Sunday, December 31, 2017

Craft: Therapeutic Rice Bags

I had hoped to write this post earlier in the month, but I am just now getting around to it, which gives me the chance to wish you a Happy New Year!

Our fifth grader wanted to continue our tradition of giving her teachers a homemade gift for Christmas. Finding inspiration in the January/February 2016 edition of American Girl Magazine, she searched through a basket of material scraps in the craft closet and set off to make rice bags that after being placed in the microwave or freezer could be used to help relieve sore muscles.

Winging it with the first rice bag, she modeled the others after it. She decided a pair of 4" x 14" rectangles would do the trick. In addition to this gray polka dot fabric, she used cute prints, including characters like Charlie Brown and Rudolph along with another featuring festive Christmas trees, which were left over from another project.

Using sewing clips, she secured the edges with the right sides of the fabric together. These clips were easy for her to use and remove as she sewed, avoiding pin pricks and the need for assistance from an adult.

 She sewed a straight stitch along one 4" and both 14" sides, leaving the other 4" end open.

After turning the sleeve so the right sides of the fabric faced out, she used a skewer to help reveal the sewn corners when they remained tucked in the sleeve. She filled the bag with between 2 and 2 1/4 cups of uncooked, white rice. On occasion, the skewer helped clear the funnel as she poured the rice in the bag. 

Prior to this point, we had discussed different ways to finish the bag, and she chose to use the sewing machine to close the open edge of the full bag with a visible straight stitch. Heating and cooling instructions were handwritten on a tag that she attached to the bag with a safety pin.

She completed every step of the project on her own, and she was proud of the accomplishment, especially when her teachers expressed their appreciation for her effort.

I share this project here because she made a bag for me, and I found it to be quite soothing on tight muscles. Not only do these rice bags make great gifts, they are relatively easy and inexpensive to create. Scout troops could put them together and distribute them as part of a service project - recipients could include family members with a loved one in the hospital, residents in assisted living facilities, women in a residential addiction recovery program, or veterans staying in a Fisher House. Get even more creative and combine the project with a badge the troop is interested in earning. Have fun! And thank you for reading.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Slumber Party for Tweens, Part 2

Our younger daughter turned 11 this weekend, and she invited a few friends over to celebrate. This lover of art decided to have an arts and crafts themed slumber party. As we bumped around the internet for ideas, we came across This website provides great inspiration for parties hosted at home. Though our daughter chose activities we have done in the past , I wanted to mention the site as a wonderful resource for inspiration.

Tie Dye Pillowcases

I bought pillowcases at a discount store (2 for $2), and I purchased a Tulip Paradise Punch Tie Dye Kit. After washing the pillowcases, I swirled the fabric and secured each with three rubber bands, following the instructions shown in the kit's directions. With the pillowcases prepared, the girls only had to douse them with dye during the party. NOTE: While I did wash the pillowcases, I did not use soda ash.  We did not use plastic wrap. Instead, we placed each tie dyed pillowcase in a gallon-size zippie bag and let them sit overnight. The next morning, I rinsed the pillowcases in cold water. Be sure to wear gloves! I tossed all of the pillowcases in the washer and ran them through a quick cycle, using hot water. I then threw them in the dryer, pulling them out well in advance of the parents' arrival. As I revealed the designs to the girls, I made sure to emphasize how they all started with the same twisted fabric and the same colors of dye, though their pillowcases turned out differently - each unique and beautiful - just like them.

Alcohol-Inked Ceramic Tiles
Last year, our older daughter and I attended Books by the Banks in Cincinnati, and she had an opportunity to create an alcohol-inked ceramic tile. The instructions are detailed here, but I thought I'd show one tile created during the party this weekend.

Sketchbook Party Favors
Our daughter loves to draw, and she has many how-to books that have helped her learn to draw Disney Characters , horses, Dogs & Puppies, and zoo animals. During the party, she wanted to teach her friends how to draw her favorites. I found sketch pads on clearance and made a cover sheet to personalize one for each girl. I downloaded a free Disney font (this one is "New Walt Disney") and then found sketches of some of her favorite Disney and Pixar characters to copy and paste into a Word document I later printed and glued to the cover. The girls enjoyed drawing, and I instructed them to search for tutorials online at home with permission from a parent or caregiver.

We served pasta, meatballs, garlic bread, and salad for dinner, birthday cake for a snack, and donuts and strawberries for breakfast. When we weren't working on crafts, the girls played games they had created during recess at school. Though our kitchen got a little messy, the girls had a great time! Maybe Scout troops could incorporate these activities into a holiday party. Maybe they could complete badge steps in the process. If you give them a try, I hope you have fun with the kids! Thank you for reading.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Holiday Party Idea for Students and Scouts

During the Reader Retreat I attended this weekend, author Becky Wade used M&Ms to illustrate the steps required in the creation of a novel. In this super fun activity, participants passed a bag of the colorful candies around the room. We each took one piece, and the bag was passed around four different times.

In Round 1, the color of our M&M determined the genre of our novel. We learned the setting of our story in Round 2. The professions of our heroine and hero were discovered in Rounds 3 and 4. We then spent a couple of minutes brainstorming different events that could bring our heroine and hero together. In the next step, we listed her story goal as well as his. Then we wrote and revised the first sentence of our story.

I woke up this morning with the thought that this activity could be fun to try with students during a classroom party or with Scout troops during a holiday party. I spent a few minutes jotting down possible characters and settings for Halloween and Christmas stories. I do realize the Halloween jobs are stereotypical, and I included a couple of faith-based ideas. These can be modified to fit the needs of your group.


                Setting                     Heroine's Role                   Hero's Role

Red           Castle                        Cheerleader                        Cowboy
Orange  Haunted House                   Nurse                              Pirate
Yellow    Graveyard                      Princess                            Fireman
Green     Pumpkin Patch                   Witch                        Football Player
Blue       on the Moon                       Baby                         Superhero/Jedi
Brown  Deep in the Woods                Cat                                Soldier


                Setting                     Heroine's Role                   Hero's Role

Red      in Santa's Sleigh               Nutcracker                         Scrooge
Orange  under the tree                    Angel                              Santa
Yellow      Toyland                         Caroler                             Grinch          
Green     in a manger                        Elf                                Rudolph
Blue        on the roof                     Mrs. Claus                          Frosty
Brown on the Polar Express      Gingerbread Man                       Elf

Depending on the party agenda, you could have the kids stop after the first sentence has been written and ask for volunteers to read them aloud to the group. Or additional time could be given to allow the kids to write a short story. They could illustrate the paper as well, and then this exercise could be considered both a game and a craft. Not only will they be practicing their writing skills, it's free, and there's no clean up. Sounds great to me!

I hope your kids have a great start to the school year. Before we know it, teachers will be asking for classroom party volunteers, and the planning will begin. I wish you the best as you settle into a new routine this fall. As always, thank you for reading.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Service Project: United Through Reading

With Memorial Day memories fresh in my mind, I look ahead and begin preparations for our family's 4th of July festivities. In addition to cookouts, parades, and sparklers, we will make our annual Independence Day donation to the United Service Organizations (USO). We receive USO mailings on a regular basis, and through one of these packets, I learned about United Through Reading.

United Through Reading (UTR) is "dedicated to uniting U.S. military families who face physical separation by facilitating the bonding experience of reading aloud together. UTR creates emotional connections between parents and their children, encourages literacy, and makes homecomings easier."

How does it work?  A service member stops by a United Through Reading recording area near his or her duty station. A book is chosen from the UTR library provided, and a video of the service member reading the story is recorded and sent home to the family. The organization's website details the impact of UTR on the families they serve:
  • 81% of participants report a decrease in their children’s anxiety about the deployment
  • 88% of participants report an increase in connectedness with deployed service members
  • 90% of participants report that participation reduced their own stress during deployment
  • 78% of participants report increases in their child’s interest in reading and books
  • 83% of UTR recordings are watched nearly every day or more often.
More than 80% of participants report that recordings are enjoyed every day or even several times a day. It’s not unusual for children to watch a recorded story 250 times during a ten-month deployment.
How can you help? 
  • Donations are accepted online, by phone, or by mail. United Through Reading is made possible by generous sponsors and donors. Your gift matters!
  • Volunteer. Become part of the United Through Reading Team:  event and communications volunteers are needed.
As we encourage kids to participate in a Summer Reading Program at a local library or bookstore, and as we guide our Scout troops toward various ways to use the money earned during the Cookie Sale, let's remember our service members and their families and give them a gift they will treasure.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

The Kindness Diaries

Earlier this spring, our daughters discovered The Kindness Diaries as they scrolled through recommended show selections on Netflix. For readers who may be unfamiliar with this adventurous documentary, here is a description of the series:

"Host Leon Logothetis travels the world with only a vintage motorbike and the kindness of strangers, which he pays back in unexpected, inspiring ways."

As we watched each excursion, I was inspired to incorporate his vision in various ways while traveling with our family this summer. I then decided to share my thoughts in this blog post, hoping to encourage other families and even Scout troops to do the same.

When planning a vacation or road trip, people may set aside a discretionary budget for souvenirs. What if your family or Scout troop decided not to buy a t-shirt, cinch sack, fridge magnet, or postcard from the gift shop at your destination, but instead, chose to spend this money to brighten someone's day or make a stranger more comfortable?

Here are some pocketbook-friendly ideas:
Buy someone a cup of coffee
Deliver a doughnut to an unsuspecting recipient
Treat a stranger to lunch
Fill a person's tank with gas
Cover another's campsite costs for a night
Pool your money and purchase a blanket for a homeless person

*If the timing and circumstances are right, consider learning more about the person's story.

As I watched Leon travel around the world, my thoughts drifted to Thinking Day. If your troop is making plans for their Thinking Day booth, host an overnight for the girls and watch an episode or two of this series for ideas and inspiration on a featured destination. While the show is rated TV-G, I would recommend adults preview the show before viewing with children and asses the appropriateness for your kiddos.  Side note:  If your troop chooses to learn more about Uganda, consider watching Queen Of Katwe (rated PG). If the girls wish to discover more about India, I recommend Million Dollar Arm (also rated PG).  Both are great stories that provide a glimpse of the respective countries and cultures. Again, I recommend adults preview these movies before showing them to the Scouts.

Whether you're heading across the country, setting out on a short road trip, or driving across town to the local pool this summer, remember Leon and his quest. With small acts of kindness, we can make this world a better place. As always, thank you for reading.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Cupcake Club: March and April

This spring, the Cupcake Club at my daughter's school experimented with buttercream and flower tips as well as fondant. I'm sharing here in case troop leaders are hosting a spring event for the troop - a craft, snack, and service project in one!

Club members used Wilton Round Tip #3, Petal Tip #102, and Petal Tip #104, and Leaf Tip #352 to decorate these strawberry cupcakes. Prior to the meeting, I made and colored buttercream before filling various piping bags. Since most of the kids have been introduced to a piping bag at home, I didn't provide instruction unless someone was struggling. Instead, I let them test it out and try different techniques on their own. These cupcakes were donated to a local senior center.


As Easter approached, we invited my incredibly talented sister-in-law to be a guest instructor. My daughter chose Lynlee's popular Pinterest design for this month's meeting. Club members first iced the carrot cake cupcakes and then dipped them in crushed chocolate graham crackers. Our guest instructor showed them how to make the bunny, and club members worked with her individually to make their rose "cabbages." Huge thanks to Danielle for spending time with us that afternoon. It was their favorite meeting of the year.

 Danielle's example.

 I love how a couple girls made brown bunnies with spots.

In addition to the Bunny Garden cupcakes, the girls used the Wilton Grass Tip #233 to pipe green grass on the remaining carrot cake cupcakes before decorating them with mini jelly bean "eggs." The cupcakes were donated to a local women's shelter. I'm sure the women and children seeking safety there enjoyed a sweet taste of home.

We're planning a field trip for our last meeting of the year. I invite you to check back soon. Thank you for reading.


While driving around town this morning, I heard a story on the radio about the #DuffleShuffle and felt inspired to share the movement with readers. 

The number of children in out-of-home care in Northern Kentucky and Hamilton County (Ohio) due to child abuse and neglect is staggering and still on the rise. But this is not just a significant issue in the Cincinnati tri-state area - it's an alarming trend across our nation and the globe. As these children are shuffled from one home to another, they often shove their belongings in garbage bags. They deserve better. When you think about the statistics, it's safe to say our children and teens know someone who is living in transition.

The Children's Home of Northern Kentucky is collecting NEW duffle bags for kids and teens in out-of-home care (e.g., foster care, kinship care, residential treatment) around the Northern Kentucky/Greater Cincinnati area. Please note:  There are countless organizations around the world who help abused and neglected children. Donations to those organizations are a blessing to the children they serve.

Around this time of year, troops are counting their profits from the Cookie Sale. While we all want to (and should) do something fun with the money, the Scouts are also encouraged to use a portion of their earnings to serve others. 

How can your troop help?
1.  Buy a NEW duffle.  If you'd like to stuff the duffle, check out this link for a list of useful items. They also accept monetary donations.
2.  Shuffle and Share.* Record your best shuffling dance moves and share on social media, using #DuffleShuffle  
3.  Duffle Drop.  Drop off the duffles at an official Duffle Drop location between now and June 30, 2017.

*By participating in this movement, Scouts can complete various petals badge steps. Think along the lines of being considerate and caring or friendly and helpful. Are your girls earning a badge with dance requirements? Or do they have to make a video or learn about online safety and use of social media? Some may be learning about budgets. Maybe they could write or draw about the experience to satisfy an additional badge step. There are many creative ways they could with such a project.

"The combination of your donations, dancing, and duffle bags will both encourage awareness for the kids and their struggles in our area and provide them with a renewed sense of connection and community. We know our efforts are not a solution to ending child abuse and neglect, but our hope is that the Duffle Shuffle moves people to open their hearts and homes to kids in out-of-home care." - Children's Home of Northern Kentucky

As always, thank you for reading.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Cupcake Club: February

The February Cupcake Club meeting happened to fall on Valentine's Day.  We  baked red velvet cupcakes, and members decorated them with three different designs:

1.  Sweet Heart Cupcakes 
While I don't have a picture to share, there are beautiful examples provided in this link.  The kids were instructed to slice off the top of the cupcake.  They set it on a piece of wax paper at the work station.  We didn't have heart-shaped cookie cutters in the right size, so the kids used a knife to cut a small heart from the center of the top. After discarding (or eating) the heart, they dusted the top with powdered sugar.  They were then asked to spread frosting on the cupcake (the cake in the paper liner) before replacing the top on the cupcake.  Once the cupcake had been reassembled, the pink frosting peeked through the heart.

2.  For the second cupcake, they spread cream cheese frosting on the top and used Wilton sugar hearts in various shades of pink as decorations.  Pretty and simple.

3.  Love Cupcakes 
Prior to the meeting, I melted a bag of dark chocolate candy melts in the microwave.  Once smooth and creamy, I poured the melted candy into a piping bag that was fitted with a small round piping tip.  (Caution: bag was quite warm, and the candy dripped from the tip).  I wrote the word love on a sheet of wax paper I had taped to the kitchen counter.  I then drew hearts and drizzled chocolate through the center. 

If you wish to create beautiful filigree hearts, I would suggest you follow the instructions provided by Martha Stewart here

Before heading over to the school, I filled three piping bags with cream cheese frosting I had tinted pink.  Club members used large round, closed star, and open star tips (Wilton piping tips 2D and 1M) to frost these cupcakes before adding the chocolate embellishments. The Club's faculty advisor and I were impressed with the improvement in their skills!

During each meeting, the kids get to enjoy a cupcake, and they donate the rest.  Last month, one parent suggested we recognize the school district's bus drivers.  After the classroom had been cleaned up, we walked across the parking lot to the bus garage and delivered two trays of holiday cupcakes.  The gesture was greatly appreciated, and I thank Emily for the wonderful idea!

Additional Valentine's Day Party Ideas for Your Troop or Classroom

In the days leading up to yesterday's Valentine's Day party, I had mixed emotions, knowing this was the last time I would get to plan a grade school classroom holiday party.  But as they say, when a chapter ends, a new one begins.  I'm excited to discover what the future has in store.  Since the party was a success, I thought I'd share the agenda.  Please note:  a couple of the activities listed below are also described in a previous Valentine's Day post.

A couple weeks before the party, the students voted to decorate card boxes at home. When the party started, we handed out numbered post-it notes to be placed on the desks by each box.  The kids formed a line and snaked through the desks, recording the number of their favorite box for each category on a small scrap of paper.  There were four categories:  cutest, funniest, prettiest, and most creative.  They were asked not to vote for themselves, and they were allowed to write the same number for multiple categories.  Votes were tallied by an adult while the students began the next activity.

Game:  Find Your Match.   
This game is a variation of the Guess Me Icebreaker Game that we played during our troop Christmas Party in 2013I love this game because it is inexpensive and requires little, if any, preparation.  It's similar to HedBanz in the sense that a piece of paper labeled with the name of a well-known character or person is pinned to the back of each participant.  Players walk around the room, asking other players "yes" or "no" questions to try to determine his or her identity.  Once the player's identity is discovered, the player needs to find his or her match to win the game.  This activity works well with larger groups of participants.  Here are some suggestions of couples (or male and female characters who are often associated together):
      Santa and Mrs. Claus                        Mickey and Minnie Mouse
      Barbie and Ken                                Cinderella and Prince Charming
      Belle and Beast                                Anna and Kristoff
      Donald and Daisy Duck                     Kermit and Miss Piggy
      Mario and Peach                               Superman & Wonder Woman             

      Harry Potter and Hermione

I printed copies of the game instructions--one for each cluster of desks in the classroom.  There were four students in each group, and I let them play for fifteen minutes.  Huge thanks to the creator of this printable game at!  The kids had a blast, and a couple groups played the game twice in the allotted time. 

As students enjoyed their snacks, we allowed small groups of kids to pass out their valentines.  By combining these two activities, we had more time for games.

During the final ten minutes of the party, we played Pictionary (girls versus boys).  I chose a boy and girl with February birthdays to draw.  I gave each team three minutes.  Here are the words I selected from an online list of Valentine-related words:
gift          flowers          candy         kiss         
card        hug               cupid          heart       
jewelry    mailbox         diamond     teddy bear

When I left the party, I headed over to the middle school for the February Cupcake Club meeting.  I invite you to check back soon to see the cupcakes they decorated this month--a perfect snack for your next Valentine's Day party!  Thank you for reading.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

"Cultivating Thoughts" With Your Scouts

My sixth grader and her classmates had to complete a special assignment modeled after Chipotle's "Cultivating Thoughts" essay contest.  In Language Arts, they read Fue Xiong's essay "Two Minutes About Sardines" and were asked to write a narrative story about a time when food created a lasting memory.  The stories and a snack donated by Chipotle will be shared by the students at school tomorrow.  A more detailed description of the assignment can be found on my website.

I love this idea, and I brainstormed ways to incorporate it with Girl Scouts.  As you continue reading this post, I encourage you to consider how these ideas could work within your individual troop, for troops at your school, and for troops in your Service Unit. 
  1. Read Xiong's essay to the girls.
  2. Choose an idea from the list below.
  3. Girls write narratives.  Details can be found here.
  4. Print the essays on brown paper bags (or use a glue stick to adhere printer paper to the bag).
  5. Distribute bags to the girls.
  6. Share a snack.
Thinking Day
After the Thinking Day ceremony, have girls write a narrative about the state or country they chose to represent.  They could choose to write the story from a local person's point of view or from the point of view of a visitor.

Or have them write a narrative as a Girl Scout in the chosen state or country.

Juliette Gordon Low and Girl Scout Birthday
To celebrate the founder of Girl Scouts or organization's birthday, girls could:
  • listen to leaders present facts about Juliette Gordon Low's life
  • read a story about her
  • research the founder of Girl Scouts on their own
Write a narrative.  Consider:
  • writing from Juliette's point of view
  • How has her work with early scouting impacted your life?

Juniors Scribe badge--satisfy a step or two for this badge, depending on your interpretations of the steps.

Service Projects
Ask the girls to choose their favorite service project.  They may wish to consider the following when making a decision:
  • A service project completed this school year
  • Favorite service project completed as a Girl Scout
  • The most enjoyable service project
  • The service project that made the biggest impact (on her or on those served)
Write a narrative about the project.  Again, they can write from a personal point of view or from the point of view of those being served.

These thoughts are the product of a quick brainstorm.  If you have additional ideas, please comment below, and I can update the post.  Thank you for reading!

Friday, January 20, 2017

Cupcake Club: January Meeting and Bake Sale

In a previous post, I explained how my daughter started a Cupcake Club at her middle school this year, how I got involved, and how to incorporate the ideas (including service projects, badge steps, and troop celebrations) during your next Scout meeting.  In my experience as a troop leader, there were times when we needed to supplement Cookie Sale profits in order to meet troop goals.  In our Girl Scout Council, if you have a fundraiser outside of Fall Product and Cookie Sales, the girls must provide a service.  Since the Cupcake Club plans to donate cupcakes throughout the community after each month's meeting, I thought I'd share what worked and didn't work for us in case your troop is interested in a similar event.

About 20 students returned permission slips to the club's faculty advisor, but we had no idea how many kids would join us in December.  I spent about $15 on box cake mixes, frosting, and candy for that meeting.  If all 20 kids showed up, they could each decorate two cupcakes.  As it turned out, we had about a dozen kids, so they each decorated four cupcakes.  

Knowing we have five more meetings on the calendar (and being new to the middle school scene as a parent), I spoke with the faculty advisor, school principal, and PTO President about funding.  It was suggested we host a bake sale.  Our January meeting fell on a Tuesday, and the girls' basketball teams were scheduled to play the next day.  With last-minute approval, we developed a plan and kept our fingers crossed. 

I baked 90 cupcakes for the kids to decorate and spent about $35 on ingredients and a handful of supplies.  To save money, I raided our kitchen cabinets to see what the students could use.  In staying true to my daughter's vision for the club and wanting variety for the bake sale, I decided to have four stations at the meeting:

1. Vanilla cupcakes with vanilla frosting and multicolored sprinkles.  At this same station, there were marble cupcakes with chocolate frosting and multicolored sprinkles.  Plastic knives were provided to spread the frosting and spoons for the sprinkles.

2. Vanilla cupcakes with vanilla icing, which I dyed orange and purple (school colors for our team and their opponents).  Using a knife, I filled piping bags with both colors. The closed and open star tips (Wilton piping tips 2D and 1M) gave the swirled frosting a fancy twist.

3.  Chocolate cupcakes were cored at this station and filled with marshmallow cream.  Prior to the meeting, I mixed some Marshmallow Fluff with a scoop of vanilla frosting.  I snipped the ends of two piping bags and filled them with the marshmallow (no piping tips necessary).  At this station, there was a plastic knife, a baby spoon, a cupcake corer, and a melon baller for the kids to use to remove the core of the cupcake.

4.  The chocolate cupcakes were topped with chocolate frosting (Wilton piping tip 2A). The kids then piped vanilla snowflakes on the cupcakes (Wilton piping tip 3 or plastic baggies with a tiny hole snipped off one corner).

They also decorated a large sheet of poster board with Sharpies, advertising the club's name and the price of the cupcakes ($1).

Since we only have an hour together, I prepared everything in advance.  Supplies were loaded in plastic shopping bags labeled with the station number, which made set-up super quick.  Our meetings are in a classroom, so I made sure to have wax paper or paper towels for their work stations.  This made clean up easy.  About half a dozen kids agreed to work the bake sale the following afternoon.

For the Bake Sale:
poster (and tape)
vinyl tablecloth
container for donations
change (fives and singles) and envelope
paper towels
foil pan and foil (for donation of leftover cupcakes)

NOTE:  Attendance at girls' middle school basketball games is low.  Don't choose convenience like I did. 

The kids only sold a third of the cupcakes they decorated, but I was so proud of their problem-solving skills.  They asked the athletic director for permission to take their sign on the court at halftime and between games to advertise their sale.  They discussed which cupcakes were selling more or less than others.  Then they asked if they could host another bake sale at the boys' games the next week.  It was suggested the cupcakes be frozen, and we were given approval for another bake sale.

NOTE:  The purple and orange frosting was replaced with vanilla and chocolate swirl, which proved to be a best seller.

Bake Sale:  Round 2
A much more successful endeavor!  At the end of the sale, the kids had about a dozen cupcakes left.  We delivered them to the staff at a transitional care center down the street from the school.  Knowing we only have enough funds for one more meeting after we reimburse for previous purchases, efforts are being made to contact the families of club members to figure out the best way to proceed.

Though it proved to be a great deal of work for me on the front end, I turned it over to club members at the games. It was good for them to face disappointment as they did in Round 1.  Similar to the Girl Scout cookie sale experience, they worked together and learned valuable skills while having fun.  Wishing you success during this Cookie Sale season!  Thank you for reading. 

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Thinking Day Thoughts

In November, our family went on a mission trip to Nicaragua.  Our team dug trenches and helped with the construction of a school in two different communities during our week there.  When we returned to the States, my daughters came across the book A Long Walk to Water: Based on a True Story by Linda Sue Park. This novel is written from the point of view of two 11-year-olds in Sudan. The book covers both history and geography and exposes readers to the harsh realities of life for people in other parts of the world.  It is a story of hope and perseverance, and the book provides a reason to discuss how to get involved and make a difference in this world.  Please note this book is written for readers ages 10 and up.  There are several sad and frightening sections that may upset younger readers. 

As in Nicaragua, access to clean water is a huge issue for many Sudanese communities.  Days are spent getting water to survive, yet the water is not safe to drink.  A Long Walk to Water struck a chord in our family, and it got me thinking...

World Thinking Day is February 22nd.  This year's global theme is Grow. While the intent is to invite other girls to join in the Girl Scout Movement, two goals for Thinking Day are:

    • Take action and speak out on issues we most care about
    • Make a difference by fundraising for projects around the world
    In Nicaragua, Amigos for Christ comes alongside community leaders to help improve the standard of living for people there. They also build into the spiritual lives of the people they meet.

    Water for South Sudan is the organization highlighted in A Long Walk to Water. As in Nicaragua, the villagers provide labor to drill the wells, and one well may serve thousands of people. With clean water, women and children don't have to
    spend their days walking for water. Kids can go to school, which promises a brighter future.  With a well, there are healthier pregnancies, and marketplaces can be supported.  "Where safe water flows, life can blossom." 

    As your girls consider their options for Thinking Day this year, I encourage you to introduce them to A Long Walk to Water.  Read the book on your own and modify the story for younger girls. Maybe they'll be moved to choose to learn more about Nicaragua or Sudan this February. "Where safe water flows, life can blossom. #LetsGrow" would look great on a poster!  Both organizations mentioned in this post offer a variety of ways to get involved and give. Water for South Sudan provides helpful tips on their website for organizing a fundraiser.

    While bumping around the WFSS website, I learned about the H2O Project:
    1. Make water your only beverage for 2 weeks.
    2. Save the money you would usually spend on beverages.
    3. After 2 weeks, donate the money you saved and give someone clean water for a lifetime.
    Just think of the money that could be raised by your family, Girl Scout troop, school, or Service Unit!  If your troop chooses such a challenge, I'd love to hear about it.  Thank you for reading.

    Saturday, January 7, 2017

    Cupcake Club: December

    My older daughter moved up to the middle school for sixth grade this year.  She considered joining several clubs before deciding to begin the Cupcake Club.  For the idea to be considered by administrators, she had to draft a proposal.  She and I discussed possible questions the teachers may have about the club, and she composed a plan to present to the school's front office.  The proposal was accepted, and a teacher agreed to be the club's advisor.

    The group met after school one afternoon in October to discuss how the participants would obtain cupcakes, frosting, and supplies for the meetings.  They also shared favorite flavor combinations and possible themes for future meetings.  The club did not meet in November, and I helped with the December meeting.

    My daughter baked two batches of Christmas Funfetti cupcakes the evening before the meeting.  We bought two tubs of vanilla frosting, and the kids used a bag of Rolos, and a large bag of M&Ms to decorate the cupcakes as ornaments as pictured here

    After enjoying one of their creations, club members agreed to donate the remaining treats to the police and fire stations around the corner from the school. (I wish I could post a group picture, but I don't have permission).

    The next time your Girl Scout troop is preparing for holiday parties and service projects, recreate your own Cupcake Club. Girls will have fun decorating cupcakes (craft). They could enjoy one (snack) before heading out to deliver the rest (service project).  What a great way to celebrate Juliette Gordon Low's birthday or the birthday of the Girl Scouts!  In addition, your girls could satisfy a badge step for the Brownies Snack badge or the Juniors Simple Meals badge. 

    The Cupcake Club meets again this week to decorate cupcakes they'll sell during a Bake Sale during basketball games at the school.  I'll let you know how it goes.  As always, thank you for reading!