Archive for the ‘Celebrations’ Category

We incorporate the Valentines for Vets program (run through Veterans Affairs Canada) into our Key to my Community: Celebrations activities because it is a lovely way to do some crafty community outreach. The site offers lots of guidance on what to do (no sparkles, no floppy bits, avoid taking about death and guns and don’t put a year on it). The kids take it from there… as you can see below, they were very crafty. Note, the 2017 cards needed to be VAC by Feb 1 so add it to next year’s program.


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After the tremendous success of last year’s Science & Sleuth Dress-up meeting, we wanted to come back with another themed dress up event that was both educational and fun – and we didn’t want to ignore Halloween entirely, but we’re also not great at Halloween parties. Once we noticed that our plan for the year had a bit of a book theme (See All About Books), the Literary Dress-Up Meeting was born.

Pre-Meeting communication: Brownies were invited to a Literary Dress-up meeting. They were told to “come as your favourite book character (with shoes suitable for running) and bring a favourite book.”

Last night’s meeting Plan

6:30: Arrival – Decorate a bookmark Craft: 

Hawk Owl pre-cut bookmarks from card stock and as girls arrived they got a blank bookmark with markers and stickers. The finished bookmarks were handed in to the Owls to be “laminated” with packing tape. Starry Owl did the laminating during the discussion and handed them out at the end as girls were leaving.
Supplies: Card stock, markers/pencil crayons, stickers, packing tape. (Or do the Draw a Book Cover activity from the Reading Meeting )

Starry Owl as Paperbag Princess. Laminating Bookmarks.

Starry Owl Chan as the Paper Bag Princess. Laminating Bookmarks.

6:45: Regular Brownie Opening (we skipped inspections)

6:55: Book Discussion Hawk Owl had a collection of books and led the proceedings…she went through topics such as fiction vs. non-fiction; tables of contents and indexes; and authors and illustrators. Hawk Owl is a Library Technician so she was in her element … you may find the Parts & Pieces of Books activity from the Reading Meeting useful. To note, the girls were really interested in this so I let it run longer than I probably should have.

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Hawk Owl Jen (as Hermione) leading a discussion about different types of books during our Literary Dress-Up Meeting.

7:20 Game We did Letter Tag from the Reading Meeting. You could do a Caucus Race from Games from Alice in Wonderland or try Quiddich for Muggles instead.

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I’m not a very stern Professor McGonagall, but it was a fun costume. And you can see the girls playing Letter Tag in the background.

7:40 – Girl Show & Tell (about their character and book)

Girls came as Harry Potter, Anne of Green Gables (there were two!), Chester, Pippi Longstocking, a Frog from The Water Hole, Elly Patterson (FBoFW), Moses the Kitten, Princess Ariel, Heidi, we had two fairies (one from the Book of Fairies and one from the Daisy Meadows series – which launched a discussion about pseudonyms), Clementine, Batty Penderwick, a Sapphire (she brought in a book of gems), Caveman Jack (by local Ottawa author Tammie Winsor), and Red Riding Hood… Not to mention the Owls who were Effie Trinket, Luna Lovegood, the Paper bag Princess, Hermione, and me as Professor McGonagall.  It was fun.

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Snowy Owl Christine as Luna Lovegood.

7:50 – Reading Hawk Owl read Library Lion by Michelle Knudsen. The Reading Meeting suggests a few options and has a fable if you need something quickly. Look for other options in my post about Drama and Storytelling.

8:00 – Close

Next time we’d make the discussion a little shorter (my fault) to make time to do a costume parade and maybe have a group photo.

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Our unit has declared that this year is the “Year of Books and Reading.”  As much as possible, we’re trying to incorporate books and reading into our program.

  • It starts with a “Literary Dress up Party” tonight (aka alternative Halloween party) and girls will come dressed as their favourite characters from books.  (Alternative Halloween meetings are our preference now after the huge success of our Scientist/Detective one last year. A number of you meet in churches that prefer that you don’t do a Halloween party – this might work instead).
  • We have a resource Guider coming in to lead a storytelling session (In Ontario, go to the Events section of the GGC site to book resource guiders).
  • I just did a search for Games from Books and have come up with Quiddich for Muggles and Games from Alice in Wonderland (the Caucus Race appeals most)
  • There will be a library visit in the Spring.
  • I’m investigating a place that takes used books for kids…maybe we’ll do a post-Christmas clean-out and pass-along.
  • Take a look at this post on Drama and Storytelling. Maybe it will inspire you too.
  • Don’t forget the Hurrah for Reading Badge. Guiding with Jewels has a worksheet.

We’re looking forward to it.  Do you ever give your year a theme? Have you got any suggestions for our year?

The Telegraph: Pictures of the Day October 26, 2009 “Where’s Wally”

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As we ease into planning our 2014-15 Brownie Year, I am going to shock you. I am going to be so bold as to suggest that you abandon your traditional Halloween party in favour of a themed dress up meeting that contributes to program.

Many of you will gasp with horror at that idea. What! No Halloween Party?! Brown Owl Cara, you’re a cruel and horrible Owl to deny the girls a fabulous spooky party. The truthful reply is that we are really bad at Halloween parties.  We had a real stinker two years ago and so, last year, we tried something different and redeemed ourselves.

The meeting was called “Science and Sleuth Dress Up Night”.

Instructions: Girls were asked to wear Scientist or Detective type costumes. We suggested that an easy scientist costume could be made with a man’s shirt over play clothes. We had one girl come in full CSI dress with a tackle box as a tool kit and everything, there were a few mad scientists, an awesome Albert Einstein, a couple of Sherlock Holmes characters and a bunch of lab coat/man’s shirt combos.

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We used ideas from the e-Patches & crests Mystery Meeting and the BC Girl Guides CSI Challenge … both free downloads. The grand finale was Blue Goo for Caboosh (make sure you have Borax).  Health Canada advises against using Borax There are lots of alternatives that don’t use Borax (do those!).

Here’s what we did:

  • 6:30: Arrival Game – we used a word search from the BC Girl Guides CSI Challenge.
  • 6:40 Regular Opening activities
  • 7:00 Story discussion from the e-patches Mystery meeting
  • 7:10 Fingerprint comparison from the Mystery meeting – we used washable markers instead of ink pads (that’s the photo above)
  • 7:20 Ice magnifying glass from the Mystery meeting.  (The ice didn’t work for us, but we had some magnifying glasses and the girls had a surprising amount of fun peering at things).
  • 7:30 – Game – How Good a Witness Are You? from the CSI Challenge.
  • 7:40 – Blue Goo – STEM Caboosh
  • 8:00 Close. (We did give out a small treat for Halloween – we’re not THAT horrible!).

It was a fantastic meeting! The only thing is, now we have to come up with another dress up idea for this year. We are tossing around the possibility of a book party where we ask the girls to dress up like their favourite book character – and e-Patches has a Reading meeting!

Now, if you love Halloween and are actually good at throwing Halloween parties, please proceed as usual – but consider throwing a dress up science & sleuth meeting another night.  It was fun!

I hope you’re enjoying your summers.

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There’s a lot to do to be ready for advancement … whether you join a district/neighbourhood event or do your own unit celebration.

Here is my Advancement To Do list:

  • Purchase any Advancement Insignia for your girls who are moving up.  The Girl Guide Store sells the pins and certificates you need.  You’ll know how many girls are advancing all year so buy these things early to keep shipping costs down.  Our order was done in March.
  • Prepare a Welcome Token from your unit to any girls joining you from the unit below.  These should not be expensive (seriously, think token), but should have a card or note attached with your unit info and how to contact you.
    • As part of our advancement prep/Brownie Memories meeting, we make Friendship Bracelets from twisted crochet cotton to be given as welcome gifts to Sparks who are coming up to Brownies.  They’re stapled to a small card that says “We can’t wait to be your friend”.  These cost us nearly nothing because we used supplies we had on hand.  Yarn, crochet cotton or embroidery floss would all work.
    • Guides in our area usually give advancing Brownies a flower (they get grocery store flowers).
    • Hat Crafts or Traders are perfect for this.
    • Pathfinders gave advancing Guides a green squishy toy that I think came from the Dollar Store.  Again, inexpensive is good.
  • Make/buy Goodbye Gifts – it is nice to give your advancing girls a small gift from the unit as they leave. Don’t spend too much money (We make our gift for around $3 per girl and I’ve seen units spend upwards of $10 per girl – make a budget and shop early to save money).
    • Sometimes a letter is the best gift of all.  Spark Guider Claudia was highlighted on the GirlGuidesCANblog because of her lovely letters to departing girls in 2012.
    • The Girl Guide Shop has a Gifts Section.  Our Spark Unit gave their girls a mug.
    • Or do a special crest from The Girl Guide Store or E-patches & Crests.
    • I have (or my Mom has) made hand made ditty bags for our advancing girls every year for eight years.
      Partly because we wanted to send girls up to Guides with a proper ditty bag (some were pretty bad) and also because it solves the problem identified in the next bullet – packaging.  We put any crests or badges we need to give them in the bag.  The Brownie Key Pin is on the outside.  Certificates go inside.
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  • No matter what you give as a gift, pay attention to packaging – after you hand the girl their insignia, gift, crests/badges and certificate… they’re going to go on to the next person who will want to shake their hand with the full Brownie sign to boot.  This is difficult to do with your hands full.  And things are less likely to go astray if they’re already in a bag with handles they can slip over their arms.
  • Plan the ceremony – and share the details with the other units (if you’re participating, make sure you get the event plan).  Practice with your girls so they know what to expect (we didn’t and that was a shame).  If the other units need to bring things, let them know.  This year was a success – a first for me as I wasn’t in charge (that was a nice change).  Guider Michelle led us through Building a Campfire from Becky’s Guiding Resource

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    Starry Owl – our Fire Master. (With Ditty Bags in the background)

  • Decide about food and consider not having a treat… Food always sounds like a good idea that is just a part of every celebration. But we decided not to serve food at this advancement… (1) if it rained and we needed to go inside, we are not permitted to eat in the gym; (2) sugary snacks before bed aren’t good for kiddos; (3) allergies were a factor; and (4) parents just want to get out of there at the end (hockey playoffs).
  • At the event, go with the flow.  You should have an idea of what is going to happen – but sometimes they sneak one by you.

    Our ACL Pat Kaefer presented me with a Gold Merit Medal.

    Our ACL Pat Kaefer presented me with a Gold Merit Medal.

I hope you’ve all had a great Guiding year.  Enjoy some time off.  You’ve earned it.

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Because of space constraints (we meet in a gym with no place to hang projects + no good way to clean up messes), our regular unit meetings don’t often include painting projects.  That’s why there’s a distinct lack of painting ideas (or crafts with sparkles) on this site. Do you paint during your regular meetings?  What’s your sparkle policy?

But painting is a fun activity for camp…and this project from WiseCraftHandmade.com is super cute.   Check out Make marbled bead Valentines with paint, wooden beads, some wire and ribbon.

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About six years ago, one of our tougher Brownies declared that our Christmas Ornament Craft was the Best Craft Ever.  We had our last meeting before the break last week and we did it again.

Other years we had a resource person come in with everything prepped.  This year, she wasn’t available, so Snowy Owl and I did it.  All I have to say is that there’s lots to do.  I’m glad we started early.

What I learned: it isn’t a cheap craft (probably $4-6 per girl), it pays to set up separate containers of everything you need in advance.   I set up three stations with exactly the same stuff at each.  It is a heck of a lot of work, but it really is the best craft ever.  Girls love to be trusted with pins and to have such a neat craft to do.  The results are very pretty.

Go to Better Homes and Gardens for instructions.  Enjoy the photos (I just wish I could share the pics of the happy smiling faces of the girls too).

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Tuesday’s meeting was our neighbourhood enrollment ceremony.  I’m very pleased with how it turned out.

  • Where to hold the event… and where do they sit?  As Brownies has the largest space for the longest time in the neighbourhood, it fell to us to host.  The thing is, the fire code in our space allows 100 people if we have chairs but 300 people if we don’t have chairs.  We either had to limit the guest list or advise parents that we weren’t going to provide chairs (there was limited seating on some school benches, but that was it).  We went with the second option.  It wasn’t fantastic, but it wasn’t horrible either (I say that as someone who stood most of the evening).
  • Shopping: Other years we’ve ordered late from Guide shop and most of the time we’ve got our pin order by the skin of our teeth (in 2012 they arrived about 2PM on the day) but this year we ordered weeks ago and had lots of time to go over the stuff we had and to put on the Badge Sash instruction badge sash instructions 2 cards.
  • Food or no Food?  We chose not to serve food/drink this time.  Partly because of time, partly because of food allergies, and mostly because the school has asked us not to serve food in that gym.  There’s also a message about equating celebrations with food (I know some will say that it is a cultural thing) and it is nice to show that you can have an event without food. It is a subtle but important message.
  • Timing… Last year’s advancement was a pretty talky kind of event with 90 minutes of presentations and individual awards.  It is important to recognize our girls, but this was too much (for both girls and parents).
    For enrollment I set a strict limit for each unit of 10 minutes for their ceremony (I actually gave them 15 on the schedule) but each unit worked hard and came through with much shorter (and very creative!) ceremonies.  We ran early on time.  It was awesome!Original Agenda (with actual times in brackets)
    • 6:25 – Guests be seated.
    • 6:35 – Welcome, Guider Introductions, and Unit openings.  Pathfinders led Oh Canada.
    • 6:45 – Sparks Enrollment (actually took 8 minutes).
    • 7:00 – Brownie Enrollment (actually started at 6:53 and took 8 minutes)
    • 7:15 – Guide Enrollment (actually started at 7PM and went for about 5 minutes).  The older girls sang the Guide Promise Song.
    • 7:30 – planned to do Spark closing to let the little ones go. (didn’t need it).
    • 7:35 – Pathfinder Enrollment (started 7:05 and took about 5 minutes)
    • 7:40 – Adult Enrollment and Promise (another 5 minutes).
    • 7:45 – Campfire if there’s time (we did a short campfire with Fire’s Burning, Make New Friends, 40 Years on an Iceberg, Penguin Song, and On My Honour from 7:15 – 7:22).
    • 7:50 – Closings (started at 7:25 with Sparks, then Brownies around Sparks, and Guides, Pathfinders and Adults around them).  Then, right where we were, we did a group photo.
    • After the photo, people were able to wander around and talk to each other, get pins and take group photos – but anyone who wanted to leave could do so.  I was very happy.  It was nice to be tidied up and home by 8:15.

    How did your enrollment ceremonies go?  Do you do a neighbourhood/district event?  Or just your unit?

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Have I said before how much I’m not a fan of Halloween?  (I know, I’m such a party pooper).  But I’m trying to overcome it.

This instruction for Mummy Jars from Plaid Online might be cool for a Brownie party.

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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.

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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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