Anyway, it's a new year and a new group (at least the 3rd graders are newbies). We started this year with a combined 3rd and 4th grade group and started with The Spiderwick Chronicles by DiTerlizzi. It's a great little book, full of fantastic creatures and family issues - definitely made for a lively discussion! Turns out that some of my 3rd graders didn't know what divorce was. Yes, you read that right. I got to explain to a group of 25 kids what divorce is. (The parents' divorce happens prior to the book, but it provides the catalyst to the character and behavior of the central protagonist.) I absolutely wasn't expecting to have to explain divorce to a group of 7, 8, and 9 year olds! That kind of took me by surprise. But it turned out to be a good thing though. We had a great talk about how to be supportive of a friend if they ever have to go through something like that and how it's never the kid's fault in the situation and all that. It was intense. But I feel that reading fiction is one of the best (and safest!) ways to learn about rough stuff like that, especially within the safety net of a supportive book group. It was neat to see the kids share with each other what they know about divorce and how it has affected some of their lives.
I also had a pretty cute snack for them. I think that may be my favorite creative aspect of the group - coming up with something themed that they can look forward to. Some of my kiddos actually read the book of the month with my snack in mind! I always keep it hidden until the very end of the meeting, then see what their guesses are as to what I baked for them. They always come up with C.R.A.Z.Y. things. Well, I made "bogart brownies" for them this time. In the story, there is this creature called a bogart, which is a "brownie" turned bad. (A brownie is like a helpful little house elf.) I covered the brownies in powdered sugar and left little footprints all over them. (That is how you catch a bogart - by spreading flour or powdered sugar across the floor and tracking their footprints.) Here is what my "bogart brownies" looked like! Not an amazing picture of the chocolaty goodness, but it was a nasty rainy day and that is all I got that's worth showing.
I met with my 3rd graders this past Monday for their second book group (I'm so far behind in posting) and this time we read How to Be a Perfect Person In Just Three Days by Manes. This is an oldie but a goodie! If you've never read it, it is worth a few hours and some chuckles. The main character in this story finds a book that promises him perfection if he follows the directions in the book for three days straight. He has three different tasks, one a day, and once he completes them the author promises he will become perfect. I think if I had read this book back in the day, it would have rivaled one of my other favorites - Freckle Juice. Anyway, the first task is wearing a stalk of broccoli around his neck for the whole day. You'll have to read the book if you want to know why he had to do this. But broccoli inspired my snack. Here is what I served them.
Hilarious, right? The broccoli stem is a green tootsie roll cut lengthwise halfway down. I put a bit of green frosting at the two tips and dipped them in green nerds (for the florets). They tasted great! I got the idea for the broccoli from the incredible book What's New, Cupcake! by Karen Tack and Alan Richardson. The kids were completely enthralled!