We have loved many books this year as we have done our unit studies. One reason we love reading a literature selection in a unit study is it makes the time period or information come alive. Today I want to tell you about one that my children still can tell you all about even though we read it 8 months ago. The title is By the Great Horn Spoon written in 1963 by Albert S. Fleischman. This book was a part of our study of the California Gold Rush last June, which you can read more about here.
By the Great Horn Spoon is a fiction book that begins with two stowaways, a boy named Jack and Praiseworthy, his family’s butler. The funny account of their journey from Boston down around South America, through the Strait of Magellan, and on to California to mine gold are just the beginning. Once they arrive in California the escapades and humor continue.
Along the way my children were immersed in places and times in history. They learned many things including the answers to the following questions:
- Butlers – just what does a butler do and do people really have them?
- Ships and paddlewheels – what is it like on board one?
- Captains and stowaways – can the captain really lock them in chains, throw them overboard, or make them work off their passage?
- Geography – how did a ship get to California in 1849? Were there other ways to travel?
- Why did many ships that set out for California not have enough crewmembers for a return voyage?
- How do you pan for gold? What tools do you need?
- Properties of gold – just how do you tell if the rock you have is real gold? (hint – use a hammer)
If you have never read this book then I highly encourage you to try it. It is one of our favorite family books now! If you are not in the habit of reading a story along with topics your family are learning about in science or history then try that too, your children will thank you.
Written by Tristan, mother to 6 children ages 9 to newborn, homeschooling through unit studies with a side of lapbooks. You can visit her at her blog, Our Busy Homeschool, or read her other Curriculum Choice posts here.