Follow the Drinking Gourd

We stumbled into our latest Five in a Row book completely by accident.  I really wasn’t planning to do any formal schoolwork for a while, but as I started to get boxes unpacked, Ian was drawn to the series of ValueTales books from my childhood library.  He picked out The Value of Helping about Harriet Tubman one night to read with Daddy before bed, so the next day as I was searching for some sort of educational video to put on while I continued tackling boxes, I decided to put on the Reading Rainbow episode on the book Follow the Drinking Gourd by Jeanette Winter.  I figured it was a good time to discuss the concept of slavery and the Underground Railroad since the book on Harriet Tubman had already introduced the idea.  (It also just happened to fit in with our Bible lessons on the Israelites being freed from slavery in Egypt.)

We did several of the lessons from the Five in a Row manual (Vol. 2).  The ones the really stood out were searching for compound words (which took Ian longer than I expected to catch on to, but was really helpful because we started finding them all over the place after that) and learning the song.  Ian enjoyed listening to me sing it as I played it on the piano (so glad the music was in the back of the book!), but I also found a great video of the song on YouTube which shows the lyrics while playing the music.

We talked about gourds and how they can be used to hold liquids.  I have a calabash, or “bottle gourd” that some Maasai friends gave me when I lived in Kenya, and Ian enjoyed having something he could hold and look at, even if it’s shaped a little differently than the drinking gourd referred to in the song (which I would imagine looks more like the picture on the right).


I found a number of other videos that went along well with this study.  The first was Harriet Tubman from the Animated Hero Classics series (also available on YouTube).  The other was video Follow the Drinking Gourd starring Morgan Freeman, which is available streaming free for Amazon Prime members (anyone can do a 7-day rental for $2.99).  It tells the story of a family escaping via the Underground Railroad.  (For older students, check out Whispers of Angels: A Story of the Underground Railroad, also available streaming free for Amazon Prime members. It’s about an hour long, and it’s a documentary rather than a story, but I really enjoyed it.   Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad is another option.  It was a little “dry” for Ian, but short and very informative.)

So it was a pretty simple “row,” but Ian learned a lot, and it felt good to get back into Five in a Row!

To see what other FIAR books we’ve rowed, see my “Index of FIAR Posts.”  Also, a great place to see what other people have done with FIAR books is the FIAR Blog Roll at Delightful Learning.


Posted on June 5, 2013, in FIAR, Literature Units, Preschool and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. ValueTales!! I loved reading those as a kid…I’m pretty sure my parents still have them too. 🙂

  2. Thank you so much for sharing your FIAR posts! I’ve enjoyed browsing them. I’ve learned so much from reading other blogs and I just wanted to say, “thank you” for helping me plan out our school year using FIAR.

    ~Whispered Abundance

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