For Narnia!

October 31st was the culmination of a month of planning and prepping. We transformed our house into the magical world of Narnia and hosted 23 of our friends in a series of  grand adventures! Throughout the party we tried to give “coles notes” versions of each book in the Chronicles of Narnia through our games and activities. We drank cordial and ate Turkish Delight, we made shields, and jumped in imaginary ponds in the wood between the worlds. Our party was an in-depth, hands-on exploration of the text we read and enjoyed so thoroughly. Through the planning and implementing of this party E and D were making text to film connections, text to self connections and text to text connections as they related each book to other reference points in planning our decor and events. We thought about what it would be like to go into the underground realm where Prince Rinian was imprisoned, or how the wind would blow the sails if we were sailing on the Dawn Treader. We used those queries to recreate the feelings we imagined by using our crawl space as a dark, underground realm and setting a fan and streamers on the ceiling to simulate sailing on the Narnian Sea.

We greeted our guests with a Narnian quote that seemed apt for the beginning of our fantasy.

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Then this is what they saw when we opened the door:

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The child guests, (adults had a alternate entrance), had to crawl through the wardrobe and enter the Narnian forest. This is the view of hallway from inside the wardrobe and then a look backwards! Our entrance was also our main reference to the book The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe.

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We “bobbed” for apples and made yellow and green rings as part of our exploration of the Wood between the Worlds from The Magicians Nephew.

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We were fortunate enough to already have a wonderful horse for The Horse & His Boy! We decorated this room to give a sense of the forests of Archenland and a couple of palm trees to represent Calormen. The kids played a game of Hot and Cold with two play mobile figures. We recapped the scenario of Cor the lost prince of Archenland and told the children they needed to find the identical twins and reunite them. After reuniting the twins the children were told they could each rock on the horse 5 times to join the race to warn Narnia that the Telmarines were marching towards them.

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Next we toured the ruins of Cair Paravel in the saga of Prince Caspian. The task in this room was to search for the missing treasures of the High Kings and Queens of Narnia. We hid 5 small treasure boxes around the room and each box contained 3 miniature copies of the gifts from Father Christmas: Peter’s sword and shield, Susan’s Bow, Susan’s horn, (for the purists – we recognize that this is a departure from the original story as Susan’s horn was actually in the possession of Prince Caspian), Lucy’s dagger and cordial, and a small cutout of Aslan (also a wee departure but we thought it fit and couldn’t find a good image of Edmund’s sword so did this instead).

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Further up and Further in to this wonderful series we went to the Far Islands on the Dawn Treader. In this room the kids played a Narnian version of the game Wink/ Murder. One person is chosen to be Ramandu who must put everyone to sleep with a wink while trying not to get caught in the act. the first person to identify him by catching him winking is the winner. My wonderful hubby wrote this on a sign in the room: “On the island of Ramandu, the star has just told you that to rescue the last lords, you must sail into the utter east and leave one of your company there. Yes, one of you will get to travel on into Aslan’s country, and the others must return to Narnia to await His return there. who will is be? The last to be put to sleep by Ranandu or the first to identify him?

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We had a break and enjoyed a lovely Narnian feast complete with Dufflepud cookies and Turkish Delight.

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For the next book, The Silver Chair, we painted a small doll chair silver and hid it in our crawl space. E and D, together with a couple of friends had been busy setting up the crawl space like a play castle and for the day of the party we turned out all the lights and spread glowsticks everywhere. The kids were given flashlights and small LED lanterns to search for the hidden chair. There was also a green rubber snake hidden that they could find if they wanted to search more.

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This was definitely the hit of the party. Everyone wanted to play downstairs in the dark. We had more games planned but due to the popularity of this space we let them spend the rest of the time exploring all the rooms and playing with the props.

We paid homage to The Last Battle with a shield-making craft.  We cut out shield templates from cardboard then spray-painted them silver and gold. The party guests then used coloured duct tape to decorate them.

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At the end of the party we presented everyone with certificates to appoint them official Narnian status. TheLionTheWitchAndTheWardrobeCertificate

We had goody bags with small gold lions, lion stamps, gold and silver coins  (bubble gum) and ring pops. It was a loud and rambunctious party that I hope the kids will remember for a long time!

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Words + Pictures = Books

We have been excited to dig into our new math book over the past couple of weeks. E just started the Singapore Math program and so far she is finding it just right for her. She has been studying mass and equalities vs. inequalities.

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I like that each section starts with an example of the problems and answers. It seems to be what E needs to understand what she has to do and then get into the lesson.

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It was a rainy week and so we filled our time with trips to the library, rainy jumps and thankfully the occasional sunny breaks on the trampoline and we built a new reading fort in a poorly used closet under the stairs. First of all we pulled out the jumbled large items that were needlessly stored there and moved a few things to the donation pile. Then we collected some large cushions and extra area rugs to make a cozy nook.

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We brought in a shelf and our big bag of library books.

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We hung up a couple of tablecloths for a door and to hide the remaining storage then created some artwork to hang on the wall and decorate the space. Voila! A new hideaway in which to read while the rain falls outside.

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Of the fantastic books we are reading this week there are 3 that are so great I have to share!

1. Sidewalk Circus by Paul Fleischman and Kevin Hawkes  – This is a great concept book without words!IMG_1580

Although you can leave your pre-readers alone with this book and see what they come up with; I found that sitting together and looking for the clues was an engaging process and that allowed me to see how much they could inference from the pictures. On the first page we see posters for the circus and then through the use of colour and light we notice a little girl coming to sit at the bus stop. Notice how she stands out from the others? While the other people are grey and immersed in their own activities, the girl is looking around and is amazed by what she sees! On every page there is an obvious picture and a more subtle or “hidden” picture. I pointed out the sign for the tightrope walker here and let my children draw the conclusions.

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We all enjoyed this book so much that it’s really hard to highlight just a few pages but this has to be one of our favourites. If you look at the various people in the scene they are doing ordinary activities but their shadows are doing something rather different 🙂 I don’t want to give away all the secrets so please go check this one out at the library for yourself or order it on Amazon here: http://www.amazon.com/Sidewalk-Circus-Paul-Fleischman/dp/076362795X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1366648183&sr=8-1&keywords=sidewalk+circus

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2. Chloe and the Lion by Mac Barnett and Adam Rex – this book grabbed me on the title page…IMG_1586

…I absolutely love this little clay picture of the author introducing himself!

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From good to better, turn the page and we have the dedication and the author introducing the illustrator.

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And then the opposing page shows the illustrator with pen in hand and introduces the main character! This book is so witty and unique that we thoroughly enjoyed reading and re-reading it. It is a great book for introducing the parts of a book and literature vocab like “author”, “illustrator” and “main character”.

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I think this might have been my favourite page. I love the total departure from the story and the egotism, power struggle and general argumentativeness of this dialogue. I can hear my kids making their own version of this over and over again and I think we will get many years out of this one! At Amazon: /www.amazon.com/Chloe-Lion-Mac-Barnett/dp/1423113349/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1366648687&sr=1-1&keywords=chloe+and+the+lion

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3. A Good Trade by Alma Fullerton – I had to include this one because it was such a perfect fit with with our co-op study on South Africa and the global poverty awareness that we are building in our kids.

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This book has lovely illustrations of children living rural life in Africa and even depicts one character with a prosthetic leg. There are great jumping off points for discussion here and it was such a timely book that we really enjoyed it. The final conclusion of this book is the children of the village receiving new shoes from an aid worker. As we have spent several co-op sessions creating products to sell to raise funds for Food for the Hungry, I loved that this book showed the end result of raising money to help those in the developing world.

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And wrapping up a quiet week, Daddy recruited E to help him assemble the new BBQ Grill. She loves Mechano and Lego and is becoming quite skilled at using a socket set and a few other tools as well.

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That was our week and despite the many days indoors – it was another great learning adventure! What do you like most about rainy days?