Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Seed Cakes for Bilbo

Yesterday morning, in honour of Bilbo Baggins of The Hobbit, the kids and I made seed cakes.  You see, Bilbo loves seed cakes to go along with his tea or jug of coffee...and the dwarves are more than happy to help consume the contents of his pantry.  Also, because Bilbo likes to eat two breakfasts (and two dinners as often as possible!), the kids and I decided that we would cut up oranges to eat for an early first breakfast and then indulge in our seed cakes for a second, mid-morning breakfast - along with a jug of coffee!  While we ate and drank, we talked about other things that Bilbo and the dwarves liked to eat, what they looked like, what we imagined the hobbit hole to look like, and so on and so on.

Over the weekend, I found and printed a few different things about the book that I glued onto poster board and which we talked about over seed cakes:  A colour picture of the book cover page; a few pictures of the author at different stages of his life; a great quote by Gandalf in chapter 1 of the book (see footnote); and so on.  There's still a lot of room on the poster board to glue other things that may become relevant as we work our way through the book.

Then I pulled out a few printed copies of a story arc/map that I found at LitWits, a business devoted to making books come alive for children.  The kids and I talked about how a story generally begins with an exposition, followed by a conflict, followed by a (long) rising course of action, followed by a climax and resolution, and ending with a short falling course of action.  On our map/story arc, we then glued the following:
  • a tiny mound of coffee grounds - representing the coffee and pipe that Bilbo loves to partake of in his non adventurous life, which is how his story begins.
  • a twig - representing his walking stick and the less adventurous side of his personality - and a tiny sword shaped out of foil to represent the adventurous side of him that sometimes longs to hold a sword instead of a walking stick.
  • a small pile of moss and three pebbles.  These items mark Bilbo's first adventure in burglaring:  He attempts to steal a troll's purse/wallet, only to get caught by the trolls and thrown into a bush (hence the bit of moss); then he and the dwarves are rescued by Gandalf, who orchestrates the turning of the three trolls into stone (hence the pebbles).
Getting the idea?  The items that we glue on to our map are meant to remind us of the story, but also to mark Bilbo's character development and key plot points; and the sensory items will be glued in an arc fashion to represent the natural rise and fall of the storyline.

Anyway, so far it's been a great way in which to cement the first 60 pages of the book.  Even Seth and Lizzie have been pulled in, and are comprehending far more than I would have imagined using this method.  It took a couple of hours of work on my part over the weekend, just to plan out our Hobbit journey a little and pick up a few things at the dollar store and at Michaels, and I certainly won't be putting this kind of effort into every book we read this year; but this is a big book in many ways, and a complicated one for my younger two, and I think it's a great enough book that it warrants a little extra investment.

Today is our day at the LC (Learning Centre) so our friend Bilbo Baggins will likely remain between the book covers.  But tomorrow morning we will resume our reading and we will either be learning to decipher dwarf runes or making short daggers in imitation of Bilbo's dagger, which he names "Sting."

Fun.  So fun.  I wish this is the way I'd first read The Hobbit!

Footnote (a great quote from Gandalf in Chapter 1):

"If I say he is a Burglar, a Burglar he is, or will be when the time comes.  There is a lot more in him than you guess, and a great deal more than he has any idea of himself."

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