Posted in The House with a Clock in Its Walls

The House With a Clock in Its Walls

This is a great book, by John Bellairs, to introduce the mystery genre to your kids. It is a fun read aloud that has some suspense and mystery but isn’t too scary. I would recommend it for children 6 and up.

Learning Activities

Bake Chocolate Chip Cookies

Let your kids read the recipe to you as you go along. This is wonderful practice for them to learn cooking lingo (e.g. tsp, tbsp, C, ml, g).

Make sure they do all the measuring and don’t forget to discuss basic fractions to sneak in some good old mathematics.
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This could become a fascinating scientific activity. Discuss the ingredients (e.g. what is sugar and where does it come from?). Discuss reversible and irreversible change. Once you make the cookies can the ingredients be separated again? What happens if you bake the cookies at a heat setting of 25 degrees higher or lower? How does baking powder vs baking soda affect the final product? Does measuring the flour vs weighing it make a difference? Do milk chocolate chips or semi sweet chocolate chips make a better cookie? Don’t forget to make some predictions about the possible outcome. There are a ton of possibilities.
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I recently let my 9-year-old daughter make a batch all by herself (although she did get some help putting them in and taking them out of the oven). I am a notorious project hog but this time I didn’t even hover. She was so proud of herself having baked cookies from start to finish. It was a real confidence boost for her.

Learn to play Bon-Sour-One-Frank

Lewis, uncle Jonathan and their neighbor Mrs Zimmerman spend many nights playing the game Lewis refers to as Bon-Sour- One-Frank (i.e. Poker).

This is one of the activities my family hasn’t tried. I bought a deck of cards (btw there are some seriously cute playing cards available) and found some tutorials on YouTube but that’s as far as I got. Personally, I’d rather play UNO.

Magic Tricks

What kid doesn’t like magic? Learning to perform a magic trick is the perfect activity to encourage public speaking. You can learn about science that is so cool it seems like magic or discuss the difference between science and illusion.


There are many great YouTube tutorials on how to do magic tricks. The two videos below are from my daughter’s channel.

My kids love watching Breaking the Magicians Code available on Netflix.  I also searched it up on YouTube and it looks like you can watch some episodes there too if you don’t have Netflix.

Build Your Own Clock

I’ve been wanting to do this forever but haven’t got around to doing it yet. You can get this nifty clock kit and turn just about anything into a clock! Like I said, I have tried it yet so I can’t vouch for this particular kit. But this is the one I have been eyeing to try. If you have ever built a clock before and have a better kit recommendation please let me know.

This clock idea is super cute –

And there’s always the option to turn the clock making into a science lesson.

Make Purple Dinner Napkins

It’s time to pull out the sewing machine. My kids both beg to use the sewing machine. They think it is so amazing to step on the pedal and stitch something up. This is a very simple activity that would be perfect for an introduction to using the sewing machine. All they will be doing is sewing straight lines, four to be exact.

You will need some lovely purple fabric, in honor of Mrs. Florence Zimmerman. Help your kids measure out a square of fabric in the desired size of the napkin + 1/2″ extra on each side.

You will then want to turn the edge under 1/4″ and iron it. Then turn it under another 1/4″ and iron again. Repeat this process on each side of the square. You can use pins to hold the turned edges in place if you want to.

Now it’s time to start straight stitching down the edges. You do each edge individually, back stitching at the corner and then turning it. Alternatively you can leave the needle in the down position when you get to the corner, lift up the presser foot and turn the fabric so you’re ready to go down the next side. Stitch around all four edges and you have yourself a handy purple dinner napkin.

Here’s a link to an online tutorial with pictures…

If you want to take this activity a step further, you could then look into fancy napkin folding techniques.


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