Please, this is me!
Michael and Mrs. Applebee continued along the grassy path. As they walked, Mrs. Applebee sung and signed the Alphabet Song, making Michael watch in wonder as she moved her hands to tell the amazing things that letters can do. Before long, Michael was singing too and carefully watching those signs so that he could give it a try just as soon as he stopped and put down his flowers.
After a few rounds of the song, Mrs. Applebee once again took Michael's hand in hers. "Michael, dear, we are going to gather two glorious bouquets for your mother's birthday!"
"Two?" Michael's eyes grew wide. He was certain he was carrying only one bouquet of flowers.
"Yes, dear," Mrs. Applebee smiled, "Two. The fairies have each given you a flower and so will all the rest of the fairies we meet. But they have given you something else, too. They have given you a letter. Those letters, when gathered, are a bouquet like none other. The letters are the smallest part of one of God's greatest gifts to us. They are the building blocks of language. When you know what the letters say, you know how to read and to write. Would you like that?"
"Oh, yes!' Michael nearly shouted. "If I could write, I'd make my mother a birthday card to go with her bouquet. I'd write the words that told her to have a happy birthday and that I love her very much. If I could write, I'd make that card very beautiful and then, then I would read it to her myself!"
"Well, then, my friend, that is exactly what we'll do," promised Mrs. Applebee. You pay attention as the fairies give you letters and we will learn how to arrange the letters into a perfect birthday message."
As they came up over a hill, Michael was delighted to see some bunnies scurry off to the harebells and out from beneath the leaves skipped a tiny little fairy. With great aplomb, he sang his song:
Eyebright for letter E:
Where shall we look for him?
Bright eyes we'll need to see
Someone so small as he.
Where is the nook for him?
(...the rest is in the Flower Fairies Alphabet)
Michael clapped and laughed delightedly. With a twirl and a bow, the fairy plucked a perfect flower from its bed. Michael noticed right away that the stem of this flower glowed and glistened a bright gold just like the apple blossom stem. "This is Eyebright, my good boy, also called Euphrasia . It is a good and gentle herb that brings healing."
"Excuse me," he began, "could you tell me why this flower has a golden stem? It's very beautiful and I think it must be special."
"Special indeed," said the wee fairy. "Only five flowers will have golden stems. Those are the five flowers whose names begin with vowels. Vowels are very special letters. Every word has at least one of those five letters in it. Without vowels--the golden letters--we can't have words. And without words, we can't write letters to our mothers on their birthdays. Guard those golden letters carefully." Michael thought he saw a tuft of green troll hair just behind the thyme and he gripped his bouquet ever more tightly. The fairy was unconcerned.
He heaved open the red book and and introduced Michael to the next saint. "Michael, my friend, meet Elizabeth, a holy mother and teacher. She was the first saint born in America to be canonized." Michael listened wide-eyed to the story. When the gentle Eyebright fairy was finished, he spoke to Michael in a hushed whisper. "Remember, E is for Elizabeth Ann Seton and the greatest lesson this teacher taught was that we should love one another. Go along down the path, watch carefully and step lively. As you travel, you will add more flowers to your bouquet and you will learn more letters which will become another sort of bouquet--the lovely words of a birthday message. Now off! You will walk a-ways to the cottage in the wood. Listen for dance music and watch for a flash of bright pink."
Lesson Plans: You can use the drawing of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton in the book as a visual when telling this story. ( Download eyebright_please_this_is_me.pdf ) You may want to print it on card stock and add it to your child's main lesson or sketch book. It can be added to your child's main lesson book as well.
Language: Use the Letter E in the Elizabeth Ann Seton picture as an introduction to letter formation. Have the child trace the E with his or her finger. Practice the Letter E by copying the model drawing. Children can use the small poem in the Catholic Alphabet of Saints for copywork.
The Song of the Eyebright Fairy makes fine copywork as well. Sing the song as well and soon it will be memorized. Copy a picture of the flower fairy to illustrate the song. Color the picture in the Flower Fairy Coloring Book.
It's time to begin reviewing what we've learned. This week we'll begin the project of creating a main lesson book page for each letter of the alphabet. This week will be the Letter A. Ask your child to consider the things in the world that begin with the Letter A. Ask her to illustrate them in her main lesson book and label the pictures. You can write the word for your child to copy if necessary. In Stephen's example shown here, he included words that are signed in the Signing Time Alphabet Song, which is the alphabet song he hears at home. The lyrics are here on page 6.
If you have not yet made salt dough letters, now is the time to catch up. We are going to use those letters later along the alphabet path. If you are just beginning, you might consider letting your child paint the consonants green and the vowels gold (or yellow) to match the stems of the flowers in the story. All the flowers for the vowels will have golden stems.
(Don't try to do it all--these are options for science and nature study)
- After the story has been told, spend some time on the researching the botanical information and view a picture and record them in a sketchbook or main lesson book. Or perhaps you would prefer flower storybook paper for letter writing practice and copywork. (An older child can do this independently, but a younger child can give an oral narration which you write or keyboard for him or her.)
- With your older child, you might choose to work through Apologia's Discovering Creation with Botany. Read a section and then ask your child to narrate the information in his main lesson book. Always encourage your child to illustrate his narrations. Work on the experiments that you feel would be most beneficial for your child. Take a picture of the finished project and add it to his main lesson book. The pace at which you move through this book is not as important as the child having an opportunity to really understand the material. Go at your child's pace.
- We've had great success encouraging older children to take their flower narrations well beyond what is provided at the Flower Fairy site. These children are able to truly appreciate the vast varieties of flowers and to to see God's creativity when they consider the lilies of the field.
- For some children, a living books/picture book approach seems to resonate and be more meaningful than any other approach. Consider choosing meaty picture books to teach the same concepts. If you choose to pursue this course of study, here is a science-themed picture book study for this letter:
- E is for Electricity
Art: Using the illustration in The Flower Fairy Alphabet Book, ask the child to sketch the Eyebright Fairy in the main lesson book. A younger child can color the Eyebright Fairy in the Flower Fairy Alphabet Coloring Book. Perhaps on another day the child could mold the fairy or flower with modeling beeswax. (Sources of excellent quality modeling beeswax can be found on the right sidebar.)
Using Museum ABC as a source of inspiration, this week our Picture Study focus is E is for Egg. You can download the print of the American artist Brian Connelly's Brown and White Eggs here (Download brown_and_white_eggs.PDF) and hang it on your refrigerator for E Week.
For formal Picture Study, really look at the picture. Soak in the details. Ask your child to narrate with a prompt such as, "Pretend that I am going to the Metropolitan Museum of Art for the first time and want to find this painting. What details could you give me so that I could more easily find it?" Keyboard the narration and ask your child to sketch the work of art. A younger child can copy the painting while an older child can narrate from memory and discover how much detail he remembers by attempting to sketch it from memory. Over the course of this unit, consider collecting the narrations and sketches in a single album and create your own family art history book.
Faith: Read the story of the Prophet Elijah in Letters from Heaven. Older children can read about Elijah in the first book of Kings and narrate his life by making a page on the saint in their main lesson book. You can download the watercolor pencil drawing of the Prophet Elijah here (Download Elijah.pdf) and a coloring page version here (Download elijah_coloring_page.PDF).
Language: Use the Letter E on Elijah's chariot as an introduction to letter formation.
Read about these saints in the Loyola Kids Book of Saints:
St. Edith Stein
St. Elizabeth of Hungary
St. Elizabeth Ann Seton
Read about these saints in the Loyola Kids Book of Heroes:
Egeria: A Hero Takes a Journey
The Eyebright flower takes its name from the Greek word Euphrosyne which means “gladness.” Euphrosynos (Ef-ro-se-nos) was the name of a legendary monk of the ninth century. An uncultured peasant boy, he entered a monastery at a young age and worked as a kitchen helper. He endured the scorn of more learned monks, but things changed for him when an elder monk saw Euphronsynos in a dream in which he delighted in the garden of Paradise. Fleeing the monastery for the sake of preserving humility, Euphrosynos is a timeless example of patience, gratitude, humility and most importantly joy. The beautifully written picture book of this saint, The Boy, A Kitchen and His Cave: The Tale of Saint Euphrosynos the Cook can be previewed here and purchased here.
Ideas for "E Week:"
Author Study: E is for Elsa Beskow
Children of the Forest
Woody, Hazel, and Little Pip
The Sun Egg
Peter in Blueberry Land
Christopher's Harvest Time
Pelle's New Suit
Aunt Green, Aunt Brown, and Aunt Lavender
The Story of the Root Children
Around the Year
Peter and Lotta's Adventure
Suggested Books for Read-Alouds and Narrations (These are to be narrated both verbally and artistically. For the younger children it is often fun to keyboard an oral narration for them and then ask the child to illustrate the printed page.)
Clifford the Big Red Dog
(whose best friend is Emily Elizabeth!)
Suggested Books for Independent Reading (These are for older children to read and narrate over consecutive weeks. Allow your older child to illustrate his or her narrations. Expressing oneself both verbally and visually is a peak of communication.)
Continue working with your older child on the writing assignments in Imitation in Writing: Fairy Tales.
Fun for the Little Ones