Magic Tree House – “A Big Day for Baseball”

When I picked this book for our book club last August I didn’t realize that it was the day after Jackie Robinson Day. It worked out great! Also, some of the kids had learned about Jackie Robinson in school that day so there was a lot of discussion about him. baseball

In A Big Day for Baseball Jack and Annie travel back to Brooklyn, New York in 1947 to be ball boys at a baseball game. The only thing they can’t figure out is why they were sent to this particular game and why it is such an important day.

15 – 20 minutes – book reading and discussion

I decided to read Chapter 4, “Foul Ball!” because it’s the chapter that mostly deals with the anger and hate that people felt towards Jackie Robinson. It was a good opportunity to talk to the kids about treating other people the way that they would want to be treated. Also, we were able to talk about resilience and overcoming difficulties. I found a couple of videos about Jackie Robinson and what kind of a person he was. One of my favorites was when one of his teammates talked about how much Jackie wasn’t accepted as a part of the team at first but after Jackie was turned away at a hotel it made a lot of them think differently about him.

15 – 20 minutes – activities

I had a little bit of a hard time coming up with some activities to go with the book. I usually like to have something where the kids have to work in teams to create something or something that gets them moving. I really wanted to focus on Jackie Robinson but I kept hitting a wall. So, I ended up purchasing some inflatable baseballs and put the kids in teams of 3. they had to keep the baseball in the air while I played “Take Me Out to the Ballgame,” when the music stopped they dropped the ball and had to run to the nearest base that I had set up around the room. For the most part they thought that it was a fun game. I did have one girl come up to me and tell me, “This game is weird.”

I found this really cute craft idea over on The Exhausted Mom and decided that we should make it. These were perfect. The supplies needed were minimal and the kids had fun making them. The only problem that I had was with the spray paint. For some reason, probably because it was cheap, the paint came out in big clumps (you know like that fake snow that you spray on the window during the winter), so they weren’t smooth. Lesson learned: Don’t buy cheap spray paint.

We ended with a drawing for next month’s book: High Tide in Hawaii

 

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Magic Tree House – “Leprechaun in Late Winter”

I just had to do Leprechaun in Late Winter for March. There was no passing it up. However, once I read the book, I really struggled over what activities to do with the kids. There are too many fun things!!

leprechaun

Jack and Annie are sent to Ireland in 1862 to help inspire Augusta to share her creativity with the world. There’s only one problem, the Augusta that they meet is the most practical minded girl EVER! She takes them to visit her friend Mary, when Mary begins to tell stories of the Fae, Augusta doesn’t believe. Jack and Annie must help her believe or all will be lost.

15 – 20 minutes – book reading and discussion

We read Chapter 7, “Willy.” Jack and Annie used their magic flute to call the Shee, fairy folk, so that Augusta could see that the magic really does exist. What they weren’t expecting was for Augusta to be taken away by the Shee. After the Shee are gone Jack and Annie meet Willy, a leprechaun who promises to help if Jack and Annie give him their magic whistle. I always like to ask the kids what their favorite parts of the book were or if there was a part that they didn’t like. After we talked a little bit I explained to them that Augusta was a real historical person, the famous playwright, Lady Gregory. I gave them a little bit of background on Lady Gregory; like how she co-founded the Abbey Theater in Ireland. Afterward, I showed them some pictures of Ireland, Lady Gregory, the old Abbey Theater and the newer Abbey Theater after the old one burned down. The kids really like seeing the pictures, especially of the Abbey Theater. They thought it was really cool and some even said that they would love to go there and see it.

25 minutes – outdoor activity

I thought that a fun game we could play would be “King of the Shee!” (yes, I made up that name). Anyway, the game is sort of like Sharks and Minnows (okay, it’s exactly like Sharks and Minnows). I picked a few kids to the be the King (or Queen as some of them didn’t want to be kings) while the others had to run across before the Shee royalty could turn them into an animal (or tree because some of the kids did not want to be animals). At first I wasn’t so sure about this game, I just thought that it was a nice day and we should be outside. They LOVED it!! I thought we would stop after a couple of games, nope they wanted to keep going. I think they played at least 10 rounds before I made them go inside for our next activity.

10 minutes – craft

I debated a little bit on what take home I wanted the kids to have. Do we make a magic whistle, leprechaun hat/beard? Wait, I know. . .a FAIRY JA20180521_205154[1]R! I just happened to have a stash of jars around, I collected sticks from our park outside, the craft store was having an amazing sale on smallish pretend flowers (perfect size for fairy jars I might add), I picked up some mossy looking stuff and VOILA! The story goes that the Shee were in Ireland before humans and they ruled. When humans came they had to find safe places to hide underground so they wouldn’t be harmed. We made safe hiding spots for the Shee.

To wrap up we did a drawing for next month’s book: A Big Day for Baseball

Magic Tree House – “Abe Lincoln at Last”

It just occurred to me that I am several months behind in posting about our Magic Tree House Book Club. So, I am going to do my best this week to bring it up to speed.

 

 

abe lincoln at last

For February’s book we went with an obvious, perfect choice book for February, Abe Lincoln at Last! In this book, Jack and Annie are swept away to Washington, D.C., in 1861 when Abraham Lincoln was president. They are sent to retrieve a special feather and help Abraham Lincoln save the nation.

15 – 20 Minutes – book reading and discussion

For this month’s reading I read Chapter 8, “Into the Rough.” Jack and Annie were transported by magic even further back in time to when Abe Lincoln was a boy living in Illinois. In this chapter Jack and Annie are trying to help an injured Abe Lincoln, only they didn’t know it was him, do his chores around the farm. I liked this chapter because it showed the kids how hard Abe Lincoln worked not only when he was younger but also how hard he worked to become President of the United States. Also, the end of the chapter was kind of a cliff hanger, “Jack heard the long, low growl. He heard twigs breaking. The hair went up on the back of his neck.”

Afterwards, I showed the kids some pictures of what Abe Lincoln’s house looked like when he was a child. I also told them a few fun facts about the President. He had a lot of unusual pets.

20 – 30 Minutes – activities

LOG CABIN ENGINEERING CHALLENGE

Since Abe Lincoln helped build his childhood house with his dad, I thought what better than a little engineering challenge. So, I gathered some materials that I had around the library (duct tape, paper grocery bags, cardboard tubes, paper, popsicle sticks, etc.) and challenged the kids to build their own “log cabin.” They had so much fun! I had a couple of younger kids in my group this time, but it worked out because their grown-ups were with them and they got to build the cabin together (great bonding activity!). After I let the kids who wanted to do a show and tell of their cabin.

FEATHER PENS

Since Jack and Annie were sent to retrieve a special feather (turned out to be a very special feather pen) from Lincoln I thought it would be fun to have the kids make their own quill pens and ink. I looked online at a few tutorials on how to make them, just type in “diy quill pens” you’ll get a lot of results. I ordered some mini glass bottles with corks to put the ink in. You can see the ones I ordered here. Small side note, these are not leak proof so make sure you tell the kids not to shake them up. We had a few bad experiences. :S I had some food coloring that they could choose what color they wanted their ink to be and cut some watercolor paper in half so that they could practice their writing. They were AWESOME!! The kids LOVED it! They thought it was so cool that they could actually write with a feather. Oh yeah, I got these feathers.

As usual we ended with our drawing for next month’s book: Leprechaun in Late Winter

Lessons Learned About Snow Globes

Snow globes are a really fun, usually simple activity for kids to do. Now, there are lots of tutorials out there on how to make snow globes, and I’m not saying that they are wrong, here’s just a few things that I have learned about making them.

Glycerin is your friend and really, it works the best.
I tried using mineral oil, baby oil (which is mineral oil with scent so…draw your own conclusions there), and plain water. Here’s what I discovered, mineral oil and baby oil make the glitter (if you’re using it, which why wouldn’t you, it’s amazing) clump. I mixed it with water because I had 25 kids I was making this for and my budget would not allow me to buy enough mineral oil to fill pint sized mason jars.

When using pint sized mason jars, quilted doesn’t really work.
The mason jars that I had were a donation (I’m not one to turn down free goods) however, they were quilted. They ended up working fine, it would have been easier for the kids to see inside had they not been quilted. Using a smooth sided jar, like a baby food jar or a giant pickle jar (Ha, ha, don’t really use a giant pickle jar. And if you do, please share. I would love to see it!

Not all plastic animals are created equal. 
I should have tested this before handing out the 2 dozen horses to the kids. These were little plastic horses like you get in the tubes or from the dollar store. However, as previously stated, not all plastic animals are created equal and just because they are a plastic animal does not mean that they would work well in a snow globe. Some of the animals had such a hard time standing on their own that I had to ask parents to help hold them while the super glue dried. Which brings me to my next point.

Not all super glue is created equal either.
I thought I was being pretty clever when I bought the super glue to hold the animals on. Not so. It took 10 MINUTES for the super glue to dry completely, even then some of the animals required soooo much glue to stand up that it took even longer. If I were to do this all over again, hot glue all the way. Spending 10 minutes waiting for glue to dry is way too long for an hour long program and it feels like forever to the kids, not to mention I had parents showing up to pick up their kids and their take home wasn’t done yet. :S Super glue fail.

Finally, my last piece of advice…
When it comes time to add the glitter, DON’T do it on the carpet.
This is pretty self-explanatory but can we say GLITTER EXPLOSION! I think the carpet is still sparkly. Also, the bigger the glitter pieces the better. The super fine glitter doesn’t really work that well. I ended up getting glitter shaped like stars.

Oh…and here’s a picture of the final product! For all the hassle I think they turned out pretty cute.

Snow Globe

 

 

 

Magic Tree House – “Blizzard of the Blue Moon”

blizzard

Magic Tree House Book Club – Blizzard of the Blue Moon 

 

 

 

 

In January’s book, Blizzard of the Blue Moon, Jack and Annie are sent to Depression Era New York City during a blizzard to rescue a unicorn in hiding. When I first read this book I was torn on what aspect of the book to use for discussion and our activities; there was just so much good stuff to choose from! So here’s how our activities went:

15 – 20 minutes – book reading and discussion

I decided to read Chapter 5 to the kids since it was the chapter that introduced what we were going to be discussing for the day, the cloisters of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Unicorn Tapestries. After we read the book I generally like to ask the kids what their favorite parts were. We briefly discussed the Depression but I didn’t want to get too much into that. I pulled up some pictures on our laptop and showed them the cloisters and most of the Unicorn Tapestries, I refrained from showing them the ones where the unicorn is getting prodded with spears.

20 minutes – group activity

One of the things that we discussed was that the tapestries were used to tell a story without words so I wanted to challenge the kids to come up with their own wordless story. We briefly discussed what a blue moon was, a full moon that occurs twice in one month, and how that it is often believed that mystical events take place during a blue moon. I also explained to them that this year, on Jan. 31st, there happens to be a super moon with a blue moon and a total lunar eclipse; an extremely rare occurrence. So their writing prompt was that they were trapped at the library during the event and some mysterious things began to happen. I put them in groups so they would have to work together to draw what they experienced during this supernatural event.

I love doing these kinds of group activities with kids because: 1) it gives them experience working as a group and 2) because together they sometimes come up with the greatest things! Afterwards, they all got to stand up as a group and tell their story (public speaking experience :)).

Okay, so this last part was a bit of a disaster. It should have taken about 10 minutes but, because of certain issues it ended up being a lot longer.

SNOW GLOBES!

I thought that because the book was about Jack and Annie trying to get to the unicorn during a blizzard it would be fun to make snow globes. Let’s just say that this activity did not go as planned. I had “unicorns” (really plastic horses) that they could glue onto the lid of a mason jar (with SUPERGLUE) and then add water with a tiny bit of glycerin and glitter. This went wrong in sooo many ways. Note to self: do not attempt to make snow globes using superglue. Hot glue would have been much easier. For more on this epic disaster I’m going to have to create a separate post. I’ve linked it here.

Even though I felt that the snow globes were a disaster, the kids really didn’t care and they had a blast doing all the activities.

We ended with a drawing for next month’s book: Abe Lincoln at Last

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Magic Tree House – “Haunted Castle on Hallow’s Eve”

 

I’m a little bit slow on getting these up so I hope that you will forgive me. 🙂 For October I wanted to choose a book that has a spooky Halloween kind of theme, so we read Haunted Castle on Hallow’s Eve. In this book Jack and Annie are summoned by Merlin to help recover the stolen Diamond of Destiny. The clues to the diamond’s disappearance are located in a haunted castle. With the help of their friend, Teddy, Jack and Annie begin their search and discover there’s more to the missing diamond than they realized. I made a few changes to the format of my program and it went really well. The kids had so much fun.

Haunted Castle cover

 

 

 

Magic Tree House Book Club – Haunted Castle on Hallow’s Eve

 

 

 

15 – 20 minutes – book reading and discussion

Some of the feedback that I received from the kids was that they wanted to hear the book, even if they had already read it. I really wanted to make the class one that the kids felt was their’s and something that they would like to continue coming to. So, I decided that I would read a chapter out of the book. For this book I read chapter 3 because it’s far enough into the book that the story is really building and the ending leaves them in just enough suspense and wondering what is going to happen next. This was not only great for the kids that read it because they could add to the discussion but also enticed the kids who hadn’t read it to check it out so they could finish the story.

 

15 – 20 minutes – craft activity
One of the special objects in the book that Jack, Annie, and Teddy used to perform magic and help them find the Diamond of Destiny was a hazel twig wand. I found it rather difficult to find hazel twigs in our area (I even looked online, but wowzers those things can be expensive and when working with a small, practically nonexistent budget, it just wasn’t practical). I ended up finding some shorter dowel rods for super cheap. I re-purposed some leftover storytime craft supplies and let the kids make their own hazel twig wands. This is a super fun activity and they all had a blast and were so excited to show me their wands.

 

-hazel twig- wands

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

15 minutes – search for the Diamond of Destiny
In the book, Jack and Annie had to find the Diamond of Destiny after it was stolen, so I wanted to have a scavenger hunt to find the diamond; but, more importantly, when Jack was holding the Diamond of Destiny he felt stronger and braver. I wanted to allow the kids to take home their own Diamond of Destiny to help empower them to overcome whatever obstacle they may be struggling with. I found some Halloween themed scavenger hunt clues and hid them around our community room. Although, they had to be careful because there were curses too that instructed us to do silly things like walk like a zombie until we found the next clue. We have this amazing “hidden” panel in the wall in our community room so I hid a diamond that I had purchased behind it. We found the diamond along with the other “diamonds” that I had set with it for the kids to pick for their very own. We had a lot of fun and they loved finding the curses. One thing that I did notice, when trying to do a scavenger hunt try to make it so that everyone has an opportunity to be involved.

In case you are wondering, these are the gems that I found for everybody to take home and this is the Diamond of Destiny.

5 minutes – drawing for next month’s book

 

 

Magic Tree House – “Twister on Tuesday”

Today was our very first Magic Tree House Book Club. The idea first became a little tickle when I was able to attend the Utah Library Association Youth Services Winter Workshop. A fellow librarian had started her own and was having so much fun doing it. I talked her into sharing her lesson plans, (actually she was super nice and offered to share them with me). Her plan was to create a lesson plan for the first 27 books and then recycle them every three years. Smart right? Well, I had this idea that I would share my lesson plans with her and we would have even more to work with. I was going to start with the last book, but then I got a bit distracted and I just ended up picking and choosing which ones I wanted to do. I liked that Lisa (really nice librarian that is willing to share) wanted to make the book club friendly for everyone, regardless if they read the book or not, so naturally I wanted to follow suit. I tried to follow her format but, after our first meeting, I think I’m might make a few changes. So…here’s what I did for Mary Pope Osborne’s Twister on Tuesday.

 

twister on tuesday cover

Magic Tree House Book Club – Twister on Tuesday

 

 

 

 

 

15 minutes – slideshow presentation and discussion

(I have to make a little side note here. I really wanted to give the kids some good background information on tornadoes and how they form, plus show theme some really cool videos but, my presentation went too long and honestly the cool videos would have been enough). If you would like use see/use my Prezi here is the link for it:
Tornadoes

10 minutes – game
It was really hard finding a game that went with tornadoes so, I made one up…Twister Tag. The concept is a lot like sharks and minnows and since we had discussed how tornadoes act like a vacuum and suck things up…well, that’s what we did. One child was the starting twister and as the other kids had to run to the storm cellar they had to try not to get “sucked up” by the twister. If they did they would join the twister and become a bigger, more powerful storm. Overall, they really had fun playing it and it got some of their energy out from having to sit through my presentation.

15 minutes – science activity “Tornado in a Jar”
So, I found this really fun activity here but, after I made one, I wasn’t impressed. Then I found this idea here and thought that this would work better and I just happened to have 25 jars so, it was a logical choice. Now, we learned a few things about this activity. One, the tornado is so much easier to see without the food coloring. Two, DO NOT use quilted jars. Again, too hard to see. Three, I think that you have to let the vinegar sit and break down the soap a little bit before it actually works and if you try to spin it too many times at once all the soap builds up again and doesn’t work so much anymore. This is still an experiment in progress. If you learn the key to making it work, please share.

10 minutes – art activity “Tornado Landscape Chalk Drawing”

tornado-landscape-chalk-drawing.jpg

Need I say more? Isn’t my drawing beautiful? I thought so.

5 minutes – Drawing for next month’s bookHaunted Castle on Hallow’s Eve 

Overall, I think it was a success. The kids seemed to have fun, I had fun, and I learned some things that I need to adjust for next time. I’ll let you know how it goes. 🙂