Welcome to my blog! I started it when I was a new Girl Scout leader and needed some kind of organized "to-do" list. I decided the best way to keep things organized was to start a blog. So here it is! My oldest troop has since bridged up to Juniors, and I've taken on a Daisy troop as well, so I will continue updating with new Juniors information and additional Daisy stuff too. My hope is to continue to update with every level as my troops advance. But we'll see.

Thanks for stopping by, and I hope it's helpful!

Monday, October 19, 2015

Official Badges and Binders

Recently someone asked me why I don't list all the steps we've taken for every official badge. While I have detailed all the steps we took for our Daisy petals, and many we did for Brownies, there are some I didn't even post about. (And some where I've left out the key steps we took, and only posted about the extras.)

The reason for this is you can find suggested activities in the binder books for each level. So most of what I'm blogging about are times we chose to do different activities than those suggested.

For second year Brownies and up, I give the girls a list of ALL the official badges we can work on, and they choose which ones they want to do. You can start this with first year Brownies, if your troop is up for it. Mine wasn't, so I chose the itinerary for 2nd grade, and they chose it for 3rd and up.

Anything the girls do not choose as a group, they are welcome to do independently. More info on independent patch work here.

Recently I posted some things to consider for camping with Juniors (those steps can be adapted for other levels as well, and as always, check with your council for guidelines/requirements, and do what works best for your troop!). We worked on our Camper and Simple Meals badges while at camp. I didn't list the specific steps we took, because the suggested steps in the binder worked well for us (for the most part).

Note: I do not require my parents to purchase the binder for their daughters. I purchase one for the troop, and use it as reference. Your girls might enjoy their own binder -- and I tell mine they're welcome to buy one if they like. But we try very hard to keep the cost for parents to a minimum.

And there are some badges where the suggested activities simply aren't a good fit for my troop. Those are the ones I typically post about here.

As always, if you have questions, please don't hesitate to post. Thanks! :)

Binders can be purchased online or at your local council shop.

Cabin Camping Part Two (What You Need to Bring)

This is based upon a two-night, three-day, cabin camp out with Juniors. Adjust as needed for your situation and troop.

Recap of Key Things to Do Ahead of Time:

- Contact your service unit/council if your troop is camping as part of a group, to ensure you know what the camping and cooking (and showering) facilities are for your troop.
- Check the weather forecast for that specific area.
- Get a list of emergency contact numbers for you, your fellow Camp Volunteers to give your troop parents who are not attending.
- Complete any First Aid, CPR, and camping/outdoor training required by your council.
- Make sure any adults attending are registered volunteers, in accordance with your council guidelines.
- Make sure you have the minimum adult/girl ratio for the event.
- Ensure your leader daypack includes updated health forms for ALL attending with your troop (including adults), and a current and complete first aid kit.
- Communicate clearly with parents regarding the facilities, weather, and meals/snacks.
- Double check about girl/adult dietary restrictions (as these can change from  year to year).


This is obviously dependent upon what type of camping you'll be doing, and how long you'll be there. Our trip was three days and two nights in a cabin with a shared kitchen, and a 3+ hours car ride from home. And I'm an overpacker, for sure! But I'd rather have it and not need it, than need it and not have it. Plus, we were staying in a really really nice cabin with a great kitchen. 


Sometimes generic is fine. Sometimes it's not. So splurge on the important things like pasta sauce, and go generic on others that don't matter -- like jelly. It's hard to screw up jelly. When in doubt, go with the plain option (smooth peanut butter over chunky). I've seen leader lists that included all kinds of fancy "adult" foods. My girls are pretty picky still, even in fourth grade. So we went with the basics. Your mileage may vary. Go with what your troop will enjoy!

- Pots and pans, baking sheet, pot holder, ladles, etc.
- Paper plates, bowls, thick cups, plastic utensils -- I know, it's not environmentally friendly but were sharing our kitchen, so this was the better approach (tent camping: reusable dishes/utensils/cups and dunk bags, along with a small container of bleach for rinsing water; be sure to bring small bins for washing, rinsing, and sterilizing dishes)
- Large snap-lid bins, labeled with troop number and your name
- Coolers
- Paper towels
- Dish towel
- Sponge
- Ziplocs
- Garbage bags
- Aluminum foil (kitchen or campfire cooking -- this is key!)
- Dish liquid
- Cooler with ice & refrigerated food
- Coffee maker (good coffee -- the mamas need it!, filters, travel mugs)
- Salt/pepper/spices (garlic and Italian blend)
- Cooking oil and butter
- Milk, orange juice, apple juice, water (and a couple of ginger ales in case someone's tummy is upset)
- Lunches: Sandwich supplies (bread, peanut butter, honey, jelly, sandwich meats, sliced cheese, mayo and mustard). We had one mom go back and make the sandwiches while we were at our first activity, then meet us with the lunch stuff at a picnic spot afterward, as there wasn't time for all of us to go back to the cabin to eat. See Snack Bags for fruit and other options.
- Small bags of chips -- these transport better than large bags
- Juice boxes (optional)
- Little Debbie type snack cakes (dessert!)
- Popcorn (we had a microwave! Get the brand name kind if you're bringing microwave popcorn. The generic doesn't pop well)
- Paper bags to distribute the popcorn
- Hot chocolate packs (generic fine) -- we ended up with popcorn and hot cocoa for our late night snack. You could skip all that and go with s'mores though.
- S'mores supplies (graham crackers, hershey bars, marshmallows -- don't get the big flat marshmallows that are marketed for s'mores; they don't taste as good as the regular ones. Weird, I know)
- Bananas (or not. We ended up tossing some -- and they have to be stored so as to not go brown fast; see Snack Bags for other fruit)
- Small/quick Breakfast: Yogurt, cereal, pop-tarts
- Big Breakfast: Eggs, frozen pancakes (generic okay), syrup (brand name), sausages, grated cheese (optional -- we used the cheese for this meal and our big supper)
- Big Supper: Spaghetti noodles (generic okay), large marinara sauce (brand name), regular sized alfredo (brand name), ground beef (in ziploc, even if sealed), bread (we used small french bread type rolls -- butter and garlic), salad and dressings.
- Small supper: sandwich stuff (campfire cooking: hobo packs, chili, hot dogs, etc.)

Snack Bags:

Every person (girl and adult) had one snack bag per day, labeled with her name and the day it's for. Friday snack bags were quart-sized and distributed when we picked the girls up from school. They munched on these in the car. Saturday bags were gallon-sized and stayed in the girls' daypacks, Sunday's were quart-sized and for the car ride home. Adjust as needed based upon your length of stay. Short trip with one overnight can have just the gallon size and you'll be fine.

The purpose of the snack bags was not only to ensure each person had something to eat throughout each day, but also provided options for picky eaters, if they didn't care for the meal being served. Each day's bag contents varied, with the exception of the trail mix.

Our snack bags rocked! Ahead of time I dumped all the trail mix supplies into a huge bowl, mixed it up, them used a scoop to fill sandwich baggies. We had three trail mixes per person total. It was a lot, but any leftovers could be dumped into the next day's snack bag. And they were. It worked great!

- Trail mix in sandwich baggy (peanuts and/or cashews, craisins [better than raisins, IMO], dried pineapple/other fruit [freeze-dried fruit will get weird and chewy, so use regular dried fruit for trail mix, and keep freeze-dried fruit separate], pretzels, M&Ms, goldfish crackers)
- Cutie oranges in sandwich baggy with paper towel (messy -- this was a Saturday only snack, to avoid sticky rides in the car)
- Small apples
- Box of raisins
- Peanut butter cracker packs
- Chewy granola bars (assorted)
- Snickers
- Freeze-dried apples (in their own packs)

Leader Daypack:

- Pack of hand wipes
- Hand sanitizer
- Bug spray
- Sunscreen
- Kleenex
- Extra hair rubberbands
- First Aid kit (epi-pen, bandages, tweezers, Benadryl cream, fast dissolve Benadryl and Ibuprofen for kids, small electronic thermometer, safety scissors, gauze, wrap, maxi pad, saline eye drops, moleskin, Children's Pepto, Adult Tylenol/Advil, etc., and some candy of some sort for quick sugar boost, or boo-boo distraction)
- Health forms with emergency contact info for all attendees (in ziploc)
- Permission slips, signed (in ziploc)
- Cell phone (in ziploc)
- Camera (optional, but mine works better than my cell phone)
- Camp map
- Small notepad and pen to record medications given

Extra Stuff to Bring:

- Craft/game stuff in case of inclement weather. I brought a roll of butcher paper that had accompanied a box from Amazon. It was a perfectly good (albeit wrinkled) long length of paper. I rolled it up, tossed in a big bag of Sharpies, and it was an instant, fun "Let's draw a mural!" activity for down time. Doubles as great bonfire fodder when you're done!
- Uno cards are a great and easy down time game. We did a lot of GS traditional games though.
- For younger troops, coloring pages and crayons, and other crafts are good. Older girls? Skits, games, etc. But it's NEVER a bad idea to have something on hand to keep them occupied during down time or if it rains.
- Flashlight
- Phone charger (moms)
- Acne cream and whatever toiletries you need. Because I swear nothing like camping makes my face break out! Ugh.
- Tie-dye supplies, waterproof tarps, etc. (we used old vinyl tablecloths) to do it on. Container to pre-soak in soda ash. Twine and clothespins to hang to dry. Extra gloves!
- Foam core cut in half. This gives you 4 kaper lists total. We broke up into two patrols and then assigned each patrol jobs for the length of our stay. You could easily use rolled up butcher paper for this, but I had some foam core handy.
- Camper Badge supplies (maps, cardboard knives, compasses, etc.)
- Any additional badge supplies (we did all of Camper and most of Simple Meals at camp)
- Toilet paper (because even a stocked cabin can run out)
- Pump hand soap (ditto)
- Small battery lantern (to leave in bathroom at night, etc.)
- Ear plugs/eye masks (moms!)
- Extra deodorant, pads, sweatpants, sweatshirt, socks, toothbrush, towel for girls. I always have at least one extra sleeping bag in my car too, just in case, and a spare small duffle with one set of clothes and toiletries in case someone forgets her bag. I also bring a small electric heater just in case. Yep, I'm an overpacker for sure! ;)

So, there's your HUGE packing list! You certainly don't need to bring all that, but hopefully it will give you an idea of things to consider bringing on your trip. Our biggest expense was food. We don't skimp on food, and used the bulk of our cookie money to pay for food. The cost for us to go to camp for three days and two nights (including activities) was $75/girl. The adults who went were paid for with troop funds. And we used $200 in cookie money to pay for the rest of the food. You can ask your adults to pay their own way, which would mean not dipping into your troop funds as much (or at all). It's up to you and your parents.

Just one of the many awesome things we did!

More to Come Soon!

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Cabin Camping Part One (What the Girls Should Bring)

Fall Camporee! I took my Junior troop to an awesome camp (outside our council) that was a 3 hour drive from home. We had three adults and 8 girls. We were only going to have 2 adults, but ended up with some scheduling issues, and it worked out well, as we had plenty of room for all our gear, food, and girls in three cars.
Packing their own bags was just the first step in earning their Camper badge

Some Random Things:

Never put girls to sleep head-to-head (lice), and always check with your council ahead of time regarding the rules concerning where adults sleep. Our council rules are 2 unrelated registered female volunteers in the room where girls are sleeping, or no adults in that room at all. No male volunteers in the same sleeping area as the girls, period. Your council may have different rules, so check with them first.

Make sure you have at least one registered volunteer who is Camp certified, with CPR, and First Aid, too. It can be one registered adult, or three different ones. Doesn't matter (in our council). 

Make sure you have updated health forms on all girls AND adults attending. Keep these in your leader daypack, along with all medications, and your first aid kit. 

Call the camp ahead of time to find out about weather (it may be in the mountains, thus cooler than the forecast for the area, etc.). Find out about specific restrictions on activities (no jewelry, glasses must be secured, etc.), and if you need permission slips for anything while there. 

Find out ahead of time exactly what the sleeping and cooking arrangements for your troop will be. I had a friend who assumed they were staying in a cabin with a kitchen, so her troop brought food that could not be prepared over a camp fire. They were not happy to discover there was no kitchen in their cabin. So when in doubt, ASK!

Below is the information I sent to my parents. It included a packing list for the girls, as they had to pack their own bags as part of earning their Camper badge. You can adapt much of this for your own troop, regardless of level. We were staying in a cabin for a weekend, so they didn't need to bring dunk bags or dishes, etc. More info on Foodstuff to bring in the next post.

By the way, be sure to include deodorant and pads on your list, for Juniors and up. Our girls are in 4th grade but some already need deodorant, and the last thing any leader wants to deal with is a girl starting her period with no one with pads on hand. This can also encourage parents to have a chat with their daughters ahead of time, regarding periods/hygiene. Also, at one point in the trip I flat out told my girls if they hadn't showered yet, they were to go do so. Stinky! Ha. They were great. :) But stinky, yeah. They all showered. It was good.

Anyway, here's the info I sent out.  Information I've altered for privacy is in italics.


Information for Parents:

PERMISSION SLIPS, CHECKS, and HEALTH FORMS must be turned in at drop-off.

(Information here with camp address, contact names and numbers, etc.)

All girls are expected to abide by the Girl Scout Law as well Troop & Camp Rules. Refusal to abide by the rules and cooperate can result in having to sit out of an activity, doing additional cleanup/kapers, or being sent home. We are there to have fun, and a great troop experience. We expect all the girls to be on their best behavior.

Please print out the next page and give to your daughter. She needs to pack her own bag, but parents double check the bags to ensure everything is there that needs to be. If it is not on the packing list, your child should not bring it. We had some issues at (previous camp) with novelty items that were not appropriate for camp. If there's a question about something, contact me ahead of time. Contraband items will be confiscated. ;)

Please drop off your daughter's gear at (leader's house/date)

Bring a booster if she still uses one OR is under age 9 (check with your state laws for this. All GS must be in appropriate seats/restraints in accordance with your state law, as well as destination state law).

(Information here on specifics for departure.)

All snacks and meals for the trip will be provided (the cost is covered in the fee). If your child has special dietary needs/restrictions, let us know immediately, as we will be purchasing groceries in advance. (More on foodstuff in next post!)

We will send out a group text to parents on our way home, with the time to meet at (return location).

All medications MUST be labeled and in original/prescription bottles, with detailed instructions, and packed by parents, separate from girl's bags. Do not pack medications in with your child's things. While we will have various OTC medications and first aid items on hand, you need to provide any special medications your child may need while at camp. If your child is prone to carsickness please let me know BEFORE we leave, and provide medication for the drive there and back.

(First Aid certified, registered volunteer to dispense all medications, including OTC ones. It's always a good thing to keep a record of what you give a girl, and when.)

No electronic devices of any kind are allowed (we cannot have them at camp, and cannot ensure their safety if left in cars). However, if your child needs to reach you at any time, she is absolutely welcome to use a chaperone's cell phone. If you need to speak with her, please call (leader's) cell.

Have questions or concerns? Please call or email me. :)

We are going to have an ADVENTURE! And it'll be awesome. :) We will take good care of your child.


  • Abide by Girl Scout Law at all times.
  • Stay with the troop at all times.
  • When away from our cabin, or doing an activity ask before leaving the troop to go to the restroom, etc.
  • Work well with your Patrol.
  • Don't be afraid to try something new! :)
  • If you need something, ask an adult. When you're given an answer, accept it kindly and move on.
  • No bickering, arguing, or whining. You are in fourth grade now, and representing our troop, our school, and your family. Be on your BEST behavior. Treat all the adults and the other girls with respect.
  • Follow directions.
  • If you are having a problem with another girl, work it out the Girl Scout Way. If you need adult assistance, ask for it.
  • Issues with behavior can result in having to sit out of a camp activity, doing additional kapers, or a parent being called to come get you.
  • This trip will determine whether or not we can take big trips in the future as a troop. So please help one another, follow the GS Law, and make yourselves proud of how well-behaved you've been! 


(Details about activities here.) For all activities there will be very specific guidelines we MUST follow in order to participate safely. You will learn more about these activities when we get to camp.

We will have snack bags for your daypacks like we did at (previous camp), but this time we will be preparing some of our own meals as a troop. Everyone will have a job to do with preparation and/or cleanup for meals throughout the weekend.

Everyone is to help with cabin cleanup and any camp kapers throughout the weekend. Girl Scouts leave things neater than we found them. So clean up after yourselves please.


  • Comfortable pants/jeans.
  • GS t-shirt
  • Comfortable socks.
  • Old tennis shoes or boots. No Crocs or sandals or flip-flops. Wear closed-toe, comfortable shoes.
  • Rain jacket or hoodie if weather calls for it (otherwise pack it).
  • Do not wear Junior vests to school that day. Do not bring them to camp. (We were heading to fall camporee, before we'd even had our first troop meeting of the year. Some troops bring vests to camp. I've found they aren't necessary, and pins can get lost, etc. So we do camp shirts instead.)

At school on Friday, when you're packing up at the end of day, pull your water bottle out of your backpack so we can fill the water bottles before we leave school. These are the water bottles you are going to use at camp, so bring a good one that won't leak and is durable.

All the stuff you packed ahead of time will already be in the cars when you get out of school. (See next page.)


Everything below, with the exception of your water bottle, should be packed and dropped off at (leader's) house ahead of time. You are in charge of packing your own gear, so follow the directions, please.

  • Warm, full-sized sleeping bag, packed in a stuff sack.
  • Pillow packed in garbage bag (garbage bag doubles as dirty laundry bag)
  • Large backpack or duffle bag (see list on next page for what to pack in it)
  • Your booster seat if you use one or are under age 9
  • Small daypack with these items inside (put your name on anything of value):
  1. refillable water bottle (you will use the one you are bringing to school that day)
  2. bug spray, sunscreen face stick
  3. kleenex
  4. hand sanitizer or wipes
  5. baseball cap
  6. extra hair rubberbands and/or headbands
  7. flashlight (do NOT bring ones that make noise)
  8. bandana
  9. attach Situpon with carabiner if desired

PACK IN DUFFLE BAG/BACKPACK (no rolling backpacks or suitcases):

  • 2 pair Pajamas (sweatpants/t-shirts are fine. NO nightgowns (we had one issue with a girl bringing a thin nightgown and the temps were near freezing. Recommending clothes that can double as day time layers is good)
  • 2 pair jeans (belt if needed)
  • 1 pair comfy pants (for ride home)
  • 2 short-sleeved shirts
  • 1-2 long-sleeves shirts
  • Rain jacket if weather forecast is wet (wear Friday if needed)
  • Sweatshirt or hoodie
  • 4 pair underwear (bra if necessary)
  • 3-4 pair comfortable/warm socks
  • Gloves if weather forecast is cold
  • Boots or old tennis shoes. Pack one pair. Wear the other. So you have two pair shoes total. We will be walking a LOT and getting dirty. Your shoes should be comfortable and not brand new.
  • Small bag or Ziploc with your toiletries inside:
  1. Toothbrush with travel case or Ziploc (put your name on it)

  2. Toothpaste

  3. Soap

  4. Shampoo (conditioner if needed)

  5. Washcloth AND bath towel for shower

  6. Hairbrush/comb and rubberbands if your hair is long

  7. Deodorant/pads if necessary 

  • Plastic bag to hold wet/dirty clothes (use garbage bag your pillow was stored in)
  • Sleep mask, and/or ear plugs if necessary
  • White pillowcase for tie-dyeing (write name inside it, small, in Sharpie)
  • Any medications you need should be packed by your parent and given to your leader separately, along with all permission slips, health forms, and camp fees.

Do not pack anything else. No electronic devices, whistles, etc.

If you need to bring something that is not on the list, ask me ahead of time. 
We will have crafts and games for indoor activities, in case of inclement weather.


That was the list the girls (and parents) were given. I had them all drop off gear, forms, and checks the night before we left. That way we could pack all three cars with everything (including coolers with food -- just added ice the next morning), so we could scoot out of town quickly the following afternoon. It worked out really well. 

We had some girls ask ahead of time if they could bring a small stuffed animal to sleep with. That was fine. But we also had some try to sneak in other items as contraband. Which wasn't fine. The girls were great though, and left their contraband items in their duffle bags. Mostly. ;) We did have to remind them to check their daypacks each morning, and remove any unnecessary items, because they get heavy when you're hiking ten miles. And sit-upons are fun, but kind of a pain to carry throughout the day. I would recommend them for evening campfire times, primarily. Also, no need to bring a flashlight in daypack in the daytime, etc.

More on what the leader needs to bring, in the next post.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Coming Soon: Getting Started with JUNIORS!

So apparently I'm just going to keep on blogging throughout this Girl Scout journey (ha! See what I did there? Journey. Tee hee).

Stay tuned for how to get started with Girl Scout Juniors! First up will be prepping/planning your first meeting, then some camping preparation tips, and diving right in to earning our first three badges!

I will also be updating some Daisy posts along the way, as I have to different troops, and have tweaked some things the second time around with my younger troop.

And have had some requests for things like communicating with parents, and recruiting parent volunteers. I will do my best to address all the questions and suggestions. Keep 'em coming!

Things have been crazy since my last entry, but I'm back in full swing with both troops.

Check back soon for updates!

And thank you to everyone who's taken the time to read my blog. :) It's now had over 500,000 views since I started it, which is mind boggling and really cool.

So keep on searching, and hopefully I can offer up some more helpful ideas for my fellow leaders, and point you to other online inspirations as well, because it's the leaders who make this happen. And we are all in this together!


Sunday, May 17, 2015

SWAPS and Bridging to Juniors Badge

Today we're looking at one activity that achieves two different goals for Brownies.

1. SWAPS! Special Whatchamacallits Affectionately Pinned Somewhere.

New to Girl Scouts? Here's some info on the tradition of SWAPS.

Last year before camp, we made Fairy SWAPS. They were super cute, and easy to make.

This year we made a few changes.

If you have a small troop, you're fine with just doing one craft for your SWAPS, I think. But if you have a larger troop, you might want to make a few different SWAPS, to not saturate the market, so to speak. ;)

The challenge with making ten identical SWAPS per girl is that if you go to camp (or other event where swapping SWAPS is happening), then the girls will start to encounter other girls who already have that particular version of SWAPS from one of your troop members already. And then you're stuck with members in your troop who cannot trade their SWAPS.

While that did not happen to us last year, it did happen to another troop in our service unit.

So this year we combined our pre-camp prep SWAPS with our Bridging to Juniors badge requirements, and had our Brownies assist the Daisies in making SWAPS for camp.

2. Bridging to Juniors involves two steps:

  • Looking back at what we've learned/experienced and assisting a younger troop by passing on what we've learned (teaching Daisies how to make SWAPS is a great example).
  • Looking forward and finding out from other Juniors what opportunities lie ahead (this was not covered in this meeting; we split the Bridging requirements over a couple of meetings).

Bridging to Juniors badge goes underneath membership stars on vest.

Please note, while the Bridging to Juniors badge has requirements, the "Flying Up" Wings badge does not. It is given to all girls who move from Brownies to Juniors, a tradition dating back to when Brownies were called Brown Owls.

Leave room under the Bridging badge for the Junior Aide badge. The wings go underneath that.

So, we had our Brownies and Daisies together in one special "Sister Troop" meeting. We had three stations (long tables) set up, with one SWAPS craft per table. Because the numbers weren't perfect for every Brownie to be assigned a Daisy, we had them sit D/B/D/B (etc.) at the stations. We spent about 15 minutes at each table, then each group would move to the next table, so everyone had a chance to make several of each design. The Brownies did an outstanding job helping the Daisies make SWAPS for camp. :)

I had enough supplies on hand for each girl to make 13 SWAPS: ten to trade, and one of each design to keep (if she wanted). It's fairly common to have 10 SWAPS per girl, for trading, in my experience. You can always do more if it's a large gathering.

We did not stick with our camporee theme this year, as it was tie-dye and I knew there would be gobs of tie-dye themed SWAPS there. So we went with something a little different.

Dragonfly SWAPS

These were by far the easiest of the three, and took the least amount of time. We had some extras left over (hang on to leftover SWAPS. You can use them in later years!).

Supplies you will need:

- Tiny clothespins (I got mine on Amazon. You can find yours at Michael's or other craft store, if you prefer). The ones I used were 1" long and came in a variety of colors. Teensy and so cute!
- Stick-on bar pins (safety pins can work but not easily; this is what I'm talking about)
- Gauze ribbon -- at least two different shades (be sure it is wire-free. Wired ribbon can scratch)
- Scissors
- One or more samples pre-made ahead of time

If you don't have stick-on pins, you can use glue or a glue gun to apply the bar pins to the clothespins ahead of time.

If you want to get fancy, add your troop number to these! We were running tight on time preparing for camp (and February was a bust for troop meetings, due to snow). So we had some designs that did not have our troop numbers on them. SWAPS typically should have a troop number on them, but eh. You do what you gotta do!

So, each girl gets one clothespin with pin stuck on it, at a time (or, if you are beyond Daisies, let them stick the bar pins on there too. Since we had Kindergarteners, and 13 SWAPS to make per girl total, we did it ahead of time).

Then she chooses two colors of gauze ribbon and cuts ~2" length of each. Place one atop the other, and pinch them together in the middle, then clip the clothespin around it. Ta-da! Instant dragonfly!

These are super cute!

Doc McStuffins/Band-Aid SWAPS

My Daisies love Doc McStuffins. You don't have to call it that, if you have older girls or whatever, though. These required more prep time on my part ahead of time, but it was super easy.

Supplies you will need:

- Felt in skin tone(s) and white (you should only need one white felt sheet, as you can get a lot out of it)
- Heart foam stickers
- Glue dots
- Scissors 
- Safety pins
- One or more samples pre-made ahead of time

Preparation ahead of time, if you like:

Take your skin tone(s) felt sheets and cut strips that are approximately 1" wide and 3.5-4" long. 

Cut 1" squares out of your white felt sheets.

Have the girls glue dot the white felt in the middle of the skin-toned felt. This is the "gauze" part of the bandage.

Flip it over, and stick the foam heart in the middle of the back of it.

Stick a safety pin through one end.

Ta-Da! Instant Band-Aid SWAPS.

It's funny how all the girls immediately knew what these were supposed to be!

My Pet Clouds

I love these SWAPS. They are so stinkin' cute! And a bit more complicated than the others, but well worth it.

Supplies you will need:

- Small cotton balls (do NOT get jumbo ones, otherwise they won't fit in your baggy)
- Jewelers' bags (mini Ziploc-style bags; I bought mine in bulk off Amazon. God bless Amazon. You can find yours at Walmart or Michael's, etc.) I used the 2"x3" size, which is very small, but was perfect for what I wanted. You don't want to go too large for SWAPS, since some girls wear them on hats, etc.
- Googly eyes (small)
- Glue dots
- Stapler (with extra staples)
- Pre-printed paper labels
- Marker/pen to write troop numbers on label (not Sharpie though; it'll bleed through)
- Safety pins
- One or more samples pre-made ahead of time

Preparation ahead of time: Print off your labels and cut them out.

Click on this image to download the template.

The poem says:
In the whole wide world,
with everyone in it,
you're one of a kind,
and the sky's the limit!

Thank you to this awesome blogger for the inspiration!

Have the girls first write their troop number on the paper. It's easier to write on it before stapling, in my experience. But it really doesn't matter.

Then flatten the cotton ball a bit, to give it a nice "cloud" shape (not necessary, but cute). Then apply googly eyes with glue dots. Or you can use googly eyes with adhesive on the back. Those were a lot more expensive when I checked though. I love glue dots. They're super handy!

Gently insert the cloud into the baggy (doesn't matter which direction it goes).

Pinch the bag shut, and fold the label in half, so the poem is on one side, and the heart with My Pet Cloud/troop #s is on the other.

Slide the paper over the top with the poem in the front, and staple once, directly under the poem. 

When you put your safety pin in, do it on the top side, through paper and baggy. Otherwise it might tear your SWAPS.

Awwww, isn't it adorable?

Once we were finished, I collected all the SWAPS and separated them into sandwich-sized Ziplocs, 13 per bag. These went into my camp stuff. 

SWAPS are not about what each individual girls makes, though you're welcome to let them keep one of each when they make them if you like. It is traditionally a troop effort. And since they're going to be traded away, it doesn't matter who made which one. By taking them home with me, I ensured they all made it to camp intact. If you let the girls take them home, I guarantee someone will forget hers. 

So gather them up and split them up, and hand them out when it's time to trade!

Looking for a cute way to display SWAPS? Check it out!

And that is it for this year's SWAPS! More to come as soon as I catch up on end-of-year stuff and laundry. . . . 

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Learning to Sew (Part Two -- All Levels)

Last time, I introduced my third grade Brownies to the concept of hand-sewing by making Sit-Upons (see this post). This time, we backed up a tad and focused on three primary stitches, as well as things like threading needles, making knots, and "tails" when hand-sewing.

You might choose to do this activity before your Sit-Upons. And that's fine! But I wanted to do this craft right before we move on to our "real" sewing craft at the next meeting, so hopefully the different stitches would still be fairly fresh in the girls' minds.

Before we did this project, I emailed my parents (many of whom have commented to me in the past about not knowing how to sew), letting them know that I needed volunteers (who did know at least the basics of how to sew) to attend the meeting, but that ALL parents were welcome, if there were any who wanted to learn alongside their daughters.

If you want to do this for your parents, make sure you know ahead of time who's coming, so you can have extra supplies on hand. 

Things You'll Need:

1. Tapestry Needles (one for each child, plus yourself -- metal tapestry needles work much better for this craft, than plastic ones)
2. Embroidery Floss (pre-cut lengths if possible)
3. Sharpies
4. Thin, Styrofoam-Type Plates
5. Scissors (sharp)
6. Adult helpers if you have a large troop

Amazon has a super deal on a pack of 25 here. Don't get the plastic ones. They bend too easily.

This craft is great for any age, really, even Kindergarten Daisies! But as with most crafts, the younger the girl, the more help they may need.

Before the meeting, you will need to prep several things. The activity itself should take between 45 minutes to an hour.

If possible, match your embroidery floss to the Sharpie colors you're using.

You can never have too much embroidery floss. Seriously.

Make dots with Sharpie along the outer edge. This is for your overcast stitch. Do not make the dots too close to the edge, as pulling the thread through can rip the plate.

Make dashes inside (two circles if possible, so they learn how to continue on to a different section using the same thread). This is for running stitch.

Make X shapes inside, for cross stitches.

You don't have to use different colors, but it makes it easier for the kids, especially when working from the back, I think. Don't use washable markers on styrofoam. Sharpies/permanent markers work best.

Create a sample plate for you. Consider not knotting your embroidery floss initially, as you'll need to measure it out (I just eyeballed it, and wrote down how long my thread was for each section, then added a couple of inches for good measure. It worked fine).

The nice thing about these plates is you can hold them up to the light and see the Sharpie from the back side, which helps when they're getting started with each section, so they know where you put their needles.

See how well the Sharpie shows through the back, when held up to the light?

Before your meeting, prepare a plate with Sharpie marks for each girl, and pre-cut lengths of embroidery floss for each plate. Put these and a tapestry needle into a small Ziploc baggie.

Have a spare plate (pre-colored), floss, and tapestry needle, for you to use to show them how to do it, at each stage during the craft. Then you can put it down and walk around to help as needed.

So you have two plates for you ahead of time: one that's complete, and one that's just like the girl' plates, in progress.

Don't worry about finishing your in-progress plate along with the girls during the meeting. Just pick it up and use it to illustrate various stitches as needed.

Explain the "right" side and the "wrong" side by showing them your finished plate. Ask them how they can tell which is the front and which is the back (knots in the back).

The wrong side of your sample plate.

Show them the tapestry needles, and how they have a large eye (better for thick thread), and a dull point. (I always ask them to tell me what they see, instead of telling them initially. Good way to exercise powers of observation!)

In the next meeting, we will be working with standard needles. So I took a minute to sit next to the girls at the table, and show them how NOT to pull thread up, toward your neighbor's face. Needles (even dull ones) can be hazardous. Best to spread out around the tables for this craft.

There are several ways to knot the thread: my grandmother taught me to lick the tips of my pointer finger and thumb, hold the end of the thread between, then "roll" the thread between them, and pull the rolled part down. This forms a knot.

(But that trick is easier with regular thread than thick embroidery floss.)

You can also use a wrap-around method to knot the floss.

Or just have them tie a small knot at the end.

A list of methods can be found here. Or just Google how to knot thread.

It's likely they will need to just tie a knot in the end, and that's fine. If possible, leave  about 3" of thread beyond the knot, as they will tie this to the end of their floss once they're finished. (This is not a typical way to knot thread upon completion, but for this style of project, it's fine, and it will be more intuitive to them.)

The plates can break if you fold them or squeeze too hard. So be gentle. :)

Thread the needles (put tip of thread between tongue and front top tooth. Pull out to flatten. If the embroidery floss tip begins to fray while trying to thread it, snip it at an angle with sharp scissors).

Leave about 5-6" as a "tail" from your needle. Do not double the thread entirely when tying it off. It will be too thick, and you'll need twice as much embroidery floss. Just thread it through and leave a tail hanging. You may need to adjust the length of the tail as you go. (I have no idea what the correct term is. I always called it a tail. Leave me a comment if there's a more correct term.)

This crafty mama blog has lots of fun activities with sewing!

Start with the overcast stitch along the edge. It's not necessary to tug hard on the thread as you go, because the styrofoam can rip if you pull too hard. Also, it's key to have them keep an eye on the thread, and the tail to make sure it doesn't tangle as they go.

Overcast is running loops around the edge. My grandmother just called it an "overstitch."

Then tie off the end of the pink/overcast thread to the end you left at the original knot. Snip the pink thread, re-thread needle with green, and move on to the running stitch.

Be sure to have them hold their plates up to the light when starting the running stitch; they are literally stitching on top of the green dashes on the plate. So start at one end of each dash on the back, push needle through to the front, cover the green dash, poke needle through the other end of dash, and so on. When they hold it up to the light, there will be a solid line of green from the stitches. But from the front (or back, not held up to light), it looks like dashes.

Don't tie off from the outer ring to the inner. Just continue on with the new ring of running stitches that's closest to the one you finished in the outer ring.

Tie it off when finished, re-thread with purple, and start on cross stitches.

The correct way to do a cross stitch is to do all the same direction per row, then back the opposite direction. This is confusing when learning how to sew, especially when there are only 5 Xs. If you prefer, mark your Xs in rows, close to each other. I have a large troop and was running out of prep time. So I made it work.

In the meeting, I told them just to cover the purple lines in each X, the same as they covered the green dashes before, and to do each X closest. I had them look at it first, and decide for themselves the best way to do it, so as to not waste thread.

It worked out fine. :)

Tie it off, and ta-da! You're finished!

All done! :)

If you have extra time and extra embroidery floss, you can have them do another overcast the opposite direction of the first one, so the edges have V-shaped stitches all the way around.

Next Up? Finishing up learning to sew!

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Brownies: Pets Badge

We chose to do this as a 100% do-at-home (or at a friend's home, or an animal hospital, etc.) badge. Normally I try to avoid giving them homework. However, it simply wasn't feasible for us to work in a troop visit to the animal hospital, or something, in the midst of the holiday craziness (plus our service unit has several events during the holiday season, plus there are school parties and gah! Too much!).

So yeah, I totally used the "girl-led" approach for this one, and let the parents know I had faith their daughters could easily complete the requirements for this badge.

I tweaked them, so they'd work. You do what you've got to do. See your Brownie book for more

I told the girls it was their choice. I was pleasantly surprised at how many did it.

Here's the handout. Feel free to follow any or none. As always, do what works for your troop!

Pets Journal for girl scouts

Fill in the blanks and complete at least five of the steps at the bottom and back of this sheet. When you've finished, have your parent drop it in my mailbox, email it to me, or bring to the next troop meeting. Don't lose it! If you do, have your parent contact me.

You may choose to do this for more than one pet, if you want. Just write the information down for each pet. If you do not have a pet, you can help with someone else's pet, or visit the Humane Society, Adoption Center, or Animal Hospital if you want.

Girl's Name:____________________________________________________________
Pet's Name: ____________________________________________________________
Type of Animal: ________________________________________________________
Breed (if known; also list physical description):________________________________

Choose FIVE (or more) activities and document your actions by listing what you did. Not all pets need the same things, and that's okay (you can't walk a fish, after all)! Just be sure to complete at least five of the activities at some point during the next two weeks, and write about what you did:

  1. Physical Needs (feed, water, walk, potty/litter box):__________________
  2. Emotional Needs (playing with pet, showing affection, petting, and so on):
  3. Describe Your Pet's Personality:_________________________________
  4. Something You've Learned from Caring for an Animal:_____________
  5. Draw a Picture of Your Pet:

  6. Describe How You Feel About Your Pet/Animals in General:______________

  1. Learn About Animals! Have your parents go to this website so you can read about caring for all kinds of pets: http://www.petco.com/CareSheets/petco_CareSheets.aspx. List something you learned here: ______________________________________________________
  2. Create a LOST Sheet for Your Pet. Include the pet's name, physical description, recent photograph, and your address/phone number. Keep it on hand just in case. (Check yes if you did this: _____ YES. Leave blank if not.)
  3. List Some Ways to Keep Pets Safe. Include foods/plants that can be dangerous to pets, information about safe shelter for when the weather is cold, and so on: