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Themes and Plans for February

Tea & a Craft for the Days of the Blackbird


I know many of my readers are familiar with the Tomie dePaola books - in certain homeschooling circles, they are practically a primary resource!! And why shouldn't they be? Each title is a gem ~ a great story combined with lovely illustrations, and always that certain Tomie sparkle. :)

We are fortunate to have many of his books on our shelf, but I think Days of the Blackbird: A Tale of Northern Italy might be my favorite. I love the story of course, a heart-warming tale of loving sacrifice, but the illustrations are so beautifully shaded. Every page is a visual delight.

Today, January 29th, the first of the three Days, I sat the boys down after lunch to read aloud this treasured tale. As soon as I opened the first page, Crackerjack piped up: "Hey, I remember this book!" And as soon as I got to the page where Duca Gennaro falls ill, Earlybird hit the road ~ he's not one for dramatic tension, lol.

Once I'd finished the story I sent the boys off to play for a while and got down to work, setting up a simple go-along craft. I only got the idea this morning while waiting for EB at speech, so I had to figure out what exactly I was proposing and what I needed for materials. Not much as you can see in the top photo.

I first cut a length of paper from the craft roll and sketched out a tree with branches:


Next, I photocopied a page from the book to get the right size and shape stencil ~ and then cut out four birds using heavy white watercolor paper.


I called the boys back to the table; EB came with his piece of pizza in hand (but not on plate):


I had the boys color one side of the birds with black crayons (first coloring the beaks and eyes in orange) ...


... and we ended up with birds that on one side represented the white La Columba and on the other, the sooty La Merla.


After hanging my tree sketch on our bulletin board, I asked the boys to think about the concept of sacrifice, particularly what it means in light of our Faith. We talked about the character of La Columba, and about her sacrifice for Duca Genarro (at the plea of his daughter Gemma). I asked the boys to write down the name of someone who makes sacrifices for us on the back of their birds, and after we each did that, we perched our birds on our tree:


As you can see, one of the birds remains white. That would be Earlybird's. He got mighty busy coloring his black construction paper with white crayons, so I might cut his bird shape out of that.

Once our craft was finished we sat down for tea, or cocoa rather ~ hot cocoa and cold ice cream. I am working on the hot-cold concept with EB and these two treats made for a perfect (and delicious) example.


There's nothing like a good story, but even better, a story that fits perfectly within the season, that expresses the feeling of the time of the year. Days of the Blackbird is just such a story. For one thing, the last week of January is certainly cold here in New England. And next week we prepare our hearts for Lent, a time of loving sacrifice for us all.

Now the day is fading, the boys are off to play, and I'd best get the supper started ~ Italian tonight, of course! Nothing fancy, just baked ziti and grilled sausages. Though, I might ask Bill to stop at my favorite bakery on his way home and pick up some tiramisu for dessert. ;)

Thank you so much for stopping by today, and I hope wherever you are, you are warm and well. See you all sometime tomorrow.