That’s what happened to me on Easter 2007. I was at a Family Easter Party and witnessed a family tradition that intrigued me. We had just finished eating some appetizers when everyone started grabbing some colored Easter eggs (the hard-boiled kind not the plastic variety.) The next thing I knew people were pairing themselves up and challenging their partner to an “Egg War.”
Earth Day is fast approaching. What better time is there to lead an Eco-Friendly Club chockfull of learning, hands-in and STEM based activities? You have quite an opportunity here to build children’s awareness of the importance of taking care of our friend the Earth which we all call home and how vital it is that we take care of it!
Week 1: Start a Recycling Project and have a Clean up the Campus Day
Take time to explain what recycling is (re-using materials rather than throwing them away in a landfill) and what materials can and cannot be recycled (aluminum, glass, plastic, etc.) Prior to starting your project find a local recycling center that will reimburse you for any recycled materials you bring in and what items they take. Give the children gloves & bags to help clean up the campus. Sort recyclables into the recycling bins you have provided. Another special bonus is that once you have completed your recycling project your group will have earned a little extra spending $money$. You can have the children create a goal for something they would like to obtain for your center such as an outdoor toy or game or have them help choose a charity to donate the funds to. TIP: Large sturdy Rubbermaid containers or trash cans can be used/labeled as your recycling bins.
Week 2: Craft Activity ~ Grocery Bags for Earth Day
Something I have done with the children for the past several years is to have the children participate in making Grocery Bags for Earth Day. The purpose is two-fold. 1) To promote Earth Day Awareness to the local community. 2) To have to children create a usable craft with a message that makes them feel like they are contributing to taking care of the Earth. A few days before Earth Day you can ask a manager at a local grocery store to “borrow” grocery bags. After the children have completed their designs you can return them and ask that they be distributed on Earth Day. TIP: Make sure children do not include any personal information/names on their bags since they will be distributed at a local grocery store.
You can visit http://www.earthdaybags.org/ for more information about to get an Earth Day grocery bags program started at your school/program.
Week 3: Plant a Vegetable Garden
Even if you don’t have a lot of space planting a vegetable garden is still possible and can be a very rewarding experience for children. It also teaches them to appreciate nature from all stages: seed to vegetable.
Some veggies you can include in small planter boxes include: green onions, radishes, tomatoes (such as small fry or patio), and green beans.
1) Help the children create colorful labels for your veggies.
2) Use a nutrient rich soil such as Miracle Grow to plant your seeds. Make sure to provide adequate soil and space for the seeds.
3) Assign a watering schedule. It is very easy for kids to over water or under water the plants, assigning a schedule and letting the kids know the importance of sticking to it (to keep plants healthy and growing) is essential.
4) Make sure to place your planters in an area with at least 6 hours of sunlight per day.
Week 4: Solar Pizza Ovens and Our Incredible Earth Awards:
1) This week is all about celebrating the journey the children have made in Incredible Earth Club. You can challenge them to start thinking of ways they can conserve and take care of the Earth in their daily lives. For instance when using paper to draw, using both sides of the paper and not wasting it or placing objects in a recycling bin instead of the trash. Help them to know that even the little things they do can make a difference.
2) You can continue your celebration by warming up a yummy treat in your own homemade solar pizza oven. Cooking foods in it is not recommended but heating up pre-made cookies using the suns rays can feel like eating a freshly baked cookie from the oven!
3) As far as a giveaway or prize for the participants of Our Incredible Earth Club I am inclined to stay away from paper rewards as it doesn’t really keep in theme of the club nor do justice to it. But I have used a fun giveaway made from recycled newspapers that the children just love called ~ SMENCILS! They are scented pencils, and the children really enjoy them.
Taking care of our Earth and environment around us is so vital. If we can help explain that to our youth in a fun and exciting way I think it could do wonders! Do you have any ideas about teaching Eco-friendly ideas to our youth today? Please share, I am eager to hear your ideas.
My inspiration behind leading a Taste of Mexico Club came about a few years back. I was traveling in Mexico seeing the local sights and decided to take a class. Since I love all things culinary I took a class called, “A Taste of Mexico.,” hosted by a chef at a local restaurant. We learned to make salsa Mexicana, guacamole, tamales, and tacos. Once we were all finished we got to consume our delicious Mexican delights. The chef then surprised us all with awards as honorary chefs. Even as a fully grown adult I was giddy as a small child when I received my award. I wanted to share my experiences with the children I work with, and thus Taste of Mexico Club evolved!
Week 1-Hands on cooking experience: Make and Taste guacamole
The ages of children in my club were 6-11, so I had to make a few preparations beforehand such as chopping the cilantro, onions, and tomatoes and placing them in separately labeled zip lock baggies. For the avocadoes I simply cut them in half and let the children take turns scooping out the avocadoes with plastic forks into a large bowl. Once all the avocadoes were scooped into the bowl I had each child take a turn at mashing the avocadoes (I used a potato masher for this, which worked out fabulously!) Next, I assigned each student a duty to add a remaining ingredient: salt, pepper, lime, cilantro, onion, and tomatoes. Once everything was all mixed together everyone got to taste their creation. I then gave everyone an award for being a “Certified Guacamole Maker.” I also gave them the guacamole recipe to take home. One of the children loved the guacamole so much she went home and told her Dad about it. That next weekend they made it together and Dad put it out for sports party he was hosting and said, “My daughter made the best guacamole ever!”
Serves 15-20 kids
- 6 avocadoes
- 3 tomatoes, chopped
- 2 large sweet onions, chopped
- ½ -1 bunch of cilantro leaves, chopped
- Salt & pepper to taste
- The juice of 2-3 limes
- 1 Serrano Chile, seeded & chopped (optional)
Week 2- Piñatas Part 1
To start our week I announced that we were going to make piñatas, but first we started by learning a few facts about the history of the piñata. Each child was given a medium sized balloon. We used newspaper strips & liquid starch to completely cover our balloons. (Liquid starch is hard to find these days – I scoured Target and Ralphs to no avail. My most consistent source for liquid starch is Pavilions.) Try to encourage the children to wipe away excess starch from their strips with their fingers, as the strips can easily tear if too wet. It also will not cover the balloon as well. Once complete allow the piñatas to completely dry. I like to keep them in bowls and constantly turn them when one side dries. I also try to keep a vigilant eye on them and patch any holes I see. Also, make sure the club leader makes a piñata as well to be used at the fiesta the last week.
- Balloons (1 per child)
- Newspaper strips
- Liquid starch
- Plastic Bowls
Week 3- Piñatas Part 2
Today we painted our piñatas. I put out green, white, yellow and green tempera paints and pencils for them to draw their design. Once completed we put them in a safe place to allow them to dry and save them for taking home Week 4.
Week 4- Fiesta Time
We had a fiesta dancing to the Mexican Hat Dance and Macarena and served quesadillas for snack. (These can easily be heated in the microwave 3-4 at a time.) I filled the leader made balloon piñata with small toys and attached a jump rope. Creating the handle can be the hardest part, but duck tape is your friend, utilize it well, otherwise not all children will get a turn at whacking the piñata. Prepare for this ahead of time by giving guidelines to the children. Ours were: 1) Each child gets 2 tries 2) Even if prizes fall out don’t grab them until the leader says go 3) Only pick up 3 prizes and then sit at the table, once everyone has 3 in their bag (and a leader has checked) then you have one more “free for all” at the prizes. Our rules worked out well but you may want to change them depending on your group dynamic. At the end of the club each child got to take home their piñata to use at their own party!
Looking for more club ideas? Check the club themes page for some more exciting themed-units!
Chances are if you have ever attended, worked in, or had your child attend an after-school program you will find daily activities such as Arts & Crafts, Homework time, inside and outside games, and snack time. These daily activities are designed to provide a safe, stable, and structured environment for children. There are times, however when this daily schedule may become somewhat of a grind leaving center staff and children wanting more. After school clubs are a way to add new life and enthusiasm into the program.
What are after-school clubs?
Clubs are a combination of all the best aspects of an after-school program. They can include games, arts & crafts, learning & special events. Typically they last 4-6 weeks and are planned by After School center staff. They are also designed to fit a certain theme. Your center staff can choose a topic/hobby that they specialize in such as dance or music or you can tap into popular children’s themes.
Example Club Theme & Activities:
Taste of Asia Club
Week 1: Dragon Wands
Week 2: Make Candy Sushi
Week 3: Kung Fu Panda Frames
Week 4: Taste Asian food- Sushi, egg rolls, & Orange Chicken and watch the movie Mulan.