My feet still hurt this morning, and I thought that was funny. Although I was far too tired last night to pump out my daily blog article, I was really excited this morning to take my laptop on the back deck with a cup of coffee and relive the day via this blog.
Yesterday, Friday, May 20, was the Nook Homeschoolers’ Centre fundraiser. We had a room at the Omni-Centre from 12:00 to 8:00, and so I spent a few weeks filling the time slots with fun activities to attract not only members of our centre, but also our friends and family—really, anyone who wanted to come was welcome! Besides the scheduled activities, we were also able to sell used clothing and food thanks to donations.
The kids and I ran a few last-minute errands in the morning and then got to the Omni-Centre at 11:30—because early is just our style. We started hauling things in, including the voluminous Canadian Wildlife Federation map and supplies that were delivered to my house on Thursday evening. We were quickly joined by Cindy and Jill; Anjali and Zahra set up shop at the room entrance.
While Cindy and I got the kitchen up and running, Jill kept the kids busy making sensory shakers. It was a great way to start the day, as next was Music & Movement, and later in the day would be Capoeira. Beans, glitter, sequins, patterned tape—the kids picked their favourites and went to town.
Kimberley Beyea is already a favourite at the Nook. She leads our regular Music & Movement class, and the kids were really happy to see her. Besides the “Instrument of the Day” (guitar), she always comes with bags and bags of instruments and half a dozen fun movement games so the kids can try playing them all.
As this was going on, we were trying to figure out when and how to unroll the giant floor map for our next activity. The Omni-Centre staff graciously gave us access to two more rooms, and so with one divider removed, the map could be rolled out in all its glory. And glorious, it was! The Migration Map of North and South America is a floor map that the kids walk on. They physically trace the migration routes and mark them with coloured chains and pylons. The best part was that Jacky Farrell of the Science Outreach and Public Program at McGill’s Redpath Museum came to lead the activity. She said it was the biggest group of kids she’d ever had for this map activity, and she did an amazing job! She had the kids explore the map in detail: the physical features, the legend, etc. She divided them into small groups and gave each group a species card and coloured chains. They marked their species’ migration routes on the map. She talked to them about what might interrupt an animal’s migration route, about why they migrate and more. It was a beautiful activity, and I’m already booking it for next year! (Teacher friends, please feel free to contact me if you’re interested in doing this at your school—it’s all free and I can help you get in contact with the right people!)
After the Migration Map activity was a Birds of Prey presentation with Lise Amarasekera. Zahra and Noah went to preschool with Lise’s kids, and she used to bring the birds to the preschool for presentations, too. She and her husband Carl Millier are falconers (one of those amazingly cool jobs that I wish I had known about when I was younger!). She told the kids about the different things they can do with the birds (such as help clear airports of smaller birds that might get stuck in plane engines). She brought two birds with her, and we all got a chance to hold this adorable American kestrel.
At 4:00, I had planned to roll out the map again and lead an activity myself, but the kids needed to run around, some outside, others lining up for Thaïs’ super popular face painting. When I tell you that we have people of all talents in this group, you’ll have to believe me. Thaïs is amazing! From 3:00 on through the dinner hour, she painted child after child, getting some of them ready for the play presentation.
This is right about the time that many of my non-homeschooling friends started trickling in. I was touched to see so many people coming in to support this project. This is community at its best: people I know from all sorts of different places congregating in one place to support a project and have fun together. To eat dinner together! Zahra, for some reason, was floating around the room singing, “Can you feel the love tonight?” (à la Lion King), and I certainly could!
Dinner was a delicious spread of Indian and Arab foods, veggie burgers and an assortment of baked goods. We had tea, coffee and juice. And there was popcorn for the show! After dinner, friends and family took seats for the play presentation. (I unfortunately don’t have pictures of it because I myself was a last-minute substitution for a girl who couldn’t make it! Thus my drama debut as “fire”, hehe.) This was very heartwarming for me. I still remember one of the first meetings around my kitchen table with the ladies who would become the Nook’s Advisory Board. We were brainstorming ideas of what workshops we could offer, and we thought it would be a great idea if some of our older kids led workshops—a chance for them to mentor and teach. Anjali, a young actress with an impressive resume already, happily agreed to lead a drama workshop. Singlehandedly, she organized the group of interested kids, gave them parts and led them through weeks of practise, scenery and costume making. The Paper Bag Princess was a success (and will have a repeat performance next week for those who missed it)!
Lest you think we wrapped it up then, there was still a very exciting event to come. Our own Jill used to practise capoeira regularly, and she had contacted her group to come and do a demonstration at the fundraiser. Everyone there was captivated by the rhythms and play in this Brazilian martial art. My jaw dropped when I saw Jill jump into the action! If she ever tells you that she’s out of practise, don’t believe her. Haha! She and her teammates rocked it. The beats, the singing, the game—it was enchanting. They also drew the kids into it by showing them capoeira moves and letting them play with the pros. I took these pictures of Noah, and I couldn’t choose just one, so you get the series. After the group left, as the adults were scrambling to clean up the room, the kids were practising their moves. This is definitely something that we’ll have to get going at the Nook regularly in the fall!
The cars and the kids packed up, families filed out of the Omni-Centre parking lot. Time flies when you’re having fun, and I couldn’t believe it was after 8:00pm. My feet could believe it—and as soon as I sat down, I felt it. An amazing, fun-filled day. Community at its best.
Special thanks to Kimberley Beyea, Jacky Farrell, Lise Amarasekera, West Island Capoeira, the accommodating staff at the Omni-Centre, and everyone who donated clothes, food and time to the event. A big hug and thanks to everyone who came to support us and join in the fun. You are the best!