by Gabriele Drescher-Krumrey
As part of my IHVO Certificate Course, I realised an idea I had been carrying around for a while: I want to provide a new environment for the older girls to learn. They should gain experience of what it is like to be able to go on a discovery tour together with girls only.
This post describes some offers I made to the Power Girls´Club. If you follow the link, you can read about the framework, the objectives and the evaluation of the project. You will also find information about further club lessons and about my observation child Lina. (During the Certificate Course we had the task of observing a presumably particularly gifted child especially intensively).
In this article, the introduction and the first five club hours are presented.
Getting started, the 1st club hour
I invited the eight oldest girls of the kindergarten (5;0 to 5;9 years old) to the newly founded „Power Girl´s Club“; my observation child Lina (5;9) was one of them.
To get in the mood, we listen to a CD: „Komm mit, hau ab“ (Come on, get lost). It contains „songs for strong girls and boys“; it was published by Zartbitter e.V. Cologne.
Content: A girl tells a boy that she has a girl gang and that they can decide for themselves what they want.
I ask the children to move to the music and at the same time pay close attention to the lyrics of the song.
The girls immediately adopt the song about the girl gang as their song („because we are also a little girl gang and because we are also strong“).
Then we discuss the question:
„What is a power girl?“
Most girls initially associate being strong only with physical strength, e.g. „when you can kick“ or „when you can lift heavy things“. But mental strength also comes up, e.g. „when you don’t cry“. Here they may have Pippi Longstocking in mind, who is an important „heroine“ in our kindergarten. Lina also brings in the social aspect: „When you help other people to carry the heavy bag home.“
Then comes the question:
„Which part of your body do you find particularly important?“
Here are a few statements:
For Lina (5;9), the legs are important: „So I can go everywhere…“
Laura (5;3) finds her tongue particularly important: „So that I can talk.“
Elise (5;7) thinks her hands are most important: „So that I can do a lot.“
Melisa (5;5) says: „My eyes, so I can see everything.“
Afterwards we lie down on the gymnastics mats for a little meditation „What belongs to my body?“. I address the individual body parts one by one and ask the children to take the journey through the body with me and feel the body parts.
I start with the feet, move on to the legs, buttocks, stomach, chest-heart, hands, arms, neck, head. Then on and in the head: mouth, nose, ears, eyes and the brain.
Seven of the eight girls are very concentrated during the meditation, including Lina.
After the meditation, we exchange ideas about the most important parts of the body again. The statements have changed somewhat:
Lina: „The eyes. So I don’t have to walk around blind.“
For Laura, the mouth is still the most important: „So that I can talk, swallow and eat.“
For Elise, the eyes have become more important.
Melisa: „The whole body!“
The girls are then given a worksheet. It shows a body outline where the girls can mark which body parts they think are the most important.
Worksheet 1 (to print out).
While painting, Lina realises that other body parts are also very important: She paints the belly and also a red heart in the outline. Here, too, there is another exchange in conversation.
The question of why we have certain abilities at all and can think what we want or don’t want leads to a lively conversation about what power girls want and need.
So Elise and Laura want to have muscles and Ayşe a good heart. Lina says nothing more at first. When I then interject the question: „Where are these abilities controlled in humans, what is needed to think, feel, move and see?“ Lina says: „We need the brain to think and for everything.“
I then give the girls
Worksheet No. 2.
It shows a picture of a girl’s head with individual brain regions labelled in words and pictures.
I copied the worksheet and other sheets from the book: Joe Kaufman, Unser erstes Buch vom Körper (Our first book about the body), Verlag Ravensburger, page 57. I think this book is a classic. Unfortunately, it can only be bought second-hand, but it should be available in many kindergartens.
We look at the picture together, discuss what we see and recognise, scan our heads and try to locate where which area can be found. We assign areas of the brain to our abilities.
The next question:
„What all can I do with my body?“
The children give many answers: I can … run, jump, lie still, sit, listen, shout, sing, paint, clap, see, think, feel, tell.
„Which organ is absolutely necessary to be able to feel all my needs, to use and expand my abilities and to be able to realise my ideas?“
The answer that Lina finds – that one of our most important body parts is the brain, was also agreed upon by the other girls.
It is a fundamental insight for all further club hours.
Using the brain is something the „the power girls“ also recognise it as a great way to find out their interests and pursue them.
At the end, the group moves to the music „Danube Waltz“.
The 2nd club hour
A week has passed, the girls are looking forward to the club hour and are curious about what will take place.
We meet in the gym. When they discover the music system, all they want to do is dance and listen to the CD from the girl gang.
After a while we sit down in a circle and talk again about the second worksheet, the picture of the brain. Lina, Melisa and Laura have memorised the individual areas (for example smelling or balance) and their location very well. They feel their heads and the other girls do the same.
Today I want to ask the girls to consciously try out these areas, to use their bodies – with courage and self-confidence. First they choose the areas of „running and jumping“ and „balance“.
With enthusiasm they trample, jump, hop around, clap, tap their hands, blink their eyelids, sniff with their noses, try to wiggle their ears – and noticeably timidly use their voices.
It becomes clear that screaming is not used purposefully by these eight girls.
I then ask them to simply try out what sounds they can make with their bodies.
Now I can observe that it is obviously not very easy for girls to shout or even scream for no reason. Only when I myself start shouting and screaming loudly do they feel prompted to do it too.
Lina is on the whole rather reserved when trying things out. She watches the other girls very closely and only then starts her own attempts. She is cautious, but becomes more and more courageous and relaxed. After a while, her facial expression shows a smile, she moves faster, knocks on the floor and simply has fun doing it.
After a short rest, we exchange ideas in conversation about which parts of the body we humans can use to make sounds. The girls try to hear their eyes and ears, but they don’t succeed.
Now I introduce the idea of recording our sounds and noises on music cassette.
At this stage, the girls really come out of their shells and use everything they have tried before. When we listen to it, they are very enthusiastic, listen with heated heads to what we have recorded and seem pleased with themselves.
Tina and Laura express the wish to listen to the girls‘ CD again and dance while doing so. The other girls agree, so we end the club hour dancing again.
My experience from this club session is that I have to give the girls a lot of time and space to perceive themselves intensively physically if I want to achieve my further goals: strengthening their self-esteem, recognising what means they can use to get more support.
The 3rd club hour
This offer takes place in our gym, from 10 am to about 11.15 am.
Seven of the eight girls in the club are present (with Lina).
Game: „Out of Control“
In the gym I have spread out newspapers so that there is a big pile of newspapers. The girls get the task from me – before they enter the gym – to just look at what I have prepared for them and what they can think of.
To help them, I give them the questions:
What do I see?
What should I do with it?
What am I allowed to do with it?
What can I do with it?
They are curious about what they will find in the gymnasium, but none of them asks more intensively whether I explain more.
They cautiously enter the gym and look at the pile of newspapers. Tina slips a little on a newspaper, looks at me, I nod at her affirmatively and she now begins to slide on the newspaper deliberately. Elise takes a sheet of the newspapers and looks at the pictures. Melisa laughs and is unsure what she may, should or wants to do? Lina carefully walks up to the pile of newspapers and I nod to her too that it’s okay what she’s doing.
After about three minutes they get brave and run around on the newspapers, crumple them up, tear a sheet, laugh and shout to each other what else can be done with them. After about 15 minutes they throw the newspapers at each other and are already slightly heated and also relaxed.
Next I suggest: „We cover each girl who wants to with lots of newspapers – and then when we shout loudly or shout something, the girl jumps up and it’s the next girl’s turn.“ My suggestion of thea game is accepted, and with huge fun everyone comes forward one after the other.
Melisa, Laura, Elise and Tina come forward immediately and we have to decide the order. Then Ayşe immediately lies down on the mat. Greta and Lina wait the whole time. Now only the two of them are left, and I watch them: Who do you think is next?
Then Greta lies down on the mat and Lina says: „I want to too!“
This is the first time I’ve ever seen Lina not wait until the very end and come out on her own beforehand. Unfortunately, Greta is quicker, because she acts immediately and doesn’t just tell. Lina participates intensively in this game and is not as reserved as I have usually observed her.
We put the newspapers away together.
Exchange in conversation:
We sit down together and share what skills we needed to be able to play with the newspapers. They come up very quickly on
– the ability to think and
– the ability to think of something and then do it.
When asked what other physical requirements they needed, they answer with „muscles“, „bones“.
So now we can well move on to the joints.
We stand in a circle and are quite stiff because we have no joints.
Can we move?
We start with the elbow and the knee joint, and I explain what these joints are called. We try out in which directions we can move these joints.
With this form of play, we bring all our joints into the movement game one after the other, trying them out and feeling what makes us move and what our joints are called.
Worksheet 3: Skeleton
Then each girl gets a copy with a skeleton drawn on it. (I copied it from the book „My first book about the body“, page 20). We look at it and look for the individual joints that we got to know better in the movement game. We paint the joints with different colours to be able to match them, for example hinge joints (knee joint, elbow joint) are painted in the same colour.
Elise and Laura say that the picture is a bit scary, Lina just looks at it intently and listens. Then she is quiet and interested in her work. I notice that she understands the task immediately and can implement it. She finishes in a very short time.
We continue playing standing up, all the girls participate intensively, trying out and repeating the movements of the joints.
Worksheet 4: Joints
Another picture shows what the different joints look like, and we think together about where we recognise something like joints in our physical environment, for example in the door joint, in glasses, in a crane, in car gears.
Finally, we try out our joints again with music and dance.
The club participants file away all the pictures and worksheets.
Evaluation after 3 club hours:
Overall, the girls are very eager to learn and try out new things. One child, Lena, has always been absent due to illness or holidays.
Ayşe is overwhelmed in the group because she still has big language problems. I have to discuss a change of club with my colleagues. (There are always several clubs running in parallel in our kindergarten.)
Elise, Laura and Tina are also often together in private; they are lively, curious and eager to learn. Greta and Lina are the quiet children of the club.
Greta observes intensively and precisely, but she is not as confident as Lina, for example, she carries out tasks very precisely and does not have this confidence to make her own decisions as Lina does.
Lina often seems very sure and self-confident when she listens and summarises the points that are most important or self-evident to her. In those moments I am always amazed and delighted at what is still hidden in Lina. I still haven’t been able to identify a focus of interest, she is simply attentive to all topics and gets involved.
Next week, I will focus on the muscles, as the bones and joints alone cannot be used.
It is important for me – after the experiences of the first three club hours – to impart knowledge to the girls, to enable them to have experiences with their bodies and thus to support them positively in their self-esteem, their feelings, their courage but also their aggressions and thus to feel and develop further as a „power girl“.
The 4th club hour
In this session I would like to work on the muscles and their tasks with the girls.
Together we remember the last club session, what we were particularly interested in and what we learned about our joints.
The girls should get better and better at recognising what is important for being able to realise their own ideas. We have our brain, our senses, our skeleton – but do we have enough strength to be able to use all this?
Could we move if we were only made of our skeleton?
Melisa mentions very forcefully that the heart is important and everyone confirms her. However, they can agree that today we are only concerned with the joints and muscles, and of course with the brain that controls everything.
You receive worksheet no. 5 (copy from the above-mentioned book, page 26) and immediately try out some of the exercises presented.
We look together at what the gymnastics children can do and ask ourselves how this is possible.
On book pages 28/29 we can discover where we have muscles.
In order to feel and consciously trace the use of muscles, we move freely to music and I ask them to also sing, shout or make other sounds with their voices.
All the girls are very active again, have a lot of fun, laugh and move around the whole room.
Now and then I stop the music and tell them a number, for example 3. Then they have to stop moving and touch the floor with exactly three parts of their body. They solve these tasks with enthusiasm.
Lina is very creative in this game. She is the only one who includes her head, buttocks and knees. She seems very relaxed and adopts the most curious postures.
In the subsequent conversation about which muscles we felt during which movements, she is also active and not as reserved as in the conversation offers before. She obviously feels very comfortable.
I specifically ask the girls about their faces: whether they also have muscles there and whether they felt them. What changed in their faces when they screamed or whispered?
In the book mentioned above, we look at the facial muscles on pages 30/31. Then we look intensively at each other’s faces and feel them with our hands.
Lina feels her own face, then quickly paints the muscles on the worksheet a little colourfully. This task doesn’t seem that interesting or exciting for her.
Then we sit down in the circle. We make faces, shout, sing and try to look funny, sad, angry or sour and can consciously observe the work of the facial muscles again.
This exercise is meant to train the girls‘ perception and make clear how important our facial muscles are for our expression: They are an important tool that a power girl can use to clearly show other people what she wants and what she doesn’t want.
At the end of this club hour, I hear Lina shouting louder and even screaming for the first time. She gets red in the face, is heated and excited. She tries out her facial expressions thoroughly: wrinkles her nose, shows her tongue and contorts her mouth.
Lina no longer behaves as passively as I often see her. I am very happy about this development because I have the impression that Lina is more clearly aware of her feelings and wishes and also shows them to the outside world.
The 5th club hour:
Adventure Trip to the „Land of the Power Girls“
Gym, 10 am to 11.15 am.
6 girls are present (including Lina).
This lesson will continue to be about muscles – especially the muscles of the neck, arms and hands, back and stomach and feet and legs – but also about seeing, thinking and reasoning – everything a power girl needs.
Since the girls have always been looking forward to the next club session since the first one, they gather quickly.
In the gym, I set up a movement landscape and developed a story for it, see below. The girls have to fulfil tasks and coordinate with each other. They have to wait for each other, agree together in a small space whether they can lie, sit or stand better.
Furthermore, they have to cheer each other on when they have to fight the monster or shoot big stones away.
Once in the land of the power girls, they are allowed to relax and occupy themselves with books they find interesting and exciting.
And so it started:
In front of the gym I handed out scarves, then they immediately launched into the story I tell them:
We are going on an adventure trip to the land of the power girls, we say goodbye to everyone. (We call out and wave the scarves to them).
Suddenly we are standing in front of a muddy meadow. It looks as if other travellers have already crossed this meadow. They have stretched a rope, which we can now use to avoid sinking into the mud. It is not so easy to balance on a rope, but we all manage. (There is a rope attached to the ground on which we balance.)
We arrive safely in a small, very small cave. (The cave is a lying hamster wheel – a piece of play equipment that you can sit in – covered with a blanket.)
We want to rest so badly, but unfortunately we can’t all sit or even lie down at the same time, we can only stand – and even that only if we agree and stand very close together.
In order for the journey to continue, everyone has to complete a task: You can only leave this cave again if each of you has first thrown three stones out of it. These stones must be thrown into a small, distant pit, only then can the cave be left by all of you together. (Balls have to be thrown into a cone – the popular plaything that skittles around on the floor when you sit in it – 1.5 metres away.)
Finally we all completed the task and left the cave. We found a sheltered spot protected by trees. (A football goal is the place.)
Unfortunately, the further way is also arduous, because it is stony and slippery, you can easily hurt yourself on sharp stones. Again, there are stones that have been made walkable by other people. (They are carpet tiles.)
However, this steep mountain path can only be used if another task is completed. Fortunately, only three of us have to carry a heavy boulder (balls) along the way.
Thus, the path that we power girls have to overcome is full of difficulties. With a boulder in their arms, three travellers now have to jump from stone to stone. This task is very risky and the muscles of arms and legs must be well trained.
The boulders are put down and the journey continues.
We are now standing on a mountain and looking down into the depths. Below, a raging river flows and only a very, very narrow footbridge leads across the water. Again we have to think: Do I dare to walk over it, or do I rather sit down and slide over – because we all have to cross…? (over trestles and balance beams).
And we have to move on quickly, because on the other side of the gorge there is again little room to linger. But oh dear! A mountain has to be overcome, it goes steeply upwards (trestles and ladder).
We are tired, exhausted and want to finally reach our destination. What do we see? A monster, a monster! (Punching bag and boxing gloves.) The first two girls have arrived and have to fight the monster.
Suddenly we all become wide awake and cheer our friends on. We keep calling their names and eventually the monster gets tired because we are strong and very skilled.
We hit the monster – and we girls are super fast, can recognise the monster’s steps and dodge. The first two girls have reached the other side and the monster can’t hurt them anymore.
So all the girls have to fight their way past the monster.
We have already overcome many things: the swamp, the cave, the gorge with the water, the mountain and now also the monster. When will we finally reach our destination, the „land of the power girls“?
A short break, and again we have to clear rocks out of the way (shoot balls into a goal).
The path is clear, we see lights in the distance, but oh no, it’s a clearing. We have to lie down on the meadow and crawl across it so that robbers and monsters don’t see us and cut off our way. (Rope stretched to crawl under.)
We arrived at a beautiful meadow (big gym mat) and are very happy. We do somersaults and romp around on the meadow. This must be the land of the power girls!
What do we see at a corner? A blanket that hides something. What do you think it is? Who is particularly brave and looks underneath?
We encourage each other. We have passed so many adventures, we feel and strong and are no longer afraid of new challenges. We decide to pull the blanket away all together.
Oh what is that?
Books of all kinds! What is there to see in them?
We are glad to be able to rest physically, but we are still curious and immediately look at the books.
Adventure Trip to print out
In this story we go beyond physical strength; power girls are also inquisitive, good at thinking and finding solutions and are good at using these skills.
During the adventure journey, I can observe that Lina doesn’t wait until the end: In balancing, she starts fourth, and in throwing the balls into the pit, she is even second. This is very brave for her, because she doesn’t seem very confident when throwing and balancing, she wobbles before each step.
She is rather cautious at all stations, but at the same time much more confident and relaxed than when I first observed her. Apparently she has gained self-confidence and now feels safe and accepted in the group of girls.
When boxing, she is quite relaxed and stands securely on her legs. Together with Tina, she wins first place in the monster fight.
The books at the end of the journey are surprisingly well received, the girls look at the books with interest, exchange loudly which book they have got hold of and what exciting things they discover in it.
It is Lina who asks if they can do the journey again. The girls now make the journey on their own without me telling the story.
I observe that each girl tells herself what can be seen on the journey and what the task is. Each girl has her station that she does particularly intensively.
So for Ayşe, throwing the balls into the pit is a challenge, for Greta balancing over the river.
Lina balances calmly over the rope, she does all the other stations very quickly and sometimes imprecisely. Her goal is the punching bag – and together with Tina she blocks it for a while, so I ask her to continue her journey.
In this final phase, each girl determines her own pace and favourite stations, so I can observe the children well. Melisa and Laura particularly enjoy balancing on the balance beam. I see that the girls assess their abilities well. A task that doesn’t work so well, some of them practise intensively or do it quickly and imprecisely.
The girls always agree, there are no arguments at any of the stations. It is also interesting that all the girls spoke the story and the tasks to themselves, not very loudly, but audibly.
I end the lesson by announcing a final run-through. They protest, but comply with the announcement.
According to Tina it has been the most beautiful club hour, the other girls agree and repeat Tina’s statement.
Read more about Lina:
Date of publication in German: 2013, March
Copyright © Gabriele Drescher-Krumrey, see imprint.