Little Explorers Play-Based Learning Group

Elisha K. is a friend of mine from high school and a loving mama of two boys. We’ve kept in touch through Facebook over the years so when I found out she created the children’s group, Little Explorers, I knew it was a great opportunity to share her creativity, tips and fun-loving energy with other mamas. I hope you enjoy learning about Elisha and Little Explorers as much as I have!

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I’m the chief development officer of Koenig Farms, AKA a stay-at-home-mom (SAHM). I began this journey almost a year and a half ago. Let me back up. I graduated with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Administration with an emphasis in Management and Human Resources. I married my high school sweetheart and achieved my first career goal by the age of 25. I was a promoted to officer of a bank I was managing. With the birth of my first son I was having a hard time finding my work-life-balance, as most mamas do. My husband and I went back and forth about moving home to the family farm and after a few “signs,” I quit my job and we moved home.

I’m a people person. I can make friends with anyone and enjoy others company. I am a 27-year-old mama of two boys; M is three years old and Z is seven months. I love to take pictures, socialize, volunteer and PLAN EVENTS (birthday’s, fundraisers etc.). My boys are my everything… even the biggest one AKA my husband!

What is Little Explorers?

Little Explorers is a play-based learning group. We meet on a weekly basis for an hour or so, depending when the kiddos decide to leave. We make crafts or play games, sometimes both. It’s a place where the mamas get to have fun with their children and not have to “plan/prepare” anything. Little Explorers focuses on building strong social skills for the littles.

To start every meeting, I go around the room and have every one introduce themselves and answer a question like “What is your favorite color?” Children need to learn to build confidence and be proud of who they are and where they came from. At Little Explorers, mamas encourage this. Little Explorers focuses on the children at the weekly meetings, however it’s also a place for us as parents to bond. If we have “mama/parent” questions, who better to ask than a group of mamas? We, as parents, have to stick together if we’re going to get through this “parent circle of life.” In case this thought has slipped your mind, children are scary. I love them, but they’re scary. You never know what is going to happen next.

Little Explorers is currently working on becoming a foundation. Within the foundation, we plan to give scholarships for a week of preschool, soccer registration, dance fees etc. Parenting is expensive and we all want our children to be involved but sometimes the finances just don’t work. I hope one day that Little Explorers will be able to award scholarships to those in need so they don’t miss out on those fundamental social building activities.

What inspired you to create Little Explorers?

“Home” is small rural community. I didn’t have Starbucks, Target or even a play group to keep my little ones and me in touch with the outside world. I was pregnant with my second child and I was beginning to be concerned for my oldest. We didn’t have anything to do outside of our home. Yes, I know you are laughing and thinking of a list of things for me and my littles to do. We had “stuff” to do but nothing to help us meet other children or re-connect with our community. I looked for opportunities to get M involved but everything was age three and up. I asked a few area organizations about getting a play group started and was shot down, so being the self-motivated, type A personality that I am, I sat down with my iPad and “created” Little Explorers. I put a “feeler” out on a social media site and a group of mamas messaged me. I created a survey, sent it to the mamas and a month later, Little Explorers was meeting for the first time!

Do you have a favorite activity or a moment you are particularly proud of?

I’m so thankful for the great group of parents and children we have in Little Explorers. The mamas are so supportive and are always coming up with new activities and offer to lead them as well. I absolutely loved that our local newspaper featured Little Explorers as their cover story once. It was a great way to advertise for us and help spread the word. It’s amazing watching the children become more social with each other every week.

Where do you get your ideas for your weekly meetings?

Pinterest and our children. Recently I started having mamas sign up for a week to “lead” a meeting so that has helped expand our creativity level as well.

Do you use any special vendors for your activities? If so who and what do you like about them?

A lot of our supplies come from Target, Aldi, and of course recycled materials and donations. We’re on a budget.

What advice would you give other mamas who want to create a play-based learning group?

Plan, plan, and plan some more! I never dreamed of having a group that grew so quickly. Location, weather, funding, activities, and communication… it’s like running a business.

Is there anything else you would like to share with the Mama Say What?! Readers?

If you’re a working mama, you’re a good mama.

If you’re a SAHM, you’re a good mama.

If you’re a work-from-home mama, you’re a good mama.

Mamas have to stick together! Don’t compare yourself to one another. Be supportive and be the BEST MAMA you can be.

Tell your children you are proud of them and you love them every day. Help them become a strong and confident individual. It may not seem to matter right now, but when they give that first speech or go to an interview, that confidence is going to set them apart from the rest!

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