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Connecting Worldwide

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Oh, November! How you managed to give so many of us a big dose of the snivels and a stomping dry cough, we’ll never know. Albeit, we still managed to have a great time with you..

And, while many of us were feeling a little poorly, Friends Corner was up and running as usual, with some truly amazing themes that got our little ones thinking, learning, participating and connecting.

One of this month’s theme was The World, where the children looked at countries, continents, cities, villages, people and homes. They crafted flags, buildings and maps, they performed activities where they looked at differences between towns and hamlets, and they connected with their fellow Earthlings by talking about how there are children, just like them, living all over the world.

Diversity, and the strength and beauty within it, was further explored with the theme that followed; Cultural Festivals.

Diwali got our little ones celebrating this ‘Festival of Lights’ by drawing colourful Rangolis, and the Lunar New Year was celebrated Chinese style!

Images of magnificent firework displays and drummers drumming to welcome in the new year mesmerised us all. The children helped to clean ‘away the old year’, dressed up, and received red envelopes with a small gift. All before making some colourful dragons.

Eid and Hanukkah then took their turns. Our children celebrated these popular festivals by making crafts involving crescent moons and Menorahs.

Rounding off our Cultural Festivals theme, we welcomed the fourth Thursday of the eleventh month by showing our gratitude on Thanksgiving. To remember this special day, colourful turkeys were made!

And, we’ll be continuing with birds, as well as animals, as a fresh week comes our way where we welcome both a new theme – Animal Kingdom – and December.

The wonderful Friends Corner Morning Programme that also offers ‘Letter of the Week’, Song, Music, and Story Time, as well as Baby Yoga on Tuesdays, is thriving as we continue to embrace new members.

Evening Club, open on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons, and Coffee Morning Saturdays are hubs of play and (on the Tuesday) pottery. Monthly Themed Thursdays, seasonal parties and informative seminars given by valued sponsors of Friends Corner are sweet bonuses.

Additional excitement comes with the run-up to Christmas, and looking forward to the Friends Corner Christmas Bazaar and Party in a couple of weeks time.

Before that magnificence, though, we have some brilliant mornings and fabulous afternoons to attend at our clubhouse. Hot tea, a warm welcome, play, crafts, and workshops await you and your little ones.

Join us for our annual glitter explosion as we wave goodbye to November, say a big HELLO to December, and take a step closer to another cultural festival; Yuletide.

Until next time..

“We may all be different fish, but in this school we swim together”

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Operation Feel Good

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Operation Feel Good At Friends Corner

“Are we going to paint dinosaurs again today, Mummy?”, asked my little boy. “No, my darling”, I replied, “Today they’ll be a new theme. You’ll be doing something about ‘Nature'”. A big smile burst across Boy’s face as we made our way out the door, ready for a new day at Friends Corner.

I’m from England. I miss it. A lot. Don’t get me wrong, this Greek life I live is sweet, and I get back ‘home’ often enough, which helps keep it that way. But, sometimes, just thinking about Rhubarb Crumble (you can’t find rhubarb anywhere in Greece), roast parsnips (ditto, parsnips), or just a foggy morning gets me all misty-eyed.

So imagine my joy when Boy was just six months old and Girl two, when I stumbled across Friends Corner. What do you mean, “they speak English there?”, “children learn through play?”, “it’s parent-run?”, “members are from all over the world?”, “I can hang out there with my kids?”. It sounded too good to be true.

But, walking into the cosy Friends Corner clubhouse not only confirmed that some things are exactly what they say they are, but also reminded me that I – as a foreign mother in Greece – was not alone. My kids were euphoric as soon as they saw the place and its brilliant yard. A ‘feel good’ factor all round for our little family.

Now, as Girl has moved onto “Big School”, Boy and I make our way to Friends Corner in time for the start of the Morning Programme. Upon arrival we are greeted by the friendliest faces with the warmest welcome. Mummies put the kettle on, warm up the coffee pot and ‘catch up’ as the children spend time playing, doing puzzles, riding bikes, or sculpting homemade play dough. Exercise Time begins and Boy joins his friends in doing a series of warm-ups, stretches and fun routines, before dancing round to music. The smile on each child’s face says it all.

Having built up an appetite, it’s time for a little snack. We’ve brought yogurt along today, as well as some carrot and cucumber sticks to share with our friends. The Themed Activity that follows sees all the children line up at the gate ready for a little ’Nature Walk’ round the block to pick up leaves. Arriving back at the Clubhouse, it’s time to talk about ‘Nature’ and what it is. The children glue their leaves onto a big ’L’, for ’Leaves’. ’L’ is the ’Letter of the Week’, and Boy and his classmates sing ‘The Alphabet Song’ as they glue the leaves down. Once the project is complete, everyone mucks in and tidies up.

A run-around in the yard gets the kids’ energy swirling again, before they are asked if they’d like to come inside for Song Time. As most of the children gather themselves in a circle, mummies and nannies take a seat as favourite songs are sung. There’s lots of laughter and jumping around as ’Five Little Monkeys’ rings out for the third time.

Wind-Down Time comes around and it’s time to read a story. The children listen attentively before ‘guessing’ the ending with their vivid imaginations. As the book closes, glee gives way to thanks for another wonderful day. And, with that, it’s Home Time.

As we make our way home, Boy and I are grateful. Grateful for the day, the themes and learning coming our way, the afternoon and Saturday workshops to look forward to, the seasonal parties and excursions we lovingly join. And, most importantly, we are grateful for the friendships that we have made.

Maybe that Rhubarb Crumble can wait, after all…

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Friends Corner is a Play School and Family Club run by the parents of the children that frequent its clubhouse. It is a Non-Profit Cooperative and a daily labour of love for all involved.
Come along, visit our website, read our blog. Find out more about us. Be a part of Operation Feel Good.
http://www.friendscorner.gr

This article was written by Cat, and originally appeared in the Newcomers By The Sea Newsletter for Southern Athens – November 2014

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Autumn Rainbows And A Happy Halloween

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We began a fresh week in the crisp October sunshine. Although a few snivelly noses were missing at the Clubhouse as a spectrum of colour gave way to falling leaves and Halloween frolics, our day didn’t dampen under the chilly autumn sky.

Our theme was Colours, and our kids went looking for rainbows.

Exercise Time saw our tiddlers running around with colourful streamer cups. An amazing ‘picture’ of flying rainbows and laughter.

Re-fuelling at Munch Time got our little ones energised for a colour coordinating activity. An arch of colours was placed on the table as Lego and small toy pieces and parts were matched to red, orange, green, blue, yellow, indigo and violet. The finished result was a proud beaming rainbow. Well done, munchkins!
Song Time was a fun affair taking place on the big wooden car in the yard. Singing while driving. Winning!

‘Letter of the Week’ came next, and ‘F’ was our subject.
A classic Friends Corner Nature Walk was on the cards and the children lined up with their little collection bags ready to pick up some Falling leaves. The autumn weather gave us the perfect setting for this activity
Back at the Clubhouse, the collected leaves were made into a college in the shape of the letter ‘F’. ‘Falling leaves in the Fall’.
Story Time, play dough sculpting, bike riding and more, rounded off our day.

The Ohi Day national holiday meant the Clubhouse remained closed the following day. But, we were back mid-week and, as Halloween beckoned, we took advantage of our topic for the day, ‘Black and White’, and made some spooky ghosts..

Said ghosts were made by drawing round each child’s little hand with white chalk on black card. The children then coloured them in with the white chalk before turning them upside down and smudging on two eyes and a spooky mouth. Boo!

Pretending to be creepy crawly spiders occupied our little ones for a while as did a very enthusiastic Song Time involving some drum banging (thanks, Stevie!) and exceptionally animated Action Songs.

The next day, as Baby Yoga was relaxing mums and babies at the Clubhouse, our themed activity got all our ‘bigger’ little ones together painting on one big piece of paper. Sticking with the black and white theme, the children painted black squiggles and shapes until it was time to add white. As those inevitable shades of grey formed, more doodles were painted and the sky outside took on the same hue. Autumn well and truly arrived, and we made our way home wrapped up in our warm clothes with big smiles on our faces.

Friday, and Friends Corner was awash with music, song, stories and play. The sun went down, and our Halloween Party was getting in the swing of things. Princesses, pirates, witches and pumpkins all came along. Thanks to the brilliant face-painting we had, we also had tigers, bats and rainbow fairies. Yummy food made by everyone (thank you!) took pride of place on our party table. Kids ran around, mums and dads caught up with their peers, and Felicia was there with her brilliant Usborne Pop-Up Book Stall.

The cold, windy Halloween night, filled with fun and friendship, was the perfect way to say goodbye to October.

Our first November week will get us talking all about the world. We’ll be looking at countries and flags. We’ll also have our Seasonal Calendar open for ‘Bonfire Night’, which we’ll be celebrating in depth on our first Themed Thursday at our Thursday Evening Club.

And, all the while, we’ll be wrapping up warm and loving the stunning changes that autumn brings.

Happy month!

Until next time..

“Come, little leaves”, said the wind one day,
“Come over the meadows with me and play;
Put on your dresses of red and gold;
For summer is gone, and the days grow cold.”

– George Cooper