The Calder Game Extension Activities
- Grades: 3–5, 6–8
About this book
About the book
Calder, Petra, and Tommy are miserable with their new teacher, and even a field trip
to the museum to see Alexander Calder’s amazing sculptures does not cheer the
trio. So when Calder gets the chance to visit England, Petra and Tommy are both
envious of his escape and wonder how they will get along without him. But when
Calder explores the fascinating mazes near Woodstock, he suddenly disappears
along with a sculpture by the artist Alexander Calder for whom he is named. Is
there a connection? Petra and Tommy fly to England to try to retrace the thoughts
and actions of their closest friend—but will they be able to find him before it’s too
Understanding Character: Create a chart with 4 columns (Character Name, Description, Main Conflict, Solution) and as you read fill out each section. All characters have some type of problem and try to solve it. Use this chart for discussion.
Study the life and work of Alexander Calder. (www.calder.org is agreat place to start!) Direct your research to answer the following questions: How did he develop his unique style, what were his major influences? How has his work influenced other artists? What media did he use? Why?
Create a Calder-inspired mobile of your own. It can be a mobile made of anything you like, but it should be thoughtful and balanced. In a brief artist’s statement included with your piece explain your process and what you learned as you worked on it. Also: Can you imagine a piece of sculpture that would fit ina public place in your neighborhood? What piece would you choose (pretend you could borrow it from anywhere in the world)?
Describe why that piece would fit and where it should go.
Design your own maze using pentominoes. Then create a three dimensional model of your design using any materials you like(clay, legos, etc.). Students could vote on the best design or try to combine designs to create a master maze. Design a “symbolic” hedge maze on paper, using your own symbols. Create a key for the symbols. The Blenheim maze had symbols that celebrated a victory in war; what important event in your life would you
celebrate with a symbolic maze?
Plan a trip to a Calder sculpture (or show) somewhere in the world. First, make a prediction as to what your budget should be for the trip. Then, figure out how much it would cost to get to the piece and how much to stay nearby for at least a week. Don’t forget that you’ll need money for food and souvenirs! Compare your prediction with your actual projected costs after your research. Then, write Art Wish a letter asking him if he could send you on
your trip, and tell him why you want to visit this particular piece or show. Remember to be convincing!
Setting is a really important aspect of all the adventures Petra,Tommy, and Calder take. In The Calder Game, the three sleuths travel to Woodstock, England, for their adventure. Find a paragraph where Balliett describes the town and answer the following questions: What is the page number, and what is being described? What colors are used to describe it? How does the description make you feel? Why? Does it add suspense or tension to the scene? How?
Next, write a paragraph of your own which describes a particular setting. But before you get started make a conscious decision about what emotion you’d like to invoke in your reader (fear, hope, defeat, victory, etc.). Use Balliett’s work as a mentor text. Share with your peer editor.