Friday, September 6, 2013

Bringing Literature Alive: Catherine Called Birdy

During the summer, we read Catherine, Called Birdy for the book club that I was coordinating for a group of girls. At the meeting, we focused on activities that related to Catherine, Called Birdy which was set in 1290. We did activities that were related to that time period as well as ones that were mentioned in the book (e.g., journal making/keeping).

Book/Journal Making

We made a couple different small books/journals. One was made from a brown bag that could be carried. It is tied shut at the top which the girls liked. They used a variety of ribbons to make their ties. I saw a pin for the idea on Pinterest. The pin led to instructions on The Examiner.

Making a journal from a brown paper bag and copy paper.
The girls decorated the outside with markers and stickers.

We discussed the difference between a journal and diary. (A journal is much more personal than a diary. A journal contains feelings, emotions, problems, assurances and is used to examine one’s life. Diary writing is a daily activity whereas journal writing can be done whenever the writer feels the need to write.)

This was a small book that was made with 
two rectangular sheets of paper.
The girls both enjoyed making this type of book.

Another book the girls made used two rectangular sheets of paper. Some girls choose the same colors while others chose different colors. The idea came from a pin on Pinterest that led to Artists Helping Children.

Birdy Bingo

We played Birdy Bingo where each of the spots on the board had a medieval theme picture. The girls all enjoyed this game...especially since there were prizes!

Playing Birdy Bingo.

Bird Ornament

We cut out and created bird ornaments. There is a pin that led to Make: Craft that has a PDF file with the bird images.

Sophia and another book club participant making bird ornaments.


We created and used catapults that we made from popsicle sticks and clothespins. We tested them out using different size pompoms and paper to see how far they would travel.

I got the idea from a pin on Pinterest. There were no instructions for the catapult, but it was easy enough to figure out how to make it.

Watercolor Painting

I saw a pin on Pinterest with an image of cute birds that were done with watercolor paints and Sharpies.

The girls doing a watercolor painting of birds.

Elivie's Studio showed how the artist created images of birds using the paints and markers.

Olivia adding details to her bird painting.

This was one of the favorite activities of the morning.


A few times in the book bees, beeswax, and honey were mentioned. We looked at pictures from beehives and of beekeeping; smelled and touched beeswax; and looked at some beekeeping equipment (hat, coverall/suit, and smoker).

Wool and Sheep

One of the tasks that Catherine did was spin wool.

Looking at cotton and comparing it to sheep wool.

We looked at wool from a sheep and tried carding wool. The wool was compared to raw cotton that was shown and could be touched. The cotton was from a field in Alabama.

Olivia carding wool with another book club participant.

Food Sampling

We ate some food that was mentioned in the book; and is the most readily-obtainable and familiar to the children these days. We enjoyed a variety of nuts, cheeses, honey, apples (plain and dried), ginger wafers, and apple tart. We even had pickled herring on crackers!

All of the girls tried the herring at the same time.
Their reactions were quite interesting to the taste.

Sophia's reaction after seeing 
some of the other girls' reaction to trying herring.

There were many foods less common today that were mentioned as well – such as pigs’ stomachs to eels – but these probably wouldn’t have been well received by the children. The recipes for the ginger wafers and apple tart are below.

Apple Tart (Serves 6-8)

This recipe is from a pin I saw on Pinterest. It led to Maman's Apple Tart. It was okay...but we probably would not make it again.

Apple tart.


1 1⁄4 cups flour
3 tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1⁄4 tsp. kosher salt
5 tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into 1⁄2" cubes and chilled
3 tbsp. vegetable shortening
2 tbsp. milk
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 large Golden Delicious, Empire, or Cortland apples, peeled, cored, and cut into 8–12 wedges
2 tbsp. apricot preserves or jam


1. Heat oven to 375°. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, 1 tbsp. sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add 3 tbsp. butter and the shortening and, using your fingers, rub into flour mixture to form coarse pea-size pieces. Add milk and egg and stir with a wooden spoon until just combined. Bring dough together with your hands. Transfer dough to a 9" glass pie plate and, using lightly floured fingers, press dough into bottom and sides; refrigerate for 30 minutes.

2. Arrange apple wedges side by side on bottom of pie plate like the spokes of a wheel, pushing gently into the dough as you go. Halve remaining apples and put in middle of tart. Sprinkle apples with remaining sugar and dot with the remaining chilled butter. Bake until the crust is golden, about 45 minutes. Using a pastry brush, brush apricot preserves over the tart and bake for 10 minutes more. Let cool for at least 15 minutes before serving.

Ginger Wafers

I found the recipe for the ginger wafers on Pinterest. This is the pin with the image of the cookies. They didn't exactly turn out like the pin because I didn't frost them. Like the apple tart, it was okay. We have a ginger cookie that we all prefer that has three different types of ginger (dried, candied, and fresh).


2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt 3/4 cup margarine, softened
1 cup white sugar
1 egg
1 tablespoon water
1/4 cup molasses
2 tablespoons white sugar


1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Sift together the flour, ginger, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, and salt. Set aside.

2. In a large bowl, cream together the margarine and 1 cup sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg, and then stir in the water and molasses. Gradually stir the sifted ingredients into the molasses mixture. Shape dough into walnut sized balls, and roll them in the remaining 2 Tbsp. of sugar. Place the cookies 2 inches apart onto an ungreased cookie sheet, and flatten slightly.

3. Bake for 8-10 minutes in the preheated oven. Allow cookies to cool on a baking sheet for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container.

Optional Glaze:

1/4 tsp. vanilla
1-1/4 cups powdered sugar, sifted (add a little more if needed)
3-5 tsp. milk, as needed

Combine ingredients only using 3 tsp. of milk; add more a little at a time as needed to get a drizzling consistency.

Book Tie-In

After we were home, we read Marguerite Makes a Book. I saw the pin for the book on Pinterest. The girls enjoyed listening to it, and hearing the connections to what they did and ate. For example, parsley was used to create a green-color for paint.


Anonymous said...

So many good ideas here! I especially like the book/journal making, but really it all looks fun!

Rita said...

So many interesting things! And they made journals of their own! You know how I like any kind of book binding. That is so cool. Was crazy about the silly watercolor birds--and that they got to card wool, too. Goodness, what a day! :)