Forts & A Summer Read-A-Thon

As the summer reading program at the library comes to a close this weekend we needed a Read-a-thon for a final push to get us to our goal.  The “little guys” had a goal of 100 books and my eldest daughter needed 20. My goal was four books, because it was for the gas card; which we all made our goal.

group photosFor our read-a-thon the older girls (13-15 years) built a structure outside to house our reading event.  It took them about 45 minutes to build the structure for all of them to fit (4 teenage girls, three younger siblings).  We used four kits (Discovery Kids 72-piece build and play construction for set), sheets, laundry clips, pillows, and blankets. This made it very comfy.

I did not tell them how to put it together.  I was having them explore how to put the fort together.   My only requirement was it all needed to connect together (I only had a few sheets).

This was the outcome:

  • They worked together and compromised
  • They communicated
  • They shared
  • Problem solved when they ran out of pieces but still need the structure to stand
  • Helped each other out
  • Learned what worked and what didn’t (there were failures)

It is important in education to let students explore because, “One advantages of the exploration phase is that it provides students with a shared experience” (1).  The girls learned how to build a fort using the materials and they were excited when they were done.

Afterwards, they read in the fort all morning long (2 hours).  The benefits of having the girls spend a solid chunk of time reading were:

  • Having time to dive into a book and have no to limited interruptions
  • Getting to read whatever book you want
  • Promoting reading at their own pace and their level
  • Having natural discussions about their choice of books (not teacher directed)

Then of course there were the cookies and water that were provided.  This is a must for keeping teenage girls going.  There were also animals crackers involved.

After lunch (in the fort) the girls played Spot It and Go Fish. This was a fun way to finish up the afternoon before taking down the fort (15 minutes).

The girls really enjoyed the chance to build their fort and to read. They look forward to doing this again.  Please enjoy our video.



Mrs. Berry

1.    UTAustinX: UT.IITL.11.01x Classroom Strategies for Inquiry-Based Learning

104 Days of Summer Vacation: Visual Games

I just love playing games and there are a couple of “educational” games that I play with my daughter.  Today I am writing about two that I particularly like to play: Spot it, and Master Boggle.

Screen Shot of Spot It from Blue Orange Website

1. Spot It

This game is new to me this summer.  I was at a teacher type store and spotted it.  The range is for ages 7 to Adult.  I think it might be easier if you are younger because as an adult you over think the card.  Basically it’s a matching game super-sized.  There are a couple of different options to play when you play this game.  The cards are round and come in a round tine.  My favorite option is “The Tower”  here are the directions for this game (all of these directions come directly from the card):

1)      Preparing the game: Shuffle the cards and deal one card face-down to each player.  The rest of the cards from the draw pile, which is placed face-up in the center of the table.

2)      Object of the game: To collect the most cards.

3)      Playing the game: At the same time, players flip over their cards.  They try to spot the one symbol that appears both on the center card and on their own cards.  If you are the first player to do so call it out (example: “leaf”).  Then take the center card and place it face-up on top of the flipped card, building a personal pile.  Now you will use the top card of your personal pile.  Each time a new center card is revealed, this process is repeated.  Pay continues until there are no cards remaining in the draw pile.

4)      Winning the game: The player with the most cards in the personal pile wins.

It works on trying your eye for super matching and recognizing shapes, colors, and words.  Spot it is a whole lot of fun with tons of giggles and laughs.  Click here to visit their website.  I included a short video about this game from Blue Orange Games.

2. Boggle Master

Image of Boggle Master from Amazon

This game is a lot of fun unless you are playing with my brother, who is a walking thesaurus.  He would spot my mother and me fifty points if we were playing to 100.  I tried to find as many small words that I could because I knew that he would go for 10 letter words.  I am also notorious for making up words and would need to cross them off the list. He would still win.  Despite being schooled in Boggle, I really enjoy playing this game. I think the noise is my favorite part. Boggle is set up as a game to try to find as many words as you can.  There are different sizes for Boggle, I like the bigger version.  Each dice has different letter on each side; which means there are endless permutations for this game.


Pick a score that the group wants to play for, 25, 50, 75, 100, ect.

Shake the dice until they settle into their spot

Flip the timer over

Write down as many words that you can make, you can go up and down, sideways, but the dice need to connect.  You cannot use the same dice twice or go backwards. (Find words three or more letters)

After the timer is finished you need to stop

Now, here it the fun part, compare your lists; if somebody has your word both of you will cross of the word.  Count your words and letters.  For a three letter word you will receive 1 point.  For each additional letter you receive an additional point.

The game is over when the first person reaches the agreed upon score.

Click here to be sent to Amazon for Master Boggle.

Enjoy playing these two games.

-Mrs. Berry

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