Friday, April 29, 2016

Geology Program at the Cincinnati Nature Center

Earlier this month, the Cincinnati Nature Center offered a two-hour Geology Program for Scouts at Rowe Woods.  One chaperone per six participants was required.  The cost was $10 per Scout, and chaperones were free.  Online registration was easyIn the days leading up to our event, I received a couple of emails providing drop off and pick up instructions.  Rain boots or water shoes were highly recommended.  I ordered a Geology fun patch for the troop through Advantage Emblem.
Upon our arrival, we were directed to a classroom.  Staff and volunteers divided the participants and chaperones into three groups:  Boy Scouts, our Brownies, and our Juniors.  We set off on our way.  I was pleasantly surprised to discover our instructor was my middle school science teacher!  

We walked along portions of a couple trails and learned about Ohio's State Flower (scarlet carnation), Wildflower (white trillium), Bird (cardinal), and Tree (buckeye)Our guide also identified poison ivy for the girls and recited the famous rhyme, "If it's hairy, it's scary."

At various points during our hike, the girls had the opportunity to use a soil auger to obtain soil samples.  These samples were inspected for similarities and differences.

At one point during the hike, we stopped to speak with a professional geologistHe seemed excited to tell the girls that he works with many female geologists.  He informed us of the educational requirements should the girls wish to explore geology as a future profession.  The photos on his display pictured geologists working in a variety of settings, including caves, mines, and wetlands.  After explaining how geologists extract a sample of rock from the earth, he showed us how they test the hardness of a rock.

Following a brief discussion about erosion, we made our way down to the creek and met up with the rest of our troop.  After being shown samples, the girls were asked to find a sedimentary rock, a glacial erratic rock, and fossils.  Splashing in the creek and searching for fossils was the highlight of the trip.  We all enjoyed sharing the fossils we discovered with the others in the group.

A very rare discovery--horn coral!
The Cincinnati Nature Center consistently provides fun educational programming for children and families.  I've heard their CincyNature Camps are phenomenal! 

I invite you to check back soon.  My daughters and I visited Mammoth Cave over Spring Break, and I'll share our experience in my next blog post.  Thank you for reading.    

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Tinker Bell-Inspired Spring Party

Knowing we'd have a few free days at home during Spring Break, my daughters asked if they could invite some friends over for a party.  We bumped around Pinterest and brainstormed together, coming up with a Tinker Bell-inspired plan that was sure to be a hit.  The guest list included nine kids, ranging from second to sixth grade.  Here's how we spent our time together.

Paint a flower pot.
When allowing a large group of kids to paint, squirt paint on one or two paper plates per table and assign one paint brush per colorWhen every child has his or her own paint brush, a cup of water is needed to rinse the brush between colors.  This has the potential to create all kinds of messes.  When one brush per color is used and the kids are finished painting, the paint brushes can be collected and rinsed all at once.  Minimal mess, minimal clean up.  During this party, I allowed half an hour for painting.  When the pots were dry, the kids had the opportunity to plant a pretty annual in their flowerpot to take home.

Make tissue paper flowers.
We've made tissue paper flowers in the past with our Girl Scout Troop.  Prior to our Spring Party, I referred to this pin and prepared stacks of assorted colors of tissue paper: five 8"x8" squares for each flower.  Following these instructions, the kids made their own flowers.

Fairy Mary's Lost Things
When our Junior Girl Scouts were earning the Detective Badge, we played a version of the tray game.  During our Spring Party brainstorming discussion, my older daughter suggested we play the tray game and call it Fairy Mary's Lost Things.  Brilliant!  I collected small items from around the house and assembled them on a tray that I covered with a dish towel.  The girls were given one minute to view the tray, and they had five minutes to write down every object they could remember.  Here is a list of the items included on this tray:
cotton ball, pearl-head needle, postage stamp, match, spring, penny, plastic outlet cover, Lego, paper clip, nail, washer, screw, glitter, key ring, picture hook, push pin, safety pin, Christmas tree light, rubber band, spool, battery, q-tip, toothpick, needle, plastic needle, hook/carabiner, zip tie, staples, button, light bulb.

Tinker Bell Paper Plate Game
I have incorporated the Paper Plate Game into several different Girl Scout and classroom Christmas parties, and it never seems to get old for the kids.  Earlier this year I made up another version of the game to get our troop excited for the Cookie Sale.  In preparation for this Tinker Bell-inspired party, I thought I'd give it another whirl.  To be honest, I was unsure if I was going to be able to pull it off.  To my surprise, the kids seemed to love it.  Maybe it's in the presentation?  I tend to get excited at parties. 

Draw a mushroom, add dots if desired.
Draw a ladybug on the mushroom.
Draw Tinker Bell next to the mushroom.  She’s wearing a dress and booties.
She is holding a flower.
Draw Tink’s wings.

1 point for each dot on your mushroom
2 points if your ladybug touches the mushroom
1 point for each spot on your ladybug
2 points if Tink is wearing her dress
1 point if Tink’s booties have little pompoms
1 point if Tink is holding her flower
1 point if your wings are touching Tink

Name the Baby Animals
A couple months ago, my daughters and I attended my sister-in-law's baby shower.  One of the games we played involved naming the offspring of different animals.  We decided to play this game during the Spring Party with our friends.  Here is the list we compiled:
Owl--owlet, fledgling              
Fox--kit, cub, pup                    

The kids were permitted to work together.  This was just for fun--no prizes.  I could not believe they named every single baby animal correctly!
eos Lip Balm Flowers

To create these cute flower favors:
  • Purchase a couple four-packs of eos lip balm from Sam's Club.
  • Choose a solid color sheet of cardstock and cut 4" scalloped circles with the Mini Monograms Cricut cartridge.  The finished circle is about 3.5" in diameter.
  • Use the 3" Uchida scalloped circle punch to cut the patterned paper.
  • Use a circle cutter to remove a 1.5" circle from the center of the solid cardstock and patterned papers.
  • For the leaves, cut a 1.5" circle with the circle cutter. Cut another circle using the 2" template and blade, leaving about an inch uncut. Draw the leaf and cut out with scissors.
  • Unscrew the lip balm and align the leaf, solid cardstock, and patterned paper as desired before replacing the lid.   
  • Arrange the favors in a basket and let the girls choose their lip balm when they are heading home.

Blaze Glow Stick Lightning Bugs
My girls love Blaze, the lightning bug in Tinker Bell And The Lost Treasure.  We bought glow sticks from Dollar Tree and the black pom poms from Hobby Lobby. We had the googly eyes and vellum remaining from previous projects.  My daughter used the Creative Memories Oval Cutter to cut 2" ovals for his wingsThe wings were attached to the glow sticks using glue dots.  We used tacky glue to adhere the googly eyes to the pompoms.  After tying knots in the strings provided with the glow sticks, we strung them from a hanger to display. 

The Food

For our party of 20 people (kids and parents), we decided to keep it easy and ordered a tray of chicken nuggets from Chick-fil-A.  The day before the party, I called and ordered a medium tray of 120 nuggets, paid for the order over the phone, and gave them a pickup time.  Knowing I would pick up the order hours before we were going to eat, I was given the option to order cold nuggets. Warming instructions were provided with my order.  It was super easy to spread the nuggets on cookie sheets and pop them in the oven for 10-20 minutes.  (Huge thanks to my friends for helping with this!)

Additionally, a friend offered to bring fruit and a veggie tray to share.  I baked some cheddar rosemary scones by following this Ina Garten recipe, substituting fresh rosemary for the dill.  For dessert, the kids snacked on dirt dessert served in a pint-sized mason jar with a sugar lady bug resting on the Oreo crumbs.  We prepared the dirt dessert a little differently than found in most recipes online.  
  • Prepare the chocolate pudding as directed on the package.
  • Scoop a spoonful or two of pudding in the bottom of the mason jars.  
  • Crush a package of Oreos and divide, reserving enough crumbs for the top layer.
  • Combine the remaining chocolate pudding and Oreo crumbs with an 8oz container of Cool Whip.  
  • Place a gummy worm on top of the pudding in the mason jar.
  • Spoon a healthy dollop of the pudding/crumb/Cool Whip mixture in the jar.
  • Add another gummy worm and cover with Oreo crumbs.
  • Place the sugar lady bug on top.  
  • Refrigerate until ready to serve.
For the adults, we made this frozen lime pie, another Ina Garten recipe.  It is DELICIOUS!
I thought readers who are hosting a birthday party or tea party for school-aged kids might find this post to be helpful.  This would also be such a fun way to help a Brownie troop complete a step or two for their Bugs and Snack badgesAs always, thank you for reading!