Co-op Book Club 2013-2014 (Part I)

Liquid nitrogen -water volcano/ Krakatoa simulation.
Book? William Pene du Bois' Twenty-One Balloons, of course!

We've had another year of rip-roaring good learning with our homeschool co-op. Twice a month we've been studying world geography and learning about the history of cartography with the fantabulous Mapping the World With Art curriculum. Maybe some day I'll do a full review of that program. It definitely ranks as the best new (to me at any rate) homeschool resource I've seen in a long time.

But as terrific as the Mapping program is, I think pretty much everyone's favorite co-ops were our monthly Book Club days. I posted here about what we read and did last year.  We followed a similar format this year with the kids who ranged from 9-13.  And again the younger children also had Book Club weeks using Five in a Row materials. My friend, Heather U., led Book Club for the older ones and came up with all the terrific ideas I'm about to describe.

Each child read the book selection at home or listened to it read by a parent or audio reader. We began each session with a discussion about the book. Heather usually would bring in some interesting information about the author and his or her background. Animated conversations almost always took place as the kids talked about why they did or didn't like a particular book, about how the author handled Christian themes, and much more. It's thrilling to watch the energy that comes when a group of young people have read the same book and want to talk about what they have experienced. If you try this, be patient at first. But as the kids become more familiar with one another and how to talk about books, I think you'll find they really get into it. Often an hour easily passes in this part of co-op.

And then we move on to book related activities! This is so much fun! (OK, I'll grant you, part of the reason I love this so much is that I get to go along for the ride, but I don't have a part in the planning and preparation!) Here's a look at what we've done this past school year:

September: Twenty-One Balloons, William Pene du Bois

Starting off with a bang, and to tie in with our geography theme, we read The Twenty-One Balloons, a hilarious book which takes place on Krakatoa and ends with a cataclysmic eruption.

But my youngest sons are going to forever link this book in their minds with blowing up trashcans full of water. Because, thanks to one of the chemistry professor fathers, we had a large flask of liquid nitrogen to play around with. Liquid N2 is super cold (it boils at −321 °F) and super cool to experiment with.

Liquid N2 (inside 2l bottle)  + warm water (trashcan) → KABLAM!!!

We knew this Book Club was going to be hard to follow

 (Google "liquid nitrogen trashcan rocket" for info if you want to replicate this.) 

What to do with extra liquid N2? We scrambled around for ice cream ingredients and came up with coffee creamer and chocolate syrup. Instantly frozen with the liq. nitrogen - delicious!

For this month, we split our Book Club into boys and girls. The girls read Maud Hart Lovelace's sweet tale of friendship at the turn of the last century, Betsy-Tacy. For Book Club they dressed up and had a lovely tea party.

  Girls - Betsy-Tacy (Maud Hart Lovelace)

 Boys - Red Hugh Prince of Donegal (Robert T. Reilly)

The boys enjoyed a more violent tale, Red Hugh: Prince of Donegal, which tells the true story of Red Hugh O'Donnell and his daring escape from Dublin Castle. The boys watched Disney's version of the tale and ate popcorn, not at all daintily.

November: House of Arden (E. Nesbit) 

E. Nesbit wrote some of the most laugh-out-loud hilarous fantasy books ever. The House of Arden involves time travel, and the reader will do best when he either knows his British history or has access to a resource such as Our Island Story (H. E. Marshall.)

In search for a lost family treasure, Edred Arden and his sister, Elfrida, step back into different eras with the help of a little creature called a Mouldiwarp.

To summon the crotchety Mouldiwarp, the children have to create poems such as this one:

"Arden, Arden, Arden,
Lawn and castle and garden;
Daisies and grass and wallflowers gold–
Mouldiwarp, come out of the mould."

(Edred and Elfrida aren't the best poets you've ever read.)

The challenge for our Book Club members? Write a poem to summon the Mouldiwarp.

I'm sorry to say I didn't collect the results, but I can tell you they were every bit as amusing as the ones in the book. And I have never seen 9-12 year olds, particularly boys, so excited about composing poetry.              

That's what kept us busy during the fall. Look for Part II (spring semester) coming soon and Part III (summer) in a month or so.


Anonymous said…
So much fun! This is great inspiration as I plan school and reading for my beginning reader next year!
Erin Polderman
Anne said…
I'm glad it was inspirational! I hope you can join with some other families occasionally as you begin homeschooling. It can be such an encouragement. And a Book Club is a super fun way to do this!

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