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Archive for the ‘Brownie Program’ Category

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 week our second year Brownies went to visit Guides and the first year girls invited Sparks to be honourary Brownies.  The split is necessary in our neighbourhood because the Guide unit here is huge and their space isn’t big enough for all of the Brownies to go to Guides.  We also like that it gives our younger girls a chance to be the leaders.

Here is a two meeting plan for a really nice Sparks visit Brownies bridging meeting:

Meeting One (Key to Active Living – Say No, Key to Guides – Moving up (2nd year girls), Key to Guides (1st year girls) – Helping Sparks)

One week before the bridging meeting we all had  a lesson on teaching.  The idea is that the first year girls would hone their knowledge on an activity, and then work out how to teach it.

6:30 – arrival game

6:40 – Brownie opening activities

6:55 – Program

  • Say No discussion – how can you say no to someone who suggests you do something that is wrong  or that you don’t want to do?  Girls into 4 groups 6 each. Each group gets a skit to act out. Practice. Remember to face the audience and speak clearly and loudly.  We did this as “on the spot” no practice skits.
    • Some kids are playing at the playground. Your friend tells you that you should go and push one of the kids off the monkey bars. What do you do?
    • You and your friends are getting popsicles at the store. One of your friends tells you to steal a chocolate bar. What do you do?
    • You and your friends are playing outside. Everyone decides to go into one friend’s house, but you don’t have permission. What do you do?
    • You and your friends are selling cookies in the neighbourhood. Someone you don’t know asks you to come inside to wait while they get some money to buy some cookies. What should you do?
  • 2nd Year Program – go through the Moving up bit of the book – when you’re done, join the first year girls as stand-in Sparks.
  • 1st Year Program
    Group 1 – Teach a Game (they picked Ladders– even though the Brownie teachers did a good job, the wiggly Sparks had trouble sitting still while they explained it)
    Group 2 – Teach a craft – Hawk Owl provided an option for a paper weaving craft and a glue and drawing craft.  The paper weaving won.  (I’ll have to ask her for instructions)
    Group 3 – Teach a song – My group chose to teach Sparks Quartermaster Store.
    The girls explained the song “This is a song about a man who goes into a store without his glasses – spectacles are what glasses used to be called – and he sees some strange things”
    Then then sang the verse – sang it line-by-line, then invited everyone to give it a try.

7:40 – Everyone plays the game – finish with the song.  Campfire.

7:55 – closing

Meeting Two

6:30 – Arrival game – once everyone was there, we did a round of Brown Owl’s Rules.

6:40 – Brownie Circle activities – split Sparks into the circles.  Have the first year girls teach the Sparks their circle songs.

6:55 – Program – Learn a Song and Learn a Craft (we’ll do the game for everyone at the end). Sparks are split into two groups.  They’ll get to do both activities – 15 minutes per activity.  Craft and Song teachers split up, game teachers join a group of Sparks.

7:30 – Learn a game – As I said above, Ladders was a little tough for the Sparks to sit still and learn.  But there are always lessons in failure – and our girls know that sometimes it doesn’t work.

7:50 – Short campfire – everyone sings Quartermaster Store together.  “Owls…eating paper towels” is our favourite one.

7:55 – Closing with Grand Howl for the Sparks.

And that’s it.  It is a simple program, but it really works!

Our neighbourhood Campfire last year.  (because it was a shame to not have a photo with this post).

Our neighbourhood Campfire last year. (because it was a shame to not have a photo with this post).

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Two Tuesdays ago (yes, it has been that long since I updated the blog) we did Key to STEM: Communications.  As usual, we went with the tried and true.  We didn’t deviate much from the 2011 Communications Meeting plan and it went beautifully.  You’ll note that we focus a lot on Morse Code and I don’t know how we got into that, but the girls were extremely (weirdly?)  interested and engaged in an “ancient” code.

Try Snowy Owl’s Morse Code Relay (details in the 2011 plan).  Here are some photos of the action.

Morse Code Keys in Action

Morse Code Keys

Girls would run to the Owls who had their letters - they were also able to ask their Owl for assistance if they needed it.

Girls ran their relay – collecting their letter cards from the Owls at the other end of the gym – they were also able to ask their Owl for assistance if they needed it.

Figuring out the code was tough, but they got it in the end.  These girls are figuring out "Brown Owl".

Figuring out the code was tough, but they got it in the end. These girls are figuring out “Brown Owl”.

And the Morse Code Bracelets (also from the 2011 Communications Meeting) are pretty awesome too.

Starry Owl helping out with the bracelet construction.

Starry Owl helping out with the bracelet construction.

Tomorrow night we will be sleeping over in the Science and Tech museum.  Wish us well.  =)

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This year we’re doing a district enrollment ceremony and everything is kind of compressed as a result.  Instead of 20 minutes to have girls go across the stepping stones individually as in other years (Brownie Enrollment Ceremony 2012), we’re going to have them twisted and turned in one big bunch.  We’re trying it out, and I hope it works.

Tonight we’re making enrollment invitations and this time, I’m switching it up (yes, really!).

  • Other years, we’ve done a card for parents – it amounted to a folded piece of construction paper that the girls decorated.  You’ll see it here (look for first year and second year invites)
  • I shared a neat idea for this Owl invite in early September, but it is a little too fancy for a Brown Owl who is only planning what to do at 9PM on Monday night (our meetings are Tuesday).
  • Instead, I did a Google search for an Owl Colouring page and found this Baby Owl Colouring Page from http://www.coloringpagebook.com/.  I’ve used Publisher to put the meeting info on its tummy, and we’ve got a cute, simple, and easy to execute last minute enrollment invitation.  Phew.  The beauty of this is also that the meeting is going to be so darn busy tonight that, if we happen to get crunched for time, we can send it home and the invite is still complete enough to give the information necessary.  Here is my Publisher File so you can see what we did and make your own.

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Our meetings won’t start again until the third week of September so we’re kind of coasting on a bit of denial.  The Guiders will meet next Monday and I expect I’ll have loads of content coming out of that.  But for now, I’m stretching out the Brownie Free part as long as possible.

But Parents are curious and want to know details so I sent a note to this effect the other day:

  1. You’re in!  Confirm their successful registration.
  2. Location and meeting times: Let them know meeting details.
  3. Start Date: We have to wait for our permit from the school before we can officially announce our first meeting, but it is usually the third week of school.
  4. Uniforms are available from the Girl Guide Store onlineGirls will need:
    • A Uniform shirt (new blue or older styles are still accepted).
    • Brownie Tie – Brown or Orange will do
    • Badge Sash – from the store – not usually available second hand.
    • Navy Blue pants – any navy blue pants (but not Jeans) are acceptable.  You may purchase from the GG store, but you don’t have to.
    • Brownie Book
  5. Non-marking gym shoes – we do lots of running and we need to do it safely.  Please make sure your Brownie has proper footwear at every meeting.
  6. To bring on the first meeting: Please complete a Health form in advance – or be prepared to complete one as you drop off your Brownie.

Happy September!

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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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I’ve become a bit of an expert at taking photos without faces.  My blog centres around children who are not my own so I have to strike a balance – a blog without photos is desperately boring, but most of the photos I would usually take aren’t anonymous enough.

So… I have now been positioning myself at the back of the room or trail (or whatever) with you in mind.  I assure you that I often get good front facing photos … but you are not going to see them here.  =)

All that to say, we did Key to the Living World: Wonderous Walks last night with a  family walk in Mer Bleue Bog.  If you’re anywhere near there  (it is a 10 minute drive from St. Laurent Mall in Ottawa) the Boardwalk trail is a no-brainer for an easy, but interesting, Brownie meeting.

The beauty of making it a family walk is that there are plenty of supervisors and everyone had a ride home in case we finished early.   We did have plans for a wide game and campfire to fill the time, but the mosquitoes were just coming out (and there was a fairly major hockey game on TV) so nobody objected to closing a little early.

And so, I bring you Brown Owl Cara’s view from the back of the walk.

bog

bog 3

bog 2

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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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When I was a Brownie, Circle time was all about dues and chatting.  I’m sure we did inspection too… I think?  (I do remember getting a black eye once during circle time, but that’s another story).

Here’s how we’ve been doing Circle Time lately:leprechauns

  • Circle Leader grabs the circle pack (a pencil case with their circle song written on the outside and a pencil, the Circle Inspection Attendance Record and star stickers – everyone who gets a perfect score gets a star).  You can also get the Brownie Attendance and Dues book from the Guide Store… but we don’t do dues so mine makes sense for us.  (As always, do what works for you).
  • Inspection: There are five points available and girls are measured on:
    (1) do they have their Brownie Book?
    (2) are they wearing full Uniform?  (shirt, blue pants, badge sash, and tie)
    (3) do they have clean hands and face (with allowances made if we’ve just finished a messy arrival craft – or something with markers),
    (4) is their tied back in a pony tail (if applicable)?; and
    (5) are they wearing rubber soled shoes suitable for running?
  • Incentive program (New this year!): If they do get a perfect inspection, they get a star to put on the inside back cover of their Brownie Book (we split the page in two – top is in first year, bottom is for second year).  Girls with the most stars will be eligible for a (yet-to-be-determined) prize at the end of the year.

The fuzzy picture I’ve provided shows the front of the circle pack (the circle song is printed on the back – very helpful at the beginning of the year), some of the Brownie books with their stars proudly showing, and the page of stickers they have to choose from.

This idea came from a Guiding team discussion around “how do we do this better” and we’re really pleased with the results.  The girls are responding well to the stickers.  It is sinking in better for them than it did when we just had them write down a number on a page that got tucked back in the circle pack.  We’re really going to have to figure out what kind of prize we should give them – I think it should be something “Guidey”.  Maybe a set of crests – or from the Guide Shop.  Any recommendations?

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