For the second summer in a row, understandably, we have not offered our yearly summer camps. While they can be a lot of work, I missed the camaraderie that occurs when I work with the same kids over many days in a row.
So, this year, I planned a weekly virtual program based on geography. The nine-week program, meeting an hour each Monday, used the first nine books in the Flat Stanley Worldwide Adventures early chapter series as a starting point to talk about travel. As a child who grew up obsessed with maps, I have long lamented geography not having its due in American schools and the lack of geopolitical knowledge amongst Americans in a global world.
A fancy way of saying that I think little kids should spend more time looking at maps.
I start each program with an overview of the country (or state/area) we are visiting and try to correct misconceptions. For example, when Stanley goes on an “African Safari,” I spent the first portion explaining that Africa is a continent, not a country, and that he specifically went to Kenya and Tanzania. I showed photos of Nairobi AND the savannah with its animals. We also talked about how the well-known Mercator map makes Greenland look as large as Africa, when that’s definitely NOT the case. See this link to learn more.
I then read selected portions of books (remember to get publisher permissions if reading virtually!) and we do two crafts. I learned the hard way that it’s best to do VERY SIMPLE CRAFTS when you are not in person. The origami frog I’ve always done during the visit to Japan did not translate well to the online format and led to some frustration and tears. I made sure to make sure the rest of the crafts were easier.
I’ve completed 7 of the 9 weeks and have retained attendance throughout, drawing between 14-16 people each week (out of 15 registrations—I’ve had a friend guest appearance). I have met some wonderful kids who I hope will continue to come to programs when we are back in person (at least somewhat) this fall.
This post addresses the core competency III. Programming Skills.