Our Pathfinder unit planned an amazing Thinking Day fair for Sparks and Brownies. It was a very good plan and they’ve agreed to let me share it. Thanks to Guiders Jessica, Anna and Louise and the girls from the 119th Ottawa Pathfinders.

I’m going to set out the time for a 90 minute meeting (we were rushed to do it in the 60 minute timeline of a Sparks meeting and didn’t get to everything).1200px-pax_lodge-svg

6:00 (30 minutes before meeting): Guiders arrive to set up snack and crafts.

6:30: Arrival Game London Bridge. Girls join as they arrive. Two leaders form a bridge with their arms and girls form a long chain by touching each other’s shoulders … they will run under the bridge. At the end of each verse, two girls are caught as the bridge falls. They add to the bridge and the game ends when the last girls are caught.

Explain that we’re playing London Bridge because London is home to one of the five world centres (Pax Lodge) and it is where Guiding and Scouting began.

6:40 Openings (quickly – they help girls get settled into the event)our_chalet

6:45 Program: Thinking Day and the History of Guiding Participation Story

  • Explain that we are gathered to celebrate Thinking Day and this story will tell you about the history of Guiding.
  • This is an action story and the girls will have to help tell the story by doing the actions.
  • Show the actions and have the girls practice them before starting. (Options – you can teach all actions to all girls – or split the group up and give each group of girls one action)
  • Read the story – emphasizing the action words


7:00 – Mexican Traffic Police Game (great fun!)58794585a0032ac712f512ca7edccdaf
Explain: we chose this game from Mexico because the country is home to another one of the five world centres: Our Cabana in Cuernavaca.

7:10 Snacks (we didn’t actually do the snack because of our meeting space rules).
If you omit this section, run the two games a little longer and take your time in the craft.

  • What we’ll eat: Tropical Fruits, Swiss Cheese and Poppadoms
  • Explanation: Poppadoms are from India – home to another WAGGGS World Centre – Sangham – on the banks of the Mua River in Pune India. Swiss Cheese – Our Chalet is in Switzerland.
  • Other WAGGS Countries:
    • Costa Rica produces the most pineapples in the world (followed by the Philippines, Brazil, Thailand and India).
    • Prickly pears are grown in different WAGGGS regions (South America, Europe, and the Middle East)
    • Starfruit is popular in other WAGGGS regions such as Southeast Asia, the South Pacific, East Asia, Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa, and the United States).
  • Materials / Ingredients: Mix of tropical fruits (pineapple, starfruit, prickly pears), knives, Indian Poppadoms, cups, jug of water, plates, napkins, paper towels, toothpicks.sangam_world_centre

7:20 – Madame Tussaude’s Wax Museum Game (Britain and Pax Lodge)- girls start at one end of the gym. The museum security guard (leader) has her back to them. Girls start to move toward the security guard, but must freeze when she turns around. If she catches them moving, they have to go back to the starting wall. The first girl to touch the security guard wins the game.

7:30 – Lantern Craft (Based on the mighty minds lantern craft)

  • Materials: clear cups and LED tea lights (1 each per girl); and tissue paper cut up into small squares, stickers, and glue sticks (minimum – 1 per two girls)
  • Explain: we chose lanterns because they are very popular in the Asia WAGGGS region
  • Instructions: girls put glue on outside of the plastic cups to and put tissue paper and stickers on them. Put an LED candle in each cup.c54b4ee8b69b9de364afed55b5a749d5

7:40ish Campfire

  • Gathering Song – Ging Gang Goolie  – explain that this is a gibberish song for Scouts and Girl Guides around the world. Lord Baden-Powell wrote the lyrics for the first World Scout Jamboree in 1920, as scouts were coming from all over the world and didn’t understand each other’s languages.
  • Building song – Our Chalet Song (Switzerland)
  • Building song – Zulu Warrior – we chose this one from South Africa, where the Kusafiri World Centre is located. Kusafiri has no fixed site, but changes location at every event, creating international experiences for girls in different African countries. This song is about strong warrior that wrestled a lion (Zimba means lion).
  • Slower Song – Frere Jacques – a french nursery song about a friar who has overselpt and is urged to wake up by the sound of the bells for matins (midnight or very early morning prayers monks are expected to wake up for)
  • Ending song – This little Guiding light of mine – let the girls light their candles.
  • 7:55 Unit Closing Songs

As I said, we omitted the snack portion – even still we were pressed for time in 60 minutes, but 90 would be perfect. Be prepared in advance and you’ll have a great meeting.


Board game night

Snowy Owl had an idea a few weeks ago… “What if each circle group makes up their own board game? That sounds like fun, right?” Not only did it sound like fun, it WAS fun. 2017-02-07-19-45-44

Program Connections: 

  • Key to I Can Special Interest Badge – Design a game that would be fun for you and your friends to play. Include instructions, decide how to win the game, and identify what you are allowed (or not allowed) to do. Make the game using recycled materials. Teach the game to other friends.
  • Key to Living World – (5) Reduce, Reuse, Recycle / Terrific trash Interest Badge – make your board game with reusable materials.
  • Key to Me (7) Helping Others – what would you do if … a girl was left out of a game… This activity sets up a situation where someone might get left out. Opportunity to discuss what to do and offer resources for dealing with it.2017-02-07-19-46-10

Pre-meeting prep:

  • Assemble one kit per circle group with stickers, construction paper, fun foam, tape, glue sticks, a game timer, we had some dice-sized wooden blocks I got at the dollar store, markers, scissors, pencils, and blank paper. It all went into shoe boxes — but camp basins would work well for this too.
  • Have a sharing table of optional supplies – I’ve been collecting old bits of games so I had a variety of dice (letter, colour, regular dotty, and a couple of Scatergories dice), some buttons that could be used as game pieces, cardboard cereal boxes to be used as game bases and anything else they might need.
  • Give each circle a big zip bag to hold their game at the end. Games need to be flat and fit in the bag to go home with Brown Owl. They will probably come back out at camp. 2017-02-07-19-46-22


6:30 Arrival – Play a game like Streets and Alleys.

6:40 Circle Activities

6:50 Brownie Ring

7:00 Program (5 minutes)

  • Talk about Reduce Reuse Recycle – why should we reduce waste? What can we do to reduce waste? Discuss what goes in what bin (the girls know this better than the adults – let them tell you).
  • Reuse old material in a new way. Let’s make a board game out of reusable materials.
  • Talk about what to do if someone is being left out.

7:05 Create a game (20 minutes)

  • Each circle will make up a game out of leftovers and reusable materials.
  • Board games need to fit into the big zip lock bag and be flat.
  • Don’t make the game too complicated. You’re going to have to teach and explain the game in just a few minutes so make sure it is easy to explain and understand.
  • Think about the rules – what are you allowed to do (and not allowed to do) during the game?
  • How do you win the game? (Think of this part first and work backwards)

7:25 Teach and play the game.

  • Each girl will get to teach their game once and play someone else’s one time.
  • 7:30 First Round — At game play time, choose three girls from each group to STAY at their circle to teach the game. The other three girls will MOVE one circle clockwise in the gym.
  • 7:40ish After around 10-15 minutes, everyone moves back to their own circle, and the three girls who did NOT move last time, will move two circles clockwise and try out that game. 2017-02-07-19-46-39

7:55 – Wrap up and closing songs. 

How they did: Three of the four groups were very good. We got two games that were pretty standard… like chutes and ladders … and one that was very clever where they had to roll a letter die and come up with a bunch of words that matched the letter that came up. The last one was confusing and weird, but they had fun making it.

What to do with the games – I kept all four games (Brownie Mountain needs more stuff, right?) and will bring them out again at camp. With six people in on the game and some of my own stuff in the final product we won’t be sending the games home with one of the six.

Review – the girls loved this. They were engaged and interested. They really didn’t need us except to keep them moving for time. It was a great meeting.

This idea is brought to you by Guider Shawnna. She and her Guide unit made camp crests for their recent Wizard of Oz camp and the results are pretty awesome.

You need Sew-In Colorfast Fabric Sheets for Ink Jet Printers (June Tailor Brand). Get ten letter-sized sheets for $22 at Walmart. There are a bunch of different options so make sure whatever you get says COLORFAST so the colour stays put after washing.


Design your crest, keeping in mind any copyright rules – including the Girl Guides of Canada Artwork Approval process. Print on an inkjet printer – Shawnna wanted me to point out that the original colour was a richer pink, but after the colour was set with an iron it turned more peach. Check out the June Tailor instructional video.

The result is pretty cool – the crests have the feel of a thick cotton. They’re not flimsy, but not the sturdy embroidered crests either. They’re an inexpensive option that would work well for a camp on a budget, or for when you can’t find a crest that suits your theme.


For Key to I Can: Sewing Magic, we did a Chunky Arm Knitted Cowl. It was 24 projects, 48 balls of yarn and 24 newbie knitters. Have a headache yet?

Take a big breath and I’ll tell you how we did it. Because it went pretty well.

Prepare one kit per Brownie in advance (we needed 24).

  • Yarn – Bernat Chunky big 400g balls x 8 ($10 each). In a variety of colours divided into 48 66g balls (get a kitchen scale). We actually did 48 80g balls but it was too much.
  • Pop bottles to cast on to in advance.
  • Large Zip Bags

Cast on ten double stranded stitches (see video) onto your arm and transfer those stitches to a pop bottle — grip the spout and slide the stitches from the arm to the bottle. Put the bottle and two balls into the big zip bag. Repeat 23 more times.

Suggestion – do the ball rolling and casting on during a leader planning meeting. Also, ask the girls to bring a plastic mixing bowl or container so that you don’t have 48 balls of yarn rolling everywhere.


Invite lots of helpers. You’re looking for knitters or people who have had a chance to try arm knitting. Share the how-to video and encourage them to watch it as many times as they need to. We had eight helpful adults in the room and we needed every last one of them.

Knitting meeting day

Plan a very active arrival game to work out any wiggles – once knitting begins there is not a lot of moving around possible (also send girls to the washroom if they need to). We did Chuck the Chicken (so fun!).

Do your regular opening (but do it as quickly as possible).

Demonstrate the craft and talk about program in one half of the gym. While the girls are occupied, lay out the kits on the floor in a ring.


After the demonstration, invite girls to get a kit and let the knitting begin.


  1. Transfer stitches from the pop bottle — grip the spout with your left hand and slip the stitches from the bottle, over your hand, and onto your left arm.  Repeat.
  2. Note the sort tail of yarn, and the tail that is attached to the balls. Ignore the short tail and only use the yarn attached to the balls (working yarn). 2017-01-31-19-26-02
  3. Your left arm should be full of stitches. With your left hand, grab the working yarn. With your right hand, pick up the first stitch from your left arm and slip it over your left hand. Let this yarn drop (you still have a loop of yarn gripped in your left hand).
  4. Transfer the loop of yarn in your left hand over your right hand and onto your right arm. This is your first stitch. Repeat 9 more times. At this point, it I often exclaim “you’re a Knitter!!!” They like the praise, and it is true! 
  5. Once your right arm is full of stitches you’ll repeat the process but in reverse. With your right hand, grab the working yarn. With your left hand, pick up the first stitch from your right arm and slip it over your right hand. Let this yarn drop (you still have a loop of yarn gripped in your right hand).
  6. Transfer the loop of yarn in your right hand over your left hand and onto your left arm.

Repeat rows 3 – 6 until your project is long enough to wrap around your neck twice, or until your working yarn is about two of your wingspans.2017-01-31-19-25-04

Casting off. Check out the video (minute mark 2:15)

  1. Knit two stitches as before. (When casting off you’ll have no more than two stitches on the arm that you’re knitting to.)
  2. Pull the stitch closest to your elbow over the other stitch and over your hand. Drop this stitch and knit another stitch as before.
  3. Knit one more stitch.
  4. Repeat 2 & 3 until you have knit and cast off all but the last stitch.
  5. Cut the yarn (leave a long tail) and thread it through the loop. Pull the loop off your arm and let it drop.
  6. You’re done knitting.

Using the long tail, sew the two ends together to make a cowl.  Weave in any ends. Repeat 23 more times.

We were about 5 minutes over time so we did a quick closing and we sent our new knitters home with their projects. It was fun.

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Valentines for Vets

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.


Brownie Dance Party

Every now and then Brownies want to dance. This requires a kid suitable dance playlist on a player (usually a phone) and a speaker that is powerful enough to be heard over 24 laughing Brownies.

Finding a speaker –  if you do a Brownie Dance Party, make sure you have, borrow or buy a speaker that can be heard.

  • I bought one recently (Giant Tiger $45) for my own use (I’m willing to let the unit borrow it) and it happily can be heard over our noisy giggly goofy girls. If you are in the market for a speaker, this is what I got.
    Polaroid Bluetooth Wireless Speaker at Giant Tiger for $45.
  • I also considered the Sony Portable Bluetooth ($129 at Walmart).  I saw it for around $80 on sale but even this was more than I was willing to pay. I have heard the Sony speaker in action and it would do the job very well.

What to play – I defer to the Brownies Meet Facebook group for songs to play that the kids should like that probably won’t drive you crazy:

  • Pharrell Williams – Happy from Despicable Me 2 (this is MY favourite)
  • Great Big Sea – When I’m Up
  • Please don’t stop the music – Rhiana
  • Pink – Just like Fire (Alice through the looking glass)
  • Katy Perry – Firework
  • TobyMac – Lights Shine Bright
  • Taylor Swift – Shake it off
  • Shakira – Try everything
  • Justin Timberlake – Can’t stop the feeling
  • Check out The Best Music for a Kids Dance Party! Heck Ya! for more ideas

Dance on!

When the day is done, when the sun is gone, from the lakes, from the hills from the sky. When thanks to them, all is calm, and we can safely rest, We will remember them. (source: Girl Guides Can Blog – We will Remember Them Nov 11, 2014) 

I didn’t know this for a long time into my Guiding career, but Girl Guide members have the option to wear their uniform to school on Remembrance Day as long as the school is ok with it.

But wearing the uniform is only the first step. They need to know why they are doing it. And even if they don’t wear uniform to school, they need to know about how Girl Guides contributed to the war efforts we commemorate.

Soldiers wear uniforms to identify who they are, and to show their pride. We wear our uniform on Remembrance Day to show respect for the soldiers, and to show our pride to be Canadian Girl Guides. (Guiding with Jewels).

Did you know? During the First World War, Canadian Girl Guide members: 

  • worked in munitions factories
  • made surgical dressings and bandages
  • knitted socks for soldiers
  • assisted in the distribution of leaflets for war relief societies
  • collected waste paper for Red Cross funds
  • prepared khaki cloths and made shirts and other articles of soldiers’ clothing in factories

Depending on their age – you can add that Girl Guides around the world (from Girl Guides Can Blog)

  • often risked their lives in incredibly dangerous situations
  • stepped into the roles of homemakers, nurses and even messengers of top-secret information.
  • showed incredible ingenuity and bravery – some were refugees or interned in concentration camps. “These girls lived by the Guide Law and did everything in their power to do a Good Turn each day; even if their meetings had to be run in secret to avoid execution.”

Girl Guide contributions to war efforts were remarkable. I hope we never need to go to war again like that, but our Brownies will be the women of tomorrow and I’d like to think they will be able to do anything and face any adversity using the skills we teach, and the example of the Girl Guides of the past.

Need more resources?