Freckleface Strawberry and the Key Jar

What a fun lesson this week! Topic: bullying. Book reading: Freckleface Strawberry and the Dodgeball Bully. Game: Musical spots with the Key Jar! More about the Key Jar below.

We had a very good discussion about a situation that happens a lot with girls. One girl chooses to hang out with one friend, which makes another friend jealous. When I asked if this had ever happened to the girls, all hands shot in the air. We brainstormed some possible solutions:
1) play with both friends
2) play with one friend now and the other later (this works when the activity friends want to play is not the same)
The important take away messages: be sure to tell the friend you are not playing with a first that you still want to be friends. Also, if the friend is mean or bullies as a result of not being chosen, tell them in a calm and firm voice that it is not ok for her to be mean and give the girl some time to cool off before approaching again.

Now for the book reading. We read Freckleface Strawberry and the Dodgeball Bully by, Julianne Moore. Yes, the famous actress. I am learning to use Twitter as another social media outlet, but it does not feel as natural as blogging or Facebook. Like I have been doing lately, I tweeted to the author of the book we read with a caption about our interpretation of the book. Imagine my surprise when Julianne Moore re-tweeted my picture. You all know Julianne Moore, right? This famous lady.

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Here is the picture and the re-tweet….wow!

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The Key Jar
At the lesson today, I brought out the Key Jar and played a variation of musical chairs to get girls to answer questions from the jar. Here are a few of the questions and answers….made me so proud!

1) If you could give someone one piece of advice, what would you say? Always be true to yourself.

2) When is it hard to be a friend? When your friend won’t let you be friends with other people.

3) What would you like to accomplish by your next birthday? Learn to ride bike.

4) If you could go anywhere in the world to complete a good deed, where would you go? Nepal to help the victims of the earthquake.

5) If you could make a new friend with anyone who would it be? Chris Pratt or Luke Bryan…sigh.

6) Is it possible to help someone you have never met? Yes! We help children we have never met every week by donating to TABLE 🙂


What a great lesson on bullying. All the girls took the promise oath from The Juice Box Bully book.
The promise              

 We promise to take care of ourselves, each other, and to solve problems peacefully.

 We promise no one will stand by and accept bad behavior.

 When someone acts hurtfully, we ALL speak up.

Next we made creative collages of bully free zones. It was neat to see how each team of two created their collage. I was purposeful to match girls who were not best buddies as a way for them to get to know a girl older than them, from a different peer group, etc. I was really proud of how well everyone worked together.

Lastly we played some uneven and even games of tug a war. The first attempt was uneven. Older, stronger girls vs younger, smaller girls. I asked how the younger girls felt…a lot like being bullied. Next up was a more evenly matched team. We were short on time, so I want to do this activity again and have girls from the uneven team move to the other side to help (as a way to stand up to bullies).

What fun ways to reinforce such an important issue! We will continue talking about this for the next few weeks. Here are some pics of our fun times this week!

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I still need to write about this week’s lesson on bullying. It was a great one, filled with good conversations, fun art activities, and a few games that prompted some thinking. BUT….today I got some news that I have been waiting months to hear. I secured funding for 2 scholarship spots at Glenwood Elementary for the next school year. I asked for more than that, but as a new non profit, I will take anything I can get!

Ironically I was at Glenwood Elementary for their weekly lesson. I whispered to one of the girls whose parents have been experiencing some recent financial difficulties that I had 2 scholarships for the upcoming school year. I wanted her to know that she could have a spot if she wanted one (and the only way she would be able to continue in the program). She squealed and hugged me so hard I lost my breath, which I interpreted as a yes 😉 At the end of the lesson, she pulled me by the arm to her parents to share the news with them. They were equally grateful. It makes my heart so happy to know that one of the scholarships will go to this girl who loves Girls TALK, cried to her parents when they told her she might not be able to continue in the program because of their financial difficulties. So many children, including my own, take for granted that they will be able to participate in after school programs.

This makes all that grant writing, researching foundations, mailing all those LOIs  all worth it. And it makes me even more motivated to make a stronger proposal for future mailings!


feeling a little frustrated, need to write

I write as a way to help me process things that are happening in my life. I usually do this on our family blog, but this week I feel the need to do it on my work blog.

For those not in the know, Girls TALK was created in the summer of 2014. Last school year was the building year, this school year was the growing year. Things were going as planned, and over the holiday break I decided to focus my next goal on building existing programs and develop a scholarship program with grant funding.

I have worked so hard working on Letters Of Intent, proposals, and oh….searching and searching all of those databases for good funding matches. I have sent out 48 LOIs/proposals, 4 possibles and after yesterday, I am down to 2. UGH!

I have some things working against me: 1) my non profit is in NC…. tons of non profits in this state, all competing for the same funding. 2) Girls TALK is a new organization…risky for foundations to invest in. But there HAS to be an organization willing to take a risk on my program, right?

Now for some of why I do what I do… outcomes!

One of my girls has struggled with standing up for herself in conflicts. There is a girl in the program that sometimes gives her a hard time. At first I watched to see how she handled it. When I saw that she needed some help, I emailed her mom to say this would be a great time to stand up for who she is, etc. The mom had a good heart to heart talk and the following week she stood up to the girl regarding an activity she wanted to participate in. I gave her a discrete thumbs up and a wink to let her know I was proud of her.

Around Christmas break I noticed one of the girls always asked to opt out of the game portion of the lessons. When this became a trend, I followed up with her mom. It turns out that she really dislikes trying new things if she thinks she will not be able to do them perfectly. We set a goal for her to just try, do her best, and that was what was most important in our games. Sometimes she opts to be last line, but she always tries. Score!

Processing and recall is an issue for one of the girls in my program. It is difficult for her to retell what we do each week at her family’s dinnertime discussion. I don’t think her family realized how much of a problem it was until her cousin missed a lesson one week and was not able to help fill in the blanks. I am now meeting with this girl at the end of each lesson to write down on a small piece of paper 2 things she learned at each lesson. My hope is having them written down will help with the recall.

Lastly, and man this is a big one. A middle school student whose family I know got an iPhone for Christmas. She started coming home from school and texting friends who also had phones. Very quickly these texts turned mean. Her mom told her she needed to find something to do after school that did not involve sitting around texting. The girl asked if she could join Girls TALK even though it was late in the school year. Woo hoo!

So, when I look at some of the outcomes from this school year, it makes me re-energized and ready to tackle more of those LOIs!



We are back!

Despite the rain, we had lots of fun this afternoon. We finished our project for the Take My Hand Uganda project (writing notes to put in the tote bags) and talked more about loving what is unique about ourselves.

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The book reading was a Dr Seuss story, Gertrude McFuzz. She only has one tail feather and wants two like another bird named Lolla Lee Lou. She finds a way to get LOTS of feathers but cannot walk or fly with all them. This prompted a discussion about something that girls have wanted to change about themselves. I started the conversation by sharing that as a child I wanted more than anything to have curly hair. My mom took me to hairdressers for expensive “perms” (wow, did not think I would ever say that word again!) but they always fell out after a few weeks. I wish I had known to be true to myself back in the 80s and be proud of my straight hair.

We played a fun Minute It To Win It Game called Sticky Stack afterwards. Those games are always a hit!

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So glad to see the girls again after spring break. Wednesdays are my favorite day of the week 🙂


Take My Hand Uganda project

Our lesson this week was no joke. Ok, except for the fact that some of the girls discovered the trick of putting 2 dots of red marker on a finger tip and then placing a staple there…sigh. April Fools! I tried my best to “react” to each girl that tried this prank, but my poker face is not the best.

I had so much fun watching the girls make tote bags for the children in the Take My Hand Uganda​ program. They had pics of each child and a short blurb about interests. That was all they needed to grab those fabric makers and get crafty! It was neat to see how each girl individualized the bags based on gender and interests. Many of the children wrote that they like to pray. I made sure to note that they should only draw general religious symbols and only include these for children that mentioned this as an interest. The last thing I want to do is make Girls TALK into a religious organization.

The girls have been talking about what to put in the bags.  I want to brainstorm and problem solve some ideas with the girls after spring break. I am thinking a nice handwritten note would be best.
Check out some of the bags….Super proud of my Girls TALK girls this week 🙂 Kristan

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