Friday, December 30, 2016

Service Project: Angel Tree

Cookie sales are right around the corner.  As your troop decides how to spend profits this year, I invite your girls to consider making a financial contribution to a program like Prison Fellowship. According to their website, 2.2 million men and women are incarcerated. 95% of prisoners are released, meaning 600,000 will return to their communities this year.  Two out of three will be rearrested, leaving 2.7 million children with a parent in prison.

One of the many ways this organization helps prisoners is through Angel Tree
Several churches team up with this national organization to provide unique gifts to children with an incarcerated parent.  I described the process in detail in this blog postMany caregivers request socks and underwear, coats, and pajamas as the clothing gift.  Often, families will suggest two clothing gifts, providing sizes and favorite colors or characters.  Our family has been involved with this program at our church for years.  Our daughters enjoy choosing tags for kids around their ages who have requested coats or pajamas.  Both girls sit at my laptop with a calculator, and we shop on  Through this service project, our kids have practiced the valuable life skill of working within a budget as well as learning to save money through the use of coupons.  

By participating in Angel Tree, Girl Scouts can satisfy steps for the following badges (please note this is not an all-inclusive list):
Daisy--Making Choices and Talk It Up
Brownies--Money Manager, Give Back, and Philanthropist
Cadette--Budgeting and Comparison Shopping

In the weeks leading up to Christmas, I heard a Angel Tree radio announcement: there were still 29,000 children who would love to receive a gift from their incarcerated parents.  Though Christmas is behind us, you can still make an impact.  In addition to providing Christmas gifts to children with an incarcerated parent, Angel Tree offers additional ways to get involved throughout the year.  For example, prisoners' children have an opportunity to go to Angel Tree Summer Camp.  When you donate today, “a matching grant will help reach TWICE as many children.”  The matching grant expires at midnight on December 31, 2016.  Wishing you all a fun and safe New Year!

Friday, December 16, 2016

Christmas Party for the Classroom or Your Troop

The games have been planned, and the supplies have been gathered for my fourth grader's class Christmas/Winter party this afternoon. I have shared our past class and troop party plans on this blog. This year I chose to incorporate activities that required few supplies and little, if any, preparation.  I always plan more than I think we'll finish because I prefer to keep the students busy.  Here is this year's agenda:

 1.  Draw, Write, Draw.  I was prepared to have the kids play this game at the Halloween party, but we didn't get to it.  I loved the idea, and I thought it would be fun to try at this party.  The desks are arranged in clusters of four or five throughout the classroom.  We will give each desk cluster a winter theme.  The first student will write a sentence about the theme.  The next student will draw a picture about the sentence.  The paper will be folded to hide the original sentence and passed to the next student who will then write another sentence about the drawing.  The process is repeated until everyone has a chance to participate.  Then students unfold the paper and share the stories.  Here is a picture from the example posted at Halloween. 


Update:  Here are the themes we gave to each desk cluster for Draw-Write-Draw:
Snowman                             Sledding
Hats and Mittens                   Holiday Treats
Santa and His Elves               Christmas Tree 

2.  Face the Cookie .  This fun Minute-to-Win-It game is sure to entertain a group of school-aged kids.  Give each student a cookie. The kids must move the cookie from their forehead to their mouth without using their hands. Set a timer for one minute.  Repeat as time allows.

3.  Pass the Book.  This is one of my favorite party activities. I will read Snowmen at Christmas as I have in the past, but instead of wrapping activity books for prizes, I found these National Geographic books at Dollar Tree.
4.  Pasta Pick-Up.  Place six uncooked pieces of penne pasta near the edge of a table.   Give the player an uncooked spaghetti noodle to hold in her mouth and use to try and pick up the penne noodles.

5.  Minute-to-Win-It Cup Stack.  Divide the class or troop into teams and have them race to stack 15 cups in a pyramid. Each participant builds the pyramid and then stacks the cups for the next person. For smaller groups, set a timer for one minute for each individual.

6.  Would You Rather. There are many lists available online from which to choose. I printed a copy and highlighted 15 statements.  If there's time, the students will move from one side of the classroom to the other based on their reaction to the statement read.

Two parents offered to donate holiday cupcakes and drinks for the party.  We will have the students return to their seats in the final fifteen minutes of the party for to enjoy the treats.

Fingerprint Light Strand Gift for Teacher.  I originally planned to pull kids to a separate station during the party to add their fingerprint to this canvas.  After additional consideration, I decided to visit school prior to the party and had the kids complete the project during indoor recess. 

1:30 - 1:45pm  Draw, Write, Draw
1:45 - 1:55pm  Face the Cookie
1:55 - 2:05pm  Pasta Pick-Up
2:05 - 2:15pm  Book Pass
2:15 - 2:30pm  Snack

*Cup Stack and Would You Rather, as time allows.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!  Thank you for reading. 

Friday, December 9, 2016

Craft: Photo Letters. Great Gifts.

To celebrate Christmas with a good friend, we will meet for pancakes as is our annual tradition.  Though we don't typically exchange gifts, I wanted to show my appreciation for her support this year. Earlier this spring, I made writing a priority, and my friend has encouraged me along the way.  I came across a variety of photo letters on Pinterest, and I thought this would be the perfect accessory for her office.  There are numerous tutorials available online.  I'm not trying to recreate the wheel, but I think this project could be fun for the girls in your troop--as a craft or a gift.

  • paper mache letters ($2.99 at Hobby Lobby)
  • photos*
  • scissors
  • ribbon
  • paint
  • paintbrushes
  • Mod Podge
  • hot glue gun or tacky glue (ribbon)
*Making multiple letters?  Can the same pictures be used?  Save money by printing wallet-sized photos.  Not only will a greater portion of the image fit on the letter, but you get two prints of the picture with your order.
*The number of photos needed depends on the images.  Eight photos fit on the S.

Girl Scout Troop Leaders
Girl Scouts*
Sunday School Teachers

  • Incorporate this project into your Christmas or Winter party. You may need a few extra adult volunteers to help with tracing and piecing the pictures together, but I would have tried this project with our girls when they were Juniors.
  • Choose pictures of troop activities and this would make a cute bridging gift.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Craft: Fingerprint Christmas Lights for Teachers, Coaches, and Scout Troop Leaders

Looking for a fun and inexpensive holiday gift for teachers, coaches, and troop leaders this year?  I came across this canvas on Pinterest: a painted strand of Christmas lights spells out the word love, and fingerprints are the lights.  After brainstorming for several minutes, I decided this craft could easily be modified just by changing the word.

For Teachers:  learn, teach, educate, instruct, cooperate, school, name of subject (example: reading, writing, science), name of the school, school mascot.
*After listing these words off the top of my head, I discovered a website of vocabulary lists. I bumped around for a few minutes, finding lists for various subjects and areas of interests.

For Coaches:  coach, teamwork, team, together, name of the sport (example: basketball), sport specific words (example: dribble), aggressive, defense, practice.  
*Check out this website for additional sport-specific words.

For Scout Troop Leaders:  leader, leadership, courage, confidence, character, Scouts, Girl Scouts, trefoil, promise, badges, level of Scouts (example: Brownies).  
*This Girl Scouts vocabulary list provides additional ideas.

I thought this Christmas canvas would be fun to do with my daughter's fourth grade class during their winter party as a gift for their teacher. Knowing there are 24 students in the class, I chose the word learn and purchased a canvas with adequate space (8"x16"). I found a three-pack at Hobby Lobby for $7.99. With the 40% off coupon, the canvas package cost around $5 ($1.67 each). I also picked up a 6"x6" stand for $4. I chose to use black, red, blue, yellow, and green paint, which I already had on hand. 

As I painted the black string and sockets, I made a couple mistakes but decided to continue for practice. My daughters took turns placing their thumbprints on the canvas, and we alternated the colors of the lights along the way.  Here is the finished practice run in the stand:

Take Two! Here is the prepared canvas the students will finish for their teacher in a couple weeks. They will use a Sharpie to sign their names on the back of the canvas.

I'll be sure to update this post with a picture of the finished project.  I hope you enjoy this holiday season with family and friends.  Merry Christmas!

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Blackout Poetry

Last month, my 11-year-old daughter and I attended Books by the Banks in Cincinnati. While she was preoccupied with alcohol-inked ceramic tiles and activities that taught her how to solder and create a paper circuit with copper tape and a LED diode, my eye was drawn to the Blackout Poetry station at the end of the table. For more details about the time we spent at this event, please visit this post I've published on my website.

A few days after the event, I decided I wanted to create my own example of Blackout Poetry for this post. I pulled out the pages provided at the event and read over the text, drawing boxes around words to form a poem.  I illustrated my poem with Sharpie markers. Instead of drawing footprints on a beach, I could have chosen to sketch a pattern or design.

The words I chose to highlight read as follows:

There’s nothing.
dead silence
wipe the sweat
inspect the damage
I know the path
I keep walking.
I feel…tired.

Any sheet of paper with printed words will work for this activity–consider pages from a book, newspaper, or magazine. Try different mediums to achieve the desired effect–crayons, markers, colored pencils, or paint. With Blackout Poetry, the possibilities are endless.

How can you incorporate this activity with your Girl Scout troop?
  • Provide supplies at the next troop holiday party. The printed pages can be related to the party theme.
  • Print pages about Juliette Gordon Low for a JGL or Girl Scout Birthday celebration.
  • Copy a page from The Brownie Story (The Girl's Guide to Girl Scouting or a related website).
  • Before or after your troop bridges, find a page from a ceremony script or a related story.
  • For Juniors working on the Scribe badge, this activity satisfies Step 1 (Start with a Poem).
  • For Juniors working on the Drawing badge, this activity satisfies Step 1 (Experiment with Different Shading Materials). In fact, depending on what is drawn, girls could satisfy all the steps with this activity.
  • Plan some time for Blackout Poetry during a Self-Esteem Workshop. This activity offers girls a different avenue for expression, and it's another way to emphasize how special and unique each individual is.
I've presented several ways to introduce Blackout Poetry to the girls in your troop. I'm sure readers will come up with other applications. Please feel free to post your art in the comments section below. I'd love to see it!  Thank you for reading.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Alcohol-Inked Ceramic Tiles

On October 15th, my 11-year-old daughter and I attended Books by the Banks in Cincinnati. This "day-long festival, which is free and open to the public, features national, regional, and local authors and illustrators; book signings; panel discussions; and activities for the entire family to enjoy."  And enjoy, we did! In this post, I will highlight alcohol-inked ceramic tiles, one of the many different activities offered at the event to readers who visited Teen Scene.

  • Ceramic tiles--4"x4" or 4.5"x4.5".  These tiles are relatively inexpensive and can be picked up at home improvement stores.
  • Alcohol Ink.  I found 3-packs of Ranger Adirondack Alcohol Ink online for $10. I would look for the inks at a craft store where I could use coupon.
  • Rubbing Alcohol 
  • Tissues or cotton balls
  • Use a tissue or cotton ball to wipe the tile with rubbing alcohol.
  • Apply drops of alcohol ink to the tile. 
  • Allow the ink to dry.  Other readers returned after about 10 to 15 minutes to retrieve their tiles. By this time, the ink had dried enough to transport the tiles home.
*When my daughter made her tile, she dripped a complimentary color of ink on top of another drop, which resulted in a cool blending of colors.  Beware though, too much ink will cause the colors to bleed into an unpleasant brown. 
*While the price of the alcohol ink could pose a problem for the troop budget, keep in mind I was assured the ink goes a long way by the volunteer working this station.

This would be a fun craft to do during a troop party or meeting. Maybe incorporate it into a Self-Esteem Workshop and celebrate each girl's unique qualities alongside the beautiful tiles. Or think outside the box and plan for your Brownies to create these tiles to satisfy Step 3 (Paint a Mood) and/or Step 4 (Paint without Brushes) for the Painting badge.

I invite you to check back soon. In my next post, I will share another activity offered during the Books by the Banks event and explain how it can be incorporated in your next troop meeting. Thank you for reading.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Halloween Party Ideas for the Classroom or Your Troop

I'm a Room Parent in my 4th grader's class this year, and I'm co-planning the Halloween party with another mother. After bumping around Pinterest, we compiled a list of the following activities that are sure to entertain the crowd:

1.  Cursive Name Skeletons
Art teacher Michelle Osborne shares step-by-step instructions for this super cute craft here. The cost to complete this project is minimal, requiring only white paper, black paper, glue, and scissors.  Please note Miss Osborne allowed her students to embellish their projects with colorful paper as well, and the finished product was pretty cool.

2.  Story Telling Game
Prior to the party, write various Halloween-related words on slips of paper.  Fold the papers and toss them in a plastic pumpkin.  Have the students sit in a circle. Pass the pumpkin around and ask each child to choose one slip of paper.  The teacher or Room Parent can start the story.  An example: It was a dark and stormy night...  Check out this link for 27 Halloween writing prompts for kids.

Then each student builds onto the story by adding a sentence or two, making sure to use the word on the paper they selected.
Here is a list of 25 words to get you started:
jack-o-lantern        witch           cauldron               ghost              moon
spooky                  boo             haunt                   hayride            apple cider
trick-or-treat         candy          lantern                  goblin             scarecrow
skeleton               shadows       creepy                  frightening      black cat
frightening            fog              eyeballs                princess          cowgirl 

3.  Write-Draw-Write
After coming across this exercise online, I decided to incorporate it the Halloween party agenda. The kids are divided into groups of four to six. While the other kids look away, the first student writes a Halloween-related sentence across the top of a sheet of paper. The paper is passed to the next student who then draws a picture to represent the sentence. Fold the paper so only the drawing is showing (hide the sentence). Pass the paper to the next student who writes a sentence about the picture. The process is repeated, and you may need more than one sheet of paper per group.  Once everyone has had a chance to either write or draw, share with the rest of the class.

My fourth grader and I put this activity to the test last weekend.  Of course, it works better with more participants, but we had fun. I'm sure her classmates will as well.

4.  Snack 
I invite you to check out my Class Parties Board on Pinterest for fun Halloween-inspired treats.

5.  Downtime Fillers
In my experience, there's nothing worse than blasting through your party agenda only to glance at the clock and realize you have extra time.  Some people are great at coming up with something fun on the fly, but it's not one of my gifts. So, I always make sure to have one or two extra games or activities in my back pocket just in case.

For a Halloween party, run off several copies of this Halloween Would you Rather freebie.  Kids can fill out a worksheet on their own, or you can print one copy and read aloud to the class.  Have the kids stand on one side of the classroom if they would, and have them cross to the other side if they would rather not.

Halloween Scattergories.  Print off individual cards for each student like this one. Or have each child grab a sheet of paper and write the alphabet down the left margin. Give the class 3-5 minutes, depending on age and ability, to jot down a Halloween-related word for each letter. I would keep it easy--no points--ask the kids to come up with words for as many letters as possible.  They can share their answers if time allows.

Before the party ends, remind kids to be safe and have fun!  Thank you for reading.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Cadette Badge: Good Sportsmanship

If my girls had decided to continue with a troop this fall, I'd have one Junior and one Cadette. Since they wished to earn badges on their own, I'm currently serving as a mentor for my two Juliettes. Last year, we had a split troop of Brownies and Junior Girl Scouts, so my younger daughter has already completed many of the Junior badge activities.  We agreed it is best for our family for both girls to work on Cadette badges this year.

My older daughter recently completed the Good Sportsmanship badge. She competed with a swim team for the summer, and we talked about the badge steps as the season progressed. As many readers prepare for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, I thought this was the perfect time to share her badge work with readers.

STEP 1:  Create your own definition of sportsmanship.

Go to a sports event:  Aside from the swim meets, our family attended several professional baseball games this summer. During a live sporting event, there are always great examples of good and bad sportsmanship being demonstrated by athletes, officials, and fans. She followed the suggestion on page 3 of the badge booklet and jotted down 5 ways to be and not to be a good sport.

STEP 2: Be a good competitor
Get a biography of a female athlete who's a great competitor: This was a tough decision for my daughter--Bethany Hamilton or Mo'ne Davis?  She chose to borrow a biography from the library about Davis, the former Little League Baseball pitcher. After reading the book, she wrote a poem about the athlete as suggested on page 4 of the badge booklet.  

When I needed to occupy my girls one day this summer, I suggested they make Bottle Buddies. My mom is a retired fifth grade teacher. Every year, she asked her students to read a book and create a Bottle Buddy out of a 2-liter bottle and craft supplies. Remembering those projects, I encouraged my daughter to create Mo'ne Davis. She used a plastic bottle, beads, yarn, felt, popsicle sticks, paint, markers, and googly eyes. Here is a picture of her Bottle Buddy. She added beads to Mo'ne's hair, recalling a story about the time when an umpire told her to remove the beads from her hair for a game because the opposing coach said they were a distraction.

Though my younger daughter has not yet chosen her biography for the badge, she also wanted to create a Bottle Buddy. She used a plastic bottle, felt, marker, googly eyes, and brown sugar to make Michael Phelps--love those abs.  I'm sorry, she tells me this is Michael Felts. As you can see, this kid's quite a character.

Bottle Buddies make a great craft for Girl Scout troop meetings--for example, Daisies could earn their green petal as they use their resources wisely. (They are using recycled plastic bottles and supplies left over from previous crafts).  I also think this could be a fun way to recognize Founder's Day or to celebrate Juliette Gordon Low's birthday. Maybe your girls could find a way to incorporate Bottle Buddies into Thinking Day. With so many Girl Scouts watching this summer's Olympic Games, making a favorite female athlete Bottle Buddy would be a fun way to kickoff the year

STEP 3:  Be a good teammate
Though incredibly long, swim meets are fun to watch. Not only are the swimmers competing against the other athletes in the pool, they are racing against the clock. Additionally, the teams are competing against each other. For the past four years, I've watched the kids on my daughter's swim team continually demonstrate good sportsmanship by encouraging and supporting each other. The girls will exchange high fives before mounting the blocks, and you can hear them say "good job" and "great swim" to each other as they climb out of the pool.

In addition to being a good teammate at the pool, my daughter was able to play "Capture the Flag" with some family friends at a recent gathering. As one of the older kids, she helped the group work as a team and kept the younger kids involved.

STEP 4:  Psych yourself up
Mind over matter:  Prior to prelims this summer, my daughter was aware of her seed in the tournament and the time she needed to beat to secure a place in Championships. We talked about visualizing her start, the strokes, turns, and a strong finish. I watched her mentally prepare as she waited to mount the starting block. We were ecstatic when she swam a personal best!

STEP 5:  Put your definition of good sportsmanship into action
One of my favorite moments this season occurred just after a swimmer from another team touched the wall a fraction of a second before my daughter. When their heads popped out of the water and they saw the results of the race, the two ten-year-olds reached over the lane lines and grabbed hands. 

Both girls will play basketball this winter, and my younger daughter will complete the badge requirements at that time.

We have quite a few badges on the list to complete this year. I hope you will check back as I hope to publish again soon. Thank you for reading.