Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Dinosaurs Before Dark Magic Treehouse Book Club

Last year a group of Hornet’s friends and their moms got together for a Pre-K book club. We chose the Magic Tree House Series (MTH) by Mary Pope Osborne. The reading level for this series is about 2.5 to 3.2. It works well for a read-aloud for the 4-6 year olds because it exposes them to new vocabulary, has simple and quick plots and takes them to new places and adventures.
Warning – there is some talk of wizardry and other make-believe topics so preview the books to make sure you are ok with it or have in mind that they might bring up good discussions with your child. We never had any big issues but if you do a young book club keep in mind that some (parents & kiddos) are more sensitive than others.

What we did for the book club was we started with book # 1 and read that book to our kiddos during the month. Each book has 10 chapters so Hornet and I would read a few chapters a day and finish it in 3-4 days. Then at the end of the month the group would get together at one mom’s house/park/place and that mom would be in charge of doing a couple activities/crafts and a snack based on the book for the month. We had 9 moms and Pre-Ker’s in our group (as well as a few siblings) and it worked out great! I was impressed what all the mom’s came up with to complement the book that month and can’t wait to share them with you! The first book is below ~ we kept it fairly simple with a books discussion, digging for dinos, measuring dinos and a dino snack!
Stay tuned for books 2-8 in the months to come!
Here are a few ideas for a

Dinosaurs Before Dark MTH Book Club for
Pre-Kindergartner’s to First Graders and their moms!

Book Discussion
I have a wooly mammoth bone that the kids got to check out – I realize everyone doesn’t have one of these but it is great to have some books, toy dinosaurs, or pictures of dinos to assist in the discussion.

The Stuff: Dinosaurs Before Dark book, MRH Fact Tracker Dinosaurs Book
The Fun:
1. Discuss the book with the kids. Talk about the characters, what happened with the treehouse, what happened with the dinosaurs and their favorite parts/dinos.
2. Check out any dino pics, toys or bones
J that you have.

Dino Dig
This was so much fun! Mix up the clay batches (with dinos hidden inside) a few days ahead of time so they have time to harden up. For the digging we had a pair of kids per clay ball.
Everyone was digging away!

Found stegosaurus!
The Stuff: (makes 2 small clay balls for dino dig)
For the clay - sauce pan( not your best) and wooden spoon, 1 cup sand, ½ cup cornstarch, 1 teaspoon alum, ¾ cup water, small plastic dinosaurs
For digging – paint brushes, small spoons, chopsticks, paper plate to put it on

The Prep:  Prepare the balls of clay
1. Add ingredients to saucepan and stir the mixture until it is smooth and the cornstarch is dissolved.
2. Cook the clay over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally. The clay should start to thicken within a minute or two. Stir more vigourously, being sure to scrape the mixture from the sides and bottom of the pan.
3. After about 3-5 min of cooking, the clay will have thickened to the consistency of gritty playdough
4. Split the clay into two pieces and push a plastic dino or two in the middle. Let harden for a couple days.

The Fun:
1. Give the kids the clay ball on a paper plate and their tools and tell them they are going to dig for dinos.
2. Let them explore with the tools and discover which works best to uncover their dinosaurs.

Measure Dinos
When I was teaching 2nd grade we studied dinos and always measured how long they were but not how tall they were so I had the idea to use balloons on strings for their heights. The day we did it for book club the weather dropped about 20 degrees and it was really cold so the balloons were not going up – quite strange. Anyhow, even though it didn’t work when I needed it to we have tried it since and it works just fine. You can look in the Dino Fact book for lengths and heights or just google a few. Originally we did 5 dinos.

The Stuff: Yarn (we used surveyors ribbon), balloons, papers for each dino w/ length and height (I put a pic of each on mine as well) rocks (optional)
The Prep: Measure out yarn for each dino’s measurements. You can do one piece of yarn that has the lengths taped for each and then as you unroll the ball of yarn you can talk about each dino starting with the smallest length first. Get helium balloons for each dino and measure out a piece of yarn the height of that dino. This should be prepped first to make it go smoothly.
The Fun:
1. Put a rock on the starting piece of yarn and begin to roll out. Stop at the first piece of tape for the smallest length dinosaur first. Read their measurements and attach the balloon to the corresponding dino to show it’s height. You might want to add a rock where you tie on the balloon or it will pull the whole length yarn up.
2. Repeat for each dinosaur.
3. Have kiddos compare themselves to the dinos.

Dino Snack

The Stuff:  We had dino fruit snacks and stick pretzels (for bones). You can also make bread stick bones.
The Fun:
1. Enjoy the snack!

More ideas…

Check out this cute snack idea from Muffin Tin Mom!


 You can also check out www.magictreehouse.com for more great ideas!

Please BRAINSTORM your ideas/suggestions in the COMMENTS below for the Dinosaurs Before Dark MTH Book Club!
Happy Reading
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