What a great book! I think this was Ambrose’s favorite.
Ping is a duck who lives in a houseboat on the Yangtze River in China with his very large family and his master. Each morning the ducks get sent out and are expected back in the evening at the call of their master. The last duck on the boat gets a spank with a stick. One day Ping is the last duck. He avoids his spanking by spending the night on shore. He endures some adventures the next day and is luckily reunited with his family and master. Ping gladly rejoins his family (and is the last on the boat) and willingly receives his spank. Consequences. Consequences.
We started the week learning about ducks. Hazel learned about the different parts of a ducks body and how ducks don’t get wet through a process called preening. We experimented by painting feathers and paper bag ducks with oil. They painted one duck and one feather with oil and left the other “untreated.” Then we used an eyedropper to drop water on our ducks and feathers. The water rolled off the oil-treated duck and feather! Our experiment failed a little as the water also rolled off the “untreated” paper duck and feather. So we talked a little about doing multiple rounds of an experiment to get more reliable results.
There is a boy with a barrel tied to his back so he can float in the river. I asked the kids why they thought the boy had a barrel. “So he doesn’t get lost.” Smart answer. So we investigated buoyancy doing a sink or float experiment in the kitchen sink. Hazel predicted whether an object would sink or float based on if it had air or not. Balloons float. Quarters sink. Pony beads both sink and float.
Ping takes place on the Yangtze River in China. So we read books on China, watched Wild China on Netflix. We mapped out the Yangtze River. We made our own Yangtze River out of construction paper – From the Three Gorges all the way to Shanghai. Did you know that the Yangtze river is nearly 4000 miles long?! Coast to coast in the US is only 3000 miles! That’s one long river.
We took a field trip to the Asian market and shopped for Chinese food. Both kiddos were unphased by the the pigs head, the chicken feet, nor the weird seafood with eyes. I was. But we did enjoy some bubble tea and our new chopsticks. We also enjoyed Chinese take-out and watched Mulan for family movie night.
The Story about Ping is drawn wonderfully with colored pencils. Hazel recreated the picture on page 9 using colored pencils and oil pastels. We also looked through the book and saw that many of the illustrations show reflections on water. To recreate this effect we painted a boat and a duck on the top half of a some papers and painted the water around them. Then we folded the paper in half for the reflection.
Ping is a fictional book. We discussed how a lot of fictional books begin with “once upon a time.” Hazel wrote her own “Once Upon a Time” story.
This was such a delightful book. The kiddos enjoyed reenacting the book and yelling “la-la-la-la-lei” and giving our stuffed animal duck a spank when he was the last one on the boat. It opened up a door for many talks about consequences and obeying in order to stay safe.