Monday, June 4, 2012

GeoDrawing Camp

"Life may often be very hard, but it should never be really boring."   -Leigh Bortins, Echo in Celebration
God's grace is His ability to do in me (and through me) that which I cannot.

So... I guess you could say I didn't have much of an excuse when our director said that she needed camp leaders for the Hermitage Practicum.  Believe me, I could have given some excuses, like... husband was supposed to leave for Brazil at least a week earlier than scheduled and would not be home during the practicum...
...and I'm not all that gifted in the area of teaching a large group of 6 to 8 year olds and was valiantly struggling with the thought of managing two separate classrooms containing 40 students.  (ummm.... how do I clone myself?)
...not to mention, I've never even been through Cycle 1 myself.  (So I had not yet memorized Africa or South America.)
...and we had to stay up late comforting our grieving sons due to the death of our family dog the evening before our first day of practicum...

Leading this camp was a giant leap of faith for me.

So let me just preface this by saying that any good that came out of my three-day stint of being in charge of 40 kids has to be attributed to God's grace!

Because I am used to managing three children.  Not 40.

In fact, after that first day of Geodrawing camp... *sigh*... my own son opted to go to play camp for the remainder of our practicum instead of endure my class for another day.  (But at least he was the only one who didn't show back up, right?)  Yes, quite humbling.

The most challenging part of this (aside from trying to teach 40 children to walk quietly in an orderly single-file, semi-straight line) was trying to figure out how to juggle two classrooms of children with only one of me.  I spent a long, desperate week trying to plan out the logistics, which ended up looking a little like this:

Younger Class (6-7 year olds)
Older Class (7-8 year olds)
8:30 –   9:00 AM
9:00 – 9:30 AM
9:30 – 10:00 AM
Drawing - Helpers
Drawing - Me
Geography - Me
Geography - Helpers
10:00 – 10:30 AM
10:30 – 10:45 AM
10:45 – 12:00 PM
Geography - Helpers
Geography - Me
Drawing - Me
Drawing - Helpers
12:00 – 1:00 PM
1:00 – 2:00 PM
Drawing - Me
Drawing - Helpers
Geography - Helpers
Geography - Me
2:00 – 2:30 PM
2:30-4:00 PM
Geography - Helpers
Geography - Me
Drawing - Me
Drawing - Helpers

The plan:  Provide my “drawing” helpers with an opening activity that they could implement without me as I introduce the geography to the other class.  After introducing the geography, I would leave the “geography” helpers with an activity to follow up with as I went into the other class to provide drawing instruction.  Then I would start with drawing the rest of the practicum, since the "geography" helpers would have material they could review at the beginning of each "session." And I would just flip-flop the whole time.

By 10:00 AM the first day, I knew my plan would not work (the flip-flop was turning into a flop-flop).  First off, my brain kept misfiring trying to keep two different subjects going at once.  And while I was in one classroom, I had to randomly excuse myself to go into the other classroom to give 30-second motivational impromptu speeches about kindness and respect.  

During that first recess, I reconvened with my helpers to propose a new plan.  We simplified by focusing on one subject for the entire morning and the other subject for the entire afternoon.   We also decided that starting the second day, we would complete the same subject in both classes at the same time (only alternating instruction time vs. review time). Originally, we did not have enough maps to do this, but all I had to do was PRINT OUT MORE. (It was worth it!) But I still had the challenge of figuring out how in the world the classroom management situation would pan out...

...until my knight in shining armor arrived.  I know I've mentioned this in the past, but now you can all know for sure:  My husband is WAY COOL!!!!!  Would you believe that that marvelous man offered to rotate opposite me for the second and third days?!?  (Another gift of God's grace!  Because my husband was NOT EVEN SUPPOSED TO BE ON THIS CONTINENT during our practicum (his visa was delayed)!  And on top of that - He was willing to dig in to this thing with me! Thanks be to God!)  Maybe he was just trying to get out of Latin, but let's just use a little logic here. A little Latin vs. a classroom full of twenty six-year-olds...??

NOW... I'll let you in on what we did (or what we were SUPPOSED to do - though my ideas were more exhaustive than what is in this list. I had many contingency plans. Well, of course I had many contingency plans!  It's implementation that's my problem.). 

During arrival each day, the students either practiced tracing maps, worked on previous activities they hadn't yet finished, or colored a map of the area we would be studying for that day.

GeoDrawing Camp - Geography 
(This Geodraw Camp was for Cycle 1)

  • Continental "Blobs" (Intro to drawing world from scratch)
  • Critical Thinking - a Mixed-Up Map
  • South America - Countries (Used a 3 x 3 Mega-map - printed twice and taped together to create a velcro map, which was also used during camp demonstration on Day 3.)
Student maps
  • Map of Africa
  • Northern Africa
  • Northern Central Africa
  • East Africa
  • Horn of Africa
  • African Features (Rivers, Seas, and Lake Victoria)
All of the above topics were introduced and practiced using worksheets, songs, games, and "aerobics" and by labeling and tracing maps.

Listen to African Music:  Putumayo Kids: African Playground
Audio Memory Geography Songs (We performed #21, #9, and #11.  In class, we also introduced #10 and #12.)

GeoDrawing Camp - Drawing

Each instructional time in drawing started with a story.  I cannot emphasize how well this went.  The children LOVED these books!  (If I ever tutor during the first six weeks of CC again, I plan to use storybooks for drawing, especially for the younger classes!)

The overall resource for drawing instruction was Drawing with Children by Mona Brookes.

We created sketch books (made from 8.5" x 14" paper) where the students drew many of their drawings.  I printed out labels for each activity, which may or may not have ended up in the right spot.

DAY 1:  5 Elements of Drawing & Abstract Art

Introduction to Drawing:
Ish by Peter H.Reynolds:  This book allowed us to let go of perfectionism and realize that we are just learning to draw, and that even famous artists make sketches that do not become a final masterpiece.  Every time we drew something (like a bird) and someone started getting frustrated, another student would pipe up and say, "That's okay - it looks bird-ish."  

"Ish" drawings and "Not-a-boxes" all rolled into one.
We followed up by drawing the 5 elements of shape, some of which went into their sketch books...

OiLS Chart
Recognizing 5 Elements Shape in our names
... and others which were just Donna Young practice worksheets.

Then we read  Not a Box by Antoinette Portis and drew Not-a-Boxes.  The first was an instructor-led activity called Not-a-Box-Man.  (Instructions for drawing him are in What to Draw and How to Draw It by E.G. Lutz:

Sketch Book:  Not-a-Box Man
(Children drew several more Not-a-Boxes throughout Geodrawing camp.  Not-a-boxes were quite popular.)

We also completed two different abstract art projects:

Sketch Book:  Follow Directions
Abstract Name (Rotate page 90 degrees between
writing each letter. Color in with different colors.)

DAY 2: Upside Down Images & Mirror Images

We read The Turn-Around, Upside-Down Alphabet Book by Lisa Campbell Ernst, which encourages children to use their imagination in looking at each letter of the alphabet sideways and upside down.

Sketch Book activity:  Draw a whale upside down. Print the instructions, turn it upside down and take class through drawing the whale.

We read, Mirror Mirror: A Book of Reversible Verse by Marilyn Singer, which provides the opportunity for children to see how images are reflected (as well as how verse can be mirrored and punctuated differently for a totally different meaning).

Mirror images on the whiteboard.
Sketch Book Activity (Mirror Image):  Draw a Pumpkin (from Draw Write Now book)

Mirror Image Practice using Donna Young Practice Sheets:

Some students decided to trace the dashed lines instead of
draw the mirror image.  (No wonder they finished so quickly!)
But take heart!  Some actually drew the mirror images!

DAY 3:  Perspective and Final Project (I wish I had photos of the students working on these!)

After a short discussion on 2D vs. 3D, we read Pencil by Allan Ahlberg, pointing out the use of perspective throughout.

Sketch Book Activity:  Drawing a country road: introducing 1-point perspective, horizon line and vanishing point; relative size and position.

Sketch Book Activity:  Draw two buildings across from each other.

Final Project:  Parrot from What to Draw and How to Draw It and birds from Drawing with Children by Mona Brookes

A few of the contingency plans (things we did not get around to doing but had on hand just in case at any point we ran out of activities to do):

I'm so thankful that I had the opportunity to do this!  These children were such a blessing to me (even the ones who clucked like chickens (over and over again), or poked fun at the way I talk (or draw), or temporarily thought they were in gymnastics class)!  I feel like I've learned so much that I can use if I ever substitute-tutor in the future (because, aside from subbing, I hope to always just be a mom).  And I can use what I've learned as a Geodrawing camp leader to help me teach my own children the subjects of drawing and geography with even more enthusiasm.

GeoDrawing Camp was an incredible display of how God can do WAY MORE than I can ever ask or think! And it was wonderful to be a part of something that was WAY BIGGER than me!  Thanks to those who shared their children with me for three days, and to those same parents who extended such lovingkindness to me.  And thanks to the teenagers who remained flexible as they helped me with these classes.  And to the children for allowing me to be a part of their lives. (I was so absolutely delighted to watch them on stage, glorifying God in doing their best!)  And to my wonderful husband for once again being my hero.  And to God for working it all out!

If you are leading a GeoDrawing Camp in the future, please feel free to email me directly if you'd like a copy of my planning materials. I'll be glad to share them!  


  1. I wanted to mention that aside from Ish, Peter Reynolds has a great book called Dot. I used both with my 4 year olds at CC last year. Dot is great for the child reluctant to draw anything.

  2. Wow! You are a brave woman! Glad things went well and that your husband was able to come and help. It's amazing how God does provide for us. I had a Pioneers class that I taught many years ago, that nearly made me lose my mind. I had one child that was especially a problem, and I fought him weekly. Now he is a missionary with a thriving ministry. At the time I was teaching him, I could not see how anything good was being accomplished. I accept my place as one of God's most unwitting subjects :-) I am thankful that I had a chance to see my meager teaching skills used for good!

  3. Wonderful ideas for the geo and drawing! Fantastic resources! Thank you for sharing and being such a blessing to those kiddos!

  4. Thank you for posting this! I will be leading a GeoDrawing Camp in NC and you have inspired and encouraged me beyond measure!!

  5. Hillarious and so fun! I can tell you throw your whole self into WHATEVER you do! What a way to honor Jesus every day. Oh - and what a fabulous husband you've have as well! Blessings upon Blessings to you and your whole family! Thanks for this peek into your own dramas and adjustments that we all must face in our own lives each day!

  6. I love reading your blog and feel very privileged to have met you at the practicum. I wanted to leave a comment to tell you how much my daughter (Brenna) enjoyed the Geodrawing camp this year!!! She talks about it a lot and loved seeing some of her pictures posted above! I think she felt a little famous! ;) Thanks for all your thoughts and ideas, they will be a big help to me tutoring and teaching my own children this year!

  7. Ahem... Now is the time I ask Brenna for permission to use her work. LOL! So... Brenna, may I use your work on my blog?

    In the chaotic mess of last week, I only ended up taking a few random pictures and did not discover what I actually had on my camera until this week. I am so glad she has seen her work here and feels famous now. :) (And, honestly, usually I would ask for direct permission first!)

    She was an absolute delight! Thank you for allowing her to be a part of my life last week!

  8. *Brandy smile really big.*

    God bless Kim as she endeavors to do Your Will in GeoDrawing Camp in NC!


  9. A wonderful thing to see the fruit of your labors! I was just going back through some photos of my former AWANA Sparks director days. (I totally understand the "lose my mind" thing. For REAL!) It's an incredible thought that God may have used those seeds to bring these children - now practically adults - to a personal relationship with Himself. We have a grand God Who has written us into HIS story. The thought makes me crumble to my knees in awe before him.

  10. I saw that one when I was searching for books, so I'm glad you mentioned it! Thank you for the recommendation!

  11. I agree...I used Dot in class...and plan on reading it geodrawing camp if there is time (or I need to settle the kids down a bit ;)

  12. Did you listent to the African CD much? Do you know the translation of the songs?

    I think I'm going to teach my little campers Selah's version of Yesu Azali Awa (Jesus is here). It's very reptitive and sung in Kituba....a language os SubSahara Africa where the founders of Selah grew up as missionary children:) But, I think I would like to have some other African songs during snack time or even while, I was wondering how you liked the CD.

  13. We did not have much time to listen to the music (but maybe it wasn't lack of time - maybe it was a lack of thought on my part!) - in fact, we only listened to one song (Mbube), which is the African song that inspired The Lion Sleeps Tonight. The kids loved it because they recognized the tune from Lion King! Another option is Putumayo Kids: Latin Playground, which has songs from South American countries. (There are tons of Putumayo Kids albums!) I really enjoy listening to the Putumayo Kids CDs, and the inserts have some great background information, like where the song originated from, what language is spoken in the song, and some geographical, cultural and history facts.


  15. Hello! My husband and I are stepping forward in faith with CC this year. We've never been a part of a community, but God has led our family in directing a new community in our area this year. Our area is also hosting our first practicum and my husband has agreed to teach GeoDraw during practicum. I'm not sure how to email you directly, but we would love a copy of your planning materials from the Cycle 1 GeoDraw camp that you taught. It would be such a big help to us! Especially since we're teaching what we are literally just learning! Would you mind emailing me at Thanks! Elizabeth