On Saturday 28 May a rather huge group of children wanted to join what turned out to be a successful morning for twelve signed up would-be workshoppers.
We began with a tour of the Overberg Honey facility where the children were able to see the real life that goes on behind a jar of honey – and how many bee-related products can be manufactured. This included trying on a honey collecting suit and experiencing at first hand what it might be like to be a beekeeper. Jilly Gilmour kindly took two groups through the mini tours and we thank her for her time and the expert way she communicated a subject that deeply interested the children.
The group then walked to Butterfly Centre for the follow up workshop using a delightful book The Bee man by Laurie Krebs and Valera Cis. It not only has a good story – that actually works well in rhyme – but also has factual pages at the back that reinforced Jilly’s talk.
We then digressed from the bees to the birds with a reading Martin Waddell’s much loved book Owl Babies. (Here is a link to a YouTube reading: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DywYJ5wkTVw
We also read some of Chris Haughton’s delightful stories – Ssssssh … we have a plan and A Bit Lost. – books which all the children wanted to read themselves afterwards. (We ended the workshop with a brave (self suggested) reading of Owl Babies by one of the Grade Fours, who earned every bit of the applause he got at the end!
A gentle end to a Saturday morning came with quiet reading in corners and bee artwork for a thank you card, while another group finished off the lion illustrations begun at the last workshop.
It was very pleasing to have attracted such a large crowd (around 40 children!) but a bit of a logistical nightmare – it is very difficult to turn children away. We are working on ways of dealing with this through community co-operation and – most likely – by establishing more groups using the themed toolboxes. But we know, more than ever, how strong the need is for this kind of intervention for children who really, really, want to read. (They also rather like the fun, games, music and snacks! We are aware of that, but they get the benefit of a large number of carefully chosen books as part of the deal.) There are solutions to the problems of numbers, and we shall find them.