Here is a glimpse of Alithia's Thursday Program in Bellingen for 6-11 year olds. This summery illustrates how education and well-being can merge together in a democratic environment. At the core of this space is a kindness culture brought about by respectful communication tools and an awareness of how to regulate emotions. The wet weather has meant the days have been inside more than usual, but that hasn't slowed down these busy bees!
During morning circle we did some deep breathing and body awareness exercises and then had a check in. Different people expressed a variety of feelings. It was beautiful to see how openly people shared and supported each other with their different feelings, sharing stories about times they had worked through similar things themselves.
In the "Group Project block" the mentors shared some project ideas that could be developed into the term project. After some discussion everyone decided to create designs for a "world in a box" with an open design brief, it could be a museum box about an interest, about yourself, a dream box, a memory box or any other ideas that anyone wanted to explore. In weeks to come we will explore these story ideas through drama, oral story-telling and writing. We will also use the designs to create actual dream boxes out of various art materials. Next week we will start by building the boxes out of wood.
The day included team building games and games with money, air tickets and passports, as well as marbling and various workshops.
Each day will include: group project time (working on the box worlds), exploration time where we will follow up ideas that the kids are keen to explore (Lego, craft, board games, bush club and various workshops), a relaxation time, followed by journal writing and reading a story.
When everyone had arrived we had a grounding circle and check in and then Marc led a conversation about fears/worries/concerns we have all had in our lives and how we have worked through them. We also talked about what to do at Alithia if we start feeling warning signs in our bodies (tight chest, feeling wobbly, worried thoughts). Everyone agreed it is good to talk to someone, either a friend or a mentor, to get help and ideas if we are feeling uncomfortable about anything that is happening. Other ideas included taking deep breaths, changing activities and having a drink of water.
Andre brought in his Marvellous Magical Narwhal Music Box – a whimsical clockwork creation made entirely by hand from found objects. The kids and mentors were all entranced by it and asked lots of questions about how all the different parts worked. Hopefully we can include some simple moving parts in our box worlds.
Everyone wrote a journal entry about what they enjoyed at Alithia today. (One child) had a suggestion that next week we do a guided visualisation about their special place and use that as a beginning for our journal work which everyone agreed is a great idea. Some kids played a maths game called ‘Close the Box’ with John and then most of us went to have a look at a very flooded bush club (the old café site is completely surrounded by water!)
We had a pet sharing circle, hearing all about the wonderful animals that had joined us, how to care for them, and how to interact with them gently through the day. The morning also included a big building session with Kapla and Lego. Some of the kids got busy in the kitchen, making sushi and smoothies for our shared lunch.
After lunch we had a team creating rainbow play dough in the kitchen. It was a big operation making so many batches, and the natural dyes we used had some interesting chemical reactions with the other ingredients and the heating process (the blue turned grey and the purple went brown!) so we ended up with a lovely range of muted colours but not the kind of rainbow we had imagined. We’ll have another go next term with different dyes to see the difference.
John led a visualisation to music about a fabulous pet (real or imaginary) that the children would love to meet. As a follow up they drew in their journals while continuing to listen to relaxing music.
We would like to thank all those who support the hub, so that we can continue making a difference in our rural low socio-economic area. Especially those that joined the live crowd-funding event held by TFN (The Funding Network).
From the Blog
Alithia Learning runs a range of child-led programs designed for 5 to 12 year-olds. The defining characteristics of our programs are positive communication and freedom to learn.
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