Henry the Castaway (Five in a Row)

It’s time for the first ‘row’ of the 2013/2014 homeschool year! 

This literary study was so much fun but took a lot of work to put together.  I find with Five in a Row Volume 3, there are far fewer ready-made resources than there are for Volume 1 and 2.  We have to get a little creative!

I hardly found any bloggers who had done an extensive study of Henry the Castaway, so I hope this post can be a resource for Five in a Row families out there.

What I have always loved about Five in a Row (and continue to love!) is the complexity of the topics studied.  Sure, you start off with a simple children’s book – but then, you go on a journey studying concepts and topics you never could have imagined!  Henry was no exception!


The books we used for our study of Henry the Castaway…



All About Explorers

Some of the topics we covered included:

  • Who were the first explorers?
  • Why did people go exploring?
  • How did early explorers use astronomy as their guide?
  • Why they often got lost
  • When East discovered the West
  • The Silk Road
  • Christopher Columbus and his discovery of the Americas
  • How Columbus’ discovery played into the slave trade in South America

Maps and Going on an Exploration Journey

Map skills are something we’ve been consistently working on for a couple years now.  Mostly because our life depends on it.  We have spent a lot of time exploring and walking trails.  AND… we have a son who loves to know where he’s going, when he’ll get there, and how long we’ll be walking.  This unit was yet another opportunity to work with the children on this vital life skill – how to read a map!

This was a great excuse to go on a couple journeys in the woods – something we LOVE to do!

Reading a local map with Daddy.  This was from our Flag Walk (see below).  We made it all the way to the edge of the woods and traced our journey on the map to show where we had actually walked.

On another walk in a beautiful area near our home.  Simon and Daddy were trying hard to find a location they had once seen where there were caves.  Unfortunately, we didn’t find it – but it was a fun activity, anyways!


A Flag Walk…

This was so much fun!  In the book, Henry makes a flag with his initial on it out of an old piece of material.  He uses several flags to mark his path along his journey.  It is the flags that help his parents find him in the end of the book.

We decided to make our own flags using construction paper and small dowels.  (We covered them with baggies because the kids didn’t want to get them dirty… ha). 

We then took the flags and went on a walk in the woods.  As we walked, we marked our trail with the flags at every turn.  On our way back, we located and removed each flag that was placed.

This really reinforced the concept of marking a trail for survival skills.  It was also just a great outing and loads of fun for the kids!

Scavenger Hunt!

My hubby was so awesome to make a great Scavenger Hunt for the kids.  He made up several ‘hint’ cards and had the kids follow them around, looking for their prize.  Each card had a little riddle on it.  I had high hopes of putting together ‘back to school’ gift packs but it didn’t quite happen.  Instead, the kids got a little gift card at the end of the hunt.  It was a great way to start the morning and added a fun touch to the unit study.  This really emphasized the idea of using clues and information to find a destination, something explorers certainly have to do!



Rivers and Natural Water Flow

An Early Morning River Walk

One of the most beautiful times to walk beside a river is very early in the morning.  We surprised the children one morning and took them to the river at 7am and went out for breakfast at a local coffee shop afterwards.  This was a introduction to Henry and the Castaway – I read the book while we munched bagels and I sipped coffee.  I’m sure explorers needed coffee…

We were also observing ‘mist’ and fog on the river edge in the early hours.  Beautiful.  Tranquil… just wonderful to do this with the kids!  I was able to capture some quiet moments:


A trip to the River to Play Pooh Sticks!

One of the books FIAR suggested reading for our study of Henry was Pooh Invents a New Game, a classic Winnie The Pooh tale by A.A. Milne.  We enjoyed the book together over lunch and then headed to the river for our own version of “Pooh Sticks”.

Instead of pieces of cloth, we used pipe cleaners to mark the sticks.


Making and Sailing Popsicle Stick Rafts

This was by far my favorite part of our Henry study.  What a beautiful day!  We started off by making these simple rafts our of Popsicle Sticks and glue.

Then we headed to one of the most breath-taking waterfalls in our area.  We spent the afternoon playing with water flow, floating rafts down the stream, and soaking in the last of early September warmth!

“Here it comes, Simon!”

Changing the water flow by moving large rocks in place.

Parts of a River (Living Water Systems)

We had a lot of fun with our hands on learning for Rivers but we also sat down and discussed how rivers flow, the different parts of a river and why we have rivers.  (Where do they come from and where do they go?)

Learning about the parts of a River and reading from The Usborne First Encyclopedia of our World.

Ways we learned about water flow:

  • Observing a natural river
  • Taking photos of river flow
  • Rerouting the flow of a river using rocks and stones
  • Observing an object (rafts) moving through water
  • Charting and labeling river worksheets

How to Draw a River

I was excited to find this click through tutorial of How to Draw a River!  We worked through the step by step tutorial and then the kids added their own details from the book.

Audrey’s River

Simon’s River

Alex’s River

Drawing Facial Expressions

Henry has such great facial expressions throughout the book.  We practiced the expressions we saw in our own way.  I printed off outlines of heads for the kids to add faces to and helped them by sketching my own simplified versions of what the illustrator had done with Henry’s face.  Each child ‘interpreted’ the expressions in his or her own way.

Audrey’s Expressions

Simon’s Expressions

Alex’s Expressions… made my day…  ha!

Dogs and Dog Breeds

We didn’t focus very much on this aspect of the study because there was SO much to fit into the week.  We did, however, enjoy some beautiful stories from James Herriot’s Favourite Dog Stories and read about several types of breeds from a couple great books.  We looked at print-outs about Scottie Dogs and enjoyed trying to spot one while we were out and about!

Henry “Lapbooks”

This year, I’ve decided to simplify.  We are keeping all our studies in one binder per child in order of study.  This will act as our working ‘Lapbook”.  It is so much easier than having 20 little Lapbooks everywhere.  We may do a few separate, but we can easily slide them in the plastic folders and keep it all in one place!

Learning about Maps – The Compass, Longitude and Latitude, and Legends.

Learning about Explorers and profiling Christopher Columbus.

“What does it take to be an Explorer?”

Some Easy Resources

 Thanks for reading!

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  • MomLaur

    Thank you SO MUCH for sharing in such detail what you do with FIAR! It's your resources and the ideas that have given me the confidence to keep having at it and trying to make it work – because when it does, we ALL love it and it's just so much fun! I know how much work it is to put together a post like this for us, let alone planning and executing for your kids, so thank you, thank you, thank you!

    • Cassandra

      Aw. Thanks! ๐Ÿ™‚ It's my pleasure to share. I have learned so much from other homeschooling bloggers. It's a blessing to be able to help, even if only a little. Thank you for your encouragement. You're right it is a lot of work to post these, but I know they can be helpful and they serve as a beautiful 'virtual' photo album for us too! ๐Ÿ™‚ Next, we are doing a Row from Volume 3 – The Finest Horse in Town! ๐Ÿ˜€ xo

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