Back for a new year…

I gave up on Girl Scout blogging last year because it was an incredibly rough year for me in terms of balancing working full-time, three children, and leading two troops. At the end of the school year, I stepped down from my older daughter’s troop – the new leader will do a wonderful job with the girls. My daughter is not returning, instead opting to do Juliettes – she will be a first year Cadette.

I am still leading my younger daughter’s troop – first year Brownies – and am very excited. Brownies is my favorite level, and my troop is down to a much more manageable 11 girls. I also have all of the 2017 meetings blocked out, which will make filling in the details so much easier.

Tonight was the first meeting of the school year, and the hour flew by. I will need to bump up the meeting length from one hour to an hour and fifteen minutes at some point this year.

Opening Circle
*GS Promise
*Girls shared a picture of their favorite thing they did during the summer (pictures were drawn and colored before the meeting started)
*Played hula hoop team challenge game (loop the hoop)

Business
*Set to do a field trip to a local nature preserve to earn the Senses and Hiking Badges (November)
*An overnight at the aquarium is in the planning stages
*Girls voted on Troop Crest

Badgework
*Started Movers Badge (retired)

Closing Circle
*Sing “Make New Friends”
*Hand squeeze

TROOP CREST
I sort of did this with my older daughter’s troop, but it was hard because the girls were split between two grades, and thus two different levels each year. My younger daughter’s troop is all one grade, which makes planning so much easier. I wanted them to have a Troop Crest to act as a theme or what was important to them as Brownies. My co-leader put together a simple poster board with the descriptions of five crests (no images!) for the girls to vote on. We chose: Lightning, Pansy, Shooting Star, Sun, and Unicorn. During round one, the girls could vote on two crests based upon the description. The top two choices made the final voting round – coincidentally, Shooting Star and Unicorn. Shooting Star won, so now the girls are “rare, unexpected, and beautiful.” It definitely fits them, especially the unexpected part. I have a few girls who keep me on my toes. They will get the crests at our Rededication Ceremony in October.

MOVERS BADGE
I have a stash of retired badges, and Movers is one of my favorites. It’s not about the science of air, but more about the fun of making things that fly and spin. The requirements for the retired badges are a bit different than for the new ones, so I mash it up and have the girls complete five or six activities. Tonight we made pinwheels and ring gliders.

Pinwheels – My co-leader prepped the paper by cutting it and marking the lines and dots to save a bit of time, and to keep from having girls make mistakes on how long the lines should be and accidentally cutting their paper in half. This activity definitely requires adult help. Some of the girls had trouble folding and pinning the paper properly. They also needed help pushing the the sewing pin through the pencil eraser. Two bits of advice – 1) we found that placing two beads behind between the pinwheel and eraser made it easier for it to spin, and 2) push the sewing pin through the eraser far enough that only a few millimeters of it pokes through (the pointy end will be covered with a bubble of hot glue). There needs to be enough space for the pinwheel to easily spin when it’s blown upon. If you push the pin through too far, it pushes the paper too close to the pencil, causing the tips to bump the pencil.

Ring Gliders – We did this a little bit differently than the instructions, again to keep it simple. Each girl made two gliders, each one a different shape. They got two straws (the sturdy kind you find in the party supply aisle in Hobby Lobby), two 12″ x 1″ strips of card stock, two 6″ x 1″ strips of card stock, and scotch tape (shared between several girls). The girls taped their strips into circles, then pinched them into the shapes they wanted (circles, tear drops, and triangles being the popular choices). Attach a strip of tape to the end of the straw, then press it into the shape. To test them, the girls stood in the hallway and threw their gliders to see how far they’d fly. We asked questions such as, “which shape do you think will go farther when you throw it?”, etc…

 

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Agent of Change Journey – Power of Community

AoC

Last school year, my Juniors completed the Agent of Change Journey in anticipating of earning their Bronze Award this year. We completed the Power of One at our fall lodge/camping trip; and we completed the Power of Team at one of our meetings.

The Power of Community took up a good chunk of the rest of our GS year. Fist to Five was incredibly helpful in figuring out what to do for our Take Action Project (TAP). The girls came up with several areas to focus their efforts in: animals, veterans/military, books/literacy, and food. Using Fist to Five, the girls cast their votes for each area, and at the end I totaled the “number” of votes for each one. Animals won by a landslide.

One of my moms (now my coleader), offered to run the TAP. She did the legwork to find different options of how the girls could help animals, and once the girls chose, she did the legwork to get them going.

The girls’ TAP: helping to raise awareness of a local pet food pantry that focuses on pets owned veterans and homebound individuals. The pet food supply store in our town let the girls use his store as their front (and temporary storage for collected food and supplies). We’ve done other service projects/badgework with this store, and I love them.  They have always been more than gracious and helpful.

  1. The girls created a flyer to advertise the pet food pantry food drive. They each took 5 flyers, to go to area businesses, explain what they were doing, and ask if they could post a flyer. (This was incredibly successful.)
  2. Coleader ran an advertisement in our local paper for several consecutive weeks.
  3. Coleader found a rain barrel. Girls decoupaged drawings of pets on the barrel. Girls also created an advertising poster to hang over the barrel in the store.
  4. On the day of the pet food drive, girls rotated manning a table set up outside the store to collect donations of pet food and pet supplies.
  5. Rain barrel was left at the store for more donations (I believe the barrel is still there, 6 months later).

The pet food drive was insanely successful. Insanely. Successful. Within half an hour, the rain barrel was full. Within two hours, the storage space the store owner set aside was full. By the end of the drive (four hours), the girls had to help him make space for the donations until someone from the pet food pantry could come and pick everything up.

My coleader wrote an article about the drive’s success that was published in our local newspaper as a follow up.

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Juniors 10/13/16: Make It Matter & Social Butterfly

It has been 10 months since my last post. GS was completely overwhelming last year, I had a hard time making it through with my sanity intact. The short of it was: too many girls (several new girls had very strong personalities that caused issues), not enough behind the scenes help, and working full-time (I had to figure out how to balance work, three kids, and two GS troops).

This year, my older girls are split between Cadettes and Juniors. One of the Cadette moms became my co-leader, and she is working with the four girls who bridged (and doing an awesome job with them!). Six Juniors came back, and we picked up one more. Seven girls is much easier than 16. I’m still trying to decompress from last year, and put myself back in a positive focus.

Moving on…

Badges the Juniors are going to work on this year:

Making It Matter (Retired)
Social Butterfly
Simple Meals
First Aid
GS Way
Ceramics & Clay (Retired)
Entertainment Technology
Musician

making-it-matter-junior-badgeMaking It Matter
This is a retired badge that focuses on several specific aspects of science. I am roughly following the old badge book, but also modifying it to suit our needs. I happen to have a stash of the old badges, but it would be easy to turn this into a “make your own” badge for your troop. I’ve started a Pinterest board for ideas. We focused on polymers last week (made slime and gak). This week, we focused on acids/bases.

  1. Watched two YouTube videos:
    All About that Base (No Acid)
    TedEd Acids and Bases (kind of over their head)
  2. Mouth Rabies (what my daughter named it)
    This is an up close and personal experience of an acid/base chemical reaction. Mix equal parts: citric acid, baking soda, powdered sugar (1/4 teaspoon). Put the ingredients on a small piece of paper or in a very small cup. Make sure the girls have a cup of water as well. Take a sip of water to wet the mouth, dump the powder mixture in. Watch as they foam at the mouth. The mouthfeel is similar to pop rocks.

    1. What’s going on?
      When both the acid and base are powder there is no reaction. There is nothing to force the molecules to interact. This is where saliva comes in. It provides the carrier to make the reaction. Towards the end of the reaction, the mixture should taste salty – a byproduct of an acid/base reaction is salt. The powdered sugar is added simply to cut the sour/bitter taste.
  3. Litmus Tests
    I bought litmus paper so the girls could test various acids/bases. You can also make your own using red cabbage, but I didn’t have the time. The color spectrum runs from red/acid to blue/base. Neutral is yellow or green.

    1. What we did:
      The girls partnered up and were given seven cups with different liquids or solutions. They were given a chart to mark acid/base/neutral. Dip the paper in, see what color it turns, mark the sheet. We compared answers afterward, and all the teams got the right answers.
    2. Acids: lemon juice ; white vinegar
    3. Bases: baking powder solution ; liquid starch ; dish soap
    4. Neutral: tap water ; powdered sugar solution

social-butterflySocial Butterfly
I had wanted to do the retired Manners Badge with the girls when they were Brownies, but never had the opportunity. This time around, we are doing a manners badge.

  1. Step 2: Use Table Manners / Set the table
    1. I broke the girls into teams, gave them a dinner plate, cup, napkin, fork, knife, and spoon. They had to figure out the right way to set everything up. Each team made mistakes, which wasn’t surprising. We made corrections until the settings were right. Then I added in a salad plate and fork.
    2. For the second part of this, I had one girl put together a proper place setting in the center of the table. Then I stacked two full place settings and put them on the ends. The girls competed one-on-one to see who was the fastest at getting their place setting done properly. They had fun trying to beat their best times.

Red Petal – Courageous & Strong

red

I am in the process of doing this Petal with my Daisies right now. I introduced the Petal with a discussion about what courageous and strong mean, then we read The Terrible Plop and talked what the various characters did and how they behaved (I try to always start a Petal off with a picture book as I do not like the stories in the Girl’s Guide).

The next step in earning the Petal was teaching the girls how to schoolyard jump rope. I did this with my older daughter’s troop and was surprised that none of them had ever done it before. Jump rope, yes…but not the schoolyard style where two people turn the rope while a third person jumps. Running and jumping into a spinning rope is kind of scary if you’ve never done it before.

However, that is not how I started the girls. I demonstrated how to do it, but for round one, the girls just jumped while the rope was slowly swung back and forth. Most of them were not able to get the rhythm down to jump over the rope, even with guidance – make sure to stay on the X on the floor, face one of the moms turning the rope, watch the rope so you know when to jump. Round two was optional. This time the rope was swung in a full circle and the girls had to run and jump into it. (Note: we did this at a second meeting, and more girls were successful in getting a jumping rhythm.)

The rest of this Petal will be earned by playing with slime (equal parts Elmer’s school glue to liquid starch –  white vinegar will get the slime out of everything from hair to clothes to carpet), and a visit from a K-9 Officer who will give a demonstration and talk to the girls about being courageous and strong (the same officer did this with my older daughter’s troop as well).

**I tied this Petal in with the 3 Cheers for Animals Journey when I did it with my older daughter’s troop several years ago.**

Books
The Terrible Plop by Ursula Dubosarsky
Little Yellow Leaf by Carin Berger
Sheila Rae the Brave by Kevin Henkes
Not All Princesses Dress in Pink by Jane Yolen
Peep: A Little Book About Taking a Leap by Maria van Lieshout

There are many other books out there that would work for C&S. If you want to focus on strong women, take a look at the book selection on A Mighty Girl (here is a link to their top 100 picture books).

Activities
*Learn to jump rope (schoolyard style)
*Relay races
*Superheroes (look at the activity plan from GS River Valleys)
*Do a show-and-tell focused on courageous and strong women
*Create a skit and perform it for their families
*Play with slime (or maybe do a variation on the Halloween touch boxes with peeled grapes and cold spaghetti noodles)

Field Trips/Meeting Visitors
Dance studio
Martial arts studio
Indoor rock climbing
Gymnastics
K-9 Officer demonstration
Police / Firefighters / EMT / Military

Agent of Change Journey – Power of Team

AoC

We did two activities for the Power of Team (PT). The main activity was from Follow the Leader, the second activity was the “Fist to Five” activity from the the leader’s book (page 68).

Puppy Trial (from Follow the Leader)
The basic idea for the trial was for the girls to work as teams to defend their side of the trial – was the puppy guilty for stealing food from the restaurant’s dumpster? Or was the puppy innocent because he was stealing food to feed his orphaned siblings?

One of my moms is an attorney, so she was in charge of this activity. She divided the girls into two teams – one arguing the puppy was guilty, the other arguing the puppy was innocent. The girls spent 10-15 minutes coming up with arguments to support their side. One girl was chosen to the the speaker for each team, and they presented their sides.

puppy trial

We never came to a consensus about the puppy’s guilt, but we did have a very good conversation about the puppy’s actions and how they translate to situations the girls might be involved in.

Fist to Five
Fist to five is a way for the girls to come to a consensus using a zero to five scale (zero being a definite no, five being a definite yes). When an issue or question is brought up, they hold up their hand using their fingers to show how they feel about it. Anyone holding up two or less fingers is given the opportunity to share why they don’t like the idea.

The book says that the issue can only be passed or affirmed if all girls hold up three or more fingers. This might work for smaller troops, but with 15 girls, there is a very good chance that at least one girl will hold up two or less fingers. I realized this when we were using fist to five to choose how the girls wanted to complete the GS Ways badge. On every. single. option. there was always one or three girls who didn’t like it. We couldn’t make a concrete decision on anything. It was frustrating for all involved.

 

Yellow Petal – Friendly & Helpful

yellow petal

I’ve found the Yellow Petal an easy Petal for the girls to earn, and a way to incorporate the GS “do a good turn” into this level given there is no right side up for the Daisy Pin.

As with pretty much every other Petal, I do not use the flower story included in the Girl Guide. I generally find those stories stilted and ham-fisted. Instead, I read a picture book. A quick internet search will pull up many more books than the ones I’ve listed below, but these are ones I’ve read and enjoyed.

After reading a picture book, the girls make their “friendly & helpful daisies” to take home and give away to the person they did “a good turn” for. At the following one or two meetings, the girls share what they did to help another.

With both troops, the girls earned their Yellow Petal before we did our Investiture Ceremony.

Books
Princess Hyacinth by Florence Parry Heide
The Way Back Home by Oliver Jeffers
Help!: A Story of Friendship by Holly Keller
Otis and the Tornado by Loren LongThe Mouse and the Lion (I like this version)

Crafts
Both crafts are different versions of the same thing. Each girl gets three “friendly & helpful daisies” to give to someone after the girl has helped them.  The yellow centers are printed on card stock and punched with a 2″ circle punch.

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Agent of Change Journey – Power of One

AoC

Two sites were instrumental in my being able to plan this part of the Journey. Both have great ideas and kept me from having to fumble through the leader and girl guides to figure out a way to make it interesting for my girls:

Girl Scout Leader 101
Girl Scouts River Valleys (GSRV)

I broke Power of One (PO) into five activities. The first four focused on PO, and the fifth was a transition into the Power of Team (PT). We were able to complete 4/5 of the activities at our camp out. The final one (herstories), was done at a meeting.

  1. Rope Ceremony
  2. Power (strengths and skills)
  3. Self-Collage
  4. Herstories
  5. Leaders/Trust Me!

Rope Ceremony
We tied an equal number of knots in the rope for participating girls and leaders. Everyone chose a knot and held it. We went around two times, first sharing our talents, and then sharing our weakness (as related to the GS Law). The girls were given an index card to write their talent on one side, and their weakness on the other. We pinned their responses to their knots. One parent wrote down everyone’s answers in case any of the girls needed help remembering what she said. At the end of the ceremony, I explained to the girls that as individuals we all have strengths and weaknesses. When we become a team, we bring both of those with us. Our strengths help our team succeed, and our team helps us strengthen our weaknesses. Even a weakness can be an asset.

Power (strengths and skills)
The girls used page 11 of the girl journey guide as a basis for this section. There were question prompts to help get them started: What do you think about your powers and strengths? Why are they important? How do your powers or strengths reflect the values of the GS Law? Which value of the GS aw means the most to you? We talked about power and what the girls thought it was.

Self-Collage
Each girl traced her hand, then decorated the inside of the hand with words and pictures that make them who they are. Their focus ended up being talents and likes more than “powers”. Once everyone was finished, the girls briefly shared the highlights of their hands. Most of them talked to me afterwards, giving me a much more in-depth account of what they chose and why.

hands

Herstories
I ran this section as homework. I emailed parents a template (based on page 50 of the leader’s guide) for the girls to follow in order to write up a brief statement about a woman they admired. The woman could be alive or a historical figure. Over several meetings, the girls shared their herstories.

Here is the example I made for the girls:

This is a story of Juliette Gordon Low.

Not too many people know about her because she lived one hundred years ago.

Her ability to start a scouting organization for girls interests me because it was an opportunity for girls to gain skills and learn new things that were not traditionally seen as things girls should do.

Here are a few facts about her life: She was started Girl Scouts in 1912. She got the funds to start it by selling a pearl necklace her husband bought her. She was born on Halloween. Two of her hobbies were woodworking and metalworking.

Leaders/Trust Me!
This section is a transitional activity from the Power of One to the Power of Team. We talked about what makes someone a good or bad leader. We also talked about what makes someone a good or bad follower, something I think is often overlooked.  After talking about leaders/followers, the girls broke down into teams in order to build obstacle courses. Each team went through another team’s course when they were finished. Teamwork was imperative because the person going through it was blindfolded.

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