Category Archives: Brownies

Girl Scouts 4/30/15 – Senses

At our final meeting of the school year, we finished up the Senses Badge – sight, smell, and sound. We did meet one more time, but it was our Bridging/End of Year Ceremony. This is going to be a short, fairly perfunctory post. I need to get caught up before we start meeting again (with two troops, no less!).

sensesFor all three senses, I started with a brief explanation I found on this website. I also used this site for the taste and touch.


We did two activities for sight – Kim’s Game (from the badge book), and writing our names in braille (from Follow the Leader).

We played follow the smell for this step. The girls partnered up, taking turns being the blindfolded follower and the smell-holding leader. Each team got three cups with the “smells” – a vinegar-soaked cotton ball, lemon juice, and coffee grounds.

We also did two activities for sound. The first was the ear drum experiment that showed how sound waves interact with ear drums. For the second, we made chicken squawkers. They are incredibly easy to make, and incredibly annoying to listen to – in other words, long-lasting fun for children.

Girl Scouts 4/23/15 – Pets

PetsOur first April meeting was spent entirely on finishing up the pet beds for the Pets Badge. The girls finished tying the fleece (leaving a small opening for the stuffing), and then stuffed polyfil into the pillow. I tried to have them overfill the pillows to compensate for the stuffing being compacted once in use by pets.

These last steps also reinforced to me that both layers of fleece need to be cut at the same time. Many girls had different numbers of tabs on any given side of their pillows. Several of my moms ended up taking pillows home to do a quick fix by sewing around the edges next to the knots.

When all of the pet beds were touched up, we took them to our local pet supply store. They put several in their cat room (a living space for cats who do not have homes, but haven’t been taken on by a foster or permanent family yet), and kept the rest to sell at a “yard sale” to raise money for one of the local animal rescue groups.

pet bed 1

The finished product.

pet bed 2

A happy cat?


Girl Scouts – Art Museum

PaintingFresh back from our trip to Virginia, my troop had a field trip to the Castellani Art Museum. We signed up for their weekly Art Express program ahead of time, the instructor knowing we had Brownies wanting to earn their Painting Badge. Van Gogh was the theme, so all activities were centered around his Sunflowers painting.

The instructor started off the program by giving the girls a tour of the art museum, then read a picture book to set the theme – Camille and the Sunflowers by Laurence Anholt.

The girls spent the rest of the program painting their own version of Sunflowers using several different techniques and mediums. Paint for the flowers, white crayons to create a resist for the vase, and markers to add stems/leaves and the background.

gs sunflowers

Fall 2014 Overnight

Last weekend my troop did an overnight at the local GS lodge. We’ve been there several times before, and the girls always have a good time. The focus of this trip was working on various requirements for four badges:

Home Scientist

Simple Meals
Make It Matter (retired)


This is the second time I’ve done this badge. Here is what we did the first time. During our trip, the Brownies completed two steps:

Step 3: Try a sweet snack – they baked brownies. This tied into the SM badge in that the troop baked thee batches of brownies. One was a control batch, and the other two had substitutions (replace oil with applesauce and add pureed black beans).

Step 5: Slurp a snack – the Brownies were in charge of making everyone smoothies at breakfast. We had two blenders, and each girl took a turn (with the help of an adult, to some degree) and make a smoothie. The base was orange juice, bananas, and frozen strawberries. Additions were blueberries, vanilla yogurt, and kale.

Home ScientistHome Scientist
Another badge girls in my troop have earned before. Here is what we did. This time around, I am doing it a little bit differently.

Step 3: Dive into density – (cauldron bubbles, activity plan 1)  I pulled this one from the wonderful GSRV guide. Each girl was given a clear plastic glass half-filled with water. Two measuring cups filled with vegetable oil was passed around, each girl pouring about 1/2 inch’s worth into the cup. The girls were given plates with salt, and had to drop pinches of salt into the cup to see what happened.

Step 4: Make something bubble up – (film canister rockets) this was an awesome experiment. Make sure to have extra Alka-Seltzer tablets because sometimes the girls don’t get the lids on right, and the canisters don’t pop, but also because they’re going to want to do it more than once. This is an outdoor activity as the canisters can shoot up over 20 ft into the air. I would like to get my hands on some glow in the dark stuff to mix with the water to turn the rockets into tracers (if done at night).

simple mealsSimple Meals
The girls completed three of the five steps at the overnight. The other two will be completed at our next meeting – a field trip to a nearby university for a kitchen tour/pizza demonstration/pizza making extravaganza. One of the fathers is a hospitality professor, and he was able to arrange the trip for us. Only the Juniors are going.

Step 2: Whip up a great breakfast – (create an egg dish) several of the girls have cooked eggs before, so it was somewhat of a review for them, focusing on technique. They made scrambled eggs for everyone, and then practiced making fried eggs.

Step 3: Fix a healthy lunch or dinner – (pocket food) the girls made runzas (pasties, empanadas, etc…) for dinner. My AL prepped the dough beforehand, but the girls made the veggie/meat filling, formed the runzas, and put them on baking sheets.

Step 4: Create a delicious dessert – (make a favorite dessert healthier) we turned this into a science experiment by baking three batches of brownies – one regular, one substituting apple sauce for oil, and one adding black beans to up the protein. The girls then had to do a blind taste test to see if they could tell which brownie was which. The regular recipe was the favorite, followed by the black bean batch.

making-it-matter-junior-badgeMake It Matter
This is one of the retired Junior badges I managed to hoard before they all disappeared. Once an official badge, always an official badge as far as I’m concerned. When GS revamped their program, they got rid of pretty much all of their outdoor and science badges (this last one really makes no sense given GS is pushing STEM).

Activity 4: Materials and structures (Step 5) – one of my moms was in charge of this step. She told me about the Marshmallow Challenge a while ago, and my response was to put her in charge of it for this overnight (delegating is great!). The girls were put into three teams and given 15 minutes to build the tallest free-standing structure possible from 20 spaghetti noodles, a yard of string, a yard of tape, and one mini-marshmallow. The girls got very creative with their building. One structure was modeled after the Eifel Tower.

Activity 5: Reverse engineering (Step 9) – the final step the girls completed for the badge was to take apart broken electrical appliances, observe what they looked like inside, and then try to reassemble them. There was some of this going on, but really…the girls just wanted to break the electronics down to their smallest components. They spent over three hours playing. They were like toddlers playing with empty boxes.

gs wm elect 2 gs wm elect

Girl Scout Meeting 9/25/14

Jr FlowerflowerFlowers – Tonight we did Step 4 of the Flowers Badge. My AL put together a rebus-like story, substituting some of the words for images of flowers. The girls were given a key that showed what the meaning of the flowers, and used it to fill in the “blanks” to complete the story.

*Five of my Brownies completed three steps of the Junior Flowers Badge on our camping trip this summer. I created a “make your own” badge for them so they will have something to show for their effort/learning.

making-it-matter-junior-badgeMaking It Matter – We made made gak again, but instead of the original recipe, we did three variations presented in the old badge book.  Before the meeting, I measured out 1 oz of white glue into plastic cups. The girls added 1 oz of water and mixed with a popsicle stick. To this solution, they added salt, baking powder, and cornmeal (three separate rounds). The borax solution was added as normal, but the girls had to make note of any differences between the original  and modified gak.  (On a side, two of my moms helped, and I would not have been able to do it without them. I have been very lucky to have involved parents.)

*For the three Brownies who have already earned Home Scientist, all of the activities they do will count towards one of the retired Brownie science badges. I haven’t figured out which one.

Left: Salt Gak ; Right: Baking Powder Gak

Left: Salt Gak ; Right: Baking Powder Gak

Cornmeal Gak

Cornmeal Gak

Girl Scouts 4/10/14

This post is ungodly late, but my time has been at a premium with school work. On April 10th, we started the girls’ first Junior Badge (Detective), and did some more with WOW (though I’ve come to the realization that we’re going to have to drop this Journey mid-way through. With everything else going on in my life right now, I do not have the mental energy to devote to making it work.).

We went rock climbing at the indoor center for our second April meeting. Rock climbing is a continual winner with my girls. We will it every fall/spring until they lose interest.

wow badgeWOW
On a side, this is the last aspect of WOW that we’ll be working on. It is too close to the end of our meeting year to be able to complete this. I do not have the time or energy to focus on making this work. Maybe we’ll pick it up again this fall.

We did a water relay race from GSRV Brownie Planning Guide. It is from their Activity Plan 2, Activity #2. The girls divided into two teams, each girl had to carry a 2 1/2 foot tall teddy bear  (if I do this again, I will have the girls wear the bears) and a small cup. They had to to under, over, or around various obstacles to make it the other side of the room to a jug of water. They poured water into the cup and did the course in reverse, pouring the water into a large bowl. The purpose of the activity was to give the girls an inkling of what it’s like to get water from a distant water source to bring back to their community. It is a poor imitation, and doesn’t factor in the quality of water, but it’s something. And they had fun while doing it.

detectiveJuniors – Detective Badge
The girls voted to do the Detective Badge as their first foray into Junior-land, completing Step 1 and Step 2. Because the majority of my girls will still be Brownies next year, I’ll give them a CSI-related fun patch.

Step 1
The mother who stayed with me at the meeting took the girls into the playroom next to our meeting room to have them look around, trying to remember what they saw and where they saw it. Then she had them leave the room so she could hide three objects. The girls were given pieces of paper and pens to write down what three objects they thought were missing. Once everyone finished writing their answers, they compared the results.  I cannot remember if she did it a second time, adding three additional objects. I’ve waited too long to write this.

Step 2
We two choices from this step – codes and invisible ink. The girls wrote messages with “invisible ink” (i.e. lemon juice for round 1 and milk for round 2). The experiments came from the badge guide, but they are also floating around on the web. Both “inks” were huge failures. The girls let the papers dry, then held them up to a bright light. We weren’t able to see anything. The instructions only say to “hold it under a light to see the words.”  I found out later that you really need to hold it close enough and long enough for the heat to start oxidizing lemon juice/milk (i.e. start to burn).

The second choice was much more popular and successful. The girls absolutely loved deciphering pigpen code. It took some of them a while to understand how to use the cipher, but once they got the hang of it, I had them decipher some sentences I wrote in pig pen.

Brownies 3/27/14

Tonight was our only March meeting. (I cancelled our first one because of the raging snow storm that hit the night before we were to have it.) This meeting focused on our next WOW session and Bridging requirements for my third graders. My second graders are essentially along for the ride on this one, and will do it all again next year.

wow badgeWOW
We reviewed our water uses/likes board, then added more pictures under the heading of “how I can save water”. I told the girls that this counts as their promise as to how they personally can save water. Most of them went with turning off the faucet/hose when not using it (like when brushing your teeth). One went for not polluting our river, and another for drinking all of the water in her glass so she doesn’t waste it.

This activity segued into a discussion about water restrictions. The first example I gave was of water restrictions in Australia (a parent of one of my girls is Australian) several years ago that were severe enough that when people showered, they put buckets in there with them to collect as much water as possible so it could be reused for things like flushing the toilet.

The second examples was of my experiences growing up in New Mexico. Because it is a desert, we would be put under restrictions from time to time. Not as severe as in Australia, but enough that I remember some people painted their lawns green. People were also rewarded for xeriscaping their yards (which is what my mom did).

After we talked about saving water, we moved on to the cleanliness of water. The girls watched a video clip titled, “Water Purification and Collection” from The Magic School Bus: Wet All Over episode. Then did an experiment with water filtration.

For the experiment, the girls were paired up and given three mason jars. Each had a different filter – paper coffee filter, nylons, and fabric (birdseye, specifically). They were given a fourth jar filled with muddy water. In theory, the girls were supposed to watch the water settle and the sediments sink to the bottom. This did not happen in most cases. They then poured the water into the fabric, removed the filter when done, poured that into the jar with the nylon on it, removed the nylon, and poured it into the jar with the coffee filter.

The experiment was not terribly successful – we followed the experiment as written. Doing it again, I would have the girls start with the nylon, then fabric, then paper filter. If I have the chance to make a sand water filter, I will do that and bring it to our next meeting.


When the experiment was done, the girls watched another video. This one was about a 14-year old girl who created a solar-powered water filter. The science was over their heads, but it let them see what is possible.

bridge oldBRIDGING
The remainder of our meeting was taken up by discussing Bridging and its requirements. Even though only four of my twelve girls are Bridging, they’re all going to end up participating because it would be too much of a pain to split them up.

First up was “Pass It On”. One of the Daisy troops in our SU will be Bridging as well, so the girls talked about what they liked most about Brownies, then drew a picture of it. There was camping, rock climbing, aquarium overnight, and pottery, but for some inexplicable reason, half of the girls chose jelly marbles. So a silly little time killer from our Valentine’s Day party was the winning activity. Did not see that one coming.

I passed the cards on to my assistant leader, so her daughter can put together a poster using those cards to show the Daisies.  At their meeting, my Brownies will talk about what’s on the poster and do an activity with them. Balloon rockets are on the agenda, possibly something from the Snacks Badge if there’s a way to do it easily.

The second part of Bridging is “Look Ahead!”. We do have a Junior troop in our SU, but trying to coordinate that will end up being too much trouble scheduling-wise. Instead, we’re going to do what we did last time – earn our first Junior Badge. The girls voted between Detective and Drawing (Detective won), so we’ll spend our last to actual meetings working on it in conjunction with WOW. My non-Bridging Brownies will get a related fun patch.

As part of looking ahead, I showed them the badges they can earn, as well as the Bronze Award (we’ll wait till the whole troop is a Junior troop to do this) and Junior Aide Award.

Next year will be different, yet again. I should have my act together this time around. Trying to balance grad school, homeschooling, and Girl Scouts was too much. Changes have been made that will help. It also helps that I pretty much know what I’m going to do with the Brownies – all of  the fun badges my olders did their first year as Brownies. Makes planning a heck of a lot easier! I also already have our fall camp out on the books.

We have two actual meetings left, one other will be at the rock climbing center again, and the final one is our Bridging Ceremony. I like the idea of not planning a separate event for this. We’ll still meet after our formal year is done so the girls can help plan our camping trip.