Our group meets once a fortnight for two hours. We took a little while to settle on a format that worked, but we have gradually honed our sessions as we have gone along to make them better for the children that we have attending. One of the issues is making something work for a variety of ages. We have children from 4 to 12 (and sometimes a little older) attending, and we want them all to benefit.
At the moment, we are working round the world one continent per term, focussing on one country each week. Our activities are based on this country, and a normal session looks like this:
1. Maps and flags to colour in are available as people arrive.
2. A picture book, or sometimes a number of picture books, are read. My friend has found some great books for us to listen to together. Although picture books are of particular benefit to the younger children, even the older ones still really enjoy them. Sometimes this is followed by a discussion, or by looking at items or pictures from the country we are studying that week.
3. Activities. This is my job to organise. Usually I have two activities, though yesterday I had three, and I think that was better. I try to find something that the younger ones can definitely manage and something that the older children may find more satisfying. Some activities work well for all ages, such as making fondant penguins like we did yesterday.
|Giant snowflakes were popular with older children yesterday.|
|Fondant penguins were popular with everyone!|
|A Maasai shield from last term.|
|Cookie dough map of Africa - a group activity.|
4. Snack time. This has been haphazard in the past, but we are trialling having snacks that fit at least loosely with our themes. Yesterday we had little biscuits and dried fruit as a reminder of how the early explorers of Antarctica survived without getting scurvy!
5. Book group. My friend organises this for the older children - about 8 years old and up. They work through two books a term, and discuss together each week what they have been reading. Again, the books they read will be about the continent we are focussing on that term. In addition, they each bring a book along to recommend to the rest of the group. This has been a highlight for my older two.
6. Games/Outdoors. Meanwhile, the younger children enjoy table football during the winter, or when the weather is inclement, and run round outdoors during the summer when the weather is dry.
It doesn't always work perfectly, but generally we all have a good time, and my children really look forward to it. It supplements well what we work on the rest of the time too, and they have made lapbooks to keep a record of what we have learned each term.