FIAR: The Story About Ping

Last week, we started Five in a Row. I recently bought volumes one and two and I’m going to work through those out of order. We did The Story About Ping last week, and we’re doing Make Way for Ducklings this week, so we can do the duck ones back to back. The boys love Make Way for the Ducklings, so Christopher has been looking forward to it!

I love the idea behind Five in a Row. You take one book, read it once a day for five days in a row, and learn different things about it each day. A lot of people call it “rowing” books. Before Five in a Row is geared toward ages 2-4, and Five in a Row is for ages 4-8. There are manuals with activities and discussion points for different subjects for each book.  It covers art, social studies, literature, math, and science. You don’t have to do every lesson for each book, and can pick and choose what works for you. There’s a lot of flexibility. Christopher turned 4 in January and Luke just turned 3 on Sunday, so it took me a while to decide which age range to go with. In the end, I decided on Five in a Row, because I wanted to tailor it more toward Christopher and I felt like that would be the better option for him. Luke loves books, but doesn’t have the best attention span for them usually, so Christopher is more involved and Luke will often play quietly nearby most of the time I’m actually reading.

We started last Tuesday, because I’ve been getting over a bad sore throat and still couldn’t talk a lot. But I decided it was better to only read 4 days in a row than to put it off another week! We’ll do activities on weekends sometimes too, depending on the particular week. And today, I’m finishing up some things for Ping while starting Make Way for Ducklings, so there’s a bit of overlap.

When I came to work on this post more, I found most of the draft was gone, so I might be missing some things. But here’s an overview of what we did:

We read the book most days. I think they found The Story About Ping interesting, but they don’t seem to be all that fond of it. If they were interested, we read it. If not, we tried again later, and some days didn’t read it at all. The boys are still so young, and I don’t want to push them into forced learning until necessary. I want them to love reading, and don’t want to make it a chore. So when they weren’t interested in the actual book, we talked about some thing relating to it throughout the day. Since Ping is set in China, we focused more on learning about China last week, and a little about ducks, then we’ll focus more on ducks this week with Make Way for Ducklings.

The first day, we did the art sections from the Five in a Row manual. We talked about illustrators and art media. I showed Christopher how there are lines used in illustrations to show movements and waves. We looked through each page of the book to see how the Yangtze River is on almost every page. We talked about viewpoint in drawing and looked at how Ping looks different when shown from different angles. I think it was beneficial going over all that the first day, because Christopher has been able to point out those things as we’ve read the book again. We also talked about reflections, and how there are reflections drawn in the water. That naturally led into one of the science sections, which talks about reflections.

We watched Families of China, which I got from the library.

We located China on our world map. I recently got this world map from and have it hanging on the wall at eye level for the boys,  next to a United States map. They love their maps!

Christopher wanted to know if China had mountains, then if the mountains in Colorado were bigger than the mountains in China. So we looked up mountains in China and talked about how big there were, and looked at pictures of them. We also looked up the Great Wall of China, which Christopher found very interesting.

I got the boys some thin square rice cakes from Sprouts like the ones in the book. The boys love eating them with peanut butter on top, and I think that’s become a favorite snack now.

Some books we read to go along with it:

Daisy Comes Home – From the library. This one is about a chicken that gets lost on the Li River in China, and was inspired by The Story About Ping. The boys loved it!

The Story About Kites – Also from the library.

A Nest Full of Eggs – library

An Egg is Quiet – library

Ducks Don’t Get Wet – I bought an older version of this one because it sounded like a good addition to our library. Christopher loves it! The book talks about how ducks have oil glands and spread oil over their feathers when they preen, so water rolls right off them. Christopher was fascinated, and has been talking about it a lot.

We’ve also lightly done most of the other lessons from the manual, and have made great use of Google and YouTube for looking up places and animals in China.

Today, we counted out beans representing each of Ping’s family members. Christopher even added in beans for the Master of the Boat and the cormorants. Then we counted out beans for the Mallard family to lead into Make Way for Ducklings. Then much fun was had with the mess of beans.








Life has changed a lot since I used to post! We moved to Houston, then back to Colorado, where we hope to stay. Health was the overriding factor in moving back, but it sure is great to be back! We really missed the mountains and the snow and our church. We’re not actually living in the mountains this time, but we’re near the foothills and have some pretty views. We got plenty of snow after moving at the end of February, and the boys loved it! I was pretty happy to see it again too. Christopher and Luke got to have their first snowball fight:

Luke got his second brace a year ago, then in November, his spine was still straight, so he got to take a break from the brace. We had another checkup a couple of weeks ago, and his spine looks perfect! The doctor said Luke is essentially cured now, and is no more or less likely to scoliosis than any other person. We don’t even have to go back for more x-rays unless there’s a concern from us or the pediatrician. So no more brace!

Luke turned 3 Sunday! We had a birthday party at a park with a nice playground. Luke loves bears, so I made him a chocolate bear cake. This Sharffenberger recipe makes amazing chocolate cake! Sharffenberger cocoa powder is a huge step up from any other cocoa powder I’ve had. I want to try making brownies with it.

A picture from Luke’s party:

birthday cake


I’m on right now, but I’m going to be moving back to a domain soon, and redesigning things. Pictures on old posts don’t currently work, but I’ll be fixing that when I get the domain up and running again.

Happy Thanksgiving!

We’re in Houston now, staying in an apartment for a month while we find a rental home. The boys handled the trip well, and took things better than expected. I was worried how Christopher would handle bedtime in the hotels and apartment, sleeping in new rooms in a pack and play, but he’s been great with it all. Unfortunately, we got hit with the flu a few days after getting here and are still sick, but we’re slowly improving. We’re having a pretty quiet Thanksgiving as we try to recover.

“So we Your people and the sheep of Your pasture Will give thanks to You forever; To all generations we will tell of Your praise.” (Psalms 79:13 NASB)

The Winds of Change

Big changes on the horizon! Ryan got a new job in Houston, with a starting date of November 18. So we’ll be moving next week! Things have been moving along quickly, and this last month has been extra chaotic. We would appreciate prayer as we make a big move with two toddler boys, try to find a house in Houston, and try to sell this house long-distance.

Pumpkin Patch

Monday, I took the boys to a pumpkin patch. Christopher had a blast! The weather ended up being pretty cold and windy, so Luke stayed bundled up in the stroller. Christopher didn’t mind the weather, though! First we went to the petting zoo there. They had a couple of goats, a turkey, roosters, and alpacas. Christopher was so excited, he kept running back and forth, and didn’t know what to do with himself! I told him he could hold his hand out and let the goat smell it. Christopher thought it was really funny and kept yelling, “Tickle! Tickle!” I carried Luke around to see the different animals, and he kept pointing at the goats and saying “dog”. He’s pretty into dogs.

Next, we checked out the pumpkins. Christopher has really liked pumpkins lately, and gets excited whenever we see pumpkin decorations somewhere. So the pumpkin patch was perfect for him!

pumpkin patch | Adventures with the Nortons

pumpkin patch | Adventures with the Nortons

pumpkin patch | Adventures with the Nortons

pumpkin patch | Adventures with the Nortons

He helped me pick out our pie pumpkins. He also picked out some smaller gourds, which are going into the sensory bin later!

pumpkin patch | Adventures with the Nortons

pumpkin patch | Adventures with the Nortons

No more cast!

Wednesday, Luke got his cast cut off and his removable brace put on!

no more cast

no more cast

He enjoyed riding in the wagon at the hospital.

no more cast

After we got home, I got some pictures of the brace.

no more castno more cast

It ended up being a little too tight around his stomach, and was giving him stomachaches. So I took him back yesterday and they cut a bit more off and loosened it up around the waist. It seems great now! It’s so nice having in the brace instead of the cast. The brace is a lot trimmer and lighter, and I love being able to take it off him sometimes. He wasn’t too happy about taking a bath, though. He didn’t know what to think about being stuck in a bunch of water! It’s been so long since he’s been able to have a full bath, I’m sure he doesn’t remember it.

Overall, he’s responding really well to the change. They had warned me that it could take a while for him to be steady with the brace off, since his upper body wasn’t used to supporting him. But he hasn’t had any problem with it, and is just as active either way! He’s pretty excited about learning to walk, and loves going short distances on his own. This change hasn’t slowed him down at all!

apple stamping

During our apple week, we did a bit of apple stamping. Christopher had a lot of fun decorating a shirt.

apple stamping | Adventures with the Nortons

apple stamping | Adventures with the Nortons

It’s one of his favorite shirts now! He wants Luke to have one too, so we might need to make another one soon. After the apple, I gave him an apple cookie cutter to stamp with, and he also enjoyed learning to use a paintbrush.

apple stamping | Adventures with the Nortons

apple stamping | Adventures with the Nortons

Next week, we’re going to try pumpkin stamping! This time, I have a shirt for each of the boys.

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homemade applesauce

Still trying to catch up on the last few weeks! We’ve been taking things pretty slowly, while I’ve been sick and we’ve been working on the house.

A few weeks ago, during our apple week, Christopher and I made homemade applesauce. I peeled, sliced, and core the apples, and Christopher helped me break them up into smaller chunks.

homemade applesauce | Adventures with the Nortons

He also had fun learning to use a table knife, under careful supervision!

homemade applesauce | Adventures with the Nortons

He helped me add some spices, too.

homemade applesauce | Adventures with the Nortons

Then it cooked in the slow cooker for several hours until done. It was very good, but I added too much spice. I don’t think Christopher liked the cloves in it. We’ll have to try again without the cloves and see what he thinks! Store bought applesauce isn’t even on the same level as the homemade kind, though we certainly go through plenty of jars of Tree Top applesauce!

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