Thursday, June 27, 2013

Backyard Book Club: Excavation Trivia Challenge

When the Backyard Book Club read Ivy + Bean Break the Fossil Record, we decided to follow in Ivy and Bean's footsteps and do a little digging of our own. Before the rest of the kids arrived, our trusty assistants buried these items in the sandbox (some of them protectively sealed in plastic bags):

  • Ivy
  • Beans
  • plate and dish soap
  • masking tape
  • shovel
  • wine glass
  • puzzle
  • spoons
  • straws
  • scorpion
  • M&M's
  • world record (or similar) book
When the kids arrived, we divided into two teams. Each team had a shovel and team members took turns digging up an item. When the discovery slowed down a little, we opened up the dig site (a.k.a. sandbox) to all the kids until all the items were found. Then we sat down together in a shady spot and figured out what each item had to do with our book. The kids had lots of suggestions as to what they'd bury if it were up to them! It was a really fun way to review what happened in the story and a great follow-up to our fossil-making activity. After we were done, some of the kids wanted to keep digging, just to make sure we hadn't missed anything. (Come to think of it, we never did find the M&M's...)

Check back next week for our final Ivy + Bean activity!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Backyard Book Club: Making Fossils

During the month of June, our Backyard Book Club read Ivy + Bean Break the Fossil Record by Annie Barrows. So what could we do but make fossils at our meeting? The kids loved this activity and were so excited to take their fossils home.

To make fossils of your own, you'll need these materials:
  • aluminum foil
  • modeling clay
  • Plaster of Paris
  • whatever you want to fossilize--plants, shells, plastic bugs (but don't worry, all you'll do is push these into the clay and take them back out. They won't really be fossilized!)
Here's how to make your own fossil in just a few minutes (plus drying time):

1. Put a lump of modeling clay on a piece of aluminum foil and flatten it until it's about 3/4" thick.

2. Press whatever you want to "fossilize" deep into the clay, then carefully remove it. We used plastic bugs and butterflies, sea shells, and clippings from juniper and spruce trees. (It looks best if you put the bugs belly-up in this step.)

3. Mix up a little Plaster of Paris by stirring powder and water together according to package instructions. Then pour your plaster over the top of your clay and use the back of a spoon to press it down into all the little indentations. (Warning: Your plaster may set even before the package instructions say it will, so it's best to mix the plaster right before you're going to use it. :)

4. Play other fun games while you wait for the plaster to dry! Ours were ready in about an hour.

5. Turn your fossil over and carefully peel back the clay. (You can reuse the clay for other projects.) Don't they look great?

More about fossils:
Come back next week for another fun activity from this month's Backyard Book Club!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Ivy + Bean Break the Fossil Record (Backyard Book Club)

by Annie Barrows

From Goodreads: World record fever grips the second grade, and soon Ivy and Bean are trying to set their own record by becoming the youngest people to have ever discovered a dinosaur. But how hard is it to find one?

My Two Cents: Ivy and Bean are spunky and clever and appeal to both boys and girls. Their adventures, dreams, and mistakes are at once universal and totally unique. What kid hasn't dreamed of breaking a world record? But what kid has tried to do it by shattering a glass octopus using only the power of her voice? Like the characters themselves, this series is totally original and tons of fun.

Grade Level: 1-4

Additional Resources:
  • Find your own world record to break at Guinness World Records, or see what records are most amazing to you! (Are the records in Ivy + Bean Break the Fossil Record real?)
  • Learn more about Mary Anning at this great BBC site for kids.
  • Check out the American Museum of Natural History's PaleontOLogy site (and all their other great OLogy sites) for games, activities, drawing lessons, and lots of other fun resources!
  • Make this kid-friendly banana bread recipe and have your own backyard playdate!

More to Read:
  • All the other books in the Ivy + Bean series! (This is book 3.)
  • Another girl who looks to a book when she wishes her own life were more interesting: Utterly Me, Clarice Bean by Lauren Child
  • Another girl who sometimes has conflicts with her older sister: Beezus and Ramona (and all the other Ramona books) by Beverly Cleary

Monday, June 3, 2013

Introducing the Backyard Book Club!

Summer vacation has officially started for my family, and I've decided to switch up the blog format a little to celebrate! This summer, we're hosting a Backyard Book Club for my son and daughter and a few of their friends. I think I'll call it the BBC--that acronym's not taken, right? :)

Here's the plan, in case anybody else is itching to start a Backyard Book Club of their own:

Each month, I'll post our book pick here as well as a few resources that go along with it. Then during the course of the month, I'll post pictures, instructions, and printables for all the activities we do at our meeting. By the end of the month you'll have everything you'll need to host your own Backyard Book Club! (Except the kids. You have to provide those.)

Stay tuned--next week I'll reveal our first book pick! Here's a hint: It involves dinosaurs, cartwheels, world records, and all the M&M's a kid can handle...

What about you? What books are you and your kids reading this summer? Any suggestions for our Backyard Book Club?