Posted in gaming, Librarianing, programs

How my Thursday afternoon Math Club became a Thursday afternoon Gaming Club (and still has math!)

I’ve been having a great time with Math Clubs at my library lately. I know, Math Club, right? Aren’t most kids supposed to run screaming from Math Club? Not the Crazy 8s Math Club. Grab a nice, cold water, have a seat, let’s talk.

Most of the kids in my library community need help with math. Math can be intimidating and frustrating for them – I know it is for me – and it can be difficult to see the fun side of it. I had the idea of running a math club where we could play numbers games and taking some of that fear out of Math, so I started researching, and found Crazy 8s, a Math Club that developed out of the Bedtime Math Foundation. I was already familiar with the Bedtime Math app, having used it to do daily math games with my Kiddo when he was little, so finding out they had a Math Club was great news! The format reminds me of Girls Who Code, in that you get kits mailed to you, with lessons, for 8 weeks worth of math club sessions for Season 1, and there’s a coach login area with extra resources. I had a call with a Crazy 8s representative and about a week later, two boxes showed up!

I run two clubs every week: one for grades K-2, one for grades 3-5, and the sessions have been wonderful. Our first week, we did glow-in-the-dark geometry: Crazy 8s provided the glow-in-the-dark sticks, the kids provided the building knowledge to make the shapes. We counted sides, we talked about shapes and how many sides different shapes have and what we call them, and the kids had a blast.

Another week, we had hacky sack darts: Crazy 8s provided the hacky sacks and a floor-sized dartboard. We added up numbers, we played “darts”, and we had four teams compete with fun challenges, all while they were doing math. We had Beach Ball math another week, where they had to count how many breaths it took for me to blow up a beach ball (and not pass out), and called out math problems as they played catch.

The verdict: Get yourselves in on Crazy 8s Math Club. I am absolutely going for another season come the Fall! The website is super user-friendly and it’s a great program to run.

My Thursday group is the Grades 3-5 Math Club. They enjoy the games, but when time was up, they lingered around, wanting more. I’d been holding onto some games to introduce in September, particularly Dungeons & Dragons, but I figured there was no time like the present. I brought out character sheets and started explaining the idea of “storytelling, but with math” to my Corona Kids, and they were intrigued. I showed them the different kinds of dice – that was pretty great; I forget that a 20-sided die is a new thing to some people! – and explained how to work percentile dice. We started creating a quick adventure where one kid, playing a dwarf, had to roll his Intelligence to see what he could read; another kid, playing a wizard, got to roll Magic Missile to stop an orc bearing down on him. They loved it, I loved it, and we decided that Thursdays would now be Dungeons and Dragons math club. Huzzah!

The joy was increased tenfold when a friend put a link up on my Facebook page with the news that Wizards of the Coast – the company that owns Dungeons and Dragons AND the Magic: The Gathering card game – is providing activity kits to educators and librarians who want to start a Dungeons and Dragons group. I filled my form out, and my kit will arrive in the Fall! Until then, I’ll use the Starter Set I have at home from when my older kids were younger, and some of the freebies available on the Dungeons & Dragons resources area.

I mentioned Magic: The Gathering, which is a great fantasy card game that I played years ago, when my family and I learned it at the Wizards of the Coast pavilion at New York Comic Con. My cards have been dormant for a while, but that changed when I discovered this great nonprofit, MagiKids by Weirdcards. MagiKids is a nonprofit that has an education curriculum built around Magic: The Gathering! You fill out a form on their website, and they may send you a massive bunch of stuff. Look at this!

That’s not even the whole thing. I received this big card box full of donated M:TG cards; unopened booster packs, deck boxes for when the kids put together their decks, and score counters. It is INCREDIBLE. I was holding onto this one until September, too, but when the kids became so excited over Dungeons and Dragons, I had to introduce them to Magic. Sure enough, they couldn’t believe their eyes. We talked a little bit about the game, I let them open the boosters (honestly, it’s just so exciting), and we talked about MagiKids’s Sort, Build, Play curriculum. For the first week, we looked through the cards, talked about the different colors and what powers, what cards, attached to those colors. We talked about the numbers on the cards and what they meant; we talked about how many types of colors they could have in their decks (I suggested two to start, but agreed that yes, you can play all the lands in your deck if you want to). This coming week, we’ll talk about building their first decks. I may take that up to two weeks, because honestly, that’s a lot.

So for now, that’s it: Wednesdays is Crazy 8s for my Kindergarteners, First, and Second graders; Thursday, my bigger kids will have their Crazy 8s club, and then we’ll alternate between D&D and M:TG every week. I think I may be more excited than they are!

 

Image courtesy of DND Sage Advice

Posted in Fantasy, Graphic Novels, Teen, Young Adult/New Adult

Graphic Novels for fantasy/D&D fans

Scullion: A Dishwasher’s Guide to Mistaken Identity, by Jarad Greene, (July 2020, Oni Press), $19.99, ISBN: 9781620107539

Ages 12+

In the fantasy world of Timberwood Village, The Great Warrior Riqa and her fiancé, Prince Chapp, are the It Couple. Riqa is a celebrated warrior and author, and Prince Chapp is a dashing hunk with muscles on his muscles. Palace scullions Darlis and Mae are paired together for the dishwashing portion of the wedding preparation festivities, but a comedy of errors leads to Darlis being mistaken for Riqa by a couple of enterprising trolls who are hoping to ransom the celeb for a big payday. Mae is captured when he tries to rescue Darlis, but the two rely on their knowledge of Riqa’s book, The Fair Maiden’s Guide to Eating Your Captor for Breakfast”, to save themselves. But the big question remains: Where’s the real Riqa, who’s gone off in search of Prince Chapp?

Scullion is a fun tale of mistaken identity with a lot of character and a healthy dose of realistic humor built into a fantasy world: celebrity gawking and public image stress are two main themes in the work. The artwork is in-your-face bright and moves easily between close-ups and long shots as each character handles journeys, fights, and… book signings?

Fantasy fans will eat this one up. It’s funny, it’s fantasy, it’s a graphic novel, it’s an easy choice for your collections.

 

Savage Beard of She Dwarf, by Kyle Latino, (June 2020, Oni Press), $19.99, ISBN: 978-1620107386

Ages 14+

Savage Beard of She Dwarf began as a webcomic that just finished a 4-year run. She Dwarf – that’s her name – is the descendant of Battle Mother, a celebrated warrior  who died in battle, leaving She Dwarf to believe that she may be the last living dwarf. She undertakes a quest to the Lost Underground Dwarven Kingdom of Dammerung to find answers, joined by a barbarian named Hack Battler, who seeks membership in his own Barbarian Warband.

Fantasy fans will love the feats of strength – sword fighting! Beard fights! – that run throughout the book, but the gore factor can be a little high, so I’d consider this for teens and up. (Give younger fantasy fans the Munchkin comics, though: those are great.) The action is fast, chaotic fun, and the bright and wild colors always give you somewhere to look. If you have fantasy readers, add this one.

Posted in Early Reader, Intermediate, Middle Grade, Preschool Reads, Teen, Toddler Reads, Tween Reads

Holiday Shopping: Something for Every Reader!

The days are getting closer! Get to your nearest bookstore (or order online, if you can swing the express shipping) and fill your basket with some of these goodies for the readers you love.

Edited to add: Please excuse the terrible formatting! It looked fine when I previewed this post last night, but things have gone wonky. I’m still learning HTML, so I hope this doesn’t turn anyone off the post.

what-does-kitten-hearWhat Does Kitten Hear? A Big Book of Animal Sounds, by Lizelot Versteeg, (Nov. 2016, Clavis), $16.95, ISBN: 978-1605372525

Recommended for ages 2-4

This big board book is an adorable combination of seek and find, counting, and name that sound. A kitten wanders through a farm, city, zoo, beach, the woods, a park, and a house. Every spread is a new part of Kitten’s world, complete with sights and sounds to explore. Questions prompt readers and their favorite cuddly grownups to look identify the sounds kitten hears, and count the different objects to be found. Additional questions throughout each spread prompt discussion on about other things in the book: compare hot air balloons to see which flies higher; what squirrels eat versus what blackbirds eat. Toddlers and early preschoolers will love this book – I’m lucky I got my copy away from my preschooler long enough to write this piece.

 

artists-alphabetAn Artist’s Alphabet, by Norman Messenger, (Sept. 2016, Candlewick Press), $$17.99, ISBN: 978-0-7636-8123-4

Recommended for ages 2+

This ain’t your usual ABCedary. Artist Norman Messenger has created beautiful watercolor and pencil artwork to demonstrate upper- and lower-case letters in the alphabet. Kids will connect with some right away – the acrobats demonstrating the letter A, the eels for the letter E – and some will take some thought. Bold, black upper- and lower-case letters in a lined box on each page will help developing writers get an idea of scale for their letters. The only thing that would have made this perfect for me would have been a key to the drawings at the end of the book, because there are a few I’m still working out. It’s a stunning art book for kids of all ages.

 

doll-peopleThe Doll People’s Christmas, by Ann L. Martin and Laura Godwin/Illustrated by Brett Helquist, (Sept. 2016, Disney/Hyperion), $17.99, ISBN: 9781484723395

Recommended for ages 4-7

This latest Doll People book is a picture book! It’s Christmas at the Palmer family residence, and Annabelle Doll is excited to share the holiday with her best friend, Tiffany. After all, she knows what makes Christmas perfect! But nothing is perfect, and sure enough, things start going wrong. Annabelle is convinced that Christmas is ruined, but she learns that being surrounded by family and friends makes Christmas – even Christmases that aren’t what you expect – perfect. You don’t need to be familiar with the Doll People series to enjoy this story; it’s a great way to introduce the characters to new readers.

 

book-of-heroesbook-of-heroinesThe Book of Heroes: Tales of History’s Most Daring Dudes, by Crispin Boyer, (Nov. 2016, National Geographic Kids), $14.99, ISBN: 978-1-4263-2553-3
The Book of Heroines: Tales of History’s Gutsiest Gals, by Stephanie Warren Drimmer, (Nov. 2016, National Geographic Kids), $14.99, ISBN: 978-1-4263-2557-1

Recommended for ages 8-13

Guys and girls alike will love these books, each including over 100 figures from history, fiction, and entertainment. There are world leaders, athletes, gods and goddesses, pioneers for human rights, and animals here, offering something for everyone. One eyebrow raise goes to Wonder Woman, whose clothing and accessories are highlighted in the Heroines book, while a generic superhero in the Heroes version is the backdrop for “superpowered” real people (Usain Bolt and his superspeed, a blind teen who taught himself to “see” using echolocation). The cartoon hero’s superpowers of invincibility, speed, heightened senses and strength get the highlight here, thanks to these gifted individuals, but why are we concentrating on what Wonder Woman is wearing? She can fly (even without her invisible plane), she’s super strong, and she’s got superior fighting ability. Other than that? Love these books, and love the recent spate of women in history books that have come out this year, like Rejected Princesses, Frontier Grit, and Wonder Women.

dungeonologyDungeonology, by Matt Forbeck,, (Oct. 2016, Candlewick Press), $24.99, ISBN: 978-0-7636-9353-4

Recommended for ages 10+

This book is AMAZING. If you have fantasy roleplaying gamers in your life, this is the perfect gift for them. If they want to game, but have just been reading Tolkien and Dungeons & Dragons books, get them this book plus the D&D basic board game. Dungeonology takes readers, led by Volo the Wizard, on a journey through the Forgotten Realms universe. See basic Dungeonology equipment, fold out a giant map of the Sword Coast; check out a novice’s spell book (Magic Missile is there, fellow D&D fans), and check out all sorts of magic items. There is so much to explore in this book; pull-out books, pages that unfold to share their secrets, and a dragon waiting for you at the end of the book, if you play your cards right (and tilt the book). This is THE gift for your gamers, trust me on this.I hope you find enough here to make everyone’s holidays bright. Everything is available right now!