Juniors 11/5/15 – Detective

This meeting went much better than the previous one.  We did not start with the flag ceremony because AL and I wanted to make sure we had enough time for the girls to complete their pig pen scavenger hunt.

During Opening Circle, I addressed the girls’ behavior and we talked about what we can do as a troop to make this less of an issue. The girls used the  fist to five method to vote/share their feelings about the ideas. They all agreed that we should come up with some basic troop rules (we’ll start discussing what those rules will be at our next meeting). They also agreed that the consequences I came up with were fair: 1) is a warning, 2) sit out the remainder of whatever activity we’re working on, and 3) call your parents. My AL said she would be the enforcer so I can focus on the meeting. I also asked the girls if they liked the idea of a sticker chart and prize basket. At our next meeting they’ll give me ideas of how they will earn stickers (showing up on time, wearing your uniform, etc…).

To reinforce this, we did a Girl Scout Promise game. I got the rough idea from my step-mom, who does something similar when she does workshops at elementary schools. The girls were broken down into teams of 4 and given a copy of the GS Promise. They had to create actions to demonstrate each line of the GS Promise and act them out in front of the troop. I tried not to give them any ideas or pointers, wanting to see what they would come up with. All of the skits/actions were great, and the girls had fun. I will have to make sure to incorporate more opportunities for making skits.

detectiveThe rest of our meeting was taken up by the Detective Badge, Steps 2 and 5 (though it might be stretching it for Step 5). My AL put together a clue hunt written in pig pen code. Clues would take them to different parts of the church, and at each location, they would find the clue to the next location. Wrapped inside the clue paper, was a line of the GS Law. We broke the girls down into four teams – dark pink, light pink, dark purple, and light purple (clues were color coded). Each team had to find five clues, or half of the GS Law. Once everyone was finished, the purples paired up and the pinks paired up to make a complete GS Law. The read off the GS Law (one team taking turns reading it, and reading the last line together, the other team chose one girl to read it). Both teams put the lines in order the first time. I was very proud given it hasn’t been something we’ve focused on yet this school year.

pig pen

Daisies 11/2/15 – Light Blue Petal

Last week we finished up the Friendly & Helpful Petal, and started the Honest & Fair Petal. I would like the girls to have earned both of them before we do our Investiture Ceremony (probably on 11/30).

During our Opening Circle, I explained what helper sticks are. In lieu of making a kaper chart, each girl has a craft stick with her name on it. I’ve never had much luck with formalized kaper charts. When I need help, I’ll pull a stick from the jar. When the jar is empty (after all the girls have helped, which will probably be over several meetings), everyone’s name stick goes back in and we start over.

yellow petalFriendly & Helpful Petal
At our last meeting, the girls made helper daisies to take home and give to people they’ve helped. At this meeting, we went around and each girl shared one or two things she did to “earn” the helper daisies. Most girls helped around the house, but some helped friends or teachers. We also played Daisy Islands to reinforce the Petal – the girls had to help each other squeeze onto the mats.

blue petalHonest & Fair Petal
The rest of our meeting was dedicated to starting the Honest & Fair Petal. I gave the girls two picture books to vote on, Being Frank and The Little Red Hen. They chose Being Frank, which is about honesty, but from the angle that honesty is good, but that doesn’t mean you should be hurtful. After we finished the book, I divided the girls up into two groups to rotate through two activities. I have 16 girls in the troop, and it is much easier to divide them up.

being frank

Being Frank by Donna W. Earnhardt

Activity #1: The Versus Game (original idea from GSRV’s yellow petal guide) – I put a piece of masking tape across the floor in our meeting room and had the girls stand on it. I gave them different scenarios, and depending on what they thought the right answer was, they either jumped to the left (truth/fair) or the right (lie/unfair). Once I gave them several prompts, each girl had the opportunity to share a prompt as well.

Activity #2: Remember the Lie (from Tracie Bruno/HubPages) – two of my parent volunteers were in charge of this. They took the girls to our craft room and sat them around a table. One parent then held up a pink rose and made up a lie about it. The girls had to repeat her lie and add their own. The second parent kept track of what everyone said in case anyone needed help. The purpose of this game was to show how hard it is to keep lies straight.

Juniors 10/22/15 – AoC, Detective, & Flag Ceremony

My troop is now up to 16 girls, and as evidenced by our weekend camping/lodge trip, the increased size has adversely affected behavior. Things that were annoying, but not deal breakers, have now become large enough to be disruptive. Our next meeting will be focused on the GS Promise, the GS Law, and appropriate behavior. Some of the behavior is due to the girls’ ages, and some of it is due to the fact that I kept the focus on “fun things” instead of GS values as a whole. This is not a mistake I will make with Bug’s troop.

The girls learned the flag ceremony this past weekend at our camp out. All of them enjoyed participating, though we need to work on what constitutes respectful behavior during the ceremony. Right now we’re borrowing a ceremony kit from Council, but I need to return it soon. I am glad I used the kit first because I found out that the ceiling in our meeting room is too low for the flag poles for 3’x5′ flags. We ended up doing the ceremony in the church’s fellowship hall, but this isn’t really a long-term option because there are many times when the hall is used for other functions during our meeting time. The girls also “filled the space”.  Hopefully, flag poles for 2’x3′ flags will be short enough that we can do the ceremony in our meeting rooms. One big positive of the ceremony – almost every girl showed up in uniform!

AoCWe started working on Power of Team at the meeting (doing Power of One at our camp out). We didn’t do a lot with it other than the “fist to five” exercise. It is a good idea, but I wonder about the requirement that in order for something to be passed, every girl most vote a 3 or higher. With 16 girls, there will always be 1 or 2 girls who vote a lower number than 3.

Putting their voting power to use, the girls voted/re-voted on:

*GS Way, Step 3 – all but 2 girls voted 3 or higher for pen pals. More girls chose 3 or higher for that option as opposed to the last time where more chose looking at activities for older Junior badges. There were still strong sentiments from girl who did not like the options, so we will revisit this again.

*Detective, Step 5 – after looking more into The Giggling Ghost, I found out it is a 100+ page book, not an activity. I gave the girls the option of the cookie mystery or a mystery-themed wide game (which could do double duty for the GS Way). More girls chose the wide game, though there were still some dissenters. We will do the wide game.

*AoC Team Activity – the Journey guide has the girls reading the comic book and then either writing their own comic book, or creating a skit. I didn’t know how that would go over with the girls given their reaction when I brought up writing a chain story for one of the GS Way steps, so I wanted to have another option for them. While researching the Journey, I came across a leader who set up a mock trial about a puppy who stole food from a dumpster to feed his starving family. The girls voted and results were mixed for both choices. We will have to revisit  again.

detectiveThe final part of our meeting was devoted to Step 4 of the Detective Badge. I found a great activity on CyberBee where the girls compared several different powders. They worked with a partner, and each team had to write down their findings. The girls generally like science experiments, so it was a popular activity.

088 ed

Daisies 10/19/15 – Yellow Petal

Last night the girls started earning their first Petal – Friendly and Helpful! The meeting was a mix of high energy and quiet(ish) listening. Because the girls are still new to each other, we played a name game (from GSRV – the Promise Center guide) after we did the GS Promise. They absolutely loved it! The rules: say your name and do an action of an activity you like. Everyone copies you. Each girl does this, and each time you say everyone’s name and do their actions. By the time we went around the circle (11 girls), they were giggling non-stop. For some reason, a lot of them liked jumping and swimming. This was a great way to get their wiggles out, which made it a lot easier to talk about the Petal and read a picture book.

yellow petal

I brought out my Petal Board and read the GS Law to the girls. I pulled off the Yellow Petal and asked the girls how they are friendly and helpful. They gave some good examples of both – sharing toys, being nice (friendly) and helping with chores (helpful). I added that sometimes we’re not always friendly and helpful because no one is perfect, but we need to try to do our best.

I do not like the stories included in the Girl Guide. I avoided most of them with Bean’s troop, and plan on avoiding all of them with Bug’s troop. I much prefer picture books. They are more engaging and, if you choose the right one, not so heavy-handed. I brought two books, and the girls voted on which one I would read. They were evenly split between both books, so a little sister who was tagging along broke the tie (she chose the mouse book). I told the girls that we could read the second book at the end of the meeting if we had time.

help kellerHelp!: A Story of Friendship by Holly Keller

After we finished the book, it was time for our craft activity – making “A Friendly & Helpful Daisy Was Here” daisies. Each girl made three daisies. The idea is that they will be friendly or helpful to someone, and leave behind one of these daisies. I asked parents to try to keep track of what the girls do so they can share at our next meeting.


2″ circle of yellow construction paper glued inside a white cupcake wrapper glued to green construction paper.

Our final activity of the evening was a game called “Friendly/Not Friendly” (from GSRV). I put a strip of masking tape down the middle of the room and had the girls stand on it. I read out a short scenario, and they had to jump to one side of the tape if it was “friendly” or the other side of the tape if it was “not friendly”.

Because we had a little bit of time left over, I read the second book, Princess Hyacinth. Doing it over, I would have skipped it because it was long enough that after a meeting chock full of fun, the girls were ready to be done.

We ended with our Closing Circle, singing “Make New Friends”, doing the friendship squeeze, and turning out.

Juniors 10/8/15 – GS Promise & Detective

This was our first meeting of the year with actual content. My troop is now up to 15 girls (and we’re going to have to work on appropriate behavior because I think some of my returning girls were a bit thrown off by the increase in size).  I also realized that in my attempt to keep things fun for the girls, and to keep my sanity while balancing so many different things, I have been lax on some of the more Girl Scouty things I should have been focusing on – GS knowledge, ceremony planning, flag ceremony, and having more input on what the troop does (though this last one has more to do with the fact that every other year, my troop splits into different levels).

During Opening Circle, we talked about the Girl Scout Way badge requirements, and what the girls wanted to do for them. We focused on Steps 3 and 5, with the girls wanting to look at and try old badges (Step 3) and playing the wide game (Step 5). Most of the girls also wanted to try finding pen pals (also Step 3), but one or two girls did not want to. I need to figure out how to handle that.

As both an ice breaker and way to practice the GS Promise, we had a snowball fight (idea from GS Greater Atlanta, page 12).  For this game, you really need to have the right number of girls – 8, 12, 16… because one part of it has them trying to create groups that make a complete GS Promise. We had 14, so it didn’t work out perfectly. The girls still had tons of fun, and it is a game we will most likely play again.

detectiveThe main event of the meeting was the Detective Badge. While a few of my girls have earned this badge, it was the one badge they all voted on doing – which is why we’re starting with it. Tonight we did Step 3: Fingerprint Fun. Like last time (link to last time), we watched a short YouTube video on fingerprints. Then the girls looked at their own fingerprints. I gave each girl a sharp pencil and a small piece of paper. The girls colored a small patch of paper with the pencil, then rubbed their index finger over the marking to get their finger as dark as possible. Each girl took a piece of clear packing tape and used it to lift the print. Then they put the tape on a white index card.

As a bonus activity, the girls attempted to lift their fingerprints from a glass. They tried it with cocoa powder and with corn starch (idea from Cyberbee). Most girls were able to lift a print, but several could not even after I had them run their fingers over their scalps to pick up more oil. Of the girls who were able to collect their prints, many were not legible. The print was more of a solid smudge instead of showing lines and whorls.

Daisies 10/5/15 – Promise Center

Last night was our first *actual* Daisy meeting. My troop is now at capacity (12 girls), though only 11 girls were present. It was also an incredibly stress-free meeting, which I’m chalking up to a combo of 1.) being a new situation for the girls, so their behavior was better, 2.) my experience as a children’s librarian, and 3.) I was a Daisy leader for my older daughter as well. These girls will benefit from the mistakes I made with Bean’s troop.

promise centerOpening Circle
I am not going to do a flag ceremony with my Daisies, but will instead do a simple opening circle, saying the GS Promise. I showed the girls how to hold their hands (easy for some, hard for others, they’ll all get it eventually), then I said the Promise. One or two of the girls said it with me, but the rest did not, which isn’t surprising. I was more surprised that there were girls who said it with me. I went through the Promise again, line by line, having them repeat it after me. We also talked about what promises mean and why they’re important.

When we were done, I pulled out my trusty Daisy Petal board and went over the GS Law with them, explaining how we’ll earn Petals and how they already live by the GS Law (are you friendly? are you strong?).

daisy 002

Name Balloon Ice Breaker
I don’t want to keep the girls sitting for too long. They’re too wiggly at this age, and I want GS to be about having fun (while slipping the learning in on the sly). My AL for my other troop gave me the suggestion for this idea, and she did it with my Juniors at our last meeting.

I wrote each girl’s name on a balloon, threw them into the center of the room and had them find the balloon with their name on it. When they found it, they stood against the designated wall. We played two more variations, first with the girls finding a balloon that didn’t have their name on it, and then finding that girl (I read the names to them as needed). For the second variation, I put half of the balloons away (the girls whose names were on those were the “finders”). The rest of the girls stood against the wall with their balloons. The finders went to the other side of the room. I took the girls’ balloons and threw them into the middle of the room. The finders had to get a balloon, find the girl it belonged to, and ask their favorite color – pink and purple were the favorites, followed by blue. One girl’s favorite color was yellow. The girls loved the game, and most took their balloons home at the end of the meeting.

Without knowing the girls’ dynamic, I can’t come up with official troop rules yet, but we sat back in our circle and talked about rules and why they are important. I tied needing and following rules into the balloon games we had just played. The girls came up with good basic rules (be nice, be kinds, only take out one toy at a time), and we talked about consequences (a warning, 5 minute sit-out, calling your parents to take you home).

The original idea comes from Blue School House, but whereas hers tied into the My Promise, My Faith Award, I changed the the animal from a whale to a bug – a GS Promise bug.

I kept it simple by spray painting the egg carton beforehand (Krylon ocean blue). While painting is fun, it can be messy and time-consuming if there are any perfectionists in the bunch. The girls added antennae (adults poked holes using small nails) and googly eyes. We also tied on a copy of the GS Promise. The idea is that the bug will serve as a reminder to live the GS Promise.

promise bug

Daisy Islands Game
When the girls finished their bugs (left safely in the craft room), we played one of my favorite games – Daisy Islands (a variation of musical chairs). I don’t remember where I first learned of it, but my older daughter’s troop loved it. My new Daisies loved it as well. It’s incredibly simple, and makes the girls work together.

To start: lay out the same number of mats (they need to be different sizes; I use towels) as girls. Play the music. When it stops, the girls stand on a mat. Remove a mat each time. The girls are never “out”. As fewer mats are left, the girls have to start sharing mats. By the end of the game, they are all squeezed, squealing and holding to each other, on one mat.

Closing Circle
I’ve always done a friendship circle, singing “Make New Friends”.  There are variations of the song, in lyrics and tune, but I do it the way I remember from when I was a GS. I sing:

Make new friends, but keep the old.
One is silver, the other is gold.

A circle is round, it has no end.
That’s how long, I will be your friend.

For the friendship circle, the girls crossed their arms right over left, and held hands. I sang the song through once, then sang it again line by line with the girls repeating after me. When we were done, I explained the friendship squeeze (this looks like it will take some time for them to figure out the “passing on” part instead of all of them squeezing at the same time), and we spun out.

First Junior Meeting

This wasn’t a real meeting so much as it was an information session for the parents and a “figure out the Journey and some badges” for the girls. One of my lovely children brought home the first sickness of the school year, so I was feeling less than stellar and wanted to share what needed to be shared and then go home to crawl into bed.

The Girls
All of my girls are Juniors for this one year, and I want them to earn the Bronze Award. It is not an award I earned, and I regret not doing it when I was a GS. Unlike when I was a GS, the requirements to earn it are different. So the one of the things the girls did was vote on the prerequisite Journey – 8 out of 12 girls voted for Agent of Change (AC), so you can expect to see posts about how we complete it. Part of our lodge overnight later this month will be dedicated to AC.

The girls also voted on which badges they want to do. The badges that received at least 6 votes are the ones we’ll do, with priority given to the badges with the most votes. There is the very real possibility that we won’t get to all of these badges, but we’ll give it our best shot.

Detective – 11
Geocacher – 8
Jewelry – 8
Digital Photographer – 6

The badges I want to do with the girls are:

First Aid
GS Way
Entertainment Technology
Horseback Riding
Savvy Shopper
Social Butterfly

The Parents
I should have sent a reminder email to my parents that they needed to stay at this first meeting. Most of them did, but a few didn’t. I’m going to put together an email going over the highlights so everyone will know what the changes are this year. The two big ones are that I will soon be working full-time, and consequently will most likely have to lean on my parents more than I have in the past, and the second is that the girls are now old enough to do additional fundraising. I want to take them to Washington DC in two years (when they are all Cadettes), and it would be wise to start saving up now. This will involve dealing with paper accounts, so I need to figure out an equitable way to do that. I don’t want girls who contribute nothing to receive the same amount as girls who work their tails off, but at the same time, I know that not every family can contribute equally.