Monday, May 18, 2015

Junior Girl Scouts badge: Animal Habitats

Last year, the girls in our troop wanted to spend the night at the Cincinnati Zoo.  They used a portion of the money they earned during the cookie sale to cover the cost of the outing.  We camped out in tents behind the Giraffe Ridge exhibit.  My husband and I had purchased this Coleman 6-Person Tent for family campouts.  The tent gets great reviews on Amazon, and our family highly recommends it!  We have used it several times, and it has been relatively easy to assemble.  To give readers an idea, I set the tent up to take some pictures for this post, and I accomplished this task within fifteen minutes.  (Please note there is a rainfly included with this tent.  If I remember correctly, this protective cover is a little more involved to set up and may require an additional set of hands).  In our experience, we have been able to fit the following arrangement in this tent:
  • four adults
  • six young children 
  • two adults and three smaller kids 
  • three adults and two children
Remember to account for the space required for all the gear as well.  Here are a few photos to provide some perspective:


Our overnight at the Cincinnati Zoo last spring was such a hit that the girls voted to use this year's cookie sale profits for another overnight at the Zoo.  Thankfully the Cincinnati Zoo offers many overnight opportunities for groups and families, so the girls got to experience something new.  This year, we spent the night with the manatees.  

Knowing we were returning for another zoo program, I took a look at the requirements for the Juniors Animal Habitats badge.  I realized the girls would most likely complete three of the steps during our overnight at the zoo.  We completed the other two steps during one of our meetings. Additionally, the girls were asked to work on an endangered animal crossword puzzle and word search for fun when they finished sewing their pillowcases during our Pillowcase Event earlier this spring.  An online search for an "endangered species crossword puzzle" provides many puzzles that can be printed for the girls in your troop.

Step 1:  Find out about wild animals.  The badge booklet states, "Wild animals may seem very different from your pets at home, but at one time, all animals were wild!"  Since we were sleeping with the manatees, the girls had plenty of time to observe the animals.  As a group, the overnight participants discussed the manatees' behavior and talked about how their behavior differs from other animals we have observed.

Step 2: Investigate an animal habitat.   While at the zoo, we toured the Bird House, Jungle Trails, and had an opportunity to go behind the scenes in both the Bird House and Manatee Springs.  The questions listed in the badge booklet were answered easily. 

Step 3: Create an animal house.  During one of our meetings, we made a Jello Nest as described in the badge booklet.  Unfortunately the experiment did not work as planned, but we talked it through with the girls.  They left the meeting understanding how and why an animal insulates its nest.  As I already mentioned, part of the overnight included a visit to the Bird House, so the girls learned a little more about nests.

Step 4: Explore endangered habitats.  Since manatees are endangered animals found living in the Gulf of Mexico, the questions posed for this step were answered during our zoo overnight.

Step 5. Help protect animal habitats.  We completed this step during one of our meetings.

The Juniors used the endangered animal word search I mentioned previously, and they each wrote down the top five endangered animals they wanted to know more about.  From this list, we narrowed their choices down to three endangered animals.  The girls voted, and the groups were assigned accordingly.  One group researched the Asian elephant, and the other group discovered more about the Monarch butterfly
Using laptops under supervision of troop leaders, the girls worked together to answer the following questions about their endangered animal:
  • Where does the animal live?
  • Why is the animal's home endangered?
  • How can others help?
  • Is there an organization that protects the animal's habitat?  
  • If so, what is the name of the organization?  What is its mission?
Our three Brownies work together, and they chose to research the okapi.  All three groups decorated posters and presented their reports to the other two groups. 

Following the presentations, we recreated an oil spill as described in the badge booklet.  We filled a bowl with water and then poured some cooking oil into the water.  We tried to clean up the spill with some string, a tissue, a paper towel, a cotton ball, and a spoon.  When asked what else we should try, the girls exclaimed, "Dawn!"  Guess they're all familiar with the advertisements.  

Another fun badge completed.  Though this blog post describes the steps required to earn a Girl Scout badge, there are some great activities that school-aged children could complete on a rainy day or during summer vacation.  Thank you for reading!

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