Very Last First Time
The other day Ian was watching an episode of Reading Rainbow (Keep the Lights Burning, Abbie), and one of the books they recommended at the end was Very Last First Time by Jan Andrews. He came to me asking if we could get that book, and I told him we already have it since it’s one of our Five in a Row books. It has been a few weeks since we rowed anything, so it was a great impetus for getting us back into FIAR mode. I wasn’t familiar with it yet, but it turns out that this is a fascinating book! We pulled out our Five in a Row manual (Vol. 1) and both enjoyed finding out more about the Inuit culture during our week with Very Last First Time.
Ian was puzzled by the airplane in some of the pictures. “Did they have airplanes in the old days?” I agreed with him that many parts of the story seemed to indicate it was set a long time ago, but then I pointed out that Eva’s kitchen looks pretty modern. However, we were a little uncertain as to exactly when to place it because they did use candles for light rather than flashlights (or headlamps, like in the amazing video we watched of real mussel hunters going under the ice). I wasn’t as concerned about settling on an exact year so much as helping Ian look for clues as to the time period.
I used this as an opportunity to teach Ian a little about Canada. After finding the country on our map, we searched for Ungava Bay and talked about what “tundra” means and how the climate is different from where we live because of how far north it is. We also searched through our collection of foreign coins for any from Canada.
We didn’t spend a whole lot of time on Inuit Culture, but we did get a little taste of it. It just so happens that we’ve been reading through The Eskimo Twins by Lucy Fitch Perkins as our chapter book read-aloud lately, it was a good fit. (This link is to a free Kindle version, but we really enjoyed the illustrated version that came in our set of e-books from Yesterday’s Classics. So many wonderful books are in this bundle!) We watched a video on how to build an igloo, which Ian wanted to share with everyone who came to our house. He spent a little time working on this igloo coloring sheet for sight word practice. I hesitated first about printing it out, and then about giving it to Ian, but it turned out to be a good exercise in following directions and working independently. He did as much as we wanted and I decided to just leave it at that. We also read three other picture books that were related to Inuit culture: On Mother’s Lap by Ann Herbert Scott; Mama, Do You Love Me? by Barbara Joosse; and The Three Snow Bears by Jan Brett.
I’m not sure what it was that made Ian want to read this book when he saw it introduced on Reading Rainbow, but I was glad that we had it on hand so we could pull it out when he asked for it. I first discovered Five in a Row when he was not quite two years old. Right away I knew it was something I wanted to do, so I started collecting the books from Before Five in a Row and all four volumes when I’d see them at used book stores and on PaperBack Swap. By the time Ian was old enough, I’d gathered probably ninety percent of the stories. It’s wonderful being able to just grab one that interests us and dive in!