Monday, April 13, 2015


Instead of an inside meeting today, we decided to take advantage of some great weather and go bike riding.

Remember SafeGuide - kids need to be wearing helmets.  We also had a Guide helper with us, who led us in a fun game of follow the leader with the bikes.  For the girls, I asked that they bring something wheeled.  Skateboard, Rollerblades, Scooter, Bike, Trike etc.

So we got there first, and had all the girls show us how well they can put on their own helmet.  We demonstrated (with our Guide helper) how to properly put one on, and made sure everyone's helmets were on properly.  Then we looked at other safety equipment.  Knee and elbow pads, some people have mouth guards, some brought padded gloves in case they fell on their hands.

When we were finished, we looked at how to keep our bikes/trikes etc in tip-top condition.  Rubbing them down if they were wet, oiling chains, pumping up the tires and all.

We then played follow the leader on the bikes, in a line, with the Guide leading around the parking lot.  They were to practice their hand signals as they went.

Then we had about a half hour of free time.  I had a bunch of bubble wands, some sidewalk chalk, and, of course, we had the bikes to play with.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

A Planning Meeting

We don't have another Sparks meeting planned until April 13th.  This week is March break, next week is an Easter holiday.  So instead of moping about, my fellow leaders and I got together around a kitchen table and started planning next year!

Part of Guides is about being girl-lead, which we're building into the program.  For example, we'll have a week where we have most of it planned, but we've asked the kids to plan how they'd like to complete X activity, and we'll do that.

Next year I will not be leading Sparks.  Sparks is actually moving nights to Wednesday, to coordinate with the Brownie meetings then.  I'll still be continuing this blog, but it'll become Sparkling Sparks and Bouncing Brownies - or something along those lines.  I will be moving up to Brownies.

We spent tonight as Sparks and Brownie leaders together.

We planned so that Enrollment, Advancement, the start and end of the year matched.  We planned several nature and town walks.  We planned a few ideas for community service to do together.  We planned to celebrate International Day of the Girl,  We planned when the Sparks would visit the Brownies, and a great end-of-year trip.

When we started the meeting, I thought I'd be home within the hour - but we spent three hours talking, laughing, and planning together.  Which was really nice.  It was great having the focus being the girls - but not having to corral them at the same time.

If you can, try to have time with your fellow leaders - even if you spend a half hour after a meeting to plan together, or to do things as leaders together.  It makes you remember that you're not in this alone.  That other people care as deeply about Guiding as you do.  It strengthens not only the bonds between leaders, but the bonds between the women who Guide.

As always - remember that wonderful LBP quote - "If it's not fun, it's not Guiding."

Friday, March 20, 2015

Zoe's trip to New Zealand

At the beginning of the year I sat with our Sparks and pointed out (with pins) on a world map all the places that Zoe went on her round the world trip.  They decided to do New Zealand and Kenya.  The other countries they could explore are - France (Paris), China (Beijing), Trinidad (Port of Spain) and Brazil (Rio de Janeiro).  For leaders looking for the Challenge Crest it's in My GGC, under Program Resources, Challenges.

Tonight was also the second bring-a-friend night that we held.  We decided to give two nights where it would be easy to stretch craft materials for more girls.

New Zealand is gorgeous.  I was lucky enough to go with my family in High School (before Lord of the Rings), and spent a month touring round the north island in an RV, staying at campgrounds and eating mussels every time we passed a by the road stand.

I brought a picture to the girls, and explained that the national bird of New Zealand is the Kiwi bird.  I also told them that we don't have a national bird of Canada, but the provincial bird of Alberta is the Great Horned Owl.

And then we made Kiwi Birds.  I used the basic premise from Guiding Jewel's site, and made a few modifications.  We added feathers to our paper bags, and painted them on.  Here's my example bird -

Then we washed up and had our snack - kiwi fruit!  I just chopped them in four and let the girls pick out one or two to eat.  

While they ate the snack I passed around pictures of New Zealand surfing, the Maori people, and some landscapes of New Zealand.  I also printed out a few pages about the Girl Guides of New Zealand, their badges and how their program works.  They all said that they needed a paddle or surfboarding badge.

Our next task was to learn how to surf, so we had the girls pretend to catch the perfect wave and ride it down to the beach.

Pippins care, Pippins share with other children everywhere.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Hat crafts 2015

Every year I try to do a meeting where the girls create their own Traders.

Traders are hat crafts that girls can trade with each other.  Many of the other units (who have older girls) just either send them home, or send home ideas and have the girls bring them to camp independently.  With Sparks, however, we thought that it'd be a great idea to do it as a mother/daughter thing.  The parents seem to really enjoy making the crafts with their kids.

When I make up the crafts I purchase all the stuff that will be needed, and divide it between different bags.  I also make up an example of the craft itself.

The girls arrive, with their moms/aunties/sisters etc, introduce them in circle, and we draw names out of a hat on who gets to choose their craft first.  I show them my camp hat (covered in traders), and show them the paper bags (one for each girl) lined up on the side.  When they have enough to put one in each bag, they're done.

About a half hour in I pull out our indoor campfire and we sing some of the songs they've learned with their guests.

This year we created:  magic wands, kites, artists' pallets, popsicles, eyes in the night, bandaids, mirrors, butterflies, ladybugs, hearts, suns, elves and dragonflies.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Zoe's trip to Kenya

On top of our regular meeting this week we had five little guests.  It was bring a friend night!  If any other leaders haven't tried this out, you should!  The "new" girls had a grand old time, and one, at least, was very vocally telling her pickup person that she WAS going to join Brownies next year (the girl who brought her is a second year Spark).

Zoe's trip is a great Canadian Challenge Crest given out by the National Council.  We decided that the story component was a little bit long for the girls, so we were going to give the story in smaller increments, and mixed in with the action stuff.

We started by talking about the Nairobi National Park & Animal Orphanage.  Here's their website.
We also read the first half of Day 1 and Day 2 of Zoe's Trip to Nairobi Kenya.

We showed some of the pictures from the website, then played Lion King Tag.  Lion King Tag is where each person chooses a different African animal and one person becomes the lioness.  We played African drumming music and when the music stopped, the lioness had to catch an animal, who then becomes a lioness as well.  We played until everyone was a lion.

Then we read the second part of the first day of Zoe's trip, then tried some Kenyan foods.  I made Ugali and Chai.  We had ketchup to dip the Ugali in (not African, but far more likely to get the kids to try it).  We actually had some girls go back for thirds!  Absolutely made up for the kids who poked with a finger and declared they didn't like it.

We then read Day 3 of Zoe's trip.  Then we made some African drums.  Here are a few pictures of the process.  Yes, those are shot glasses.  I also used paint for mine, but the girls used crayons and markers.

There is a new level of Guiding in Kenya - Rainbow Guides.  They use the old Rainbow opening from the UK.  So we learned the Rainbow opening.

Rainbow Opening
(to the tune of "This Old Man")
Rainbows care, Rainbows Share,
With other children everywhere,
So come and join us, and you'll see,
Rainbows is the place to be,
Ha ha ha, hee hee hee,
Rainbows is the place for me,
Lets join hands and gaily sing,
In our friendly Rainbow ring.

Wonder of wonders we had extra time tonight, so we sang "If I were not a Girl Guide" and did the "Lion Hunt" chant.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Fort Edmonton Park Sleepover

We had the wonderful fortune to be invited along with another Spark unit to a Fort Edmonton Park sleepover this weekend.  WHICH WAS AWESOME!

I've always loved pioneer villages.  Fort Edmonton takes it one step further in that you can also learn about the First Nations Peoples of the Edmonton area!  Here is their website.

On the left is our morning facilitator showing the girls an old fashioned telephone.  On the right - one of the Sparks trying her hand at chopping wood!  (With a wooden axe and a log held together with magnets.)

We got to spend some time learning parlour games, playing dressup and carding wool, making cinnamon buns from scratch, taking a walking tour of the "town" at night, then again in the morning with a quick stop at the hardware store, made a historical toy and some great stories around a campfire made of tea lights on a buffalo blanket.

The girls had a fabulous time, both of our facilitators were wonderful to work with, and firmly held to their 1900s personna in their dealings with the kids.  The facilities were clean, in good condition and, as many other who know about Northern Alberta can appreciate - WARM.

I had a great time, and from the chatter from the girls on the way home they did too.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Alberta Arts Challenge 2015

This year's Alberta Arts Challenge theme is Beauty.

For the Sparks' level, they need to do four different activities.  These are the ones we chose -


We had the girls paint their own wooden masks in any way they thought was beautiful.  I was able to find these masks at the dollar store.


We learned a few old chestnuts.  We first did the brownie smile song, then land of the silver birch, then we sang the yodelling Austrian (when I was a Brownie I remember it as the yodelling ostrich, which always confused me).

Of the three songs, the girls like the yodelling Austrian best.  I have always done it with hand movements.  Slapping thighs at the first yodell eh i whooo, then thigh slap, hand clap finger snap and, at the end of each yodel, all the things that interrupt him.  We did the cuckoo bird, an avalanche, a bear and a pretty girl.  (The girl goes yoo hoo!)


We had the girls as a group tell us what they found beautiful in the form of charades.  We had lots of flapping butterflies, babies and birds.  Then we divided them up into two teams to come up with a short skit about something they thought was beautiful, and they all used their masks, which was awesome!

Dance Party

Then we told the girls that dancing is beautiful, no matter how you do it.  I brought a cd of music and we bounced around for the last ten minutes.  Our playlist was as follows- I'm blue, Let it go, safety dance, dancing with myself, and girls just want to have fun.

I hope you all try the arts challenge!  It's always a blast!