Archive for the ‘Key to My Community’ 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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This year Remembrance Day falls on a Tuesday meeting day and it is very appropriate to be holding our Canada meeting during Remembrance Week.

6:30 – Arrival Craft – Design your own Canadian Flag (printable worksheet). Girls can colour the current Canadian flag, then design their own. They should try to include the things that they think make Canada special.

6:45 – Circle Inspections

I picked this poppy because I have my Grandfather’s pin that is just like this. I miss him and it is awesome that he’s a part of this blog.

6:55 – Brownie Ring

7:00 – Program

Remembrance Day Readings

Remembrance Day Resources  (for years when you’re not doing this Canada meeting – we’re often in the middle of STEM in opposite years).

  1. I Feel Proud (discussion) – what does it mean to feel proud? What have you done that makes you feel proud?
  2. Proud to be Canadian (discussion) – Do you feel proud to be Canadian? Why? Why do you like living in Canada?
  3. Learn Flag Ceremony (takes a LONG time).
    Conclude with a demonstration of skills – when the last one is done, let’s sing Oh Canada.

7:30 Game – Snowball Fight and/or Canada Day Bingo

7:40 Canada Campfire.

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This tutorial from Make is pretty neat. How to: Bobby Pin Butterflies

Tonight Brownies are doing a big bridging night. Second year girls (grade threes) are visiting a Guide meeting. And First years are hosting some Sparks for the My Day Badge (check out the plan from Guider Janice).  I haven’t forgotten about the blog, but it has been busy around here.

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Last night Brownies visited a local senior’s residence – partly for Art in the Community (they have a super art gallery and it is close to us) and partly because the people we visited really miss having little kids around and they get such a kick out of seeing the girls.

Our visit was coordinated by a Recreational Therapist at the residence and she organized a great plan for the evening (are you surprised that I admire a fellow planner??).  This was very helpful as the girls are often very shy and need time to warm up to unfamiliar places.  Especially ones where they’re going to be asked to interact with strangers.  Here’s what Cassy set up for us:

  • 6:15 begin arrival – gather and deal with coats and boots etc.  Girls got name tags too.
  • 6:30 Visit the art gallery – My rule for visiting places where “no touching” is allowed is to have your hands clasped behind your back.  We had a chat about the different pieces, then we signed the guest book and moved on to their pottery studio.  Very neat.
  • 7:00 ish – Interacting with the residents…Our next stop was a multipurpose room where a number of residents waited for us around card tables.  The girls and Guiders spread out to empty spaces around tables (worked out to be approx 2 residents to 2 girls per table).  Cassy explained that together we would be making buttons (she had a button maker ready to go).  The craft appealed to the girls and the residents (the older gentleman with a heart button on his shirt was neat).  It was a good mingling activity.
  • Around 7:40ish the girls and Guiders sang campfire songs – we started with some quieter ones – but the real hits were the loud fun ones – Penguin Song, Yogi Bear and a few others.
  • Then it was 8PM and we were done!  A nice evening that didn’t drag and was almost too short.

My Thoughts:

  • Older people are generally very hard of hearing – and younger people are generally very quiet.  Not a great combination.  Encourage girls to use big voices.
  • Remind girls about manners – they are always appreciated, but the older generation takes manners very seriously.
  • Wear full uniform.  They really liked to see all the badges.
  • Prepare the girls for what they might see – one of the Brownies said she had fun – but found it funny that one of the older gentlemen fell asleep in his chair right beside her.
  • The residents really preferred the loud and boisterous songs – probably because they could hear us… next time I would do one quick gathering song – then more Yogi Bear and Littlest Worm.
  • Find out what to call the place… I was calling it a “Facility”, but was corrected.  “This is our house.”  Very true!
  • I didn’t take pictures because of privacy for both us and the residents.  Always ask.
  • Have a plan – other visits have usually been done willy nilly – under the guise “visit with the residents of a senior’s home” but it was a well thought out evening.
  • Go in the “off season”.  We were going to go before Christmas… but it was really booked up.  And they pointed out that the residents get lots of visitors around major holidays, but not as much in January and February.

Next week we’re going to have an Ice Cream Meeting…. Super fun!

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I’m having one of those kind of days.  You know, the kind where nothing seems to go right.  The reason I write this down is that I know you have those days too and it might feel better knowing that you’re not the only one.

I take heart from Anne when she says “isn’t it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet?”  – Lucy Maud Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

Here’s the scoop:

  • We’ve been working on a plan to move from our old school with extremely plush accommodations for Brownies, but pretty squishy ones for Sparks to a new school with two gyms that are almost the same size.    Tonight we start in our new location (except that OUR new gym is under construction).  But we’re turning it into a good thing – we’ll explore our new neighbourhood instead – and the weather has turned from a blistering -20C yesterday to a balmy +2C today so the weather fairies have blessed us too.
  • And today, as I was looking at my camp form paperwork for the first time since October, I discovered a dreadful error (my fault entirely).  It seems that the camp I booked for late February was actually approved for the backup date in March.  It looks like it’ll turn out, but I tell you that there was some language unbecoming an Owl coming out of me


    Girls playing Sardines! They’ve just been let out from the countdown.

As promised, here is our plan for tonight:

UPDATE – Snowy Owl is the voice of reason – they showed up dressed and we just went out for the whole 90 minutes!  And we played Sardines – Not Grounders (for some reason, I mixed the names up).  It was a good meeting.

6:30 – Arrival in the new Sparks Gym – we’ll impose on the Sparks for the first 15 minutes of their meeting to get our opening done.

6:45 – Get dressed to go outside.

7:00 – Actually get outside.  Walk around, find the playground, walk to a familiar park near our old meeting place, play a game of grounders sardines. Orient ourselves in our new neighbourhood.

7:40 ish – walk back to the new Sparks Gym and hold an indoor campfire until parents arrive.

8:00 Closing.


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What can I say?  The terrible shootings in the States happened on Friday, and we’re Monday now and I keep starting, and re-starting a post about tomorrow’s planned Brownie/Spark Neighbourhood walk.

We’ll go for our walk and look at the pretty Christmas lights – and then end up at a local coffee place for hot chocolate.  The girls will love it.  We’ll have fun too.  I am anxious to see “my” kids and give them a hug or a pat on the head.  They don’t need to know why, but I need to do it.  And it is a good thing to have something fun and cheerful to do for our last meeting before the winter break.

And it is what we normally do.  And normal does seem the best way forward.

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Last night was our “Celebrations” meeting.  It is a nice way to include Christmas in the program, but visit other celebrations as well.

6:30 – Arrival – We had “Chinese New Year game” written in the notes, but nobody actually wrote one down, so the girls chose tag instead.

6:40 – Circle Inspections

6:45 – Brownie Ring


6:55 – Program  Celebrations – why is it important to respect different faiths and cultures?  What kinds of special days to you celebrate?  What is the difference between a Holiday/Celebration and an Observance?

Celebrations calendar – Every time we do this, Snowy Owl Christine prints a calendar with lots of different celebrations from around the world.  She does this manually – and it is a lot of work.   I looked it up and you can get a 2013 Calendar with US Holidays here(I couldn’t find one for Canada).  She goes through the calendar in the meeting (that’s the photo to the right) and asks the girls to help fill in birthdays and any holidays they celebrate that are missing as she goes.

7:05 Craft 1 – Chinese New Year Craft – Make a Lantern.  Don’t forget your stapler!  The calendar activity took a lot longer than we thought so we dropped this craft (it wasn’t a good day for China at Brownies last night… I just noticed).


7:10 Craft 2 Valentine’s for Vets – We introduced this activity by saying that there are Canadian Veterans that may not get visited by their children – they may be lonesome.  And we want them to feel appreciated, so lets make them a nice card.  We had pink, purple, and red construction paper, lots of glue, crayons, and doilies… plus some pre-printed Valentine’s Day poems from CanTeach and a “Made especially for you by __________ Brownie Unit Name and Number”.

One little girl took my intro a little too seriously but we caught it…

  • Brownie to Starry Owl “How do you spell Sorry”
  • Brown Owl to Starry Owl Huh??v4vcards2
  • Starry Owl “Why do you want to spell Sorry on
    Valentine’s Day card?”
  • Brownie: “I want to write ‘I’m sorry you’re alone’.” <Heart breaks>
  • Starry Owl “Let’s think of a happier thought instead” (she already had “I am” written out, so we suggested “Thankful”.  All good.  phew.  Disaster averted.  =)

7:30 Craft 3 – Beaded Snowflakes.  This was very cool. I got pictures of the process, but I don’t have any of the final product.  The link has good photos though with good instructions.  Update: found this snowflake ornament instruction from whatever that looks pretty cool and has good instructions too.

snowflake2 snowflake1

Some of the girls finished the Snowflake before the rest, and I took those girls with me to practice learning “On My Honour” that we started learning a couple of weeks ago.  It is one of my favourite songs and we haven’t been able to work it into the program for a couple of years and I really hated that.  So I’m determined to fix it.

And then we were out of time.  Next week is our Neighbourhood Walk and then we’re done for 2012.

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Can you tell that my enthusiasm from the beginning of the year is waning?  Ah well.  I’ll get it back – especially since tomorrow we’re having an Owl planning meeting.

Two weeks ago we did a meeting all about Advertisements.  It went very well (thanks Snowy Owl for hanging on to our old notes).

6:30 – Ladders – we have one girl who has had a head injury in the past so running games are particularly worrying for this little one.  She’s fine (it’s the Owls that are panicked).

6:40 – Inspection (I still owe you our neat inspection idea).

6:50 – Brownie Circle

7:00 – Program: Advertisements All Around Us

  • What is an advertisement?  (Something that tries to convince us of something)
  • Where do we see ads? (tv, magazines, posters, radio, internet, you tube, movies, in the corner of the tv screen during a show… everywhere!)
  • What different kinds of ads are there? (Ads that entice us to buy things, or that encourage us to NOT do something, public service ads).
  • We didn’t use this, but Gail Vaz Oxlade (a real-life financial guru in Canada) wrote a post about relating ads to kids.
  • Exercise Prep – Message is the most important part of an ad – wherever you are advertising, people need to know what you want them to DO –
    • so if you want them to BUY something, you need to tell them where or how they can do that.
    • If you want them to KNOW about something, you have to make sure you’ve told them (phone number, web site, address…)

7:10 Craft – Design an ad to sell Girl Guide Cookies -or to get someone to join Brownies.  Make sure you are clear about what it is you want people to do and how you want them to do it.

7:25 Commercial Skits – In small groups, ask the girls to make up a TV commercial about a topic of their choice.  We had two groups do theirs about the Food Bank!

7:40 – Act out your commercials for the rest of the group.

7:50 – Campfire (there wasn’t time!)

7:55 – Close

Two more meetings till the Christmas break!  Can’t wait (again, I love Brownies, but I love the break too!)

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Today’s post on Zakka Life is called Kid Craft: Packing Peanut Igloo

The post itself is very neat – it shows you how to make a Packing Peanut Igloo – great for a meeting about the Arctic or Canada’s North (check out MyGuideStuff.com for an excellent resource on the Arctic – including crafts, games, and instant meetings), or STEM Building up.   But the added bonus is the revelation that water soluble packing peanuts stick together and can be used to make things.  Who knew?

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It is a bit odd to be thinking of Valentine’s Day as we’re coming up to Christmas, but  Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) has a great program called Valentine’s for Vets and you need to get moving NOW if you want to participate.  It is a simple thing… children are encouraged to make Valentine’s Day cards for Canadian Veterans and then VAC will distribute them in February.

Make your cards in December or early January (or maybe as part of your Remembrance Day meeting).  But read the Tips and Message ideas page first.   There are specific rules about what they can accept (like no sparkles!) and what should go on the card … they’re looking for a nice cheerful message of thanks and caring to a non-specific veteran (it is a definite change of focus from the solemnity of Remembrance Day).

Then mail the cards in time to arrive by mid-January (January 14, 2013) to:

Valentines for Vets
Veterans Affairs Canada
Canada Remembers
P.O. Box 7700
Charlottetown, PE C1A 8M9

We’re planning our yearly Key to My Community: Celebrations meeting in December and we’ll be making Valentine’s Day cards too.

UPDATE: Cathy from Bluenose Guider incorporated VFV into her Guide Unit’s Remembrance Day meeting.  Her last line reminds us to explain the activity very well.

We gave them preprinted verses that they could glue in the cards, and a preprinted label that said “4th Hammonds Plains Guides” to glue on the back, and lots of stamps and stickers and pretty paper that they could use to decorate the cards with.

As we were starting to explain what we were doing, one girl asked, “Why do veterinarians need Valentine’s?” Oops! We should have explained that first. 🙂

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