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Archive for the ‘Songs & Games’ Category

Getting a group to quiet down when you need to is tough and there are lots of ways to do it without losing your voice (or your mind).

  • Guiding has “the Hand” – a Guider puts her hand up and as people notice it, they put their hand up too and wait quietly for the leader to speak. Eventually, everyone is silent (but it is less effective with younger girls).
  • Schools use other methods like clapping … the leader claps a pattern and the girls are meant to repeat it twice.  OR the teacher says “hands on top” and the kids put their hands on their heads and reply… “that means stop.”
  • I’ve used “Brownies, Brownies, where are you?” and the girls respond with “Here we are, here we are, how do you do?”  Technically this is supposed to be reserved for Circle Time, but it works!

  • There’s always the option of a whistle – but that’s a desperation move for us. It should be reserved for emergencies.

This weekend, I had a chance to see how some other talented Guiders manage groups…

  1. Snowy Owl Danielle (aka Wicked) amazed me by getting 50 girls to shush in seconds at the beginning of a big campfire. She shouted WATERFALL! Everyone put their hands up over their heads and swept them down to the ground while saying “SHHHHHHHHHH” (like water). And we were quiet. It was magic!
  2. The next technique took a little longer and is sort of like “the Hand”.  The Guider who wants attention speaks in a normal voice.  “If you can hear me, touch your nose.” (Guider touches her nose too).  “If you can hear me touch your ear”, and so on.  Eventually, everyone is following quietly along (thanks Guiders Julie and Katherine for an excellent campfire)
  3. I was telling my friend Guider Lisa from Halifax about Waterfall. She said she uses her normal voice and calls “If you can hear me, clap once.” Then “if you can hear me, clap twice,” “If you can hear me, clap three times.” And so on. The clapping gets everyone’s attention and eventually everyone is following along.

We play Brown Owl’s Rules at the beginning of the year to show new girls the ropes…I have added these to the game. How do you let girls know it is time to be silent?

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Mancala is a game of sowing seeds or stones around a board.  The goal is to clear the board and get the most seeds in your store. We tried it at camp for some quiet time and the girls were completely enthralled.  We had to stop them after about 25 minutes. 

Girls play in pairs so for each pair you’ll need:

  • 1 egg carton
  • 2 stores or wells (we used coffee filters, but cereal bowls or cups would work)
  • 48 beads, stones, seeds or marbles (the bigger the better – easier to pick up.  Colour doesn’t matter).

Set up: Put four beads in each egg cup and put a well on each end.  We pre-set the first game.  The girls took it from there.

2014-04-12 22.07.28

How to play (the internet explains it better than I can):

Explaining it to Brownies:

Some of the girls already knew the game so I played with one of them to demonstrate.  Then we distributed boards and let them go.  It was so successful that we have kept our beads and egg cartons for a “just in case we run out of stuff” moment at regular meetings.

Who can play:

The game is rated for ages six and up.  I think Sparks might struggle, but it should be fun for older girls starting at Brownies but on up to Guides, Pathfinders and Rangers.

2014-04-12 22.07.39

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I shared my Why every Brownie unit should have a rubber chicken (or two) post with the Girl Guides Can Blog today.  Thanks GGCanBlog for making Mr. and Mrs. Chicken a little bit famous.  They’re humbled.  =)

chicken22014-01-24 09.57.30

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I’ll start by saying that I’m very sensitive to noise (I hear really well) so this Harmonica Craft from Housing a Forest looks super cool, but I would probably plan it as the last craft at camp before we send girls home.

Noise sensitivity (aka, my superpower) is a good trait to have as a Brown Owl – I can hear girls conspiring to do something I don’t approve of from great distances and am able to intervene in a way that makes them think I have eyes in the back of my head (so much fun – for me).  So, while noisemaker crafts are not my thing, the girls will love these.

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If you’ve been following Brownies Meet on Facebook or been reading this site in the last couple of weeks, you’ll know that we love our chickens (have you met Mr. and Mrs. Chicken?).

Here’s why we think you should have at least one chicken in your kit too:

  1. Chicken Games are Awesome!  Thank you Becky’s Guiding Resource.chickens
  2. Chickens can often substitute for other equipment… they replace balls, flags, boundaries (“don’t go past the chicken!”) frisbees and beanbags in lots of other games. Try Capture the Chicken or Ultimate Chicken.
  3. Chickens save time… they don’t roll like balls do and if someone misses a throw, it won’t take forever to get the ball back.
  4. Chickens don’t hurt if they accidentally bop you in the nose.  They’re soft and less likely to cause injuries.
  5. Chickens store easily … they can squish in around other stuff when you’re packing up.
  6. Chickens are easy to get and not too expensive… look in the Dog Toy section at Walmart ($8) or the Dollar Store ($2).   (I suggest, for your sanity, that you perform an immediate noise maker-ectomy with some needle nose pliers )
  7. Chickens give you an instant filler activity if you have a gap in programming.  Everyone wants to play a chicken game.
  8. Chickens can help develop leadership skills … ask the girls to make up and lead their own chicken games.
  9. and…Chickens cheer you up.  At camp, an unhappy Brownie may find comfort with a hug from a chicken (it works!!).

Have we convinced you?

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My sister Jill is an elementary school teacher and we had a chat the other day about drama in Brownies and in the classroom.  One of her favourite drama units in her class is called Tableau Vivant (loosely translates to living picture in French). The lesson was early in the year but the kids kept asking to do it again and again.  She found it useful as a time filler or to transition from one activity to another throughout the year.  In her words, “the kids loved it.”

The gist is, the leader will yell out a theme to a group, the group has a few minutes to decide what they’re going to do.  The leader calls “3, 2, 1…Tableau” and they make a Living Picture based on their initial topic.

But before you can get there, you need to have a chat about what makes up a proper tableau…

The Elements:

  1. No moving – especially the eyes (focus on a spot).  You can blink.
  2. Use facial expression to convey emotion.
  3. Don’t hide your face.  Face the audience (be aware of your audience)
  4. Use high, medium and low positions.  Jill says “I usually use a baseball theme … some should be high: you’re reaching for a pop fly, others medium: you’re pitching, and the rest should be low: you are sliding into home).
  5. Practice off balance positions – teach them to have most of their weight on one leg and the rest on the other  (they can’t move)  Tell them to plant their toe/heel depending on how they’re leaning.

Jill’s Notes:

  • Practice each element separately
  • Say 3, 2, 1, tableau to count them into it.
  • Every time, comment on the ones who are doing it correctly and showcase them to everyone.
  • Have the audience (the other kids) pick out each element when another group presents.
  • It is meant to be a group picture, but build up to it.  Start with individual pictures (baseball, etc), then put them in groups and give them scenarios (“you are posing for a family portrait”, “you are at an amusement park”, “you are camping”.  Give them five minutes to decide who they are and then present it to the group.
  • Have the audience pick out the elements that each group did.
  • Encourage the audience to not just say it was good, but, say they used off balance position with good facial expression and they were all facing the audience and held their position, etc.
  • Once they get the hang of it, they can come up with their own ideas and present them.  Or you can read a story, split them up into groups with parts to illustrate (or they can pick their own).
  • In the classroom, after I’ve done the unit, I’ll just say 3, 2, 1 tableaux at random times and they freeze where they are (and they’re so still and quiet … it is a nice transition from one activity to another).

Sounds like a great drama meeting – and a good alternative to skits (which the girls still love).  But also works as a transition activity for later.

Thanks Jill!  XO

See also Creating a Tableau from Scholastic or try this variation called “Family Portraits” from the Canadian Improv games (the elements should apply for Family Portraits too, but this is a slightly different way to approach it.

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Last summer I did a post on String Games and other independent things kids can do at camp.  I like planning crafts and doing things together, but making sure that the girls can play independently (without electronics) is just as big a deal.

I’ve got a few more:

  • Test out the perfect “high five”.  Starry Owl showed us that if you’re looking to do the perfect “high five”, look at the other person’s elbow and you’ll never miss. We filled a bit of waiting time trying to disprove it… something to keep in your back pocket for a time filler.  Not quite an independent project, but fun.
  • Make a Spinner!  These are fascinating and really easy to make.  You need string and a two-hole button (or sturdy cardboard cut into circles or squares with two holes poked in the middle).

    2013-07-01 10.52.35 String Spinner Game

    From a book at Mom’s house – I’ll update with proper credit next time I’m home.

  • Make an origami jumping frog (or buy a bunch of plastic frogs from the birthday party section) and have a jumping contest.

  • Similarly, a leaf blowing contest is great too – rip up paper to resemble a leaf, and have the girls blow it across the floor.  (Works for Key to the Living World: Plant Life and Weather Watcher)
    2013-04-09 19.43.15 leaf blowing

How is your summer going?  I’m still not good at “Brownie Free Tuesdays”, but I’ll get there.  I hope.

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