Pen Pal Program

Girl Guides of Canada and Girl Scouts of America both offer a badge to members for participating in a Pen Pal program. We decided to partner up this year with two units in the United States that we could exchange letters with.

WAGGS (World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts) heavily encourages the use of Pen Pals as a way to participate in World Thinking Day each year. They have a website called GLOW that leaders can make an account on and meet up with other leaders around the world who are also searching for a unit to exchange letters with. This is how I found the two units in USA for my girls to write (they are smaller units and together make up enough numbers to match my 1 unit).

It was much easier to facilitate this exchange than I had expected. Both of the American units agreed to send us the first letter, and then we will write back when we receive them. As a part of this process, we will also do some small gift exchanges throughout the year, and send holiday postcards.

I would highly recommend that you work with the leaders in the other unit to match up specific girls (ex, Kandra in my unit with Andrea in the other unit) and have those same girls always write to one another. Also, we are sending our letters in batches. This way all the girls get letters and write back on the same night. As the facilitating leader, I send and receive all letters in one large envelope using my personal address; the leader at the other end does the same.

Additionally, make sure you read the letters your guides/scouts have written to make sure there is nothing too personal in there and that it is appropriate. You also want to make sure that they are responding to specific questions that were posed to them in the letter and asking some of their own. You will probably have to do a lesson on how to write a letter at the beginning of the program and at the start of each letter-writing session.

We are going to expand upon this program slightly, but introducing limited calligraphy. Learning to write in calligraphy is one of the ways to earn a Super Crafts badge in Brownies. Although the letters themselves will be printed, I want to teach the girls how to write their names and the name of their partner in calligraphy, and perhaps the salutations as well.

The most difficult aspect of everything so far has been purchasing reasonably priced and cute stationary! I didn’t want to use regular lined notebook paper, but I also want the stationary to be lined because second and third graders … need I say more?

Walmart, Dollorama and Amazon Canada have all let me down. Staples does have cute stationary so I guess I will be shopping there. I am going to try using a ruler to draw the lines on one paper, using that as a master, and then photocopying the lines onto the other pages … we’ll see how this goes.

I have also found some websites that allow you to download stationary to PDF and then print them on regular white paper. I’m going to try this first because it seems soooo much easier, but I want it to be quality too. Le sigh.

Capture
Cute, but so much ink!

xx

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Girlfriends Through Time

The Brownie Program Book 2004

Some of the badges in the Brownie book are pretty difficult to do in a meeting. There are a few, like the Girlfriends Through Time Badge, that require a fair amount of parental involvement. I am taking advantage of holidays this year to try to encourage (read: strongarm) parents into helping their kids with these badges by supplying as much support as possible.

br_me_girlfriends

For example, I used the guidelines in our Brownie book to create a one page worksheet for parents and kids. I have typed it out below. Feel free to copy and paste into Word, just make sure to add the spaces back in to give kids a place to draw and answer questions.

*I also numbered the blank spaces after questions, so girls would name three things there grandmothers and mothers liked to do.

We handed these out to each girl roughly two weeks before Thanksgiving, so hopefully parents will use the holiday to talk to their daughters, and encourage conversations with grandparents as well! It also gives Mums and Dads lots of time to work on it, in between homework and extracurriculars and everything else a modern family has going on these days.

Handout:

 

Note to Parents:  If your family gathers together over Thanksgiving, please consider working through the first two badge points. We will do the last step in our meeting. 

 Girlfriends Through Time Badge 

Draw a picture of what your grandmother and mother wore when they were your age.

Draw a picture of what you wear on a typical day. How have clothes changed? 

What did your grandmother and mother like to do when they were your age? 

My Mom liked to:

My grandmother liked to: 

*In meeting: Read a story about another time. Tell your circle about your story. 

xx

Week 4 Meeting Plan

This is the meeting 4 plan, as of right now. Nothing ever seems to go exactly to plan but we like to have a foundation on which to start the craziness.

October 2nd meeting – Thanksgiving Theme

  1. Girls go to their circles and complete attendance. While in circles, Tawny Owl will take around the thank you cards and have the girls sign them. These cards are for upcoming events where we will be visiting or having a speaker in.
  2. Active Game: Dodgeball
  3. Opening Songs. While sitting in circle, bring up Thanksgiving
    1. When is Thanksgiving?
    2. How do we celebrate it?
    3. Why do we celebrate it?
    4. What was the first holiday like?
    5. What are you thankful for?
  4. Skye Owl will read the non-fiction book (Canadian Holidays: Thanksgiving) and Tawny will read the picture book (Thanksgiving Rules by Laurie Friedman)
  5. Explain and then start craft (details to come in separate post)
  6. Game: Handshake Murder
  7. Return to circle
  8. Game: Catch / Don’t Catch
  9. Sing: There was a bear, black socks, fire’s burning
  10. Talk about elections and how to vote
    1. Next week we will be going to the municipal offices to learn what our elected officials do. One meeting coming up we will have our own election where girls get to vote on something
    2. If time read a book about voting
  11. Closing

xx

Brownies = BUSY

Oh my sweet heavens, September is BUSY in the guiding community!

I had every intention of writing this blog post daily for the past three-ish weeks and clearly, those plans weren’t overly successful. I thought I was at least somewhat prepared but there is so much happening at once. I’m also super busy at school and work right now. Nonetheless, everything gets done somehow and here is a slew of new blog posts – I hope!

This is what we did for the second meeting of the new year.

Circles / attendance

Hula Hoop Game

Opening and Circle Songs

(While in our circle, we talk about something that needs to be addressed – like how to be a good team-player/ good sport) and the purpose of our meeting tonight / the meaning behind it, etc)

Talk about craft, explain and and then move to the craft tables. This week we did the invitation to parents for next week.

At this point we split the group in two. Two of my fabulous co-leaders took the 2nd years into another room. They practised a skit of the Brownie Story, which they will perform at the Enrolment Ceremony.

The second years stayed with me and we practised the Enrolment Ceremony phrase and talked about what would happen.

Twist me and turn me and show me an elf, I look in the water and I see myself!

We left time at the end to sing three songs. Because it has been hectic and the first years don’t know too many songs yet, we kept it basic with lyrics the leaders and older girls all know by heart… fire’s burning; black socks; there was a bear.

Closing ceremony and done! It is shocking how fast the 90 minutes fly by. I swear I blink and the parents are arriving. I guess that is what lots of energy and a fast pace will do for you.

xx

Enrolment Ceremony Play

Something that we are planning to do this year at our Enrolment Ceremony is have our second year Brownies do a quick skit of the Brownie Story. One other second year will recite the Brownie Toadstool bit as well. This helps give the night a purpose for the second years, rather than them feeling like a meeting or two is wasted at the beginning of the year. It contributes to the girls earning their Key to the Arts Brownie Key.

We are hoping that this adds some meaning to the ceremony and helps the first years and their parents to understand some of the routines we have and the deeper meanings behind Brownies.

I have copied and pasted my script below. You might want to divide it into more or fewer parts depending on how many second years are in your Unit. This is based off of 8 girls. I created the following parts: Grandma, Owl, Brooke, Cindy, 3 narrators, and 1 girl reading the Brownie Toadstool.

Note: I do NOT own this story. It is property of GGC. I just copied it out into play format and divided it by girl.

 The Brownie Story Play 

Narrator 1: Brooke and her cousin Cindy were on their way to visit Grandma Ella in the country. Grandma Ella lived with her dog Scooter, her turtle Leo and her fish Goldilocks in a small brick house, surrounded by thick woods. 

Brooke loved visiting Grandma Ella. In the fall, they collected leaves and dried them between the pages of heavy books. In the winter, they snowshoed and skated on the frozen pond. In the spring, they ate pancakes with maple syrup they bought from a farmer down the road. And in the summer, they swam in the pond and had picnics on the grass. 

Brooke loved to do all these things, but most of all, she loved to hear Grandma Ella’s stories about Brownies. Grandma Ella said Brownies were little people who helped with chores when no one was watching.  

Brooke: “I wish a Brownie would help me with my chores”. 

Cindy: “So do I.” 

Brooke (facing Grandma): “Have you ever seen a Brownie?” 

Grandma: “No one ever sees Brownies. They lend a hand when no one is around, and they always know exactly when help is needed.” 

Brooke: “Do you think there are any Brownies in the woods behind your house?” 

Grandma: “Brownies could be anywhere. The only one who knows where they are is the wise old owl who lives in the great pine tree near the pond.” 

Cindy: “I’ve never seen an owl near the pine tree.” 

Brooke: “Neither have I.” 

Grandma: “People say she only appears when the moon is blue.” 

Cindy (giggles): “The moon is never blue!” 

Grandma: “Oh sometimes it is …. but not very often.” 

Narrator 2: That night in bed, Brooke and Cindy talked about how much fun it would be to meet the wise old owl and learn more about Brownies. 

Cindy: “If I met a Brownie, I’d ask that Brownie to clean up my room. That would make my mom very happy.” 

Brooke: “If I met a Brownie, I’d ask that Brownie to dry the dishes, take out the garbage and pull up the weeds. That would make my mom very happy. And you know what else Cindy?” 

Narrator 2: But Cindy didn’t answer. She was fast asleep. Brooke stretched. She was feeling sleepy herself. (“Brooke” should do this action) 

Brooke: “If only I could meet that wise old owl.” 

Owl: “Whoooo. Whooooo. I was waiting for you.” 

Brooke: “Cindy?” (peering around). 

Narrator 2: But it wasn’t Cindy. Cindy was gone. The bedroom was gone. Brook was standing outside, near the pond.  

Owl: “Whoooo Whoooo, I see you”. 

Narrator 2: Brooke looked up. (“Brooke” should do this action) 

Brooke: “Yikes!” 

Narrator 2: She saw an owl sitting on a branch of the pine tree. 

Brooke: “Are you the wise old owl?” 

Owl: “Whooo. Whoooo. That is true.” 

Brooke: “But you’re only supposed to appear when the moon is blue.” 

Owl: “Whoooo. Whoooo. The moon is blue”. 

Narrator 3: Brooke looked up at the sky. The moon was blue. It was as blue as a blueberry. 

Brooke: “Do you know where I can find a Brownie? I want to ask the Brownie something important.” 

Owl: “Whoooo. Whoooo. Don’t roam. Look in Grandma’s home.” 

Brooke: “I’ve never seen a Brownie at my Grandma’s. Where is it hiding?” 

Owl: “Whooooo Whoooo. A Brownie is there. Now listen with care. This is the rule. At the toad stool. Look in the pond. Don’t use a wand. Turn ‘round three times. And finish what rhymes.” 

Brooke: “What rhyme do I have to finish?” 

Owl: “Twist me and turn me and show me an elf. I look in the water and I see …” 

Narrator 3: Brooke ran to the toadstool beside the pond. She turned three times, repeated the rhyme and looked in the pond. But all she could see was her own reflection. Brooke ran back to the owl. 

Brooke: “All I see is myself.” 

Owl: “Whooo. Whoooo. That is true. A brownie is you.” 

Brooke: “I’m a Brownie? No I’m not.” 

Owl: “Whooo. Whoooo. You’re a Brownie at heart. Now hurry and start.” 

Narrator 3: And with that, the owl flapped her wings and flew away. (“Owl” should do this action) 

Narrator 3: As soon as she did, the blue moon vanished. Brooke looked up. The sun peeked through the window. She was back in her room. She was back in bed.  

Brooke: “Cindy! I can be a Brownie. All I have to do is …” 

Cindy: “You can be a what?” (Cindy rubs sleep from her eyes) 

Brooke: “A Brownie. And you can be one too.” 

Narrator 3: And she told Cindy everything that had happened with the owl. 

Brooke: “Why don’t we be Brownies together? It might be fun!” 

Cindy: “Why not? Wow, Grandma will be so surprised!” 

Narrator 3: So that day, Brooke and Cindy wiped all the dishes, weeded every bit of the garden and took out the garbage without being asked. They even baked cookies and took them over to some of Grandma’s friends at the seniors’ centre. Everyone was surprised and delighted, especially Grandma. 

Grandma: “There’s magic in this house. Two wonderful Brownies have somehow appeared to help me out, just when I needed it. Do you think those Brownies might like some warm apple pie with vanilla ice cream?” 

Brooke and Cindy together: “Yes, they would!”  

 b7d21cf1a5e65322ad2bd17fc89a0fff.jpg

The Brownie Toadstool 

Long ago, our Founder Lord Baden-Powell decided that Brownies should have something special in the centre of the Brownie Ring. He chose a toadstool. The toadstool stands on a carpet of grass, which represents the solid foundation that unites Brownies everywhere. Grass is strong and spreads out in all directions, just like Brownies do, who live in many countries around the world. 

The stem of the toadstool stands for the Brownie Promise and Law, and the cap stands for the crown of happiness. When a Brownies keeps her Promise, it makes her feel as if she’s wearing a crown of happiness. 

The wise old owl sits on top of the toadstool and teaches the Brownies how to “Lend a Hand” to help others. Nearby, there’s a magic pool. When a Brownies lends a hand and helps others, she can look into the magic pool and see herself and say: 

Look in the magic pool and you will see what a special person I can be! 

xx

First Meeting

Well! It has been a hot minute since the last time that I posted. There isn’t too much going on in my guiding unit during summer breaks.

However, we had a leader meeting last week to map out our first four months, which takes us up until the end of 2018. Hard to believe.

If you are a new guider, like I was last year, I will explain more in a later blog post. If you haven’t already though, definitely start reaching out to the other leaders in your unit or your community and plan a meetup at someone’s house, or your local Timmies.

I want to write out a journal of sorts of my first year as “lead” guider, for reference in future years, for documenting on this blog, and to hopefully help someone else out.

Last year I was completely lost!!!

img_0545-1.jpg

In case it isn’t legible, here it is:

** Write the date and note girl’s absences at the top of the page. You will be so thankful you did this when you are trying to figure out who has earned what badges!

Activities:

  1. Brownie Circles (put girls into them) and have them use these groups to perform skits on the “dos and do nots” of selling cookies.
  2. What I want to do at Brownies (worksheet) (see below)
  3. Brownie Wordsearch (if time – you can pull this out at any time during the year when you need to buy yourself 10 quiet minutes, or use it on the overnight trip)

Ice Breakers:

  1. My name is Aaron and I like Aardvarks
    1. How to play: Have everyone (including leaders) stand or sit in a circle. Each person things of an object or activity that starts with the same letter as their name (younger kids may need to do the same sound instead of letter). You go around the circle, with each person repeating all of the previous responses. ie; Sarah likes Salamanders, Hannah likes handball, Phoebe likes Pirates of the Caribbean …
  2. Hula Hoop Pass
    1. How to play: Have the group form two long lines. The girls should be close enough to hold hands but not shoulder to shoulder. At the top of each line, hand the first girl a hula hoop. The goal is to move the hoola hoop over their bodies to the last girl at the other end, without ever breaking hands. If they do, the hoop goes back to the front of the line and they start over! It is great to do best 2 out of 3 on this game.
  3. Change Your Spot:
    1. How to play: “It” stands in the centre of the circle (start with a leader). She calls out “change spots if …” and everyone who that applies to has to switch spots with someone else it also applies to. The It person tries to steal someone’s spot in the circle, and whoever doesn’t get a spot is the next It. The goal of this game is to learn what you all have in common, move your bodies and have fun! examples; change spots if you had cereal for breakfast/ you have a sister / you like to wake up early / you are a Leprechaun, etc.

Active Game:

  1. PacTag: This is a tag game where the It person, and everyone else, has to stay on the lines (like in Pacman). We meet in a gymnasium so this is perfect, but you can substitute another other version of tag if you don’t have lined pathways in your meeting space.

Craft:

  1. Make Nametags … preferably ones that are sturdy enough to last all year on their uniforms, or at least several meetings…. are you sensing a theme to this meeting yet?!

Discussions:

  1. What do you want to get out of the guiding experience this year (can be used at the same time as “what I want to do at Brownies” worksheet)
  2. What qualities describe a Brownie? (good to do this at the beginning of the meeting, so that you can outline expectations like how to be a good sport, and not talking while the leaders are talking)
  3. Have first year Brownies vote on their Enrollment theme. We pre-choose 2-3 themes that are manageable for the leaders to arrange, and let the girls vote from those.

Learn:

  1. Brownie motto, law and promise
  2. Unit member names
  3. Brownie Smile song (see below)
  4. I Met a Bear song (see below)
  5. Guiding history (start working on this)

brownies

 

Brownie Smile song:


I’ve got something in my pocket, it belongs across my face.
I keep it very close at hand, in a most convienient place.
I’m sure you couldn’t guess it if you guessed a long, long while.
So I’ll take it out and put it on, it’s a Great Big Brownie Smile!

Here is a Youtube video I found of a little girl singing the song with the actions. I do not own the video!

 

 

I Met a Bear song:

The other day, I met a bear,
A great big bear, Oh way out there.

Chorus:
(Same lines in unison)

He looked at me, I looked at him,
He sized up me, I sized up him.

He said to me, “Why don’t you run?
I see you ain’t, Got any gun.”

I says to him, “That’s a good idea.”
“Now legs get going, get me out of here!”

And so I ran, Away from there,
But right behind me, Was that bear.

In front of me, There was a tree,
A great big tree, Oh glory be!

The lowest branch, Was ten feet up,
So I thought I’d jump, And trust my luck.

And so I jumped, Into the air,
But I missed that branch, A way up there.

Now don’t you fret, And don’t you frown,
I Caught that branch, On the way back down!

This is the end, There aint no more,
Unless I see, That bear once more.

Here is recording of this song, so you get the tune. It is a call and repeat song, which is great for nervous new Brownies! Again, I do not own this.

Good luck!

xx

Planning a Guiding Year (1)

I’m am going to try to write a series of posts that are geared towards planning your guiding year. I have already written a couple, such as a sample letter to parents that can be found here, and tips on setting up your Brownie/Spark circles which can be found here.

I try to plan my guiding year around the seven main themes that are in guiding and major holidays, plus the seasons. For example, the beginning and end of the year have most of our outdoor activities because it just isn’t that fun to take a group of little girls outside in -30C weather. We still do the odd outdoor activity like tobogganing, but mostly try to schedule indoor activities when its cold outside.

My first unit meeting this year is Tuesday, September 11th. I have roughly charted out our first 3-5 meetings…

Week One:

The first meeting can be a rough one on kids, especially first year Brownies. Many are shy, some didn’t do Sparks, and it has been a long time since their last meeting in the spring. We mostly play icebreakers and review the Brownie Law, Promise and Motto. I encourage the girls to practice this at home so that they know it before the enrolment ceremony.

We have a group discussion on how a Brownie conducts herself… the purpose of this is to set out expectations of behaviour from the outset by having the girls share the qualities that they expect of themselves and their fellow Brownies. We play up being a good friend and teammate, respecting personal boundaries and limitations, listening when the Owls are speaking or a guest is visiting, and lending a hand.

I also have an activity I found online that I love to do at the beginning of the year. I’ll insert a photo below, but it basically encourages the girls to share their hopes and expectations of the year. They can draw a picture or write down what they want to say.

brownies

We are doing TWO crafts this week … something we may not do again this year!

The first craft is a canvas bag that they can decorate. At our location, there is no water fountain so we encourage water bottles and most of the year, they need a change of footwear as well. In addition, we usually send them home with a craft or something so making these in the first week is fun for children and a big help to leaders / parents.

The second craft is specifically for the first years. One of the leaders will do a game with the second years in another room while our littler ones make an invitation for their parents to their enrolment ceremony! Again, I want them to be able to guide the year so as leaders, we will come up with 3 or so themes that we like and feel are manageable and then let the girls vote on which one they would prefer.

Week Two:

I am hoping that we can go to one of the local baseball diamonds this week to play soccer baseball. I definitely feel that kids should be active, and there is limited opportunity for entertaining that many kids in a gymnasium when you don’t have a ton of equipment like schools do. Plus, I want to promote getting outside, being active, and using the resources in your community!

There are a few of these diamonds in my town that have playground equipment next door. So we will start our meeting with the traditional opening ceremony, playing up the Promise, Motto and Law to help the new Brownies practice it a bit, then do our main activity. Likely, it will be necessary to review being a good winner and a good loser.

After the game, snacks and water will be shared (provided by leaders) and then we can sing some songs, or go straight to the playground equipment for free play, depending on how much time is left. I will bring some of the (limited) play equipment we have with me to encourage them to be imaginative and play. We have a few balls and skipping ropes and hula hoops to share.

When we do a local activity like this, we have their parents pick up and drop off at our temporary location to keep it a green level activity. If you are concerned about it getting dark before the end of the meeting, pick up a few packages of glow stick bracelets and let the girls wear them.

Although the timing isn’t necessary perfect to do this on the second week, between weather restrictions, cookies, the enrolment ceremony, Thanksgiving and then Remembrance Day and the Santa Claus parade in November, it is one of the only chances we have to take the unit outside and play in the Autumn.

Week Three:

Week three is going to be CRAZY!!

This is enrolment ceremony week. Lots of extra work for leaders.

We will open as usual and practice saying the Promise, Motto and Law a bunch of times. Then we will review how we show respect to our guests (the parents) and our fellow Brownies by not talking during the ceremony, offering dessert to the parents first, etc.

We will do a dry-run of the enrolment ceremony as well (usually parents come 30 minutes early to pick up their kids to watch the ceremony but the first hour they are not there, as usual).

anticipate that cookies will be delivered by this time, so we will try to deal with parents and cookies at the same time, which is actually kinda convenient although chaotic. If we can find the time before the enrolment ceremony, the girls LOVED doing skits last year modelling good and bad behaviour when selling cookies (how to be polite, practising their spiel, memorizing the price, etc). This is sure to bring out lots of giggles but is also really useful and practical for them in learning these saleswoman’s skills.

Week Four:

This is our last meeting before Thanksgiving. I don’t know exactly what the plan is yet, but it will be related to the holiday. I would love to get the girls involved in something benefiting the food bank, whether we take 30 minutes to go door to door in groups surrounding the church we meet in, or just ask each family to bring a donation. Or both. I know our craft will be related to this as well, probably something that they can display on the Thanksgiving table.

This will be the first week that we give “homework” as well. IMHO, this meeting is a perfect time to bring up a badge that involves families a little bit, since most families gather together at this time. I am currently thinking of the women through the ages badge. I think it would be awesome to encourage our girls to talk to an older woman in their family or community and find out what her life was like growing up, and ask old family stories. It is also a great opportunity for girls to learn more about their ancestors.

Week Five (ish):

We live in Ontario and this year, October 22nd is municipal voting day. I have reached out to my local municipal offices to request an after-hours tour of the building, and have someone talk to us about what local government does, and how someone like a Mayor is elected. I have provided three dates leading up to and immediately after voting day and I am hoping they will accommodate us on one of those.

I want to tie this into empowering our kids in the local community and teaching them to recognize needs in the community and learning how they can address issues they feel are important. This can be tied into other badges throughout the year, such as encouraging them to write a letter to council on an issue that they identify, if our inquiries lead us in this direction.

Of course, it is entirely possible that nothing will come of it and our visit turns into a one-off, but I am hoping they will see something – for example, the fact that our local playgrounds don’t have any trees to provide shade – that they want to change and we can support them on their quest! We also have a grant next year to play trees in the spring, so this ties into my example well and would be something we have the finances to carry through if the township agrees to let us.

Whew! That was a lot … I kinda wonder if anyone even read this far. I will cover each week in a dedicated, more detailed post as we go, but hopefully this is helpful to some new leader to start the year strong with a framework in mind.

xx