Book Buddies: Dexter the Tough by Margaret Peterson Haddix

A special club for elementary school students with discussions, games, crafts and Dexter the Tough (1)a snack. Newcomers always welcome!

My colleague, Mindy is the lead on this program with my assistance. She develops questions and we collaborate to create awesome games and crafts. It’s a very rewarding program.

Book Buddies follows a general outline, specialized for each book:

Dexter the Tough by Margaret Peterson Haddix

  1. Opening: Have all of the kids sign in, introduce ourselves, go over the rules: be respectful, stay on topic
  2. Opener: Map with locations from the book marked, Cincinnati, KY and Seattle. How has everyone traveled?
  3. Discuss the Book
  4. Vote: Who liked it? Thumbs up for Yes, Thumbs Down for no- Thumbs middle for kinda
  5. Show additional books by Haddix
  6. Game: Silent Speed Ball
  7. Snack:Graham Crackers (Grandmother feeds them to him in the book), while we read a chapter from the next selection, 50 Cents and a Dream and talk about our guest presenter
  8. Craft – Single Sheet Folded Book
  9. Clean Up.

Discuss the Book

This part of the program gives the kids an opportunity to discuss interesting ideas and topics from the book in a circle style. Mindy combines questions found about the book online to best match with the age of kids in our group, and came up with this wonderful list of questions:

  1. New students enter a class at various times n the school year. Have you had a new student come to class? What did you notice about their acceptance in the classroom? What are things you have done to welcome a new student?
  2. Is Dexter tough? What does tough mean to you?
  3. What is the relationship between Dexter and Robin at the beginning of the story? What similarities and differences did they share?
  4. What difficult choices did Dexter’s parents have to make? What did you think about those choices? How would you have choosen?
  5. Why was Dexter so upset about the principal asking him “Where are your parents?” How yould you have felt if you were Dexter?
  6. Robin tells Dexter that he doesn’t have many friends. He asks Dexter how he can make friends. What advice does Dexter give Robin about making new friends?
  7. How does Dexter change or evolve throughout the story? What events trigger such changes?
  8. How did you feel when Dexter realized things had happened differently than he thought? Has that happened to you?
  9. What was the underlying problem in Dexter’s life throughout this story? How was it resolved?
  10. In chapter 9, what was Dexter referring to when he said “ I thought they were going to give you the marshmallow transplant?” How does humor help in difficult stories and situations?
  11. What were you thinking when Ms. Abbott accused Dexter of not telling the truth about his story being fiction?
  12. In Chapter 12, what were the reasons Dexter felt Robin should not complain about his life?
  13. What good news does Dexter get while he is at school?
  14. At the end of the story, would you describe Dexter and Robin as friends? If yes, what do you think drew them closer together? If no, what kept them from considering each other a friend?
  15. Was Dexter actually tough?
  16. Why do you think the author wrote this story? What is her most important message?

Game: Silent Speed Ball

Explain to players that they are going to pass a ball around to everyone in the room without talking or making any other noise – hence the name Silent Speedball. When you say go, players will begin to toss the ball around the room. Also, everyone should have a chance to have the ball.  Before you begin, explain that if Ms. Mindy or Ms. Elaine hold their hands up in a Y formation, someone should pass the ball to them (this allows you to distribute the ball fairly). They should make eye-contact with the person they intend to throw the ball to. This game can go until there a few players remaining on top of their desk/standing or whenever you ask them to stop the game to debrief.

Craft – Single Sheet Folded Book

Single Paper Book

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