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!