Sharing Your Love of Orchids with Kids
by Sandy Stubbings, AOS Education Committee
What can the AOS do to interest the youth of today in orchids? That is the question that has been consistently addressed by the Education Committee of the AOS. I would like to tell you about two resulting projects in the hope that members and affiliates will pick up on them. One is a Girl Scout Interest Project and Patch. The other is a set of activities that children can do at shows.
Girl Scout Interest Project
For any orchid lovers who are involved in Girl Scouting, we have developed an Interest Project and iron–on Patch. Both are available for your use by contacting Sandy at firstname.lastname@example.org. Since we are just beginning to explore possibilities, we are eager to work with Scout personnel to modify and/or develop the requirements for issuing the patch.
Several leaders who have contacted us have had very good project ideas for girls to earn the patch. Many requirements of the American Orchid Society Interest project can be fulfilled at an orchid show. One excellent idea is to have Girl Scouts help with local shows to earn patches.
Perhaps you can combine both the Girl Scout and the Kids’ Corner projects by having Girl Scouts volunteer to supervise the "Kids’ Corner" at your shows.
We hope affiliated clubs will copy these activities, eventually creating their own "Kids' Corner". To that end, I will be providing an article each month that will give instructions for making/setting up an activity that can become part of a Kids’ Corner. The Houston Orchid Society and SWROGA have successfully pioneered such a table in 2012 and 2013 shows so all activities are tested and proven successful.
This month I will begin with an overview of the activities we included in our table and I will give instructions for constructing an activity for the Corner each successive month. Please feel free to use these ideas in your own planning.
Our goals included promoting youthful interest in orchids, involving children in the show more directly, providing educational opportunities and rewarding children in a meaningful way that encourages interest. We wanted to avoid meaningless busywork. For example, flowering plants were provided at the drawing station for the children to incorporate in their drawing and the coloring pages were evaluated for information they included. More information on these criteria will be incorporated in the detailed instructions to be provided monthly.
To begin, you need a table and volunteers. It is possible to place the Kids' Corner next to the Society’s Table and have a volunteer supervise both tables, although it is better to have separate supervision. The most successful placement for the Kids' Corner is near the entrance where kids and their parents will see it right away.
The Houston Orchid Society created a "Photo Panel" to stand at the Corner and catch people’s attention. The Kids' Corner consisted of a table of activities and a hanging vinyl photo (4' x 6') of an orchid. The vinyl poster hung from a photographers frame and had the center cut out of one of the flowers for children's (or adult's) faces. Parents or friends would take photos of their children's/friends faces in the flowers. Next month I will include detailed instructions so your club can create this very successful activity.
The table held sorting boxes, coloring pages, drawing paper with 2 plants for children to incorporate in a picture, and an orchid hunt for flowers exhibited in the show. For the sorting boxes, each box had a type of orchid printed on it and photos of orchids of that type pasted on the box. The children were given envelopes of laminated photos of individual orchids to sort into the correct boxes. For those too young for these boxes, other boxes were painted, each with a single color. The same photos could be sorted into these boxes by color. Coloring pages were printed from the internet and an orchid coloring book. The orchid hunt consisted of manila folders. Each folder had about 10 photos of orchid flowers in the show. These were numbered and stapled onto one side of the folder. The facing side of the folder had a chart for the child to write in the name of each orchid and the exhibit containing the plant.
Rewards: Each child who does an activity can be rewarded with a mini-ribbon. Collect old ribbons from members before the show and cut off the back (with the date, etc.) and any club name on the front that is not your own club. This results in small ribbons the child can pin on a shirt. (Supply safety pins with the ribbons.) The object is to have children wandering the show wearing ribbons and feeling good about themselves.
Instructions: Each activity had instructions in clear plastic, exhibit frames. Instructions for the children and their parents were printed on the front; instructions for the volunteers, if needed, on the back. (See future articles for copies of the printed instructions for each activity.)
There are other societies that have included activities for children in their shows and I am hoping you will share those activities with us. You can contact me at email@example.com with your ideas and I will include them in a future article.