Our First Tuesday Tea and Poetry

I have been slowly gathering up supplies for our first “Tuesday Tea and Poetry” day in the tradition of the Brave Writer Lifestyle. Lots of books have been purchased and we are continuing to gather tea cups and fancy dishes as we come across them in thrift stores or on other outings.

Today, my son helped me get everything set up while his sister was playing with a friend. He was very excited and thought we should call it “Fancy Day!” We used an old quilt for a tablecloth and brought in flowers. We put out snacks and books and then let the girls in on the surprise. They had been on their way outside to play, but agreed to try it out.

Success! From the moment we started reading, they loved every minute! We took turns sharing and listening. We heard poems about a drumstick, a werewolf, William Tell, a man with clothes made out of food and dead animals, summertime and a baby cow, pranks played on a dad, and more. My son surprised me the most. I wasn’t sure how he would like it, but he seemed to enjoy it best of all and wanted to stay and read stories when we were done.

So he did read to me – “Just So Stories” by Rudyard Kipling. He has listened to the audio book many times (all 3 1/2 hours of it) and he liked reading the first story and poem to me in his fancy, expressive voice with a bit of a Brittish accent.

Everyone is looking forward to next week! I will need to dig up a stash of special snacks.

Geronimo Stilton

My daughter just finished her third Geronimo Stilton book. This is a really big deal to her as she read them out loud all by herself. This is the first year she read whole books instead of just bits with me and she was very insistent that I not help or read ahead.

She made this bookmark to mark her spot.

Number Jugglers

I have had this book since the kids were small. Today, I pulled it out and played a few of the games with my son.

The first game has a simple goal. Deal out cards and then try to make each of the numbers from 1-9 by using your cards. You can add, subtract, multiply, or divide in any order. You can use each card 1 time maximum in each equation. We started off with 10 cards. Too easy. 6 cards. Still too easy. Then 4 cards. Really easy except for making 1 of the numbers. I was about to give up when my son figured out the answer! See if you can get them all.

Then we played an even/ odd number game that we renamed unicorn or balls. Not quite as interesting.

I really like this book and plan on continuing with more of the games. As you progress through the book, there are lots of pre-algebra type skills…keeping equations balanced by doing the same thing (or an equivalent) to each side, dividing numbers by themselves to get a number 1 to work with, maintaining what you have by multiplying by 1. Good stuff.

There is also a book/card set called “Fraction Jugglers” that I plan on getting in the future.

Japan and Ninjas

We are moving on to book 5 in the Magic Tree House books and will be exploring things relating to Japan.

We started off reading a few books and magazines.

My son beat me at a game called “Number Ninjas”. While trying to verify a game rule, we stumbled upon a video game of the same name.

It got hard pretty fast.

We watched “Between the Folds”, a documentary on fantastic Origami artists. My jaw dropped several times. It is simply astounding what they can do with a square of paper!

My daughter and I tried our hands at origami and made boats and balloons.

We listened to Japanese stories on Tales to Go.

The kids love the “Mythical Monsters” book so much, I bough a Japanese Yokai book that is similar plus a guide to Ninja and Samurai.

Only in Japan do they come up with monsters who eat the scum off your bathtub! What a way to get kids to help with cleaning 🙂

Next up is a visit to the art museum and sampling Japanese foods.

Weird Connections

The kids and I started off using polymer clay the other day and then wound up learning about strange meat products. Happens all the time, lol.

Here they are making colors and working on their designs.

My daughter was making miniature food again which led us to this.

She made potatoes and carrots and some breads and then she turned to the deli section.

What is “black pudding”?
Well, it isn’t pudding in our sense of the word…

It led to interesting discussions of other cultures and why things that might seem strange to us are part of everyday life elsewhere.

And of course, more mini food was created.


We have quietly slipped into our unit on Egypt and mummies to go along with reading the next Magic Tree House book.

So far we have started reading the book itself, looked up recipes to try together, watching some National Geographic specials on Netflix and played a card game called Mummy Rummy. We are looking forward to learning more and checking out the exhibits at the Cleveland Art Museum.

Here are pictures from the game. There are 5 artifacts in each colored group.

Audio Books

The kids have been listening to audio books at bedtime lately. We have been using an app. called Tales2Go. They offer thousands of stories and we have found lots to enjoy. My son wasn’t sure what he wanted to listen to the other night so I suggested King Arthur because we were still finishing up our “Knights and Castles” theme. He loved it! I found another set of medieval stories that both kids have been listening to now.

Some other favorites have been Kipling’s “Just So Stories”, the “How to Train Your Dragon” series, the “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” series, lots of Geronimo Stilton books, and the “Catwings” series.

Knights and Castles

The kids and I have moved on to learning about our next topic from the Magic Tree House books. This time it is knights and castles.

We started with reading “The Knight at Dawn” and the companion book that contains background information about the medieval time period.

We also played a game called “Castle Keep”. The goal is to use tiles to build your own castle to completion or to totally destroy another player’s castle.

Great Books

We picked up more books the other night and had two huge winners in the stack for my son.

The first was what we specifically went to get, a book about ancient animals called “When Fish Got Feet …”. We had this book when he was younger and he loves it now as much as he did then. And now he can read it himself. And tell me about giant trilobites larger than me with claws 🙂

The second huge winner was “Killer Koalas from Outer Space”. It is an irreverent, poop and death filled comic book. He has read it twice now- once out loud in the car.

Final Dino Chapters

Today, we finished up the first Magic Tree House book and did a little in the notebooks. The kids were ok with it but seemed ready to move on to non-fiction.

When we did a dinosaur puzzle today, the kids were definitely interested. The pieces had the names and some information about the animals on the backs. Questions poured out of the kids. Wikipedia was used liberally.

Guard kitty:

Some pieces we looked at in more detail.

This first piece led to questions about mammals during the time of dinosaurs. Mammals were around, but in general were smaller than the dinos and ate insects and vegetation. Only one was known to eat reptiles. Some were egg-laying mammals and some were placental or marsupial.

This led to a question about the duck billed platypus from my daughter who said it was the only modern egg-layer. My son said she was wrong and needed to include echidnas. After looking it up, he was found to be right and she declared Phineas and Ferb were wrong!

We looked up lots of ancient mammals and then moved on to ancient fish.

All of this made my son very interested in finding out more about the ancient non-dinosaur animals. I let him know I had some books on hold at the library we could pick up tonight. He remembered that there were ancient creatures in one of our Horrible Science magazines and set off to find it. I found him on our bed reading.

I am really looking forward to reading the non-fiction stuff with the kids and heading to the museums next week!


The kids and I started the first Magic Tree House book this week- Dinosaurs Before Dark!

They are not used to doing lots of written work, so we are baby-stepping into notebooking using some lapbook foldables. I am hoping that by starting out with writing only a few words at a time they won’t get too frustrated and we can add more as we move through the year.

So far, we are doing 2 chapters a day. It seems like a good pace for us in terms of adding pages to the notebook and still having time to do other hands-on things. I am figuring on 2-3 weeks per book to give us time to explore lots of related ideas.

The kids really enjoyed building a dinosaur world to play with last night. We gathered up supplies and went from there. The kids talked about all kinds of dinosaur things while we played.

Today we made “fossils” with Plaster of Paris. They look good so far.

The tree was supposed to represent the treehouse. The kids pointed out there was no treehouse in it…

Here are some of the books and magazines we have so far.

Here are the first pages of their notebooks.

Magic Tree House Books

A few years ago we read and listened to some of the Magic Tree House books. The kids liked the stories and so did I. I also appreciated the variety of settings and people that the main characters visited.

This year, I decided to revisit the books and use them for a themed backdrop for some of our learning. My goal is to find interesting books, movies, games, puzzles, stickers, etc. that go along with each book. I am also planning on trips to museums, zoos, science centers, and more as well as hands on experiments and art.

This will also be the first time the kids and I will be using notebooking. We will each have a binder for storing written stuff as we go along plus photographs of the things we do and places we go.

The kids have each really enjoyed having their stories and art saved in the past, so putting their work where they can easily get it to read and share sounds like a good idea.

I have started a binder for myself to keep ideas, printouts, and trip info. for each book handy. That way, I can easily add things to sections for the future if I stumble upon good resources.


When I was out with a friend a few weeks ago, I picked up a kit from the clearance section of the bookstore. It was a kit to make plush aliens . When I opened it, it was not what I was expecting; I thought it was going to be pre-punched felt shapes to sew together to make the monsters on the box. Instead I found a rather nice book and a stack of a few basic supplies- felt squares, safety eyes, and a bit of fiber fill.

I shared the book with the kids. My son had been asking to sew again (thus my picking up the kit in the first place). He loved the book and immediately picked out an alien he wanted to make. My daughter decided to focus on other projects.

Getting the pattern enlarged and printed was not fun for me. To get started right away and try to avoid a copy shop, I resorted to using tracing paper, a scanner, an imaging program, and our printer. After much trial and error to print them the right sizes, I had to tape the pieces together to make the patterns.The box shows cute, little aliens. The book contains many larger aliens. To make them, not only must you enlarge all the patterns, you also need to buy fleece or felt large enough. This led to us going out anyway to make a trip to the fabric store to pick out colors of fleece.

Luckily, things were much easier from here on out. My son cut out the fleece shapes, learned how to use the sewing machine again, and did the body sewing with minimal help from me. I did sew the mouth part because zippers in tiny spaces are a bit tough. He did the body stuffing and then we closed him up.

His name is “Marble” because you can tuck coins or marbles in his mouth.

Dots and Triangles

The kids and I got out more books to go along with the “Storybook Art” projects. We just read this one.

On each page, there is a rhyme and a scene that uses a number of black dots as part of the picture.

The idea for a project given in “Storybook Art” was to create your own picture using a number of dots. Before I even discussed the idea, however, my son had a different idea…he thought we should do something similar, but with triangles! We brainstormed all kinds of triangle ideas from snowman noses and ice cream cones to the pyramids and jack-o-lantern eyes. We came up with over 30!

Here are the first pictures we drew.

Drawing Books

My daughter has been asking for more drawing books lately, so when I saw this set of books on sale, I decided to go ahead and buy them. The set is called “Draw, Write, Now!”.
There are 8 books covering a few topics each. The books give short writing selections for each picture and additional information about the topics on other pages. There are step by step directions for each picture and helpful tips regarding horizon lines, angles of sight, scale, backgrounds, etc. The point of the books is to show how each drawing is really just made up of a bunch of shapes and lines and to give writing examples that are informative and related to what you want to draw. I think they are well done. So far, my daughter has tried out a few of the drawings and been happy with her results!

Thrift Store Finds

After my daughter’s dentist appt. last week, we hit the thrift store with a 50% off coupon. We scored a bunch of shorts for three of us, shirts for her, a book, 2 games, and a physics kit.

She and I explored the book and one of the games and had a blast. She is really good at the history game. It was surprising to me as I didn’t expect her to have heard of most of the events yet. She even guessed the exact year of the first International Olympics!