Monday, February 23, 2015

Thinking Day 2015 - Guiding Lights

So the theme for this year's Thinking Day (according to the Canadian Girl Guides) is Guiding Light.  I decided to run with the theme, so here's what we did to celebrate Thinking Day 2015!

When we arrived, I gave the girls page 58 out of the Spark book and asked them to imagine themselves as A BROWNIE and to draw what they thought they'd look like.  Several had rainbows across their shirts - very cute.  Since we opened our doors and had some Brownies attending, they drew themselves as Guides.

Then I told them the story of Lord Baden Powell and Lady Baden Powell from the Spark Leader's guide.  It's the story of those very first Girl Scouts who showed up at the Crystal Palace Jambouree.  One of the Sparks asked me if it was a real story or made up.  :-)

Then it was time for our craft.  We made our own little Guiding Lights to shine around the world.  For this craft I went onto Ebay and bought 500 random world stamps.  There are dealers who will just ship you 500 for about $5, shipping included.  These are really rare or valuable stamps, but we got a good selection of stamps (the mess of stamps below).  There were stamps from all the different continents!

Then I passed out modge podge and paint brushes, and let the kids pick out their own stamps.  The trick is to put the glue on the glass, add the stamp, then paint over the whole thing with more glue.  The Brownies loved this (they were also earning their terrific trash badge), and we asked the girls other ways they could recycle stuff in their homes.  Some had great ideas like painting a chipped plate so it was more like a painting and hanging it up, to composting.  

Here are some pictures of the process.

Oh, then we added glitter on top of the stamps and glue - because everything is better with glitter.
The light is one of the flickering battery-operated tea lights from the dollar store.

Then we sang a Guiding Light song - to be perfectly honest, it was "this little light of mine", but with the words changed to be "This Guiding Light of Mine".

Finally, since the Brownies were there, they showed us their puppet play, for their badge, since they'd completed the rest of it the previous meeting at Brownies.  They showed us the Guides of New Zealand climbing a mountain to light the first campfire of Thinking Day, starting the light of Guiding as it moves around the world.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Our Cabana & Lord and Lady Baden-Powell

Tonight we had a half Lady Baden-Powell and half Our Cabana meeting.  We started by going around the circle.  We asked the girls what they'd liked the best about Sparks so far.  We also looked at some pictures of Our Cabana. 

Then we made quesadillas.  We gave all the kids a half tortilla, and had them add their own toppings.  Most chose a bit of salsa, cheese and some black beans.  While we were waiting the 10 minutes or so for the quesadillas to cook, we read the kids the story of the Baden-Powells, and the Night Walk story from the Go Sparks Go book.

After we ate, we split the girls into two groups.  We have two Brownies with our Sparks this year.  The time for Brownies just didn't work for them.  Next year they'll spend their year with the Guides, then stay with Guides until they're ready for Pathfinders.

So the Sparks went with Emerald and I and made Paper Bag Ponchos out of grocery store paper bags cut up the sides and a hole for the head.  Then they made God's Eyes.  I'm always on the lookout for ways to make traditional Guide crafts easier for our smallest members.  For the God's Eyes, I bought large popsicle sticks and hot glued them together.  I also found a type of chenille-yarn for them to use for their God's Eyes.  Here's some examples.

For the Brownies, we decided to do the puppet play badge, so today they made a theatre for their puppets, painted some toilet paper rolls orange for their marionettes, and made some finger puppets.

Finally, for our next meeting (which is the 23rd), we asked the girls to bring in a recycled glass jar.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

A great idea

So, like many great ideas, I had this one in the dollar store.  I was trying to think of a way to have Sparks do sculpture without clay/plasticine/salt dough.  So take a block of something and whittle it down.

Before I share this with you - though a great idea, Sparks just don't have the wrist strength for this - Brownies and up would definitely be able to though, and it's totally safe.

So you need a bar of soap and a paper scorer.  My local dollar store sells them in the scrapbooking aisle.

Use the scorer to carve into the soap.  The scorer is dull, and won't hurt them if they miss or accidentally hack at themselves with it..  Soap, however can crack along lines in the bar itself, and if a girl has a hard time because their sculpture is cracking, she should try a negative image (carve out a shape in the centre, leaving soap around the outside edges).

Here's my daughter's sculpture - she's 1st year Brownie.

We put down a paper towel so that the bits of soap didn't go everywhere.

She put a heart in it.  :)

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Girl Guides in Belize

We ran into a circle, then went around, asking where everyone was from.  We then scooted over to our trusty World Map (please, find a map that isn't a Mercator Map).  We marked where all the girls came from, the four world centres, our town, and the country we'd be studying today - Belize!

Belize is awesome.  It's tiny, with a great set of Girl Guides who work there.  We showed the girls pictures of the coast of Belize, as well as pictures of Girl Guides there.

We then set up the girls at a table, gave them five rocks each and handed out glitter glue - they were going to make their own set of the Five Marias Game - it's a pretty common game in Central America.  A player gets five small rocks.  They throw the first in the air, pick up a rock from the ground and then catch the falling rock.  Continue until you're throwing four and picking up the fifth.  The girls decorated theirs with glitter glue, then picked up five stones and a partner to try the game out!

While Emerald was supervising the glittering of rocks, I made some more Fry Jacks.  We had these at our New Year's sleepover this year, and they were a great hit.

After the girls had eaten their snack, we cleaned up, and then I set up two logs in the middle of our meeting place.  The girls took turns, two at a time, to move the boards from one side to another.

We had time at the end, so we played a make believe you are an animal in the rainforest of Belize game.  Jaguars, monkeys, toucans, iguanas and butterflies roamed our meeting room until it was time to get home!

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!