"If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales." Albert Einstein

01 May 2015

Book Club: Into the Volcano

The Page Turners at my library read Into the Volcano last month, which was an unusual choice in that it is - gasp! - nonfiction. One of the girls picked it up and actually said, "How can I read this? It has PICTURES. I don't read books with PICTURES." She didn't actually show up for our book club meeting, either, so it could be that she really doesn't read books with pictures.

 I am intentionally varying the types of books we read so that the kids are exposed to current, popular books as well as classics, fiction as well as nonfiction, graphic novels, poetry, and everything in between.  So I was not bothered by the fact that this was a different kind of book, and to be honest, it's about volcanoes.  How could I not have a book club meeting with a volcano theme?

At our meeting we discussed the book as is usual, then instead of having four different activities the kids could choose from, there was really only one.  Well, there were two, but no one was really interested in the second one.  So we spent the last half of book club making baking soda volcanoes, because blowing things up is awesome, and being allowed to do that in the library is even more awesome.

The supplies for the baking soda volcanoes.
I prepared for this by making large quantities of brown/grey homemade play-dough, mainly because it's super cheap and I could get all the volcano-y colors I wanted.  Then I bought one bottle of vinegar and one box of baking soda.  I used aluminum foil trays that we already had at the library and added red food coloring from home.  I also grabbed a bottle of dish soap because I read somewhere that adding soap makes the volcano foam a bit better.

The kids made their volcanoes in the foil trays, which helped contain most of the mess.  When they were done making the volcanoes, I let them add baking soda, food coloring, and soap.  If I did this again, I'd have them stir those items together with a craft stick before proceeding.  Next we added vinegar, and because I was feeling adventurous I let the kids pour their own vinegar, which they thought was pretty much amazing.

Poor dinos. They never knew what hit them.
The end result?  A huge vinegar-y and play-dough-y mess and a bunch of very happy kids.  We also had a few kids who tried to sneak into book club because it looked so interesting.  I ended up letting them each make a volcano, too, since I had enough supplies, and then convinced them to sign up for next month's club. I am glad that I added the soap, because it not only had the promised foam effect, but it also made the room smell better than vinegar alone would have and made clean-up a piece of cake.

The second activity I had was a home made LEGO game similar to the LEGO pirate plank game that can be purchased in any local big box store.  I made a LEGO volcano and used the micro figures and the die from the pirate game and also co-opted the rules.  Instead of walking a plank, though, these micro figures were heading up the volcano.  This probably would have been a popular game had it not been for the baking soda volcanoes.

Have you ever done a messy project in your library? How did you balance the kids' enthusiasm with the potential for disaster?

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