Virtual School Resources: 4 Awesome Clubs You Can Start for the New School Year, part 1   

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

4 Awesome Clubs You Can Start for the New School Year, part 1

My girls have both been in a number of clubs during the school year. It's hard to make the time between sports and other activities, especially if your kids are in traditional school and have homework. I remember those days! These aren't just social clubs, though we enjoyed the relationships we formed with the other group members. These clubs can really be life-changing for your kids. This post will have 4 parts, as I want to share how you can begin the process of getting your club off the ground for the new school year. (Yes, I know, it's less than a month away!)

Classics Club
At the top of my list, for several reasons, is the Classics (book) Club. In this club your children would meet once per month, reading a book chosen by an adult the leader of the group. The rule is that the book must be a classic. In the club my girls participated in, the book had to be 50 years old. I think it's okay to go with 40, but you really need to have a rule or before you know it they will be reading Twilight! 

Group by Grade Level

The kids should be in a group with students their own age, perhaps 2 to 3 grades grouped together, like 1st-3rd, 4th -5th, 6th-8th, and high school. You may think high school students would drop out of the club at that age, but they won't if you make sure it is fun and challenging for them.

Book List

Now that you have your groups, have a list your leaders can choose from. (Note: you could have the 

older group choose on rotation, but we found it worked better for the adult to choose. Try it both 
ways for your group.) We personally liked to have a complete list for the year, so encourage your leaders to choose over the summer. One book we used quite a bit for choosing is A Thomas Jefferson Education.  

This book is one of my favorites! You'll find a list in the appendices. Use the list for children and youth  
until they are high school. Look through the list for adults. How many have you read? Another resource for choosing is Amazon. Just search for classic book for ___ grade. Be sure to check the year it was published as I've found newer books listed occasionally. I also like best-childrens-books.com, and Lit2Go, which both have a collection of  classics to read right on their site.You may have occasional challenges getting the books from the library. In Maryland, where I'm from, we could check out books for 3 weeks through the Inter-Library system (borrowing from other counties), but in Florida, we can only keep them for a week, and the librarians will scowl at you for even asking. (Don't get me started!) You might try ebay as we have bought books for a couple of dollars there. See if the group would like to do it together as sometimes you'll find several copies from one seller.

Discussion Questions

Next, search through Google or your preferred search engine for discussion questions. If you can't find questions (and I think this will be rare) you could come up with 10 questions on your own. 30-45 minutes of discussion works well. You will be surprised at how in depth these discussion can go! On the other hand, you may have to keep the younger kids focused. About.com has an entire guide just for classic literature where you can even find generic discussion questions. Subscribe to the newsletter.

Theme and Food

Finally, have a theme based on the book. Food was always a big part of our groups. If the book is historical, find foods from that time period. Have the students sign up to bring a snack at the first meeting. You might try to encourage someone who is very creative (or has a creative mom!) to bring the snack the first month. This sets the stage and encourages other students to start thinking about what they might bring for their turn. Again, if the books are chosen in the beginning of the year, students will have plenty of time to think about what they might do. Printables are also available online for classic books. You will run into paid sites, but if you keep looking, you'll find plenty of freebies. 






A few of my favorites for discussion questions:
SparkNotes 
About.com
Gradesaver.com


And a couple for printables:
Teaching Resources Classroom jr.
DLTK


Please share other resources about reading the classics in the comments! 


I'll be sharing part 2 about a Classical Music Club in the next few days. This club can be so much fun! And remember, if you are homeschooling, this can count as music. My girls learned so much about classical music that adults are usually blown away by how much they know! 


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