Sunday, August 24, 2014

Make Way For Jude: Visiting Boston Public Garden

Make Way for Ducklings Boston Public Garden

I originally was going to New England to meet with a friend who had a too-large-to-mail gift, but then decided to make a whirlwhind three-day field trip of it.  The kids and I all piled in the car and headed north.  On the first day, we drove to Massachusetts to meet with my friend.  Day Two was a ride up to New Hampshire and Maine (that's another post!), and we decided to spend the third day in Boston, driving home in the evening rather than going directly home.  Of course, we planned to tour several historical sites on the Freedom Trail, but our first destination was the Boston Public Gardens to visit the statues of Mrs. Mallard and her ducklings.

Make Way for Ducklings
Have you ever read Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey?  It's a delightful children's story about Mr. and Mrs. Mallard raising their young brood of ducklings in Boston.  Before our trip to Boston last week, Jude and I read the book (purchased as a souvenir on a previous trip to Boston) and began working on a lapbook from Homeschool Share.  There are several lapbooks available online (Hands of a Child and Five in a Row have popular ones), but I chose this one because it contains activities about Boston itself, and well...the price was right (it's free!).

Jude really enjoyed the book.  The large pictures combined with short text worked for him -- which is fantastic, because usually he struggles with static pictures not showing "enough" for all that the text is relaying.  Having the text short and easily interpreted with the text kept his interested.  McCloskey once called himself "an artist writing children's books," and it's clear that the text is there to support the visual, not the other way around - a definite plus for Jude! 

When we were done reading, he started working on the lapbook.  We got the first two sections done before our trip (we'll finish the rest this week).  First was a section about Boston history, and second was alphabetizing the ducklings.  With a little effort, Jude was able to isolate the initial sounds and put the ducks in order - Jack, Kack, Lack, Mack, Nack, Ouack, Pack, and Quack.  With a little help isolating the words from the book (a piece of scrap paper with a cut out window), Jude even was able to read the names!

taking the T to Make Way for Ducklings
When we entered Boston, we came from the north (our hotel was in Andover) and parked at North Station (under the TD (Boston) Gardens).  Our route brought us over the Charles River and when I announced we were crossing over it, Jude started looking downstream for the Mallards' island.  Going to the Public Gardens excited him, because it was no longer "someplace mentioned in a book," but a real, live place he could explore himself.  Our route took us first underground on the T (green line from North Station to Park Street Station), then across the Boston Commons and into the Boston Public Garden at Boyle and Charles Streets.   (We could have remained on the T one more stop, to Boyle Street, but opted to get off a stop early so we could also pass by the Frog and Turtle Pond in the Commons.)  The ducklings are only a few feet inside the garden - once you come through the gates, listen for the cacophony of excited children just ahead to your left.

Mrs. Mallard

 "Make Way for Ducklings" statues is as much a Boston attraction as the Old North Church.  Placed there in 1987, these bronze statues are like a magnet for young children.  They come to "pet" the ducks, and to sit and play on and around them.   It's child-sized - Mrs. Mallard is less than three feet tall, and the ducklings only about a foot high - and there are no "Don't Touch Me!" signs.  Having read the book just before we went, Jude remembered all the ducklings' names, and as he walked down the row, patted each on the head and named them.

R-L Jack Kack Lack Mack (and Jude)  Nack

Celia and Damien were excited to play on the ducks as well.

Jude couldn't read the entire plaque over near Pack and Quack, but he did proudly announce the year it was placed: 1987! 

We then walked around the park for a bit on our way to our next stop.  We passed by the duck pond, and saw many ducks and the center island where the Mallards made their home.   While we didn't get close enough to touch the ducks, they are very used to people and allowed us to come within a foot or so of them.  Many of them were still sleeping, oblivious to the noise around them.

Duck Pond Boston Public Garden

 We also saw a Swan Boat go by.  (Nobody was tossing the ducks peanuts, though.)

Swan Boat Boston Public Garden

 Now that we are home, we'll finish the rest of our lap book, as well as explore a bit more about ducks.  You can see some of the ideas we have lined up on my Pinterest board.

Jude was so excited to see Mrs. Mallard and the ducklings, and the Boston Public Garden. It really brought the book to life for him (I think he was disappointed we didn't see any policemen nearby holding up traffic for crossing ducklings).  If you're ever in Boston, make sure to take time to visit the gardens and Robert McCloskey's little ducks.

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