4-H ~ Leaves

Today was the day of our first official 4-H Adventurers Club gathering. Our focus was on Leaves – one mom brought a leaf press. Remarkably, iIt presses and dries the leaves within minutes in the microwave. I was very impressed and of course want one of my own.

We started out with a couple of everybody books – I mistakenly returned the one I had wanted to read ( ) to the library so I had to go with an alternative. Sweetie was delighted with my selection, In the Leaves by Huy Youn Lee. It is basically about a young Chinese boy who introduces his friends to several Chinese characters (grain, fire, autumn, field, sprout, pig, family, mouth, harmony, and rice). It is a cute story but it did not focus on ‘leaves’ as much as I had hoped. We also read Leaf Man by Lois Ehlert – more for the artistic leaf collages than for the text.After the stories, everyone gathered around the table I explained how to do the leaf prints. Everyone worked so well – there were no conflicts despite 13+ bodies around our small dining room table (seats 6). I was very impressed with how attentive the moms were – everyone chipped in and helped assure that everyone’s needs were addressed. I didn’t even have to wash the brushes or anything once everyone had departed – another mom had done so on my behalf while I worked on our last activity. I was surprised and delighted! Thank you!
The last activity involved a set of leaf cards that I had made years ago for my classroom. There must be 20+ different leaves represented. We worked together to learn how a dichtomous key is used for identification. The key vocabulary I emphasized was the difference between simple and compound leaves.

Before everyone departed, I announced the focus for November – Handcrafts. My vision is to have several stations set up so the kids can make several simple crafts as gifts for family & friends this upcoming holiday season. I encouraged the other moms to bring an activity. Based on the feedback I received already, I know it will be a fun afternoon.

County Fair

As is tradition, we attended the county fair on opening day (convenient with our schedule – particularly this year). The kiddos and I arrived about an hour before DH and had just enough time to walk through the animal exhibits before he met up with us after work. Buddy was most intrigued by a woman sheering a sheep. Sweetie was enamored by the rabbits and even asked one of the 4-H members if she could pet her bunny. I love bunnies myself, and hope that when the kids are older and members of 4-H themselves, that DH will allow them to have a bunny.
When DH joined us, we walked amongst the commercial booths for a few minutes before buying tickets for the rides. Fortunately, the kiddos are young and are thereby terrified of the ‘big rides’… the ‘kiddie rides’ seem much safer to me anyway! The kids enjoyed 7 rides a piece and we then decided to get a bite for dinner. I made the mistake of getting just enough cash for dinner – there wasn’t enough to buy an elephant ear or snow cones – but then again, perhaps that was a good thing? We then walked through the 4-H and Open Class Exhibits. Last year, Sweetie had entered a few things in the Kids Corner and she was encouraged to do so again this year. This year she had 7 projects: Scrapbook Page (Best Friends, sorry no picture), Apple Butter, Crocheted Item (washcloth), Nature Craft (insect collection), Paper Mache (Egyptian Canopic Jar), Watercolor (Horntail Caterpillar), and Pastel Drawing (Egyptian Pyramids). She did very well! All blue ribbons except the scrapbook page which received a white ribbon and the insect collection that received a green (at her age level, there is no category for entomology and her collection wasn’t really considered a ‘craft’).
Buddy also had one entry this year. A pastel drawing that he told me was a storm. We thereby titled it, Eye of the Storm. He also won a blue ribbon – though he was the only entrant in Pastels for his age division. Sweetie was the only entrant for Crocheted Item and Food Preserves – Jellies as well. We have noticed a significant decline in the number of handcraft entrants each year (photography is the only category that has seen an increase in entrants). I recall from when I was in 4-H, there were racks of clothing items and other entries. Now, there are only a few. This makes winning easy but takes away from the spirit of competition.

As homeschoolers, the county fair is a great opportunity to showcase our work and get an opportunity to see and be inspired by the work of others. I wish, though, that more people would take advantage of the learning opportunity.

Frustrations of a Club Leader / Coordinator

The kids and I went to the park this afternoon looking forward to meeting others who had expressed interest in a 4H Adventurers Club I hope to get started. I had posted my intention on our local homeschool message board and received good response. I thereby sent those you had expressed interest an email, inviting them to meet me for an informational/organizational meeting at the park this afternoon. As only one person replied that they wouldn’t be able to attend – I proceeded forth.

Imagine how difficult it is to explain to a 3 and 5 year old why no one showed up. As I am relatively new to homeschooling, it is hard for me not to take things personally. I am perplexed as to what to think.
1) The date/time were not convenient.
2) They all over-looked it / forgot.
3) They don’t have an interest in joining.
4) They don’t like me. Someone is talking negatively about me and others are forming opinions before they’ve even met me. [Jr.High/High School issues resurfacing]

I haven’t found homeschooling co-ops or clubs for young children of similar ages to my own in our area. I thereby have tried to coordinate my own. I started a Roots & Shoots group. Initially, I had a great turnout… 13 families. Within the first month, all the homeschooling families expressed they had conflicts. The only members that remain do not homeschool. However, they don’t have the same level of interest / involvement. It has been revealed to me that the homeschoolers opted NOT to be involved in my Roots & Shoots group for that exact reason.

I planned an outing for our Roots & Shoots group last week and no one shows. Today, I plan a organizational meeting for 4H Adventurers. Interest is expressed but no one shows up. Yet, no one communicated that the date/time were not convenient. I spend a great deal of time planning and preparing for activities. It is very frustrating when no one shows up. It is difficult for my daughter to understand why friends aren’t able to join us.

What am I doing wrong? How are homeschool clubs and co-ops organized where you live? How do you involve your child(ren) in activities with other children of similar ages?