Fox Valley Homeschool Teen Literature Group
Extracurricular, fun, and tie-in activities
We, the Fox Valley Homeschool Teen Literature Group, or "Lit Group" for
short, are a group of homeschooled teens (plus one grownup
chaperon/leader) who read literature and get together weekly to discuss
it. However, that's just half of what we do. Just as important, teens
get a chance to meet, hang out with, get to know, and enjoy the
company of other smart, homeschooled teens, in a safe, positive, fun
environment. We spend only the first hour of our weekly 2-hour meetings
discussing literature; then comes the social hour, in which teens
have a chance to enjoy snacks, chat, hang out, and just be teens.
Social hour is almost
completely unstructured except for when we celebrate birthdays
or go out on a walk somewhere.
Besides our social hour, in Lit Group we also enjoy optional activities
outside of and after Lit Group. Mostly these activities tie in to books
we're currently reading, but some activities we do just for the fun of
it, or to take advantage of opportunities. In the first half of the
2010/2011 "learning year," we:
Those last two activities didn't have anything to do with the books we
read. They were just fun and/or educational things to do; opportunities
that were easy to take advantage of, so we did.
- Viewed the 1960s movie version of Fahrenheit 451.
- Roasted a book at 470 degrees Fahrenheit for well over an hour.
It did not spontaneously combust, which falsified the premise of the
title Fahrenheit 451.
- Attended a book signing and meet & greet with 40 local
authors at the Aurora Library (Eola branch).
- Attended a WWII re-enactment at Rockford.
- Had a "Poor People's Food" cook-in, in which we cooked using
recipes from A Tree Grows In Brooklyn,
well, had fun, and fed 22 people (Lit Group teens and families) for
- Enjoyed the movie Oliver!
- Split firewood (in the book Ghost
Riders, the female protagonist splits wood, so we did, too).
- Enjoyed a presentation by a Civil War re-enactor, who came to us
and demonstrated his costume, armaments, and kit, and talked with the
teens about what he does, and why. The book Ghost Riders prominently
features/involves Civil War re-enactors so this was a special treat.
- Went walking through the neighborhood enjoying the park, bike
path and environs, and bought and ate ice creams at the local ice cream
- Attended a lecture at the Fermilab campus about "Fab Labs," which
are custom mini-manufacturing facilities with the goal of "being able
to make anything." Teens used computer-controlled laser etching and
cutting equipment to make mementoes.
Coming up in the remainder of the 2010/2011 "learning year":
You can see that our activities vary from simple, free or near-free
things to activities which may cost money, including field trips which
All these activities are optional. Most involve just Lit Group teens,
but siblings and family members are welcome to many. Sometimes we join
in activities with other homeschool Lit Groups &/or other
- Attending the play adaptation of The Diary of Anne Frank at the
nearby playhouse (we'll walk there after Lit Group).
- Making tortillas. We'll be reading Steinbeck's Tortilla Flat,
though there's actually not much in the book about making
tortillas, the tie-in is just too obvious to resist.
- Fishing behind our house (ties in to Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea, which is
all about fishing).
- Visiting the Hemingway birthplace museum in Oak Park (ties in to
Man and the Sea).
- Frankenstein movie marathon (we'll be reading Frankenstein).
- Milking a cow (we'll be reading Tess
the d'Urbervilles - Tess, the protagonist, is a milkmaid).
- Walking the Autism Speaks
walk on Saturday May 21st (we'll be reading The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The
Night-Time; the protagonist is autistic).
- Island campout - teens will be in charge of cooking, pitching and
striking camp, and everything; hopefully the adult chaperons will have
nothing to do. We'll be reading Lord of the Flies,
which is about teens stranded on an island who create their own
society. We won't be stranded but we'll be socializing!
- Visiting the Illinois Holocaust Museum (we'll be reading The Diary of a Young Girl - The Definitive
Edition by Anne Frank).
- Walking to the nearby Water Street Studios art gallery, or to the
nearby playhouse to enjoy a play.
- Cooking in or eating dinner out.
- Attending a talk given by Dr. James Surmeier (physiologist and
biophysicist) titled How the Brain
Controls our Choices, overviewing the current understanding of
how we choose to act.
The Fermilab events are targeted to an adult audience and generally
have nothing to do with
literature. But they're interesting and the presenters are leading
their field. Fermilab's near to where we meet, and the events happen
right after Lit
Group, so the logistics are
easy and we often grab these easy opportunities. Lit Group teens that
want to attend just stay late that evening, enjoy supper, good company,
and an informative/interesting evening out. Similarly, walks to the art
gallery, or to the local playhouse, may have little to do with
literature. But they are both fun, and the kind of thing that "literate
people" enjoy and do.
The goal and outcome of all this is, I suppose, obvious. Our activites
are opportunities for homeschooled teens to have fun, learn stuff,
socialize, and experience variety and new things.