Logic lovers, reluctant readers, and everyone who loves a good puzzle will enjoy these short stories mysteries.
What makes a great gift for your favorite Mysterious Benedict Society fan? Puzzling puzzles, in-case-of-emergency-supplies, and — of course — books.
In brief: After years without a library, Kyle’s town is finally getting a library of its own—and not just any library! A library designed by the great game master Luigi Lemoncello. Kyle wins one of the coveted sleepover spots on the library’s opening night, and when the kids wake up after a night of gaming, they discover that the real game is just beginning: Now they’ve got to solve their way to library’s secret exit to win a fabulous prize. As Kyle teams up with friends old, new, and unexpected to puzzle out the clues in the amazingly interactive library, he discovers that the library just might be the coolest place in the entire world.
What makes it a great readaloud: Libraries! Puzzles to solve! Witty book references! While you shouldn’t look for nuanced character development, you’ll be so busy running around the library with Kyle and his allies to crack codes and unpuzzle puzzles, you will hardly miss it.
But be aware: One of the characters says “bro” so many times that it feels like Grabenstein was trying to write a drinking game into the book.
Quotable: “A library doesn’t need windows, Andrew. We have books, which are windows into worlds we never even dreamed possible.”
Looking to add a little more critical thinking to your homeschool life this summer? We’ve got the scoop on some useful resources, from online games to full-blown curriculum, that will help you out.
nature study: What's At Stake? #18
Turn your next geocaching adventure into a test of logic. (You don’t have to be in Pennsylvania to play, but if you like the idea of playing closer to home, why not create and submit your own geocaching logic puzzle?)
board game: WFF’n’PROOF
Lots of games teach critical thinking skills, but this board game was developed specifically to introduce students to the fundamentals of symbolic logic.
computer game: FTL: Faster Than Light
Your goal in FTL is always the same: deliver an important message to the Federation without getting captured or stalled by ship malfunctions along the way. But thanks to a pretty darn sophisticated game matrix, this 2-D game never plays the same way twice. Every decision you make, from quests you agree to take on to what upgrades you give your spaceship, affects your gameplay. This is a game that rewards thoughtful, intelligent playing over shoot-and-run-as-fast-as-you-can strategies.
book: What Is the Name of This Book?: The Riddle of Dracula and Other Logical Puzzles
Add mathematician and logician Raymond M. Smullyan’s puzzle labyrinth to your summer reading list, and your brain will get a serious workout. (The book includes solutions—with detailed explanations.)
workbook: Mind Benders
I know! We never recommend workbooks. But this series (with books for ages from preschool through high school) encourages to students to deduce increasingly sophisticated connections between people, places, and things to solve puzzles. It’s pretty awesome.
curriculum: Building Thinking Skills
It’s easy to find critical thinking resources for younger kids, and by high school, students are ready to tackle inductive and deductive logic—but what about middle school? The Critical Thinking Co.’s Building Thinking Skills curriculum is the perfect critical thinking resource for this in-between age.
class: How to Think Like a Philosopher
The University of Hawai’s’s Philosophy for Children program developed a toolkit to help kids break down big ideas by looking at some of the assumptions, implications, examples, and reasons behind them. Shelly Denkinger uses the toolkit as a basis for exploring everything from pop culture to Plato in this five-week class for high school students. It’s a great first step to more in-depth philosophy studies.
We now return you to your regularly scheduled Monday pep talk, a little jump-start of inspiration to help you start your week on a happy note.
3 fun things to do this week
Obviously any fire-making project requires responsible kids and parent supervision — but how cool is this science experiment that shows you how to make fire from ice?
If you’re still channeling a lot of Star Wars excitement, you will definitely want to check out Code.org's galaxy coding activities.
3 ideas for this week’s dinners
The au jus makes this easy French dip (and you can totally substitute deli roast beef for the home-cooked version with no negative side effects). My daughter insists this must be served with sweet potato fries, but I like a salad on the side.
This cheesy cauliflower soup will warm you up from the inside out — and it’s one of those soups that can make you fall in love with a vegetable you don’t normally seek out.
You probably already have everything you need to make this Filipino chicken porridge in your fridge and pantry.
one great readaloud
It’s Lewis Carroll’s birthday Wednesday (Jan. 27). so Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is the perfect book to read aloud this week. Snag a copy of the Annotated Alice — the sidebar notes are fascinating.
one thought to ponder
“Life isn't about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.”
― George Bernard Shaw