Wednesday, July 11, 2012


I want to spend some time talking about the older children I know and serve.  They are a very special group of children, of course they all are, but these kiddos attended camp.  I fretted before camp started with being able to keep the older children engaged and providing things they would enjoy.  I have known some of the children since they were three years old.  Some of the children were new to me and to each other, but as it worked out, they all loved each other and from reviews - they loved the camp. 
An activity I knew would be difficult for them, but I decided to go ahead with was an item called 'Action Art' - I took it from a workshop put on by Sibshops and adapted it for this particular group of children.  It was meant to be an 'ice breaker' and 'get to know you', done each morning as group music finished and we transitioned.  At first they hated it, struggled with it, and then something wonderful happened.....but I'm getting ahead of myself.

After each camp session was over for the day, the adults would get together and discuss how the campers did that day.  The adults came up with one word that described the campers as a whole.  It was written as bubble letters on a huge piece of butcher paper, torn up and given to the campers the next day.  Item number one: the campers then had to take those papers and decorate what they saw; be it coloring; fancy art work, or painting.  Item two:  they then had to try and piece the letters together.  Item three:  they could not work by themselves....they had to work as a group!! discussing!! Whew! That was hard!! 
They kept talking to me...I didn't want them to talk to me...then they turned to the other adults in the room.....I didn't want that either.....the idea of the activity is that they talk to each other, learn to work together and ask each other the questions they were asking of us adults.  My thoughts kept coming back to: did they not trust each other or the understanding they thought they had of each other?  Did they not trust each others language?  I even found myself repeating what each had said....could they not hear each other?                                       

 And then it happened.....It finally dawned on me; the adults had to remove themselves from the group entirely.  It was Thursday of the first week, the campers sat looking at each other for about 20 minutes not talking to each other and trying to engage the adults in conversation.  The adults were under strict orders not to interact.  The two older campers finally took charge....stood up and began to ask questions of the others and interact with each other.  They discussed and gave orders and in no time, of course after an hour and a half of getting nowhere, they got their word together and were extremely proud.
So was I - they had finally realized they could do it and do it with confidence.  Each morning they began asking me for the papers and each morning they got a little faster on working, discussing, and coming up with the word that described their group - what is even more amazing; they discussed the word and what it meant!  Then decided if it truly described them - all I can say is amazing!  I believe they came up with the correct conclusion....those words truly described them! 

 They were full of energy, and tried everyday.  They were helpful and absolutely, without a doubt - GREAT!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Pop! pop! pop!! Happy 4th of July!

It is quiet here today.  Enjoying some relief from 100+ degree weather for the past week.  Last night started the rains, no heavy storms, thank goodness.  Today there will probably be scattered fireworks with rain in most areas. 

I would like to share some more pictures from camp and tell you how you can make some noise this fourth of July!  I stated before that balloons were great game makers and I do believe that!  A balloon during camp and even better - a game involving a balloon always made the campers smile.

 How about the balloon that always changes colors?  The campers had to keep the balloon up in the air and each camper was only allowed to touch one color at a time.  The learned, through the game, it was a much easier game if they worked in pairs or asked others for help; keeping the balloon off the floor and helping with a balloon they had already touched. Great language building and team building.  It turned out they made great partners/groups to work together and keep the balloons up in the sky. No popping!  Hmmmmm  But what about popping?
A great language builder and fun thing to do on this Fourth of July afternoon.  Go outside, sit down and blow some bubbles! Pop, pop, pop!!!  You can use a flyswatter for flies and a clean one for the children!  No, not to swat the children, but to dunk in the bubble solution and blow lots of little bubbles, they don't go anywhere and the children truly can stay in one place and talk! 

Popping can take place from balloons, to bubbles, and did I mention popcorn? Popcorn in an old fashioned popcorn maker - yes, they really do make popcorn out side a microwave.  Watch even more language come out while the popcorn swirls around and around and around and then all of a sudden......pop! ...... pop!!  ........pop! pop! ........pop, pop, pop, pop! Over and over, children are just mesmerized - and talking!  Happy Popping!! and Happy 4th of July!!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Summer Camp: Fun with Listening and Language

Two weeks quickly came and went, and the first of what I hope will be just the beginning; Summer Fun with Listening and Language finished.  It was wonderful to see the campers each day and know they were having fun with mom, dad, or another family member.  It was even more wonderful to see siblings listening and coaching each other with language appropriate for letting their feelings known without getting frustrated.  It was wonderful to see them discuss and work things out with language and with listening.  It was even more wonderful to watch friends being renewed and friends being made.  But the most wonderful thing of all to watch:  babies smiling and laughing and listening, toddlers smiling and laughing and talking, and campers with siblings smiling and talking and telling me they want to come back and do this camp again.  Wow!  I have never had so much fun!  This was a great experience for me and now that I have done it - I am already thinking of how to make it even better.  Enjoy some more experiences with me!  Notice the fun?!......and notice it's all about family and friends.....the only way to have fun!! 

I have used this quote before, but I think it is very appropriate here again.....
'What families have in common the world around is that they are the place where we learn who we are and how to be that way."                                   ~Johann Georg Zimmermann