20 March 2009

5 days!

Today is the last day of Spring Break Camp. Sorry I've been MIA a long time, while the auction took over the world. Let's just say it was rather intense there for at least a week. I had a week to catch up on sleep and get my health back in order before Camp started. A week to plan the camp, which I had only half-planned during the onslaught of auction tasks. But now, on the last day, I'm feeling quite good about it. I had the good sense way back in January to plan for an outside group to come in to entertain the children. After some struggles with my first choice, I found a suitable alternative, which as turned out amazingly well.

We've had a lovely lady come in each morning to entertain the children with hands-on Mad Science. She teaches them real science while keeping them involved and engaged via really cool projects and activities. This is just the way children should be introduced to an academic subject, I think. She has the children so interested in learning, the camp has actually become educational! While she runs her program in the morning, I have plenty of time to get myself organized for the afternoon.

I can't help but want to have equally cool (if not as educational) fun projects for the children on my end. We started the week with a pillow case decorating project. This is the second year I've done this same activity, but learned from last year. Last year I made throw pillow style cases for each of the children, out of very nice (but not see-through) Osnaburg fabric. I bought many, many colours of Sharpies and fabric markers and expected the kids to go wild drawing and decorating their 20" square blank canvases. The whole project took them about 20 minutes. Many of the children just scribbled colours (and these were not our youngest ones!) and declared themselves done.

This year, I made regular, bed style muslin pillowcases and by accident (my fabric wasn't wide enough) had to add on a strip of green quilter's cotton. The green was a lucky, perfectly sized remanant which fairly accurately matches our school's shade of green and the main fabric is the cheapest muslin available. The benefit of the cheap-o muslin is that it's see-through. So I printed simple, generic pictures of animals, dragons (our school mascot) and other child-tracing-friendly images. The children slid the drawings into their pillows and coloured them in, some traced the images first, others just coloured. Both ways, they turned out beautifully. The younger children drew free-hand, their imaginations uninhibited. The oldest children chose more intricate images to trace carefully and then colour in, sometimes complete with shading! The first day, I gave them 20 minutes to work on their pillows which turned out to be way too short. They've been working on them during down time all week long!

What is the purpose of the pillows? Each day, we have "rest & relaxation" time while they watch a movie. The youngest children really need this time because they are keeping up with the older ones all day long. We set out gym mats on the floor, let them take off their shoes and lie down to watch. The pillows provide an obvious boundary so they don't crowd each other, can be sat upon, rested on or used for a clandestine nap.

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