Friday, August 8, 2014

How to Start a Little Flowers Girls' Club

So, are you totally sick of this mailbag thing yet? No? Good. Because I have (at least) one more (so far) that I want to share with everyone. Jessica asked me about something near and dear to my heart . . . the Little Flowers Girls' Club. She's thinking about starting one, but isn't quite sure how to go about it.

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.



Disclaimer: I am not a theologian, nor am I an official spokesperson for the Catholic Church. (You're thinking of this guy.) If you read anything on this blog that is contrary to Church teaching, please consider it my error (and let me know!). I'm not a doctor or an expert on anything in particular. I'm just one person with a lot of experience parenting little kids and a desire to share my joy in marriage, mothering, and my faith.

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.



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24 comments:

  1. Thank you for this helpful post! My daughter (age 4) has been asking about being a Daisy for about a year now. I've been considering (agonizing over!) my options. I am now really excitied about the prospect of starting a Little Flower Girls' Club with her!

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  2. So....any experience with the Blue Knights club? My husband looked it over a bit and felt it was not "boy" enough. He would've preferred to see more physical activities and campouts and the like but it's very similarly formatted as Little Flowers from what I understand. And the only group around here which I think is now defunct was led by a mom which seemed a little off to me.

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    1. We did Blue Knights for a year, but I wasn't running it. And when they disbanded, I decided to focus on starting up Little Flowers since my boys do Boy Scouts. But, like Little Flowers, there is no central organizing headquarters. And no required activities. If your husband wants it to be a camping-type club, if you guys start one, he can make it a camping-type club. You can learn about saints and virtues in any environment. It just means finding someone willing to start it up and keep it going.

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    2. I would highly recommend that you look into Fraternus as a fantastic virtue-based Catholic men-to-boys mentoring program. Get your parish and a few dads/ men of the parish to sponsor it. It's for 6th grade to 12th grade. They have summer ranch every year. My husband and son did it together for the last 5 years. This year, my son is a senior and will get a real sword at the Year-End Ceremony!

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  3. So, how much do you charge per girl to be part of the club. You mentioned between 30-100/yr. 100/yr seems like a lot fo charge (I couldn't do that myself for my 2 girls) My girls were part of a little Flower's club last year and it was only 10/yr but was also at a church (it was sponsered by the church) and they did a few fundraisers so I'm sure that offset a lot of the individual cost. At a house you wouldn't have any sponsership or anything.

    This is something I"ve thought about doing where we live, but I'm worried about having to eat a lot of the costs myself (ie. fro crafts/snacks if I didn't chage enough) and I can't really do that.

    Also, what do you do for the outdoor games if the weather is bad (raining, too cold. Or maybe the weather is never bad where you live in California??)

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    1. Our group doesn't charge girls anything to participate. We put in a group order for supplies. Depending on what you choose (mostly whether you get a shirt or not, and which kind of shirt you pick) supplies will cost $20, up to around $40. Then people decided for themselves what craft supplies they want to provide. It could be coloring pages, or it could be bird houses. We've done both. Same thing with snacks, you spend what you want. That's how it can vary so much. The only other potential cost is if you have events. We do two parties, but we try to keep them pretty simple. (Of course, simple is in the eye if the beholder.)

      There's no reason you couldn't do fundraisers yourself!

      It doesn't rain very often, but it does sometimes, and then we just play an indoor classroom game. Duck, duck, goose works inside, and can easily become grumpy, grumpy, joyful or whatever virtue you want!

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  4. I love the idea of Little Flowers to learn virtues, etc., but as an alternative to Girl Scouts I'd like to find something that also offers similar activities, outdoor learning, etc. Do you have any suggestions for a group that is like that?

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    1. I haven't done it myself, but I know people who have done American Heritage Girls. The program is Christian, but not Catholic, and is modeled more on Boy Scouts. But, I'd imagine it's only as outdoorsy as the people running it.

      The only thing keeping our Little Flowers Group from being camping, rather than craft-focused, is that we plan crafts rather than camp outs. If you are running it, you could have the virtue talks associated with any activity you choose: crafts, camping, cooking, sports, anything.

      You just have to be willing to put in the effort.

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  5. Thank you for this post! I have been lookng at all of the little girls who are part of our church community and wishing that I had a program for them. I will definitely be giving little flowers a try!

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  6. Kendra~
    I positively LOVE all the ideas and the whole framework of LF. We used to belong to a Cath HS group, once upon a time. and one of the Moms did LF...being a mom of boys, we went along, as it was open to all the families and just socialized while the girls did their thing. We wound up starting a "pray and play" club for the boys during that time where they did a craft around an upcoming saint feast day or during a liturg season, said the rosary, had snacks and played. This was 8=9 years ago when my kids were much smaller. I loved organizing the craft, supplies and leading the boys...It was just perfect.

    We also began Defenders of the Faith for the boys gr k to 6 and it went beautifully for about 2 years....
    When I stepped down as coordinator and group leader, it kind of fell apart bc no one wanted to take the ball. Sad, but it seems like that's life. DoF is a protestant program which I adapted to fit our faith and infused virtues and saints within...It became sort of a Catholic Boy Scouts and we also had sashes and pins at the end of the Fall and Spring sessions.

    I'm sure you know this, but I have to say, you are SO blessed and SO IS YOUR HS GROUP...to have each other. I lost many friends who I thought were lifelong recently over Catholic related squabbles. My kids lost their friends and I lost friendship of people we knew for over a decade whose kids grew up with mine ,etc...... it's all very sad that religion can literally split people apart. My family was told that we were not "Catholic enough" and not welcome any more....so when I see things like LF here and other blogger friends sharing awesome Catholic related group events, I am so rejuvenated to see that group Catholic HS life is still flourishing elsewhere bc I really do miss it! But time marches on and my older son is going to pub HS in Sept; my younger son is still home but involved in several other extra curric pursuits and they are both super involved in our parish life. So it's working out, but still extremely shocking that people act in such ways, you know? This is another time I wish we lived in the LA area!!

    Thx for sharing all your awesome plans... good luck this year with it all.

    "See" you online again soon, Kendra:)

    ~~Chris

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    1. Thanks Chris. I couldn't agree more. We are so, so blessed. Anytime a possible move comes up for my husband my only concern is, but our Homeschool group! And Little Flowers!

      I'm so sorry for what you went through. It sounds awful. :(

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  7. Sort of off topic, but I love the dresses the girls are wearing! So adorable.

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  8. I have attended quite a few of the Little Flowers meetings and they are delightful. I agree that almost any group of Catholic moms can run this girls group but love and minim organizational skills. Don't be afraid that you can't do it because you can.
    I took on Girl Scout troops in the 1980s with no experience and had a ball. You learn as you go and so do the girls. There are no cookies to sell and no outdoor activities unless you choose to add them. Go for it.

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  9. Is there American Heritage Girls near you? I'm only asking because I'd like to know what you think (if you have an opinion) of AHG vs Little Flowers. Obviously AHG isn't Catholic...but beyond that, thoughts?
    I have always been excited about the idea of LF, but not the work to start one myself. Our parish has AHG...but our homeschool group does have more girls in a good age-range for LF now...so I have a lot to think about! Thank you for sharing all the details that work for you, it is very helpful and good to know!

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    1. We've never done AHG, but Micaela from California to Korea is in our LF club, plus AHG. You could try asking her. She's quite friendly.

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    2. Hey Gina! We do both LF with Kendra and AHG with a non-denom group. If you want the pros and cons, I'd be happy to help you with that. Shoot me an email at micaela dot darr at gmail dot com.

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  10. We love LF and are so grateful for our lovely group and our fabulous group leader! It's been a great experience for my girls.

    We were part of a different LF group for our first year, which was organized a little differently. They collected a fee ($40 per year?) to cover the cost of all materials and craft supplies. Then two moms organized the craft and led the lesson every meeting. They didn't buy shirts, use the memory verse songs or do a book club, but were more focused on scrap booking type of crafts, since those moms were gifted crafters. I think it's such a versatile program, and it's great that you can design a LF group in whatever way works for you (both in terms of cost and type of activity).

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  11. This is great for a young mom such as myself to read because I've been wanting to learn more about Little Flowers. I am definitely bookmarking this post for later use and sharing it with my friends.

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  12. Gosh, our group is adorable. Not that I'm biased or anything. :)

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  13. Great post Kendra! Pinning! We've tried starting a LF several times in our area, but it all came down to time or lack of. Plus we have such a small Catholic Homeschool group in our area it is so hard to start anything from ground zero. But, this all looks lovely and inspiring and maybe by the grace of God, He will send more Catholic homeschoolers to the coast of NC and a Mom to lead LF too! My girls are in AHG now and that seems good, but would love a Catholic girls group. Actually, my 3 girls did AHG last year, now only my 14 year old does AHG.

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  14. Thank you for this information! Can you share the books you used for the virtues each month? We are beginning with 1 this year. It's all new and I want to see if we should incorporate the book club as well.
    Thank you! christinemadeline@gmail.com

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  15. I just came across this post and the info in it is very helpful for me as I lead a Little Flowers group myself. The format sounds similar to what we do. I was very disheartened this summer when nobody - not one family - wanted to continue Little Flowers. The other families in my small Catholic homeschool group were all in it and I was the leader, although everyone helped with snacks and sometimes leading topics. It hurt my heart when at the tea party last year, one girl told my daughter, "nobody is doing Little Flowers again next year because the only fun part is the tea party." I'm not sure what I was doing wrong, but I see this in other places where I have a leader type role, where nobody wants to commit or step up to help lead things. I am fortunate that our parish put a blurb in the bulletin about the group and now in addition to two of my girls, we have five other girls from the Catholic school. I am hoping whatever it is the others didn't like the last two years can be improved and this batch of girls and moms will stick with it. It is awkward to me because I see the moms from last year regularly, they are friends and we are still doing our homeschool group, but I feel like they ditched on me and just feel sorry if like a loser for organizing and putting effort into something that they ended up not liking. I feel like the negative attitude about badge work from one mom soured the whole experience, so startng fresh with a new group of girls may be just what I need. If you have any tips on retention of members, I would love to hear them!

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    1. I'm so sorry Erin. That sounds really frustrating. We have had some families leave, and new ones come in. So it's not just you. It just comes with the territory.

      Since I know that I have enough to do with getting my kids through their school days, our group tries to not require any take home work. We discuss the saint and virtue, we do a craft or service project, sometimes we have a fieldtrip, but I don't require that the girls work on assignments from the book to earn their patches. That makes the group less of a time commitment and less of a burden on moms.

      Hopefully you'll have a lovely year with the new group. And maybe invite the former members to the tea party? Maybe they just need a year off, and they'll want to rejoin.

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