Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Christmas Carols and Applesauce Ornaments

On a Friday evening in December 2012, our Daisy and Brownie troops went Christmas caroling at a local nursing home.  At events like this, we believe "the more, the merrier!"  We invited family members to join us.  After caroling, we returned home to continue the celebration.  Click here to learn how we spent the rest of the evening.

We devoted time during one meeting in November to prepare for this event.  We made applesauce ornaments to deliver to the residents at the nursing home.  Several mothers stayed to help.  The girls did a fantastic job, but we definitely needed extra hands to help with rolling, cutting, transferring, and cleaning.

The girls also wanted to color pictures to hand to people as we sang Christmas carols.  The nursing home residents loved receiving the beautiful Christmas pictures.  They seemed to really enjoy seeing the kids.  We were told that so many groups visit nursing homes around Christmas time.  We were invited to return in the spring to play Bingo with the residents.  

Before we left the nursing home, we had the pleasure of visiting with a special woman named Helen.  She was born in December 1902, and she was celebrating her 100th birthday.  She allowed us to pose for a picture with her when we explained we were celebrating the 100th year of Girl Scouting.  We had a lot of fun!  Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Christmas Party 2012

As I was writing about the Light Bulb Snowman ornaments our girls will be making at this year's Christmas party, I realized I never posted anything about last year's party.  Our Brownie troop planned a party for our Daisy troop, knowing that they would also be participating in the fun.  They were asked to bring snack, game, and craft ideas to our planning meeting.  They voted for their favorites.  Both troops and their families went caroling at a local nursing home prior to the party.  I will write a separate post for that event.  Here is a glimpse of our fun-filled festivities:

7:30pm--Upon arrival, the girls guessed how many peppermints were in a pint-sized mason jar.  They wrote down a number.  The girl who guessed closest to the actual number got to take the jar home.

7:40pm--Unwrap Relay.  Empty boxes were wrapped in paper prior to the party.  The girls were divided into two teams.  One at a time, the girls raced to unwrap one gift using her non-dominant hand.  We made sure to recycle the wrapping paper!

8pm--Thumbprint Reindeer Ornaments.  After finishing their reindeer, the girls wrote their names and the year on the ornament with Sharpie markers. We used egg cartons to allow them to dry and to help transport the ornaments home at the end of the night.

8:20pm--Snack.  Please check out this post to see the snacks the girls enjoyed at this party.  They each had a chance to add whipped topping to the top and bottom of a strawberry to make a Santa Brownie.

8:40pm--Paper Plate Game.  The girls were supposed to hold the plates on top of their heads and follow the instructions.  We allowed the younger girls to put their plates on the table, but they had to promise to keep their eyes closed.  I LOVED their faces when they saw their drawings!

8:50pm--Snowman Soup Goodie Bags.  The girls decorated a tag for their goodie bags with stamps and markers.  The bags included a packet of hot cocoa mix, a couple of small candy canes, and some mini marshmallows. 
They finished their goodie bag tags rather quickly.  Luckily, the girls had planned additional activities in case we had extra time.  We divided the girls into two teams and spent those last precious minutes playing Minute to Win It--Stack Attack.  They raced each other to stack 15 cups in a pyramid. This was my favorite part of the party.  The excitement was palpable.  So many squeals, giggles, and even some groans.

I am kind of glad I forgot to write this post last year.  I have really enjoyed looking back through these pictures.  I am now full of the spirit of the season.  Happy Thanksgiving and Merry Christmas!  As always, thanks for reading.

Craft: Light Bulb Snowman Ornament

Last year, the girls in our Brownie troop were planning a Christmas party for our Daisy troop.  We asked the girls to bring game, craft, and snack ideas to the planning meeting.  The girls loved this light bulb snowman ornament, but they voted to make these adorable thumbprint reindeer ornaments instead.  Not more than a month after the Christmas party, my husband changed some of the light bulbs in our house.  I asked him to save them for me, thinking that the troop could certainly put them to good use.

Here we are, almost a year later, planning this year's Christmas party.  I dug those light bulbs out of our craft closet and got to work.  The shape of this light bulb is perfect for a snowman.  

Step 1:  Cover the bulb with Mod Podge.  A sponge brush works well.  Do not cover the base or the bottom of the bulb.
Step 2:  Sprinkle with glitter.  Placing the light bulb in a container for this step minimizes waste and allows for easier cleanup.

Step 3:  Allow to dry (only takes a few minutes).  Please note:  I read online that glitter will often peel from glass.  Adding another coat of Mod Podge to the glittered surface was suggested.  I applied the Mod Podge to a section of the back of the snowman.  While the extra adhesive may keep the glitter from eventually peeling off, it seemed to diminish the sparkle.  The glitter on the rest of the snowman seems to be staying in place, for now.  
Step 4:  Using a paintbrush and acrylic paint, apply the eyes, nose, and buttons.

Step 5:  Let the snowman dry completely.
Step 6:  Add a cute scarf.  The pink scarf (left photo) is a piece of fuzzy pink pipe cleaner.  Cut a piece 8" long and twist it around the neck of the light bulb.  The red scarf (right photo) is a piece of felt.  Cut a 0.5" strip along the 12" side of an 9"x12" sheet of felt.  Secure the scarf to the neck of the light bulb.  Cut off the excess felt to achieve the length desired.  Fringe the edges.
Step 7:  Tie a piece of yarn to the base and hang on the tree...or skip the yarn and sit the snowman on a shelf where it can be enjoyed all winter.

I was all set and had all the supplies ready to go...until I sat down to write this post.  I was collecting some information online and found dozens of tutorials and photos posted by others who have successfully made these ornaments.  I found this video demonstration by Clinton Kelly.  After watching the segment, I have decided to follow his lead and slightly modify our steps.  I will have the girls paint the base of the light bulb black.  They will use puffy paint for the face and buttons when they make these ornaments next week. 

It looks like I never posted anything about last year's Christmas party aside from the snacks we served.  Since Christmas is right around the corner, I will be sure to share soon.  We had a REALLY fun time!  Happy Thanksgiving.  Thanks for reading. 

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Paper Mache Letters, Part 1

Earlier this summer, I was working on an album at our local scrapbook store.  The store employee was covering paper mache letters with scrapbook paper in various prints.  She was creating words like "summer," "thanks," and "fall."  I watched her for a minute, thinking they would look good on our mantel or on the small table in our foyer.  Then I caught a glimpse of the price tag.  The words would be sold in the store for $40...around $7 a letter!  I knew I could make these at home for a fraction of the cost, especially since we already have many bottles of paint and some Mod Podge that was used on previous projects.

I found the 8" paper mache letters at Hobby Lobby for $2.50 each.  I purchased scrapbook paper for less than $1 a sheet.  I always try to use 40% off coupons at these craft stores.  Scrapbook paper and paint is often on sale.  Depending on the letters chosen, you can cut one or two letters out of one 12x12" sheet of scrapbook paper.  If you already have the paint and the Mod Podge, you can complete this project for around $3 a letter.  Sounds great to me!

I was bumping around Pinterest for some inspiration, and I came across this tutorial.  I decided to try making BOO and JOY.  (I loved the spider web paper featured on the tutorial so much that I copied the project exactly).  The words were finished in an afternoon, and I was pleased with the final product.  There are many other shorter words that would be easy and relatively inexpensive to create.

For the holidays:  EEK, NOEL, HOP.
For the kitchen:  YUM, DINE, EAT.
For the laundry room:  WASH and DRY.
For kids:  INITIALS.

I carried the thought of making initials for my daughters' bedroom one step further.  Why not find time for our Girl Scout troop to decorate a letter?  I will admit that we have not yet tackled this project.  Maybe we will find time during our Christmas party, a spring meeting, or at camp?  I will be sure to post photos along with a note to share what worked for us and what did not, so please check back.  Thanks for reading!

Friday, October 4, 2013

Service Project: Bake Me Home

Last spring, we asked the girls in our troop to choose the service projects they would like to work on during their second year as Brownies.  We gave them several ideas and also allowed space for the girls to submit their own ideas.  I described the voting process in a previous post.  

My friend Mandy told me about an organization in Cincinnati called Bake Me Home.  "Bake Me Home was established in 2008 by then 7-year-old twin sisters, Amy and Emma Bushman, with help from their mom Alison...(they) perfected their original Bake Me Home Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe for their (mason) jar, and added all the necessary baking supplies (bowl, pan, spoon, spatula, pot holder), including a Kroger gift card for butter and eggs (and a few other grocery items) to a tote bag for families in need...(they) serve people from 15 agencies (shelters, food pantries, and ProKids) in Hamilton, Clermont, Butler and Warren counties, and troops serving overseas.  In addition to the primary Tote Bag Program, Bake Me Home offers a Family Portrait Program, Bake Me BACK Home Program, and Bake It Forward Program."  Check out their website.  The 8-year-olds in our troop were inspired to see how these young ladies are serving others.  They are doing awesome work in our community!  

When the majority of our girls selected the option to "pack meals for hungry people" on our planning worksheet, we decided to schedule a session with Bake Me Home.  The girls were asked to bring a bag of Nestle Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips to donate to the organization.  We were scheduled to volunteer for an hour on a weekday after school.  Upon our arrival, they welcomed us with a plate of their Bake Me Home Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies.  

The girls were given name tags, and the rules were explained.  Emma, Amy, and Alison also told us their story and gave us a tour of their new building.  We pulled back our hair, and we were ready to start.  We were asked to wash our hands, scrubbing for 20 seconds under warm water.  Then we applied hand sanitizer to ensure our cleanliness before working with the ingredients.  

The girls made their way through the line, adding each ingredient to the mason jar with a scoop and a funnel.  Bake Me Home asks that three adults accompany groups with elementary-aged children.  Extra hands are helpful!


Once we had packed and added Bake Me Home labels to 36 jars, it was time to clean up.  Emma helped assign each girl a job.  They vacuumed the volunteer workroom, swept the lobby, boardroom, and kitchen floors, wiped counters and baseboards, and dried dishes.  We could have stayed much longer.    

We ordered the cutest "Got Cookies?" fun patch for this event from our Girl Scout Council Shop.  I imagine our troop and their families will continue to support this wonderful organization.  They are really "changing the world, one cookie at a time." 

I would like to close with one final note.  We have started working on the Celebrating Community badge.  To fulfill the first step, we chose to go on a flag hunt.  During our 20 minute drive to the Bake Me Home building, the girls watched for different flags we passed along the way.  The girls in my car spotted 58 flags. The girls in our co-leader's car counted 136 flags!  They saw a cemetery that the girls in my car happened to miss.  It was a fun challenge that fostered some friendly competition while allowing the girls to work together.  Thank you for reading!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Brownie Badge: Letterboxer

I had never heard of letterboxing until our Brownie troop voted to work on the letterboxer badge this year.  While the Brownie Girl's Guide to Girl Scouts provided some information about letterboxing, I decided to do a quick online search to learn about it in more detail.  These two websites were incredibly helpful: and  Wikipedia defines letterboxing as "an outdoor hobby that combines elements of orienteering, art, and puzzle solving. Letterboxers hide small, weatherproof boxes in publicly accessible places (like parks) and distribute clues to finding the box in printed catalogs, on one of several web sites, or by word of mouth. Individual letterboxes usually contain a notebook and a rubber stamp. Finders make an imprint of the letterbox's stamp, either on their personal notebook or on a postcard, and leave an impression of their personal stamp on the letterbox's 'visitors' book' or 'logbook' — as proof of having found the box and letting other letterboxers know who has visited. "  In this post, I will describe how our troop chose to complete the five steps required to earn the Brownie letterboxer badge.  We finished Steps 1, 2, and 3 during our first meeting.  Steps 4 and 5 were completed during the following meeting.

Step 1:   To get started, I described letterboxing to the girls.  We reviewed some basic letterboxing terminology because this game has a special language of its own.  We discussed how they could search for letterbox clues by bumping around the websites (mentioned above) with parental supervision.  We reviewed what supplies they would need before setting out to find a letterbox.  The girls then worked together to brainstorm 10 different hiding places for a letterbox.  Two of my favorite suggestions included hiding a letterbox in an empty bird's nest or burying the letterbox in a sandbox.  

Step 2:  The girls had the opportunity to make their own stamp.  There is a fantastic tutorial on that shows how to carve a stamp out of an art gum eraser.  We decided to make our stamps by using the lids from orange juice containers and adhesive foam squares.  The girls were each given two 2.5" foam squares that had been cut prior to the meeting.  They were instructed to peel the backing off one of the squares and to adhere that square to the top of the second square to give the stamp some thickness.  We asked the girls to flip the foam square over and draw a shape on the paper backing.  Some of the shapes included a heart, a star, and a Mickey Mouse head.  They cut out their foam stamp.  After peeling off the paper backing, they pressed the adhesive side onto the orange juice lid.  Once the stamps were assembled, the girls each decorated a personal record book that was constructed prior to the meeting.  I cut white cardstock into a 4.5"x9" rectangle that I folded in half vertically to make a 4.5" square cover.  I then cut white cardstock into 4" squares, adding three squares of paper to each cover.  I punched two holes along the folded edge of the cover through all of the sheets of paper.  I used yarn to tie the book together.  The girls used Brownie stickers, markers, and crayons to decorate their books.
Step 3:  The Brownie Girl's Guide to Girl Scouting provides several different ways to practice solving clues for the letterboxer badge.  The girls loved creating a number code clue.  For example, letter A corresponds to 1, B to 2, C to 3, and so on.  The girls are given the numbers, and they have to figure out what the word is.  For example, "16, 1, 18, 11" is "park."  There is an activity on page 5 of this badge outline that the girls worked on individually.  They really enjoyed completing this step. 

Step 4:  This step was by far the troop favorite.  We leaders went online and searched for some letterboxes in our area.  We decided on two letterboxes that were not far from each other.  We went out a couple of days prior to the meeting to make sure the boxes were active.  I typed out the clues to find these letterboxes so that each girl in the troop would have a chance to read a clue and lead the troop closer to the hidden letterbox.  
At both locations, each girl took a turn leaving an impression of her own stamp in the letterbox logbook and then pressing the letterbox stamp into her personal record book.

Step 5:  Once the girls returned the letterboxes to the spot exactly as they had found them, we headed to a nearby park to hide our troop letterbox.  The letterbox included a logbook, a store-bought stamp, and a pen.  Here are photos of the items we hid.  Each girl took a turn writing one clue that others could follow to find the hidden letterbox.  We posted the clue on 

The girls asked if we could go on another hunt again sometime.  As they left the meeting, we provided a clue to an additional letterbox in our area, hoping they would continue searching for letterboxes with their families.  This is a fun hobby for people of all ages and groups of all sizes.  I would love to hear about your adventures.  Thank you for reading!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Team Banner: I Can't Wait to...

While on our first camping overnight last year, our troop worked on the Girl Scout Way badge.  To fulfill one of the badge requirements, the girls made a team banner.  The girls each traced their hand print, cut it out, and decorated it with crayons.  We glued these colorful hand prints to a piece of white poster board.  The team banner has been displayed during many of our meetings.

In early August, I attended a Fall Kick-Off Meeting at our Council Office.  I learned the theme for the Girl Scout membership campaign this year is "I Can't Wait to be a Girl Scout."  I came up with an idea that would not only tie this campaign in with our team banner, but it would serve as a good ice breaker during our first meeting.  At this point, I must provide some context:

Last spring, we asked the girls in our troop to vote on the badges they would like to work on during their second year as Brownies.  We gave the girls a handout to take home to review the badge names and a brief description of the requirements for each badge.  They were asked to mark down the badges that interested them and to indicate their top three favorites with a "1," "2," and "3" in the margin of the paper.  The girls turned in their papers before the end of the school year, giving us (the leaders) a good deal of time to prepare for this school year.  Please note that these girls have been together in the same troop for the past three years.  When a new girl joins the troop, we provide many opportunities for her to voice her opinions and vote when our troop needs to make decisions throughout the year.

To begin the first meeting of this school year, we had the girls read a list of all the badges, service projects, and events they had voted upon last spring.  Each girl was given a small slip of paper that read "I can't wait to..." across the top.  They were instructed to write something they are excited to do this year.  It had to be related to Girl Scouts, but they were allowed to write down an idea that was not listed on the paper.  We glued the papers to the hand prints. We are pleased with the result.  (Please excuse the white spots on the photo.  I wanted to respect the privacy of those in our troop). 

Whether or not your girls are Brownies working on the Girl Scout Way badge, making a team banner can be a great way to get your troop working together right from the start.  Maybe you have the girls share what they can't wait to do this year as a Girl Scout?  Maybe you choose a different question to break the ice?  The team banner can serve as a visual reminder that the girls don't have to be best friends outside of troop activities, but they are Girl Scout sisters.  They must respect and encourage each other.  They are there to support each other when and if someone needs a helping hand.   Thank you for reading!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Daisy "Camp" Part 2

If you have not yet read Daisy "Camp" Part 1, please check out this post to set the stage and give context for this day.

After a busy afternoon at the Nature Center, we cleaned up after ourselves and piled back into the van.  We headed to my house for dinner and more camp fun.  We enjoyed a dinner that consisted of what I consider to be "camp food:"  hotdogs, baked beans, macaroni and cheese, and pink lemonade.  It was quick and easy to prepare which allowed us to spend more time on activities we had planned for the girls.

My husband was willing to review fire safety with the troop.  He used Lincoln Logs to teach them how to build a fire.  
building a fire on the ground
building a fire off the ground (on a grate)

While he was starting a fire in our backyard, the girls completed several activities we borrowed from the Zink the Zebra program. Please see this post to read about the Zink activities our older troop completed last year.  We did the same activities with this Daisy troop.  The girls loved making their own Zink storybooks.

We ended our evening by toasting marshmallows and eating s'mores near the fire.  Since this was our last event of the year, the girls were asked to reflect and share what they liked and disliked about the year's meetings, projects, and events.  They were all looking forward to summer was I.  Please check back in the fall to see what we have planned.  Thank you for reading!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Daisy "Camp" Part 1

As our first Girl Scout year was coming to an end, we chose not to participate in the two-day Service Unit Summer Day Camp.  Regrettably, our Service Unit has not opted to organize a neighborhood-wide camping trip for the past couple of years.  Instead, we planned a day camp experience for our troop.  It was so successful that I scheduled a similar event for our younger troop last weekend.  I will share the highlights of these events in this post.

The girls met at my house at 3pm on a Saturday in the spring.  We carpooled to Woodland Mound the first year, and to the Cincinnati Nature Center this year.  We began the afternoon with a hike.  At the CNC, we chose the Edge Trail that circles Powel Crosley Lake.  It took us about 45 minutes to complete this hike.  There are so many different ways to make a hike with the troop more than another walk through the woods.  Here are some ideas:

1.  Nature Scavenger Hunt --have the girls create a list, make up your own list, or save yourself some valuable time by finding a list online that will meet the needs of your troop.

2.  Alphabet Hike--find objects that begin with or resemble each letter of the alphabet from A to Z.  Another option is to give the girls a word, like "DAISY" or "GIRL SCOUTS" and have them find items with these letters.  The older girls went on a "BROWNIES" hike at camp this fall (see this post).  

3.   Senses Hike--have the girls close their eyes for a minute and ask them to  listen for different sounds.  Instruct them to put up one finger each time they hear a new noise.  Then discuss what they heard.  

After finishing the hike, we found a picnic table where we spent the next 30-45 minutes doing crafts and singing songs.  The year the older girls were at camp, they made God's eyes and decorated their own memory books.  For the books, I precut pieces of cardstock into 5x7" rectangles, allowing for each girl to have four sheets.  I punched 3 holes along the edge of one side.  The girls used crayons, markers, and stickers to draw and write about their Daisy experiences.  We used leftover yarn from the God's Eyes to tie the pages together for each girl. They also spent some time working together to complete a compass activity.  (We used two compasses my daughters received as the prize with their Chick-fil-A Kid's Meal).  We divided the troop into two teams and asked the girls to follow a series of directions we had written on an index card.  For example, "take 4 steps to the North, turn East and go 6 steps."

We skipped the compass activity this year, so the younger troop had more time to devote to crafts.  They made God's Eyes, using 8" lollipop sticks that had been cut in half.  Learning from the past, I tied the yarn onto the sticks and started each God's eye prior to arriving at camp.  This was easier and quicker for the girls than having to help them get started on site.  This picture is from the first year we tried the craft.  They are using cookie sticks instead of the lollipop sticks cut in half.


They also completed a campfire craft from the Girl Scout foam craft kit that is available at Michael's.  I already had the yellow cardstock.  I brought some tacky glue and Elmer's Glue-All--both worked well on the foamThe girls followed the picture provided in the kit.  Most of them added a personal touch to the scene. 

The girls each made a Daisy bracelet with some alphabet beads and pony beads that had been donated to the older troop a couple of years ago.  I had some elastic cord on hand from a previous craft.  Thankfully there happened to be enough beads to spell "Daisy" for each girl, so I didn't have an additional expense.   

We had enough time to sing some songs that remind me of my days at camp like "The Other Day," "Boom Chicka Boom," "Make New Friends," "Down by the Bay."  My mom spent her summers in college working at a Girl Scout Camp.  She taught me "Sarasponda" and "Flea", and I was excited to get to share these songs with the girls. 

My mom also told me about the Hoot Bird that would make an appearance at camp when she was a Camp Counselor.  I just HAD to try it!  A couple of days before camp, I bought a cantaloupe (I used a small watermelon the first time).  I created the Hoot Bird by decorating the melon with feathers from the craft store.  I adhered the feathers, cardstock triangle nose, and large googly eyes with hot glue.  Once at camp, I conveniently hid the bird.  Much later I pretended to get a call from my husband on my cell phone.  I explained to the girls that he was calling to let us know that a Hoot Bird had escaped from the Cincinnati Zoo and was seen flying over the Cincinnati Nature Center. I warned the girls that this was a gentle bird that would not hurt them but would most likely be afraid of us.  I described the bird as having brightly colored feathers and huge eyes.  Of course, the girls were interested in trying to help locate the missing bird.  After a short walk, they located the Hoot Bird and erupted into giggles. The best part is that the Hoot Bird can double as a snack.  So fun!

After making sure we were leaving the park cleaner than it was when we arrived, we headed back to my house for Part 2 of Daisy "Camp."  Please check back to see how we spent the rest of our time together.  Thanks for reading!


Merriam-Webster defines a SIT-UPON as "a square of waterproof cloth carried by hikers and campers for sitting on wet ground."  I remember making a sit-upon as a young girl with my Brownie troop.  As a troop leader, I knew our troop would enjoy making sit-upons during our overnight camping trip this past fall.  I searched "sit-upon" online and discovered many different examples of how to make this traditional Girl Scout cushion. 

I bought two vinyl tablecloths for $2 each at Walmart that measured 60"x120".  The girls were allowed to vote for their favorite tablecloth.  I explained it would be used for a craft at a future meeting.  The decision was unanimous.  They loved the watermelons!  I later used fabric scissors to cut the tablecloth at 15" increments along the 120" side which gave me 8 rectangles measuring 15"x60".  I then cut these rectangles in half on the 60" side to get smaller rectangles that measured 15"x30".  

I folded the 15"x30" rectangle in half to make a 15"x15" square.  I punched holes about 1" apart and about 1" from the edge, using a standard handheld 1-hole punch.  This was very time-consuming and tiring, so I worked on one sit-upon per night over the course of a couple weeks.  I researched different padding options for the cushion.  I considered recycling and reusing carpet remnants, plastic grocery bags, newspaper, and bubble wrap.  We ended up using pieces of thick, high-density foam one of our parents saw in a recycling bin at work and was able to donate to our troop.

I originally planned to have the girls use yarn and a plastic needle to sew the three open sides of the tablecloth together.  Days before our camping trip, I was at a Service Unit Leader Meeting, talking with another leader about the sit-upons.  She described a Duct Tape Sit-Upon she had come across on the Internet.  After some consideration, I scrapped my original plan and adopted this alternative idea.  I used a 40% off coupon at Michael's and paid only $2.65 for a roll of red Duct Tape to match our watermelon tablecloth.

We finished the sit-upons by spreading the tablecloth rectangles out on a picnic table.  The girls placed the precut 12"x12" foam square on the nearest end of the rectangle before folding the far end over the foam to cover it.  We helped them tape the edges of the tablecloth together.  The girls finished the sit-upon by adding a handle.  They folded one long piece of duct tape in half lengthwise and secured the handle to the cusion with smaller pieces of duct tape.  The girls used the sit-upons when they sat at the picnic tables for meals and to do crafts.  They also took them to sit on by the campfire later that night.  Super cheap...super useful...super fun!

Thank you for reading!

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Brownie Badge: Snacks

Three years ago, when the girls were in their first year of Girl Scouts, we held our meetings in a room at the school.  We developed a rotating schedule, and each family was asked to provide a snack for the meetings.  For the past two years, we have met at my house.  The girls have had the opportunity to eat a snack at home before the meeting, saving our precious meeting time for business and fun.  The girls do love a special treat every now and then.  The snack badge gave them a chance to make a typical meeting a little more exciting.  While the Girl's Guide to Girl Scouting provides guidelines for Brownies who are working to earn the badges, I feel it is acceptable to think outside the box when it comes to meeting the required steps.  

Step 5, for example, is called Slurp a Snack.  The Guide gives three choices:  make your own milkshake, make your own fruit smoothie, or make your own party punch.  We decided to make our own slushies.  While a slushie is not a milkshake or a smoothie, it is a snack you must slurp.  Our family purchased a Ninja blender from Kohls, using a 30% off coupon, of course.  This blender crushes ice remarkably well.  Perfect for slushies.  This treat is relatively low cost especially when you consider how much it would cost to buy your troop a frozen drink at Dairy Queen or all the ingredients required to make a fruit smoothie.

Step 4 is called Snack For Energy.  We created a snack for a group when we were at camp this past fall.  We enjoyed trail mix while we were on a hike.  Please note that I like to plan ahead with help from the girls.  If we are doing an activity for one badge that can also satisfy a requirement for another badge, we recognize this.  No need to make more work for ourselves.  Snacking on trail mix during our hike allowed us to complete Step 4 for the Snacks badge and Step 4 for the Hiker badge (also called Snack for Energy). 

Step 3 is called Try a Sweet Snack.  Our troop planned a Christmas Party for the Daisy troop.  We asked the girls to bring snack ideas to the planning meeting.  The girls voted and decided to serve North Pole Cupcakes and Santa Brownies.  The cupcakes were prepared prior to the party, but we allowed the girls to assemble their own strawberry Santa hat on a brownie.  We spooned Cool Whip into plastic baggies, and we snipped off a corner so the girls could pipe the Cool Whip with minimal mess.  

I would like to end this post by describing how we completed Step 2 which is called Make a savory snack.  While driving to one of our events, we discussed the difference between a sweet snack and a savory snack.  The girls provided examples, and after the event they each enjoyed some cheddar crackers.  One of the choices provided for this step in the Girl's Guide is "make a savory snack from a different country."  This is one of those times when we took some creative liberties when it came to satisfying this requirement.  We took our girls to the Melting Pot, a fondue restaurant in Cincinnati.  We listened to a short presentation on the history of fondue, learning how others around the world enjoyed fondue and how it became popular in America.  Then we enjoyed an amazing spread of sweet treats.  At just $3 a person, this is a reservation you certainly want to work into your schedule.  Just make sure to have a lot of napkins!

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Brownie Badge: Painting

Our second grade Brownie troop was invited by another Brownie troop to visit the Taft Museum of Art in Cincinnati.  During our visit, the girls toured the museum and completed three of the five steps required to earn the Brownie Painting Badge.  If you happen to live near Cincinnati, I recommend a visit to this museum with your troop.  Our program was scheduled from 2pm to 4pm on a Saturday.  Admission was $8 per girl, and up to two leaders were admitted at no charge.  Parking was free.

Upon our arrival, the girls were given name tags, and a volunteer stored our winter coats for us.  The two troops split up to walk through the museum.  This tour satisfied the requirements for Step 1 of the badge (Get Inspired).  Our guide showed the girls examples of a still life, a landscape, and a mural.  She identified the foreground, middle ground, and background of a painting.  She asked the girls to observe the differences in the sizes and colors of objects in the foreground as compared to those in the background of the paintings.  As we moved from room to room, she questioned the girls to ensure they were making their own observations and understanding the lessons. 

After the tour, we met the other troop in a large basement room to work on Steps 2 and 3 (Paint the Real World, and Paint a Mood).  Another tour guide demonstrated different painting techniques and provided the girls with instructions to paint a still life.  The girls first sketched the still life with a pencil and then painted with watercolors.  When they had finished painting the basket of fruit, they painted the background all one color to express an emotion.  

The museum provided instructions for the follow-up project so the girls could complete Steps 4 and 5 to earn the Painting Badge (Paint without Brushes, and Paint a Mural).  One of the tour guides gave me some large pieces of paper to use for the mural.  These sheets of paper measured 2'x3'.   

To prepare for the follow-up project at our next troop meeting, I laid vinyl tablecloths on the floor to serve as a dropcloth.  I used small pieces of masking tape to secure the corners of the paper to this dropcloth.  I divided each sheet of paper in half horizontally by making a small pencil mark at 18" on the top and bottom edges of the paper.  Each girl would paint on one half of the paper.  

They were instructed to sketch a large tree, showing the branches.  Then they were to paint leaves on the tree, using sponge brushes.  Once the paintings were dry, I taped them together to create a troop mural. 

I loved helping the girls earn this badge, especially because our school district no longer offers art to the students due to budget cuts.  Our girls are already thinking about activities for next year.  They have asked to work on the Potter Badge.  Please check back to see how the girls finish up this school year.  Thanks for reading!