Hello, dear parents and teachers! We cannot wait to share our first workshop reflection and a review of an educational STEAM exploration box we used in our Around the World with Alice & Womple program! The local Cultural Center Barka or KC Barka kindly gave the space for the program. Womple Studios was kind enough to gift their educational boxes and support our program, and we’re very happy to bring the joy of uncovering a new country each time through unboxing. This article will explore our program aims and what we did in the first workshop, and we hope you enjoy it as much as we did.
About the Womple STEAM educational box
Womple is an amazing educational box that takes children around the world in order to explore different countries and cultures. Each box has materials for two country-related crafts, some of which can include art and some include engineering and building. We especially love the addition of stickers, huge informational posters, and a chapter book about Womple’s adventures from various countries. The crafts have detailed instruction posters, so for us, this is another chance to practice English by following and decoding instructions.
Who hasn’t been swept away by a story? Great stories transport you to new places: spelunking in underwater caves, trekking through hot and humid jungles, climbing to the peaks of treacherous volcanoes. Stories also help kids understand complex topics and other people by immersing them in new experiences and putting them in others’ shoes. Stories illuminate new concepts, expand kids’ worldview, and build empathy.
Each country is followed by Womple, our amazing CTO – Chief Travel Officer! Womple is our dear plushy friend present in each workshop, and he is our guide to all these amazing cultures, countries, and languages. We will reveal a bit more about Womple in each workshop so you can follow our journey around the world to see what will happen next!
Our first Womple box
Our first Womple box was all about Greece! The box included a labyrinth craft with detailed instructions, materials, and a marble. The other craft was an Ancient Greek pegasus mosaic with all the materials. Of course, we had a book, stickers & even a Greece postcard! The things children liked the most in the first box were definitely the map and the labyrinth!
We also got a big box of stickers and travel journals for everyone, but we decided to try to fill those out at home because the workshop seemed too short for the journals as well – we spent a lot of time crafting and exploring.
How we do it – workshop curriculum & method – English
The program focuses on learning English through literature, travel & science. Each workshop has a dedicated book from a country we visit, where we follow our main character Womple on his travels. The science focus is present through exploring different phenomena from different countries (from the animal to the human world) and engineering (building various structures from cardboard and wood.)
The overall aims of the program include the following:
- Vocabulary acquisition through play,
- Developing awareness about other countries and cultures,
- STEAM – using science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics (primary school level),
- 21st-century skills – communication, collaboration, creativity, critical thinking,
- Dramatic activities – gross motor skills (body movements) and gesticulation (facial expressions),
- Crafting – workshops with the book theme and fine motor skills development (using fingers).
The program has around ten children, and the spaces are limited. The present children need to be able to write and read the Latin alphabet. To participate in the program, the children need to have completed at least one year of language learning in school since the program is not for absolute beginners. The program is open to children from the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th grades. The group is permanently formed, and the same children attend from the beginning to the end of the program.
How we do it – workshop curriculum & method – Serbian
Program podrazumeva učenje jezika kroz književnost, u ovom slučaju za decu, pri čemu je svaka radionica praćena knjigom iz te zemlje gde pratimo jednog junaka, Womple-a kako putuje kroz svet. Nauka se vidi u istraživanju fenomena u raznim zemljama (preko životinjskog do prirodnog sveta) I inženjerstvu (građenje raznih struktura od kartona I drveta).
Ciljevi programa su:
- Usvajanje reči kroz igru;
- Razvijanje svesti o postojanju drugih zemalja I kultura.
- STEAM – Upotreba nauke, tehnologije, inženjestva, umetnosti I matematike na nivou dece rano-školskog uzrasta.
- Veštine 21. veka – komunikacija, saradnja, kreativnost, kritičko razmišljanje.
- Dramske aktivnosti – razvoj krupne motorike (pokreta kod dece) i gestikulacije (pokreti lica).
- Crafting – radionice sa temom knjige i razvoj sitne motorike (upotreba prstiju).
Program prima 15oro dece, a mesta su ograničena. Deca koja prisustvuju moraju znati da pišu i čitaju latinicu. Da bi učestvovala u programu, deca moraju učiti engleski jezik u školi makar jednu godinu jer program nije za apsolutne početnike. U obzir dolaze deca 2, 3. 4. I 5. razreda. Grupa je fiksna I ista deca će učestvovati od početka do kraja programa I program je zatvorenog tipa.
Guessing the language & country through music
To start off, I decided to explore the language of each country by having the children listen to the music from this country and get a feeling of how that language sounds. We spent the first part of the workshop with music, and the children really enjoyed hearing another language. They were confused as to why I didn’t just want to tell them the name of the country we would explore today, and we discussed that we want to try to think critically by ourselves and also enjoy exploring the unknown. Many recognized it because Greece is a common vacation destination in our country, so they excitedly shared all they knew about Greece already.
The grand box opening
Since we had many kids and just one box, we decided to draw names to decide who would be honored to open the Womple box each time and who would get to explore it and use the materials first. I added additional materials for all the kids, so the one using materials from the box was ‘special,’ and they cannot wait for their turn.
The many questions about Womple
Womple was a special attraction in our first workshop as everyone wanted to touch him and asked many questions about him! Who is he? Why is he here? What is he? Where is he from? I simply told them that I could not speak for Womple and that each box would reveal more and more information about him as we continued to be culture detectives.
The importance of independent exploration
Since this was our first workshop, we agreed on rules and discussed how to explore the countries and conduct the workshop. I wanted to give them full freedom by saying that I won’t explain, teach, or tell them anything. They need to be detectives, explore online, and report all the things they are interested in (related to the box and the country we were visiting). They can also talk with other kids and see if someone else knows the answers. The whole idea seemed a bit foreign to them at first since children don’t often have a chance for a lot of independent play in public education, and most information is just relayed to them. (Spoiler alert: You will see how this changes by the time we get to the 4th or 5th workshop!)
Map exploration is one of the central activities in our workshop. Why? Mapping and reading map skills include multiple 21st-century skills, all useful, transferable life skills. Since the program approach is holistic, the learned content is equally important as learning new skills. Each child selected a special place on the map and had a chance to sit, search online and learn about the place that interested them. We explored ancient Greek mosaics, saw recipes for modern Greek food, and discussed our favorites. Since this was their first time exploring the map, the kids were a bit confused about what was expected of them, and they took some more time to get comfortable and explore by themselves or in small teams.
Mythology & engineering
We explored the stickers from the box and checked each Ancient Greek God online to learn more about them. The kids decided they wanted to learn more about the labyrinth and the Minotaur, so we found a video on YouTube and watched it to see what happened in the myth.
We continued to make our labyrinths from cardboard, and the child picked to open the first box and got to build the labyrinth with Womple. We had some problems cutting and gluing our labyrinths, and we will focus on fine motor skills in future workshops. We also had some creativity issues and questions: Is this ok? Can I make it like this? Because of this, we also decided to make BE CREATIVE our most important rule because there is no right or wrong way to build something. We want to be creative!
Parent feedback in Serbian (shared after each workshop)
Each workshop has a short parent feedback in Serbian, with things we did great and things we should work on as a group. I will just copy-paste the Serbian feedback for the first workshop below.
Deca su stvarno bila divna danas! Dobar su spoj kao grupa generalno, što se ne dešava toliko često. Posetili smo Grčku i danas je prva edukativna kutija imala mozaik i lavirint (svi su hteli da prave lavirint).
Istraživali su pojmove sami i cilj je da što više stvari urade samostalno, i njima je isto rečeno pa znaju čemu težimo (danas smo se fokusirali na saradnju, jedna od 4 važnih veština 21.og veka.)
Morali smo da pričamo iste rečenice na engleskom, a zatim na srpskom, ali su već na kraju radionice dosta sami počeli da ponavljaju, tako da ćemo za par radionica skroz izbaciti srpski. Inače srpski u radu
nikada ne koristim ali danas smo morali da bi se deca opustila.
Dečaci su bili posebno divni i pomagali devojčicama oko lavirinta i dečaci su pitali da li se vidimo sutra opet.
P.S. Troje ili dvoje dece je propustilo radionicu danas, molim roditelje ukoliko mogu da se jave da znamo da otvorimo ta mesta za drugu ukoliko niste u mogućnosti da dođete. 🙂
P.P.S. Neka deca su došla sama pa Vas molim da naredni put samo potpišete saglasnost za slike, poslala bih Vam sada neke da zavirite u radionicu ali ne smem ni sa Vama da podelim dok svi ne potpišu.
Slobodno ih pitajte šta su radili danas – istraživali smo mapu Grčke, učili o originalnim olimpijskim sportovima, slušali grčku muziku, saznali ko je Minotaur i šta je lavirint, i još svašta nešto.
Vidimo se sledeće nedelje sa novom zemljom iznenađenja!
Issues: The use of L1 vs L2
The only issue we have had is using the L1 or Serbian too much. This was expected in the beginning as we need the kids to feel relaxed and accepted, and as time progresses, our English use will also increase. We focused on learning how to pronounce the country, the language, and the mythological names and stories properly and also to have simple greetings and instructions, which was more than enough for one session.
We also informed the kids to save all of their work because we will have a cultural exhibition with all their work and share the Womple map and all their amazing creations. They cannot wait for the exhibition next year!
To conclude our first workshop
At the end of our first workshop, the boys said ”We are meeting again tomorrow, right?!” and they were so excited to meet again! 😂❤ We will keep each country a surprise to keep the children engaged, and the overall plan is to slowly increase our practical 21st-century skills and the use of English. As for Womple, we hope he had as much fun as the kids did in the first workshop! As an educator, I personally think that the box is very well curated in terms of content, educational activities, and also overall design quality and ease of use. I am also very happy because the instructions are very clear, making it really easy to replicate the crafts with more children.
What do you think about our first workshop? Do you think world travel and practicing English are a good fit? Have you ever tried to explore different cultures with your little ones at home or in your classroom? Let us know down in the comments!