Posted in Flora & Ulysses

Flora & Ulysses

This book makes me smile just thinking about it. We have read many of Kate DiCamillo’s books and this is one of my favorites. It’s funny with a tinge of drama and some good messages to take away.

Learning Activities

Make Donuts with Sprinkles (or just eat them)

I would rather buy donuts than make them. I dislike the greasy smell that permeates the house for hours and even days after deep-frying something.  My kids and I attempted to make traditional deep-fried donuts. They didn’t turn out very good. They possessed all the qualities you don’t want in a donut (heavy, greasy, not very delicious looking). But do not fear because the answer is to make baked donuts instead. Our favorite recipe is actually a donut muffin and Holy Bagumba they are tasty. Let your kids help. Use it as an opportunity to practice reading, math and science. Have them read the directions to you, make the measurements, and set the oven to the proper temperature. Have a chat about nutrition while you’re waiting for your donut muffins to bake.

An alternative to making donuts would be to have a donut tasting activity. Buy a selection of donuts (glazed, cake, custard filled, cream filled, etc) at your favorite bakery and slice them into bite size pieces. Let your kids sample the donuts and discuss which they like best and why. You could practice being persuasive by attempting to convince each other why the donut you like best is the best.

Learn to Type

Type up a note for someone you love. If your kids already know home row and are proficient typists, work on improving typing speed or grammar. If they are newbies, let them hunt and peck (as Ulysses undoubtedly did) and become familiar with the keyboard.

This is one of the websites my kids use to practice their typing skills,

You could get real fancy and pick up a special keyboard for learning to type. There are several different software programs to buy as well. But the free websites work just fine for us.

Role Play Being Blind

This activity is an opportunity for kids to  learn empathy for those who do not have the sense of sight. You could use a blind fold or simple close your eyes (so long as you don’t peak). Have your kids attempt to perform some day-to-day tasks without the use of their eyes. Ask them to pay attention to what they notice with their other senses. Discuss how different life might be if they were unable to see.

This is a neat video I found on YouTube about a little girl who was born blind and what her life is like at school and at home.

Squirrel Science

Find somewhere to observe the behavior of squirrels. There definitely doesn’t seem to be a shortage of the little guys. If you don’t have any in your backyard, try a local park that has lots of trees.

We recently hung a couple of bird feeders in our backyard and so far have only attracted squirrels. We have had fun experimenting with various squirrel baffles. These little acrobats are a hard act to stop. They climb, they jump, they flip, they are determined. It would be a great STEM challenge to design a squirrel proof feeder.

Spend some time watching these weird tree climbing mammals. You will see that they do a lot of tail twitching and chirping to signal each other. They even make a barking sound to sound the alarm. After observing them for awhile, head online to uncover what the behavior you observed really means.

If you can’t find any squirrels to watch in the wild, try YouTube or a webcam.

If you have an Amazon prime membership you will find a few short videos, like this one, available to watch. They also have a Wild Kratts episode called The Blue and the Gray ( that includes some facts about the gray squirrel.

If you and your kids enjoyed watching the crazy antics of the squirrels, rather than deterring them from your feeders, consider building them their own. Birds and Blooms have a neat DIY feeder. If you aren’t into to DIY, you could always grab a commercially made feeder. Then sit back and watch the crazy antics of those little nut lovers!


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