guideydiary

keeping track of my adventures in guiding!

Stitches and stuffings

For me, this week just gone was an easy and simple affair – I was in charge of a mere seven girls, and had three adult helpers with me!

The reason for these odd numbers? We were playing with sewing machines, where you really do need to keep things to a very high helper-to-kid ratio, especially when those kids are all the under-nine set.

Of course, this wasn’t all the unit was doing – our Senior group was out in the foyer area with two of my lovely co-leaders, making “swaps” for three of our girls to take to an upcoming interstate camp (with, I gather, decidedly mixed results… oh well), and the other half of the Juniors group was in the kitchen making gingerbread girls.

So anyway, back to the sewing. AwesomeCoLeader had found a great fabric recently which had this oversized print of stylized paper-doll style girls, and bought it “as I’m sure we’ll think of something to do with it!” – well, we did. Each Guide cut out one of these ‘dollies’ with a reasonably generous seam allowance, and then cut out a matching shape from our stash of bright fabrics left over from various previous projects. They then sewed the two sides together using the sewing machine (leaving a gap at the feet), stuffed them with cushion stuffing (of which I now realise I insanely over-purchased, in fear of not having enough… so need to come up with at least three more projects using stuffing…), and then the girls could choose whether to sew up the feet using the machine, or by hand.

It was a lovely, peaceful, chilled out evening, and all the girls were just delighted with how their cushion/dolls turned out (they looked a  bit like matroyshka dolls), and it was lovely to have three helpers (two mums and a grandma). I don’t often like to call on the parent cohort for help (I know there are mixed views out there on this, but I don’t generally think that just because I enjoy volunteering that others should be made to sign up!) but it was nice to have help for a discrete task like this, and two of our three helpers were ex-costume makers, so this was right up their alley!

Next week- the Juniors are doing the same again (but switching, so those who baked last week sew this week and vice versa), and the Seniors will be cooking outside on the campfire. Fingers crossed its not too rainy!!

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Like, whatevah.

A fun and totally unstructured night at Guides this week, as we decided to take the girls up on their critiques of “too many rules” and have a night where the leaders were essentially on strike – no step in to open, no circle and songs to close, no activities planned!

We just put a box of left over craft *stuff* in the middle of the hall, put out the boxes of pens, scissors, tape and glue, and had another box of sports equipment in another area, and let them figure out for themselves how they wanted things to go! My baby ended up coming along for the night, so she provided another source of entertainment, and got passed around like a sack of potatoes.

We’d told them it was “whatever” night, and that they could “be in uniform… or not…” – some came dressed in perfect uniform, and some turned up in animal onesies, so we had quite the range! There was a bit of confusion with the kids about what they were “meant to do”, and I got several queries like “um… has Guides started yet??”, but overall, it was a lot of fun – the girls mainly mucked about with the craft box, with all sorts of crazy creative ideas and projects, and I think an unstructured use-up-the-bits-and-bobs sort of night might be one to keep in the mix. Interestingly, it was the oldest girls, the ones who I think had been the most “ugh, rules” in the feedback, who seemed most at a loss with how to handle the lack of structure. I wonder what their comments will be next week, whether they recognise the value of having a bit of a plan in place?

At the close we did also need to word up the parents – we’ve got them so trained to wait until we’ve done our closing circle and goodnight songs that if we hadn’t said discretely “we’re trying a bit of an unstructured night, so when your kid has done a bit of tidying and has their stuff together, you’re welcome to head off” they would have waited around for quite a while!

So, all in all, easiest night to plan for ages, and hopefully next week we’ll hear that overall, the girls prefer a touch of structure to the night!

And if they don’t… hmmm…! Cross that bridge when we come to it!

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Celebrating!

Two weeks of celebrating the diversity of guiding experiences – ranging from very solemn and traditional through to chaotic and modern.

The first week was a lovely ceremony night, awarding a Junior BP Award (I think only the 8th of our unit??), and having two girls make their promise, and one renew. It was a lovely happy sort of an evening, and while I think there were flashes of boredom from a couple of the girls, they were all beautifully behaved and seemed to rise to the challenge of putting on something of a performance for the various parents and friends who came along to be part of the evening.

Included in the ceremony was a very slow and solemn singing of the first verse of ‘This Little Guiding Light’, which was lovely. I wonder if that is something that should be part of our promise ceremonies more generally… hmmm.

The second week was a visit to the local ‘Showtime’ (similar to ‘Gangshow’), a production by the local guides and scouts. Not my favourite activity of the year (amateur dramatics and musicals not really being my cup of tea), but it was exciting for the girls attending to get to stay up late, and nice for one of our older girls who was in the show to know that we were in the audience!

This week: the leaders are going on strike… stay tuned to learn more!

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A little festival of light

Lovely and lively evening at Guides this week, where despite not getting through all the planned activities, we had a great time with happy girls, a little bit of culture, and a little bit of learning!

Our theme for the evening was “International Year of Light”, and we decided to slant this towards a multi-cultural sort of thing, given our badges for the term are “girls” and “other people”. Our main activities for the night then was making krathongs (Juniors) and diyas (Seniors) as part of learning about Loi Krathong (Thai festival of light) and Diwali (Hindu festival of light). The two crafts went really well, and the girls were all very engaged. I was mainly working with the Seniors making diyas using air-drying clay, and while at first there was some “meh I do ceramics at school” sort of comments, once we started rubbing ghee into cotton strings to make wicks and then lighting them, suddenly they realised this was actually pretty great :)

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Some of our diyas 

Meanwhile the krathongs were made not out of the traditional banana leaves, but by making origami water lilies!

We also had a brief whole group chat at the beginning of the night about how we use lights in celebration, and got the girls to add in examples- we had Hannukah, Christmas, fireworks, birthday candles, candles at promise ceremonies all come up as ways we use light. Sometimes the “group chat” thing works, sometimes not, but this time it really worked well and was a good example of valuing the views and knowledge of all the girls- good examples came from both 7 year olds and 12 year olds!

We had also planned a true/false game about what technologies use light, and skits to be based on Indigenous sun myths, but ran out of time!

I was so pleased to have a good, well balanced and fun night. For whatever reason I’ve felt a little off my game with guides in recent weeks, and I was beginning to wonder if it might be time to move on, but I think my thematically appropriate Guiding Light might just have re-lit :)

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Taking a back seat

Our first week back for the term this week, and I did basically nothing.

I’m not quite sure how I wrangled it, but I did no planning, no running of activities, and barely even any parent-wrangling! So hurrah for co-leaders!

So what was I doing for two and a half hours (Guides plus overlapping Rangers)? I had the thrilling (?!) task of sorting out our cupboards in the hall! This followed on from an absurdly long and freezing cold (but very satisfying) afternoon last week with AwesomeCoLeader when we COMPLETELY sorted out the shed. We were utterly ruthless, it was glorious! Sometimes you really need to just admit that if a particular resource has survived 5 clean outs “because we might use it…” but has NEVER been used in the 6+ years you’ve been with a unit then it is only taking up space and it is time to move on. Sorry little paw print tracking cards in the overly large old fashioned wooden box that takes up 3x as much space as it should, but the love just isn’t there!

So all I can say about the activities was that Juniors and Seniors did a bunch of activities broadly around a theme of ‘the developing world’ – all a bit Worthy and Appropriate and Sensible, of course mixed up with some games. Meanwhile the Upper Seniors skived off to Rangers for the night and used Proper Recipes to make a lovely and hearty vegetable soup and chocolate cake.

Next week: I’m on holidays! Yes, I am abandoning my fabulous team for a week of (hopefully) sunshine, so little blog will be having a rest until the following week :)

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Catching up!

Whoops, poor little neglected blog!

So, a quick update on the last two weeks of term:

Our little ones did campfire cooking, doing bananas with chocolate – and very successfully I might add! One fire per patrol, and one adult per patrol, made for a smooth experience. Their work over the term in developing confidence with matches, and the fact that many of them had attended our Juniors sleepover a few weeks ago where they also had to build fires, meant that they’d actually developed and consolidated their skills and were quite competent to set and light and maintain the fires. Go littlies!

Meanwhile, I and NewestCo-Leader (we have a crew now… I need to do some re-blog-naming of my excellent leaders!) led the older girls in ’emergency out of the box’ – we provided a bunch of *stuff* (tarps, ropes, blankets, first aid equipment, clothes, chairs, tables, gadget wood, wool….) in a pile and in patrols they had to respond to various scenarios pulled ‘out of the hat’. Scenarios were things like “there’s been a car crash out the front of the building” “there’s a fire in the kitchen” “you’ve got home and realised you’ve lost your keys and no-one is due home for two hours…”

I’d kind of envisaged they’d pretty much use the bits and pieces to create a vignette of how they’d respond, but it seems we have quite a few dramatic little souls in the group, and so somehow we ended up with these elaborate mini-plays, complete with characters and backstories and HIGH DRAMA! We finished on a silly scenario (“oh my god, the party is in an hour and I have NOTHING to wear!!”) which was a bit of fun :)

Our final week of term was a bit ‘bitsy’ – the Seniors did a version of the mini-meal done by the Juniors a few weeks ago (cooking a tiny 3 course dinner over candles), but with the added complication of working with only torchlight – they seemed to enjoy it, but interesting “haaaaate soup” (noted for future camps etc), and got through the task faster than expected. Luckily we were able to fill the time with a bit of “so, what do you want to do next term?”

Meanwhile, the Juniors had a games night, with a bit of leadership worked in – each of the girls had the chance to take the lead in running a game for the group, and it worked really well. We didn’t have a set list of games or of kids, but made it clear initially that we wanted each of them to have a try running things, even if it was only for a round or two of a well known game. They all really stepped up and embraced the task, and it was lovely to see, not to mention, fabulously run by YoungCoLeader, who really does enjoy working with our youngest girls.

Finally finally we had another session of our limping along Rangers group, pulling out our Upper Seniors for the night – they were doing “mini gadgets” (hmm quite a mini theme for the evening, didn’t realise at the time!), using tiny twigs and twine to make doll-house sized camp gadgets. It was… hmm… of mixed success. Still, they enjoyed the time as a separate older group, and have begged for extra sessions next term, so that’s a good sign :)

Speaking of next term, our leadership team got together last week for planning term three, and it should be a bunch of fun – we’ll be working on the ‘Girls’ and ‘Other People’ badges for Juniors and Seniors respectively, and I think it should be a lovely relaxed sort of term… at this stage it doesn’t look like we’re attempting to crazily over-program, but I’m sure as each week approaches we’ll somehow find ways to add absurd flourishes to the proceedings!

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Balanced plate (nutrition) wide game

This wide game was developed by Awesome Co-Leader, and she has kindly agreed to let me share it here. The wide game took about an hour and ten minutes to complete, and filled a standard unit meeting very well. It required quite a significant amount of pre-meeting preparation and set up, but the girls were able to move through the activities quite independently on the night.

The basic concept of this wide game is that the ‘healthy eating plate’ (similar to a food pyramid concept) was about to undergo review by the government when they discovered that the pieces were missing. Each patrol was tasked with collecting the pieces of the plate as quickly as possible. At the completion of each task they were able to collect a ‘piece’ of the plate to put back together.

For the majority of the wide game, there were separate activities for our Juniors (ages 6-9) and Seniors (ages 10-12) groups. Both sets of activities are outlined here, in the format they were written for the girls to use.

Happy wide gaming, and please let me know if you use this in your unit!

 

 


Nutrition wide game: Under 10’s version

Grains challenge one: pancake flipping

[Leaders note: prepare a stack of pikelets/pancakes/crepes ahead of time for the girls to flip. If you had more time, the challenge could include making the pancakes]

Using the frying pans and pancakes provided, practice flipping pancakes and catching them in the pan. Keep practicing until each member of the patrol can flip and catch three times in a row without dropping the pancake.

Grains challenge two: spaghetti knots

[Leaders note: cook a serve of white and wholemeal spaghetti ahead of time]

Each member of the patrol should tie a reef knot with cooked spaghetti. Look at the handbook to make sure you get it right! Hint: it’s easier to see what you’re doing if you use 2 different colours of spaghetti.

Vegetables challenge one: orange veggies taste test

[Leaders note: cook and puree pumpkin, sweet potato, carrot, and red lentils ahead of time, and place these in bowls/containers marked A to D. Provide a list of what veggies are on offer for the patrol to match to the samples]

Can you tell which orange vegetable is which? There are samples here of four different vegetables. You should taste them, and then decide which is which. Check your answers with [leader] before moving on.

Vegetables challenge two: vegetable flowers

[Leaders note: provide rounds of cut up vegetables for the patrols to make into flowers- cucumber and carrot are ideal. We purchased purpose-built cutters for this activity, but you could use firm cookie cutters or possibly just sharp knives]

Using the vegetables and the cutters provided, each member of the patrol should make three vegetable flowers.

Dairy challenge: fill the bucket

[Leaders note: we used small cups as the ‘buckets’ to save milk. The ‘bucket’ and jug were about 3 meters apart]

Using the spoons provided, fill up your patrol’s milk bucket. Remember, the milk jug and the bucket must stay where they are!

Protein challenge: drop the egg

Using straws and sticky tape, build a container to protect a raw egg. When you’re finished, show it to a leader and she will drop the egg from a big height (perhaps standing on the table!). I hope the egg doesn’t break!

Fruit challenge: know your fruits

Write a list of ten different types of fruit. Remember, different types of the same fruit don’t count (so red apples and green apples count as one fruit, not two!)

Fats and oils challenge: make butter

[Leaders note: all guides were asked to bring a clean glass jar with a lid (like a jam jar) – small and medium jars were most successful, girls with large jars tended to get frustrated quickly. You will also need to provide several clean glass marbles, and a LOT of cream]

  1. Fill your jar half way with cream.
  2. Add a marble to the cream.
  3. Put the lid on tightly and SHAKE it like crazy!
  4. Keep shaking!
  5. Soon, you will have made whipped cream. You can taste (a little bit!) of the whipped cream if you like.
  6. Keep shaking!
  7. After a few more minutes, you will hear liquid sloshing around in the jar again.  This is the buttermilk starting to separate from the butter.  Almost ready!
  8. Keep shaking! Have a rest and shake some more.
  9. You have made butter — well done!

 

 


Nutrition wide game: 10+ version

Grains challenge one: pancake flipping

[Leaders note: prepare a stack of pikelets/pancakes/crepes ahead of time for the girls to flip. If you had more time, the challenge could include making the pancakes]

Using the frying pans and pancakes provided, practice flipping pancakes and catching them in the pan. Keep practicing until each member of the patrol can flip and catch as many times as they are old, without dropping the pancake. So a 10 year old must flip and catch 10 times in a row without dropping the pancakes, an 11 year old must flip and catch 11 times etc.

Grains challenge two: rice tasting

[Leaders note: provide cooked and uncooked arborio, basmati, brown, black and wild rice (or any you like), and label them A-E and 1-5 as appropriate. Provide a list of what rices are on offer for the patrol to match to the samples]

Can you tell which variety of rice is which? There are samples here of five different types of rice, both cooked and uncooked. You should taste each of the different cooked rices (no need to taste the raw rice!) and then decide which is which. Check your answers with [leader] before moving on.

Vegetables challenge one: know your veggies

Write a list of thirty one vegetables (perhaps you could eat a different vegetable every day for a month). And remember, different types of the same vegetable don’t count (so red capsicum and green capsicum count as one vegetable, not two!)

Vegetables challenge two: radish toadstools

[Leaders note: this one proved tricky for the girls – buy extra radishes so they can make a mistake or two!]

Each member of your patrol should make a radish toadstool.

Instructions with excellent photos are available at this fabulous blog: http://redcurrantdesigns.blogspot.com.au/2011/06/30-days-of-creativity-day-5.html

Dairy challenge: milk the cow

[Leaders note: we used old washing up gloves, with pin holes in the tips of the fingers]

Fill the rubber glove with milk. Careful, there are holes in the fingertips! Now milk the ‘rubber glove cow’ until it’s empty. Try not to spill any milk.

Protein challenge: a perfect circle

Using the camp stoves and a frypan, fry an egg. Try to make it a perfect circle, with the yolk in the very centre.

Fruit challenge: apple bobbing

[Leaders note: be sure to have a wide-opening bucket or tub for the apple bobbing, and have a towel nearby for the inevitable wet hair and faces!]

There are apples floating in a basin of water. Each member of your patrol should hold her hands behind her back and catch an apple with her teeth.

Fats and oils challenge: make butter

[Leaders note: all guides were asked to bring a clean glass jar with a lid (like a jam jar) – small and medium jars were most successful, girls with large jars tended to get frustrated quickly. You will also need to provide several clean glass marbles, and a LOT of cream]

  1. Fill your jar half way with cream.
  2. Add a marble to the cream.
  3. Put the lid on tightly and SHAKE it like crazy!
  4. Keep shaking!
  5. Soon, you will have made whipped cream. You can taste (a little bit!) of the whipped cream if you like.
  6. Keep shaking!
  7. After a few more minutes, you will hear liquid sloshing around in the jar again.  This is the buttermilk starting to separate from the butter.  Almost ready!
  8. Keep shaking! Have a rest and shake some more.
  9. You have made butter — well done!
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First aid fabulous

Fun night this week, as the Seniors group did first aid with much laughter, happy yelling, and general chaos… and hopefully a bit of learning!

One of our oldest Guides, when reminded that the program had us doing first aid said “ohhhhhh… is it going to be boring?”, so of course I looked her straight in the eye and said “Yes. Yes, it’s as boring and terrible a program as ever we’ve done, you’re going to go home tonight saying Guides is THE MOST BORING”. Luckily most of them laughed, so we got off on the right foot ;)

We started with a bit of a run through basic first aid procedures, talking through what they already knew, and helping them to think through the basic logic of what first aid is trying to achieve (i.e. treat minor things, stabilise major things to enable the patient to reach help), and go over the criteria of skills they needed to learn as part of their badge work.

The girls moved through a series of ‘stations’, learning different uses for triangular bandages (a simple sling, and a ‘donut’ to support a foreign body that has pierced a hand), bandaging techniques for various wounds, splinting for snakebite, and learning how to move a patient into recovery position. It was one of those nights where the blogging about it sounds utterly tedious, but the actual experience was great fun, and there was a brilliant happy vibe for the whole night :)

Meanwhile, the Junior Guides had a “mini meal” evening, where they each made a teeny-tiny three course meal over tealights, cooking soup (using cup-of-soup mixes) in tin foil tart cases, followed by tiny skewers of cheese and veggies to ‘grill’ for main, and finally toasting marshmallows to put between mini guide biscuits for little s’mores. They were all super excited about it and had a lovely time, and it was so cute to hear one of the girls gleefully reporting to her mum at the end “we made mini soup!”.

So a great night with a great vibe with all the kids, and all the leaders. Loved it :)

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A touch of tradition (and naturally some chaos!)

Last week our program was one of those slightly unstructured let-the-girls-lead nights, where the kids were working towards various badges and presenting or running activities.

To mix things up, I was mainly with the younger girls “we NEVER get you!” “well, aren’t you lucky tonight then?” “ummm….”

Heh.

We started out with explaining a bit about the various awards, and explained that girls in the younger group could also work towards the Junior BP Award if they wanted to, once they’re seven (although we suggest eight is better). Naturally this resulted in the six year olds complaining, and the eight year olds looking freaked out that they’re old enough to do the things the Seniors do!

One of the Senior girls then ran a game or two for the Juniors for one of her badge criteria – and had the decidedly educational experience of finding out just how annoying it is trying to give instructions when the girls chat and get distracted. Given that girl is a particularly frequent offender of chatting-through-instructions, I help but be amused by her irritation… and had fun pointing this out to her :)

We then split into age groups to work on different badge criteria, before setting up for a Promise ceremony for two newbies – one Junior, one Senior. As always, it was a lovely ceremony.

Next week: cooking for Juniors, first aid for Seniors. Should be fun!

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Mmmm delicious wide games

Fun night at Guides this week (and an easy one for me!) as Awesome CoLeader organised a nutrition-based wide game for the girls.

The basic gist of the wide game was that the various parts of the nutrition ‘plate’ had gone missing, and the girls needed to find them. So there was a dairy based activity (‘milking’ using rubber gloves), vegetable activities including vegetable carving, tasting purees, and brainstorming a list of veggies, protein activities like frying an egg, etc etc etc.

From my perspective, the most successful activity was the ‘fats and oils’ activity which had the girls using glass jars, cream, marbles and muscle power to make butter! How brilliant!

Awesome CoLeader has given me permission to publish the full wide game on her behalf, so keep an eye out for that in the next week or two :)

We also ran ‘Rangers’ this week (which ended up just being our upper seniors, annoyingly), and for them I’d organised (and RangersLeader ran) a ‘paper cut art’ evening. I purchased a bunch of craft knives (like delicate Stanley knives) from Kmart ($3 each, including spare blades!), and in a stroke of cost-saving genius, bought $1.40 individual vinyl tiles from Bunnings to use as cutting mats! A bit of a hunt on Google image search gave me a bunch of examples of different types of paper cut art, including fancy letters, floral pieces, and more traditional Chinese paper cuts, which the girls used as both inspiration and as tracing templates. It was a great activity for our slightly longer Rangers sessions (2 hours rather than 1.5 for the younger girls), and nice to give them an activity which we simply wouldn’t think was sensible/safe to do with littlies :)

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