The Splurch Academy for Disruptive Boys: The Rat Brain Fiasco Game Board

Click on the image to buy the bookTo continue with the activity guide throw-back theme of late, let me tell you about this great game board I made for Julie Berry’s hilarious Splurch Academy for Disruptive Boys: The Rat Brain Fiasco quite some time ago.  I made the guts of the game. She and her sister made it pretty – or rather, scary.

The Splurch Academy series is far from high fantasy, my friends. It’s just an example of some light-hearted, goofy, all-boy, brain-sucking fun. In it, protagonist Cody Mack, a mildy ill-mannered boy, is sent to a school run by a faculty of monsters! At first they work hard to conceal their fangs by posing as a polite principal and his studious staff. But then, like any horror story worth its blood, Cody uncovers clues that a boy was killed at the school and scrambles to avoid meeting the same demise.

Click on the image to download the game, if you dare!The game is constructed by tracing plot points of the book, most are cited from the text and are as ghoulish as ghoulish can be.  I like to imagine some wiry, seven-year-old boy’s grubby fingers flipping through the pages, intent upon relishing a re-read of the story's sloppy, slurpy gore. Delicious!

And, the best part is that the plot point game is inexpensive, easily reproduced, and distributed.

Ba-da-bing! Ba-da-BOO!

Prep: Back to Schooling Again

I just can't help it.

The thrill of preparing for school is woven deep within my DNA. It just is. My heart palpitates when Wal-Mart puts three-ring binders on sale. Yesterday the Office Max guy found me fingering the felt tip pens. Rulers...Bic pens...erasers...spiral notebooks...Oh, gosh! I'm all a tizzie.

Where to start? Where to begin? How can I get organized, I ask you?

Deep breaths, Debbie. Deep breaths.

You'll be ever-so-glad to know that I once made a guide that covers back-to-school organization techniques and more! And, if you're you're as back-to-school excitable as I am, make yourself a nice cup of camomile tea and try to relax until Simple Saturday. Operant word? Try.

Simple Saturday: Princess Posey and the First Grade Parade

Okay, my dear Simple Saturday friends. The guide I'm sharing today has been created for the most delightfully darling early chapter book I have ever read...and compadres, I've read a bushel of them. For real.

Princess Posey and the First Grade Parade, written by my partner in crime, Stephanie Greene, and illustrated by cutie-patootie Stephanie Roth Sisson, is the first book in series starring a charmingly complex first grader named Posey, whose persona is altered when she dons her pink tutu. The moment that circle of pink netting wraps around her tiny waist Posey is transformed into --- drum roll, please --- super-confident-ever-invincible Princess Posey!Well, in her six-year-old mind anyway.

The guide I made to compliment this treasure contains not only discussion questions, a compare and contrast activity, a word bank game, and a magic letter 'e' activity, there is a folder game that I'd like for you to take a look at. Access the guide HERE  to get a gander. 

To make the game you'll need a letter-sized manila file folder, glue, a paper clip, a pencil, some game movers, and download the game board. The directions to create the game are all spelled out in the guide. It's fun. Trust me.

I have to say though, that playing the game with the book by your side would be even more meaningful. And, if you have a new first grader who is in any way anxious about going back to school, Posey will help qualm any fears.

She's sweet that way.

Ghoulish Game on!

 I's still summertime and the thought of spending extended periods of time with teachers is almost nauseating. Those ghoulish, monstrous, demonic beings that they are...Yikes!

That being said, what if your teachers were really ghouls? You know - blood thirsty, brainsucking beasts. Sweet love of Neptune...what would you do?

Well, read Splurch Academy for Disruptive Boys: The Rat Brain Fiasco and you'll be all but kissing the feet of your human teachers come this fall - I'm telling you! I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to interpret this amazing story in a board game format, and, if I do say so myself, I pulled it off quite handsomely!

Now, when I originally created a game guide for my dear friend Julie Berry, it looked like THIS. But, once the Grosset & Dunlap's creative brains took a look at it, the game board was transformed to THIS. Neat, huh? the time that I created the game and sat back on my laurels for a while, Julie has published three more books in the series. Yeowza! How cool it that?

So, for today, my simplistic Simple Saturday friend, with your game pieces and die in hand, download that gameboard and have some last-chance, almost-over, summertime fun.

Prep: Ghoulish Game On!

Tomorrow I'm going to feature another guide that I've done to compliment a book that has now become a smash series!

All you need to bring with you in order to be-bop around the game board is one die/dice and game pieces/movers, which can be beans or buttons or tiny stones. This is Simple Saturday, remember? Keep it c-h-e-a-p!

I'll provide a link to the .pdf gameboard that can be printed out on cardstock with no trouble at all.

And, speaking of trouble...the book we'll be talking about is packed with trouble - interesting, mischievous, and deliciously dangerous trouble. Come by tomorrow and I'll show you then.

Simple Saturday: Geography - A Travel Game

So sorry to keep you waiting. Been busy loading up the car, getting geared up for a rowdy road trip. Now that the rig is all set, let's get playing Simple Saturday Geography - A Travel Game.

Here's how we play:

Among the available players in the car, decide on predictiable rotation pattern. Perhaps you might let the youngest player goes first. The person to the wee one's right goes next and around the horn from there.

The first player says a geographical location - any city, state, or country will do. Maybe our tiny tot says, "Austin." All right. Good start.

Austin ends in the letter 'N'. The next player has to think of a geographic location beginning with that letter. about..."Nashville"? That ends in the letter 'E', so let's think of somewhere in the world that begins with that letter.

Hmmm... What do you think?





Yeah! Let's go with Egypt!

So, think about the word 'Egypt'. What's the last letter in the word? What letter will the next player have to use for their geographical location? Right. You got it, Mr. Smart Guy... the letter 'T'.

 And that's how it goes. Each person comes up with a new city, state, or country based on the last letter of the previous player's chosen location. No repeating places, now. Each spot has to be original. When someone can't come up with a place, game over! Start again.

 And again. And again...all the way home.

Simple Saturday Prep: Geography - A Travel Game

 Taking another long road trip with the kiddies? Stuck in traffic with no end in sight and your rug rats are getting restless? Thinking, "Good Lord in heaven...throw me a bone!?"

Well, instead of a bone, let's use your travelers' knowledge of geography to pass the stressful time away!

Tomorrow join me as I show you one of the most entertaining, educational, and all-aged-family-member-inclusive travel game of all time - Simple Saturday Geography!

Now, to get you in the mood for tomorrow's fun, my good buddies Peter, Paul, and Mary (my all-time idols) have stopped by to sing you a little tune. See ya!

Simple Saturday: Birthday Money Cake

 Why pay a bunch of money on a store bought cake when you can have a ton of fun with a Simple Saturday Birthday Money Cake? I'm telling you, kids love this thing. They'll gobble up a desert-dry cake like a bayou full of gators! I know this from first hand experience. checked yesterday's list, right? Do you have the cake mix (if you're a cheater, like me), a can of frosting, a handful of coins, foil, and a button?

Go ahead and bake the cake in the same way that you would any regular one. Any cake pan will do. Square, round, rectangle - your choice.

After the cake has cooled, wrap the coins and the button in pieces of foil. Be sure to cover them good. Poke the coins and the button in random places in the cake. Lastly, conceal those treasures with a thick layer of frosting...yum!

 Slice the cake. Serve it. Ask the kids to wait until everyone's got their cake and then let them motor their way through.

The kid that gets the button may seem disappointed, but no...they are actually the winner! Have a special prize set aside for them. Nothing elaborate...maybe a toy car or small doll. Something thoughtful for the clever button-finder.

 My mother made this birthday cake for me when I was a child and I continued the tradition with my own children. I've once heard that the Money Cake originated in the Depression Era. Interesting, isn't it?

Actually, what I think is cool is that simplicity, thoughtfulness, and tradition never grow old.

Simple Saturday Prep: Birthday Money Cake

 Oh, my! Look who stopped by this morning to wish me a Happy Birthday! The Beatles!!!! Dang...I'm in for a good day, aren't I?

That's right, today's my birthday and I cannot think of better company to party with than YOU (and the Beatles).

So, in celebration of this momentous day, let's make a Simple Saturday  Money Birthday Cake, want to? For starters, I bought a cake mix and a can of frosting for my base. (I'm not a make-it-from-scratch kind of baker. Never have been . Never will be.)

 Now, to make this cake special, tomorrow you'll need to gather up about 6 or 7 coins, some foil, and a button. That's right, I said a button. Naturally I've got a game to go along with this. Trust me. It'll be a blast.

Now it's time for a little sing-a-long with Paul....the best birthday present a girl could ever ask for!

Simple Saturday: Math Wheels

Parents, this little Math Wheel download just might be the summer time lifesaver of the century! (Well, maybe not the lifesaver of the whole century, but it will make math fact practice a bit more palatable around su casa.)

Stop the tooth-and-nail-squabbling and download a Simple Saturday Math Wheel worksheet HERE. Cut out the two wheels, grab a pencil and we're ready to roll!

You'll notice that one wheel has an addition sign printed in the center circle and the other has a multiplication sign. As you can see in the picture on the left, I practiced my 5's - both my addition facts and my multiplication facts. Aren't you proud of me?

 All you have to do is write a number in the center of the wheel and then compute working to the outside of the wheel. To practice another set of facts simply print off another sheet, choose a number - say 3, this time - and compute to your little heart's content.

Have your kiddos work a few of these every day and you've got that fact practice taken care of leaving plenty of time for summer time splish-splashing!


Simple Saturday Prep: Math Wheels

I know. I know. Your kiddos don't want to spend time practicing those math facts they struggled with during the school year. It's summer, for Pete's sake. Can you blame them?

But you vowed to the teacher that they would review those dreaded memorization tables, right? And, we are certain that the little bit of practice you do during the summer will make all the difference in next year's math class. The question is how can you make practice sessions short, sweet, and a wee bit fun to do? Is there some quick and easy way to run through addition or multiplication tables before bounding off to the pool?

 The Simple Saturday answer to that question is YES! Join me tomorrow as I show you an super simple, painless way to practice those facts. I'll have a download ready for you and your little summertime podnah to enjoy.

For now, jump back in the pool and don't forget the sunscreen!

Simple Saturday: Travel Bingo

 What kind of summer holiday do you have in mind?

A vacation?




Well, if you're riding in a car with kids for any length of time you might consider downloading the Simple Saturday Travel Bingo Game to use just in case things get a little hairy in the backseat. The download consists of two gameboards. Simply print off a few sheets, pre-cut before you leave, and pack a few pencils with you for the ride. 

All your sweet ones need to do is look out of the window and find the objects featured on the game board. It's that easy. When they spot an object, just mark it off of the board.

I suggest that you play Black Out. It keeps those kiddies busy for a long, long, l-o-n-g time.

Simple Saturday Prep: Bored on the Bayou

 Summertime's coming! Woo-hee-hee-hoo! Can't wait!!! It's my most favorite time of year.

Will you be taking a trip this summer? Some sort of crazy-fun family summer vacation together? Maybe you'll be lucky enough to go to Louisiana.  Enjoy a bowl of spicey shrimp creole or some of those yummy beignets. If you do get a chance to head down to the Pelican State, don't forget to catch a little zydeco while you're there. I just can't sit still when I hear that music.

 You and I know that not every single second of vacation travel is all crazy fun, right? There are long hours of hanging at the airport, sitting in the car's backseat, and thumb-twiddling-time when you're bored out of your gourd waiting for whatever the plan is to happen. Not to worry. Bring a pencil and paper with you tomorrow and I'll show you something to help to avoid becoming bored on the bayou.

Simple Saturday: The Bubble Gum Game

All right, here we go! Gather the gang and let's play the Simple Saturday Bubble Gum Game!

Ask the kids to sit in a circle, placing their feet and hands flat on the floor in front of them.

Now, you, being the wise one in charge, must repeat the following rhythmic chant while sequentially tapping the toe or hand of each child in the circle, moving clock-wise each at every hash-marked spot in the Simple Saturday Bubble Gum Game mantra.

The mantra goes as follows: Bubble/Gum/Bubble/Gum/in/a/dish./ How/many/pieces/do/you/wish?

 Make sure your kids have both their hands and feet placed flat on the floor while playing this game...unlike this cool picture I snagged from the internet. When you say 'wish', let your hand linger upon the hand or foot of an unsuspecting child and ask, "How many pieces of bubble gum would you like?" The child then states a number - say 5. You then proceed, in a clock-wise manner, sequentially counting out the next 5 hands or feet in the circle. One-two-three-four-FIVE! The not-so-lucky hand or foot numbered 5 is now 'out', and must be removed from the circle of play.

 The game mantra is sequentially repeated. Again, when you say 'wish', linger upon the hand or foot. Have the child state how many pieces of fantasy bubble gum they'd like to have. Play out that number to eliminate another appendage. The winner (or loser) of the game is one who has the last foot or hand remaining.

Simple Saturday Prep: Bubble Gum Game

 Parents and teachers, have you ever been in situations such as these? Say, you have there are two or more kids of the bubbly-bouncing quasi-strong-willed sort. And you, being the adult in the scene, have to decide which one goes first in any given situation - be it who will become the the leader in the line, or who is to be the first one to hit the get the picture.

My dear grown-up friends, trust me...the Simple Saturday Bubble Gum Game serves as a fun, palatable way to convince your darling children to perform some less-than-appealing duty or to fairly choose who may be first to engage in an over-the-top-exciting task. And, despite it's gummy name, the game is Sugar Free!

 So, tomorrow, gather up the kiddies in your life  - those that need your guidance figuring out who earns the high honor of leading the pack.We will need both their hands and their feet to play this game together.

Not dismembered, mind you. That just wouldn't be right.

Simple Saturday Prep: Beach Blanket ABC's

Ever taken a trip with kids who are bored out of their minds? Squabbling?  Asking how much farther? He's breathing on me! She's looking at me. No! No! No!

Let me teach you a game that just might save your vacationing sanity. The Simple Saturday Beach Blanket ABC game is free, fun, and the stuff that can make memories out of molehills.

To play this game all you need is a pair of sharp eyes, a destination and you're off! Tomorrow's game playing destination will be on a private beach in the Bahamas. That's right, we're taking a long, drawn out, boring trip to the Bahamas to play our game together. Tough duty, but someone has to do it, right?

Until tomorrow, bon voyage, dear friends!


Simple Saturday: A Fraction War

Fractions can be deadly...well, tricky anyway. Just think about all of the wacky rules involved in computing with them entail. The larger the denominator the smaller fraction. Two fractions with completely different numerators and denominators can be equal. Now, how the heck can that be true? Don't even begin to talk about reciprocals or improper fractions. And then, on top of all of this, we have to reduce these babies? Fractions aren't playing fair, and that's all there is to it.

Years ago I worked at a school for at-risk high-schoolers, I loved that job. I clearly remember sitting beside with an ex-gang member with a tear-drop tatooed at the corner of his eye and the words 'love' and 'hate' tattooed on the flesh between his scarred knuckles and finger joints. As I presented the notion of reciprocal fractions, I noticed the hand clenching his pencil wasn't not the one with 'love' printed on it.


 After we spent a good bit time talking about the mental gymnastics behind working with fractions and playing my game, my decorated pal began to understand the illogical logic behind computing with fractions. The scowl behind the teardrop tatoo softened. "Is that all there is to it?" he asked. I answered, "Yep. That's it."

So, let's you and I play Fraction War.

First of all gather up some index cards and a marker.

Next, write a random sequence of fractions on the cards keeping in mind what your intent to comprehend might be with the game. Do you want to grasp the notion of the simple value of fractions? What is 1/2 as compared to 1/9 and so on? (Note: It may be helpful to have fraction manipulatives available to use when initially working with concepts such as these. There is no shame in your game if you need to concretely double check the abstract, illusive, and down-right-hard-wrap-your-head-around value of these wacked-out fractional representations. Say what? You're telling me that 1/12 is smaller that 1/5? How can that be? Five is smaller/less than/littler  than twelve that last time I checked. Well, check again. We're talking fractions, bro.)

So, after you've made a pack of cards....25 or're ready to play. Decide with your partner whether you're going to play 'High' or 'Low', which mean that the larger fractions take the deck or the smallest ones cleans up. Just be sure that you agree about the rules of the game before you begin. (Believe me. This is the voice of experience talking here.)

Uh, oh! Like the regular game of War, you might hit a stale mate, that is when the players have pulled two cards of equal value, or 'equivalent fractions'. In the picture 4/8 is equivalent/equal to 1/2. If that happens (and it will, hence the name WAR!) the players should proceed to draw three extra cards from their stack on hand and place them face down from their stack.

And then flip the next card in their stack on top of the faced down group already on the playing table. In this case, if we had agreed to play 'High', the 1/8 would take that stack because 1/8 is bigger than 1/9.

The more cards you make, the longer the game takes. If you really want to challenge yourself, create an assortment of fraction cards with tenths, hundreths, and thousandths as denominators to be paired against decimal cards of equal value. It also great fun to play with improper and mixed fractions in the stack.

Yeah, I can be quite sadistic when it comes to fractions. I really like working with them. Blame it on Fraction War!