Friday, July 31, 2009

A mini break

Since we had to head out of town we had a 'bi-week' this week.

I hope everyone is finishing or has finished the book - Ransom Note Blues. I think it was fun to work on the codes and see how they worked out the clues.

Our next book will be Swiss Family Robinson. It is a hearty read for us I think. I am trying to break it down into three weeks.

I want to finish the book club with a fun read just before we all head back to school. As I looked at the school activited and our family calendar I think we will stop book club for the school year. It will be too hard to work everyone's schedules together. But we can still encourage the reading throughout the year. The Rizzi's are thinking about ways to set up get togethers to do smaller reading activities, which sound great.

Our last and final book is Flat Stanley's Worldwide Adventures Series 1: The Mount Rushmore Calamity. It is a newer book to the series. I picked up ours at the bookstore but I am pretty sure I spotted a copy at the Mount Vernon Library too.

Due to a birthday party on Wednesday, August 4. I would like to suggest the next book club meeting next Thursday night at 7:30pm (August 6). Reminder, the kids only need to finish the Ransom Note Blues. We will discuss what to expect for the Swiss Family Robinson story and what the plan is for reading.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

The ransom note

Today's mission if you choose to accept it...

An envelope will be delivered to the kid's house, hopefully today.
The envelope has a mission for them. The need to solve the code. Figure out who to send their message to. Decipher the question and figure out the answer.

This is what I have. I did not include the older kids in this mission but I think if you want to print out the coded questions they could try and solve them if they are reading the book.

Here are the kids who will be getting a note (along with their name code)
Sydney - HBWMVB
Annabelle - ZMMZYVOOV
Hannah - SZMMZS
Jessica - QVHHRXZ
Anna - ZMMZ
Megan - NVTZM (Megan just moved into the neighborhood and is going into 3rd)
Charlie - XSZIORV
Albert - ZOYVIG

What color would the thief 'turn the town'? Blue
Mr. Grandpa gave Alec what book to read last summer? The Bobbsey Twins
What was the name of the missing 'thing'? Full Fathom FIve
What was hidden in the real painting? Ghosted key
What is the name of the town where the mystery took place? Laurel Hollows
What was the speed Alec's brain was moving? Peanut Butter
What painting style did Jackson Pollack use? Layers of drips or abstract
Who made the art show possible? Mrs. LaViolet

Barring that I did not transpose too many letters they should be able to figure out the code. I have already discovered one typo so hopefully the rest are not too bad.

Assignment - For next Wednesday please try and read at least to Chapter 9 if not all of it.
Next Wednesday is the final book club meeting for the month of July. We will on vacation the last week so we will start with Swiss Family Robinson the first week of August.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Did they like Stink!

Oh my yes.
We had a smaller group in the morning but I think I say that those kids really liked Stink.

The second grader readers were ready to answer the questions that where handed out. One of our older readers enjoyed it so much that he created a crossword puzzle for the kids to do, using words found in the book. It was quite impressive.

So we answered,
What is popcorning? Where is Stink from? What is 'rainbow poop'? Who is Mrs. Birdwistle? and more.

They so wanted to read another Stink book, but I told them that they needed to do it on their own in addition to our reading.

I got the feeling that the level was just perfect for them too. The reading was not too hard when they wanted to read on their own and the reading aloud worked well too.

I have to try and find more like that but they definitely through me a curve ball with their selections for next time.

Kids Picks

Well, it was overwhelming. Most of the kids seem to enjoy reading Stink. The facts were fun. They wanted to read another one but I suggested we try some different books.

After a host of suggestions and a great book selection from Patrick Rizzi's visit with the local librarian, we voted on the next reads. The kids had a million suggestions and my head was actually spinning with all the options. We narrowed it down to 5 and then just two favorites. This is what they came up with.

The kids picked two books...a classic read and a mystery.

We are going to read Swiss Family Robinson (and maybe even have a movie night to boot) and also read The Ransom Note Blues. The Ransom Note Blues is a brand new book. So new it is not in the library yet and most main bookstores have not gotten it in stock yet. Margaret has located two copies at Alladin's Lamp and is picking them up on Friday. With my copy that gives us three right now. I thought that we could read the first 3 chapters (about 40 pages). Hopefully that will allow us to share our copies with enough time to read.

Right now, I am not prepared with any questions for the kids or activities. I hope to get some for them soon.

So assignment -
Get Swiss Family Robinson book (we have children's version called Classic starts and I think we got it in Barnes and Noble)
Get or borrow a copy of The Ransom Note Blues and read 3 chapters.

I hope we can read the mystery this month and follow up with the Swiss Family Robinsons.

The next meeting can be Wednesday, July 15 at 7:30 (or 7:00) at my house, if that works for everyone. And again a meeting on Wednesday, July 22 in the morning or evening works for us.

We will not have book club the week of July 27 - 31. We will be in Florida.

Thursday, July 2, 2009


Stink, Judy Moody's little brother is having an adventure.
The kids want to read Stink and the Great Guinea Pig Express.

I know it is a holiday weekend but I have challenged them to read the book. Trust me, I read it in 40 minutes so I think they might be able to do it.

I have given them some Challenges... for those who could not be there pick your own question.

How did Guinea pigs get the name "Guinea Pig"? This is for Nate
How do you get 'Rainbow Poop'? This one for the boys (of course), Charlie and Connor.
Where does Stink live? I gave this to Hannah. You need to read and pick up on the clues. I think he lives in Northern Virginia.
What is popcorning? This one I gave to Annabelle and Syndey, I believe.
Who is Mrs. Birdwistle and why is she important? For Jessica.
Who is Mouse? For Anna

The site for the book is quite good with some activities including a maze, draw your own comics and a few other activities. Check it out at

More Books -
So I have a few more I have added to my stack...
The Ransom Note Blues is a mystery with a secret message decoding twist to it. Perfect for this age group. We were sent a copy of the book by the author and she would be interested to see what the kids think of it. I told her we would send her feedback after the kids finish it. Perhaps we could do a short writing assigment in code to her.

The Penderwicks, A summer tale of four sisters, two rabbits and a very interesting boy, is still in the pile and I think it will be a longer read perhaps a read along type.

I picked up a new one at the library which is quite intriguing - Up and Down the Scratchy Mountains. It is a tale about a milkmaid, her best friend who is a prince and the set out to solve this mystery of Lucy's missing mother. I read the preface titled Before the Beginning Began, and it was quite good.

As always let me know if you or the kids have any thing they would like to suggest.

I think things have been going better than I orginially expected. I hope the kids are enjoying it, too.