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Archive for the ‘Key to the Arts’ Category

In Week one of the Emergency Prep challenge we need to find stories about weather and emergencies. I didn’t want to scare our Brownies with tales of doom and gloom and I was pleased to find the Kids Crossing Weather Stories page – including weather stories that don’t minimize the impact of weather events, but shouldn’t freak everyone out either.  =)

I’ll be printing Adventures in Snow! and Tornadoes in the Soccer Field! for tomorrow’s meeting.

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emergency_preparedness_2013We are starting the new year with the Girl Guides Ontario Emergency Preparedness Challenge. It is a pretty involved challenge (three weeks of programming!) but we’ve been wanting to do it for a while.

Sometimes when you approach a challenge, you kind of take bits and pieces from it and make it suit your own group. This time we’re doing it pretty much as programmed (but three weeks is a lot and you might not be ready for that…I encourage you to read over the challenge for some really great ideas). And, in a pure coincidence, we booked a visit to our local Police station in the middle of the month too.

  • In week one, we’ll learn what is an emergency, week 2 is about planning ahead (Be Prepared!), and week 3 is about safety skills.
  • The program linked here is for Brownies, but the program is available for all levels.
  • Don’t forget to order the challenge crest from the GGC Ontario office.

Happy New Year everyone.

Yours in Guiding,

Cara

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I spent most of my childhood fascinated with Laura Ingalls and pioneers.  I read the Little House Books.  I was a little cooky for braids like Melissa Gilbert had.  I had braids in my hair, as did my Barbies, dolls and sisters (if they’d sit still long enough), and long skirts, sun bonnets and covered wagons were the best things ever (tape some paper over the handle of a fruit basket for an instant covered wagon) .  I’m sure my Mom often questioned my sanity.

So fast forward a bunch of years later to Brownie winter camp.  We had yarn out for the girls and it turns out that only a few of them knew how to braid!  Starry Owl Chan to the rescue with some duct tape and some yarn. Most of the girls took to it (although I don’t think they were nearly as nutty as I used to be which is probably a good thing).

Here is a video tutorial for How to Braid with three strands.

Teaching Brownies to Braid (Jan 2014)

Teaching Brownies to Braid (Jan 2014)

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This project from PurlBee.com could probably be adapted for Brownie Key to the Arts: Art by Hand and/or Key to I Can: Sewing Magic.  Very cute – and felt holds up well to little hands who haven’t got a lot of coordination.  Might be tricky, but it could work.

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We started our first meeting of the year with Key to the Arts Drama.  It was a happy discovery to find that one of our Brownie parents is also a Drama teacher in her real life. Laura led the girls through the meeting and we planned camp in the background.  The Owls were prepared to help but she had it all in hand.  It was a lovely break for us… and Laura did a fantastic job.

Some Drama resources that could get you started:

Happy New Year!

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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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During a weekend visit with my nephew (representing Brownies at age 8) and niece (who is 5 and represents Spark age), I continued my plans to make needlework a part of their daily lives.   As I explained to Nephew, it teaches patience, makes you think about what you’re doing, and lets you try something new.

This weekend was “Operation Embroidery”.

5yo Niece's handiwork

5yo Niece’s handiwork

I started with Niece.  As you can see, her project was a little lumpy, but she was completely engaged in the process and proved that a Spark could do this (she was very concerned that the needle was not sharp and we had a big discussion about that).  She loved to use the needle threader.  The only thing she needed help with was to put a knot at the end of the yarn.  She repeated the common kid error – she kept sewing into the wrong side  and the loops kept going around the back – but she figured out how to rescue it – and she incorporated it into the design at the end.

8yo Nephew's project

8yo Nephew’s project

Later, I moved on to Nephew. He’d done a project like this before so I didn’t really need to show him much.  You can see that his stitches are neater.  He also loved the project.

I know that this is a fairly easy project to do one-on-one, but it is a different story in a unit or at camp with 20 or so girls to teach at the same time.  The key to that though is preparation and making sure that the Guiders/ Helpers know what they are doing.

I would split the unit into small groups with one knowledgeable helper assigned to each.  In advance, prepare a box or tray (photocopy paper trays are perfect for this) for each group with these supplies:

  • Plastic Canvas Circles – I chose the circles specifically because I didn’t want any corners for yarn to catch on.
  • Yarn in small balls (one ball per two girls)
  • Blunt yarn needles
  • a Magnet (to put the needles on when girls put them down and to help you pick them up when they hit the floor)
  • Scissors
  • Needle threaders – I made my own (see below details)

Instructions

  1. Select and cut a piece of yarn that is as long as your wingspan – hand to hand.  Put the scissors and spare yarn back in the basket.
  2. Insert the metal loop of the needle threader through the hole in the yarn needle.  Then put the yarn through the needle threader loop.  Pull (hard).  Once your yarn is through the hole in the needle, put the needle threader back in the basket (notice a theme?).
  3. Now, fold the yarn in half so the needle is hanging down between your feet and the ends of the yarn are in your hand.  Tie an overhand knot.
  4. Take your plastic circle and start stitching up and down.  Make a design of your choice.
  5. Demonstrate what happens if you sew from the wrong side (you make a loop around the work)- and how to recover (gently reverse the needle through the hole).  It is easy and even Niece was able to fix her own mistakes.

And that’s it.   I think I’ll set this up as independent craft work at a camp next year.  The teaching at the start is a bit of a crush, but my kiddos were pretty much independent once they got the hang of it.needlethreader  And once everyone is started, I’d amalgamate all the trays into one basket so they can keep going back to get more yarn as they need it.

And the needle threaders!  I made mine out of a rectangle of plastic canvas with some jewelry wire woven into it and some duct tape to cover and anchor the wire.  The loops are bigger than most needle threaders – they’re yellow so easy to find when dropped, and extra sturdy – it can stand up to a 5 year old yanking yarn through a needle.

Happy Brownie Free Tuesday.  I hope you’re enjoying a nice summer break.

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