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If you are looking for a fun unit study or to dip your foot into Five in a Row, then Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans would be a great choice. We just completed a week of reading the Madeline books and a couple of weeks studying Paris and France and it was so well-loved by the kids. I figured Jenna and Alaina (both age 5) would enjoy it but I was a little surprised to see just how much they loved the books and the study. I was even more pleasantly surprised to see Kellan (age 8) enjoy it. I think he really liked some of the additional characters, like Pepito the “bad hat”, in the accompanying books.
We read Madeline five days in a row, because that’s part of the deal with the Five in a Row curriculum. 🙂 If you are interested in knowing why we switched gears mid-year, you can read more about my decision to use Five in a Row.
With Madeline, we completed various studies of Paris, France and learned a few things about the human body. Our study of Paris began with a week of Mirette on a High Wire and we just continued with it right into our Madeline study.
Learning About France
We read quite a few books and stories about France or that take place in France and discussed them and completed follow up activities. (Books listed below and on the Mirette on the High Wire page).
The children used card stock to make their own flags of France. On the backside of each one they cut out some graphics I found online to represent France and pasted them down. Then they added their beautiful French flags to their journals/binders.
Although we didn’t create actual lapbooks, I printed off some pages of the free Lapbook Unit Study printables from Homeschool Share and the children pasted them onto pages to add to their journals. We used some of the pages from both the Madeline and France unit studies. I didn’t print all the pages available, but rather had them complete the pages I thought they’d find most interesting and were relevant for us. (Note: I didn’t take photos of all the pages we completed so we did a few more than what is shown).
French Language and Music
Our children began taking French language classes last fall so we were able to incorporate some of that as well. There are several You Tube videos from their class that we watch on a regular basis. Here is one of Jenna and Alaina’s favorite videos:
I borrowed the French Playground CD from the library and the girls spotted it immediately and began playing it. It was fun to hear this French music playing from various rooms as they moved the boombox to whichever room they were in so they could listen to the music.
The children and I also made crepes one morning which they loved! If they can cook or bake something sweet they are all about it. 🙂 We used the French Crepes recipe from All Recipes. Yum!
One of the children’s favorite parts of this study, if I’m being entirely honest, was watching the movie, Madeline. They all absolutely adored the movie and watched it not just once, but twice!
The kids were able to relate different parts of the movie to different Madeline books and point out things from the movie that weren’t in any of the books at all. So we compared and contrasted. You could certainly add a Venn diagram to this and have your older children complete their own and/or complete it together with your younger children.
The Madeline.com website has some good resources, including history, information about the author, and some free printables. My girls love to color so I printed a coloring page for each of them, mazes for all three of them and the info sheet on how to draw Madeline. I don’t like to give the kids busy work so the reason I included these things is because I knew they’d enjoy them!
The girls drew pictures of Madeline and Kellan decided to draw a scene from the book and he added Madeline to it. I was a happy momma to see him take the initiative to do this all on his own. The children then added their pictures to their journals (I put the drawings into sheet protectors so that they didn’t have to put holes in them from the hole punch).
We made Madeline hats out of paper bowls and plates and Kellan made one too, he just left the ribbon off so it could be a “boy hat”. If you are interested in making your own Madeline hats, it’s fairly simple. First, cut a hole in the paper plate and tape the bowl to the top of it (I used packaging tape). Then, paint it yellow with tempera paint. And last, glue a black ribbon around it (I used black crepe paper for streamers).
Voila! Our own little Madeline hats!
What is an Appendix?
In the story, Madeline has to have her appendix taken out so we talked about what an appendix is and read a couple parts of the book The Digestive System by Christine Taylor-Butler.
The children also identified and colored in the body organs from the free Madeline lapbook printables.
We read quite a bit together, adding a few more books about France and some additional Madeline books. Since we had just gotten done reading a bunch of books about Paris and France the week before with our Mirette study I tried to keep these to a minimum, although we ended up reading quite a few anyways. Funny how that happens. 🙂
The Eiffel Tower by Sharon Katz Cooper was excellent. The story kept the children’s interest and taught them (and me) about the history of the Eiffel Tower. If you want to teach your children a bit of it’s history, I’d highly recommend this book.
Children Just Like Me: A Unique Celebration of Children Around the World by Anabel Kindersley
Gustave Eiffel’s Spectacular Idea: The Eiffel Tower by Sharon Katz Cooper
France (Country Explorers) by Tom Streissguth
Although, these next three Madeline books weren’t written by the original author, they were written by his grandson and certainly contain the same spirit as the originals. Since our girls are learning to read, I knew these would be a good choice for them to look at and pick out words they know.
Madeline and Her Dog by John Bemelmans Marciano
Madeline’s Tea Party by John Bemelmans Marciano
Madeline Says Merci by John Bemelmans Marciano
And if you are looking for additional Madeline books by the original author, Ludwig Bemelmans, there are five to choose from. There are a few things in some of these books that you might find objectionable so, as always, preview the books before reading them to your child. We didn’t get to all of these but did read a few of them.
(Madeline’s Rescue not pictured)
Overall, this was our favorite study thus far! The kids all really enjoyed it and I did too. What a great book and a great opportunity to learn about Paris, France.