Friday, January 28, 2011

Great Heights Week - From Trees to Masts

Like any human I have my weaknesses. Dove’s dark chocolate-covered almonds are one. I also have a hard time resisting clothing or leather goods that have contrast stitching for some odd reason. And then there’s scratchboard illustrations...which brings me to Giants in the Land. The illustrations are a-m-a-z-i-n-g. Creme da la creme of scratchboard I’d say. This book is as big and beautiful as the trees it documents. And what are those trees, you ask? Thousand year-old, New England pine trees, growing as tall as a twenty-five story building. They grew so tall and straight that they made ideal masts for England’s eighteenth-century navy. The story goes on to describe how the trees were chosen and plucked (not easily) from the forest and transported (forty oxen) to a river. You can’t help  appreciating the ingenuity required to harvest the trees, while simultaneously despairing that the giants are all gone. But the author ends on a positive note, mentioning the promise in today’s woods. Giants are growing.

Ages 9-12

Activity: Make a tall masted ship out of a milk carton. Here’s what you’ll need:

Milk or juice carton
Scissors (or box cutters or x-acto knife)
Smaller box to put inside milk carton
Straw, stick or tinkertoy
Card stock for the sail
Paint or markers to decorate

An adult should help cut the carton like this:

Paint the smaller box that will go inside the milk carton to hold the sail. We used a medicine box. A soap or make-up box would work too. Punch a hole in the middle of the box with a sharp pencil or cut an x with an xacto knife. Glue the box into the center of the milk carton. Cut out a square piece of card stock about 1/2 to 3/4 of the length of the straw or stick. This will be the sail. Decorate the sail as you like with paint or markers. Punch a hole at the top and bottom of the sail and weave the straw or stick (we used a tinkertoy) through the holes. Wrap a string around the top of the stick and tape each end of the string to each end of the boat. We’re calling our boat the U.S.S. Tropicana. And here she sails:


  1. Your blog is awesome! I love your themed weeks, which tie very different, yet related, books together.

    The activities are also very cool!

    I look forward to featuring your site soon at Teach with Picture Books!