Monday, April 1, 2013

Homeschool Review and Lesson Plans: 52 Days by Camel

Mater Amabilis Level 1A recommends a study of Extreme Environments in Year 2 (third grade) for Earth Studies. The books are meant to be read independently, then narrated. I added a little notebooking and extra books from the library.

In the first term in third grade, First Son read from 52 Days by Camel: My Sahara Adventure by Lawrie Raskin with Deborah Pearson. This book is wonderful. It's full of pictures and interesting bits of information on the culture, environment, and people of North Africa. First Son was not very happy about narrating for me each week and he grumbled about the notebook pages (though he has improved dramatically on those as we reach the end of the school year and are now on our third book in this series). He loved the readings, though, and poring over the pictures.
I bought this older version used on Amazon.
Here's our schedule for the term, for those that might be interested in doing something similar. The library books were placed on our desk or on our window sills in an attempt to attract First Son or the other kids to flip through them. They were not assigned reading. Sometimes I selected them just for the pictures.

Often I encouraged First Son to use them to find additional information for his notebook pages. In general, I was not demanding in the content of the notebook pages. I usually required some labels, brief notes, or one sentence (so a little writing) and a picture. I encouraged him to color the picture with the good colored pencils or beeswax crayons. At the beginning of the year (and for most of this particular book), his notebook pages were not extensive or impressive, but he gained in confidence and skills through the year.

Week 1

Read "How I Became a Desert Explorer" (up through p. 5).
Draw a map for your notebook of northern Africa. Be sure to include Fez, Timbuktu, and other major cities, rivers, and ocean names.

Library books for deeper reading:
Morocco (Enchantment of the World) by Ettagale Blauer and Jason Laure
Morocco (Major World Nations) by Frances Wilkins

Week 2

Read chapter 1, "Fun Times in Fez."
Make a page for your notebook on Fez.

Week 3

Read chapter 2, "Chills 'n' Thrills."
Make a page for your notebook on the Atlas Mountains.

Library book:
The Butter Man by Elizabeth Alalou and Ali Alalou - This is a touching story of a young boy (as told later when he is a grandfather) of a time when his family faced extreme scarcity. It may be hard for little ones to read who would be upset by the thought of children starving, but for older children it can be a good way to help them think about children that are not blessed by an abundance of food. It happens to take place in Morocco, so I included it here in our study.

Week 4

Read chapter 3, "What a Blast!"
Make a page for your notebook on the Sahara. Use information from the library books.

Library books:
Earths Changing Deserts (Landscapes and People) by Neil Morris
I Wonder Why The Sahara is Cold at Night: And Other Questions About Deserts by Jackie Gaff

Week 5

Read chapter 4, "A Camel Tale."
Make a page for your notebook on camels.

Week 6

Read chapter 5, "Fun in the Sun," and The Storytellers by Ted Lewin.
Make a page for your notebook on African markets and bargaining.

Week 7

Read chapter 6, "Midnight Madness."
Make a page for your notebook on mirages.

Week 8

Read chapter 7, "Almost There..."
You've been given a map of the Niger River Basin. (I printed one out from Wikipedia.) Make some notes about it on the paper for your notebook.

This week I also shared Chike and the River by Chinua Achebe with First Son. He read it independently over a few days and we talked about it briefly. I think this is a wonderful book when it stands on its own merits and fit nicely into our study as a glimpse of the people who live around the Niger River.

Week 9

Read chapter 8, "Timbuktu at Last."
Make a notebook page on Timbuktu.

Week 10

Read chapter 9, "In Search of Salt."
Make a notebook page on salt.

Library books:
Sodium (True Books: Elements) by Salvatore Tocci
Salt (Around the World with Food and Spices) by Melinda Lily

We finished in ten weeks, instead of twelve, because we took a few weeks off in September. (I can't remember why now, but probably because we had a series of well-child and dentist appointments.)

I'll be doing this study again in three years with First Daughter, so please share any ideas or other resources!


  1. Thanks! I have this book on a shelf to read with my third grader but wasn't sure just how I was going to go about it.

    1. Cecilia, I'm glad you found it helpful! I hope your third grader enjoys it.


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