Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Rag Coat

The Rag Coat...one of the most poignant and moving stories I have ever read.  With beautiful illustrations and important lessons, it teaches the reader about friendship, teasing, poverty, giving, death, forgiveness, and love.  I believe it is the only children's book that has caused me to become emotional while reading it aloud.  The sweet words cause twinges of pain and yet provide a balm for the ache.  

Here is our week with The Rag Coat.

With several of our Five in a Row books and other unit studies, we have created lapbooks to go along with our learning.  I decided a lapbook would be a great addition to our week, and I found a wonderful one here at this link.   

Geography/Social Studies
Set in the Appalachian Mountains, we located the Appalachian states on the map and attached our story disk.  Old Crow completed a section of the lapbook by coloring the states of the Appalachian Mountain range. Netflix offers a National Geographic documentary called the Appalachian Trail...we watched this to help Old Crow picture the vastness and beauty of the mountain range.

We discussed the Appalachian culture depicted in the story and made a list of items unique to the region...wagons, overalls, quilting, bare feet, pot-bellied stoves, boots, one-room schoolhouse, etc. 

One day I brought down an old quilt and wrapped it around us as we read together.  It was such a sweet moment as we discussed where each scrap could have come from.

After studying our quilt, Old Crow then created his own rag coat (the cover of the lapbook).  He colored each section to resemble something that was special to him, Crazy Horse, or Memphis Belle.  Each of their blankets has a spot...I even included my own childhood blanket. ;)

The Rag Coat gave us the opportunity to talk about the character's different relationships...between Minna and her Daddy, Minna and her school friends, and Minna and the "quiliting mothers."  It also allowed us the chance to talk about funerals and why the illustrations showed everyone wearing black.


Minna's father was a coal miner...so this gave us the perfect opportunity to learn about coal.  Old Crow watched a youtube video about coal to give him a general idea.  

Then to help him understand how coal is formed (without listening to things like "millions of years ago" and "evolution") I showed him this video with a Biblical worldview from Answers in Genesis.

We also listened to this song and sang it often...it is quite a catchy tune! :)

Then we made Coal Cookies.  This yummy treat helped Old Crow understand the rock layers and how heat and pressure change them.  The graham cracker crust made one layer, next came chocolate chips and butterscotch chips (billions of dead things), then came walnuts, lastly we covered the top with sweetened condensed milk (the worldwide flood).

After they cooked, we looked at the ingredients left on the counter and then how the dessert looked after being in the oven.  Some were recognizable and some had changed. :)  

The Rag Coat went perfectly with our Bible lessons on Joseph and his coat of many colors (which I learned is also a type of quilting pattern).  Mama even learned something too!!



  1. Great lesson plan! I love Old Crow's enthusiasm for learning. The excitement is all over his face!

  2. Hi Jenny!
    What are the measurements for the coal bars? Thank you!1

    1. Hi Amber, I baked the coal bars in a 9x13 dish so I cut them in small squares. I'm not sure of the exact measurement. The baking measurements are all listed in the recipe link above in the blog post. Hope that helps!