Sunday, September 2, 2012

Dolphin Treasure

One of the first things I learned about home schooling is that there is a plethora of options and it can be overwhelming.  We have committed to Georgia Cyber Academy, supplemented by Classical Conversations.  But, like probably every other home schooling parent in existence, I have a stack of catalogs in my office.  Each time I read one I think "I should try this!" or "This would be better!"

The Sonlight catalog is quite intimidating, but outlines a literature based curriculum.  I do not need to invest in it because our main needs are satisfied with GCA and CC, but I have borrowed their read-aloud lists to plan my year.

Yesterday and today (yep, in two days) we read our first selection from the Sonlight curriculum: Dolphin Treasure by Wayne Grover.  I actually ordered a few from our local public library and this was the first one which they sent me.  So, it was first.
This is I think the second in a series of books.  Other than the Laura Ingalls Wilder books, this is the only "realistic" book I have read to the girls.  It is a fairly book.  There are 3 characters: Wayne, Jack and Amos.  The book opens with the three men on a ship scuba diving off the Florida coast for treasure which sank with Spanish galleons in the 1700's.  Wayne finds a gold chain with a jewels on it.  But, the ship is caught in a storm and Wayne is stuck alone in the water.  He is exhausted and cannot swim in the stormy sea.  His friends, some dolphins, save his life by holding him up and swimming him to shore.

There is quite a lot of action in this book.  Sabrina's mouth was gaping when I read the chapter about Wayne surfacing to find the boat (and his two friends) far away from him.  When the dolphins came to help Wayne, he initially thought they were sharks, which scared the girls.  They both thought it was "cute" and "awesome" that Wayne used the dolphins "like floats."

This book encouraged a lot of discussions and exposed the girls to a lot of new material: why there were so many Spanish ships around the Florida coast, why so many sunk in hurricanes, what scuba diving is, why dolphins communicate through chirping, what an anchor is, why three anchors are needed to hold a ship during a storm, why ships need to go ashore during storms.

When we were at the beach over the summer we visited Gulf World, and saw a scuba demonstration.  I tried to explain to them what scuba diving was, but I am not sure they understood.  They also had a great deal of difficulty understanding what "anchoring the boat" meant.  In the book there is big squall coming, so they have to use three anchors to lock the boat in place.  None of the illustrations included the anchors, which made it hard for the girls to understand.

Wayne's greed at trying to get the golden necklace, which ends up risking his life, led to a good ethical discussion.

The girls also noticed several allusions to previous books we have read.  Misty of Chincoteague opens with a Spanish galleon full of horses sinking off the Virginia coast.  One of the Magic Tree House books we read was Dolphins at Daybreak, in which dolphins swam with the children.

The girls were perhaps more excited about the treasure hunt references.  They currently watch lots of Jake and the Neverland Pirates, so were thrilled to read about treasure chests and gold doubloons off the Florida coast.

This is an easy read which exposes kids to some new and different material, so I recommend it.  You could use it as a starting point for a lot of lessons if you were more ambitious than I am.

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