We have been reading the Magic Tree House books together for over a year. Yes, we started with Dinosaurs Before Dark last July, and we just finished Dogs in the Dead of Night this week. (We’re getting so close to being finished with the series!) The kids love them, and they are exposed to new people and things that they might not normally be interested in as we read them.
Usually, we just read the books and don’t do any activities with them, but occasionally a book stands out so much that they want to do some activities to go with them. That’s how we ended up learning about Louis Armstrong.
A Good Night for Ghosts is set in the early 1900s in New Orleans, about the time that Louis Armstrong is a teenager. Jack and Annie are sent to this time to encourage the young Louis to share his musical gifts with the world. Armstrong is a poor hardworking young man, and they have a hard time convincing him that they’re anything but crazy.
There’s a lot of music in the book. Even all the chapter titles are titles of some of Armstrong’s songs, so the first thing Rose wanted to do was listen to some of his music. We went onto You Tube and listened to songs like Heebie Jeebies and Go Down Moses. From the response, I have a budding jazz fan. :-)
Next thing I knew, the book had this wonderful description of gumbo. I mean, you could almost taste the gumbo from reading the description in the book. So, I found this recipe for gumbo. The only change I made was that I left out the shrimp.
Eating gumbo and listening to jazz music reminded Rose of The Princess and the Frog. Given that this movie is set in the same general time period as the Magic Tree House book, I thought that was a perfect way to get a feel for the setting. After all, the leader in doing this mini-unit was a six year old girl
That’s about it. Just doing these simple things made reading A Good Night for Ghosts a special experience for Rose, and exposed them to a whole different kind of music than what they’d ever been exposed to before.