Saturday, August 25, 2012

Give the Gift of Sight

Our troop participated in a service project for OneSight.  The girls asked family members, friends, and neighbors to donate gently used prescription glasses and non-prescription sunglasses to recycle and deliver to OneSight patients at Global Clinics around the world.  Each year, OneSight must collect 2 million pairs of used eyewear to support their Global Clinics.  
"In 2012, we will conduct 12 Clinics in 6 countries. To date, OneSight has completed more than 200 Clinics in 37 different countries, helping more than 3.5 million people."
The girls in our troop spent part of a meeting decorating shoe boxes with Collection Kit materials we printed from the OneSight websitePrior to the meeting, I wrapped the shoe boxes in plain wrapping paper I had on hand. 

After asking permission, we placed a collection box in each of the Kindergarten and first grade classrooms.  Boxes were also placed in the teachers' lounge and workroom.  At the end of our drive, we donated 20 pairs of eyeglasses to OneSight!

We were fortunate to have a guest speaker attend one of our meetings to deliver a presentation on behalf of OneSight.  Our girls had a chance to try on glasses that altered their vision so they could experience what it would be like to have poor eyesight.  They also learned how donated eyeglasses are recycled and distributed to those in need in the United States and around the world.  

This collection fulfilled one of our service project requirements, but we informed the girls they were also working on earning petals to complete their Daisy Petals Set.  For example:  Rose--make the world a better place.  Green--use resources wisely.  Dark Purple--respect myself and others.  Orange--responsible for what I say and do.  

It should be noted that OneSight offers tours of their recycling center in Mason, Ohio.  Visitors must be at least seven years old.  At the time, our troop consisted of primarily five and six-year-olds, so this tour remains on our To Do List.  

Thanks for reading! 

GO BANANAS! Answer the Call and Save the Gorillas!

"There are currently more than 270 million cell phone users in the United States alone and over 4 billion users worldwide.  The average lifespan of a cell phone in the United States is about a year and a half. Of these old cell phones that are no longer in use, less than one percent are recycled.Recycling cell phones reduces mining for coltan, an ore used in cell phones.  This mining happens in a gorilla habitat in the Democratic Republic of CongoRecycling cell phones reduces the need for coltan which saves these animals and their habitat, ensuring their future in the wild.  In addition, when discarded cell phones and batteries sit in landfills, hazardous materials can filter into our soil and seep into our drinking water.  Our Daisy troop agreed to help make the world a better place (rose petal) by holding a collection at our school.  

We designed a flyer and had two printed per page.  The cost of the paper and the printing was around $25 for 300 copies.  We distributed a flyer to every student in the school.  We hung a flyer in the lobby, the front office, the workroom, and the teachers' lounge.  The collection box sat in the lobby.  Our troop managed to collect 20 cell phones that we proudly donated to the Cincinnati Zoo.  

We are fortunate to live in a city with a zoo that has consistently been ranked as one of the top zoos in the country.  The Cincinnati Zoo values education, knowing that educating others will only further their efforts.  Our troop was able to schedule a tour with a member of the Sustainability Team.  We met in the newer education building on the zoo property.  The girls learned how the building is a "Green building."  They started the tour with a scavenger hunt of sorts.  Each girl was given a picture of a material.  The troop was asked to look through the building to discover what was made from each of the materials.  For example, one picture was of plastic bottles.  We learned the carpet throughout the building was manufactured from recycled bottles.  Wheat straw and sunflower seed shells were compressed to make the walls.  Bamboo was used to make the stage floor in one of the meeting rooms.  When the building was being constructed, a burr oak tree had to be removed.  The wood was used to make beautiful benches that currently line the main hallway of the building.  Most impressive!

We made our way through the Green Garden and learned more about recycling and composting.  We were amazed to learn that the pathways at the zoo are designed to allow rainwater to trickle down below the surface of the path.  The runoff is collected in basins and then used to water the plants and flowers throughout the zoo and botanical gardens.  

As we walked back to the Education Building from the garden, we passed the elephants.  We were told of yet another way the Cincinnati Zoo is using their resources wisely (green petal).  They made some changes in their operations over the years, saving money in the process.  They currently use elephant dung for energy and for manure to fertilize the gardens.  Speaking of energy, huge solar panels were installed over the expansive parking lot.  These panels generate energy for the zoo while shading the cars beneath (which is a huge bonus in my opinion).  Our zoo provides so much for our city.  I love that our troop was able to give back.  Thanks for reading!

Everybody Counts

When I was in grade school, I remember participating in the Everybody Counts program.  Parent volunteers assisted program leaders to help young students experience what it is like to be physically challenged.  I vividly remember trying to tie my shoes while wearing mittens.  I was fascinated to learn about Braille and sign language.  The program was successful, for me anyway, since I recall these lessons some 25 years later.

As I was brainstorming ideas for the "Respect Myself and Others" lesson (dark purple petal), I thought it would be great to recreate the Everybody Counts program for our troop.  We divided the troop into two groups.  At one station, the girls tried to button my coats while wearing gloves.  This task proved to be challenging, and I was proud to see how determined the girls were to succeed.

The second station involved gently placing cotton balls in their ears.  I read parts of a book, whispering to exaggerate the effect.  To be honest, the girls totally called me on this one.  They knew I was whispering.  It was not as effective as trying to hear a story while wearing noise-cancelling headphones.  However, we chose to use cotton balls instead of having the girls share headsets.  

I would have loved to have the girls walk on crutches or allow a friend to guide them around the house while wearing a blindfold.  We did not have time, but I thought I would offer these activities as suggestions for your meetings.

One of our troop moms is a Sign Language Interpreter by profession.  We were able to have her teach our troop how to sign everything from their names to numbers to colors and favorite animals.  They even learned to sign the first verse of the song "Make New Friends."  It was a really fun meeting!  

By exposing the troop to a few of the hardships that challenge many people on a daily basis, they learned the importance of respecting others.  This was the first step they took toward earning their dark purple petal.  The girls also had a manicure party that served as a dark purple petal activity.  Please check back as that post is coming soon.  Thanks for reading!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Daisy note holders

My mom was a teacher.  My grandma was a teacher.  My mother-in-law was even a teacher.  I feel like I may have missed something when I decided to become a Certified Athletic Trainer.  Regardless, I have found my niche serving as a Girl Scout Leader.  I love preparing lessons and presenting different opportunities through which the girls are able to learn and grow.  While I strongly argue that Girl Scouts is so much more than crafts and singing, the girls in our troop certainly enjoy the crafts they have completed during our meetings.
My mom retired from teaching in 2011, and she no longer needed many of the craft supplies she had accumulated over the years.  She donated these supplies for our troop to use.  We also have an aunt who cleaned out her basement and passed along beads, foam, felt, straws, pipecleaners, name it, we now have it.  We used these donated supplies to fashion friendship pins, fingerprint flowerpots, Daisy bracelets, and beaded Christmas ornaments.  Often the crafts are tied into a lesson, and the girls earn the respective petal. By using donated supplies, our girls were using their resources wisely and were working toward earning their green petal.

In the boxes of donated craft supplies, I came across a stash of googly eyes.  I knew exactly how to use them!  A few months earlier, I happened to bookmark lion and lamb note holders from the Family Fun website.  I decided to modify the craft for our Kickoff Meeting.  The girls made this adorable Daisy note holder.  
As I have mentioned in previous posts, I love to scrapbook.  I save the scraps of cardstock that remain after I have finished a page.  I used the Cricut to cut 1.5" yellow circles and white flowers, using these scraps.  Don't have a Cricut?  No worries.  Use a circle punch or trace around the bottom of a can of tomato paste and cut the circles out by hand (though this is more time consuming, of course).  Many scrapbook stores have die-cuts that can be used for free as long as the paper is purchased from that store.  Cardstock runs around $0.70 for a 12"x12" sheet, though it can often be found on sale at craft stores.  I work on many projects at Scraps Etc and Archiver's in Cincinnati.  At the beginning of our first year together as a troop, I purchased clothespins to use on our kaper chart.  I found a package of 50 wooden clothespins for around $1.  Since we had only used 11 clothespins, we did not have to spend any additional money for this craft.  

The girls decorated their white flower after gluing the yellow center to the flower with a glue stick.  They adhered the googly eyes on before gluing the flower to the pair of clothespins.  The clasp end of the clothespin should be facing the top of the flower in order to hold the note.  Find a spot for this note holder on a bedroom dresser or a kitchen counter to hold reminders for troop meetings and outings.  For example, a note could read,  "bring Girl's Guide to next meeting," or "remember to take extra socks for roller skating."  The girls are then being responsible for what they say and do.  Hmm...that sounds familiar.  (orange petal)  Thanks for reading!

Friday, August 3, 2012

Be Strong and Courageous. Do Not Be Terrified...

"Be strong and courageous.  Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go."  (Joshua 1:9).  

Our troop participated in several events during their first year as Daisy Girl Scouts that required them to be courageous and strong.  These activities counted toward earning their red petal.  Each year our Service Unit plans a bowling party and a rollerskating party.  Being in kindergarten and first grade, most of the girls in our troop had never attempted either activity.  When we decided to go, the girls had to be both strong and courageous to get out there and try something new.   
Our Service Unit Leadership Team asks that all girls attending these events bring an item for donation.  In the past, they have collected underwear and socks, personal care items (like toothpaste and deoderant), or canned and other nonperishable food items.  These donations are then given to a local shelter for abused women and their children.  Sadly, some of these women and children are forced to seek shelter and spend a birthday away from home.  My favorite collection requested from our Service Unit has been Birthday Bags.

To fill a Birthday Bag, troops get gift bags and fill them with a cake mix and tub of frosting.  Often girls choose to add candles, themed plates and napkins, cups, sprinkles, party blowers, and balloons...anything they would like to contribute to make someone's big day even more special.  Our first year, each family in our troop was asked to donate one item for the birthday bags.  Our second year, we decided to use some of the money earned through cookie sales to fund this service project.

In talking with other leaders, I was told some troops are given a budget, and they have to work together to fill these bags while staying within their budget.  This not only counts as a service project, but their shopping trip may fulfill specific badge requirements.  Our Daisy troop recently bridged to Brownies.  This coming year they will use some of the money they earn through cookie sales and work together at a local store to fill these bags.  They will work on their "Money Manager" Brownie badge.  More about that later...

During our first year in Girl Scouts, the girls voted to spend a portion of their cookie money to go horseback riding.  Since they were Daisies, we were restricted to pony rides.  I contacted a woman who trains horses and instructs young riders at a nearby stable.  She was willing to discuss horse care and riding safety with our girls before allowing the girls to ride.  Many of our girls had never been so close to a horse, so they were again required to be courageous and strong.  I was so proud of them for stepping outside their comfort zone

Thanks for reading! 

Fingerprint Flowerpots

I can not stand fingerprints on our windows or on our appliances.  When our daughters were younger, I went through bottles of Windex trying to erase the greasy trail they left throughout our house.  Of course, once I put away the cleaning supplies, I would immediately spot more little smudges.  Such futile efforts.  Sigh.  On the other hand, I must smile because I have gone to great lengths over the years to preserve these handprints on plates and mugs.  We painted these works of art at a local pottery studio.  They currently hang in our kitchen, and they are certainly treasured.  A simple online search reveals many handprint and fingerprint craft ideas for every occasion.

One of the mothers of the girls in our troop donated a box of 3" flowerpots for us to use.  She had purchased them to make wedding favors, and these  pots were remaining and taking up valuable space in her garage.  We gladly accepted the donation, and I immediately began brainstorming craft ideas.  I remembered seeing a classroom party craft where students painted fingerprints on a flowerpot and decorated them to look like ladybugs.  I thought it would be super easy to make fingerprint daisies.  

For this particular craft we did not have to purchase the flowerpots as I previously mentioned.  However, Hobby Lobby occasionally has a package of six 3" flowerpots on sale for 50% off, making the sale price $1.24.   Even if they are not on sale when you need them, there are always 40% off coupons circulating in papers and online.  I bought a 2 fl oz bottle of acrylic paint in yellow and white for a total of $1.54 (using 40% off coupons, of course).  I found 3/8" blue and white gingham ribbon (15 ft) on sale for $1.  Expect to pay around $5 total for the supplies listed here, including the 6 flowerpots.  Please note there will most likely be leftover ribbon and paint.  If any supplies are donated to your troop, your girls could count this craft toward earning the green petal since they are using resources wisely.

At our meeting, we gave each girl a flowerpot and an 18" piece of ribbon that had been precut.  We squirted a bit of the paint on styrofoam plates and placed them on the table for the girls to share.  The girls were instructed to dip a finger into the paint and create flowers on the pot.  Some of the girls chose to use their fingers to paint the top edge of the pot.  We were impressed by their creativity.  When the paint dried, we tied the ribbons in a bow around the top edge of the flowerpot.  The girls took the pots home that day.  We told them they could plant flowers or herbs in the pot or fill it with candy or a candle.  This would be a cute Mother's Day present or teacher's gift.  The girls could also hand them out to residents of a nursing home during a troop visit.  If the girls were to give the flowerpot as a gift, they could count this kind act toward earning the spring green petal for being considerate and caring.  That gives me another idea...  Thanks for reading!