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!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Junior Girl Scouts: aMUSE Journey--Should Leaders Bother? YES!

My most recent post detailed our troop's first meeting of the year.  The girls decided to work on their first Journey ever.  Though we have only had that one meeting, we are off to a fantastic start with the aMUSE Journey for Junior Girl Scouts

Before deciding on the aMUSE Journey, I did some research.  To be honest, I was apprehensive to try a Journey with our troop.  Based on the mixed reviews I have read about the Journeys, I was concerned that aMUSE would be a failure.  Our girls love to earn badges and participate in service projects, and I want them to continue to be excited about being a Girl Scout.  That being said, this is their troop, and Girl Scouts provides a safe place for the girls to make mistakes.  If the Journey does flop, we will learn from the experience and move forward.  With our first meeting still fresh in my mind combined with an incident that happened yesterday, I am convinced the aMUSE Journey is the right decision for the girls in our troop. 

The Junior Journey Book explains that the aMUSE Journey is "about having fun trying on roles, and being a leader who stretches herself to play new parts.  (It's) also (about) inspiring others to try new roles" (page 5).

Yesterday, my younger daughter (who will be eight years old next month) attended a classmate's birthday party.  We had been out of town for the weekend, and my daughter had been wearing a cute t-shirt dress with capri leggings and sandals.  As we prepared to leave for the party, I noticed she had changed into camo shorts, a tie-dye t-shirt, and gym shoes.  Over the summer, this was her favorite outfit because she was comfortable in these clothes.  She has expressed that it bothers her when other kids ask her if she is wearing boys' shorts.  I explained that she could either ignore the comments or politely tell the kids that we bought the shorts from the girls' department...that girls can wear camo, too.  She had worn this outfit many times, and I never complained or made her change her clothes...

...until yesterday, when we had the following conversation:
Mom:  We're about to leave.  Why did you decide to change your clothes?
Daughter:  I'm going to a birthday party.  This is my fun outfit!  The colors are bright, and it's comfortable.

Mom (smiling):  Well, it is fun, and it is bright.  But you are going to a birthday party.  Maybe you should wear something a little nicer?  I won't make you change your shorts, but would you please at least change your shirt?
Daughter:  If you go get it.
Mom:  Deal! 
She changed, and we headed out the door.  (Having that same conversation with my older daughter would not have been that easy!)  

My daughter was excited she was invited to this bowling party.  She knew several classmates who were invited as well.  I had arranged to stay at the party because I was not very acquainted with the family.  Another mother introduced herself to me, and we spent a great deal of time talking.  We were initially bonding over the fact that my daughter was the only girl there not wearing a dress, and her son was the only boy invited to the party.  As the evening progressed, I noticed this little boy didn't mind being the only boy.  He chose to use the "girl" bowling ball and he asked for the "girl" party favor when he was given a choice.  I overheard his mother make comments like, "You're a boy.  You should not use the "girl" ball," and "Don't take the girl party favor, you're a boy.  Take the boy party favor."  I didn't react or say anything, of course.  As a parent, I understand her point of view.  You don't want your child to give other kids a reason to tease, but I really felt for this boy.  His friends saw her react to his choices and heard her comments. 

Years ago, when I worked as a Certified Athletic Trainer in a physical therapy clinic, I treated a ten-year-old boy named Daniel.  He often told me that his friends at school were all girls.  He preferred to play with them, but many of his classmates made fun of him.  He told me I was his friend.  He began crying and confided he wanted to be a girl--everyone could call him Danielle.  My heart broke for him, and it was incredibly difficult not to cry with him.  I did give him a hug, and we finished the appointment for that day.  This conversation has stayed with me all these years, and I immediately recalled the memory as we were driving home from the party.  

PLEASE understand that I am NOT, in any way, suggesting the boy at the party wants to be a girl.  I decided to post these stories because the bowling party was a clear reminder to me that growing up and figuring out who you are and who you want to be is difficult.   Do I care that my daughter is asking for another model car for her birthday?  No.  Do I worry that other kids may make fun of this choice?  Maybe a little, but her dad and I will continue to encourage her to make choices that make her happy.  Children need to feel accepted and loved regardless of our expectations of who they should be based on stereotypes.  

Despite the negative reviews out there about the Journeys, I hope the girls in our troop have fun together as they learn to identify the stereotypes that affect them and others around them.  As Girl Scout leaders, we can embrace these young girls in our troop and build into them, celebrating the qualities that make them unique.  By choosing to guide girls through the aMUSE Journey, we can help them gain the courage and confidence to be themselves, especially if their preferences contradict society's expectations.  Thank you for reading.


Thursday, September 4, 2014

Junior Girl Scouts: aMUSE Journey Day One

Our girls are beginning fourth grade, and this is their first year as Junior Girl Scouts.  During their two years as Daisies and their two years as Brownies, we have never done a Girl Scout Journey.  Every spring, the girls have voted on the badges they would like to earn during the next school year.  They voted to try a Junior Journey this year.  While I should have had them vote for one of the three Journeys available, I didn't.  Instead, I borrowed both the girl and leader guides for each of the Junior Journeys from the library.  After flipping through the materials, I knew the aMUSE Journey was a great fit for our girls.  

Since this is our first attempt at a Journey, I did some research.  I learned that some troops take two to three months to complete a Journey.  Other troops hold a Journey Overnight.  I discovered an amazing resource online for a one-day workshop.  I decided it would probably be best for our girls if we attempted to fall somewhere in the middle with our timeline.  In addition to the Journey materials that can be purchased from Council, I used that one-day workshop as a model as I developed our plan.  

We will spend every Wednesday in September on this Journey.  This year, we added an additional half hour to our meetings in the hopes that we would not feel so rushed.  We now meet from 4:30 to 6pm.  Parents are asked to drop their girls off around 4:15pm, so we can get started by 4:30pm.  In this post, I will describe what we did during our first Journey meeting and how it worked for our girls.

4:15pm  Girls arrive.

4:30pm  Girl Scout Promise and Sharing.  The girls begin each meeting by reciting the Girl Scout Promise.  They decided they do not wish to recite the Pledge of Allegiance this year, specifically because they say the Pledge each morning at school.  Since it is their troop, we allowed it.  The girls spent a few minutes sharing a special memory from summer break with the others in the troop.  

4:45pm  Explain Journey and Awards.  I wanted to introduce the girls to the Journey and to the associated Awards they will earn this month.  The day before the meeting, I prepared what I was going to say.  I pulled from both the Junior Journey Book and the Adult guide.  Here is the introduction I presented:
           We are doing a Journey.  For the next four Wednesdays, we are going to focus on lessons and activities that will help you discover yourself, connect with each other and your community, and take action to make the world a better place.  DISCOVER + CONNECT + TAKE ACTION = LEADERSHIP.  As Girl Scouts, you are learning different skills to be great leaders.
            For each level of Girl Scouts, there are three different Journeys.  You probably should have voted which Journey to do, but I flipped through them and thought the aMUSE Journey fit our troop well. 
            It's about having fun trying on roles, and being a leader who stretches herself to play new parts.  You'll also be inspiring others to try new roles (page 5, Junior Journey Book).  Read Pg. 6 Junior Journey Book.
Does anyone know what a stereotype is?  Stereotype--word or phrase used to categorize a group of people and this idea is generally believed or accepted by others.  Example:  “The nurse gave me a shot.”  When I say that, do you think the nurse is a man or a woman?  Why?  That is a stereotype.
Show Awards.  From Pg. 12 Adult Guide (Pg. 8, 9 Junior Journey Book).
                        Reach Out:  You will understand the many roles women and girls play in the world around you and the leadership skills needed to assume these roles.
                        Speak Out:  You will be aware of how stereotypes can hold you and your friends back from trying new roles, and you will learn how to stop stereotypes.
                        Try Out:  You will have courage and confidence to try out your new roles.
            Read Pg. 30 Adult Guide (last two bullet points).
          Sing “Yes She Can?”
This song is SUPER cute, and we had such fun singing it.  The girls wanted to sing it again, and they asked if they could sing it as loud as they could.  LOVE IT!

5:00pm  Flurry of Roles.  Prior to the meeting, I wrote the different roles found on page 29 of the Adult Guide on small post-it notes.  I added a few roles like doctor, horse trainer, and lifeguard.  I placed the post-its all over a door in our meeting space.  We explained the activity, and the girls were given one minute to stick roles on themselves.  They were instructed to choose the roles they thought were a good fit.  Then we discussed the questions on page 29 of the Adult Guide.

5:15pm  Take the Stage ("Charades").  Before the meeting began, I wrote the roles found on page 31 of the Adult Guide on slips of paper.  Again, I added a few roles like Chef, Teacher, and Auto Mechanic.  Each girl took a turn choosing a role and acting it out in 5-10 seconds while the rest of the troop guessed the role being played. 

5:30pm  Role Model Dolls  Following the instructions on page 20 and 21 in the Junior Journey book, the girls made dolls out of a button, pipe cleaners, and yarn.  We had pipe cleaners, yarn, felt, and googly eyes remaining from previous crafts.  I picked up some large buttons at Joann's.  I used a 40% off coupon, so a package of six was only $1.37 plus tax.

The girls loved making these dolls!  They worked for the rest of the meeting, giving their girls capri pants or skirts, headbands and purses.  Some of the girls took extra materials with them to finish the dolls at home.  Before we knew it, parents were arriving.  I didn't get a picture of all of the dolls.  We also failed to close our meeting.  Oops!  

We allowed the girls to take the Junior Journey Book home.  They were told they could read everything up to page 23, if they were interested.  We asked them to work on pages 12 and 13, letting them know that they would be sharing their New Character with the troop at the beginning of our next meeting.  We also asked that they read pages 14 and 15 and work on the Casting Call Log on pages 16 and 17 before the next meeting.  We will build off this Casting Call Log over the next few weeks.  I would have liked to address these pages with the girls during our meeting, but we chose to spend more time on the yarn dolls.  The girls saw the All-My-Roles Paper Dolls on pages 22 and 23 and seemed excited.  We encouraged them to make the paper dolls and asked them to bring them next Wednesday.

Thank you for reading.  Hopefully I will have more pictures of the yarn dolls and maybe even some photos of paper dolls to share in my next post.  See you next week!

UPDATE:  The girls added some finishing touches to their yarn dolls at home.  Here is a photo of the dolls they brought to our meeting yesterday.