Thursday, February 23, 2017

American Girl Club: Meet Gabriela

Our latest American Girl Club was one of my favorite meetings of the year. We got to learn about the newest American Girl of the Year, Gabriela McBride. It is always fun to focus on a new character, and I continue to enjoy the way the Girls of the Year provide an opportunity to talk about contemporary topics.

When it came to Gabriela, the big ideas I wanted to discuss were community and voice. Gabriela helps raise money for her community's arts center. She also struggles with speaking out because she has a stutter. These two themes come together as she uses her love of poetry and dance to help save the center. As a group, we talked about these things in our brief discussion of the book, which was just enough to give an overview of Gabriela and her story.

What we did: 

  • Our first activity was MadLibs. It is a fun and easy way to play with words and story writing, so I thought it made perfect sense to use for this program. I found a free MadLibs app in the iTunes store (, because I wanted to incorporate our iPads and new projector. I was very happily surprised to learn that the app actually had Gabriela themed MadLibs to complete. We each took turn entering words and then read our communal story aloud. 
  • After MadLibs, we did a poetry game I found called Poetry Charades. I found it on Poetry4Kids. Charades are a fun way to get kids up and moving, and always seem to go over well with kids at my programs. I choose this version of the game in order to incorporate Gabriela's love of spoken word poetry. I especially liked that it provides the kids with a set of actions to guess from. Definitely makes the game a little easier!
  • Our final game was Girl of the Year Bingo (found here). My kids love Bingo, even if the prize is as simple as first crack at checking out one of our American Girl of the Year books. 
  • We ended by snacking on modern delicacies such as cookies, chips and fruit snacks. The craft was meant to be word collages with letter stickers but we did not have a chance to get to that this time. I'll be saving that idea to try again at future American Girl programs.
  • As a take home activity, I also provided a word search about Gabriela and a template to create an acrostic poem.

For information on my other American Girl Club programs (including other American Girls of the Year) see the links below:

Hopefully these ideas come in handy for any programs you may be doing about Gabriela this year. She still has two more books coming out, so I'm sure there is plenty more fun to come! If you have any questions you can get in touch with me here or via Twitter (@MsKellyTweets).


  1. Hi Kelly,
    I wanted to let you know again how much I enjoy your blog. I have been working with preteens at our library in an afterschool program for the past couple of years. We have averaged 3 to 10 children as we are a small library that services several neighboring rural communities in the Annapolis Valley, Nova Scotia.

    We have called ourselves "Library Lab" and "Friday Fun" and have tried different days: Tuesday and Friday afternoons (3-4:30) trying to attract more children. I have done crafts, "Minute to Win "It games, no bake cooking, and a few science demonstration type activities with them. Most of the activities the kids seem to have really enjoyed, and they are a lovely group of children to work with.

    I was feeling a little "burnt out" trying to think of new ideas as well as trying to create a more a fun but more focused environment. This age can be challenging for me as I am soft spoken and behaviour mangement is not a strength of mine. So I am excited to be partnering with another lady who works at a neighboring library, in leading and developing a program for this age group (10-14). Kelly, I hope you don't mind but in choosing our new name I borrowed yours: ATLAS. I liked it because it's meaningful, short and snappy! We are planning to do activities that help the kids develop their life skills, encourage creativity, promote FUN, and involve helping their community. We are hoping to visit our local care home for people with dementia to bring a little gift or treat for them as well as picking up garbage in our community. We will continue fun cooking activities and games plus other crafts they can actually use (build a birdhouse?).

    We want to have a short discussion on establishing "rules" for behaviour in our group as sometimes I have found the kids can get a little carried away with noise etc. But we know that this is normal for their age group (and adults are guilty to!) plus socializing/talking is especially important at this age! How do you handle these issues with your group? Do you have a basic rules poster? We are thinking: RESPECT yourself. RESPECT OTHERS. RESPECT the materials and the space. But is this too general?

    Thanks so much Kelly. Any suggestions and advice would be greatly appreciated.

    Lois Burgess (Isabel and Roy Jodrey Public Library, Hantsport, Nova Scotia)

    1. Thanks for sharing Lois. I'm so glad you enjoy my blog and that there will be another "ATLAS" out there! Tweens are definitely a hard age group to manage sometimes. So far I've been pretty lucky and haven't had many major behavioral challenges beyond the occasional challenging child. We do get noisy sometimes, but because all my programs are in a separate meeting room it has never been much of an issue. I do tend to keep the kids very active, which I think helps. I also give general reminders that the rules in the main part of the library are different from what they are when we are in a program. Reminders are definitely a good thing and I think your idea of a rules poster will probably work well. I think keeping it general is good because it can apply to many situations. Best of luck with your programs and feel free to let me know if you have any other questions :)