Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Serving Tea and Cookies

So last night we went as a group to serve tea and cookies at our local senior's residence.  We called about a month ago, and arranged to come in for our regular meeting time (which is awesome, that way you don't have to ask families to spend more time at Sparks).

The elderly at the senior's residence are almost always happy to see a gaggle of Sparks arrive.  Some always ask the question - the "is this the level BEFORE Brownies?" Question.  The risk of having a level that has only been around for less than 30 years, right?  All the girls wore their uniforms.

Some things we did to help out the Sparks!
-we practised walking around with a teacup in a saucer for a few minutes (follow the leader style) so the girls could get used to walking with one (most didn't know what a saucer was!).
- we only filled the cups 1/3 of the way up, so even if someone fell/spilled there wasn't a lot to clean up (and no one did fall!  Yay!)
-we brought out Guide helper, who filled the cups and handed them out to the Sparks, and refilled plates of cookies, which allowed one Guider to have an eye in both rooms and the other helping direct the kids to different tables to drop off cookies and tea.
-we had the girls clean up and pick up teacups from the tables and bring them back as well.

We had about 10 minutes left over, so we played telephone and musical chairs!  Thankfully Emerald is a lot better at corralling them for a game than I am!

We gave out a fun crest and their Camping Keeper at the end.  Who knew they had a fun crest specifically for serving tea?

Here's the link if you'd like to get one!

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Flashback - Enrollment night

So we did enrollment at the end of October again.

We had the ceremony about the same way we went last year.

But, since we also had a new Guider, we thought we'd enroll her as well!

Before we started, I passed my small point-and-shoot camera to one of the parents we had from last year, and asked her to take a few pictures of me enrolling our new Guider.  She said yes!  Thanks!

So then we proceed with our ceremony.  One by one the new Sparks walked over the rainbow, gave the Spark sign while shaking my hand and reciting their promise, turned for a picture for mom and dad and sat on their designated cloud.  Then we called up our returning Sparks to renew their promise and get their badges from our first few meetings (their cookie badge, mostly), and they returned to their clouds.

When we were done, I called Emerald up.  She looked a bit shocked, but crossed the rainbow anyways!

I gave her a vintage leader's scarf I found on etsy, then we shook hands with the Guide sign and she recited the Girl Guide promise (after me - I hadn't given her the heads-up to memorize it).  I then pinned her with her Spark Guider appointment pin and got her to give a smile for our parent photographer.

I think sometimes we remember the girls far before our leaders.  It's so important to recognize the contribution of our parent volunteers in Girl Guides.  Without them, we'd have no program!

Thank you Emerald!  And here's to many Guiding years ahead of you!

Spark Guider Appointment Pin

Vintage scarf

Baking Night!

Last week we had a baking night!

We divided the girls up according to their circles (we bought circle patches from epatches for this - 10 is just too many Sparks, KWIM?).  The thistles started in the kitchen with Emerald and our Guide helper making cookies, and the Raindrops started with me in the regular meeting room making fridge magnets, singing camp songs and playing a few games.

Here's an example of the magnets we made -

The girls were encouraged to colour them in using markers (I found the wood cut-outs at our local dollar store).  We then attached two magnets to each backing using hot glue.

For songs I taught them Barges, we sang Black Socks and our unit favourite - Bringing Home a Baby Bumblebee.

With Emerald, the girls were rolling out Joe Froggers and then making a few Ginger Sparkles.  (Get it... Sparkles?  Don't worry.  The girls didn't laugh either.)  The Joe Froggers are for our event next week at our local senior's home, where we will be serving tea and cookies.  I felt it was totally unfair to have five and six year olds toil to make cookies, then not get any, so they were able to put together some Sparkles for themselves.

We stopped about five minutes before our end time to sit and have a cookie with a glass of water and just chat.

I chose Froggers and Sparkles because they bake for the same time, at the same temperature, so you can put them in the same oven on the same baking sheet without worrying.  The Froggers have an awesome dough.  Easy to roll out, smells great, dairy and egg free and very forgiving.  You can have several different thicknesses without them burning on one and raw on the other, and roll it out ten or more times before it falls apart on you.  The only tricky part is that you MUST start the dough a full 24 hours before you roll it out.  So it takes some forethought.

Here are the recipes.  My family Joe Frogger recipe (at least 100 years old) and my Dad's Ginger Sparkle recipe.

Joe Froggers

1/2 cup shortening
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup warm water
4 cups white flour
1 cup dark molasses
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp soda
1 1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp allspice

In a large bowl, cream the shortening and sugar together.  Mix in molasses and water.  Sift together flour, salt, baking soda, ginger, cloves, nutmeg and allspice.  Blend into the shortening mixture.  Chill for 24 hours.

Preheat oven to 375F, roll out cookie dough approx. 1/4" thick, cut with cutters.

Bake until cookies are set up and very lightly browned.  10-12 minutes.  Leave on sheet for 2 minutes or they'll break apart.

Ginger Sparkles

2 cups flour
2 tsp soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp cloves
1 cup brown sugar (the darker the better)
3/4 cup butter (softened)
1 egg
1/4 cup molasses
-extra granulated white sugar for rolling.

Preheat oven to 375F.  Blend dry ingredients.  Cream together brown sugar, butter, molasses and egg.  Add flour mixture to creamed mix and mix well.  Shape dough into 1" balls, roll in sugar and place 2" apart on cookie sheet.  Make 10-12 minutes.  Cool slightly before removing.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

A Spark-ling First Aid Kit

We are now many years from the time when I was a Brownie (and Guide, and Pathfinder), and when I was a Brownie, we made small first aid kits out of a film canister.  No one, now, uses film canisters.  So what to do when you want to make a small first aid kit with Sparks, so they can clean an dress small wounds, but not break the bank with expensive cases?

Two worlds - soap box.

So we started by putting a band-aid on the outside of the box and writing our names on it.  

Then we filled it together, talking about each and every thing that we added.

So here's the list of things in our first-aid kit for those who would like to try their own hand(s) at these -

-travel sized bottle of hand sanitizer
-two cotton balls
-small candy
-one 2" square of gauze
-two four inch lengths of first aid tape wrapped around a straw
-three q-tips
-six band-aids (of varied sizes)
-two butterfly bandages, for larger wounds
-a small pot of ointment (polysporin)

That little paint pot was awesome.  I bought from the dollar store these six little paint pots that were all stuck together on the same long stick of plastic, then I cut them apart from each other and added a small bit of polysporin to each one.  It's great because it's small enough to fit in the first aid kit, and seals easily, even with a five year old trying it herself!

The most expensive two items in the kit were the 2" gauze squares and the polysporin.  Between our eleven Sparks, we used a whole small tube of polysporin.

Then we practised cleaning small cuts on some small dollies that I brought with me.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Alberta Passport to Fun and Fitness Challenge

So this week we completed the Passport to Fun and Fitness Challenge.

We decided to tie this into our Being Healthy Keeper.  This was also my new coleaders first ever meeting that she planned all on her own!  I'm so proud of her.  She was never in girl guides, but her daughter has just started and loves the program!  Here's to many more years!

We started with the girls doing a bit of Yoga.  This is made a little easier for us, because the local Yogi is also an elementary school teacher, and did a unit with most of the school on Yoga last month.  We concentrated on the breathing, and relaxing, as having a healthy mind is also so important.

After Yoga, we learned a little bit of hip-hop.  We have a Brownie this year in Sparks, as the time conflicts with her dance classes, so she got to earn the Show Your Talent for Dance Badge while everyone else was learning a bit of hiphop.  She demonstrated a few moves, then helped the Sparks try them out.  We did something she called the reverse cowboy, as well as the Zombie Walk.  Before the Sparks started to dance we had them take the pulse and then take it again after dancing.  Then we told them a little about how the heart is a muscle and it has to exercise too!

Then we played tag.  Just plain old regular tag.  Then we had the girls give ideas of how to make it a new type of tag, and vote on which one we'd play.  It has to do with some markers, everyone carrying around some paper and a rubber chicken.  They loved it.  They called it Spark Tag, and I think that it might end up a regular kind of thing!

Finally we laid out supplies for parfait, and had they make up their own parfait.  Emerald brought yogurt, granola, and three different kinds of berries.  That being said, if we had to do it again, we would have bought more yogurt!

While eating, we sat in a circle and talked about breakfast, why it's important to eat a breakfast and what's in a healthy breakfast.

Sledding Outside

Wow - have I ever neglected this blog!

I'm going to start with our latest meeting, then work both backwards and forwards until I've caught up!

So this week we went sledding.  The big thing about sledding with Sparks is making sure they are dressed appropriately for spending an hour outside.  So the week before we reviewed with the girls what they'd need to wear, and it seemed to work.  Of the 10 girls who showed up, 9 were dressed appropriately, which is far better than our big bridging event that we had in October (more on that later).

Our kit list for sledding/fort building:  snowpants, winter jacket, warm boots, hat, two pairs of mittens and a scarf.

We sled at our local middle school.  There are two really great places to go sledding there, as well as a couple of large mountains of snow.

We started by sledding.  That also gave the girls something to do after their parents had dropped them off and we were waiting for a few stragglers.

After the sun went down we stopped for a circle picnic in the parking lot and drank down some hot chocolate, or Chai tea.  I made the hot chocolate extra strong and hot, so they filled their little cups up with clean snow, then the hot chocolate was poured overtop.  While they were drinking we talked to them about keeping their sleds at home, and how to clean them and store them so they would last a long time.

Then we headed to the big snow hill.  It's a hill that's created by plowing the school parking lot.  The girls made some tunnels through the center of the hill and had a great time.

Afterwards we split the girls up for the last ten minutes.  If they wanted to go sledding again, they went with me, and if they wanted to continue on with the fort, they stayed with Emerald.  They split evenly between the two groups (yay).  Please note for guiders - our snow hill and the sledding hill were less than 20 meters from each other, and were in full view to the other guider.

Parents started to arrive soon after to pick up their kids.  You know that it's gone well when the chorus is "do I have to go?"  "awww...." and "just one more run!!"

We did hand out badges on the way out.  They got our district and area badges, as I\d just picked them up from our area meeting, their Being Healthy Keeper and their Passport to Fun and Fitness Alberta (we completed it last week).

We decided this year to give out badges just once a month.  I staple them to a 3x5 index card with the girls' name on it, and write where each badge is supposed to go on the sash.  Very few of our parents were in Guiding when they were young, so they really appreciate it!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014


Well... we planned on going snowshoeing last night, but between the wind chill and the fact that it was snowing buckets, we cancelled and spent the time warm and cozy in our church basement!

We started with my coleader teaching the girls how to line dance to Achy Breaky Heart, as the last part of our Alberta Arts Challenge Crest.  The girls really got into it.  I'm glad that my coleader is a far better line dancer than I am!

Since they were still wound up like tops, we had them play tag for five minutes to get their wiggles out.

Instead of snowshoeing, I created a quick craft to have the girls weave their own snowshoes.

I took two pieces of construction paper, cut them into the shape of a snowshoe, then cut them into strips, leaving a few inches at the top of each paper.  Keeping that top makes it much easier for the girls to weave it together.  Then we had them paste them onto another piece of paper (so that they didn't come apart).  Then we had them slip around on the floor, keeping their snowshoes from touching each other.