Posted in Books By Title, The Wild Robot

The Wild Robot

I’ll admit that I was a bit hesitant to try this book. It was described as Wall-E meets Hatchet in some of the online reviews. Seemed like a weird mix to me. But I wanted to try something a little different so I decided to give it a try. My eight year old son liked it the most. He describes it as “a good story but a little sad.” That about sums it up. And the ending totally screams stay tuned for a sequel.

Learning Activities

Build a Robot

We actually built this cute little bots a couple years ago. It was so much fun and super easy. This was one of the first learning activities I thought of when we read this book. There are many variations of diy robots. The price of robot building at home can range from relatively inexpensive to costing big bucks. We have tried the EV3 Lego Mindstorm at our library and it was fun. But I can’t justify dropping $350 for something my kids aren’t that into.

If you have a kid that is hardcore into robots and you are available to help them, then the EV3 might be what you’re looking for. If you just want a fun learning project that isn’t too techinal then check out some of the tutorials below.

http://www.redtedart.com/how-to-make-a-mini-robot/  (This is the one we used)

http://www.instructables.com/id/Big-3-Solderless-Bristle-bot/

http://www.instructables.com/id/ArtBot/  (We’ve done something similar to this too)

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Beavers

Beavers are amazing little mammals. And their just so darn cute! It’s so awesome how they build dams and lodges using only their own little bodies. I also love how family oriented they are.

I don’t know about you, but my kids absolutely love animals and they love getting dirty. With that in mind, I had envisioned this wonderful activity where we would gather little twigs and things and construct our own mini beaver lodges and ponds. We would use real mud and cute little animal figures and play in our cute little make believe set up. Sadly we have only talked about doing this “wonderful activity” and have never actually done it. But seriously, doesn’t it sound fun? And check out this Safari Toob animal set that would perfect for this imaginary play.

Learn more about beaver by checking out some websites and videos…

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beaver

http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/mammals/beaver/

http://www.beaversww.org/beavers-and-wetlands/about-beavers/

Season 1 of Wild Kratts, episode 7 is called Build it Beavers. If you have Amazon Prime it is included with your Prime subscription. (If you don’t have Amazon Prime, I highly recommend it).

(If you want another read aloud to continue your beaver education, try Poppy & Rye by Avi. It’s part of the Tales of Dimwood Forest series and is a wonderful little book).

Camouflage

Roz learns a lot of things observing the animals on the island. One of the things she learned was the fine art of camouflaging. It is an ability that many of the Earth’s creatures are born with to protect them from being eaten. For other creatures (like humans) it is something that has been learned and developed mainly for the benefit of surviving in combat. It’s pretty interesting to learn about both natural and man-made camouflage.

Absolutley Amazing Natural Camouflage…

Here’s a good one for little ones…

This is a fun and easy art project that both my kids enjoyed doing. It is a great way to illustrate cuttlefish camouflage.

Cuttlefish art project idea

Man-Made Camouflage…

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_military_clothing_camouflage_patterns

More camouflage activities…

Try playing hide and seek with and without camouflage. My kids LOVED doing this.

Create your own camouflage design by printing out a boy or girl picture and a background of your choosing. (Just like the cuttlefish activity above except with humans). Design an outfit for the person to help them blend in with the background. I got my boy/girl pictures from this website… http://www.sheknows.com/parenting/slideshow/508/people-and-places-coloring-pages/boy-and-girl

bens-camonats-camo

Fire Starting and Fire Safety

My kids love birthday candles or roasting marshmallows over a campfire. They love pretending to be in the wilderness and trying to start fires using sticks or rocks or even a magnifying glass. They think fires are pretty neat. I don’t think they are pyromaniacs or anything, just very curious and interested in fire. Being able to start a fire and keep it going  is a good skill to have. Knowing how to keep everyone and everything near the fire safe is essential. In The Wild Robot, Roz taught the animals how to keep a fire going and a bit about fire safety. It saved their lives and also put them in great danger when it was mismanaged. Fire safety is a super important thing for everyone to know. Reading this book provides a great lead in to learn all about fire.

http://www.firesafekids.org/safety.html – This website has some great information. There is even a printable to create a family escape plan in the event of a house fire.

http://www.sparky.org/ – This one is loaded with videos, games and other info that is extremely kid friendly.

I am far from an expert when it comes to starting or maintaining a campfire. But If I was going to go camping and build a fire, I think I’d do it like this.

Who knew there were so many different ways to start a fire?http://www.artofmanliness.com/2008/04/29/9-ways-to-start-a-fire-without-matches/

Life & Migration of Geese

http://www.nhptv.org/natureworks/canadagoose.htm

So this is a chicken not a goose. Geese eggs take longer to hatch than chicken eggs but I assume the embryo development is probably pretty similar. This is a neat video.

Creative Writing

My kids and I discussed, but haven’t yet fully explored, the opportunities this book provides for creative writing possibilities. (We’ve not done this mainly because neither of my kids enjoy the physical act of writing). But after finishing this book we brainstormed different things we could/would want to write about. Here’s what we came up with…

  • A different ending
  • A continuation of the story
  • Choose your own adventure
  • From the perspective of one of the animal characters
Posted in Books By Title, Boy

BOY Tales of Childhood

We’ve loved every Roald Dahl book we’ve read. My kids especially enjoyed Boy (and the sequel Going Solo). It’s enjoyable to hear about the adventures of the young Roald Dahl. You definitely get some insight as to where he came up with some of his book ideas and characters. His frightful years in boarding school had to have been the inspiration for Miss Trunchbull and Mr & Mrs Twitt. It’s interesting to get a glimpse of his family life. He paints his mother as a true hero and his love for her is quite obvious. Overall it is a great book with a good mix of happy, funny and sad.

Learning Activities

Chocolate Judging

My kids love any activity that involves sugar. I have a feeling they are not alone, especially since Roald Dahl writes about his willingness to participate as a chocolate taste tester while in boarding school as a boy. Now if your kids are anything like mine, or the young Roald Dahl, they will be eager to practice their writing skills as they taste the chocolate and then write an “intelligent comment” on why they liked it or disliked it.

For this activity you will need to assemble an assortment of chocolate bars. I found some very interestingly flavored gourmet chocolate bars at Target and happened across some European candy bars at Publix. You could also use Halloween candy to save some cash. Those gourmet chocolate bars can be pricey when you’re buying a bunch. But it made the activity very fun to have some new and uniquely flavored chocolate to sample.

I saw this super cool variety box on Amazon that would make this activity amazing. (At least for those of us who don’t live in the UK and are not familiar with the candy varieties included in the box).

Here’s the printable I created to encourage more handwriting practice and conversation. You can print it off or create your own.

chocolate-tasting

 

Now, go divide those tasty chocolate samples among the participants and get to tasting!

But wait, don’t let the learning stop there. This is a great time to investigate where chocolate comes from and how it’s made. What’s the difference between dark and milk chocolate? What’s does the % of cacao mean? Does chocolate really come from a bean? Does that make it a vegetable? The chocolaty questions seem endless.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chocolate

Body Science

Reading this book stirred up many questions from my kids regarding the human body. What are adenoids? What is an appendix? How was Roald Dahl’s dad able to do so much with just one arm? What is a boil? What a great opportunity to delve into the workings of the human body. Find the answer to all those great questions. Perhaps it would be fun to compare how some illnesses are dealt with now vs 100+ years ago.

Here are some resources to check out and use to learn about the human body.
      

I thought this one was pretty cool. It’s a semi-interactive appendectomy. Proper medical terminology is used and discussed during the procedure. It is animated and doesn’t show blood or look gory but it does give a warning at the beginning “This surgery may contain graphic procedures inappropriate for children or squeamish adults.” With that said, you should probably watch it first before showing it to your kids to make sure they can handle it. Mine didn’t have a problem with it.

Laparoscopic Appendectomy

Here’s an informative (but not very exciting) video on appendicitis. It answers the basics of what an appendix is, signs and symptoms of appendicitis and treatment.

http://kidshealth.org/en/kids/adenoids.html

http://kidshealth.org/en/kids/abscess.html?ref=search#

If you’re going to turn to YouTube for help with the abscess or boil question. Be sure to search them up and watch them by yourself first. Most of them are pretty graphic and could be disturbing for a child to watch.

For me, the loss of a limb is hard to imagine. Being right handed, trying to write with my left hand is not a pretty sight. I can’t imagine having to rely solely on my left hand to do everything. What must life be like with the loss of a limb? There are some fantastic online resources about amputees.

The Amputee Coalition has a wealth of information including inspirational stories. They even have a curriculum aimed at third through fifth graders to create awareness and educate others on the loss of limbs.

Resources to Help Children Understand Limb Loss

There are some great videos on YouTube about the lives of amputees. I thought the one below was a good one for gaining the perspective of a young girl who has lived her whole life with only one arm.

The link below is to some good disability awareness activities. Have your kids try doing a few things using only one arm…drawing, dressing, tie a shoe.

http://www.dvusd.org/cms/lib011/AZ01901092/Centricity/Domain/1318/Disability%20Awareness%20Packet%202.pdf

Writing with a Nib and Ink

I don’t know if this is the type of nib Roald Dahl used as a boy. We tried it and it was really challenging to write with. I can’t imagine having to have used such a device as a little kid. My kids both enjoyed messing around with it but neither one of them could have written much of anything without a great deal of effort. Maybe we had the wrong type of nib? I got ours at Michaels with a 40% off coupon. It was the Speedball brand but only came with one preattached nib (which eventually broke).

Online Resources

Once you’ve read the book and want to find out even more about Roald Dahl, you can head over to his official website. It’s loaded with info about him and his stories and characters. There are learning activities, lesson plans and a shop.

http://www.roalddahl.com/home

If your kids are into taking little online quizes, here’s one for the book Boy.

Boy – Tales of Childhood Quiz

Posted in Howl's Moving Castle

Howl’s Moving Castle

My kids love watching the movie version of Howl’s Moving Castle. When I discovered it was based on a book, I decided to add the title to our To Read list. This is one of my favorite books.Thank you Diana Wynne Jones for penning it. If you haven’t read it yet you need to do so ASAP. I love the characters and the story and my only complaint is that it had to end.

Learning Activities

Create a Board Game

I came up with this fun little Howl’s Moving Castle themed board game. My kids really enjoyed playing it. As far as educational value is concerned, I would say it is more for fun than anything else. Although you could say it teaches sportsmanship. Especially if you have a kid that hates to lose a turn and isn’t afraid to express it in less than ideal ways (i.e. storming off, crying, throwing the dice and yelling “I hate this game”). And for a real stretch, you could also say that it has a math aspect, for those learning to count, since there is the counting of spaces after the roll of the dice. But mainly it’s just for fun.

Howl’s Moving Castle Game (for 1 – 4 players)

  • You will need to print out the game boards on card stock and tape them together. If you don’t have card stock you can print them on paper and then glue them onto something sturdier like a cereal box. I made mine slightly more durable by using a modified file folder.
  • Print out the moving castle on card stock and attach it to your board with a brass brad and put a piece of tape on the backside to secure it. (The black dot in the center of the castle indicates where to place the brad).
  • You will need two 6 sided dice.
  • Four place markers (I printed out some images of the characters from the movie and used those. You could use anything, pennies, pieces from other games, colored paper clips, etc)

Howls Moving Castle Game Board Printable – Make sure to select Borderless on the page set up in the print dialogue options.

Moving Castle Piece

Game play:

Each player selects a star square as a starting point (Porthaven, Kingsbury, Market Chipping or Rivendell). Each player needs their own starting square. You cannot share a starting point.

The player chosen to go first (do this however you like, youngest, oldest, etc it doesn’t really matter) rolls one die. This first die roll determines where to move (rotate) the castle.

The castle will start with its door facing the first players colored squares. Start positionWhen it is time to move the castle, rotate it so that it’s door is “open” to the appropriate area…

Roll a 1 to open the Porthaven door.

Roll a 2 to open the Kingsbury door.

Roll a 3 to open the Market Chipping door.

Roll a 4 to open the Rivendell door.

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Roll a 5 to move the castle 3 spaces clockwise.

Roll a 6 to move the castle 1 space clockwise.

Take turns moving around the board until you end up back at your starting point (your star). Then instead of traveling clockwise around the board you will start moving into the four colored squares leading to the castle. (If you are 2 spaces away from your star and you roll a 4, move two spaces onto the star and then proceed 2 more spaces towards the end of your colored squares.

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When you reach the last colored square leading up to the castle you then only need to roll one die. That die will move the castle. The goal is to move the castle so that the door is facing the colored square you are on. You may only enter the castle when the door is facing your colored square. The first player to enter the castle wins. Game play can continue to see who comes second, third and fourth.

This is super easy to learn and play. It’s fun for everyone because it’s all luck not skill. Let me know if my directions are unclear and I will try to clarify.

Let your kids use their imaginations and create their own board games. This is an activity that both my kids love to do. Gather up some game making supplies like poster board, card stock, dice, markers, brads for making spinning wheels, and various little items to mark your place on the board. Then take turns playing each others games and enjoy the pride on the little faces who made them when the games are deemed a success.

Design a Fancy Hat

Channel your inner Sophie and create  a magnificent hat.

http://www.instructables.com/howto/hat/

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My daughter fashioned this lovely and flowery “butterfly attracting hat.” It was actually more of a headband type of thing but close enough.

Learn to Sew

We haven’t tackled any projects like Sophie making Howl a magical patchwork suit. But we have had fun learning to hand stitch a few projects and also try a couple super basic ones using a sewing machine. Both my kids love when they get to use the sewing machine, even if it’s just to sew random lines down a piece of scrap fabric.

My daughter has been interested in fashion design and learning to sew for several years now. We made this duct tape dress form for her to use for her fashion design projects. It actually didn’t get used much at all for it’s intended purposes. But it was fun to make and she got to learn about taking proper measurements and why you might want to use a dress form.

We used a tutorial similar to this one. http://www.handimania.com/diy/your-own-shape-sewing-mannequin.html

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We also purchased this super cute Sewing School book. I have since see it at the library. However it has patterns included in the book and often times reusable items like that in library books get used and abused. You could always check it out first to see how much your kids would really want to use it before you commit to purchasing it.


We have used sewing school to make a cute A line skirt, a skirt for a doll, hand stitched stuffies and as a guide for stuffed animal repairs.

Boys and girls alike enjoy stitching up projects. My son has become come quite skilled with the sewing machine. He enjoys it every bit as much as my daughter.

If sewing is not your thing but you want your kids to learn or they are interested in learning, check with your local fabric store. They often times offer lessons or can point you in the direction of someone who does.

Make Green Slime

Easy Slime Recipe

Watch for Falling Stars

Do stars really fall? What are meteors? How old are stars really? There are many more questions to find the answers to with the assistance of your kids. Show them how to search the internet, assuming they don’t know how. (Nowadays the chances of that are pretty slim, even with the very young). But do take the time to help them find the answers and don’t just tell them. It will be more fun and educational for everyone.

If you have a telescope, then first let me say that I am jealous. Secondly, I would suggest that you take it outside with your kids on a dark, clear night. See how many constellations you can find or if you can spot a falling star. You don’t need a telescope to do this but I think a telescope  or a pair of these Celestron SkyMaster binoculars would make it extra cool.

Check out the link below to see dates for upcoming meteor showers. It’ll give you a better chance of seeing those falling stars.

http://www.amsmeteors.org/meteor-showers/meteor-shower-calendar/

Watch the Movie

Discuss the movie vs the book with your kids. Which parts were different? Which did you like better and why? This is good practice for them to formulate and express opinions. You could also talk about the difference between facts and opinions.

Posted in Rump

Rump: The True Story of Rumpelstiltskin

This is such a fun story! My kids and I absolutely adore this book by Liesl Shurtliff. (Her other two books, Jack and Red, are wonderful too). My daughter began listening to the audio book the day after we reached the end of this one. I am a sucker for a different take on a fairy tale. If you feel the same way, make sure to add this book to your read aloud list.

Learning Activities

Pan for Gold

Panning for gold seems like an especially exciting thing to do while reading Rump. Gold is a big part of his story. I would love to take my kids gold panning! But since we currently live in Central Florida, I think we’d have better luck running into an alligator than a nugget of gold. So we’ll be passing on this one until we vacation somewhere with better gold prospects and less risk of being eaten.

There are kits out there that look to be more for fun rather than learning the actual skill of gold panning.

This website has some good info on panning for gold.

http://www.luckypanner.com/

Learn to Weave

Sadly our family does not have access to a spinning wheel, so learning to turn wool into thread or straw into gold was totally out of the question. Last fall we did have the opportunity to attend a festival where someone there was turning wool into yarn. It was pretty cool to pet the sheep, see the wool and see how it becomes yarn.20151017_133820

We took the easy way out and  learned to finger knit. Which is sometimes called finger weaving. It’s easy once you get the hang of it. Both my kids enjoyed doing it.

There are many different ways to weave if finger knitting doesn’t seem like your thing. We have used the rainbow loom and the pot holder maker, both of which my daughter loves.

http://www.instructables.com/id/how-to-weave-on-a-cardboard-loom/

http://www.hellowonderful.co/post/EASY-CARDBOARD-CIRCLE-WEAVING-FOR-KIDS

Geology

Learn to tell the difference between gold and fools gold.

HOW TO Tell the Difference Between Real Gold and Fool’s Gold

You can learn about 14k gold vs 24k gold, white gold vs yellow gold and the many different uses for gold.

http://geology.com/minerals/gold/uses-of-gold.shtml

Family History

What’s in a name? According to Rump, your name is your destiny. Do you know what your name means?

This website is super cool. You can type in your last name and find out the origins, meaning, immigration information, and even civil war service records. I love the internet.

http://www.ancestry.com/learn/facts/

This of course can lead to historical and geographical learning activities. Can you find your family’s country of origin on map? When did your family immigrate? Are you related to any notable characters in history?

Here’s another link to discover the meaning of you first or last name. There’s also a function to see what year(s) your name was most popular.

http://baby-names.familyeducation.com/

Create a family history with your kids. Make a basic family tree that includes your kids, you and their grandparents. Or add more of a challenge and see how far back you can go. You could interview parents, grandparents, uncles and aunts to learn about their lives and their memories of growing up.

I am fortunate to have family members who actively participate in family history. They have provided me with remembrance books that contain pictures and stories about many of my ancestors. My kids always enjoy looking at the pictures and hearing about the lives of our descendants. Another thing they are interested in is determining relationship terms i.e. first cousin, second cousin twice removed, etc… Check out the link below for more information on relationship terms.

http://www.genealogy.com/articles/research/16_cousn.html

Play a Who Am I type game

Since Rump spent a lot of time trying to figure out who he was, I thought it would be fun to play a who am I type game.

Get a stack of 3×5 cards and write names of cartoon characters or different animals or whatever you choose. Tape one card to the back of each person playing. Then players try to guess who or what they are by asking the other players questions.

http://www.wikihow.com/Play-the-%22Who-Am-I%22-Game

You could play Hedbanz if you already own it or if you aren’t into DIY games.

Or you could download this app for free.

 

 

Posted in The Toothpaste Millionaire

The Toothpaste Millionaire

This book, by Jean Merrill, is a good choice when you are look for a quick read as opposed to starting another series or a longer book. It’s a cute story that inspires kids to want to start their own business.

Learning Activities

Make Toothpaste

We couldn’t wait to get making our own toothpaste after finishing this book. There are tons of diy toothpaste recipes floating around the internet. Some of them call of ingredients that we did not have at home so we passed on them. We ended up using a recipe with a coconut oil base. It certainly was different from the stuff you buy at the store. My kids thought it was disgusting and wouldn’t use it. I didn’t like it because it left an oily residue on my toothbrush and I questioned the cleanliness of that practice after a week or two of use.

You could spend some time researching ingredients used in toothpaste. Is homemade better than store-bought? Are all store bought toothpastes created equal as far as the ingredients are concerned?

This was an interesting read http://askthedentist.com/homemade-toothpaste/

Make Elephant Toothpaste

This is an easy and awesome science experiment you can do with your kids. You can find the hydrogen peroxide needed for the experiment at a beauty supply store.

FANTASTIC FOAMY FOUNTAIN

Dental Hygiene and Anatomy of the Mouth

Now’s a good time to talk about dental hygiene. I think it’s fair to say that the a lot of kids already know that they are supposed to brush their pearly whites. But do they know that they should be brushing their tongues too?

http://www.animated-teeth.com/bad_breath/t4z_tongue_cleaning.htm

If you happen to have a subscription to BrainPop.com you could check out this little video on Teeth.

https://www.brainpop.com/health/bodysystems/teeth/

Start a Business

My kids are always trying to come up with ways to make money. There was the time they wanted to start a neighborhood smoothie shop, a healthy popsicle shop, a bakery,  a pancake breakfast restaurant and even a bug pet store. My daughter actually got really motivated a couple of years ago decided to try her own spa business. It didn’t last more than a couple of days but it was a great learning activity. Initially all she could talk about was how fun it would be and how much money she was going to make. We were able to talk about how much money she would need to invest in products and supplies for her spa. We discussed advertising, the target audience and how much to charge for products and services. She even hired her brother to run the front desk. In the end she learned that it takes a lot of money to start-up a business, it’s hard to build a client base and the initial return wasn’t as good as she’d dreamed it would be. But we all had a great time in the process.20140630_114303

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Here are a few links on the topic…

http://www.teachingkidsbusiness.com/how-to-start-your-own-business.htm

http://www.forbes.com/sites/allbusiness/2014/06/17/how-to-help-your-kids-launch-a-small-business-this-summer/#56141b57f509

http://pbskids.org/itsmylife/games/boss/

 

 

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.

Mini Powdered Sugar Donut Muffins.

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,

http://www.kidztype.com/

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.

http://www.discoverwildlife.com/british-wildlife/understand-grey-squirrels

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

http://www.newyorkwild.org/squirrels/graysquirrel.htm

If you have an Amazon prime membership you will find a few short videos, like this one http://amzn.to/2adJR3q, available to watch. They also have a Wild Kratts episode called The Blue and the Gray (http://amzn.to/2amppTK) that includes some facts about the gray squirrel.

If you and your kids enjoyed watching the crazy antics of the squirrels, rather than deterring the from your feeders, consider building them their own.

DIY Squirrel Feeder

 

 

 

Posted in Poppy

Poppy

This is a wonderful little story of bravery and overcoming challenges. My kids and I loved reading Poppy by Avi. We have read several other books from the Tales of Dimwood Forest series after reading this one. It is a fun series that I would definitely recommend.

Learning Activities

I may add more activities to this title as I realize all the ones I have added revolve around the Mr Ocax character. I guess I’m just partial to owls. Poppy and the other critters in this book leave the door open for many other learning opportunities.

Dissect Owl Pellets

This is a super fun activity that we have done a couple of times. It’s especially fun after reading about Poppy and Mr Ocax. I ordered my owl pellets online but sadly I can’t recall from where. We received a packet of three owl pellets from different types of owls. The kit came with an informative booklet on owls and their dietary habits, tweezers, little wooden sticks to assist with the dissection as well as a little magnifying glass. This activity can be messy so make sure you put down a cheapo plastic tablecloth or trash bags that can be rolled up and tossed when your done. My kids loved piecing together skeletons and attempting to identify what little critter had been the owl’s main course.

If you aren’t up for the mess or can’t wait until your pellets arrive in the mail, check out the link below for a virtual option.

9. Virtual Pellet

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Observe Owls In the Wild

I consider myself one of the luckiest people in the world because I have owls in my own backyard. How stinkin’ cool is that? If you are lucky too, take a walk outside at dusk with your kids and see if you can spot one of these beautiful creatures.

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Be extra quiet and listen for their unmistakable calls. If you don’t happen to have owls roaming your neighborhood, try checking with your county’s conservation department to see if they offer ‘Owl Walks.’ If that option is not viable, you can attempt to observe an owl in captivity by visiting a zoo or bird sanctuary. We visited the World Bird Sanctuary in Eureka, MO a couple of years ago. It was awesome!

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And if all else fails, enter the Cornell Lab Bird cams.

http://cams.allaboutbirds.org/all-cams/

This spring they had owl cams for the Great horned owl, Barred owl and Barn owl. It was a fascinating activity to watch the hatching of eggs, feeding of young and finally the leaving of the nest.

Build an Owl Box

This is on my I Really Want To Do This List. It would be a fantastic project to work on with kids. They would learn how to properly use tools, making accurate measurements, shop safety, and of course all about owls and their habitat requirements.

Barn Owl nestboxes for inside buildings

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 it saved in my shopping cart and plan on trying it. If you have ever built a clock before and have a better kit recommendation please let me know.

This clock idea is super cute – http://www.instructables.com/id/Literary-Clock/

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…

http://www.diynetwork.com/how-to/make-and-decorate/crafts/how-to-sew-simple-cloth-dinner-napkins

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