Friday, March 20, 2015

Self-Esteem Workshop for Girl Scouts

When the fourth graders in our troop met for the first meeting this year, I immediately recognized some changes in them.  They seemed to have matured over the summer, and the difference was noticeable in their interactions with each other and the troop leaders.  I have known these girls since they were five-year-old Daisies, and it has been so fun to watch them blossom into beautiful young ladies.  But I know that with these changes, a girl can encounter some confusion about who she is, who she is becoming, and how she fits in with her peers.  Because I've known these girls and their families for several years, I am aware that almost all of them have recently faced challenges with regards to their appearance.  We all know kids can be mean, and nobody is safe from ridicule.  You can be teased if you're tall or short, heavy or thin, or if you happen to wear the wrong pair of crazy socks to school one day.  The Girl Scout Mission is "Girl Scouting builds girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place."  As a Girl Scout Leader and mother of two young daughters, I wanted to show these girls that they are special and loved.  I planned this Self-Esteem Workshop with the hope that the girls would embrace everything that makes them unique and that they would leave our meeting feeling confident and courageous. 

When the girls arrived at the meeting, they were given a small handful of M&Ms and this "I am Confident and Courageous!" worksheet I created based on the Self-Esteem M&M game that is posted on  

Before sharing their answers with the group, the girls recited the Girl Scout Promise and sang the Girl Scout Law song.  I took this opportunity to tell the girls a story about myself when I was their age...

When I was in fourth grade, I was one of the first girls in my class who had to wear a bra.  Boys in my class would snap my bra, and this embarrassed me and made me feel uncomfortable because they were drawing attention to something that, at that time, made me different from everyone else.  Sometimes I would wear a larger shirt or jacket to hide my chest, but my mom continually encouraged me to stand up tall and proud--to be confident in myself.  She assured me that everyone else would eventually catch up to me.  And you know what?  They did.  We were all created differently, so our bodies change at different times and at different rates.  These changes often cause confusion for many of us, and it can be difficult to navigate through these times.

At this point in the meeting, I read the book Hey! You're Great! by Cami Carlson.  In this story, a grandma tells her granddaughter about a time when she felt pressure to fit in with the other girls at school.  Growing up, the grandmother wanted to be liked by everyone else, so she followed the "cool" kids only to learn that these kids were just following somebody else. It was exhausting for her to keep up.  At the end of the story, she discovered she was truly special all along.  This is a super cute book with rhyming lines and bright illustrations.  I think our girls got the message loud and clear.

Following the story, we watched Taylor Swift's "You Belong With Me" video.  I asked the girls to pay attention to Taylor's main character in the video.  We talked about how she didn't change anything about herself to impress a boy.  They noticed how she stayed true to herself, and we discussed how her confidence and character is what this guy liked about her.

Since we were talking about not changing ourselves to impress another person, I  showed Colbie Callait's "Try" video.  I explained that Colbie made this video because she was tired of having her photographs altered to hide her imperfections.  As they watched the video, I asked our girls to pay attention to the ladies' body language and facial expressions.  Once the video ended, I explained that while most of the ladies in the video were shown wiping off makeup, there is absolutely nothing wrong with long as they're wearing it to feel good about themselves and not because they're trying to be someone else.  We talked about how these women looked happy and free to show their true colors by the end of the video.  

We spent the remaining hour of the meeting completing two crafts.  Several months ago, I was on Pinterest and came across this pin of the word "Be YOU tiful" painted on a canvas.  I saw another pin for these inspiration stones.  From these two ideas, our craft was born.  During Christmas, I purchased 3.25" flat, round, white plaster ornaments for $0.75 each at Hobby Lobby.  I also saw 4" plaster coasters in the mosaics and stepping stone section at Michaels that were similar and would work equally well.  We provided Sharpies and paint and asked the girls to write "Be YOU tiful" somewhere on her ornament and then cover the rest of the space with items that represent her.  Last month, I came across this sweatshirt at Old Navy and bought it for my daughters.  How appropriate! 

While bumping around the internet, I came across the book The Best Part of Me: Children Talk About their Bodies in Pictures and Words by Wendy Ewald.  During one of our meetings, I shared the book with the girls and told them to give it some thought because we would be working on a similar project.  Over the past few meetings, our girls have worked on pieces of this craft.  During this Self-Esteem Workshop, they put all of the pieces together on an 8.5x11" piece of cardstock.
  • When we had a spare moment during a meeting, I pulled each girl aside and took a picture of the part of her body she liked best.  I printed a copy of these pictures and saved them for this workshop.
  • When our Junior Girl Scouts were working on the Detective badge, we stamped their fingerprints to satisfy one of the badge requirements.  I slightly modified a quote I found online and printed it on white paper for this craft.  The quote reads, "I have a unique fingerprint that no one else has, to leave a unique imprint that no one else can leave."  We talked with the girls about the figurative and literal meaning of this quote.
  • When our Brownies were working on the Senses badge, they learned about Braille.  They made a Braille name tag using multicolored rhinestones.  We saved these name tags for this workshop as well.  I found another quote online that reads, "I create beauty with my attitude, my behavior, and my actions."  I explained that individuals with a visual impairment can not necessarily see external beauty, so they must rely on a person's attitude, behavior, and actions when making an assessment of someone's beauty.
As the girls were painting their "Be YOU tiful" ornaments, we called them over in pairs and asked them to write a positive comment for each of the other girls on the back of each piece of cardstock.  We called them back over to adhere all of the pieces to the cardstock.  Once the craft was finished, they really enjoyed reading the comments that were written just for them.  Here is one example of the finished product:

I have received some positive feedback about this workshop from several of our families.  I hope posting the details of our plans here inspires others to recreate some of these ideas for the special young people in their lives.  Thank you for reading!

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Junior Girl Scouts badge: Jeweler

Step 1:  Get to know the tools of the trade.  Visiting a jewelry store is listed as a suggested activity.  Since we had already scheduled an Auntie Anne's field trip at the mall to satisfy a step for the Juniors Simple Meals badge, I contacted Osterman Jewelers to see if one of their associates would be willing to talk with our troop.  They were excited to help.  The girls learned about the 4 C's of diamonds:  color, cut, clarity, and carat weight.  They were permitted to look in a light-directing viewer to see hearts and arrows in a diamond.  They were also shown a tool that allows jewelers to test a diamond's authenticity.  Our girls enjoyed looking at the birthstone jewelry the most.  Mid-January proved to be the perfect time of year to schedule this field trip.  Mall traffic was low, and we were all suffering from a little cabin fever.  

Step 2:  Make jewelry with metal.  Our girls made metal washer necklaces.  You can read about that experience here.   

Step 3:  Turn everyday objects into jewelry.  One of the choices listed to satisfy this badge step is to make a bracelet by forming beads out of clay.  I purchased a package of oven-bake clay from Hobby Lobby with a 40% off coupon.  Our Brownies were working with a co-leader on the Pets badge during this particular meeting, so I knew we would only have six girls making beads.  Prior to the meeting, I cut the clay into six equal pieces and packaged them in baggies for each girl.  

The girls were instructed to make beads for a bracelet.  We told them to be as creative as they could be, and we gave them the majority of the meeting time to work on the beads.  We allowed 30 minutes for baking and cooling the beads.  (The directions on the package suggest baking the beads in the oven at 275 degrees for 15 minutes per 1/4" thickness of clay).  We had various materials available for the girls to use to thread their beads (ribbon, yarn, parachute cord, elastic cord, fishing line, and hemp cord).  These supplies were left over from previous projects, so we did not have to purchase them specifically for this project.   We were impressed with the beads the girls made, that's for sure!

Step 4:  Create jewelry inspired by another culture.  To complete this step, we chose to make macrame bracelets.  At the same time, the Brownies would satisfy Step 5 Enjoy Girl Scout Traditions (Girl Scout Way Badge).  Read our suggestions for this project here.  

Step 5:  Make a sparkling gift.  When all was said and done, we spent a portion of five different meetings making jewelry for the first four steps for this badge.  When the plan for the year was being developed, I had every intention of teaching the girls to make friendship bracelets using embroidery floss.  (I realize these bracelets would not be sparkling).  I now see we are not going to have time to fit this project in this year.  As I considered the alternatives, I focused on the word gift here.  To be honest, this is an occasion when I decided to stretch the badge requirements a bit to meet our needs.  Any of the jewelry made to satisfy the other four badge steps could be given to friends and family members as a gift.  Our troop will not be making an additional piece of jewelry specifically to give to someone special.

Our girls truly enjoyed earning this badge.  These projects are great for a cold or rainy day when you are stuck inside with family and friends.  I hope you are inspired to make some jewelry of your own.  Have fun!  Thank you for reading!