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Archive for the ‘Songs & Games’ Category

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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Time to catch up on on all of the things I meant to do the last couple of months.  The first in line is to explain H2O tag.  We’ve mentioned it a few times and many have asked.  Here you go…

Snowy Owl made up a game called H2O Tag for Key to the Living World: Water All Around.  It requires a bit of an explanation (about elements and science) and goes pretty quickly, but the girls like it.

Supplies/Preparation:

  • Pre-made cards, sticky labels or cutouts with enough H, and O shapes for one per girl.  (if you have 18 girls, you’ll need 12 H, and 6 O shapes or labels – an odd number will need a Guider or two to join the game – multiples of three are essential).
  • Safety pins or tape to pin or stick the letters or numbers to the girls shirts.
  • prepare something to do that will get the girls mixed up.
  • Whistle or other signal that it is time to make water molecules (maybe music)

Game Setup/Explain the science:

The DC Water and Sewer Commission has a good site about explaining the water cycle to kids – they say:

A water molecule is called “H2O”   It’s made of 2 hydrogen atoms (H + H) and one oxygen atom (O). H2O can be a VAPOR (a gas in the air), a LIQUID (what we usually think of as water or a SOLID (ice).

Then, play the game:

The girls each have an “H” or an “O”.  They are spread around the gym doing another task (examples: play tag, free dance to music, a game of beans or anything that gets them mixed up).  When the whistle blows (or the music stops) they have to make teams with two H shapes and one O shape.  That’s it.

The DC Water and Sewer site also has a really good maze puzzle for kids that goes through the water cycle that I think we’ll print next time we do this Key.

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Ever have a week where you look up and it’s almost Tuesday again (or whatever night your unit meets) and you’re not prepared?  We’ve been pretty good about putting together meeting plans – but for some reason, last night’s plan was pretty sketchy.

hearts game 2013-02-12 20.01.09

Snowy Owl setting up the Stack the Hearts Game

With the power of the internet and www.Activity Village.co.uk, Snowy Owl Christine turned our vague notes (ditty bags, and maybe Valentine’s Day??) into a pretty awesome meeting.

6:30 Arrival ActivityValentine’s Day Grid activities from Activity Village  HEART Puzzle …  Solution  LOVE PuzzleSolution.  These were very well liked.     Explained it to the first arrivals – then they were to show the next girls to arrive how to do it.  And then those girls were to show the girls after that.  Worked really well.

6:45 – Brownie Circles – TASK in Circles – talk about what you’d like to do and eat at camp – in addition to regular circle activities.

6:55 – Brownie Ring

7:00 – Program

  • Camp Discussion – what to eat & do?  Talk about what you do at camp and then what you eat at camp.
  • Discussion about Ditty Bags (Leader needs kit lists and show and tell about Ditty Bags).  We need three or four kits – with regular Ditty Bag stuff with some ringer items (non-marked plate, small toy, ceramic mug, empty pill bottle, hair comb)
  • Ditty Bag Relay (from Ditty Bag post)hearts 2013-02-12 20.04.37

7:20 – Craft Origami heart from Activity Village.  Simple paper folding.  Cute.

7:35 -Game

7:45 – Campfire

7:55 Close

Snowy Owl told me she misses being involved in writing up the plans… and last night proved that she’s great at it.

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I participated in a Guider Training on Saturday and one of the sessions was on Music and Dance.  So. Much. Fun.  Thank you to Peggy and Lynn for leading it!  I am really looking forward to trying something other than the eight songs currently in our repertoire.

  • My big takeaway was an intro to Melinda Caroll – an American (I think) musician with a series of Girl Scout CDs, all available on iTunes.  You can buy whole albums (they come with two versions of each song – the sung version so you learn the words – and a karaoke version with just the music) or just the songs you want.  You can also listen to the preview of the song to get gist of the tune too.

    Melinda Caroll – Music for Girl Scouts

  • Ottawa has a fantastic music resource team (Peggy and Lynn are awesome!!!).  Consider inviting them to your unit to lead a music meeting … but you need to book them early.  So cool!  E-mail me at brownowlcara at gmail dot com and I’ll connect you to them.
  • Song List: Thinking Day Song (Songs for Tomorrow), Listen to the earth (Celebrate with Song), Dona Nobis Pacem (Songs for Canadian Girl Guides) (LOVE this one – I learned it in Church, but it means “Give us Peace” in Latin so it is completely relevant to Guiding and non-denominational too!), Lend a Hand (Sing a Song with Sparks and Brownies), Sarrasponda (Let’s Sing New Zealand), If you should meet an elephant (Sing a Song with Sparks and Brownies), Jubilee Hey (Canciones de Nuestra Cabaña), Merry Go Round (Musical Fun), Lu La Le (Jubilee Song Book), and Taps (French).  You can also look these up on Becky’s Song Resource and on BC Girl Guides.

Since we’re talking about where to learn songs…

  • I like the CD “Sing-a-long for Sparks and Brownies” from Guides Ontario (go to the Click here to submit your order link and find the CD name).  It is a teaching CD – not a listening one (e.g. the Brownie song is sung once, then line-by-line, then all together.)  Perfect for a new Guider!
  • I wrote a piece about Sung Graces and Thank Yous (Christian and non-denominational) that you may find useful.  Susan Witchers’ site is great (and includes tunes!)

Big thank you to the folks who ran the January Thaw Guider Training!  I did three sessions – one on Games for Brownies & Sparks, the music and dance session, and then Safe Guide (I really recommend a refresher if you haven’t taken it in a while).

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Brownies participated in a Guiding Campfire tonight.  There were events planned on Parliament Hill and at a local mall.  Since parking downtown is tough anyway and because you can always predict the temperature and weather inside, we went with the mall campfire – and it was great!

Here’s what we sang:

Thank you to Guider Judith and her team for a great campfire.

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