Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Book Club - Geronimo Stilton

I haven't posted since I took my new job up in Alaska. Being a librarian in Anchorage, Alaska is not too fundamentally different than being a librarian in Kansas City, Missouri. I get asked about Battle of the Book books instead of Mark Twain books, and I am learning about Alaska history instead of famous Missourians, but a lot of the same issues. I began the job in Feburary of 2008 and in September began a book club for first through third graders which was one of my favorite aspects of my job in Kansas City. Because the big dipper sign + northern star is so prominent in Alaska (appearing all over the place, most notably ont eh Alaskan state flag), I decided to name our book club Little Dippers Book Club. Hopefully in a couple of years we can grow the group to include third through fifth/sixth grade readers in a Big Dippers Book Club and perhaps even a sixth through eighth grade book club called Northern Lights Book Club. I get requests for the next age up all the time. But for now Little Dippers is a success. Our first meeting had only 4 participants and our last meeting had 17 participants (which is awfully close to my panic/full number of 20). I've made a few changes to the program. Instead of meeting twice a month on Tuesday afternoons, we meet once a month on Saturday mornings. It is 45 minutes instead of an hour (a much better and more managable amount of time). And no snack (though that more has to do with our food policy, and helps account for the change in time as well since when there was a snack it always took the last 45 minutes). I'm going to try to work backwards and talk about the various books we've used as well as other great programs held here at the Anchorage Public Library.

Book: The Lost Treasure of the Emerald Eye by Geronimo Stilton

Introduce Yourself: As always we start with introductions, including me. I also use nametags. Tell me your name, age, and what do you plan to do this summer.

Discussion Questions:
  1. Who is more adventorous: Geronimo or Thea?
  2. How are they alike? How are they different?*
  3. Why do you think they are so different even if they are siblings?
  4. How are you different from your siblings?
  5. Geronimo, Benjamin, Thea, and Trap are all different? Is it better to have people who are different or people who are similar on a team? Why?
  6. Do you think those four make a good team? Why or why not?
  7. What qualities do they each bring to the team?
  8. Why do you think they elected Thea leader?
  9. Why do you think Thea didn't vote for herself for leader?
  10. Was she a good leader? Why or why not?**
  11. What was the emerald eye treasure?
  12. Is that a good treasure? Or would you rather have treasure you could spend (like Trap)?
  13. How do we protect such treasures (nature)?

Discussion Extention Activities:
*From the list of alike and different characteristics, have the children name them while you make a Venn diagram.
**Make a list of what makes Thea a good leader, characteristics of a good leader in general, characteristics of world leaders, etc.

I made homemade playdough in yellow for cheese sculptures. I still need to post my playdough recipe, but any salt dough recipe will work.

Other Activities:
For a variety of reasons including space and time, I did not try these activities, but thought they were worth sharing.
  • Cheese Tasting: It is not possible to have food in this library setting, but in Kansas City this would have been a go. Have a variety of cheeses, everything from cheese in a can to gourmet "stinky" cheeses and let the kids try them all.
  • Newspaper Scavenger Hunt: I got this from another librarian's blog (the marvelous Children's Programming) and sadly didn't have time to do it. But a Newspaper Scavenger Hunt would have been fantastic. Read that entire entry for many other fantastic ideas.
  • Treasure Map Search: Of course you can always hide "treasure" in the children's area, provide a map, and let them go for it. However I prefer to keep my group smaller and contained and didn't want them loose. You lose the "book club" feel, but it would be perfect for a Stilton party.
  • Origami Boats: I really wanted to make origami (or newspaper) boats, but we just didn't have time.
  • Mouse Trap: I have a copy of the old classic board game of Mouse Trap (still readily availalbe), but didn't know how to let 17 children have fun with it at once. I still think it could have been cool, I am just not sure how I could have worked it in.

Vote With Your Feet:
At APL, we're in a theater with the superwide stairs for seating. For this "game" everyone stands on the middle stair and I read a statement. If that statement is true (or you agree or the answer is the first choice) you step down one step (forwards, if it is false (or you disagree or choose the second choice in the multiple choice arena), you step backwards (up) one step. I announce the correct answer, and we all compare what we think. Especially on a "what do you think" type of question, this is a good way to get the discussion ball rolling.

Sturcture / Timeline:
Here's how we're organized. As kids come in, we sit in a circle and do introductions. Then we discuss maybe one or two discussion questions. Then there is a "vote with your feet" game and that allows us to have a few more discussions (and keeps us from getting too fidgety from sitting too long). Then we start the craft. While making the craft (once we're all started), we do more discussion. As the craft wraps up, there is more discussion. Then a discussion extention (such as the Venn Diagram), and we wrap it up by passing out the take home and reading a little bit of the first part of the next book if we have time. Basically at no point do we just sit still and talk for more than 10 minutes; I try to keep discussion blocks at 5 to 7 minutes if I can.

Take Home Activities:
There are a ton of great printables on Scholastic's Stilton website and they got a word search and maze.