I MAY have gotten a little carried away on the advice-giving on this one. I just really wanted her, and you, to know that this is something you can totally do. You can give your daughter a place where she can make friends and make crafts, where she can eat snacks, and sing songs, and achieve patches, and be dressed the same as all the other girls. You can create a place where girls can learn about our Catholic faith, and how true and beautiful and fun it is.
And you can do it all in about five hours per month.
I'm worried now that the level of detail here is actually going to scare everyone away. So, before you read on, I want to be clear that this really is a thing you can do. We do two meetings per month, about two hours per meeting. I also spend about an hour more per month in preparation. That's it.
If you have some floor space, you know at least three school-aged girls, and you can read, you can start a Little Flowers Girls Club. You can do the whole thing first class, including uniforms, books, snacks, and crafts for the whole year for less than $100 per girl. If you just do sashes, patches, and books, and keep the snacks and crafts really simple, you could probably do the whole year for less than $30 per girl.
The beauty of the Little Flowers program is that it is infinitely customizeable. They give you the framework, and you use it to create a club that works for your particular group and circumstances. We do two meetings per month, but you could easily do one, or three, or four. We meet at my house, but you could also move between houses, or meet at your parish or a community center of some sort.
I'll share here, in pretty specific detail, exactly what I do for our club. But remember that every club will look different! There are no rules!
I've been hosting Little Flowers for 4 years now, about to start year 5, our group will be K-6th next year. There was one year that we split the group up, but (unless you have more girls than you can manage) I think it works better to just keep them all together. The big girls and little girls help each other.
We have had between 8 and 12 girls in the club at any given time.
Here's what I do for our group:
BEFORE THE YEAR STARTS
1. Now I just contact our existing members and make sure they're still in, and encourage them to invite anyone new. Initially, I found some girls grades K-8 at my church, school, and homeschool group. Brothers and younger siblings are invited to come and hang out, but aren't official members of the group. Older girls can be junior leaders if they'd like that sort of thing.
2. Moms volunteer for jobs that suit them.
Hostess: hosts meetings at her home, this can rotate if you prefer, but I don't mind hosting, so we just always do it at my house
Treasurer: collects orders for Little Flowers gear and collects money and places order
Secretary: keeps calendar of snack and craft responsibility, sends out email reminders
Leader: runs meeting, gives talk on virtue and saint, this could also rotate, but I usually do it
Music director: leads girls in songs
Book club director: leads our once a month book club discussion
Much of this will depend on the time and talent of the moms in your group. We happen to have a very talented musician in our group, so we have a music director. She leads the girls in singing the memory verses at each meeting. Maybe your hostess or another mom would really love planning crafts and snacks for every meeting. For us, sharing that responsibility around has allowed each family to participate and has let each family spend an amount of time and money that they are comfortable with on their snack and craft, rather than having set dues to split the cost of all the snacks and crafts.
3. We decide what stuff we want. The first year, we all started with Wreath I. Girls like to dress alike, and it makes things seem more official, and I'm generally pro-uniform, so I suggested we have the girls all get the Little Flowers shirts. Girls also like to earn stuff, so we chose to get the sashes, along with the Little Flowers name patch, and the Wreath I virtue patches. We also ordered a member book for each girl, plus one leader book, one craft companion book, and one copy of the memory verses CD.
4. The treasurer figures out the order, collects the money from the families for their items, and places one order for our group so that we get free shipping.
5. We plan out the year. There are nine virtues, we do one virtue per month, two meetings per month, first and third Monday afternoons, September through May. Each meeting is held at my home. We use the living room or the backyard for the lessons and songs and games, the dining room table for crafts, and the backyard for snacks. Brothers play in the front or backyard, little siblings and extra moms hang out wherever they'd like.
6. That's 18 meetings. One mom is the secretary, she keeps the calendar and sends out email reminders. We divide the meetings up between the moms, each mom taking an approximately equal number of meetings. Each mom is responsible for bringing the snack and craft for the group for her meetings. We usually bring enough of the crafts for just the Little Flowers, but enough snacks for all the kids.
7. We give very broad leeway on crafts. They almost always have something to do with the virtue and saint for the month, but sometimes they are also tied to a particular holiday or are preparations for one of our two events each year, our Family Advent Potluck and Mother's Day Tea.
8. We plan the book club by choosing a picture book and a chapter book that would be appropriate for each virtue, and send out a book list. The girls read the books at home, or have them read aloud. Then on the second meeting of the month, our Book Club Director leads the book club discussion. (Usually she reads the picture book aloud at the meeting so that all the girls can participate, even if they didn't read the chapter book at home.)
9. We choose dates for our two events. We do an Advent or Christmas Potluck on a weekend evening in December. Whole families attend, even Dads. The girls do a little presentation about the virtues they've learned so far, sing their memory verses, and receive their first four patches. In the Spring, we do a Mother's Day Tea, the afternoon before Mother's Day. The girls prepare and serve a simple but lovely tea party for their moms, grandmothers, godmothers, etc. They do another little presentation about all of the virtues, sing their memory verses, and receive the rest of their patches.
RUNNING AN ACTUAL MEETING
1. Before the meeting, sometimes a day or two before, sometimes minutes before, I read through the leader guide on the virtue and the saint. I do some research in the internet to supplement that information if necessary.
2. I pick a playground game and a traditional children's song that "go" with our virtue.
For instance, for the virtue of Friendship, we played "Friendship Tag" where each girl links up hands as they get tagged, and we sang, "Make New Friends, but Keep the Old." For the virtue of Initiative, we played "Baby in the Air" where they stand in a circle and one girl throws a ball up and shouts, "Betty, baby in the air!" then Betty has to take the initiative to catch it before it hits the ground, and we sang, "Goin' On a Lion Hunt."
I use this site for game ideas.
And this site for song ideas.
I think a bit about my virtue talk. Sometimes I write out notes, sometimes I wing it. If I'm in charge of snack and craft, I plan those out too. Pinterest is not required. But it's there if I need it.
3. As the girls are arriving, I start them playing that month's game. We play a couple of rounds until all the girls have arrived. Usually brothers play too. Once everyone is there, we sing the fun song.
4. Then, we start the meeting. We have our talk inside or outside, depending in the weather. We start by reciting the prayers from the front of the Little Flowers book. Then we sit down in a circle and I give a short talk about the virtue and the saint for the month (the second meeting of the month, it's just a quick review of the same information).
5. Next the Music Director teaches the girls the new memory verse. We either listen to it on the CD or she plays it on her guitar. The girls learn the lyrics, and sometimes hand movements. We also review the memory verses of previous months.
6. Meanwhile, the mom for that meeting has been getting the snack prepped for later and the craft supplies set up. After music, we head to the dining room table and do the craft. As the girls finish, they head outside to have their snack and play for a bit.
7. If it's a book club week, the Book Club Director calls the girls over for their discussion after they've had a chance to grab their snacks.
8. After snack and free time for the girls and chatting for the moms are all over, it's time for closing ceremony. I call the girls to the circle again. We review what the virtue and saint were, we sing the memory verse again, then we say our closing prayer and share a prayer intention with the group.
9. And that's that. Our meetings take about an hour and a half. It's nice to allow two hours, so things don't feel rushed. It's important to have a mom around who is willing to keep things moving so that the meeting can end on time.
There are other clubs and organizations available to girls, but this one is my favorite. I've found it to be affordable, fun, virtuous, theologically sound, convenient, and very cute.
Little Flowers Girls' Club is part of Behold Publications by Ecce-Homo Press. I'm not affiliated with or compensated by them in any way. I just like 'em. For more information or to order supplies to start your own club, visit their website.
If you've got a question, please send it along to catholicallyear @ gmail . com . Please let me know if you prefer that I change your name if I use your question on the blog.