16

Feb

Adventures As Annie

Lately, I’ve been going back in time. And I’m not talking about a daydream trip down memory lane.

Farther.

For example, last Saturday I went to Ancient Greece.

To the Anceint Olympic Games.

To the stars and back.

True story.

If you have children in grade school, are a teacher, bookseller, or librarian, it’s more likely than not you’ve come across the ever-popular Magic Tree House series by the talented Mary Pope Osborne. This book series for young readers first published back in 1992 has remained to be one of the bestselling, most circulated, most loved story for kids just starting to read chapter books. Each book stars sibling duo Jack and Annie and their magic tree house that takes them back in time and around the world on fantastical (and educational!) adventures.

Last Saturday, I morphed into the part as “Annie” and my coworker and collaborator  as “Jack” for Magic Tree House Adventures, a brand new monthly club at the library for children 5 & up. Each session is themed after a different Magic Tree House book and chock full of activities, games, and crafts. Some of the kids will have read the book we have designated for the club, some may have not, but the idea is to use the series as a way to get kids excited about the series, of history, and reading.

Our first session was themed after Hour of the Olympics (#16 in the Magic Tree House series) where Jack and Annie visit Ancient Greece.

And if you were wondering….

Yes, “Jack” and I wore togas.

It was good fun.

Here’s what we did for the hour:

Where Are We? Who Are They?

“Where Are We? Who Are They?” is a game “Jack” and I made up as a brief introduction to Ancient Greece. A picture slide show game composed of 8 pictures projected onto a jumbo screen. When a picture popped up on the projector, I had the kids guess what it was of. For example, a picture of ancient Olympia is displayed and I asked, “Where is that? Is it downtown Lawrence? Is it where your Aunt Suzy lives?” Here is where they would come back with guesses… right or wrong, after they gave their answers, I gave a few brief facts about the picture and move onto the next slide. Next, a picture of Plato shows up, so I asked, “Who is that old guy? Your grandpa?” The kids laugh and guess and so on and so on.

A fun, short activity about the times and culture Ancient Greece. They think it’s a game, but they’re actually learning. Kinda like sneaking in vegetables at dinner.

Olympic Long Jump

One of the events of the Ancient Olympic games and of modern Olympic games is the long jump. So, after “Where Are We? Who Are They?” the kids were divided into two groups and competed in a standing long jump competition.

After each child took a turn at jumping, the three longest jumpers of each group were presented with a modern Olympic medal i.e. a gold tin jar lid assembled to a gold string.

Constellations Presentation

After our own Olympic games and award presentation, we went straight into the night.

Using a planetarium projector I already own, all the lights were shut off in the auditorium and the stars shown bright as I went through a few of the more simple constellations and the Greek Mythology behind them. Ursa Major and Minor, Cepheus, Cassiopeia, Andromeda, and of course the the mythological creature that appears in the Hour of the Olympics book, and my personal favorite, Pegasus.

Olive Branch Crown Craft

To finish, we made olive branch crowns, an idea found on Quality Kids Crafts. Downloadable instructions including the olive branch cut outs of which we also used can be found here.

Books

A few kids finished their craft early which I expected and was ready for. I had an two entire tables full of books about ancient Greek civilization, the ancient Olympics, today’s modern Olympics, Greek mythology,  constellations, biographies, graphic novels, anything and everything that pertained to what we discussed during the club. I invited them to choose as many books as they would like to look at to check out after the session.

They raided the table.

I had 40+ books on display and only had to 8 left over.

Attendees also took home their very own “Magic Tree House Adventure Journal”. The character, Jack in the Magic Tree House always carries his journal with him to jot down notes during his and Annie’s wild adventures, so we recreated that journal but with information from the meeting and more!

This way the kids have a take-home activity and the parents/caregivers have a guide of what was discussed as well.

Here’s a peak at what was inside:

The pictures were the same images used for the “Where Are We? Who Are They?” slideshow. The facts are simple notes from my presentation outline, as well as The Magic Tree House Research Guide: Ancient Greece and the Olympics.

My co-worker who played “Jack” assembled the journal and did an awesome job to boot!

I found these constellation images in an old stars and planets field guide at a thrift store. “Jack” scanned them for the journal.

And since there were some younger kids that might not be able to jot down notes of their own, we also included coloring pages.

Endnotes

Since this was my very first library program (other than storytime), I was ridden with nerves of how it was going to turn out. Visions of kids being bored out of their minds and wanting to leave. Of total chaos. Or the worst… disappointment.

But that isn’t what happened.

It was a success. Hallelujah! Over 50 kids were in attendance, all well-behaved, eager to learn, and most importantly having fun. Which was all I wanted for Magic Tree House Adventures– To have fun. To get kids excited about reading. To demonstrate how books fact or fiction can bring to life another world, a vast place of endless exploration. As in the words of Dr. Seuss:

The more that you read,
The more that you’ll know
The more that you learn
The more places you’ll go.

Next Month

In March, we’re off to Ireland:

Leprechaun in Late Winter, Magic Tree House #43 by Mary Pope Osborne




image source: treehouse, hour of the olympics, olympia, leprechaun in late winter

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Comments

5 Responses to “Adventures As Annie”

  1. Susan says:

    This is awesome. Would you please send me a copy of your journal. I am teaching Magic Tree House Camp in July and this would make a great resource. Thanks so much.

  2. Roxanna says:

    I just came across your blog and love your ideas! If you still have a copy of the journal would you be able to email it to me? My kids and I are reading the books and I’d love to give them this journal to work on. Thank you!

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