Monthly Archives: June 2015

Blogging rules

We don’t usually sing during Book for Breakfast, but in chapter 18, which we read this week, there was a lullaby. It’s a very sad moment in the book, as it’s a song that Katniss sings to Rue as she is dying – and particularly moving because we know that Katniss feels the same way towards Rue as she does towards her little sister Prim.

There’s also a shock at the end of this chapter, as the Gamemakers announce that two tributes can win this year’s Hunger Games – if they are both survivors from the same district. This changes the lay of the land completely. So, what will happen next?

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During this week’s session we took photos to add to our online profiles, and are planning to comment on blog posts to build some good arguments. Here are the rules for our blog that we came up with in an earlier session:

  1. No swearing
  2. Use correct grammar
  3. Be polite and understanding
  4. Build on each other’s points
  5. No personal information
  6. Make your comment relevant

We look forward to sharing ideas and comments on the blog.

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On the ideas trail

20150612_083859Once we had fortified ourselves with some tasty toast at this week’s Book for Breakfast session, we took a diversion from our usual activities to test out a new game that challenges you to look for links between ideas.

The group split into two teams to explore 16 different pictures chosen from around the world, and all through time. Here is the sheet, which includes pillar boxes, a map, a historic hot air balloon flight, medicine bottles, stringy cheese and the oldest cookery book in the world. I had gathered them from various museum projects I’ve recently been involved with.

Images gathered as part of various recent projects I've been involved with

The groups had to try to find connections that would link the pictures Group worktogether – and then present their ideas back to the other group. So, what did they come up with? The answers were very different between the two groups, and all extremely creative.

Team A chose to create a journey with their pictures, stepping from one object to the next with a logical link, then finding a different link to the next image. They linked the barometer (which predicts the weather) with the world 20150612_091810war medals (because weather can affect the outcome of battles). From there they went to the medicine bottles, since medicines could treat war injuries. The next link, via the idea that medicines require recipes, was to the oldest cookery book in the world. This, they linked to the stringy cheese as a food, and then to the map of the world since cheese is a worldwide food! Finally they linked the map to the hot air balloon because of global travel. So, their journey had taken them from 20150612_090609a barometer in 2014 to a hot air balloon in 1811.

Team 1 chose a very different way of looking at the links Рusing themes and illustrating them with examples from the 16 images. Their first idea was to link objects through time, creating a chronology that took in the 4000-year-old cookery book, then the 1154 world map by Al-Idrisi, then Magna Carta of 20150612_0949101215, and finally to the 1808 table of atomic weights. Next, they looked at the topic of transport, discovering the crisp delivery van, the hot air balloon, the opening of the Metropolitan railway and the ship figurehead. Another topic was chemistry, and they connected the crystals in the barometer, the cheese which has cumin added to make it go stringy, the chemist Dorothy Hodgkin who discovered the structure of insulin, and the pottery factory. 20150612_092125Finally they looked at food, linking the cookery book, the table of atomic weights, the barometer and the cheese (again!).

This game exercised everyone’s brains in articulating the links and connections you can make between diverse objects. These are great skills for deep thinking and building an argument. It’s a very creative exercise because you can come up with so many ways of doing it.20150612_083923

And even with all that hard thinking going on, we still had time to eat breakfast, and to read chapter 16 of The Hunger Games.

You can see here how some adults got on with the same task at a museums workshop in Darlington.

Other ways to play this game:

  • pre-select two objects as your starting and ending points and see if you can jump between them using other objects as stepping stones
  • ‘six degrees of freedom’ – see how far away you can get from your initial idea by taking just six steps
  • alternatively, give yourself six steps only to link up two incredibly different objects or ideas. Try it out in a museum, and let us know how you get on!

Gruesome and gory

The world begins to bend in alarming ways. A butterfly balloons to the size of a house then shatters into a million stars. Trees transform to blood and splash down over my boots. Ants begin to crawl out of the blisters on my hands and I can’t shake them free. They’re climbing up my arms, my neck. I trip and fall into a small pit lined with tiny orange bubbles that hum like the tracker-jacker nest. – The Hunger Games, chapter 14

20150605_085348When Katniss gets stung by the tracker-jackers, she thinks she’s going to die. The hallucinations are vivid and horrific – but how did the author choose her words to describe them?

During our Book for Breakfast session this week, we each contributed our ideas for what are the most horrible, creepy things we could imagine. It made up a WALL of HORROR.

20150605_085452For one person it was dying, and popped bubbles! For another it was really gory movies, ghosts and the Hunger Games (if I was in it). Slugs, pain, nuts, worms and illness were another person’s horrors. Snakes, snails, spiders, frogs and worms made someone else’s list. Cancer, and a zombie apocalypse were two mentioned by someone else.

What makes these things horrific? Many of 20150605_090016the ideas relate to death and decay – which humans have always found pretty scary. Others seem to be to do with particular textures (slimy) or perhaps unpredictable things (like spiders and frogs).

So, it is interesting to see what kind of nasty things the author Suzanne Collins has chosen to use to give her character, Katniss, a nightmarish experience. A butterfly ballooning bigger and shattering. Blood splashing down. Ants crawling from blisters. Tiny orange humming bubbles.

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Do you think the gruesome ideas Suzanne Collins has chosen are effective?