Saturday, January 9, 2016

Read Aloud: The Boxcar Children and Boxcar Craft

Last year we saw The Boxcar Children movie a few times on Netflix. I hadn't heard of it before nor the books, but I quickly fell in love with the story of the four Alden children: Henry, Jessie, Violet, and Benny. Since my kids have enjoyed the story so much, I promised them I would read them the book. Normally, I would prefer to show them the movie after reading the book, but even though it's the other way around this time, I have been able to see a few or perhaps one main benefit from doing it this way this time.  My kids have been noticing that certain events happen at different times in different chapters rather than in one scene like in the movie. In other words, they have been noticing that movies are adapted in order to try to get the most in while a book is more descriptive.

Personally, that's one of the things I like most about reading fiction. Writers have a way to convey ideas and describe settings, people, and events in a such a way that one is able to imagine it through their writing.

Since I began homeschooling, I'm usually looking for books to read to the kids and also to plan units/themes around them. The Boxcar Children is one of those books that makes it to pretty much every reading list I've seen on Pinterest and many homeschooling groups. We have read other books in the past like Stuart Little, Dolphin Adventure, and Charlotte's Webb before among other titles, but this one...has been fun and engaging to the point that each of my kids has picked a character. My oldest daughter is Jessie, my oldest boy is Henry, my youngest boy is Benny, and I get to be Violet.

Let me just briefly say how much my son has liked being Henry.  He really likes to act out Henry's lines from the book, which is shaping a sense of work, dedication, cooperation, and responsibility in him. My daughter who gets to be Jessie is excited because she gets to be in charge of the cooking (deciding the snack - which correlates to what's on the book), already a favorite pastime for here.    And my Benny, well, he is glad he gets to be Benny. :-)

We usually read in the mornings, other times we read in the evenings. Whenever it happens, I try to plan ahead with a snack or a time of the day that will coincide with the text. For example, one evening I read to them at dinner and guess what, the chapter happened to be taking place at dinner time as well. Their faces were full of smiles when we read that line on chapter 6. Another time, the kids made a pretend boxcar in the living room with chairs and blankets, where we ate bread there like the Alden kids. Another time, we decided to make one we could keep and look at while we read.

Materials to make the boxcar:

bottle caps,
ink pad,
cardstock paper
hot glue or glue of choice


The very first activity was to make a boxcar. We used red cardstock paper which we distressed it with ink. Simply use cotton or pom-poms with ink and run it on the paper. We did this so we could make the paper look old. Then we used the paper and wrapped a box with it. Since we just celebrated Christmas, my wrapping skills were still pretty fresh. lol.  Then for the wheels we used plastic caps and hot glued them on the bottom.

Then we added the wheels with the plastic caps. 

The final product. 

We just found some more cardboard that we need to paint to make the grass and the brook. I'll post another picture when we complete it. 

What are you currently reading aloud? Let me know in the comments. If you are reading the Boxcar series, let me know what book you are in and what kind of activities you are doing.  I look forward to reading your comments. 

~ Fabi 

From Amazon (affiliate): 

Also available in Spanish: 
Los chicos del vagón de carga (Spanish Edition)

The prequel has been published by Patricia MachLachlan (author of Sarah, Plain, and Tall). 

The series book 1-12
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