Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Family Event 2012 - Wee Gillis

This is our homeschool group's largest event of the year.  This was our 11th event!  I love this day.  I am thankful for the families in our group that are willing to work together to make this event all that it is!  A small group meets in the summer to brainstorm a theme or book to use for the event.  We also brainstorm some activities and ideas for how the day will flow.  Its all a rough sketch though.

After announcing the theme, we have people sign up for the day.  Jobs are divided up and each mom signs up for a job.  (There are some Dads who are also integral parts of helping too!)  From there everyone works and does their best to pull off a one of a kind event.  My words truly feel inadequate to describe this event.  It just makes my heart so happy to be a part of all of this.  I'm thankful for friends who are willing to put in this type of effort and who look forward to the fun of this day!

So much work happens in advance from decorations to planning games, cooking food and making costumes, preparing crafts and setting up experiments and so much more!  My family loves to dress up for the themes.  It really adds to the fun!

Our theme this year ... Wee Gillis.  This is a treasured Five in a  Row title about a boy who lives in Scotland.  It has come time to decide if he will live in the highlands or the lowlands.  He spends time in both and still can't decide.

A delightful display of Scottish things.
As the parents finish the last minute touches, friends gather.  I love seeing all of the costumes!

The games area is readied.

We held our event the first Sat in November.  The morning started off chilly, but it was beautiful and sunny!  A perfect day for our event!
Rebecca did a beautiful job fixing Eliana's hair.

Our event starts at 10am.  We all gather together and I spend some time sharing details about our day and a timeline for the events.  This year was have very special guests joining us for the day!

Jane and Steve Lambert!

What a delight to have them come and experience this with us.  We have taken the curriculum that Jane so lovingly wrote and used it as a basis for our day.  This is more than a curriculum.  Its bound together families and friends in a journey with sweet memories and shared experiences.  I was so excited when they said yes to our invitation to come!  And so was the rest of our group!
Steve opened us up in prayer and then spoke for a bit to the group.

Yes, this one wasn't paying attention.
Or maybe she was.  LOL

Next it was time for the story.
An engaging and interactive reading of the story that the kids already knew and loved.
We always start with the telling of the story though it takes different forms each year.  That is one of the blessings about this event is seeing everyone sharing their gifts and talents with the group.
Rebecca sitting with the birthday girl!  What a fun way to celebrate your special day.
Who is this man that Eliana is walking off with?  Many people did not recognize this "Scottish man" at first glance.  I'll show a view from the front a bit later.

I loved seeing Jane just delight in all of it.  Taking in the details and having fun.

We split the kids into 3 groups based roughly on age and they rotated visiting 3 areas.  There was the Lowlands.
The children drank warm tea and learned some Scottish facts including some jokes.  They also made a braided keychain from plaid fabrics.

We whistled a signal when it was time to rotate areas.

Our next station is the location that Wee Gillis eventually settled.  He was able to do this because of the skills that he had learned while in the Lowlands (shouting loudly) and the Highlands (holding his breath) which enabled him to be a great bagpipe player.  

At this station, the kids did experiments involving sound and lung capacity.  

Listening to sound through water and noticing the differences to sound traveling in air.  Two rocks were hit together under the water for them to listen to.  

Each pair had a balloon and one person listened while the other said something with their mouth on the balloon.  You can tell that this was a fun one.  

In order to test lung capacity, bottles were filled with water and tuned upside down in a tub with water in it.  The bottles were marked for easy measuring.  I love this picture of Daniel taking a BIG breath!  Reminds me of a photo in the book of Wee Gillis doing the same thing.

Then they exhaled while blowing through a straw.  The air from the straw displaced the water in the bottle so that the capacity could be measured.  Can you see the bubbles?

The third area was the Highlands.

Each group made a crest and a yell.

Played a game of "Stalking the Stagie".  Really cute!  I think the older kids had to hop on one foot.  It was similar to red light, green light.
Loved seeing one of the teens leading this game and doing such a great job engaging the children!

As one child won a round, he or she got to be the "Stagie" for the next round.  Loved seeing Eliana joining in!

The boys are determined to catch that stag!

The other game in this area was a tag style game invoking the Loch Ness Monster.   Such fun and creative games!
In this game, two people started out as the monster and held onto the end of the "monster".

As they tagged someone, that person had to join in with the holding the monster as they continued to chase down the rest in the group.  There was a defined area for the game too.

The game ended when everyone was caught.

Or when the time ended even if there were still people not yet caught.  Way to run Joshua!
This event is such a fun time to hang out with friends.  This year we had some come from far away too!

A bit better picture of that "Scottish man"  (Roger) with Steve & Jane, Isaiah and  Eliana.

Life's just a party wherever she goes, isn't it?
As we finished up with the morning activities, it was time for a group shot.  This is most if not all of the children and some of the parents.  

This year we did something new - a shot of the moms.  We all wanted our photo taken with Jane and this was a great one.  I think we'll have to continue this in years to come.  (We'd love for Steve and Jane to continue a tradition of coming to this event too!)

Next was an oatmeal eating contest.  Each person (anyone could enter) was given a bowl of oatmeal (small) and whoever finished first won!  There were several winners (top 5 I think).  
It was a mad dash once the signal was given.
Holding up your bowl signaled that you were finished.
This was a fun - and fast - activity.
The prizes were so cute - a baggie with oatmeal and a spoon with Wee Gillis written on it.

Time for lunch!  We all sign up to bring various food to share.  We have a number of allergies present so food is labelled too so that those with food issues can make safe choices.  (They also go through the line first.)  

Aren't the napkins cute!  I love all of the details that the decorating committee takes care of in all that they do.  Did you notice the signs?  

The inside of the shelter is decorated with tablecloths (colors of the flag of Scotland), shields hung around the room and vases on the tables.
Vases with thistle, heather and a Scottish flag.  

There is a feast of foods!  We each bring a main dish.  Half of the group brings a cold side and the other half a hot side.  Half brings a bread and the other half a dessert.  We have listings of foods to choose from with recipes.  Its always fun to try new things and to enjoy the food from another culture or time period.
A sampling of lunch.

Here's a better picture of Roger.  Looks  handsome, doesn't he?

After lunch, it was time for crafts and some Highland games!   There were four games to choose to participate in.  

Hammer Toss - There were 3 rings varying distances from the starting line.  You received more points the further the ring was from the start line.  

Caber Toss - The goal is to hold the caber upright, toss it into the air so that it flips end over end and lands in a straight line from the tosser.  

Going up.
Flipping over.
There were 3 sizes of cabers to challenge those of all ages.  There were 3 feet, 7 feet and 10 feet lengths.
This was a fun one to watch.
And also to try.
This was a huge hit with the group!

Discus - The discus was made from two frisbees glued together to make a bit heavier and also a bit less aerodynamic.  It was a little hard to toss.  Well, for me anyway.  

The last game was archery.

This was also a very popular game.  

There were also several crafts that the children could choose to make.  Creative and so well organized too!

They could make Scottish tartans.
Add caption

Yarn paintings using either plain paper or a preprinted Scottish design.

You could also choose to make a Scottish Crest Badge

We also had a free play area with some sensory activities and other things that could be enjoyed at any time during the day.  A sensory bin using oats and various items hidden inside.  

 Playdoh is always a hit at our events!

And after a full day of fun, things wind down.   Time to relax and slow down.  

 There is still time to hang out with people you enjoy.
 A little golf lesson.
 And still time to get dirty.

Some of the groups with their crests.  (Sorry we didn't get a chance to present their yells!)

 Though the boys did share theirs with me.
 And so ends an amazing day.  Friends.  Fun.  Food.  Games.

Every year I'm amazed how the event and how it turns out.  Nobody really has a full picture of all that will happen since there are so many people working on various pieces.  In the end, it is always so much more than I ever could have imagined and at this point, I know to expect that.  Seeing the end result when so many share their gifts and talents is such a blessing.  I love this day and am thankful to have sweet friends to share in this fun.

Oh that learning would always be this much fun!