4-6th Grade Book Discussion: Eddie Red Undercover

Eddie Red Undercover: Mystery on Museum Mile by Marcia Wells is a 4-6th grade juvenile fiction novel about a smart kid who teams up with the police to catch art thieves.

Sixth grader Edmund, aka Eddie Red, has a photographic memory and some really great art skills, which makes him the perfect tool for the NYPD to use to catch a renowned group of art thieves called the Picasso Gang. But not everyone is as thrilled as Eddie is to be working with the police.

As Eddie continues to work the case, he and his genius best friend dig themselves in deeper and may find themselves in a whole lot of trouble.

Discussion Questions:

  1. What is this book about? What are the main themes?
  2. Where do you think Edmund got his code name “Eddie Red” from?
  3. Edmund has a photographic memory. What advantages or disadvantages might there be to having such a memory?
  4. It takes three things to solve a police investigation according to Edmund. What are they and how does he use them to solve the Mystery on Museum Mile?
  5. Edmund is a pretty relatable character. What character traits does Edmund have that you might relate to?
  6. What are your personal stakeout must haves?
  7. What do you notice first when you meet someone? What disguise might you use to make yourself unrecognizable.
  8. Detective Bovano isn’t a fan of Edmund working for the police. Why do you think this is so? And how might Edmund try to get on Bovano’s good side?
  9. At the end of the novel, Edmund seems to have gained a new sense of self confidence and helps his friend deal with a bully. How do you deal with bullies?
  10. Is there anything you would change about this novel? Anything too predictable? Any loose ends?

STEM Activity: “Non-Newtonian Fluid” experiment

Supplies: Plastic Tupperware tub big enough to put your two hands in; corn starch; water

How To:

  1. Add corn starch to your plastic container. Keep track of how much you add.
  2. Add 1 part water to 2 parts corn startch. I.e. if you added 2 cups of corn startch, you would add 1 cup of water.
  3. Stir the mixture until it forms a thick mass that is no longer powdery.
  4. Very slowly, stick your hand in the mixture. Notice that your hand comes back wet and powdery. Clean your hand off.
  5. Now quickly hit, slap, knead, the mixture. Your hand should not go through the mass. You could run on it, hit it with a hammer and if you do it quickly enough, you should remain on the surface of the mass and not go under it.

The Science:

“Non-New­to­ni­an liq­uids do not obey the laws of or­di­nary liq­uids. They change their den­si­ty and vis­cos­i­ty un­der the im­pact of phys­i­cal force.” The starch particles bond with the liquid forming “chaotically interlaced molecules.” At a higher “shear” or impact rate, the tight bonds do not let the molecules separate, staying more of a solid. At a lower “shear” or impact rate, the bonds loosen and the molecules act more like a liquid. Non-Newtonian liquids do not obey the normal laws of physics. You can find out more about this experiment at MELS Chemistry.




How’d it go:

Oh man, what a frazzled book club! Somehow the link to my Zoom meeting was broken and here I am sitting there thinking no one would come and then a colleague tells me the link is broken. So quickly emailed the crew and changed the link and by then I was a mess. We had a very speedy discussion, a small group and a messy, messy experiment. *Sigh* It was bound to happen.

That’s all for now!



Keeping Busy with a Toddler: Part VII

As it is getting hotter and hotter outside–hello summer–it is time to start thinking about anything fun that can keep us cool outside. This is especially true for everyone who isn’t quite keen on the crowds yet and the uncertainty with public pools opening.

We’re making due at my house with our baby pool and, surprisingly, Tupperware.

Bubble Pool:


My little one loves bubble baths! We can’t do them all the time because they aren’t very good for the lady bits but we added some to our baby pool and gave her a sponge and a bunch of toys. This was a hit at my house and now every time I fill up the pool, she wants to know where the bubbles are!

Ice Tupperware:


I was putting ice in the dog’s water bowl one randomly hot day and my little one just kept trying to play with it. So I made her her own ice container on the back deck and this kept her busy for an hour. I honestly don’t know what the appeal was but I’ve filled that container with water on multiple occasions now instead of breaking out the blow up pool. Who needs a water table when you can plastic containers!

Feet Painting:


We have a long roll of brown paper that we invested in when the pandemic started a few months ago and it has been a life saver. One particularly messy morning, I dropped a bunch of paint splotches on down and just let her make some feet art.

Alphabet Rocks & Window Drawing:

I’ve also invested in some alphabet rocks, which I did not make but a crafty person could easily do so. My little one is advanced in a lot of ways but letters are something she shows absolutely no interest in. So I am hoping her love of rocks will help.

And dry erase markers on a rainy day are also a ton of fun!

That’s all for now!


4-6th Grade Book Club: Orphan Island

Orphan Island by Laurel Snyder is a juvenile fiction novel, probably best for 5-7th graders.


There can only ever be nine children on the island or else the sky will fall–but other than that everything is perfect. The sun always shines, snakes don’t bite, and the children never go to sleep hungry. Only one thing ever changes: every year the boat comes and one young child arrives and the oldest child must depart.

This year’s Changing is no different. The boat comes and Jinny loses her best friend, Deen, becoming the new island Elder with a Care of her own to mind. Jinny knows that it is her responsibility, now, to teach Ess, the new arrival, the ways of the island. But her heart isn’t in it. Why would anyone willing step into the boat and leave the island?

Will Jinny be ready when the time comes to leave the island herself? Time is running short and she will soon find out.

Discussion Questions:

  1. What is this book about? What are the main themes?
  2. The kids are brought up passing down this rhyme: “Nine on an island, orphans all/Any more, the sky might fall.” What do you think this rhyme means and how might it help to “keep” the children from asking questions?
  3. “The island has rules for a reason” (p. 11) and “I might be ready . . . for something else” (p. 12). What do you think Deen means when he says this?
  4. What are some of the signs that they island isn’t just a normal island?
  5. What are the three skills that each Elder must teach to the youngest child and why are they so important?
  6. What is the significance of the pile of shoes?
  7. Who is Abigail? Why do you think she agreed to come to the island? Why do you think the island was created/founded?
  8. What was the turning point of this novel? What changes did you notice when Jinny decides not to leave?
  9. After things started falling apart for Jinny, she becomes conflicted about leaving. Why? Do you think things would get better if she left?
  10. We are left with a lot of questions and a huge cliffhanger. What do you think happens after Jinny leaves the island?

Bonus: If you were stuck on an island, what book would you want to have with you?

STEM Activity: DIY Lava Lamp 


Empty bottle or glass; Vegetable Oil; Water; Food Coloring; Alka-Seltzer Tablets.

How to:

  • Fill your glass or bottle 2/3 of the way with Vegetable Oil.
  • Fill the rest with water, leaving some room at the top. The water will sink to the bottom of the container because water is heavier (more dense) than Vegetable Oil.
  • Now add in drops of food coloring. Be generous. No need to shake or stir. You will see that the food coloring only mixes with the water.
  • Once you are ready, drop in your Alka-Seltzer tablet. You can break it into a few pieces if you want to.
  • Ta-da! Lava Lamp.

“When you drop in the alka seltzer, it sinks to the bottom and starts dissolving.  As it dissolves, it forms a gas which rises to the top and takes a little of the colored water with it.  The gas bubble breaks on the surface and the colored water sinks back to the bottom.” –No Guilt Mom

Additional Resource:
Reading Guide

How’d it go:

I don’t know where everyone was tonight because we had a small group, but overall things went pretty well. We weren’t thrilled with this book, mostly because there were so many unanswered questions. But the kids really seemed to love our STEM activity. I love it when a STEM activity actually works!

That’s all for now!


Keeping Busy With a Toddler: Part VI

Back with some more random toddler-esq activities. Anyone else starting to run out of ideas, especially ones that last more than five minutes? Anywho… here’s what we’ve been up to:

Rock Scrubbing:


Continuing our work on very slowly creating a fairy garden, we found some cool rocks and got them all cleaned up. A bucket, some soap and a sponge led to at least an hour of cleaning rocks… and re-cleaning rocks, which eventually led to scrubbing the club house and the slide.

Pom Poms & Straws:


A while ago I bought a bag of mixed sized poms for crafting or sensory bins and the other day I grabbed the bag and some straws. I used some painters tape to create a “track” and fully intended on “racing” the buggy to see who could make their pom cross the finish line first. She had other options and dumped them all out. There was a lot of spit involved, lol.

Miscellaneous Happenings:

One thing I tried, after seeing a few posts from other moms, was doing a colorful veggie scavenger hunt, which lasted about five minutes. I “hid” her veggies and asked her to name them and the colors when she found them. We ended up throwing all the fruit when I told her the watermelon was a lemon and she insisted it was a watermelon. Oh well.

We are starting to get the nursery ready for our second baby and one of the awesome ideas my husband had was to use a magnetic primer on one of the skinny walls. The thought is that the buggy can play with magnets when we are stuck in the nursery feeding the baby or something. No dust from chalk; no mess of a white board; I love it!

Finally, we got really desperate one night before bath time and broke out the washable markers and let the bug “paint” her toes. This turned into coloring her feet and eventually coloring our feet too. Desperate times people. But we made it to bath time with a happy toddler.

Stay safe everyone!

That’s all for now!



Keeping Busy with a Toddler: Part V

We’ve had a slow week, reusing some of our other crafts, but here’s what’s new at my house to keep the little one going…

Mother’s Day Craft:


We did some hand print art for Mother’s Day for our Grandma and Mimi. I let my little one paint her own hand and then we pressed them down. I recommend having something they can smear after you force them to make nice hand prints. Annnnd I realized after scheduling this post that my mom will probably see it before she get’s the picture… Happy Mother’s Day 🙂

Cushion fun:

Probably not my safest idea ever but cushion climbing and bouncing were hours of fun at my house. I keep getting asked to play “the game.” I generally wait for daddy to be home though to make it safer.

Sorting Egg Carton Fun:

I saved a large egg carton and we’ve been sorting all sorts of things into it–from water beads to our rock collection. You can use the egg carton to sort and count as well, but we just enjoyed filling up the spaces.

More Fun:

We’ve also been painting in different locations, like outside on the bricks. We’ve gone on lots of walks with our stuff puppy. We are also slowly working on creating our own fairy garden in an unused spot along the side of the house. I purchased one plastic play garden and now we are gathering sticks and rocks to paint and make houses out of. It’s a slow process but something we are picking up things for on our copious mini-walks.

What’s everyone else doing?

That’s all for now!