Wednesday, 8 August 2018

Presenting Brownie Badges

I love badges. I love earning them and sewing them to my blanket. My Brownies also love badges and looking at all of the pretty patches that they've earned for all of their hard work. 

I try to make handing out badges special. I like to present them in a way so that the girls can see all of the badges out and presented but also a way that is easy for me to see whose badges are for who. Below are some ways that we've handed out badges to the girls in the past. Maybe you'll see something that inspires you. 

Hot Glued to a Laminated Card with Girl's Name

This method is probably my most polished and most used look. I primarily hand out badges like this for Advancement and Enrollment so the girls have something really pretty they can hold in front of them for pictures. One year I coloured in Owls and Laminated them for Enrollment. They looked amazing but were a TON of work (and didn't hold that many badges in the end) so I probably won't do them again. 

Hot Glued to a Ribbon

The second method I use to hand out badges is to attach them to some sort of ribbon. Often I'll do this before the winter holiday and purchase some foam shapes (snowflakes, snowmen) from the dollar store to jazz up the name plate on the top. This is far less work then printing and laminating cards but it is a little tricky to hot glue the badges to the ribbon (you get a lot of hot glue on your fingers). I suggest working on wax paper so you don't get the hot glue all over your dining room table... not that I know this from experience.

In a Little Pastic Bag

Very quick but still looks neat and tidy. Print off the names, staple to filled bags and you are done. The girls don't get to see all they've earned without opening up the bag, but it will keep them all contained until they all go home. 

Quick and Dirty 

While i'd love to always have time to present the girls their badges in the most beautiful ways there are only so many hours in a day. While it doesn't always feel like it I do have a life outside of GGC, *gasp* so sometimes things just have to get done quick. Staple badges to paper, handwrite girl's name. Girls get their badges and they don't get lost/mixed up - win/win. 

No matter how they are presented the girls love getting the badges that represent their hard work. How do you hand out badges to your girls?

Monday, 9 April 2018

Welcome To Spring! Seasons and Weather

It's April and that means that it's Spring! Here in Toronto it's been rainy, sunny, snowy - all sorts of weather changes. We are currently working on our "Key to the Living World" and thought it would be really fun to work in the Weather Tracker Interest badge. 

I find the "Weather Tracker" badge one of the more challenging badges to do because it requires a tiny bit of work, everyday, over the course of a week. As such we did our best to set the girls up for success by creating weather trackers in the meeting that they could take home during the week and go weather watching. 

After our opening circle we talked a little about the weather and the changing seasons. Then it was outside to play a game of Brown Squirrel/Grey Squirrel. This is a game that I learned at a recent OAL training. and this is how you play. 

Brown Squirrel/Grey Squirrel

Divide your group into 2 teams, half are red squirrels and the other grey squirrels. Give each girls the same amount of "food" about 10 pieces. I like to use glass gems from the dollar store so if some get lost/left behind its not bad for the environment. 

Talk to the girls about hibernation and storing food for winter/spring. My Brownies seemed very knowledgeable about this. Tell them that Grey squirrels will hide their food for winter in many different places. This is good because its more protected from predators but with so many stores they can forget where its hidden. Red squirrels on the other hand hide all of their food in one spot. Good because they know where it is but bad because it could all get eaten up by predators. 

Give the girls a few minutes to go store their food. then call them back. Tell them its now spring and they have to go out and bring back 2 pieces of food. The food can come from anywhere but if they aren't back by the time you count down from 15 they might not last the winter. 

As the game goes on it will be harder and harder to find food and get back. Girls who don't make it back can become bluejays. They steal food from squirrel's hiding places but only have to bring back 1 food each time. Continue until there is 1 squirrel left or the game peters out. 

The girls LOVE this game and since its so active it really gets their energy out!

After the squirrel game we went back inside to make rain gauges and create our weather trackers! Using small glass jars and cut down rulers from the dollar store we were able to make really cute rain gauges that the girls could use throughout the next week to look at the rain fall. 

The Weather trackers we made out of file folders. This was a simple paper craft, lots of cutting and pasting to make a weather tracker that looked at temperature, clouds and precipitation. We took some time to fill out the first day's weather at the meeting and then the girls were able to watch the weather through out the week. Once they brought back their completed weather tracker they were awarded with their interest badge!

Monday, 26 March 2018

Wood Works

One of my favourite activities to do with the Brownies is building with tools. While we do a lot of crafts and art with the girls but there is something about creating with wood, hammers and nails that I just love. I feel like often kids, especially girl's don't get chances very often to develop building and construction tools. As a result they tend to get really excited when we pull out the hammers and safety glasses. 

Our Tawny Owl Alison is the master of finding good activities and good deals when it comes to stuff for Brownies. She called me one weekend and said "I found the coolest thing for Brownies at Homedepot. I've got the meeting planned for Monday."

Alison found these amazing picture frame kits on sale for $5/piece. They came with all of the wood pieces (precut and drilled), nails, finishings, even the clear plastic covers to act as glass. This coupled with some borrowed hammers and safety goggles from the school that I teach at and we had a meeting. 

The girls worked in partners sharing a pair of safety goggles and hammer. Before we started building we all chatted about safety and the different kinds of tools we'd be using. The girls were so careful and took great care in assembling their picture frames. I'm happy to report there were no injuries just a lot of smiles.

Building the frames took about 1/2 of the meeting so for the second half we pulled out the craft cupboard paints and let the girls decorate! If you are looking to do some building/woodworking with your unit I highly suggest checking out these craft kits. Happy Building!

Saturday, 17 March 2018

Reptilia Sleepover with the Brownies!

We are always looking for fun overnight opportunities for the girls. While I LOVE camping, it is a ton of work and we can usually only manage 2-3 camping trips a year. This year we thought we'd try out a sleepover at a local reptile house. The girls were able to cover off some of their "Key to the Living World" programming as well as complete their "Saving Plants and Animals" interest badge. We also used this sleepover as a bridging opportunity matching up with a spark/brownie unit as well as a guide unit. 

First up was some crafts and and arrival activities. We had a lot of kids and a lot of gear so it took awhile to get everyone arrived and settled. Luckily Reptilia has a ton of party rooms which were were able to quickly dump our stuff into and get right down to the fun. After everyone had arrived we went to the Reptilia theatre to watch the animal show. The girls got to see a wide range of animals - focusing mostly on Canadian turtles and reptiles. They loved getting to see the creatures up close and touch all of them. 

After the show we went back to the party rooms for a quick snack and to get ready for the flashlight tour. Since many of the zoo's animals are most active at night our tour guide led us through the exhibits in the dark with just a flashlight. She pointed out all of the creatures and the girls got to see everything! Turtles, crocodiles, birds, snakes. It was so much fun!

After the night tour it was time for bed. The next morning went pretty quick as we had to be out of the zoo by the time it opened to the public. We had a ton of fun and will definitely be back!

Monday, 5 March 2018

Library Visit and Reading Badge

We have a fantastic relationship with the church where we do our meetings. We've had Sparks/Brownies/Guides units in the church on Monday nights for over 30 years so we are well established and connected with the church staff. Most of the time our meeting space is available with no conflicts but every so often we will get a short notice email that we can't use the space. Just such a call happen this week as 5 hours before the meeting we had to find a new space and meeting topic. Flexibility is something we talk about with the girls all the time so we packed everyone up and went on a trip to the local public library. 

I was able to whip up a quick "Passport to Reading" that enabled the girls to complete their Hurrah for Reading interest badge. The Library trip also fit into the Key to my Community program area as we talked about the role of the library in our community. You can get a copy of the Reading Passport Here

This was a pretty low-key meeting. We looked around at the different parts of the library - front desk, different sections for books, meeting rooms, computers, etc. Most of the girls were very familiar with the space as this was their local library branch. Then the girls worked away through their reading passports. All were able to finish and received their reading interest badge at the next badge night!

We had a super fun time on this field-trip. Have you ever taken your unit to your local library?

Thursday, 1 March 2018

Link Meet Up - Board Games Night!

What do you do in GGC after you turn 18? This is a common question for those who have gone through the Girl Guides of Canada program. What do you do after high school to stay involved in GGC? You are possibly off at college/university, maybe don't want to lead a unit but still want to stay involved with the community.


Created for women 18-30 LINK provides an open and flexible space for GGC women to stay involved with their community and do awesome, fun stuff. We even have a LINK Program now *Including Badges* that focuses on figuring out who you are and what paths are available to you in the areas of: Health and Wellness, Active Citizenship, Personal and Professional Development & Outdoors and Adventure. 

In Toronto we've been trying to get young guiders together to create a vibrant LINK group. Most recently we've had a great night of board games to get to know people in our community! If you are a GGC member between 18-30 consider joining LINK and come have a great time with us!

Monday, 26 February 2018

Girls First Test Activities: All About Art!

This year we were so excited to be picked as a test unit for some of the new Girl's First Activities. I LOVE the new program and am taking every opportunity to jump in and share the new stuff with my Brownies. This year we were completing our "Key to the Arts" so of course we were delighted when the test activity we were sent aligned with our planned out meeting focus. 

The Girls First activity we were reviewing looked at art and creativity. Each girl was given paper, markers and a sticker. Using the sticker and their imagination they had to create a picture/scene. After a few minutes they were surprised by given a second sticker that they would have to incorporate into their drawing. And then a third sticker! 

At first I was skeptical of this activity. I didn't think it would be exciting enough to interest the girls. However I have to admit I was so, so wrong on this one. The Brownies LOVED this activity. They liked the novelty of being given new stickers to work with and I think it really stretched their thinking. It also provided a unique activity for sharing. Since no one had done something like this before there was a more relaxed feel. The girls didn't compare their art work to others in a judgemental way of seeing which was "best". They just love to see what everyone came up with. 

After this warm up activity we moved onto the main test activity which was marbling paper with shaving cream and food colouring. This was a cool science experiment/art activity and the girls had a great time working in teams to marble the paper every which way. 

We had a bit of time left at the end of this meeting so we pulled out the glue guns and bits and pieces from the craft cupboard and let the girls make SWAPS! They LOVE making and trading crafts and its so nice to have no "end product" in mind. Just make whatever you want to make. 

This was a super fun meeting and I really hope that these activities make it into the new Girls First program!