For our February meeting of American Girl Club, we traveled back to the groovy 1970s to talk about Julie, one of the newer American Girls. The kids were all very excited for this one and the program happened to fall on a no-school day, so we had about double the regular attendance for the program. Here's what we did!
We started off with our usual presentation about the history and culture of the time period. We talked briefly about Nixon resigning, the end of the Vietnam War, the conservation movement, the rise of divorce and the passing of Title IX. We covered the popular culture, including the games, music, books and TV shows that were popular. And we wowed the kids when we revealed that my coworker was born in 1974 (the year that Julie's stories take place). They couldn't believe Miss A. was that old - but they kindly pointed out that Julie would in fact be older than her (she is 12 in 1974).
After our presentation, we got up to dance. Brave soul that I am, I offered to teach the kids the Hustle! Yes, I know - disco wasn't really popular until the late 1970s/early 1980s - but I stand by my assertion that you can't really dance to folk rock like Bob Dylan. So, we messed with the timeline a little and taught the Hustle anyway. I knew even before we found ourselves with a larger than normal crowd that it would be a spectacular disaster - we tried to teach the jitterbug for our Molly program and they were terrible at it! However, they still have fun learning - and probably more fun laughing at us trying to teach them. So, I showed them the steps, counting 8-counts, slowly and without music first. Then we walked through it all together once. Finally, it was time to put the music on and give it a try! They weren't as bad as I expected - I simplified some steps so there was no spinning and the dance moved a little slower. They loved doing the Travolta! We danced two full routines of the Hustle, then we popped on "Y.M.C.A." and did a little dancing to that before moving on to our last activities.
For the last part of the program, we split the room in half - half did one activity and half had a snack and then they switched. Our snack for this program was chocolate fondue - fondue being a big craze of the era. I brought in a small chocolate fountain I'd received for Christmas, melted up some morsels, and let the kids dip away. We provided marshmallows, bananas, and strawberries for dipping. I probably should have been more stringent about the dippers - we almost ran out because I let the kids have one of each. I was so frazzled by how poorly the chocolate fountain was working that I was pretty much picking my battles. We also almost ran out of chocolate. It we were to serve fondue again, I'd definitely just use a fondue pot.
We had two crafts for the girls to work on before or after they had their snack: fortune tellers (also known as cootie catchers in my day) and pet rocks. As I was manning the fondue station, I didn't get a great idea of how the crafts were going, but everyone seemed busy creating and decorating. I know we ran out of rocks and started using big shells instead for pets, though my coworker says that none of the kids actually made animals on their rocks/shells. They just love to decorate and if they're having fun, we pretty much just let them be.
When everyone had been fed and finished their crafty creations, the program was done. We all had fun and the kids left excited and happy. Our next meeting will be in April and we're all looking forward to it!