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Thread: Clown of God--delightful!

  1. #1
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    Default Clown of God--delightful!

    I just wanted to share a rave review about Clown of God, in case anyone has been avoiding it (due to the bittersweet ending). I didn't even read the book ahead, so the girls and I were both surprised at the ending! However, we are pretty straightforward about life/death/etc. in our home, so my kids took it in stride.

    But that's not really the point of this post. I have planned on doing it around Christmas each year since we started FIAR, but this is the first year it actually happened, and I'm so glad we finally got to it!

    First, it's such a touching and inspiring story. But the connections with our general Christmas conversations and informal learning have been fantastic as well. Here's just a sampling:

    1) We've been doing an orphan advent calendar with our church, so obvious connections there.
    2) We also have had some great conversations about caring for other "disadvantaged" groups like the elderly, and read two fantastic go-alongs on the subject (one recommended here: Super Grandpa; the other one of my favorites, Angelina's Christmas--she and her family "adopt" a retired elderly man for Christmas).
    3) We've talked about the "gifts" God has given each of us, and also tied it in with the Christmas story (the Magi, the fictional "little drummer boy," etc.)
    4) We've learned a little about Catholic traditions (which was a godsend, as we attended a memorial service today that was conducted as a mass--we're not Catholic, so this was very helpful for the kids!)
    5) We observed dePaola's illustration style and read some of his other Christmas stories to compare
    6) We talked about what a "legend" is and how it helps us understand holiday "legends" like Santa

    And all this in just two days! We'll also do some reading about St. Francis and connections there to Christmas (legendary and real), and a little more on the Renaissance (including a side study of Galileo--an ongoing interest with my kids from an earlier science study we did).

    I'm always amazed at how perfectly our FIAR studies seem to fit in with whatever else we are doing or learning about, but this one really caught me by surprise. Such a great read, and perfect for Christmas!
    Mama of two lovely ladies: Carina (11) & Madelyn (9).

  2. #2
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    Feb 2007
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    MO
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    I agree -- serendipity!

    We loved The Clown of God, too. I remember very clearly cutting out colored juggling balls and putting numbers on them for a math lesson. Then turning them over and making an art lesson using the balls and drawing the boy under them, juggling.

    We also learned more about the Catholic church (and like you, have been to Catholic funerals and weddings). And we read other de Paola books, too.

    Fun times!
    "Ree-bee," Mom to former United States Marine ds and math teacher DIL * artist dd 20 * motion-loving ds 17 * piano-playing ds 12
    "For Miss Minnie loved children and she loved books, and she taught merely by introducing the one to the other." from "A Consent," by Wendell Berry

  3. #3
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    I LOVE hearing about your week and all you did!!! (I miss those thread -- people used to share this type stuff much more often!). I'm so glad it all coincided with your lives

    Even though that book is "sad," it's also happy because it's life, and he dies happy and content and peaceful. We have really enjoyed it, also, and, if my memory serves me correctly, we rowed it right before Christmas last year
    Wife to Jim and Mama to Katie (1/01), Mattie (9/02), Cale (4/05), and Ben (8/08)

  4. #4
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    That sounds like a beautiful row! I love all the ways you tied it into Christmas!
    We also started rowing Clown of God last week with my 1st grade son. (Now we are taking Christmas Break.) One of my big reasons for doing the book now was because my 4th grade daughter was rowing Angelo and it seemed like a good way to combine some FIAR lessons as both books take place in Italy. We had a wonderful discussion about how the two books are similar and different. It was kind of fascinating, actually, to compare and contrast the two.
    I like your idea of studying St. Francis-- I will look into that when we go back to rowing after Christmas Break!

  5. #5
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    Paige, I agree! I hope more folks will consider sharing in the months to come--it really inspires me in my own rows (although of course I love the archives as well!)

    Rena, we really found St. Francis interesting, and learned a lot about Christmas through that angle as well. I highly recommend Saint Francis and the Christmas Donkey by Robert Byrd. The illustrations are gorgeous, and it was a great tie in with both Clown of God and Christmas. Tomie dePaola has a book called The Song of Francis which obviously connects as well, and is great for younger kids.
    Mama of two lovely ladies: Carina (11) & Madelyn (9).

  6. #6
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    Vicki and all, we love Clown of God; in fact, that was the story that inspired us to seek out other books by Tomie de Paola. My girls all recognize his distinctive art style, and my youngest especially loves his bird drawings. I know that some people find Clown of God to be sad and hard to teach because it deals with death, but I think it is well worth reading and exploring for so many reasons.
    Mom to Grace (15), Sarah (13), and Hannah (11)
    Using my college degree in ways I never imagined....

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
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    Washington
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    Thanks for the book recommendations! I wasn't able to find The Christmas Donkey, but our library had the Tomie dePaola one, as well as Brother Sun, Sister Moon by Katherine Paterson, which is a beautiful retelling of St. Francis' canticle of the creatures. Then I remembered the song Brother Sun, Sister Moon, which we enjoyed listening to. And it turns out that song is sung by The Ragamuffin Band-- ragamuffin was one of the vocabulary words for the book! Another FIAR serendipity.

  8. #8

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    I am so happy I stumbled onto this thread. I have placed a few books on hold at the Library after reading through all of this. I am planning for this book right now, and we will be spending probably 2 or more weeks on it. There is just so much information to be learned! I have downloaded and printed a lot of information from the Renaissance time period, Living Legends like Johnny Appleseed and Davy Crockett. And now I reserved a book about Santa Claus. I am just so excited to do this book, and my children will love it too, I am sure.
    It's a bit sad for us this year though. My Grandmother died last January, and our friends Granny dies just last month. So this is our first Christmas without them and I am starting to feel the sadness overcome me. We visited the nursing home often, and now that we have no one to visit... I think we may just go sometime to visit someone! I think kids need those experiences, and so do we as adults ;-)
    Merry Christmas everyone!

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by Vicki P in VA View Post
    I just wanted to share a rave review about Clown of God, in case anyone has been avoiding it (due to the bittersweet ending). I didn't even read the book ahead, so the girls and I were both surprised at the ending! However, we are pretty straightforward about life/death/etc. in our home, so my kids took it in stride.

    But that's not really the point of this post. I have planned on doing it around Christmas each year since we started FIAR, but this is the first year it actually happened, and I'm so glad we finally got to it!

    First, it's such a touching and inspiring story. But the connections with our general Christmas conversations and informal learning have been fantastic as well. Here's just a sampling:

    1) We've been doing an orphan advent calendar with our church, so obvious connections there.
    2) We also have had some great conversations about caring for other "disadvantaged" groups like the elderly, and read two fantastic go-alongs on the subject (one recommended here: Super Grandpa; the other one of my favorites, Angelina's Christmas--she and her family "adopt" a retired elderly man for Christmas).
    3) We've talked about the "gifts" God has given each of us, and also tied it in with the Christmas story (the Magi, the fictional "little drummer boy," etc.)
    4) We've learned a little about Catholic traditions (which was a godsend, as we attended a memorial service today that was conducted as a mass--we're not Catholic, so this was very helpful for the kids!)
    5) We observed dePaola's illustration style and read some of his other Christmas stories to compare
    6) We talked about what a "legend" is and how it helps us understand holiday "legends" like Santa

    And all this in just two days! We'll also do some reading about St. Francis and connections there to Christmas (legendary and real), and a little more on the Renaissance (including a side study of Galileo--an ongoing interest with my kids from an earlier science study we did).

    I'm always amazed at how perfectly our FIAR studies seem to fit in with whatever else we are doing or learning about, but this one really caught me by surprise. Such a great read, and perfect for Christmas!
    We are doing a Legends Study the week before Christmas.. It isn't FIAR, but will help us meet state standards since we use a CA charter...please don't judge, with the special needs I need the educator support. Anyways, I'm excited about our Legends Study so please share if you find some cool stuff??
    Eva~ child of God, wife to James, and homeschooling, ASL using, IEP advocating, encouraging Mama to my Special Lovely Blessings :Beauty 10, Bubbles 8, and Baby 6 via the miracle of adoption.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Alabama
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    Eva -- no worries and no judging. We all do things differently. I've always used FIAR, but I often branch off and do other studies (my own) that stem from a FIAR rabbit trail, or we'll do Lewis and Clark or the Transcontinental Railroad or the Underground Railroad, etc, etc. You're doing a great job!


    I'm glad this thread popped back up because I'd planned to row this book with my youngest this week. He's LOVING it! We went to the library yesterday and got several go-alongs, including some of the ones mentioned above, and today read about St. Francis.
    He was SO cute this morning when we sat down to read and I had the stack of library books. He said, "Mama, can we PLEASE read The Clown of God FIRST?!?!? I love that book!"
    Wife to Jim and Mama to Katie (1/01), Mattie (9/02), Cale (4/05), and Ben (8/08)

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