4-6th Grade Virtual Book Discussion: Journey of the Pale Bear w/ Paper Horse

Journey of the Pale Bear by Susan Fletcher is a juvenile fiction book best for 4-7th grade.

When a great white bear is to be a gift from the King of Norway to the King of England, she is called a royal bear. When Arthur, a twelve-year-old runaway, first comes in contact with this bear, he is terrified. Miraculously, the bear doesn’t harm him, instead she lets him near and when no one else but Arthur is able to calm the bear, he is recruited as her caretaker for the sea journey from Norway to London.

As he continues to care for the bear, Arthur realizes that there is some connection between them, an understanding he cannot name. But the journey is fraught with peril and when the bear has a chance at freedom, will she take it or choose to save this human boy she has come to care for.

Based on a true story of a great white bear who lived in the Tower of London, this book displays the bond between a boy and a bear.

Discussion Questions:

1. What is this book about? What are the main themes?

2. Why is this book considered historical fiction? Do you know of any other books the fit in this genre? What historical events do they cover?

3. What are some of the reasons why Arthur runs away from home? Do you think he should have put so much faith into a letter he couldn’t even read?

4. Arthur and the bear seem to share an instant connection. Think about the bear’s experience in a cage and away from his natural habitat. Why do you think Arthur relates to the bear’s situation?

5. Arthur’s father died, leaving a large hole in Arthur’s life; Arthur imagines that the bear may also have been separated from her cubs. Why is family, or the lack of family, such an important part of this novel? How does it drive the characters’ actions?

6. When Arthur finally tells someone that Hauk took his letter, he leaves Ottar out of it, saying, “I knew what it was to be the weak one.” After they are bullied, people often go on to be bullies themselves. Why do you think that Arthur wants to protect Ottar instead of getting revenge? How is Arthur’s kindness rewarded later in the book?

7. Did you already know about the King of England’s menagerie? What animals do you think the king might have?

8. Freedom is an important theme in this book. When the keeper explains that some animals “languish” in captivity, what is he saying? Can you name some of the different types of cages, real or figurative, portrayed in this book?

9. Are there potential downsides to being free, both for people and for bears? Explain?

10. What did you think of the ending? Were you surprised by how the story ended? Think back to the prologue.

DYI Paper Boat and Moving Horse

Origami is the Japanese art of folding paper into decorative shapes and figures. Paper was first invented in China around 105 A.D., and was brought to Japan by monks in the sixth century. It was original used for ceremonial purposes and has flourished since. Today origami can employee the use of mathematics and engineering and even computer science to create these intricate designs.

Supplies needed: Several sheets of paper, scissors, a ruler and a pencil. If you have origami paper that will work too.

First, I am going to show the kids how to make an easy origami boat. The reason we are going to do this one first is because I want us to truly be successful at one of our paper crafts. The walking paper horse can be a bit difficult to get right the first or second time and I think we’ll have time to do both. So the boat is going to be a warm up.

PS. check the sources, there’s a link for the origami bear, that I would have loved to use, but it was really hard!

This is the site I am going to go off of for the folding:
https://www.thesprucecrafts.com/origami-sail-boat-tutorial-2540983

Next, we will try the walking paper horse. This one takes some precise measurements and some trial an error with the surface and incline the horse walks on. But I think it’ll be a lot of fun if we can get it to work.

This is the site I am going to reference:
https://frugalfun4boys.com/paper-horse-that-walks/

Sources:

https://www.simonandschuster.com/books/Journey-of-the-Pale-Bear/Susan-Fletcher/9781534420786

https://www.worldwildlife.org/pages/origami-patterns

How’d it go:

Oh man, I don’t know why but I could not recreate my paper boat! I gave the kids the link to try from home. But our paper horse worked out pretty well and I think the kids are going to keep trying to perfect it. They did walk at least a little bit by the end.

That’s all for now!

-M-

Earth Day: Sand Art

Earth day is happening in just a few days on April 22nd. Earth day started all the way back in 1970 and is celebrated every year around the world to support and protect our planet. Today we are going to learn a little about this planet we call, Earth, all while doing a fun sand art activity.  

But, in order to do sand art, we need to make sand right? If you happen to have colored sand at home, good for you! But for those of you who don’t, we are going to make our own.  

So what we need are 5 sandwich baggies, food coloring and salt. I hope you all have that handy. OK. Let’s put half a cup of salt into each of the baggies. This will make way more than we need but better to have more than less, right?  

Let’s pick one of those baggies and add around 8-10 drops of GREEN food coloring. Don’t add too much or else it will make our “sand” too wet and we won’t be able to use it right away. Then I want you to squeeze out as much air from the bag as possible and zipper it shut. Shake and move around your salt until the food coloring has spread around evenly. Crack open your baggie and move on to the next.  

We are going to repeat this with, RED, YELLOW and BLUE. To make orange-ish sand, we will do 4 drops of RED and 4 drops of YELLOW food coloring in our last baggie of salt.  

Now we are ready to get started.  

OK. Hopefully you all printed your template of the Earth and it’s layers before we started, if not, grab a blank piece of paper and you can follow along with me. You’ll see we have a funny picture of the Earth, right? Well, the Earth is made up of different layers, think of an onion. We are going to color and label each of these layers. Let’s work our way in. Does anyone know what the top layer of the Earth is called? 

BLUE – Crust – The crust is the thin outer later of the Earth where we all live. It may look pretty tiny from the picture but it can be anywhere from 3 to 44 miles thick. But compared to the rest of the layers it is relatively thin.  

GREEN – Upper Mantel – begins just beneath the crust and ends at the top of the lower mantle. It is relatively solid. The upper mantle causes the tectonic plates to move and is about 255 miles thick. Heat from the center of the earth can cause these big slabs of earth to move or slip, which causes earth quakes.  

YELLO – Lower Mantel – Reaches down 1796 miles beneath the crust, where it transitions to the outer core. It is made from solid rock. The rock is hot enough to melt, but is solid because of the pressure pushing down on it. 

ORANGE – Outer Core – The Earth’s outer core is made up of iron and nickel and is very hot, up to 5000+ degrees C. The outer core is very important to earth as it creates something called a magnetic field. The magnetic field the outer core creates goes way out in to space and makes a protective barrier around the earth that shields us from the sun’s damaging solar wind. 

RED – Inner Core – The Earth’s inner core is made up of iron and nickel, just like the outer core, but the inner core is so deep within the earth that it’s under so much pressure that, even though it is so hot, it is solid. The inner core is the hottest part of the Earth, and, at over 5000 degrees C, is about as hot as the surface of the sun. 

Fun Facts about the Earth: 

  • Earth is the 3rd planet of the sun 
  • By researching our planet’s rocks, scientists have calculated the Earth to be around 4.5 billion years old! 
  • The Earth is a Goldilocks Planet. It is not too far or too close to the sun. It is just right.  
  • 71% of the Earth’s surface is covered in water and the oceans hold about 96.5 percent of all Earth’s water. 
  • There are thousands of satellites circling the Earth. Some for communication, some to study the Earth itself and some to study the universe beyond. 
  • Even though you might think you are standing still, the Earth is turning. The speed at the equator is around 1,000 mph. 

How’d it go:

A pretty simple program to prep and run. Overall, it went really well–minus by glue bottle not cooperating at first. Unless you want to make A LOT of salt/sand, I would recommend halving or more the recipe. I used 1/8th cup of salt this time around and 4 drops of food coloring and I still had a TON left over.

Gotta love crafting mixed with science!

That’s all for now!

-M-

Folder Story: There Once Was a Grumpy Pirate

For virtual storytime, there is nothing better than a good folder story. I’ve been working on creating a few of my own and decided to try a “porthole” story for an upcoming pirate theme storytime.

Here’s what I came up with:

There once was a grumpy pirate, 
His grumpy name was Fred. 
He groaned, he moaned, he sighed… 
He wouldn’t get out of bed. 
 
“Up!” tisked his mom,  
“It’s time to get ye dressed! 
“Sleepy pirates, never find, 
“The golden treasure chest.” 
 
So up Fred hopped and dressed he got, 
A hat and eye patch too. 
A shiny hook. A leg of wood. 
In search of gold doubloon. 

I created four porthole paper plates with scenes behind it, that I will show as I say the rhyme:

These were super easy to make. I just took paper plates, cut out the middle and painted them yellow. My background is just taped to the back of each plate. I decided not to laminate them because I didn’t want it to be too shiny for virtual storytime.

This would work too for an under the sea storytime, because you could pretend you are on a yellow submarine!

That’s all for now!

-M-

4-6th Grade Virtual Book Discussion: Boy Bites Bug w/ DIY Chromatography Butterfly 

Boy Bites Bug by Rebecca Petruck is a middle school juvenile fiction book for 4th-6th graders. 

Will didn’t intend to eat a stinkbug, but when his friend Darryl calls the new kid, Eloy Herrera, a racial slur, he didn’t think he just acted. Now will is Bug Boy and he kind of likes it. 

Intending to keep up his notoriety and title as Bug Boy, Will talks Eloy into helping him get his classmates to eat bugs. But the more Will learns about Eloy and entomophagy in general, the more sincere he becomes about his project. For Will, eating bugs is no longer just a joke but everyone sees it that way. And what’s worse, he really likes Eloy and is afraid he may have ruined this budding friendship. 

What can Will do to make everyone understand his real intentions when all anyone can see if a joke? 

Discussion Questions: 

1. What is this book about? What are the main themes? 

2. What is the difference between entomophagy and entomology?  

3. Will doesn’t intend to eat a stinkbug but he does it anyway. Why? And why is this so important to the story? 

4. In many cultures eating insects is commonly practiced. Have you ever eaten a bug? Why do you think there is a stigma around eating bugs? 

5. What do you think about Will as a character? Is he relatable, over-the-top, silly…

6. As Will’s friendship with Elroy grows, he and Darryl start to grow apart. When Will asks his dad for advice he says: “Sometimes,” Dad said, “people outgrow each other.  It doesn’t mean we stop caring or forget the good times, but maybe we realize we need different things, things that we can’t get from each other anymore.” Have you every “outgrown” a friendship? Or has anyone “outgrown” you? How did it make you feel? 

7. Will gets in the whole mess because he didn’t like how Darryl was treat Eloy but Will has his own prejudices that he isn’t even aware. What are some examples? 

8. What did you think about the “Buck-a-Bug” fundraiser? Was Will able to successfully turn Entomophagy from a joke into a good cause? 

9. In the background of this story, is Will’s longing to be on the varsity wrestling team. Before his big match his coach says, “Take a breath… Whatever’s going on, it’ll still be there when you get off the matt.” Do you ever feel like you can escape into a hobby and let everything else go? 

10. Think about cultural differences around the world. Can you name some things that would be done every day somewhere else, that might see unusual here? And vic-versa, what might we do that other would look on as “different.”  

DIY Activity: Chromatography Butterfly 

Supplies Needed: white coffee filters (large size, not Kcups); non-permanent markers; cup of water; string; scissors; pipe cleaners optional. 

Directions: 

  1. Pick a marker (try with multiple marks on your second attempt and see what happens). 
  1. Take one coffee filter and spread it out on top of a piece of paper. Draw a circle in the flat middle of the filter. 
  1. Fold the coffee filter in half and then in half again. It will look somewhat like a cone.  
  1. Get a short glass of water and stick the filter in with just the tip of the cone touching the water. Fan out the rest so it balances in the cup.  
  1. Let sit and watch what happens as the filter sucks up the water.  
  1. Flatten it out and place on your paper or newspaper to dry.  
  1. Once dry, take your filter and scrunch it in the middle. Tie the middle with string or your pipe cleaner. If you are using the pipe cleaner, the ends can still out to look like antenna.  
  1. Hang the butterfly with string and watch them fly! 

The Science:  

“Chromatography… is the science of separating mixtures. Mikhail Tsvet discovered that since different color pigments have different weights, they are carried along at different speeds, and end up in different places. So one can use different substances (gas or liquid) to carry the color, and by examining where different tints end, figure out what pigments were combined to make it.” 
-(https://kidminds.org/chromatography-experiments-with-kids-5-ways/)

How’d it go:

We had a great group for book club this month! Some new faces and some really great discussion. We had a little trouble getting the hang of how far to dip our coffee filters into the water, but it was all part of trial and error. This was a good month!

That’s all for now!

-M-

4-6th Grade Virtual Book Discussion: The Van Gogh Deception by Deron Hicks

The Van Gogh Deception by Deron Hicks is a juvenile fiction book for 4-6 graders. 

When a young boy is found sitting at the DC’s National Gallery without any idea who he is or how he got there, no one imagined the ripple effect that would happen. As black SUVs and missing security footage start popping up, there will be a race to find out who this boy is before it is too late. 

As the boy attempts to piece his life together, he must also use what little he does remember to stop the biggest art frauds ever attempted. Will he remember in time or will his ghosts catch up to him first.  

Discussion Questions / Further Reading  
1. What is this book about? What are the main themes? 
2. This book focuses more on STEAM than STEM, but often times there is science behind the arts like music, dance and painting. Can you give an examples of when the arts use science? Hint: There are a few in our book.  
3.What is the difference between “Science” and “Witchcraft” or “Alchemy?”  
4. This book uses QR codes as an interactive element between the reader and the story. What is a QR code and how does it add or take away from the story?  
5. Art suffered from trauma driven amnesia. How would you feel if you lost all memories of yourself, including your own name?  
6. There’s quite a bit of foreshadowing in the book. What is foreshadowing and how does it help to propel a story? 
7. What did you think about the art supplies in Art and his Dad’s studio? Did you know that some artists used to poison themselves just to get the right color pigment? 
8. Why do you think art forgers have more success when they use old canvas’ by unknown artists? In thinking about this, how does the history of paintings, or a specific painting, influence the forgeries?  
9. What is the fingernail test? (pg 243) 
10.  Art and Camille use a lot of low tech ingenuity to escape their captors, who have a lot of “high tech.” Let’s talk about some of these.  

My set up

DIY: Aging Paper 

Supplies: Paper (try multiple weights), 1 cup of cold coffee, coffee grinds, tea bag, hot water, either a waterproof table cloth and/or cookie trays. 

Directions:  The first step before each of the following techniques is to scrunch the paper and then open it flat. 

  • Coffee Painted 
    -1/4 cup of hot coffee, spoon onto the paper and spread evenly. 
    -add a bit more color by taking dried coffee and sprinkling over the wet paper. 
    -Remove the excess liquid with a paper towel and leave to dry. With adult supervision you can also “bake” your paper in the oven, on the lowest temperature, for about five minutes. Keep and eye on it.  
  • Coffee Dipped: Dipping paper in coffee is also known as coffee staining is a technique that slightly changes the color of the paper. This effect is less bold then painting a paper with coffee. 
    -Make coffee with boiling water and 3:1 ratio of coffee. 
    -Fill a container large enough to hold your paper like a baking tray with coffee. 
    -Submerge the paper in the liquid. 
    -Hang the paper on a clothe line or put it on a rack with paper towel underneath to absorb the excess liquid. 
  • Tea Bags 
    -Soak your teabag in warm water, but cool enough to work with.  
    -Squeeze out the majority of the water and dab the paper with the tea bag. 
    -Rehydrate the tea bag as necessary. 
  • Finishing Touches 
    -Burn the edges of the paper. 
    -Ink the edges with a dark ink. 
    -Add stamped images or text. 
    -Wrinkle again to add extra texture. 
    -tear the edges to enhance the used old look. 

Sources: https://einatkessler.com/how-to-age-paper-6-easy-technique-to/

How’d it go:

This went really well. The kids were doing pretty good with the discussion and we all seemed to like the paper aging project. Also, my office now smells like coffee, so positives all around!

That’s all for now!

-M-