Wednesday, February 17, 2010

First meeting of the FBI !!

WHAT IS the Fun Brain Institute some non-locals may ask?

My original idea was to provide opportunities for enrichment and exploration, stimulating activities, no pressure to perform.   It's kind of a brain gym, co-op, play group ... as long as it's FUN!!

I'd say the launch of FBI this week was a HUGE success, because ...

*  People came.  Hooray!!  There were 24 children, 13 parents, and 2 of my friends who came to 'adopt' my children so I could focus on organising and leading.  We're expecting more families to come for a look in future weeks.

*  The children seemed to have fun.  They were really engaged in the activities and said they'd like to come again.  There was no pressure to join in, and most activities were open-ended.

*  By the end of the 3 hours I think I can safely say we'd all (parents and kids) made new friends and spent some quality time together.

*  I think we'll work well together as a group.  People got involved and were especially helpful at set-up and pack-up time (thanks!)

*  Many of us have only started home schooling in recent years.  I think (I hope) that people will feel welcome, whenever they decide to come.  It's not compulsory, just available : )

*  We have diverse methods but a common goal to see our children enjoy learning whilst having fun with friends.  MY goal for the group is to inspire and empower participants, both kids and parents.

*  We've come up with a plan for next time (we're meeting fortnightly).  People have made suggestions and offered to bring or organise various things.  So it's becoming OUR group, as intended!

Thanks everyone who encouraged me to pursue my goal and make my dream a reality.

So what happens at the FBI?

Well, it will become what we all make it.  Here's a summary of our first gathering ...

As people arrived they signed in (for HEA insurance), decorated a name tag, chatted, played and some drew on a poster for our group.  Then I called everyone together for a group hug ... well, not really.

Warm Welcome - We started with a game of Mr Squiggle on the whiteboard.  Some of the older kids decoded sentences I'd written up (eg.  Th vwls hv ll bn lft t), unjumbled words (ufn, citexnig, teringintest).  I skimmed nervously over a few attitude posters I'd made up (have a go, respect, be kind ... I'll add another next time, inspire and empower) about what our group aspires to be (people are welcome to respond, the only feedback so far has been positive).

Group Challenge - Kids were at 4 tables, wherever they chose to sit.  Using one sheet of paper and two straws they had to build a bridge to support as many 10 cent coins as possible, between cups set a given distance apart.  Testing the designs afterwards was nerve-wracking (I should have asked someone else to do that), and took longer than I expected because including straws made the designs quite strong (I've only done this with paper before).  Anyway, I learned ... 1. Test the challenge before attempting it with kids, and ... 2.  Think of challenges suitable for all ages (we had many 4-7's and only a handful of 8-11's)

Morning Tea - A great chance to talk with people I'd only met briefly at the park.  The kids drifted into play, and there may have been a dozen at the playdough table at one stage!  Playdough was very popular and for the rest of the day there were usually a few kids enjoying it.  Others played quoits or something.  Free play time was really important I think, for all of us to feel more at home, and something we'll continue to do I think.

 Play dough table at FBI and the creche play area.

Mission Possible (maths/ science) - I showed some models I'd made of 2D and 3D shapes and asked if anyone knew the names of the shapes I'd made.  I told them about the dodecahedron.  I was going to briefly mention polygons, platonic solids, polyhedra, but most of the group were quite young so it was time to get moving!  I later chatted with some older kids about these things, and their observations & questions ... they liked big polygons like the megagon.  After a quick demo of a few joining methods, we put an assortment of straws, pipe cleaners, tape, and scissors on the tables and they got started!  There were models of polygons and polyhedra, an elaborate house, a partly finished cube big enough to surround my dining table, plus a gorgeous butterfly and ferris wheel (made by a very creative mum).  Two tables full of kids kept constructing shapes until it was time to go home!

Our display at home of straw and pipe cleaner constructions.

Game Zone - As children finished building shapes and models, they drifted towards assorted games and activities that we set out.  One group played 'Round the Bend', a pipe building game, then went on to play Mr Squiggle on the whiteboard.  Others tried logic puzzles, pattern blocks and cuisennaire rods (to build shapes I'd made and photographed or to play freely with).  The playdough, soft blocks and toys in creche were given another workout.

Art Start (but more like science this time!) - For those who wanted, I demonstrated how to make a hoopster plane.  The test flights were fun, it's amazing something so simple can fly.  Children could also modify the design (eg. make a double hoopster).

It was a delightful, relaxed second half, but we had to pack up eventually.  Everyone pitched in to make it light work.  The feedback was positive, and I'm told some kids were crying because they didn't want to leave.  Is that good!?

I spoke to most people during the day about their impressions and suggestions.  We have plenty of ideas for next time!  I'll write up a plan soon so people who might want to come can see what we're up to and what they'll need to bring!


P.S. About the name ... We're not affiliated to any other groups.  I just liked the sound of it.


  1. Where are you running this? We might be interested to come next time...


  2. Darcy had a fantastic time, and was really disappointed that he has to wait two weeks for the next one. He said to me 'I'm really a hands on kid mum, so it really suited me!' When asked if it was like school, he said 'no, it was fun!'.

  3. I've emailed you Marissa, and will be in touch soon about the next one!

    I'm glad Darcy enjoyed it! He put in so much energy and enthusiasm, so I'm not surprised. It was great having him there, he seemed to enjoy the challenges!


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