How to Run a Girls Group: The Nuts & Bolts

happy group of smiling girls

I’ve had so many of you ask me how we run our little band, I thought I’d do a post on it and hopefully answer all of your questions at once!  If I’ve missed anything, please let me know in the comments.  This is the “nuts and bolts” of how I run our group.  If you’d like to know more of the WHY I do a group for these tweens/teens, read my post here.

WHO IS IN THE GROUP & HOW MANY?

Pray with your daughter about who should be in the group.  There is not a “right answer” to this. We began with 10 girls when we first started, and are now at 15.  If you go beyond 10, I would recommend asking someone else to join you so you can break into smaller groups for discussion.

We decided that we wanted to invite girls who we knew were being raised in Christian homes, but we also wanted to invite girls who had no religious background whatsoever.  When I invited the girls who were un-churched, I explained to the parent(s) that I wanted their daughter to be a part of the group, and I explained we would be using the Bible as our main resource.  I asked them if they were OK with that.  Every one of them said “yes.”

WHAT AGE IS BEST TO BEGIN?

I really think that any age is better than not doing it at all.  That said, it is hard for me to imagine several of my girls starting the group now that they are in 8th grade, as the definition of “cool” has significantly changed.  Since we have such a bond of trust and tradition, they gladly come, but that has taken 3 years to build.  Statistically, the most important years for “value development” are between the ages of 8-12 (a great book to read on this is Keeping the Little in Your Girl by Dannah Gresh).   Because of this, I recommend starting somewhere between 4th-6th grade. As a side note, Dannah Gresh has a fantastic website that encourages healthy relationships and purity.

Keep in mind the goal:  yes, to help them live abundant and meaningful lives NOW, but  also to build up their moral compass and expose them to God’s word and Spirit, so when they get to those tough teen years where they are making true life-altering decisions, they are standing on a firm foundation.

WHAT TIME OF YEAR DO WE MEET?

I have found that November-April works very well, especially as the girls get older and sports/activities become more of an issue.  It also allows people to get into the “fall swing” before we delve.  This schedule keeps the girls excited about meeting.  They are begging me to start by the time we hit November (seriously).  I love the anticipation of it.  Around Spring Break, or a few weeks after, is when we stop.  Though they aren’t ready to be done for the year necessarily, spring activities often split the group, and attendance can vary (I strongly advise against going into May – it just doesn’t work).   Personally I have found this to be best – I like ending strong, not petering out.

WHAT TIME OF DAY DO WE MEET?

When I first began, the girls from the elementary school would ride the bus to our home together after school.  It just worked.  It saved the moms a trip, and the girls thought it was the best things ever.  We have kept with this model.  Though they don’t ride the school bus together anymore, we have found that meeting right after school is best.  Many carpool to our home, and some still ride the bus.  Our time frame has varied between 2-2 1/2 hours.  I recommend keeping it under 2 1/2.

HOW OFTEN DO WE MEET? 

3-4 times a month:

I schedule the calendar for the entire “girls group year” before we start.  I meet with them 3-4 times a month, with 3 being the very minimum (like December).  We also often also schedule in “fun days” like skiing, ice-skating, etc.

In December we pick a service opportunity and that becomes the main event of our Christmas party.  We’ve made “no sew” blankets for orphanages, have performed at an elderly home (and sang carols with them), and have served dinner at a women’s homeless shelter.  It is so rewarding to see the girls step up in service.  This year when we served dinner at the homeless center, the girls did everything.  They served the women, sat with them at tables and initiated conversations, cleaned up, and ran Bingo.  My heart was bursting I was so proud!


HOW DO I STRUCTURE OUR TIME TOGETHER?

This has changed over the years.  When I started with the girls in 5th grade, it looked something like this:

15 min:  Ice Breaker (The ice breaker would also determine who they sat by that day somehow – so they got out of their friendship comfort zones).

15 min:  Opening Prayer & Check “Soul” Work (it’s what I call their homework for the week, and I have them check each other’s)

40 min.: Lesson of the week

5-10 min.: Prayer (they pray for one another’s prayer requests – I ask for a volunteer to pray for that person after she shares.  At the end we all pray and that person prays for that need.)

40 min.:  Snack & Craft of the week (at this age, I ALWAYS did a craft.  They loved it and it provided something for the to “do” while they built relationships with one another.  This also helps avoid girls breaking off into groups).

Now that they are 8th graders, it looks similar, but I’ve adjusted it according to their older age and changing needs:

15 min. Quick Snack.  Ice Breaker/Discussion Question of the Day (again, I play a game to see who they sit by according to one of these things)

15 min. Intro. to the topic (usually involves an activity, a video, or visual demonstration)

45 min.-1 hour: Teaching/Discussion of the topic (includes small group discussion – we break in to 2 groups).  This is the time for the girls to share their perspective/feelings on the topic at hand.

30 min.:  Wrap up, Prayer, & Finish Snack (socialize)

WHAT CURRICULUM DO I USE?

5th GRADE:

When the girls were in 5th grade, I used the book series:  “A Life of Faith.” It is like “The American Girl” series in that the setting is set in history, but the main characters base their decisions on their faith.  I’m not sure how available these books are now, but I do know that many public libraries carry them (it just depends if you can get enough of them).  They also come in audio books.  I can send the lessons I did with the books if anyone is interested.  Faithgirlz also has some good resources that would work for this age.

6TH GRADE:

We used Vicky Courtney’s Tween magazine as the jumping off point for discussion.  I would have the girls do certain pages for their “soul work,” then I’d use those as the basis for my discussion with them.

7th GRADE:

I did “Becoming a Person of Character.”  This curriculum I created and hope to publish in an ebook SOON.  We also used another one of Vicki Courtney’s Between magazines for them to do during the week as soul work.

8th GRADE:

I debated long and hard about which curriculum to do this year.  After much prayer, I chose Vicki Courtney’s “His Girl.”  I hesitated because some could argue that they are too young for these topics. However, after extensive research, I concluded that their “pre-decisions” made on these heavy issues must be made BEFORE they are faced with them.  In other words, when they eventually come to those crossroads, I want them to have already made up their minds on what they are going to do.  By 8th grade, many of them are already seeing these messages sent through media also, so it is helpful for them to have a reference point on what GOD, not culture, says.

WHAT DO THE GIRLS BRING TO GROUP?

*Their Bible

*Their “soul work”

*They come prepared with their memory verse (if they’ve done it).

CELL PHONES ARE PUT AWAY

DURING OUR TIME

TOGETHER

MEMORY VERSES:

I do offer “points” for soul work that is done, and for memory verses.  Each week I give the girls a verse that they can choose to commit to memory that relates to the topic.  At the end of the year, I draw names out of a jar and they “win” really fun prizes (I shop at sales all year long for these).  For every 3 points of memory/soul work, they get one slip of paper put in the jar for the drawing.

WHO DOES WHAT?

When I started, I was running the group, making the snack, and creating the craft.  Learn from my mistake!  Delegate some of these to the moms.  Eventually I had the moms do the snacks and run the carpool schedule, which helped tremendously.  I lead all of the discussion and set up the main part our time together.  This year I invited two other women to join me in leadership.  This has been a huge blessing to me and to the girls.  They also prepare for the lesson, and come up with some great ideas! If we are doing an activity that requires prep, they often help me with this, or do the whole thing.

Your delegation could look like the following:

Snack – various moms or girls

Curriculum/Discussion – You or your team

Craft or Activity – Someone from your team; another mom; or you prep them all at one time, and pull them out on the designated days.

Cost – You can collect some extra money for crafts, food, prizes, etc., as well as to cover the cost of the book.  You will need to figure out how much you will need to collect from each person.

OK!  I think this covers most of the “basics.”  If you have more questions, let me know!  I’m happy to help.

Blessings to you as you journey with these girls.  The work is vital.  If we don’t do it, NO ONE WILL.  Culture is speaking LOUDLY to them.  We are going to have to quiet those voices, and expose them to the ONE who will equip them for each and every need.  The ONE who will breath life,  and lead them on a path of joy, strength, courage, righteousness, peace, abundance, and love.

“Happy are those who live pure lives, who follow the Lord’s teachings.  Happy are those who keep his rules, who try to obey Him with their whole heart.  They don’t do what is wrong; they follow his ways…How can a young person keep {her} way pure?  By living according to Your Word.”

– Psalm 119:1-9

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Comments on this entry are closed.

  • lori January 7, 2013, 11:53 pm

    I love this. I just shared it over at my friend Amy’s place because she was looking for resources for tweens. You might want to hop over and join the discussion 🙂 Hope you’re doing well, Krista!

    http://www.amylsullivan1.com

    • Krista January 8, 2013, 11:25 pm

      Thank you so much Lori! I appreciate that. I’ll go check out her blog for sure. How is your writing going? I hope you are finding yourself inspired ;))

  • Jerusha Knecht January 24, 2013, 7:24 am

    I’m so thankful you have shared all of this! I’m wanting to start a girls group with my daughter and her friends (most are 8 in 2nd or 3rd grade). Do you have any recommended books/resources for this younger group? Would love to hear! This website is amazing, thanks again for sharing!

    • Krista February 2, 2013, 6:33 am

      I’d love to share whatever I can with you! I am in the middle of launching my marriage dare at meaninginaminute.com, but when that is done I plan to work on girls group materials 😉 Blessings to you!!!

  • Lisa March 18, 2013, 8:24 pm

    I love your description and the photos of how you do your girls group. Beautiful testimony of how to organically impact the next generation!

    • Krista March 18, 2013, 8:46 pm

      Thank you Lisa! I am really looking forward to growing in mentoring through your coaching. I pray for wisdom for you as you seek to grow others!

  • Marianne June 5, 2013, 7:21 pm

    Hi – I love your website. I am going to host a “girls group” this summer for 10 year old girls – going into 5th grade – I would love if you wouldn’t mind sending me the book study material for the A Life of Faith – I am going to look into those. I also bought a Between magabook that I liked for the age group that I am thinking of. Thanks for sharing your wisdom and experiences to bless others!

    • Krista June 12, 2013, 7:12 pm

      Hi Marianne! Yes, I’m working on the Character series now. It should be done by July! I’m working on posting all of my lessons. I’m so excited for you!!!! Blessings, Krista

  • Mae Lindloff September 6, 2013, 6:15 pm

    Hi there,
    Thanks for these great resources! Wondering if you could give any more clarification about the games you play as icebreakers which then determine their seat for the day. I love that idea and would love to incorporate it this year in our Wed night MS girl Bible study.
    Thank you!
    Mae

    • Krista September 10, 2013, 12:08 am

      Hi Mae. I usually just do it on the spot. I say, “Find someone who….” and that is their partner. Some ideas are: wearing the same color socks/shoes, has a birthday close to yours, is wearing the same color shirt, has the same favorite ice cream, who has the same favorite restaurant, etc. It is very off the cuff. Hope that helps!

  • Kelly Amato October 20, 2013, 8:15 pm

    I would love all the parts of the Becoming a Person of Character. How can I get the other lessons?
    Thanks so much

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