Because of Winn Dixie, book club for kids, 4th grade book club, 3rd grade book club

3rd Grade Book Club with Science Activity

Book Club for Kids: Because of Winn Dixie

Did I ever mention that if I were to choose one book as my favorite children’s book, this would be it? Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo was also a major driver in starting my blog. (Read this to my oldest when she was in 2nd grade, then handed her The Tiger Rising by same author when she was in 3rd grade. Oops. That one was too depressing!)

Because of Winn Dixie, book club for kids, 4th grade book club, 3rd grade book club Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo

So you can imagine how pleased I was when another mother/child in my middle daughter’s book club chose this book. My middle daughter plays with this little girl frequently and they are very similar in their love for the mega store Staples and their fervent desire to start a rival chain superior to their favorite store. This child once told me at lunch that the item I was seeking, a package of colored skinny tipped pens, was no longer in inventory and I was not surprised to find out that she was right.

My daughter started baking projects last year at her house. It all started with a package of brownie mix. The first time they made it at my house, batter was all over the house and outside as well. The amount that remained was just enough for 3 small brownies. The second time around was less messy and these days they only need help with putting it in and taking it out of the oven. The same mom taught them to make meringues topped with homemade whipped cream and strawberries. They are getting so sophisticated!

It was no surprise that the activity involved cooking. The girls made hard candy lollipops in honor of the Litmus lozenge and dog biscuits in honor of Winn-Dixie even though not all the girls have dogs. No matter! My dog was happy for extras! My daughter said the used cherry flavor but she didn’t like it. See if your group can make a candy that is both sweet and sad! What would sad taste like anyway?

I never would have thought of making candy myself. It seems too difficult for me but it’s really not and it’s a great way to introduce science to girls  in a really fun way.


Here’s a recipe from The Accidental Scientist: The Science of Cooking.

photo of fudgerecipe: Fudge
Lollipops look like big crystals, but the fact is that sugar crystals are the enemy of successful lollipops. We’ll show you how to keep those pesky crystals at bay. Find out how making lollipops is similar to making glass.Makes about 8–10 lollipops per batchRecipe Conversions
When making candy, the syrup gets very hot. Kids, don’t try this without the help of an adult!

See how theymake lollipops at Kendon Candies in San Jose, California.
What Do I Need? .
1 cup sugar Did You Know?
The world’s largest lollipop is at Bon-Bon Land in Denmark. It’s peppermint-flavored and weighs over 3,000 pounds!
Visit the candy links page to find places to buy candy making supplies online, including molds, flavoring, and coloring.
1/3 cup corn syrup Why do I add corn syrup?
1/2 cup water
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar What is cream of tartar?
1/4 to 1 teaspoon flavoring Some tips for flavoring hard candy
liquid food coloring
1 to 2 teaspoon(s) citric acid (optional) Why do I add citric acid?
• a nonstick or enameled saucepan, preferably with a spout
a wooden spoon
lollipop molds (either metal or white plastic hard-candy molds)
• lollipop sticks or wooden skewers cut in half
• a candy thermometer
• a pastry brush
• cooking oil spray
• parchment paper
a cookie sheet or marble slab
plastic wrap or cellophane bags for wrapping finished lollipops
twist ties, ribbon, or cellophane tape for wrapping finished lollipops
What Do I Do? Tip
It’s best not to make lollipops on a rainy or humid day.
About candy making and the weather.
1.Prepare either a marble slab or an upside-down cookie sheet (air underneath the sheet will help the candy to cool faster), by covering it with parchment paper and spraying it with oil. If you’re using molds, prepare the molds with lollipop sticks, spray with oil, and place them on a cookie sheet or marble slab.
2.In your pan, over medium heat, stir together the sugar, corn syrup, water, and cream of tartar with a wooden spoon until the sugar crystals dissolve.
3.Continue to stir, using a pastry brush dampened with warm water to dissolve any sugar crystals clinging to the sides of the pan, then stop stirring as soon as the syrup starts to boil.

Why do I need to stop stirring after the syrup begins to boil?
Why do I wash down the sides of the pan?

Don’t have any molds? You can simply pour small circles of syrup onto a greased cookie sheet and place sticks in the middle to make pops.
4.Place the candy thermometer in the pan, being careful not to let it touch the bottom or sides, and let the syrup boil without stirring until the thermometer just reaches 300° F (hard-crack stage).

What is the hard-crack stage and how can I tell when I’ve reached it?

5.Remove the pan from the heat immediately and let the syrup cool to about 275° F before adding flavor, color, and citric acid (adding it sooner causes most of the flavor to cook away).

Some tips for flavoring hard candy.

Be careful! The sugar syrup isextremely hot! If you burn yourself, run cold water over your hand for several minutes, but do not apply ice.
6.Working quickly, pour the syrup into the prepared molds and let cool for about 10 minutes. If you’re not using molds, pour small (2-inch) circles onto the prepared marble slab or cookie sheet and place a lollipop stick in each one, twisting the stick to be sure it’s covered with candy. (It helps to have a friend do this since you need to work quickly.)

7.Let the lollipops cool for at least 10 minutes, until they are hard. Wrap individually in plastic wrap or cellophane and seal with tape or twist ties. Store in a cool, dry place.
What Else Can I Try? .
• Try unlikely matches of color and flavor (blue orange-flavored pops, green cherry-flavored pops, red grape-flavored pops)—and see if your friends can guess what flavor they are! How much influence does color have on our perception of flavor?

And here’s a recipe for dog biscuits from All It turns out that kids LOVE to roll  out dough!

Dog Biscuits II Recipe

Dog Biscuits II

By: Joan
“Although my dog died three years ago he loved these and I still make them for neighbors dogs. Bacon grease or meat drippings can be used in place of shortening, and any type of cooked meat may be used in place of pork.”
Prep Time:
25 Min
Cook Time:
30 Min
Ready In:
55 Min
Original Recipe Yield 3 dozen dog treats


  • 2 1/2 cups sifted whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup dry milk powder
  • 1 cube beef bouillon, crumbled
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup cooked ground pork
  • 1 cup grated carrot
  • 6 tablespoons shortening
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup cold water


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly oil two cookie sheets.
  2. In a medium bowl, stir together the whole wheat flour, milk powder, beef bouillon, and salt. Add the ground pork, carrot, shortening and egg; mix in to the flour mixture while gradually adding water to form a stiff ball of dough.
  3. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to 1/4 inch thickness. Cut into desired shapes using cookie cutters, and reroll scraps until no dough is left. Place cookies 2 inches apart onto the prepared cookie sheets.
  4. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the bottoms of the cookies are browned. Allow cookies to set for a few minutes on the cookie sheet before removing to wire racks to cool completely.

To view the book more closely at Amazon, please click on  image of book.

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By Mia Wenjen, PragmaticMom


  1. Thanks for sharing at Mom’s Library. It is featured on iGameMom.
    iGameMom recently posted…Creative Learning Activities with CandyMy Profile

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