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!