Monday, January 26, 2015

A Happy Unbirthday Party

A part of The World Around Me Keeper is learning about birthdays around the world.  So to complete this part of the keeper, we decided to do a little Mad Hatter throwback and have a happy UnBirthday Party!

We bought the girls an awesome patch from epatches.  If you'd like to get it, click here!

We sang our opening song, collected dues and asked them to talk about how their family celebrates their birthday.  Then we talked a little about how people in other countries celebrate their birthdays and had a small snack.  We ate hundreds and thousands (slices of bread, crusts removed, with butter and sprinkles) that are common in Australia, and sesame noodles from China.

Then we made ourselves birthday crowns.  We took a toilet paper tube, wrapped it in washi tape, cut the top to be points, and then used twine and a yarn needle to put a string through it.  They were awfully cute.

Here's an example -

And had some hundreds and thousands (also known as fairy bread) - which is served in Australia for birthdays.

It's white bread, crusts off, spread with butter and sprinkles.

Then we sang our I'm special song, to the tune of "If you're happy and you know it".

I'm special and I know it clap your hands!
I'm special and I know it clap your hands!
I'm special and I know it and I really want to show it.
I'm special and I know it clap your hands!

Then one girl sang a line of
"I'm special and I know it because I know how to hop!  Hop!  Hop!"

Then we went back and sang the verse as well.

We built some towers out of toothpicks and marshmallows.  (We let the girls eat three each!)

Finally we broke out the pinata and had the girls try and crack it.  We used a mini hockey stick.  We did fill the pinata, but we didn't really want to send the girls home with a ton of candy, so we filled it with some rockets (what Americans call smarties), stickers and a few birthday party grab bag toys.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Be Prepared, Not Scared

This week we completed the Be Prepared, Not Scared Challenge Crest.  Available from the Alberta Region here.  

We have always enjoyed doing Challenge Crests with our Sparks.  First, because we like the skills it teaches, and secondly, because our kids love showing them off when we go to camps.  Nothing like a proud five year old with a sash full of completed challenges.  I always enjoyed earning badges when I was in Brownies, and since six year olds are (now) Sparks and not Brownies, they enjoy earning some too!

Our town is close enough to Slave Lake that we were one of the towns to handle people who were fleeing the Great Slave Lake Wildfire of 2011.  Though most of our Sparks were wee babes or toddlers during this, it gives us a starting point.  I checked out a book about the Slave Lake Fire from my library.  It's a local publication, but it has great pictures to use while talking about the dangers of a wildfire.  If anyone else is looking for it, it's  The Sky was on Fire: Slave Lake's Story of Disaster, Exodus and New Beginnings.  It's well worth the read.  I ended up putting post-it notes on pages that I thought the girls would find interesting, including the RCMP flagging down traffic and helping deal with the exodus, as well as pictures of our town housing some of the refugees.

There is a wonderful quote by Mr Rogers that I shared with the group.  “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, "Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” It's a good quote to use in this kind of badgework.  The goal isn't to scare the girls, it's to prove to them how they can be prepared in a disaster, and be the helpers Mr Rogers was talking about.

So to complete the badge, you have to complete two activities in two sections, learn and do.

So we started with that wonderful Mr. Rogers quote, and the emphasis placed on being helpers.  Then we went around in a circle, and each girl got to share what she has done in an emergency to help her family/parents/friends.

Then we went through the book I'd borrowed.  The kids were pretty sober through that.  Then we talked about the big Calgary flood that happened just a few years ago.  I brought a few articles and pictures I'd printed from the online newspapers.  Then we talked about ways that we could help in an emergency.  Emerald and I gave big ideas, and then we asked each girl to contribute another way she could help.

Then I laid out kraft paper.  I had the girls draw two pictures, one on each piece of craft paper (as a mural).  One is the disaster, what they were thinking of, flood, fire, insects, danger etc.  The other was a way THEY could help out in that kind of situation.  From filling sandbags to getting water ready for firefighters.

Then we talked about ways that we could be prepared for an emergency at home.  I felt it was best to be specific about this one, so we talked about housefires.  How do we react?  How do we keep ourselves safe?  Who will come and help us too?  Then we played a game of it.  We practised climbing out a window by climbing on a chair, lowering ourselves over the edge and dropping down.  Then we practised going through a house filled with smoke by crawling, remembering where the door is, and getting out.  We crawled over to the door of the meeting room, checked the door for heat, and then went in and out.  Then we asked about firemen.  Do we hide in closets from firemen?  No!  We keep calm, keep close to the ground, and get to the fireman when he comes into the room so he can help us.  Even if he looks scary.

Then we played a few rounds of hide and seek.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Handing badges out

Something that comes up from time to time is how you hand badges out to the girls.  I have always preferred stapling them to a 3x5 notecard, each with the kids' name, and instructions written on (with arrows in some cases) as to where the badges go.

We make camp blankets every year with the girls, the options are camp blanket, front of sash (for keepers) and back of sash (for challenge crests).  Taking inspiration from this wonderful Brownies website, I created a template for a Sparks sash and staple/pin all of the start of year insignia to that.

For the rest of the year, after enrollment, I put all the badges we earn in a month together on a 3x5 card and hand them out the last meeting of each month.

Like So -

This is what I'm handing out at the end of January.

So that's how I do it.  Please leave a comment with how you hand out badges!

Monday, January 12, 2015

Math Songs and Salt Dough Animals

So tonight we finished up the Exploring and Experimenting keeper.

We started their off by singing some math songs, first a few that I know - Alice the camel and counting backwards, the first ten numbers in Spanish in singsong, knick knack paddywack and five in the bed.  Then we asked the girls to think of a song they know that uses math or counting.  One of our Sparks came up with the one two buckle my shoe rhyme, so we sang that too.

Then we went into the kitchen and tried blowing some things up.  We talked about what a chemical reaction is (a change of state) and then I dropped some method into diet coke.  We tried it several different ways, with the girls predicting every step along the way.  We tried a mentho in diet coke, then in a can of diet coke instead of a bottle.  Then I cut a mentho in half and dropped it in.  Then we dropped it into a bottle of Pepsi.  The girls loved it - they also loved the mess.  

A note for other leaders trying this - we used a 591ml bottle of diet coke and Pepsi, and one of the minicans of diet coke.  This kept the mess contained to a single sink, and not on the ceiling.

The other experiment we did was dripping vinegar onto baking soda.  I first mixed the vinegar with blue dye so the girls could really see the reaction happening.  They each got a chance to put some on, then I dumped the rest in the bowl.  They really enjoyed it!

Then we passed out salt dough for the girls to shape into animals.  They each got a chunk, and then I popped it into the oven for 15 minutes as we ran into our next activity.

Which was... Inventing!  We had them draw out their invention, and then we sat in a circle as they went one by one explaining what they had invented, and why they thought it was cool.

Then we went home with our freshly baked salt dough animals.  I prefer sending them home the same day we do things.  It's easier that way :)

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Exploring and Experimenting

One of the badges that we are going to be completing this year is the Exploring and Experimenting Keeper.

So we started by singing we run into a circle, and then sang the dues song.  After that we had our circle time conversation.  We asked them how they like to keep in touch with their family or friends who don't live nearby.  (During circle time we go around the circle, and every girl gets a chance to add, then after everyone has a turn, they can add one more thing before we move on.)

The responses were really interesting.

Then we had the girls make themselves some paper planes.  We made them as a group, folding together.  Some of the girls had a harder time than others.  Then we had a competition of throwing them.  I brought a straw plane so the girls could make hypotheses (will it go further/not as far as the others?  Why/why 

Then we had the girls try out different ways of cleaning things.  We set up four stations around the basement.  Dusting (with a dustcloth), vacuuming, mopping, and scrubbing.  We divided them up into groups of two or three, and let them loose for about three minutes a station.  Then we got back together.  What was their favourite/least favourite?

We finished up by letting them colour some paper plates, and stapled them together with beads inside.  They got to choose the number of beads.

Here's what they looked like -

Finally we sang Sparks Jump Up!  With our maraca-style drums/tabourine?  It was VERY VERY loud, and I was thankful I'd put that at the end of the night!

Thursday, January 1, 2015

New Year - New Sleepover!

So my coleader and I decided to host a sleepover at our meeting place.  I've found it so much easier to plan around a challenge crest - so we decided to do the habitat for humanity challenge crest!

We started off the evening by playing with cloud sand.  Our recipe calls for 9 cups of flour and a cup and a quarter of baby oil.  The kids built the foundation for a house in the cloud sand.  We had them think about how big the digging machine had to be.  Then we had fun pretending to be the massive digger.  Beeping all the way!

We then talked about the steps of building a house, and put the different steps in order.  The steps come with the challenge crest on the National website!

Then we played a game where I played music, and when the music stopped I'd yell a profession (electrician, plumber, roofer, plasterer, landscaper etc). Then they had to perform the action we'd made for that job.  

We then set up our bedrolls user tables (like a fort!) and changed into our pyjamas.  While one of us supervised, the other of us made a few cans of tomato soup.  After they were done we ladled out the soup and had a small campfire.  We sang songs while we drank our soup.  

Then we sent the girls to brush their teeth while we did the dishes.  Then I read a couple of stories.  I brought "we'll all go exploring" and "not all princesses dress in pink".  We sent the kids to bed and let them whisper for about a half hour before we started to shush them.

For breakfast the next morning we made yogurt and berry parfaits, and fry jacks.  (From Central America - great recipes by googling!). 

We then combed hair, brushed teeth, did camp chores and packed up.

After packing up we made a welcome home banner that I'll drop off at habitat for humanity on my next trip into the city.

Hope that helps others looking for a fun sleepover!

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Ice Lanterns

Happy Holidays!

My coleader and I have a sleepover planned for New Year's Eve (and I'll post about that in the new year - should be cool though!) but I thought I'd share with you the ice lantern I made as an example for my Pathfinders.  We are doing the Winter Wonderland badge first thing in January, and they chose lanterns. 

So I have been saving my cans for them for a while now.  I recently filled one with water and set it outside to freeze solid.  Personally, I think that with a little coaching a Spark could do this craft as well!

So here's what you need - frozen ice in a can, a hammer (I chose a rubber mallet - less chance of crushed fingers) and some nails (I have 2" ones).

I then held the nail over the outside edge, hit it carefully with the hammer (I used a towel underneath to prevent rolling).  The trick is to make a hit nail pattern.  The second photo is of my daughter (brownie age) having a turn.

Then you run the can under hot water until it releases the ice, and put a lit tea candle in.

I'm going to bring enough cans for each girl to try their hand at three.  I think they look awesome!