Thursday, December 4, 2014

Christmas Party 2014

This is our first year having a blended troop:  five Junior Girl Scouts and three Brownies.  We had our troop Christmas Party last night.  When possible, I like to incorporate badge steps into our meetings, activities, and events while allowing the girls to help with the planning. 

This year, the Juniors decided to work on the Detective badge.  The first step for this badge is "Practice the power of observation."  I remembered playing the Tray Game at a baby shower.  I thought this game would be a great way for the girls to work on their observation skills.  I collected a variety of Christmas-related items and placed them on a tray.  The girls (Juniors and Brownies) were given about thirty seconds to view the tray, and then they were given one minute to write down as many items as they could remember.  (For future reference, I would give them more time to write).  In years past, we have not awarded prizes for game winners at our troop parties.  This year, I found really cute Christmas socks at Dollar Tree.  I bought a few pairs, and the winner of the Tray Game was first to choose a pair of socks from the prize bag.

I was really excited to see that Step 5 for the Detective badge is "Follow the clues to solve a real mystery."  One day while I was bumping around online, I came across Merri Mysteries.  This website offers mystery party game kits that are available for purchase.  The website is organized into various categories:  murder mysteries, mysteries that aren't murders, for girls, for boys, for teens, for schools, and for holidays.  I couldn't wait to share the idea of a having a Mystery Party/Christmas Party with the girls in the troop.  After reading through the options, I chose the "Who Stole the Cookies?" (Mini Version) Mystery Kit.  It is not a murder mystery.  It is written for 8 to 16 guests, so it is appropriate for the size of our group.  The characters in the story are fairy tale characters all the girls know and love.  This mini version can be done in about 30-40 minutes.  Most importantly, this mystery involves cookies, and Girl Scout cookies will be available in the very near future.  This Mystery Kit seemed like the obvious choice for our Girl Scout Troop Christmas Party. When I presented the idea to the girls, they agreed to use $20 from troop funds to purchase this mystery kit.  

A Host Guide is included with the script for the mystery.  This makes party planning really easy.  The kit provides tips for preparing for the party, costume ideas, and suggestions for the decor and menu.  Prior to the meeting, the girls drew characters out of a hat.  I emailed the parents the cast list, and I included the costume suggestions listed in the kit.  Families were encouraged to use what costumes or accessories they had at home or to borrow from others in the troop.  The plan was to give a pair of those Dollar Tree Christmas socks to the girl who correctly guessed which character stole the cookies.  If there had been a tie, we would have drawn a name to determine the winner. 

Left to Right:  Cinderella, Goldilocks, Alice, Peter Pan, Dorothy, Snow White, Aladdin, and Little Red Riding Hood

We didn't decorate our meeting space for the Mystery Party, but we did have some special snacks.  In addition to the Detective badge, the Juniors are working on the Simple Meals badge.  The Brownies are working on their Snacks badge.  Both badges have a step that offers the choice of making a holiday treat:  Simple Meals badge Step 4 is "Create a delicious dessert."  Snacks badge Step 3 is "Try a sweet snack."  While planning out our year, I suggested we have a Cookie Exchange during our Christmas Party.  The girls and leaders were asked to bake cookies at home with their families.  They then brought a dozen of these treats to share with the other girls in the troop.  We had them vote for the "Best Cookie" (based on appearance only), but they were not allowed to vote for their own.  The winner received a pair of the Christmas socks out of the prize bag.  The girls chose two cookies to eat at the party, and the rest were packed up to take home.  Again, this is super simple for the host of the party, and the girls really enjoyed the Cookie Exchange.  We finished what we had planned for the party with a few minutes to spare. We filled this extra time by having the girls play the Minute to Win It--Stack Attack.  We introduced this relay game to the girls at our troop Christmas Party in 2012.  It is a huge hit (with kids and adults)!  As parents arrived to pick up their daughters, they were given this Christmas Baking fun patch we ordered from Council earlier in the school year.

Though this party was planned for Girl Scouts, it would be so much fun to do something similar with family and friends as you gather together to celebrate the holiday season.  I wish you and your family a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.  As always, thank you for reading!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Service Project: Knit Hats for Crayons to Computers

Last fall, I stumbled upon a website for KidKnits, and I was intrigued by their mission.  KidKnits was founded in 2011, by a nine-year-old girl named Ellie.  In the summer of 2011, she and her GIRL SCOUT TROOP had learned to knit on a round loom.  She enjoyed making hats for others which gave her a great idea.  She took that idea and ran with it.  Ellie and her family created this organization that sells knitting craft kits.  These kits include yarn that is hand-spun and dyed by women in Rwanda and Chile.  These women and their families benefit from the sale of these kits.  While bumping around the KidKnits website, I decided I would love to receive a KidKnits craft kit for Christmas that year.  I was so excited to open the bag to see the brightly-colored yarn!  A few days later, my daughters and I began knitting our first hat by wrapping the soft yarn around the pegs of the round loom. Before we knew it, we had made a beautiful, warm, winter hat.  We enjoyed this so much that we ran out to the craft store to purchase several more skeins of yarn.  We made several hats that winter—for family, friends, and even baby dolls!

When it was time for our Girl Scout troop to decide how to spend their cookie money, we encouraged them to use the money to help others in addition to covering the cost of a fun activity.  When shown the hats my girls and I had made, the troop was excited to use cookie money earned during last year’s cookie sale (2014) to purchase round looms for a service project we scheduled for this school year.  Throughout the summer, the other troop leader and I would occasionally check Michaels for the Loops and Threads 9.5” Round Loom.  This product sells for $8.99, but with our 40% off coupons, we were able to purchase them for $5.75 each.  For the past few years, we have collected $20 in dues from each girl in our troop at the beginning of the school year.  This year, we collected only $15, and we asked the families to purchase two skeins of yarn for this service project.  I had found yarn on sale for $2.50 a skein, and we wanted the girls to be able to choose their favorite yarn for the project.  Our initial plan was to have each girl knit one hat and one scarf for donation. 

The girls spent one entire meeting focusing on learning how to knit on the round loom and perfecting the technique as they started their first hat.  They found out quickly not to wrap the yarn too tightly around the pegs.  They took their projects home, and we asked family members to help them finish if they asked.  I received some feedback from a few parents—some of the girls required a great deal of help, and a couple needed to run out to buy new hooks.  Once the girls figured it out, they all decided they want to knit hats to give as Christmas gifts this year!

Knowing we would have all these items to donate, I did a quick internet search to find out where we could take them.  I discovered an organization called Crayons to Computers that "operates a free store for teachers from nearly 600 greater Cincinnati area schools in 16 counties (in Ohio, Northern Kentucky, and Indiana), offering new and gently used school supplies, educational tools, and incentive items."  Crayons to Computers also promotes a program called Keep Our Kids Warm.  They welcome donations of hats, gloves, and mittens that teachers can take back to give their students in need.  Perfect!  I spoke with the Volunteer Coordinator and scheduled a time to visit on a weekday evening, our typical meeting time.  I also asked if there was anything the girls could do to help out while we were there.

The girls in our troop are proudly showing their donations.

See the shelves of hats, gloves, and mittens in center of photo.

 Upon our arrival at the store, we were given a tour.  There were quite a few teachers bustling about, pushing carts full of school supplies and essentials for their students.  We learned that there are companies in our city working hard to be Zero Waste companies, and they donate many different items to Crayons to Computers.  Staff and volunteers at Crayons to Computers find creative ways to use the donations from these companies to benefit teachers and students.  During our tour, we saw numerous examples of how these companies can reduce, reuse, and recycle to benefit our communities.  The girls really enjoyed seeing this in action.

Repurposed packaging tubes make great tools for practicing math facts.
After the tour, the girls were asked to assemble packages of award certificates that will be made available for teachers to take back to their classrooms.  Our girls are eager to please, and they all enjoy earning awards in school.  They understand how much it will mean to the students who would eventually receive these awards.  They truly enjoyed working on this project together.

 Crayons to Computers is a wonderful organization to visit!  Girl Scout troops of all ages can volunteer to help with various projects that need to be completed to ensure the sustainability of this organization.  Depending on the project, troops could easily satisfy steps toward earning several different Daisy petals or Girl Scout badges.  Thank you for reading!

Friday, October 31, 2014

Celebrating Juliette Gordon Low's Birthday

Juliette Gordon Low is a common name in the world of Girl Scouts.  For those readers who may not be familiar with her, "Juliette Gordon Low, founder of Girl Scouts of the USA, was born Juliette Magill Kinzie Gordon on October 31, 1860, in Savannah, Georgia."  Girl Scouts are encouraged to recognize and celebrate our founder's birthday each year.  Since our troop had a meeting scheduled on October 29th, and we did not have plans for a Halloween event this year, I thought this meeting would be the perfect opportunity to celebrate and to work on a few steps toward various badges.  Here is the agenda for that meeting:

4:15pm  Girls arrive.  Take yogurt snack orders.
4:30pm  Promise and Girl Scout Law Song 
              Learn 2 new Girl Scout songs
              Juliette Gordon Low Skit
5:00pm  Yogurt Snack
5:20pm.  Macrame Bracelets
6:00pm  Closing

Our girls learned a valuable lesson during this meeting:  Sometimes the best plans and intentions don't go as expected, and that is okay.  Here is what actually happened during that meeting.

4:15pm  Girls arrive.  Take yogurt snack orders.  Kapers assigned.
4:30pm  Girl Scout Promise and Girl Scout Law song.  We were SO excited the girls were able to sing the entire song without referring to this YouTube video or the Girl Scout Law poster we display at our meetings.  

As I mentioned in a previous post, we have a blended troop this year.  Our Brownies are working on the Girl Scout Way badge.  To satisfy Step 1, they learned three new Girl Scout songs.  In addition to the Girl Scout Law song, the girls sang The Banana Song and Princess Pat.  Many of the Juniors enjoy singing, and they had a good time joining the Brownies as they learned these songs.

The Brownies could celebrate Juliette Low's birthday to satisfy the second step for the Girl Scout Way badge.  The girls agreed to wear their Halloween costumes to the meeting, and I offered to make a special treat for them to take home after the meeting.  I found a directions for a Spooky and Sweet Halloween Treat on pages 14 to 17 in the September/October 2014 issue of the American Girl Magazine.  Since I was making this candy for Girl Scouts, I chose dark cocoa mint and green Wilton candy melts.  I melted the candy melts individually and in separate bowls in the microwave according to the directions on the package.  I quickly poured the melted candy onto wax paper I had previously placed on the kitchen counter.  I used a wooden spoon to spread the candy out until it was about 1/4" thick, and I swirled the brown and green candy together.  I sprinkled crushed Oreos over the top of the candy.  I carefully placed candy eyes, knowing I would be cutting the candy into pieces once the candy had hardened.  

 To recognize Juliette Gordon Low, the girls performed a skit I found online.  Conveniently, the skit had eight parts, and we have eight girls.  For troops with more than eight members, the girls are divided into groups, and parts can be assigned to each group.  Prior to the meeting, I printed out The Juliette Low Interactive Story.  I also wrote the parts on index cards.  The cards were randomly passed out to the girls.  I read the story, and when her character was mentioned, she stepped forward and said her line along with the action written on the card.  It was super cute...and really easy for me!

5:00pm  We served a yogurt snack to the girls to satisfy Step 5 Slurp a Snack (Brownies Snacks Badge) and Step 2 Whip up a Great Breakfast (Juniors Simple Meals Badge).  The Brownies had smoothies made with yogurt, frozen fruit, and orange juice.  The Juniors had a yogurt-granola parfait.  Up to this point, the meeting was running smoothly, and the girls were having a lot of fun together.

5:20pm  Macrame Bracelets.  By learning to macrame, the Brownies would satisfy Step 5 Enjoy Girl Scout Traditions (Girl Scout Way Badge).  At the same time, the Juniors would complete Step 4 Create Jewelry Inspired by Another Culture (Jeweler Badge).  I had purchased packages of parachute cord (4 different colors, 25 yards each) and clips from a craft store.  There were directions for two-toned bracelets next to the supplies, so I grabbed a flyer.  Prior to the meeting, I reviewed the directions and cut 16 lengths of cord, each 2 yards long, as directed.  I cut four of each color, knowing we could cut additional pieces during the meeting if needed.  When the other leaders arrived, they burned both ends of each cord, again as directed.  

Once the snacks had been cleaned up, we had the girls choose their cord colors and get settled.  As we began to instruct how to start the bracelets, there was some confusion.  Suddenly the directions weren't as clear as I initially thought they were.  After several minutes without success, we referred to a couple different videos on YouTube.  Minutes passed, and I began to panic.  In four years, this had never happened--our meetings and projects generally run rather smoothly.  After 30 minutes of scrambling, we bailed.  The girls were perfectly content playing a game together until their parents arrived.  Of course, I couldn't let this project go.  I continued to fiddle with the bracelet.  A couple minutes later, the directions clicked for me.  I am determined to get the bracelets started for the girls, and we will revisit this project during our Christmas party.  

Through this experience I have learned there may be occasions that require I get together with the other leaders prior to a meeting to make sure we're on the same page.  Next week our girls will begin knitting hats and scarves on a round loom.  We will be prepared this time!  I hope you check back with us.  Thank you for reading!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Juniors and Brownies: A Blended Troop, Part Two

For the first four years of my career as a Girl Scout troop leader, I was adamantly opposed to having a blended troop.  Over the years, we have had a couple of girls who were a grade older than the rest of the girls in the troop.  These girls were welcomed into our troop, of course, as long as the parents agreed their daughters would be doing what the other girls were doing despite the fact that Council would recognize these older girls at the level that corresponded with their age in school.  (For example, when we had a 1st grade Daisy troop, we had two 2nd graders.  Council recognizes 2nd graders as Brownies, but these two girls earned Daisy petals as members of our troop).  Now that the girls are older, my stand with regards to leading a blended troop has softened.  For some context, please check out the post I wrote about our first meeting as a blended troop.
Our second meeting together was a little different than our first official meeting of the year.  We began the meeting by talking about what the girls wanted to do with the money they will earn during cookie sales.  I like to have this discussion early in the year so the girls know what they are working toward throughout the year.  Everyone was given an opportunity to contribute an idea.  We went back through the ideas, asking if there were any activities on the list that any of the girls didn't want to do.  Once we had our list narrowed down a bit, the girls were each asked to choose their top three activities.  We made a list of the three most popular activities.  The girls then cast votes for their favorites.  We use a weighted voting system.  Please check out this link for a description of the process.  Our overnight at the Cincinnati Zoo this past spring was such a hit that the girls voted for another overnight at the Zoo.  Thankfully the Cincinnati Zoo offers many overnight opportunities for groups and families, so the girls will have the opportunity to experience something new.

At this point in the meeting, the younger girls made sit upons while the older girls discussed their Bronze Award.  As you will see in the link to my post on the sit upons, the older girls used duct tape and foam when they made their sit upons at camp a couple of years ago.  While gathering the leftover materials for the younger girls, I found some crib-size quilt batting I happened to have on hand.  We cut it in thirds and folded it to fit inside the vinyl tablecloth that had been prepared as described in that previous post.  The girls used yarn to sew their sit upons.  They used duct tape to fashion a handle.  I will write a separate post about our discussion with the Juniors about their Bronze Award. With thirty minutes left in the meeting, the Juniors prepared and performed the puppet show they created during the aMUSE Journey.  

I would love for you to check back to read about that Bronze Award discussion.  I will also be writing a post about our recent Juliette Gordon Low birthday celebration.  Thank you for reading!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Juniors and Brownies: A Blended Troop, Part One

During the 2013-2014 school year, I was a leader for two different troops.  There were eight Brownies in one troop and five Daisies in another troop.  The older troop generally met on the first and third Wednesdays of the month while the younger girls usually met on the second and fourth Wednesdays of the month.  We combined the troops for service projects and special events.  Unfortunately, due to various circumstances, we decided to disband the Daisy troop at the end of the year.  

Three of the girls in that Daisy troop are the younger sisters of girls in the older troop.  After being apart for one school year, these three girls have gotten back together and joined the older girls' troop.  We now have a blended troop of five Juniors and three Brownies.  

The Juniors started this year by meeting every Wednesday in September to work on the aMUSE Journey.  We invited the younger girls to the first meeting in October.  This was the official start to our year. 

Though the girls are all familiar with each other, we began the meeting with a variation of this M&M icebreaker.  I gave each girl about a dozen M&Ms.  They were allowed to eat all but one.  They each answered a question that corresponded to the color of the M&M they had left in their hand.  Here are the questions that were asked:
  • Red:  If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go?  Why?
  • Orange:  If you were going to eat one last meal, what would it be?
  • Yellow:  If you were an animal, what kind of animal would you be?  Why?
  • Green:  What do you want to be when you grow up?
  • Blue:  What is your favorite subject in school?  Why?
  • Brown:  What is the best gift you've ever given someone?
We then asked the older girls to take turns reading The Brownie Story to the younger girls.  I provided the version included in the Brownie Girl's Guide to Girl Scouts, but there are several creative skits and ceremonies that revolve around this story that can be found online.  Then the girls lined up in two lines facing each other, and the younger girls walked through the tunnel.  They each had the opportunity to "twist and turn" and "look in the water."  

We spent the next several minutes watching the Girl Scout Law Song on YouTube.  After running through the video two or three times, the girls knew the song...and the Girl Scout Law!  

At this point in the meeting, the Juniors were given time to finish painting the scenery for the puppet show they had written during the aMUSE Journey.  The younger girls made a new kaper chart for the troop, making sure to include kapers the troop decided upon together.  This concluded our first meeting together as a blended troop.  Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Junior Girl Scouts: aMUSE Journey Day Four

Our Junior Girl Scout troop met every Wednesday in September, working on the aMUSE Journey.  Check out this post (and the links provided within the post) to read how the girls have spent their time during the meetings. 

Originally, the girls were supposed to perform their stereotype-busting puppet show during the fourth and final Journey meeting; however, they needed more time to write their script than we expected.  They also wanted to create some scenery for the puppet show.  We decided to postpone the performance to allow the girls adequate time to prepare.

4:15pm  Girls arrive.

4:30pm  Girl Scout Promise.  Sharing:  The girls were asked to bring to the meeting one accessory or article of clothing that represents who she is.  They each had an opportunity to show the accessory and describe how it makes her feel (using pg. 69 in Junior Journey Book as a guide).  

4:45pm  Finish puppet show script.

5:30pm  Decorate poster board as scenery for puppet show.
HOMEWORK:  Pg. 58-61 in Junior Journey Book.  (My "Role Call" Log--keep track of all the roles you play for a specific amount of time, and Trading Roles--the girls are encouraged to try new roles, and the workbook helps them figure out what they learned through the experience).

6:00pm  Closing. 

NOTE:  While I expected the troop to complete this Journey in four meetings, they needed extra time to finish their script and paint the scenery.  They were given an additional 20 minutes during the next two meetings to finish this project.  The puppet show was then scheduled for the following meeting.  Parents were asked to arrive a little earlier than usual to pick up their daughter.  The girls performed their puppet show for their parents and younger siblings.  They did an amazing job, and we're so proud of them!
At the beginning of October, we had three Brownies join our troop (they happen to be the younger sisters of our Juniors).  This is my first experience with a blended troop.  So far, it's been a smooth transition.  I hope you check back with us.  I would love to share our experiences with you.  Thanks for reading!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Junior Girl Scouts: aMUSE Journey Day Three

This month, our troop has been working on the aMUSE Journey.  The girls have been meeting once a week to learn about different stereotypes and the various roles that women play in the world around us.  To read about our first Journey meeting, check out this link: Day One.  Our second Journey meeting is detailed here:  Day Two.  

In preparation for today's meeting, the girls were asked to complete the Stereotype Tracker chart on pg. 27 of the Junior Journey Book.  During this past week, our family has been very aware of and had many conversations about stereotypes.  On Sunday morning, it was obvious I was annoying my family with the stereotype discussions.  When we entered church, we passed a police officer eating a doughnut.  NO JOKE!!!  On the way home, we were giggling about the police officer's breakfast, and my younger daughter laughed and said, "He was?"  I couldn't let this one go...the police officer was a WOMAN!  Even though we have probably run this topic into the ground at our house, at least I know our daughters have gained an appreciation for stereotypes and how their lives are affected by them.  During this third Journey meeting, our troop was challenged to write a story to educate an audience about stereotypes and inspire others to support women and girls.  Here is how we spent our meeting time:

4:15pm  Girls arrive.

4:30pm  Girl Scout Promise and Sharing.  The girls were asked to refer to pg. 31 in the Junior Journey Book.  They each shared something they learned when they interviewed someone from their Casting Call Log (pg. 16-17 in the Junior Journey Book).  

Watch the Always Like a Girl video.  My neighbor shared this video with me when she learned our troop was doing the aMUSE Journey.  It ties in with the lessons perfectly, but I will let the video speak for itself...  

4:45pm  First, the Stereotype.
  1. Read pg. 50-51 in Junior Journey Book.
  2.  Refer to Stereotype Tracker on pg. 27 in Junior Journey Book.
  3.  Each girl shares one stereotype from her list.  Make a troop list of stereotypes (refer to left margin of pg. 58 in Adult Guide for examples if needed).  
  4.  Answer the following questions (pg. 58 in Adult Guide):
  •  Which stereotype on our lists limits you and other girls the most?
  •  Is there one stereotype that you hear a lot in our community? Why?
  •  What can be done to stop that stereotype?
The girls chose to bust this stereotype:
All Girl Scouts do is knock on doors and sell cookies.

5:00pm  Your Heart, Your Art, Your Part (pg.  44-45 in Junior Journey Book)
Find your talent or what you love to do--that's what's in your heart.  Next, find a creative way that you can use what you love to do--that's your art.  Then see what role you can play when you and your troop tell a story about stereotypes--that's your part!  (The girls were given a couple minutes to review the chart on pg. 45 in the Junior Journey Book.  They were asked to mark their interests in the left column).  Everyone share the top two things you like to do from the left column...
Turn to pg. 47.  Can you see how some of the values of the Girl Scout Law can apply to creative people like artists and leaders?
  • Artists and leaders are "courageous and strong" when they...
  •  Artists and leaders are "honest and fair" when they...
  • Artists and leaders are "responsible for what they say and do" because they...
To be honest, our girls stuck with me up until I asked them these questions from pg. 47.  By the second question, I was starting at glazed eyes.  Though I know it's important to tie the lesson or activity back to the Girl Scout Law, I didn't want to lose them completely.  We moved on to the next part of the meeting.

5:15pm  Choosing our Audience and Deciding How to Tell Our Story (pg. 62-63 Adult Guide)
  1. Read pg. 53 in Junior Journey Book
  2. Brainstorm Audience Ideas
  3. Choose Audience
  4. Decide how to tell the story--musical performance, a picture book, mural, puppet show, or skit? 
The girls decided they wanted to do a puppet show, and they would like to perform for their families and the three Brownies who will be joining our troop in October.
 5:20pm  Next, the Storyline.  (pg. 60-61 Adult Guide)
Now you're going to work together to create a puppet show about the stereotype you chose.  You can create whatever kind of story you want:  serious, funny, real, fantasy.  No matter what kind of story you create, the big message should be how stopping the stereotype can benefit girls, women, and everyone!
(Review Tips for Creating a Story Line on pg. 61 of Adult Guide.  Provide list of questions for reference).
Use the paper and pens to brainstorm ideas.  Then develop a basic story line with beginning, middle, and end.  You can change it later if desired.

6:00pm  Closing.  Even though the girls were given 40 minutes to write their puppet show, they didn't come close to finishing.  They will have the entire time next week to write the rest of the story and decorate poster board to set the stage for their audience.  Our Service Unit has a Registration Event at the end of this month.  I'm hoping we can encourage the girls to step outside their comfort zone and perform their puppet show for all the girls at the Registration Event. 

HOMEWORK:  Thinking Like a Storyteller (pg. 52 Junior Journey Book)
                      Bring in one accessory or article of clothing that reflects something
                          about yourself to the next meeting.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Junior Girl Scouts: aMUSE Journey Day Two

Our Junior Girl Scout troop is working on the aMUSE Journey.  We hope to complete the Journey in four meetings.  Interested in reading about our aMUSE Journey Day One experience?  Check out this postWe held our second Journey meeting yesterday.  In this post, I will outline and describe the activities we completed.
4:15pm  Girls arrive.

4:30pm  Girl Scout Promise and Sharing.  The girls were asked to turn to Pg. 13 in the Junior Journey Book.  This was an exercise they had completed at home prior to the meeting.  They each shared their five favorite girl characters and the roles these characters play.  Then they described the NEW character they created.  We had assigned the All-My-Roles Paper Dolls activity on Pg. 22 and 23 in the Junior Journey Book for fun.  The girls were invited to share their paper dolls if they brought them to the meeting.

4:45pm   Discuss Casting Call Log.  The girls turned to Pg. 16-17 in the Junior Journey Book.  Prior to the meeting, I prepared something to say to the girls, relying on the "Logs and Leaders" activity on pg. 37 in the Adult Guide.  Here is what I said:
            By completing the Casting Call Log, you have taken a step toward the Reach Out! Award.  Look at the list of women you wrote down.  We’re going to discuss them as a group. 
               Do any of these women play more than one role?  What are they?
               Which of these women do you consider to be leaders, either at home or in their community?    Why?
               What leadership traits do you see in them that you see in yourself?
               Which leadership traits do you see in them that you aspire to?
               Think about the Girl Scout Law.  Which of those values do these women seem to honor in the roles they play?
                     Continue to fill out your log as you see more women and girls in your daily life.  We have a chance to revisit this activity during another meeting.
5:00pm   Breaking the Mold  (Read Pg.  24-26 in Junior Journey Book).  We read the stories about Bennie Williams, a professional dancer, and Debbie Black, a professional basketball player.  Both women break stereotypes.  These stories provided the perfect transition for us to assign homework for our next meeting.
HOMEWORK:  Complete chart on Pg. 27.  Interview person from Casting Call (questions provided on Pg. 29).  Complete Pg. 30-31 for next week.

5:15pm   Role-Play Switcheroo.  (Pg. 39-41 in Adult Guide)
Again, I relied on the text provided in the Adult Guide.  This is what I said to the troop:
            In your daily life, you may be playing out stereotypical gender roles without even knowing it.  We are going to take turns role-playing girls and boys in a classroom situation.  We need one teacher, two boys, and two girls. 
      Who will be the first teacher?
      Can you suggest a topic for the day’s lesson?  (math, science, language arts…)
The girls had SO much fun with this scenario, especially the girls who were playing boys.  After several minutes, we ended the skit and discussed several questions from pg. 39 in the Adult Guide:

1.      Who put their hands up most, boys or girls?
2.      Who disrupted most, boys or girls?
3.      How did being a boy make you feel or act differently?
4.      Is there anything you now want to change about how you act in class?  What?  Why?

We continued with Scenario 2 (from pg. 41 in the Adult Guide).  I instructed them to switch roles from previous scenario (those who played boys now played girls and vice versa).  We allowed the teacher to choose to be a boy or a girl.  They were asked to pretend they are at recess on the playground.  The other leader and I were cracking up at these girls!  They had more fun with this scenario than with the classroom role-play.  We ended the skit by "blowing the whistle" which meant the girls were to line up at the end of recess.  We discussed several more questions that were found on Pg. 41 in the Adult Guide):
1.      Who uses the basketball court? 
2.      Who stands around and talks? 
3.      Who gets invited to play games? 
4.      Who plays to win?
Remember, there is no right or wrong way to be.  You have been acting out what you’ve seen and experienced in your own lives.  Being aware of (or discovering)  how stereotypes affect your decisions, behavior, and relationships is what this Journey is all about.
5:30pm   Ads Assume  (pg. 50-51 in the Adult Guide)
            I hoped to follow this activity as described in the Adult Guide; however, I didn't find the right type of ads.  My husband grabbed a couple issues of Men's Health and Men's Fitness from work, and they were FULL of ads that used stereotypes to promote a product.  Jackpot!  I chose quite a few that I thought would generate a good discussion.  I began the activity by saying (from pg. 50 in the Adult Guide):
Advertising experts have the job of selecting pictures or photos to place in ads and on packaging for products girls see every day, such as toys, games, and sports equipment.  It's usually the company’s top executives who make the final decision about which image will sell their product best.  Here's a funny story.  When Mr. Travis (my husband) was little, his grandma bought him an Easy Bake Oven for Christmas.  Before wrapping the gift, she cut out a picture of Bill Cosby and glued it to the box.  She didn’t want him to feel badly because it was a “girl” toy.  Good thing she didn’t buy into stereotypes because today he is an excellent cook! 
I read through a list of questions from pg. 51 in the Adult Guide before showing any of the ads.  I wanted the girls to be thinking about the questions when they saw the ads.  

      Are you seeing any stereotypes in these images?
              How is it useful for advertisers to use stereotypical images in their ads?
              When boys and girls are shown together, who is taller?  Who looks older?
              Which images seem to appeal most to girls?  To boys?
              If you were an advertising executive, would you change any of these images?  How?
For reference, here are a couple ads we discussed:

The girls quickly picked up on the fireman being a boy, and the teacher being a girl.  Someone also identified the teacher holding an apple as a stereotype.  They pointed out the female figure skater, the male hockey player, and they noticed the boy was the one sitting in front on the motorcycle.  Then I showed this ad:

We talked about the girl's posture and facial expression and what she may be feeling or thinking.  We also talked about how the guy is not even looking at the girl and what he may be feeling or thinking.  We decided the ad was directed toward guys, especially because it was found in a Men's Health.  With some help, the girls concluded the point of this ad is to say if you (a guy) wear these super cool Skechers, the girls will all want to hang out with you.  I explained that stereotypes like this can be found everywhere, and we may not even realize it when we see it.  Then I showed them this ad from a Lands' End catalog:

 "YOU'VE GOT TO BE KIDDING?!" was the response we heard from two of the girls when they saw this ad.  We repeated something that was said earlier in the meeting: 

Being aware of (or discovering)  how stereotypes affect your decisions, behavior, and relationships is what this Journey is all about!

 5:45pm   Closing Ceremony:  A Good Yarn  (pg. 57 in the Adult Guide)
            We did have time to try this activity, but the girls seemed like they'd had enough for the day.  Instead of having them make up a story, we described the activity.  They understood the yarn would make a web as they each took turns building the story.  I explained that the web connects all of them and symbolizes the story they told belongs to all of them.

6:00pm   Closing—We ended the meeting, and I gave the girls a sneak peak at what next week's meeting will bring.
During our next meetings, you girls will create a story about a stereotype that you care about.  This is for your Speak Out! Award.  Your story will educate others about how it’s wrong to limit the kinds of roles people have open to them.  You will eventually tell your story to an audience, and in doing so, you are being a leader.  You will hopefully inspire them to try new roles themselves and possibly stop stereotypes.
We have a creative and talented group.  I'm already looking forward to next week's meeting.  I hope you are too.  Thank you for reading!