download the flap book from this HSS page. Just scroll down to the Sun, Moon, Stars download, and it's on pages 22 and 23 of that pdf. By the way, this is an awesome free space lapbook that the wonderful Homeschool Share ladies have created.

Here are some other printables and activities we completed throughout our week. Once again you can find the links to all of these at Homeschool Share. Just go to this page and scroll down for the download link you're looking for.
  • We illustrated the poem Johnny Drew A Monster
  • We played Harold's Drawing Game.
  • We made a Book of Purple.
  • We made a Ways to Travel booklet.
  • We watched a video about how crayons are made.
We also learned to draw a moose using the lesson from Draw, Write, Now book 7.

Thanks for reading along as I chronicled our Harold adventures. I hope you can check this story out at your local library and enjoy it with your children.

Have a blessed week!


Disclosure: This post contains images of books which are Amazon affiliate links.


  1. Very cool! I love reading blogs where there are activities from FIAR! :) May I ask, would FIAR be apropriate for a 6 year old? I think the answer is yes, but I am just curious. Right now we use Heart of Dakota. I like it, but I'm burnt our and tired of following a teacher's manual. Right now I am looking to switch to something else for next year. My current possibilites are The Prairie Primer, My Father's World First Grade, Heart of Dakota Bigger Hearts, Galloping the Globe, and WinterPromise. If I did you FIAR, can I also use, for example, Math-U-See, Apologia Science, All About Spelling and a reading program? Or would that be overkill? Thank you for your help! :)

  2. I think this was one of my kids favorite FIAR books so far. What fun stuff you did. I love the fraction creations.

  3. Thanks for the sweet comments ladies!
    I think 6 years old is a perfect age for FIAR. Jane Lambert targeted it to ages 4 through 8, and I know some folks who have started it younger and also used it with older children. I have not used any of the other curriculum you mentioned, but have briefly looked at some of them and read reviews of some. I think that you'll find that FIAR is probably a more laid back and gentle approach to learning. It doesn't tend to fit in a ton of stuff to do each day, but I do believe it makes for some rich learning experiences.

    May I direct you to two sites for curriculum review? Just Google Cathy Duffy Reviews, and I think you'll find reviews for probably most of what you mentioned. Another good review site is The Curriculum Choice.
    In terms of what to add to FIAR, it really depends on your child and your learning philosophy. At that age, I have mainly tried to cuddle up and read lots of good books, do some fun activities to go along with those, spend as much time out in nature as possible, and start teaching them to read if they're interested. I'm kind of a better late than early sort of teacher, but that's just what seems to have worked best for me and my children. I will say though, that if any subject or curriculum seems to be burning your child out at that age or dampening their love of learning, you might consider putting it on hold. Again, just my opinion. :)
    Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting with such great questions!

  4. Hi Shannon, thank you for the comments on my blog and for replying to my questions! :) I now have a better idea of FIAR. Thank you for the wisdom pertaining to putting something on hold if it is frustrating my son. He was frustrated with readin, so we shelved that a few months ago and then returned a few weeks ago. He keeps asking for more science, and the science just isn't meaty at this level with HOD. HOD is a good program. I just think we will love it once he is at 3rd or 3th grade (which is what I hear from other HOD moms, that the lower levels are not as fun). God bless! :)

  5. I love Harold and the Purple Crayon! My kids like it, too. I have used many of the books from FIAR even though I've never officially used the curriculum. They suggest really good books to read to young children.


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