Book Clubbing and STEMing with Mr. Lemoncello

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Our book club year has started off with a bang – with Mr. Lemoncello’s Library Olympics!  We combined the boys’ and girls’ clubs to interact with this fun Chris Grabenstein bestseller.

Chris Grabenstein

We started out by summarizing the book and then discussing the choices made by the characters.  After that, we split up into teams of four like in the book.  Each team worked together to choose a name and logo, which we then pinned to the back of each teammate’s shirt like the tag on a marathon runner.

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Next, the teams worked together to solve the first STEM challenge.  I asked them to build something to solve a problem similar to what Mr. Lemoncello tasks the teams with in the book.

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The teams were really creative with this project.

The challenges continued after that.  We played several games, including the First Lines game, just like in the story.  The worked together in teams to complete more STEM challenges and a few other literary ones, too.

The final set of challenges involve water balloons, and the kids loved these! 

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The challenges don’t have to be done with water balloons, but with temperatures soaring into the ’90s and 12 bouncy kids, we all enjoyed the opportunity to learn with cool water.

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These six challenges are based on literary skill and STEM challenges, and you can challenge your students in these same ways.  These challenges are for sale in one packet in my Teachers Pay Teachers store for only $4.    The packet includes printable medals for the winners, a sample schedule, directions for each challenge, and the materials for the First Lines game.

Who will be your Library Lover winner?

Do you still need a copy of the book?  Get yours here!

 

 

Book Club, Girls’ Edition: “Love, Ruby Lavender”

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When I first read Love, Ruby Lavender by Deborah Wiles, I knew it would make a great book club pick.

About  a young girl dealing with the loss of her father, a busy mother, and her best-friend Grandma who’s away for the summer, it’s full of chickens, zucchini, and adventures with the new girl next door.  It’s the most realistic modern story we’ve read in a while, but recreating some of Ruby Lavender’s adventures guaranteed to be fun.

Girls' Book Club

Whenever Ruby Lavender started really missing her grandmother, she’d visit her house and slip into one of her bright pink Hawaiian muu-muus.  I decided that we couldn’t really celebrate this story without attempting to make our own.

Girls' Book Club

We started with plain white twin bedsheets cut in half.  The girls each ironed theirs and then pinned it in half again to make a basic sheath.  We folded raw edges under and sewed them and cut out necklines and stitched those.

Girls' Book Club

While I helped the girls iron, pin, and stitch in turn, the other girls decorated notebooks to use with someone special.  In the story, Ruby Lavender hid letters to her grandmother in a knot in a special tree just outside of town, and her grandmother would find the notes and reply.  We decided to do the same thing in a special notebook, so the girls collaged, glued, and stickered away to make something unique.

 

A few of the girls had never used a sewing machine before, and for others it had been a long time.  My Big Helper and one other young seamstress did a great job about answering questions and helping their friends get ready to sew while I was busy elsewhere. 

Girls' Book Club

After finishing their notebooks, the girls who were waiting for help with their muu-muus moved on to a cooking project.  Ruby Lavender’s mother works as a home economist and was challenged with creating new zucchini recipes, so I gave the same project to the girls.  One girl decided to chop hers and scramble it with some eggs.

Girls' Book Club

These girls paired up to marinate and grill their zucchini.  They made a great team!

Girls' Book Club

My Big Helper decided to saute hers and make her own sauce.  She really enjoyed experimenting with ingredients and flavor combinations.

After the muu-muus were completely stitched, the girls painted flower outlines on them with Elmer’s glue.  We hung them on a makeshift clothesline in the sun to dry, and then dipped the whole thing into fuschia fabric dye.

The glue acted as a batik and repelled the dye, creating beautiful white flowers on the muu-muus sewn out of t-shirt fabric.  The other, slipperier fabric didn’t hold the glue as well, and their muu-muus are more solid in color, but still a pretty pink.

There was a lot happening in this book club event, and it lasted all day!  Still, the girls did a great job sewing their muu-muus and creating new recipes.  They were careful and responsible, and I heard them discussing the story while they worked.

I love that – when a book makes such an impression that it pulls your attention away from the art project or craft at hand.

Win.

What are your kids reading this week?

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NEW! “Mr. Lemoncello’s Library Olympics” Linked Novel Study

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You might remember that we love Chris Grabenstein’s Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library.  We loved it so much that we made it a book club pick for both the boys and the girls and we’ve read it over and over.

That’s why we were over the moon excited to find out that Grabenstein wrote a sequel – Mr. Lemoncello’s Library Olympics!

Chris Grabenstein

This book is just as exciting as the first one.  Grabenstein again layered in history and science among library science and codes and painted the whole thing fun.

There are so many threads to pull, in fact, that I wrote curriculum and extension activities to go with it!  You’ll find everything from the typical vocabulary and essay assignments to more creative science, history, and art projects.  Also included are printables, cooking projects, and a recipe for Mr. Lemoncello’s favorite drink, Lemonberry Fizz.

The activities in this packet are great for upper elementary and middle school kids, as well as homeschoolers and book clubbers.  With nearly 80 pages of projects and a wide range of responses, you’ll find something to suit every learning style here.

You can find out more and download your own copy in my TpT store here.  I’d love to know what you think!

What are your kids reading?

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Book Club, Survival Edition: “The Secret Island”

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I first heard about The Secret Island by Enid Blyton while eavesdropping in the library. 

Awful, right?

I didn’t mean to – but some kids were super excited about a book that they’d read and were happily discussing it with the librarian.  They all seemed so in love with it that I knew we had to check it out.

We loved it as much as those other kids did, and so we chose it for April’s book club pick.

The Secret Island was written long ago and is about a group of children who were living with extended family and were all being mistreated.  They band together and run away to a small island in the middle of a lake, where the live for six months, building a shelter, earning money, and finding food.  While the beginning is sad and the children rather rebellious, there are many opportunities for discussion, and the survival lessons within the book are wonderful.

Book Club

That’s why we went for survival training for this club meeting.  One student’s older brother is a Trail Life-er and volunteered to teach.  He did an amazing job!  Since someone else was teaching, we had a joint boys-and-girls meeting for this book, and while that definitely upped the ‘crazy’ factor for all of us, the kids had a great time.

After we discussed the book, our young teacher got us started with paracord.  He based our meeting on ‘what if we were stranded in the wilderness with only a knife, some paracord, and a survival blanket?’ 

After learning about the benefits of this cording, we headed out into the woods to simulate being lost.  The kids loved this activity.  They quickly banded together into groups and looked for materials with which to build shelters.

Some went for a teepee-style structure, which looked pretty easy to build – but where would all these kids sleep?

Book Club

Others tried to build a more traditional house, with sides and a roof, using the blanket as the roof.  (Still another group went lean-to style, but I never was able to get a picture of theirs.)

Book Club

Upon returning to our house, we returned our attention to paracord.  Our leader taught the kids how to make paracord bracelets that they could wear to be prepared in an emergency.  It took a little while for the kids to figure out how to make them, but as each one caught on, s/he taught another, well demonstrating the ‘each one teach one’ philosophy.  Soon everyone was sporting a camo paracord bracelet!

Book Club

While we had been doing all of this, a peach cobbler prepared by our teacher had been cooking away in a Dutch oven in the driveway.  With only a small amount of time left, he broke out the ice cream and cobbler and we celebrated our new survival skills in a very delicious way.

Our young teacher had other activities planned, as well, that would have taught amazing other skills, but the kids were so enthralled with shelter building and bracelet making that time didn’t allow for any more. 

Although a young teenager, our leader did a great job of planning and sharing his skills with our group of kids.  Their enthusiasm always keeps me on my toes, and despite the fact that he’s not much older than some of the book clubbers themselves, he was quite professional and was able to answer all of their questions.  I love when I see one of our younger ones showing responsibility and dependability, and this young man has it in spades.

Although it’s been several days since the book club event, my kids have been peppering me with questions about what they learned from their survival guide.  They’re interested in heading to REI to look at survival equipment and in trying out their new skills. 

The Secret Island would be a story great for arcing into an overnight campout, a camping unit, or a mission project to help kids – like the ones in the book – whose at-home conditions are less than ideal.

What sort of survival skills do your kids have?

Check out these survival products to host your own Secret Island-style event:

 

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How to Host Your Own ‘Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library’ Party

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My Big Helper has been talking about this month’s Chris Grabenstein book club event for weeks.  She’s been counting down the days, then the hours, all while bouncing off the walls and carrying her invitation around with her endlessly.

How to Lemoncello's Library

We love this

 

She immediately began planning how we could turn our house into the Alexandriaville Public Library and begged to have an escape game similar the one that Mr. Lemoncello hosted.

Chris Grabenstein

So we got to work.  I designed labels for Lemonberry Fizz and created a recipe for the drink that Mr. Lemoncello loves to guzzle.  I also built the Wonder Dome, decorated the house, and filled in many other book details.

Chris Grabenstein

I printed out an anagram game that we could use for a Super Dooper Challenge and planted clues around the house.  One of these bonus clues became the prize for the challenge.

Chris Grabenstein

Of course, we had to eat, too.  Since the main characters attended a fancy gala to celebrate the library’s opening at the beginning of the book, I opted to serve a ‘fancy’ dinner.  I made two kinds of fondue and served it with sautéed chicken, steamed veggies, and bread cubes on a color-coordinated table.  The girls drank their icy water out of glass goblets and giggled every time they stuck out their pinky fingers.

Chris Grabenstein

Dessert had to be fondue, too, since it’s such a fun way to eat – although there are several dessert options in the book.  My Big Helper loved the fruit platters and chocolate fondue; judging from the amount of chocolate on the other faces I saw, they liked it, too.

Chris Grabenstein

Throughout the course of the event, we played as many Lemoncello games as I could create.  I made Indoor-Outdoor Scavenger Hunt cards, and the kids raced around the neighborhood to collect their items first.  I created a label for Mr. Lemoncello’s Anagrams, and the girls raced to see who could make the most words with alphabet cookies.  They also played our version of Hurry to the Top of the Heap with Lemoncello trivia.

Eventually, late that night, one team pieced together enough clues to escape the house – and they did so with lots of whooping and hollering and running around in the dark.

Their prize was to choose their parts in the next-day’s commercial.  I gave them the task of creating a commercial to ‘sell’ Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library to other kids.

Click here to view a rough copy of their commercial.

I’ve had myriads of technical difficulties in trying to share this.  Their commercial plays well on my computer – I had to video that in order to show it to you.  I apologize for the issues that remain.

Of course, we ended the party with a birthday cake, and since My Big Helper’s big day is close, we sang to her.

I spent hours designing the games, creating labels, and putting the details of the party together – so I’m happy to share them with you.

 

You can find everything you need to print your own 68-page Lemoncello party pack here.

Happy escaping!

What are your kids reading now?

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How to Host Your Own ‘Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library’ Party

Disclosure Pic

My Big Helper has been talking about this month’s Chris Grabenstein book club event for weeks.  She’s been counting down the days, then the hours, all while bouncing off the walls and carrying her invitation around with her endlessly.

Chris Grabenstein

We love his book

She immediately began planning how we could turn our house into the Alexandriaville Public Library and begged to have an escape game similar the one that Mr. Lemoncello hosted.

Chris Grabenstein

So we got to work.  I designed labels for Lemonberry Fizz and created a recipe for the drink that Mr. Lemoncello loves to guzzle.  I also built the Wonder Dome, decorated the house, and filled in many other book details.

Chris Grabenstein

I printed out an anagram game that we could use for a Super Dooper Challenge and planted clues around the house.  One of these bonus clues became the prize for the challenge.

Chris Grabenstein

Of course, we had to eat, too.  Since the main characters attended a fancy gala to celebrate the library’s opening at the beginning of the book, I opted to serve a ‘fancy’ dinner.  I made two kinds of fondue and served it with sautéed chicken, steamed veggies, and bread cubes on a color-coordinated table.  The girls drank their icy water out of glass goblets and giggled every time they stuck out their pinky fingers.

Chris Grabenstein

Dessert had to be fondue, too, since it’s such a fun way to eat – although there are several dessert options in the book.  My Big Helper loved the fruit platters and chocolate fondue; judging from the amount of chocolate on the other faces I saw, they liked it, too.

Chris Grabenstein

Throughout the course of the event, we played as many Lemoncello games as I could create.  I made Indoor-Outdoor Scavenger Hunt cards, and the kids raced around the neighborhood to collect their items first.  I created a label for Mr. Lemoncello’s Anagrams, and the girls raced to see who could make the most words with alphabet cookies.  They also played our version of Hurry to the Top of the Heap with Lemoncello trivia.

Eventually, late that night, one team pieced together enough clues to escape the house – and they did so with lots of whooping and hollering and running around in the dark.

Their prize was to choose their parts in the next-day’s commercial.  I gave them the task of creating a commercial to ‘sell’

I’ve had myriads of technical difficulties in trying to share this.  Their commercial plays well on my computer – I had to video that in order to show it to you.  I apologize for the issues that remain.

Of course, we ended the party with a birthday cake, and since My Big Helper’s big day is close, we sang to her.

I spent hours designing the games, creating labels, and putting the details of the party together – so I’m happy to share them with you.

You can find everything you need to print your own 68-page Lemoncello party pack here.

Happy escaping!

What are your kids reading now?

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Book Club, Boys’ Edition: “The Lemonade Crime”

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The boys were really excited about this month’s book pick: 

I set up chairs on our carport to resemble – roughly – a courtroom.  When everyone was ready, we moved outside and took our places.  Our Honorable Judge called court to order, listened to the opening statements, and then swore in our first witness.

Book Club, Boys' Edition: The Lemonade Crime @ A Nest in the Rocks

After listening to the prosecution, the defense attorney stood up and gave a rousing defense on behalf of the Third Pig.  He was quite proud of himself!

Book Club, Boys' Edition: The Lemonade Crime @ A Nest in the Rocks

After closing arguments and some debate, the jury members declared the Third Little Pig to be innocent of murder. 

The mock trial was a lot of fun, and the boys are already asking to do it again.

I call that a success.

Want to put on your own mock trial?  Find everything you need here and here.

 

 

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NEW! Mock Trial Materials from A Nest in the Rocks

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I plan book club events months in advance.

That’s why I was thrown last month when the boys asked to dig into a book in a way I hadn’t planned.  Worse yet, I wasn’t sure exactly how to do what they asked, and I knew that figuring it out would require a lot of time and research.

Still, who wants to say ‘no’ to a bunch of boys asking to learn more?

Research I did, and our book club event ended up being really fun.  The boys all got into it, so much so that the girls’ group did a similar project.

What did they want to do?

They asked to hold a mock trial like the one in the book ,

Book Club, Girls’ Edition: “Stealing Magic”

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This week the girls took their turn at Stealing Magic, the second book in The Sixty-Eight Rooms series by Marianne Malone.

While the boys read this book last week, the girls took a very different approach to it.

Book Club Girls Edition Stealing Magic

After discussing the story, we moved right into painting.  Jack and Ruthie traveled to Paris in 1837 during one of their visits to the Sixty-Eight Rooms, and so we focused on Parisian culture during this meeting. 

Book Club, Girls' Edition: "Stealing Magic" @ A Nest in the Rocks

Each girl brought a canvas to the party.  We covered our kitchen table with a bright purple tablecloth and got to work.  We painted Eiffel Tower backlit with a sunset.  I loved listening to the girls compliment each other’s work throughout this process.  They also all chose to put their own unique spin on it.  Some went for heavy texture while others worked for smooth, realistic colors.  Their paintings turned out great!

Book Club, Girls' Edition: "Stealing Magic" @ A Nest in the Rocks

By the time we finished painting, everyone was hungry.  We broke out the crepe supplies and mixed up a batch of Creative Crepes.  Everyone chose to make two, and they all made their own.  These girls have skills – they flipped wonderful, thin, round crepes!

Book Club, Girls' Edition: "Stealing Magic" @ A Nest in the Rocks

It’s hard to top strawberries, chocolate, and whipped cream – and so that’s how we topped our crepes.

Book Club, Girls' Edition: "Stealing Magic" @ A Nest in the RocksAfterwards, we headed outside since the weather was pretty warm.  I showed the girls how to roll newspaper into short, medium, and long tubes, then asked them to build a kid-sized Eiffel Tower.  Although they rolled lots of tubes, they ran out of time before they were able to finish.  Judging from the huge amount of rolled newspaper still in my house, however, this project was a hit – and My Big Helper continues to plan new structures.

There are many opportunities for learning within the pages of Stealing Magic.    We tapped only one avenue of this – there’s so much more to explore.  Give Stealing Magic a try – it’s definitely worth the read.

What are your kids reading this month?

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Book Club, Boys’ Edition: “Stealing Magic”

 

 

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I was really excited about this month’s book pick.  I love when the kids love a particular book enough to request the next in the series, and that’s how we ended up reading Stealing MagicThe second in The Sixty-Eight Rooms series by Marianne Malone, this story continues Ruthie and Jack’s adventures in this famous museum exhibit.

We started out by summarizing and discussing the story, and this one is ripe for great discussion.  We talked about heroes, idols, and what happens when those people fall off pedestals.  We talked about what trustworthy means and how we can tell who is.  Lastly, we talked about what the Bible has to say about the goodness of people and who He finds to be trustworthy.

Deep stuff, right?

Book Club, Boys' Edition: "Stealing Magic"

 Then we got our hands dirty.  We headed to the kitchen and made crepes since one of the places Ruthie and Jack visited through the Rooms was Paris in 1837.  We mixed up the crepe batter together and the boys cleaned and capped strawberries.  Each kid made his own crepe and topped it with his choice of fresh strawberries, chocolate ganache, and whipped cream.

Book Club, Boys' Edition: "Stealing Magic"

The boys made small crepes, but apparently they had big flavor – every boy had seconds (also made himself).

Book Club, Boys' Edition: "Stealing Magic"

Sticking with the Parisian theme, I challenged the boys to build the Eiffel Tower – out of mini marshmallows and spaghetti noodles.  They were pretty excited about this, and each team tackled the challenge a different way.  Some tried to stay very true to the shape of the Tower, while others just attempted to build structures.  It was fun to watch the excitement on the boys’ faces, and I love seeing how their spatial skills came into play with this activity.

Stealing Magic is a great book, and in the end the boys requested the third one in in the series, so we’ll be tackling that one soon.  In the meantime, come back next week to find out how the girls interacted with this same book!