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On with the show

Enrollment was last week and it went very well. The girls were prepared. We challenged everyone to be quick about it and boy, howdy were they ever. We were done with the ceremonies at 7:05. Which left time for a nice campfire and a group picture.

NEAT Trick alert for a group photo just after closing – With everyone in circle ready to do our closing, we called the Sparks to step to the centre to do their closing. Then we called the Brownies to step AROUND the Sparks to do their closing. And then we called the Guides and Guiders to step around the Brownies to do Taps. Since we were already clumped together, we had a photographer (parent with a good camera) ready to go. We had the girls nearest the photographer sit down. When he could see everyone, he snapped the photos. They look great!

Last night was our first night as fully enrolled Brownies.

6:30 – Huckle Buckle again

6:40 Circle Groups for attendance

6:50 Brownie Circle

7:00 Program

  • Talk about Girls First. Compare it to last year a bit. Talk about how we’ve already implemented it by asking them for their input. We did the Program Chain Activity (Found in Member zone – Girls First Planning Support Packages – the September Planning Document)untitled-design-16
  • Active Game – Thanks to a post on the Ottawa Guiders Facebook page, we used the kids 7 minute HIIT work out from Raising an extraordinary person as the basis of an active game that we played kind of like Beans.
    Abby adaptation – The girls have been very good at knowing that she can’t do what they can and they are always looking for ways she can participate. Starfish Jumps became Starfish on the floor for her (like Snow Angels). She was cheered on when she did her own version of a crab/bridge. It is nice to see.
  • More Talking – Brainstorming session with an eye to planning a sleepover. What theme would you like to have at a sleepover and/or what would you like to do at a sleepover? I overheard a lot of Animal notes, a bunch about Camping, we suggested superhero, there was a fairy theme. We promised the girls that we would take their ideas away and see what we can accomplish within our budget. Next week we’ll each pitch a theme and the girls will vote.
  • More Planning – next week is our Hurrah for Reading Dress Up meeting. We need the girls to prepare to lead a game and campfire so we split into two groups. Goal was to have them practice the thing they would teach, and to figure out how they would teach it to others.

And then it was 8:00. Yeesh, that was a quick meeting. =)

Tonight was all about finishing off our enrollment preparation. And the girls are ready.

6:30 – Arrival – Girls had planned Lagoon with Chocolate Tag as the backup. Went well, I think.

6:40 – Brownie Circles and Decorate an Enrollment invite for families.

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6:50 – Brownie Ring

7:00 – Girls First Program – Code of Conduct – Know your Code.
Review – this was a fantastic way to deliver important info to the girls. It was at their level and made very good sense to them. We liked it.

7:10 – Read the Brownie Toadstool Story

7:20 – Rehearse Brownie Enrollment Ceremony (see last week)

7:35 – Prepare arrival game for next week – we went with Huckle Buckle (call out two body parts and opposing lines approach each other and connect those parts… “Ear and knee” girls on opposite lines walk towards each other and when they meet, they put the two together). Abby Adaptation – I started with Romeo and Juliet, but Huckle Buckle had the same setup and was equally fun, but more suitable for Abby. 

Moved into Chocolate Tag

7:50 – practiced two songs for next week, then cleanup and close.

Our enrollment celebration is October 16. Other years (pre-Girls First), the leaders planned the ceremony, told the girls what to do, and they did it. It required one meeting to prepare and it usually was a pretty nice ceremony. But what did the girls learn?

This year we’ve jumped into Girls First by setting up points where the girls get to make decisions, plan what they’re doing, and figure out what it takes to get what they want to happen done. Enrollment prep is being done over three meetings this year (we’re covering the same content – promise, law, motto, ties, circles, get to know you), but it is better organized.

6:30 Freeze Tag as opening game (girls chose it the previous week)

6:40 Circle time – take attendance.

6:50 Brownie Ring

7:00 Program

  • Last week we talked about the Promise, Law and Motto. Around the ring… how did you keep your promise or help out this week? (we did not warn them that we’d do this, so there were a lot of “Pass” responses). Abby adaptation – The question was shared with her family in advance so the iPad was programmed with a few answers.
  • I reminded them about Enrollment – we decided on Batch of Brownies as the Enrollment theme. We talked about how this year we will be seeking their input more often.
  • Would you rather moment – the Guiders are considering a sleepover and asked Would you rather (1) do a sleepover at a museum? We would likely be put into a group with other Brownies; OR (2) do a sleepover at a community center where we’d figure out the program; OR (3) both sound like fun – I would be happy with either one. (I suppose we should have added – I don’t like this idea). Result: there was a pretty even split between community centre and both sound like fun. Only two really want to do a museum. Community centre wins.

7:15 – Split the group.

  • First year girls
    Brownie Promise review. I had pieces of the Brownie Promise on small slips of paper. Once we went through the promise out loud a couple of times, girls then took the pieces of the promise and then tried to unscramble it. Adaptation for all – I really need to remember that Grade 2 kids have a variety of different reading levels – and some who are in full French immersion, can only read French)
    Reef knot practice with their ties and my bag of spare ties.
    Brownie Law game 
    – play a game of four corners with the four main words taped to the wall. Kind, Honest, World, and Helps.
  • Second year girls – plan Enrollment – Bake some Brownies
    Original source is A New Batch of Brownies from Becky’s Site
    Snowy Owl adapted it on a worksheet for the girls. Printable worksheet: New Batch of Brownies
    Page one organizes the cast, props and setup. Following that, are potential things that could go in the recipe. Action for the girls – figure out what goes into the recipe on page 2.
    Adaptation for Abby – The original plan calls for a box that stands in for the oven. Kids are meant to crawl through the box. Abby can’t do that so we have chosen to fashion a “stove” by drawing one on a sheet. We’ll need two older girls (the Guides will be there) to hold it up, and when it comes time to open the oven, the stove front will be dropped to the floor and she’ll be able to roll right over it. 

7:40 Rehearsal number 1. It went pretty well.

7:50 Pick a game for next week. Result: Option 1 is Lagoon and Option 2 is Chocolate tag.

7:55 Cleanup and Close.

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Meeting two of Girls First went pretty well. Here’s what we did:

6:30 – Play Wax Museum (as suggested the previous week when we asked). Review – the girls did a good job leading the game. We only got one round in. I would like them to do a faster running game to start – to get out the sillies.

6:40 – Circle Group announcements – off to circles to learn the song.

6:50 – Brownie Circle for the first time with circle songs. Adaptation learning – Abby needs to be in her chair for the opening so she can participate. Junebug, her helper, will make notes for next time.  

7:00 – Read the Brownie Story, then the Guiders proposed three options for Enrollment Themes and the girls were to vote on what they would like to do. Most votes = our theme. Once decided, the Guiders will obtain props with an eye to helping the girls plan the ceremony next week.

  • Proposal 1 – Traditional Toadstool Ceremony – like we do every year. I made my case for getting the 2nd year girls involved in the twist me and turn me aspect. (in the end it got only two votes!)
  • Proposal 2 – Wishing Star Enrollment – Tawny Owl’s proposal got four votes!
  • Proposal 3 – A new batch of Brownies – Snowy Owl proposed this one and it was the clear winner.

7:20 – running game. Our backup arrival game was Bandaid tag and the girls needed to run. So they did!

7:25 – in groups – talk about promise, law, and motto. What does it mean to keep your promise. And the VOTE. There was supposed to be more in here, but other stuff went longer so we dropped (deferred) it till later. Oh well.

7:40 – attempt to play Four Corners to reinforce the Brownie Law that didn’t go so well (down to leaders not understanding the game), but we brought it around to “I tried my best” from the promise and the girls were very sweet and supportive when things didn’t go well.

7:50 – VOTE REVEAL. We are Baking a New Batch of Brownies (if anyone has done this, I’d appreciate any advice)! Big hurrah! So good time to learn the Grand Howl.

7:55 – Planning for next week – I think they decided on Freeze Tag as an arrival game. And Close.

My learning from implementing Girls First is that if I do the planning it goes quicker. But I already know how to plan, and they need to learn how. So things are going to take longer. And that’s ok.

We are not doing a great job of specifically tying this to the GF Guide Together theme, but we are trying, and that’s what a transition year is all about.

Girls_First_mr

Adapting

I’ve been writing this blog since 2011 so I’ve struggled a bit to find new material. But, in addition to the Girls First program launch, our next two years will include a little girl with challenges and I’d like to share how we’re adapting our program to make sure that she can participate as much as she can, while still giving all of the girls in the unit options that challenge them too.

I have permission to give you a few details. Abby is a seven year old Brownie who has come to us from Sparks. She speaks with the aid of an iPad. She understands everything we say, but she is slower to react. She can move around with the aid of a walker or a chair and has an assistant at our meetings. Our goals this year are to avoid singling her out as much as possible. We’re going to do that by giving options that are available to all girls.

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Here’s what we did for our first meeting.

6:30 – Arrival, get your name tag, meet the Owls, and go into the gym to play a game (probably tag – Abby can play tag). While that’s going on, I’m in the hall talking to parents. The idea is to send the girls in without their parents because things go better if separation goes quickly and they leap into fun.

6:45 – One of the Owls yells, Brownies Brownies Where are You? The girls respond with “Here we are, Here we are, how do you do?”

In the Brownie Circle – We’ll do the Brownie Song “We’re the Brownies, here’s our aim, lend a hand and play the game”, then a quick lesson on the Brownie sign (right hand, three fingers up), and we say the Promise – reassuring that they’ll hear this often and that if they don’t know it now, they will soon.

6:55 – Sit and play the name game we often do – First person starts and says, “My name is Brown Owl, and I like (an animal that starts with first letter of your name) Badgers.” The following person will say theirs “My name is A and I like Antelopes, this is my friend Brown Owl and she likes Badgers”.

Adaptation — we positioned her next to her helper (named Junebug) and pre-programmed what she would say in the iPad. My name is Abby and I like (she had three choices and chose Angelfish), This is my friend Junebug and she likes Jaguars.  

The girls only need to remember one back. But the last one (me) will need remember ALL of them. (I usually have a pencil).

7:10 Stand up and do Brown Owl’s Rules game.

7:20 On to the Getting to know you beaded bracelet. These are prepared and ready to go.

Adaptation – we gave girls the option to take their beads from a bowl instead of from the pipecleaner. 

7:35 – Guide Together Theme – What do you want to do this year? We are looking for as detailed a list as we possibly can get. Some theme’s I want on the list are enrollment, leadership, sleepover, camp. The leaders will review the list and see where these things fit in with Girls First. And we’ll start to lay out a bit of a plan for the year.

7:50 – One of our goals this year is to put our girls first and to give them options and spots to make decisions. At the end of each meeting we’re going to try to close our meeting by going over what we covered, letting them know what we’ll do next week, and asking for an opening game suggestion for next week.

7:55 – Closing

 

 

It is the 22nd of August and we’re about a month from meetings starting here in Ottawa. As usual at this time of year, I’m clinging to the summer break and Brownie Free Tuesdays… but I know that the new year is looming and that I will need to get my feet out of the lake and my head back in the game.

If you’re reading this from Canada, you are likely aware that the new Girls First program is launching shortly. I’m a Girls First Champion – someone who Guiding has trained to help my group of units get into the Girls First Groove.

Here’s my truth about Girls First.

  • I like it. It fills in a lot of gaps in the program that I don’t think I realized were missing (the old Brownie program was pretty weak on mental health and STEM). But the favourites are still there – Guiding history, tradition, crafts, camping, games and fun are all there.
  • It makes sense to me. I like that we’ll have an online platform to access the program. I already access most of my notes online. That’s where my notes live. I know there is a group that is struggling with the move to 100% online, but Guiding has assured the Champions that there will be some sort of resource. Give them time. That will come too.
  • I like that we have a year to implement this and that Guiding has thought this out. Guiders can still rely on their notes and previous program – I’ll bet that what you did before will find a place in the new program – it just may earn a badge differently. I suspect that units will start with what they know, and as their Girls First knowledge increases, they will find themselves fully embracing Girls First through the year.
  • And I like that there is a lot that isn’t changing. Brownie Circles, the Brownie story, Brownie Magic, and Brown Owl are all sticking around. We’re just moving from Keys and Interest badges towards Program Areas and Themes.

As we move through the transition year, I’ll let you know what our Brownie unit does. Our first meetings will look a lot like our usual ones so search “Getting Started” here and look at my Getting Started posts for ideas. I’ll update posts as we go through the year with Girls First in mind.

What you should be doing now:

  1. Reach out to your Brownie families. Let them know about what they can expect. They want to know meeting time and location, where do they get uniforms and what should they buy, and when do your meetings start.
  2. Start your planning – Take a look at the Getting Started posts and, when it is available, check out the Girls First Online Platform.
  3. Reach out to your Girls First Champion and check out the Official Girls First page. Each unit has its own Champion. If you don’t know who that is, ask the office, ask your Community Guider (ON), ask your Commissioner, or look on your roster (in Ontario and I think the other provinces). Ask for support, book a training, and go in with an open mind.
  4. Enjoy what is left of your break. It is going to be a busy year.

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Last Tuesday we had a pretty chill meeting covering the badge requirements for the Team Together badge (Canadian program badges are changing next year so we’re using up some stock).

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6:30 – Arrival Activity – go directly to your circle corners and work together on a jigsaw puzzle that we’ve left for you. (Badge Requirement – Play two team building games 1/2). If you do this, go with puzzles of between 100-200 pieces.

A note on Time Management – We have had problems recently with over loading our meetings and not giving girls enough time to finish things. This is frustrating for us because we need them to rush (kids can’t be rushed), and it is frustrating for the girls because they want to have time to finish their project or activity. In this case we knew that the girls would not have time to finish their puzzle and we were very clear with them. “There is a puzzle in your corner for your circle group to work on – we know that you won’t finish it, and that’s totally OK. We will need you to work on what you can, and then, when we say clean up, we’ll need you to clean up”

Plan 6:50 (Actual 7:00 – we let them go with the puzzles, they were really into them) – begin Circle Inspections and clean up. Clean up and transition was easy peasy.

7:00 (actual – 7:10) – Brownie Ring

7:05 (actual 7:15) – Discussion – Name two camping activities that are better done in smaller groups (cooking, making a campfire); Name two camping activities that are better done in larger groups (games, cleanup). There was something else in there but I can’t remember.

7:10 (actual 7:25) – Play a second team building game (2/2). With Becky’s Giant Stick Figures activity as a starting point – we asked them to make a circle with their bodies while standing up (they were already standing in a circle), make a square, make a triangle, make a house shape (the house was a bit tougher but it got better after they took our advice and talked to each other). Then we moved to Giant Stick Figures – essentially, make a stick figure together, then have that figure do actions. They had fun. They did a pretty good job, but they needed to communicate more (and make a smaller head). It was fun for us to watch from the vantage point of the stage. Touch your belly button was the favourite!

stick_figure_animation_test_by_xanyleaves-d8yh4d9

7:35 – Chuck the Chicken  because girls just gotta run!

7:45 Key to the Arts: Art by Hand – the girls had been asked to try to knit or sew or do needlework or do a craft. I loved hearing about each girl’s project. They did a great job.

  • Backup plan we didn’t need (I was afraid we wouldn’t have enough crafters) Becky’s Make New Verses and a campfire – to present their new verses.

7:55 Close