While planning any group activity it is important to remember the following:
It is necessary to think of your theme for the workshop. But it is not mandatory. I say this because from a child’s point of view, all he/she wants is something to do, to explore, to create and to take home! So even if you don’t have a theme for your 3/4/5 days together that’s ok. In all probability, it will be the parent who will ask you for theme!! Well…precisely for that curiosity, let’s have a theme.
Coming to particulars, the very first 5 day workshop I did was purely Story based, so to satisfy my need for a theme, I took on Around the World Stories, and did 5 stories from Africa, India, a Greek Myth, and Tibet
Moving on, I did a 5 day workshop on Creative learning, yet again only I knew the theme! It started with making toys from Junk, followed by a day of Art, a day of Math (! Yes, loads of learning there), a day of Science and of course the last day reserved for a story!
Then there is Theatre, Creative Drama and Story workshop. Elements of Theatre (games and exploring the self), Creative Drama (making and using Props), and of course the story time/listening itself is thrown in all days to culminate the workshop.
So a theme by itself is a broad spectrum to work on. My pointers to help you select a theme are:
- Your own interests and passions!
- Skill sets that you possess, art/ craft/ science knowledge/ teaching interest
- Age of the group
- Time of the year (Winter/ Summer/ Dussehra Vacations): each of these provide an opportunity for planning the activities
The next agenda for me is to talk about age groups. When you have access to a place like a library, then definitely you will have children from all age groups wanting to participate, so try as you might confining the age group, it is a bit of a task. Every interested parent will have a child who is too small for what you are planning. So what I do is within an activity I try to have a bit catering to the little ones, and also to every other age group. The little ones like to do (move, run around and take part in body think!). While the little older ones like to make and create with their fingers, and the biggest like to listen and think. So it helps to keep all the learner needs in mind. But I can assure you that children are very keen encouragers of anything that is fun. So just go ahead and make it a time where there can be full self-expression and there your programme is a success.
I believe that every day of the workshop children must take home something tangible, and preferably something that they have made on that day. Don’t leave it to be carried on the last day. I say this because I know children love to visit and revisit things that they make, so keeping stuff for the last day is just telling them they cannot own what they make. I have atleast 2 kids in a workshop, asking me if they can take home what they make, and if it’s theirs for keeps. I feel sad whenever they do that (maybe I should not, and I am just exaggerating the interpretations in my mind), but I also tell them that they can add and delete and make changes as well to whatever they have created, as it is theirs now. Invariably kids will change some part or aspect of what they created, and show it to me the next day, or atleast tell me what they have un made! (Oh Yes the child in me always feels a little upset as it makes me feel as if what I taught them may not be “good enough”, but really really, that’s just the child in me thinking). There is no greater satisfaction than to realise that the seed of an idea you put in the child’s mind has transformed into another idea!
Now this is the part that requires careful planning, and I am nowhere near getting it right. I can overkill with the amount of material I buy, so my budgeting always goes for a wonk. But I tell myself that nothing is wasted, I can use all spares for another session. So sit down, and work out what you are going to do on day1, and what is the take home. Then make a list and buy them. Add 2 extra, to cater for last minute entries. I use very simple paper, beads, craft material, and try as much as possible to source material lying around the house; blouse bits (for cloth), pencils for stick puppets, wool, beads
It is important to make the props/ art items/ craft items/ puppets/ take home sample for display, invariable children can’t wait to see the end product, so it helps to show them what they are aiming for at the beginning of the activity. In fact something important I learnt was that children love to create on their own, so given the materials and some on-going guidance, they prefer to cut and paste on their own. So I usually give a free hand with scissors and glue, and land up having kids cutting up paper arbitrarily, smearing glue all over their hands...and finally making something that may not look like mine! But that's ok...really.
Keep it reasonable, looking at low cost material being used and the time that the child will be engaged are 2 factors for consideration. Have per day charges, and a discount for participation on all days, that ensures children can come in for 1 / 2 days as well. If they are on vacation and could miss a day, it should not deter them from joining on the days they are available.
I guess the basic ingredient for any such activity planning is Interest, Doggedness, and loads of fun googling/searching and self discovery
Put your energy to it then it will be done!!