Day #15

Changing Directions…

What to say about today…Well, the day started off nicely here in Fort Hope. The sun was shinning for once and it was a nice mild temperature. It wasn’t exactly balmy, but it certainly was warmer than it has been. After my porridge I headed over to camp to set things up for the morning group of 4 (turning 5) – 6 year olds. After getting the class ready we waited anxiously to see if we were going to get more than four kids to come to camp. Unfortunately we were disappointed, as we only managed to draw in three 4-6 year olds this morning. We are taking steps to solve this problem, more on that in a second. Despite the fact that we had such low numbers, today was by far our most successful lesson. We were  finally able to adapt our program to the limited level of literacy that most of the kids have. We started out with some basic tracing of letters and words and then played a couple of little games. We were far more prepared to keep class moving than we had been on the first two days. An important thing for us to realize was that we couldn’t expect our little kids to concentrate on one activity for any longer than about 7 minutes. With this information in mind we formed a much stronger lesson plan for the day.

After our morning reading and calendar we took the kids out on what we called our ‘Community Alphabet Walk’. We stole this idea from someone at orientation week in Thunder Bay and thought it was great. The goal of our walk was to find as many different things in the community that started with different letters of the alphabet. When we got back to the classroom after our walk we had the kids colour in an alphabet card with the letter of the object they had observed on their walk. This proved to be quite difficult for the young kids this morning, but overall, with a fair amount of coaxing, we were able to get a pretty good alphabet started. In addition to this work on the alphabet we took time to review every letter with the kids and to actually teach them the alphabet song. Many of them knew the song, but didn’t actually know the letters, so we ended up getting a strange rendition featuring the phrase ‘A,B,C,B,A,B,C,B,A…’ I think that it is going to take quite some time before we master the alphabet!

After lunch we had a great afternoon with the older kids. We started to the day off with a journal activity that hopefully wasn’t too painful for any of the campers.  I gave each kid a piece of paper and then had them write down the first 20 words that came into their mind as fast as they could. My only conditions were that they had to be longer than 2 letters long and couldn’t be ‘bad words’. Even for some of the kids that were too cool for writing earlier in the week this activity seemed to be somewhat enjoyable. Then because everyone was really into their random lists of words, I had them continue with an extension of the activity. I had each camper attempt to write three separate sentances (one happy, one sad, and one scary) using as many of their words as they possibly could. What we ended up with were a bunch of random, silly sentances that I think made the kids forget that they were ‘writing’. All in all I think it was successful, and for many of our campers, I think getting twenty words on page is a pretty strong start! We continued the day by playing ‘Letter ladder’ in the gym and then breaking off into teams and letting them unwind with a bit of basketball. After snack we gave the community alphabet another try, this time letting the older kids use cameras to take pictures of things that started with their assigned letters of the alphabet. Surprisingly this activity went over really well and all of the kids were really into taking pictures.

One other thing that you should know about my 10&11 year old campers…They love to play musical chairs…It is probably one of the strangest things I have ever seen, but these kids actually fiend musical chairs. We gave them an opportunity to play today because they have been asking to play everyday since the start of camp, and after three rounds no one was showing any signs of boredome. I can’t believe that musical chairs is the magic formula for camp success, but hey, if it works, it works! We are now trying to figure out how to bring some literacy into musical chairs…It’s all about the literacy tricks!

Alright, well I’ve got to head off to bed despite the fact that there is more that I would like to say…I’m going to jot a few notes down on a piece of paper so that I remember them for tomorrow, but I really need to sleep now…Tomorrow is a big day because we are going to do some shuffling of kids in the morning to even out our numbers…It should be a crazy, free-for-all…so…just the way camp is supposed to be!

–Be kind to each other and don’t fall down…

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