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!

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.