Saturday, September 30, 2017

Wingfeather Costumes

Just another Wingfeather post to share the fun we had dressing up for book club!

When we first discussed the topic of dressing up for this book club, my younger son said he wanted to be Janner, and my older son said he wanted to be Tink, which was SO interesting to me, given that they fit the opposite characters in so many ways.

Anyway, I let it go, and as the time drew closer, the younger one really wanted to be Artham (after his transformation).  It took me some time, but he was really delighted with it.

 There are so many characters I adore in this series!  I relate most deeply to Janner, wish I was more like Nia, and am so delighted by Oskar!  I think I enjoyed Oskar even more on this second reading and decided to try to dress up as him.  My attempt at looking bald didn't exactly match, but I got a lot of good laughs when I greeted all of the kids at the door like this, spouting various, "In the words of..." greetings!  I even gave myself an "I like books" tattoo with an ink pen.

My older son decided on being Janner in his Durgan Guilding uniform.  It's such a perfect choice for him.  He is my serious kid and takes even his costume very seriously.  It never quite lives up to the ideas in his mind, but I think he looked pretty good, and I love that he takes on more than just a costume and really deeply ponders and engages the character.  
I used one of my husband's old dark t-shirts to cut into a cape and then cut holes out of one of the cut-off sleeve parts to make the mask.  I adjusted the directions for this hooded cowl to better fit him, though I wish I would have stuck with measurements closer to the original.  My kids have big heads!  I just used a bobby pin to attach the Durgan Guilding patch because I want to save it to put on a hoodie for him for the fall.  

These are old pictures from when we read the series the first time that were fun to remember:
The Florid Sword
Kalmar as a Durgan Guilding

Book Club

One of my favorite things in homeschooling (well, in life, but I am thankful for the extra opportunities homeschooling provides) is connecting with my kids through great stories!  My older son is a project kid and loves to make or draw things connected to what we read, and we all really enjoy making food connected to the books we read and sharing inside jokes or tidbits from the stories.
When I first found Greta Eskridge online, I was really struck by the wonderful book club she started with some friends to do together with their kids.  Living overseas, I am often tempted to think that we can't pull off things like that here, and I wrestle with sometimes feeling a bit extravagant in things that don't make sense to those around us.  But, I really felt inspired by Greta's enthusiasm, and I want to celebrate good and true and beautiful things with my kids and take delight in great stories and the wonder with which kids can engage them.  So, I decided to just jump in and go for it, whether anyone else enjoyed it or not.  Thankfully, I am privileged to have good friends here who have also delighted in this with us, and we have had a wonderful time celebrating books together!

Our efforts are far from professional, but we're having a great time!  We can't get some supplies or ingredients here, but I do have an amazing woman who works for us in our home who is a wizard getting things back in shape in our home after one of these club meetings.  I share here just so that some others might figure out what could work for them and work with what they have to just enjoy and celebrate great books!

I plan five per year (with one being actually centered around picture books so that the youngest are more directly targeted and engaged for one).  We do a couple of activities (an art project or some kind of game or "quest"), have some fun food, and discuss the book.  We don't diagram plots or anything that is very formally academic; our discussions center more around ideas and themes and thoughts and experiences with the books.  One thing that really struck me from Greta's posts was the depth of discussion the kids have and that they believed and expected to happen.  I was, admittedly, a little bit skeptical, but I have been absolutely amazed at the discussions we've had, even with the bulk of the kids being in lower elementary school!  It has been a true privilege to share together with these kids and moms as we discuss and connect about these stories!  I try really hard to be open and flexible and adjust to where the discussion takes us, but I do always jot down a few thoughts and questions ahead of time to get the discussion started or in case we hit a lull. I always let the kids start by just sharing favorite parts from the book, but then we jump in with some discussion.  I have found Sarah Mackenzie's Quickstart Guide (free for RAR members or available for purchase) to be a really helpful jumping off point for our discussions.

So far, we have done the following books for book clubs (links to the post for each book club meeting):

The Green Ember

Mary Poppins

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Wingfeather Saga

I'll add to this post as we do others, or you can use the tag "book club" to find posts for other club meetings.
Coming up next:
Henry and the Chalk Dragon by Jennifer Trafton

Wingfeather Saga Book Club

My boys and I were so invested in this one!  This series is one of our absolute favorites, and we absolutely geek out together over all the details from the books.  We had planned to do the whole series for the book club, which was the first time we tried more than a single book for a club meeting, and it was just a bit much for schedules and such, so we ended up focusing primarily on the first book.  We couldn't help slipping in a few other things for our food and costumes and decorations, but for the activities and discussions, we stuck with the first book.  This was a reread for my older son and me, but my younger son didn't really remember it from before, so it was fun to hear his gasps and have him shout out things he thought as he was drawn in this time.  Both of the boys wanted to make posters for the book club, so while I was reading (or while we listened to the audio book), they were often drawing.

 Here is my younger son's poster:
Older brother is obsessed with birds, so younger brother decided to draw the birds from Wingfeather.  Here we have a Lone Fendril, a chorkney, and a snickbuzzard! 
Sea dragon in the harbor at Ban Rona

 We proudly hung up our map of Aerwiar (as well as our Kickstarter posters), and my older son put his poster below it:

The battle of Ban Rona

 All three of us were pretty excited to dress up for this one!  Artham Wingfeather posing with Oskar N. Reteep and Janner Wingfeather as a Durgan Guilding!

 I just had to toss in a few labels for "my" book shop!

My son loves anything resembling a scavenger hunt, so I made one for this book club.  Our housing development has a layout that resembles the shape of the roads on Oskar's map, so I decided to tweak his treasure map to fit with our neighborhood.  I actually had a hard time getting over a few things mentally (seriously, I kept being upset at having Anklejelly Manor on the same corner of the map as the Igiby Cottage!), but it was fun to make a map that looked like Oskar's and had those landmarks but forced the kids to read the map and follow it to find the clues.  

I included comments on the document of how the clues fit together and played out, but here are a few shots from our set-up.
The kids had to throw "stones" to knock out the Fangs at the jail.

I include this one to show that you  have to work with what you've got sometimes--stuffed dinosaur with a bit of gold fabric tied on, in this case, equals a sea dragon (using lots of imagination)! Ha.

The kids had to climb across some bridges to reach Peet's "tree house."

Here is "Peet" in action after delivering the clue to lead to his tree house!  :)

The Jewels

I wrote rules for the game of zibzy!  Yes, I'm the kind of nerd that gets excited about writing rules for a made-up game from a book!  Unfortunately, it had POURED rain, and the field where we would have played was a swampy mess (and the kids were going to be coming back inside my house!), so we didn't get a chance to try it out.  The cover and rules are included in the same doc as the scavenger hunt, so someone will have to let me know if you actually try it!

  The food!  There is SO much good food in these books that I could not possibly put enough to satisfy me in one book club!  We made quite a few other foods throughout the week leading up to the book club, which you can find in my other post about Wingfeather feasting.  Here is our menu for book club:

We basically used the Cheesy Chowder recipe from the Book Club guide at but tweaked a bit based on what we have here.  (The recipe is in the kit for the first book.)
I used the recipe from the kit for the second book to make Ronchy McHiggin's Sailor's Pie.
I posted before on how we made Butter Bread.

Since we were focusing primarily on the first book, I decided to try to make some sweets from the Dragon Day festival.  None of the kids, thankfully, ended up covered in blue stickiness like Tink did, but we thoroughly enjoyed Blueberry Gooeyballs and Berry Buns.  I used Alton's Brown's cinnamon roll dough as the base for both.  For the blueberry gooeyballs, I rolled the dough into small balls, put them in the pan, and poured blueberry pie filling over the whole thing (honestly, I would double the amount next time so that they were seriously gooey!).  After baking I poured some glaze over them (made from a bit of cream cheese spread--can't easily get the real stuff here--with icing sugar and a bit of milk and vanilla).  For the berry buns, I made them like cinnamon rolls, but instead of a sugar/cinnamon mix, I put strawberry jam on top of the butter and rolled and cut them like you would cinnamon rolls.  I put a bit more jam on top, baked them, and then poured the glaze on these as well.  

Beef jerky makes for great "dried diggle."

You have to have bibes for a party!

One of my favorite parts of the day was that, after the kids all went outside after lunch to play, we moms kept discussing the book and had a great time digging into some of the things we encountered in the book and how it affected us deeply.  I love this series so much, and I love having bookish friends!

One other note is that we were able to bring back some Wingfeather treats to share with our friends, and they are delightful!  I absolutely LOVE the patches!  Check out the goodies!

Wingfeather Feasting

One of the MANY things I adore about The Wingfeather Saga is all of the delicious food in it!  I've posted some things we've made previously and some for our book club, but here are some others we made just for our own delight!

Henmeat Biscuit Pie
I made this for a quicker weeknight meal for just our family of four, so I adapted it from the first time we made it to simplify it a bit.
I made 1/2 batch Filling from my former recipe (minus the cream).  After shutting off the heat, I stirred in 1 c shredded cheese and then poured the filling into an 8 x 8 pan.  I then mixed up a small batch of drop biscuits and dropped it in spoonfuls on top of the filling.  For the drop biscuits:
1 c flour
1/2 T baking powder
1 t sugar
1/4 t salt
Mix those dry ingredients and then stir in:
1/4 c melted butter
1/2 c milk

Honey muffins
2 c flour
1/2 c sugar
3 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
1 t cinnamon
1 large egg
1 c milk
1/4 c butter, melted
1/2 c honey

Mix together wet ingredients and dry ingredients separately and then pour the wet ingredient mix into the dry ingredients.
Pour into greased or lined muffin pans and bake at 350 degrees F for 10-15 minutes (depending on the size of your muffin cups), until they are lightly golden.

Melt about another cup of honey with a tablespoon or two of butter and a pinch of cinnamon.  Take the muffins out of the pans and put on a tray or plate.  Pour the melted honey mixture over the muffins before they are fully cooled.
These were SO good!

Cinnamon hotcakes and bacon
I used this recipe (without the nuts), and it made for a yummy breakfast, along with some bacon.

Butterfire biscuits and Hogpig gravy
1 lb seasoned ground hogpig
Brown the seasoned hogpig in a skillet with a healthy dab of butter (around 1/4 cup).  Once browned, add some flour (around 1/4 cup) and stir in until all absorbed with the hogpig and butter.  Slowly pour in some milk.  Start with a modest amount (around 1 1/2 cups).  Lower the heat, and stir the gravy until thickened.  If the gravy is too thick, slowly add milk a little more at a time until it is the desired consistency.  Season with salt and pepper.
Serve with your favorite butterfire biscuits!  (On a rushed morning or just needing to keep things on the simple side, I like this recipe and just added some melted butter over the top toward the end and cranked the oven heat up for just a bit to make them seem really "butterfire.")

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Book Club

We had a lot of fun with this one!
To start off, I had hidden golden tickets around our little housing development outdoor area, and as the kids arrived, they had to each find a golden ticket before coming into our chocolate factory (our house).  I really wish I could remember where I had gotten the printable for the ticket because it was editable and simple, but I seem to not have saved the information!

My sons and I had a lot of fun setting up the decorations.  We used some blankets to make a chocolate waterfall from the corner of our living room.  We wrapped bright balloons in plastic wrap to look like candies.  They didn't look like pinterest but still a fun addition.

I made some "swudge" (melted marshmallows, white chocolate, a bit of butter, and green food coloring and then rolled it out and cut it) and put it in containers by the "river."  As kids came in, they were pretty excited to taste the "swudge."
My son made a long paper "tube" with Augustus Gloop stuck in it! :)

My son also set up the "Nut Room."  We put some empty clothes to look like the squirrels were throwing someone down the garbage chute with the "bad" nuts.

We had "snozberry" lickable wallpaper on one wall.  It took the kids a little while to trust they were allowed to go and lick it, but once they did, they really like it.  I put a strip labeled with each kid's name to avoid everyone licking the same spots!  To make the "wallpaper," I made a thick syrup from adding a bit of water to sugar, along with some food coloring and fruit flavoring and then dripped it onto strips of wax paper.  Once it was cool, I taped the strips to the wall.

We had an "Invention Room" set up.  The kids worked in groups to design their own sweets and then present them to the group.

We went outdoors again to the "Juicing Room" to help Violet Beauregard.  The kids were in pairs and tossed the water balloons back and forth until the balloons were all popped.

It was a little difficult to come up with a main dish for lunch to balance all the sweets!  I considered attempting to make pot roast flavored gum, but well, that crossed the line of crazy.  So, it wasn't exactly from the book, but it seemed to fit with the sweets theme to make meatloaf "cupcakes."  I just cooked the meatloaf in muffin pans and then topped with mashed potatoes to look like the icing.

We obviously had lots of sweets!  In addition to the swudge, we had some candy set out with signs to look like things from the book.

I also made Wonka's Scrumptious Fudge Mallow Delight and printed out the cute label from here (and she also has a delicious-sounding recipe but more complicated).

I followed a simple fudge recipe given to me by a friend:
2/3 cup sweetened condensed milk 
1 2/3 cup sugar (pretty sure I cut this down since I think the original recipe was actually evaporated milk, so I think I maybe did 1 cup of sugar with the sweetened condensed milk)
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cup miniature marshmallows
1 1/2 cup chocolate chips
1 tsp vanilla
Bring first three ingredients to a boil for 5 minutes (stirring pretty constantly). 
Remove from heat and stir in remaining ingredients until all marshmallows are melted.
Pour into a butter pan and refrigerate for an hour.
Before I put the pan in the refrigerator, I poured in some extra marshmallows and pressed them in lightly so that they would stick in but still be visible as whole marshmallows.