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!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Brownies: First Aid Badge

Today we worked on our First Aid badge. I scheduled a visit from our local fire department ahead of time, but had back-up activities planned in case they were called out on an emergency and couldn't come.

Beforehand, I went through the Brownie book on First Aid, to ensure I covered all my bases. I tried to include the most important aspects, and added in my own items based upon the girls' levels of comprehension, interest, and what I felt were realistic expectations to have for second-graders.

I broke it down into two parts:


For Prevention, we talked about things like always wearing a bicycle helmet when riding your bike on the street or sidewalk, because that's our state's law (your state's law may be different; regardless, a helmet is a good thing when you're on a bike). We also talked about other laws, like wearing seat belts and/or being in a booster when riding in the car.

As with every discussion topic, we did a lot of question/answer time, and I tried to keep it upbeat and fun. But my intention was to have the girls think of situations where emergencies could be prevented, because that was just as much an important part of First Aid (at least for a group of seven- and eight-year-olds) as the second part, Response, is.

We talked about always swim with a buddy, and wearing sunscreen. We also talked about identifying poisonous plants (ivy, oak, and sumac, including how important it is to never collect wood for a campfire from a water area, in case it's sumac. Inhaling smoke from sumac can be very, very bad -- deadly even).

I made cards for the girls ahead of time that had pictures of the plants on them:

I printed these on heavy card stock.

On the back, I had the next template printed. The reason it is upside-down is to make it so you can print it on the BACK of the above template, and easily cut out the cards so you don't have to worry about them lining up properly, since it's a front/back image. The text does not appear upside-down on the actual cards, however. Just on the template:

Here's what this side says:

ADDRESS: ________________________________


PHONE: __________________________________

You are welcome to make your own cards however you like, but if you want them to be double-sided, you can use the above templates. Just make sure to test your printer first so you're flipping the poisonous plants side over and feeding it properly so the Emergency side prints right behind the Plants side. (If you have issues, feel free to leave me a comment.)


The second part of handling an emergency, and providing First Aid, is Response.

We went through the list on the cards and talked about what constitutes an emergency, and how important it is to never call 911 as a joke.

911 Calls

I showed them my cell phone and how it's locked and how to use it to call 911 even if it's locked. I told them not everyone's cell phone is like mine. Some have different buttons, etc. But on mine, it's not enough to just dial 9-1-1. You have to also press the green send icon. So it's not just about dialing 9-1-1. You have to press "talk" or "send" or look for a green icon like the one on my phone.

We talked about what questions the operator/responder might ask them. And how it's important to tell them what has happened and stay on the phone since they might have questions for you.

When to Call 911

We talked about fires, and what "unconscious" means, also what an intruder is (someone trying to break into your home to steal something, or someone trying to break in with an intent to do harm). I did add that if someone is breaking into your home and you cannot find an adult or get out, you should find a really good hiding place. I told them where in my house I would hide, and had them all think of the very best hiding spot they could think of (this is a good way to lighten up what could otherwise be a potentially scary topic, I think).

We also talked about Stranger Danger. I did not go into great depth on this because I really didn't want to overwhelm them with the scarier aspects of Response, but basically told them that if anyone they did not know tried to take them somewhere, they were to YELL and SCREAM and KICK and HIT, and most importantly?


We talked about if you're outside playing and a stranger makes you scared or seems to intend harm or wants you to go with him, you are to RUN AWAY!

I asked the girls, "What should you do?"

"Run away!" they said.

I said, "SAY IT LOUD! I WANT TO HEAR HOW FAST YOU'D RUN! What would you do?" and they all yelled loudly (with great gusto) "RUN AWAY!!!"

YES! Exactly. That's my girls! YELL IT! DO IT! Good job. :)

And doing something like that -- interacting in a way that gives them strength and reminds them of their own ability to be brave -- can help make an otherwise scary topic seem less intimidating. It can empower the girls. I reminded them Girl Scouts are courageous and strong (red petal from Daisies!) and we know to run away fast!

Fire Department and First Aid Kits:

We were really excited the Firefighters were able to come to our meeting!

They brought in their First Aid kit and demonstrated use of the items inside. It was a lot of fun for the girls, and the firefighters seemed to enjoy it as well. They explained bandaging techniques, applying pressure to a wound, splints, neck braces, and more.

They talked about what to do in a fire (stop, drop, roll, and cover your face!), and the importance of having a family meeting place, and practicing fire drills.

The girls asked a lot of questions! It was great. :)

Then I pulled out my First Aid bag -- the one I always, ALWAYS keep with me at every single Girl Scout event -- and dumped it on the table. I asked the firefighters to look at what I had inside, and tell me if it was a good First Aid kit or not, or if I needed to add anything.

It was a lot of fun explaining why there were bandanas in there. It's a national Girl Scout rule that you must have your hair pulled back, and your head covered (hat or bandana), when you're around a campfire of any kind.

I did not get a chance to talk about things like always keep a bucket and rake on hand when you have a fire, but at this point we were nearing the end of the meeting. (And that can wait for pre-camp meetings.)

The girls got to pass around and look at several items the firefighters brought in, and really seemed to enjoy the visit. I can't say how much I appreciated the fire department taking the time to come and do this presentation for our troop. It was really wonderful.

If you are not able to have a visit from your fire department, go to your school nurse, or see if there's a parent in the troop with medical training. Call your local Police/Fire headquarters and ask if they have EMTs on hand who might be available. Basically anyone in authority with medical training can help out here, if you have someone to ask. Just know that because of the nature of their job, they may not be able to show up. So definitely have a back-up plan on hand!

Mine was toilet paper. Yep, TP. That wonderful thing. I'd brought in several rolls and my plan was to split the girls into pairs ("buddies") and have them practice bandaging one another. Basically it would've been a light-hearted game for them to just wrap each other up mummy-style. ;)

Unfortunately, we did not have time to get to this. But that's okay! TP never goes to waste (ha! See what I did there?).

Personal First Aid Kits

The impression I've gotten is that many troops have the girls make their own individual First Aid kids. However, we have a pretty large troop (17 at this count, with 4 visiting kids today alone). So the cost for purchasing adequate supplies was simply not feasible.

I'd looked online but couldn't find any that were affordable and appropriate for our troop. Because we had the added challenge of ensuring there were no medications of any form (including topical ointments) in the kits, because our school's regulations state that no child can carry medication in her backpack. It must be locked in the nurse's office.

Luckily, my co-leader found some kits at a Dollar-type store. But they didn't have quite enough. So I drove to a different Dollar Tree store and found a generic brand of mini-kits that were literally $1 each. (You can order them online here, if they are in stock. But that's a bulk order. I didn't need that many. Google it, if you don't have a local Dollar Tree or similar store in your area. You might can find some online if you aren't in a position for the girls to make their own.)

These kits had a variety of band-aids, gauze, and alcohol wipes (this doesn't count as medication because the school allows anti-bacterial wipes and gel). We passed the kits out to the girls and told them to be sure to fill out the Emergency info on their cards and include those in the kits for their backpacks.

The girls were delighted with their kits! I was so thrilled we found them for such an affordable cost.

In the end, I think it was a successful introduction to First Aid, which is what I think a realistic expectation for second-graders. I don't expect kids this age to know how to put a broken arm in a splint, or know how to properly bandage a serious wound. But knowing how THEY can help prevent accidents, and how THEY can identify what is, and help respond in, an emergency? That's very realistic and age-appropriate, in my opinion. Today was all about introducing them to it. As they get older, we will go much more in-depth with this topic for later badges.

Bottom line: I'm proud of my girls. I feel like they left today's meeting armed with information that can truly help them. And I'm very thankful to our local fire department for coming out and helping with this meeting.

Next up? Celebrating Community!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Brownies: Sample Take-Home Sheet

Someone asked me about my Take-Home Sheets, so here's a sample one, based upon our last troop meeting:

I type up a new version for each meeting (usually the day before), and another Volunteer puts one in each girl's backpack/classroom folder while we're having our meeting.

I also post a copy (after the meeting) on our private Shutterfly site, in the Messages (forum) section, which automatically sends an email out to all the parents, so anyone who wasn't at the meeting can see what we did, and contact me about working on the patch at home, if they wish to do so.

As with everything, you do what works best for you. But having Take-Home Sheets has worked well for us in the past. It helps parents keep track of what to expect, and accommodates those parents who prefer hardcopy versions rather than relying on the website.

Here's the text-only version of the above image (in case the .jpg is hard to read):

11/1/13 Meeting Take-Home Sheet

Today we took a break from working on official badges, to do something different!

Since yesterday was Juliette Low's (founder of Girl Scouts) birthday, I wanted to
do something that can help them identify somewhat with Juliette.

So we created our own Girl Scout Books, and the girls were encouraged to write
and/or draw in it. If they were not able to finish in the meeting, they are welcome
to do so at home.

Upcoming events:

11/3 – (Local Event Info Here)

11/15 – Troop Meeting 3:45-5:00 p.m.

11/15 – (Local Event Info Here)

11/18 – Troop Leader Cookie Meeting at 6:30 p.m. (Volunteer Names Here)

All events can be viewed here: (link to our Shutterfly site's calendar here)

Special Notes:

I am waiting on patches from our Service Unit. I will hand them out as soon as I receive them. Also, I have ordered the Girl Scout Way patches for the girls but at the time of typing this, they had not come in.


  • Check out the super cute pictures on our Shutterfly site! (link here)
  • Main Shutterfly site is here: (link here)
  • Please sign up for Snacks if you haven't yet: (link here)
  • Cookie Sales will begin in January. We will be having a parent meeting before sales begin, to go over procedures. More info to come, after our leader meeting later this month.


  • Please do not pick up your child without signing her out (initial the sign-out sheet).
  • All volunteers attending meetings must sign in as visitors at the office upon arrival.
  • Do not send forms, money, or communication via your child's teacher, please.
  • If you haven't registered your child ($15 to Girl Scouts), paid troop dues ($15 to Troop #####), and/or turned in your health forms (one for your child, one for you), please contact me. I am still missing a few forms and checks.

Thanks so much for your continued support of our wonderful troop! :)

(My Contact Info Here)

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Juliette Low Fun Patch

Today's meeting was the day after Halloween, and came right after Fall Break, so honestly? I was tired. I'd originally planned to start working on our Painting badge today but after looking over my agenda awhile back, I realized two things:

1. It was going to be too much for me to do right after Fall Break.
2. It probably wasn't a good idea to expect much from the girls the day after Halloween.

Then there was the cost factor. Since we have a large troop, the Painting patch won't be cheap to earn. I will need to purchase specific supplies we do not already have on hand (paints, canvases, etc.). I'm thinking it would be best to hold off on that one until closer to spring, once Cookie Sales have started and we've earned some more money.

So, instead of working on Painting, or some other Legacy badge, we're celebrating Juliette Low's birthday. BUT! We are not having a birthday party. I know, I know. WHY NOT? Everyone does this, don't they? But not me. Not today. The kids are already completely sugar-bombed. They don't need cake.

Let's do something else instead! Let's focus on Juliette herself, and having fun, and leave the sugar out of it for today (and that's okay).

Now, this is NOT earning the "official" Juliette Low badge. That's something completely different. That involves a lot of effort, over a longer period of time (did I mention I'm tired? I am. It's okay. We all get tired sometimes and need a backup plan for those days when we have troop meetings but just want to crawl back in bed).

So today was one of those days.

Now, I did put in effort -- don't get me wrong. But it wasn't difficult. It just involved typing up some things, printing them out, figuring out which way to stick paper in my printer in order to print front and back correctly on every page, and assembling a "book" for each girl. But that was no big deal. I did it in my PJs. I didn't have to leave the house and go searching for supplies....

Here's what you'll need:

- Plain printer paper (no need for card stock)
- Printer (obviously)
- Hole puncher
- String, yarn, or ribbon
- Scissors to cut the yarn
- Crayons, colored pencils, or markers for the girls
- A test page so you know which way to run paper through your printer to print on both sides, so you're not printing the words upside down. ;)

Here are the images I used to create the books (you can do this all on your own, using MS Word though. Make it say whatever you want. Just be sure to leave enough room in the middle of the page -- turned landscape -- so that the holes you punch don't cover up the text):

The cover:

Print this on the other side of the cover:

Print this next:

Print this on the other side of that:

Print this next:

Print this on the other side of that:

Then you take each page and fold it, so the cover is the outside, with the "Travel" page folded as the inside, and so on until you have the "Birthday" page as the most inner part of the book. Mine are kind of random, but that's okay. The only page I wanted to keep cohesive, so to speak, was the birthday one, which is why it's my middle page.

Once you've folded all the pages and tucked them inside each other (so when you open it to the middle, the "Birthday" page is the very middle), press down on the spine crease well so they're all in there snugly, and use a hole puncher to punch four holes in the side of the folded book, like so:

Then take yarn, string, or ribbon and tie two bows through the holes to hold the book together:

Let the girls use crayons or whatever you have on hand to answer the questions or color. Some of mine drew pictures (like for travel) instead of writing out answers. Basically there is no right nor wrong way to do it. It's about connecting our roles as Girl Scouts with Juliette Low's example.

Here's one (she drew a picture of the Polynesian, from Walt Disney World, and said she was courageous by jumping in the pool):

The girls didn't have time to finish in the meeting, because it was a gorgeous day outside and they were stir-crazy from Halloween. So after we worked on the booklets for about 30 minutes, I had them put them in their backpacks to finish at home, and took them out to the playground and let them run around. :) They loved it! It was a free recess. It was a great day.

Here is a fun (not official -- just fun -- they go on the back of vests) patch to mark the occasion. EDIT: If this particular patch is out of stock in your local Council shop, just go online and search for Juliette Low patches. You'll find a pretty wide variety of inexpensive, fun ones. :)

More to come!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Brownies: Girl Scout Way -- Part Two

This week we finished up working on our Girl Scout Way badge. Please keep in mind that the two approaches I took in terms of activities/crafts are not in any way the only things you can do! There are so many ways to approach this badge, but I felt the best way for our troop was to reaffirm the Promise and Law, and have our five steps be primarily discussion with crafts as back ups for them to keep as daily reminders for the Promise/Law.

So, last time we made bracelets using colors from Daisy petals. This time we made wall hangings for the girls to keep.

This craft was pretty time-consuming, both in terms of preparation (for me, ahead of time), and doing it in the meeting. I'd hoped we would've had time to play on the playground afterwards, but it ended up taking up most of our meeting time. That's okay! Our next meeting is going to be a lot looser, with plenty of free-play time. :)

I found the idea for this week's craft here. But (of course) I altered it a little. ;)

Here's what you will need:

1. Regular printer paper (white)
2. Some card stock paper (any color)
3. 13 popsicle sticks per girl (available at any craft store, or big box store -- or, you can use "craft sticks" which are fatter. The template below is for popsicle sticks, though, because that's what I had on hand. We save our popsicle sticks, wash them in a basket in the top rack of the dishwasher. So I had a lot. My kids love popsicles. Ha!)
4. Ribbon (any color)
5. Scissors (and/or preferably a paper cutter for you at home)
6. Glue sticks (easier for the kids)
7. Colored pencils, markers, or crayons
8. Some kind of pre-printed or written Girl Scout Law for the girls to use as reference
9. Hole puncher

Print out enough of these to have one page per girl. You can print them out on regular printer paper (but note the glue instructions below if so), or on white card stock. They stay glued better on regular paper, in my experience:

Cut out each tiny strip. This takes a while, depending on the size of your troop. It is much easier if you have a paper cutter tool. See?

Count out 13 popsicle sticks (I used a combination of the plain recycled ones, and colored purchased ones -- we have a big troop!), and put 13 sticks and the 13 strips (includes all aspects of the Law, plus the beginning header, etc.) in a small Ziploc, along with a strip of ribbon about a foot long.

Take your card stock paper and turn it sideways (landscape). Cut it into thirds (about 3-3/4ish" wide or so). Punch two holes at the top of each strip (vertical). That's where your ribbon will go, to hang it.

Now, other tutorials I'd found suggested glueing the strips to popsicle sticks, the glueing those to strips of ribbon. I found some issues with this. Regular glue stick glue wasn't strong enough. Liquid Elmer's glue took too long to dry, and when using colored ribbon or colored popsicle sticks, it smeared stain onto the paper. That's why I went with white card stock instead as the backing for this (plus I always have a big box of card stock. I buy that and other supplies whenever they're on clearance, just to have on hand). But just because this is the way I did it, doesn't mean it's the "right" way. You may find a much easier way to do it! Like not having the strips with Law separated by outlines. Try just creating your own template in a Word document and cutting out the strips without surrounding white space. Could save some time! I just wanted to make sure mine would fit popsicle sticks, because the link above didn't.

Once you have all your popsicle sticks, ribbon strips, and pieces of Law in baggies, put your white card stock rectangles with them (they will be too tall to fit into a sandwich Ziploc).

Then you'll need to create your own sample piece for the girls to see.

Here are the steps:

1. Use glue stick on a popsicle stick. NOT on the paper strips, which are too small to be able to do without potentially tearing them (again, my Law template is for popsicle, not craft sticks). Do it one at a time. Glue the stick, then put a Law strip on it. Press hard. Move on to the next. Doesn't matter what order you go in. Here's my four-year-old helping:

2. After you have all your Law pieces glued to popsicle sticks, get out your card stock rectangle. Place your popsicle sticks in order (here is where the pre-printed Law will come in handy for your girls to use as reference. You don't need one per child. Let them all share, or use your poster board Law for reference for the whole troop).

3. Glue the popsicle sticks onto the card stock. Press hard. (Some of mine loosened overnight and I had to re-glue them. No biggie. Just mention to the girls as they're making it that if one piece comes loose, they can re-glue it at home with Elmer's, etc.)

4. Once you have all the pieces in place, loop ribbon through the top two holes, and tie at the tip, for a hanger.

5. Color in the white space. Decorate however you want. This is the last step, because if you use crayons, for instance, it can prevent the glue from adhering well. So you want to save the coloring part for the end. (Plus if you were to run out of time, since this is a long craft, the girls can do the coloring at home.)

Ta-da! You have a Girl Scout Law wall hanger! Super cute, too!

Here's my sample:

Next up: Celebrating Juliette Low's Birthday!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Brownies: Girl Scout Way -- Part One

As with any Legacy badge, there are supposed to be five steps towards earning it. So we broke the Girl Scout Way one into two meetings, with two separate crafts and a game. This post details the first meeting. I'll post about the second meeting next.

Before the first meeting, I purchased colored plastic beads and some stretchy elastic cord. My youngest helped me separate the beads by color (no small task!).

Then I made a list of the colors (based upon the Daisy petal colors), and experimented some with how many beads were needed to make a bracelet that would fit an average child-sized wrist. What we ended up with were three dark blue (for three aspects of Girl Scout Promise) then two of each Daisy petal color (for aspects of the Law, two of each because "one for how I treat myself; one for how I treat others"), and three white beads in to separate as we went, to reaffirm the three aspect of the Promise again.

You can do it however you like, though. That just ended up being easiest for me.

I made a list of the order for the colors, and then pulled out the correct number of beads, along with a pre-cut length of elastic, and put them into little Ziplocs, one for each child.

At the meeting (after our initial housekeeping tasks like the Pledge, snack, etc.), we taped one end of the elastic to the table (easier than trying to one end up, since the holes on the beads were big):

We provided sheets for them to reference on the table as well, for the right order.

Group Discussion/Five Steps:

But before we did the craft, while the girls were eating their snack, we talked about the Girl Scout Promise and Law. The point of this meeting (our second one -- the first was our Bridging Ceremony) was to review what we learned in Daisies. I made five points for discussion (going back to the five steps required for each badge in Brownies), and we multitasked during snack by talking about these:

1. What does "promise" mean? (Doing what you say you will do.) What are some examples of promising something? What are the consequences of keeping or breaking promises?

2. What does "strive" mean? (To try really, really hard!)

3. How important it is to live by the Law in how you treat yourself.

4. How important it is to try to live by the Law in how you treat others.

5. Pick an aspect of the Law that is challenging for you and strive to work on it between now and our next meeting.

Then we set up for the craft. The girls really enjoyed making their bracelets! The adult volunteers on hand were great and helped the girls with the beads and tying off the bracelets initially (most were able to tie them themselves).

After the girls were finished, we handed out notecards and colored pencils. We had each girl write on a card something she loves -- could be anything at all. But not to put their names on there.

Then we collected the cards, because they will be part of a later meeting (more info to come!).

By then it was time to go, so we packed up and headed out!

(Part two, coming soon!)

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Brownies: Intro to Legacy Badges, and Then Some

EDIT: You can find more details on badges and patches here.

This year we are focusing on the Legacy patches.

What Are Legacy Patches?

Legacy patches are related to building specific skills, and form a nice foundation. While the goal, as set by Juliette Low, is not to earn a patch/badge as a "reward" but rather to to indicate mastery over a skill in order to give aid or instruction to others -- when it comes to Daisies and Brownies, there's often a strong "reward" factor. And that's okay. :) At these young ages we want the girls to be building confidence. We want to be encouraging them in their actions, their abilities, and their attitudes. We want them to have fun!

So, here's what the Legacy badges look like (for now, at least -- the designs change sometimes from year to year):

Girl Scout Way:


Celebrating Community:


First Aid:

Fair Play:


I'm thinking of swapping out some plans. Because the Bugs patch can rotate fine. So I turned it upside down. I think it looks fine. As long as it doesn't have writing on it, you can flip it on its head. No big deal:

Anyway . . . What About Try-Its?

Legacy badges basically replaced the old "Try-Its" from years past. While you can technically still work on Try-Its, it is difficult to find the badges (eBay is your best bet, definitely). For a small troop, or individual girls who want to go that route, you might consider it. There are still quite a lot of resources online for Try-Its, including this one. They're official, so as long as the girls complete at least four steps per Try-It, stick 'em on the front of the vest.

EDIT: Try-Its have been a big hit with my girls who like to earn badges independently, especially over summer.

Or Make Your Owns? Make Your Owns Sound COOL! (

EDIT: As of June 2017 the MYOB program will be discontinued by GSUSA. 

And there's always the option to "Make Your Own Badge" for individuals, or troops. There is lots of information here about this. Here are some samples that others have made:

I really, really love the idea of Make Your Own. The only potential issue is each individual is only allowed one MYO badge per year (September-September). Hrmmm.

Or Journeys?

And hopefully next year we'll get to Journeys. Or we may focus more on the Make Your Owns (seriously, the more I think about MYOs, the more appealing they are to me). Or stick with Legacy/Skill-Building. It will depend on what the girls want to do. For now, I'm not going into Journeys at all. We'll save that for later. If you're looking for info on Brownie Journeys, head on over to Pinterest. :)


These are related to Journey sets, but are independent of the Journeys, meaning you can choose to work on a Skill-Building badge without actually doing the Journey, if you wish.

Cookie Stuff?

There are two different sets of Cookie badges: Financial Literacy (Money Manager & Philanthropist), and Cookie Business (Meet My Customers & Give Back). The way I understand it is you work on the Cookie business in first year Brownies, and Financial Literacy in second year.

There are also accompanying cookie pins (see these steps to complete requirements), and of course, your council-specific incentives.

Here's the full list (inside your Brownie book):

So, just Legacies for now (plus cookies later), because they're a good fit for us. Your mileage may vary:

Overall though, it really depends upon how often your troop meets and what you and your girls want to do, as to what you want to focus on.

Since we meet twice a month (typically), the Legacy badges are a better fit for us for our first year, and I've made a rough agenda outlined here (and already know I'm going to have to alter it some). As with pretty much everything else in this blog, adjust your own plans based upon your troop's needs.

Legacy Guidelines:

For every Legacy badge there are five steps each girl should take (I've seen some variety among those steps though, so I'm going out on a limb and inferring that means it is, at times, up to the leader and her girls), with three choices per step.

That can add up to a lot of options for a leader to come up with ahead of time! Keep in mind that it's very important to try to give the girls options as you go, whenever you can. Let them pick what they want to do if possible. With Daisies, the easiest thing is offering two or three choices and have them pick. With first year Brownies this approach also works well, especially for larger troops. If you have a small troop, or have a really wide variety of supplies, you can be more open-ended with your options. While some girls are mature enough to handle the open-ended options (and definitely go that route whenever you can! Keep it as "girl-led" as possible), some aren't, and they do better when given choices up front. Make Your Own patches can also be a great alternative if your troop is mixed ages. But these may require a bit more effort or guidance from you.

Again, do whatever works best for your girls.

Breaking It Down -- How to Plan Your Meeting for Legacy Badges:

Our troop meetings are twice a month, for an hour and fifteen minutes at a time. Taking into account time spent each meeting on reciting the Pledge, Promise, and Law, taking attendance, having our snack, etc., that leaves us with roughly 45 minutes to work on patches (and play games, or sing songs, and so on) at each meeting. In order to fully complete all the steps for every Legacy badge, it likely would take us longer than the allotted time we have. And given that we have such a large troop, it would require higher dues in order to pay for the supplies for every girl to do every step.

So . . . I'm combining some things. I've seen other online troop resources talk about rotating "Stations" during their meetings. That's a great idea, especially for troops using a designated area (like a Girl Scout room at a community center, etc.). Or you can set up areas within whatever room you meet.

I'm also breaking up some badges into two meetings. If you only meet once a month, then you may need to have some take-home activities for the girls too. I'm not a big fan of having lots of take-home activities. I don't ever want this to feel like "homework." I want it to be fun. I understand that the badges should require effort, but that doesn't mean it has to ever feel like work. There's a fine line. But do-at-home activities are a must in some situations, and that's okay. Whatever works.

Basically my plan is to go ahead and set up five steps -- or points of discussion -- per patch, and if possible, incorporate all of those in our meeting(s) for that badge, and/or when appropriate, allow the girls to choose from those five steps up to three activities that they want to try. Or, have five points of discussion, engage all the girls in the discussion (this is great to do during snack time), then have three activities planned. And let the girls each choose which they'd like to do.

So the meetings will go:

Potty break (buddy system)
Review of what we did up to now
Snack (discussion of what we're doing today)
Craft/Activities for badge

(Don't forget your Kapers!)

And our meeting layout may not work at all for you. And sometimes they don't work for us! If the girls are really restless or really tired, etc., we adjust.

It's okay to stop in the middle of a meeting, even, and do stretches, or run around, or sing a song. Whatever will help. It doesn't have to be rigid.

The meeting plans basically all depend upon the individual badge, your troop size, resources, meeting frequency, and your location. (And whether or not you're wanting to utilize do-at-home activities.) Do your best to stick to the GS guidelines, but don't beat yourself up for keeping it realistic to what works best for the time you have allotted.

As long as the girls are participating, learning, and having fun, that's what counts!

Friday, September 20, 2013

Getting Started with Brownies, Part Five -- Bridging and First Meeting Prep


Some troops like to do their Bridging ceremony at the end of their second year in Daisies. We opted not to do this because we didn't want to spend cookie money on patches, pins, etc., when we didn't know yet which girls would be returning. Maybe that makes me cheap. I'd like to think of it more as practical. ;) Save money where you can!

Anyway, we already had an end-of-the-year party for Daisies. The girls loved it and had a blast! So this year we started off with a Bridging ceremony at our first troop meeting. Who doesn't love an excuse for a party?

Now, if you're like me, you're scouring Pinterest for Bridging ideas and coming across these incredible cake creations that, well, I for one wouldn't even try to attempt. Sorry, but again. I'm being realistic; if you're a cake decorator, GO FOR IT! Play up to your strengths! Unfortunately, my attempts at decorating cakes are so completely not Pinterest-worthy, that we opted for buying cupcakes with rainbows painted on top, instead.

Anyway. . . .

So, why rainbows? Why not trefoils or Brownie elves or whatever other Girl-Scout-themed-thing?

Because rainbows are easy. You can go into pretty much any store that contains a bakery and ask for cupcakes with rainbows on top. "I need two dozen cupcakes with rainbows on top. Can you do that?" "Well, yeah. That's easy." See? Told you! Order some cupcakes. It's totally easy. Less messy than cake too. Oh, and the Bridging to Brownies patch is . . . you guessed it: a rainbow!

Here's a yummy image of what you might want to do (thanks Cake Central for the image!):

So the food part was solved. We just needed something special for the "Bridging" part.

Turns out we're really lucky because our service unit has a small, portable, wooden bridge that's painted blue and has a single rail, so I was able to borrow it and bring it to the meeting. It fit in my minivan just fine.

We put it outside by the school, with a brick background for nice pictures, and carted all the supplies in. I even wore my official leader shirt with insignia tab and pins (fancy, I tell you! I was excited!).

But you can use pretty much anything. Take them somewhere with a small bridge or hill they can climb up and down. Let them choose their own spot. Be creative! :)

Preparing for the meeting and Bridging. 

Here's what I brought to my first meeting:

- Prepared take-home sheets for the girls, detailing what we did, what upcoming events we have, which forms are still due and when, money stuff, etc.
- Registration and health forms for those who've not yet filled them out/turned them in (names on a sticky note to make it easier for my paper-stuffing-volunteer; "ADULT" and "CHILD" circled in highlighter because those health forms are confusing)
- Carry-case of craft supplies (which the art teacher is generously allowing me to store in her cabinet! That helps my back so much. Thank you, Kind Art Teacher!), including markers, crayons, pencils, scissors, glue sticks, etc. (NOTE: These supplies weren't for today's meeting unless we needed them due to weather)
- Small flag
- Clipboard with Attendance sheet on it (I altered the sheet slightly so there's a spot for parents/guardians to initial next to it each meeting when they pick up their Scout), and some backup coloring pages and word searches in case it rained and we couldn't play on the playground
- Pencil (for Attendance)
- Cell phone with all contact info for parents, etc.
- List of parents who still owe me paperwork, etc.
- First Aid Bag! (See this post for details. Also, I added a whistle! Which is great for rounding them up when we're outside, etc., too)
- New Kaper Chart (see this post), with names on clothespins
- Brownie Story (from Brownie Book)
- Camera!
- Bridge (again, you don't have to have one. Find a playground with a bridge. Find a small hill to climb up and down. Stack up some cinder blocks. Whatever works for you!)
- Certificates, rolled up like diplomas, tied with brown ribbon (names in pencil on outside so I could call them up one-by-one)
- Rainbow badges and stickers from our Council
- Daisy discs for returning ones
- Cupcakes! (This week's snack mom brought plates and napkins and drinks)
- New Promise/Law poster (see below, because I changed it slightly):

"BUT WHY DID YOU CHANGE IT?" you might ask. Well, I'm picky. And I wasn't 100% sold on the previous template I posted here (you can use whichever, or neither); I am very detail-oriented. I wanted something that would tie in the colors of Daisy petals (especially since our first two big crafts for Brownies will tie in the colors of the Law as we learned in Daisies, to help refresh their memories).

And why is it there's stroke (outline) around some of the lines but not others? Because for my not-so-great inkjet printer, printing on cardstock, light blue/light yellow simply didn't stand out enough on white paper. But when I outlined ALL the aspects of the Law, it didn't look right. Too busy. So I resisted my OCD tendencies and left it imbalanced. The girls didn't even notice.

But what they did notice immediately, was that the colors were different! "HEY WOW! THEY ARE LIKE OUR DAISY PETALS!" They were excited about that part. I was glad. :)

Note: When we say the Promise and Law here's how I do it. I stand in front of them, facing towards the poster, with my back to the girls. I raise my right arm up high and wave it. 

"Raise your right arm!" I say, then I peek over my shoulder to help any who might've inadvertently lifted the wrong arm. 

"Now, make a THREE (stick three fingers up, thumb over pinky), and squish 'em together!" (They do this and ta-da! Girl Scout salute.) 

"Pull elbows down" (they do). And then we say the Promise.

Repeat steps above for Law, BUT when we get to the break, right before "and to" I turn around, look at them and say in a different voice, "Now take a deep breath," and they do. Then we face forward once more, and resume reciting the Law. This helps them take a mental and physical moment to regroup, but stay focused on the words.

Here's what it looks like (take pictures! Take lots of pictures! The girls -- and parents -- love seeing their little leaders in action):

Our first troop meeting was all about fun. It was basically a party. I did walk around the table and ask each child her name, and was fun/silly about it ("oh wait, your name is Rumpelstiltskin!" or whatever). I introduced all the volunteers. We did our Pledge, etc. All the proper start-up stuff.

Then we talked about our rules....

Rules for Our Troop (in addition to GS Law, etc.):

1. When I raise my hand, it means everyone goes quiet. As soon as you see my hand raised, you raise yours and you become quiet.

2. If you need to leave the room or group for any reason, you must take a Buddy with you. Tell an adult where you are going.

3. We cannot use any of the supplies in the Art Room. We bring all our own supplies. If you need something, ask an adult for help.

4. Every Brownie must have an adult sign her out before she can leave.

5. No leaning back on stools/chairs, or you will end up having to stand. This is for safety! (And an Art Room rule.) Basically your bottom on your seat, your seat on its bottom.

We had a review of things like Kaper Chart, and did the Pledge, Promise, Law, and attendance (the girls like to shout out silly things like, "Girl Scouts ROCK!" instead of saying, "Here." I love it!).

I explained today would be different. Because it was our first day as Brownies! So we were celebrating today! Next meeting we would have crafts and play games, etc., and today was for fun, but we still had to follow the rules.

The Whistle. Not Just an Emergency Thing:

At one point the girls were really excited and loud, and my hand-raising trick wasn't working. So I went over to my First Aid bag and grabbed my whistle. And blew it. LOUDLY. Everyone shushed. I said, "Oh yay! Look! I got a new thing. New things are fun! Except this one kind of hurts my ears. I'm guessing we don't want to have to use this much, huh?" and they pretty much agreed. Also, they settled down fast, which was good. Ha! I kind of love this whistle. I think I might get a second one for home with my own kids....

What We Did:

While we were helping clean up and get the room ready, our Games Volunteer taught the girls the Brownie Smile Song:

We had potty break, etc., then cupcakes. I read them the Brownie story and we cleaned up, put recycling in our own take-away recycle bin, and lined up by Buddies with our backpacks on, and headed outside.

Everyone lined up neatly. "Buddies! Line up! Out the door, nice and quiet! Line up here please. Take two steps back until you're in the sun. Take one step forward into the shade. Have a seat, please!" and they did. :) They were just so cooperative! I'm so proud of them for how well they listened.

I called out each, one at a time, and she came to the bridge, stood there, had her picture taken (beaming, all of them! Thank you, Volunteers, for helping with things like pictures so I could hand them their certificates), then walked off the other side to me, where I gave them their "diploma" and rainbow patch, and a hug for those who wanted it. "WELCOME TO BROWNIES!"

Everyone clapped for their sisters.

See how great it was? (Yes, that's me. And my daughter. She's so happy and proud. And so was I!)

It was wonderful. And hot. And I was sweating. And the kids were beyond excited, and pumped up on sugar. So after we finished, we just walked them over to the playground. The volunteer adults went to the playground to chaperone them (remember your ratios!) and I went with another mom to help clean up the Art Room, while our wonderful Games Volunteer stuffed backpacks with paperwork and take-home sheets.

Parents arrived, signed out their kids, seemed pleased with the sign-out system, and then it was time to walk our Aftercare kids to their room.

Whew! It was long, and hot, and exhausting, and more chaotic than usual, but the girls all seemed to have a really good time. And so did I!

You may choose an entirely different set-up for your first meeting/Bridging ceremony, and that's okay. The basic things were to welcome everyone, and have fun. I didn't go through the whole spiel about how GS was founded. I did mention Juliette Low to them, and will again as we get closer to her birthday. But for now, it was more about having a good time than getting back into the routine. And it worked for us.

Here are some templates if you'd like one for Bridging:

EDIT: I've had some folks ask about Bridging Requirements. The bridging rainbow badge isn't just randomly given for moving up a level. All the girls have to fulfill bridging requirements listed here.

However, once they move from Brownies to Juniors, they can earn yet another bridging badge, but they will be given their wings patch ("fly up" to Juniors) just for moving up a level. So rainbows = effort; wings = no effort.

Next up: Girl Scout Way, Part One. :)

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Getting Started with Brownies, Part Four -- Things to Do Before Your First Meeting

Even after you've created an introduction and agenda, and sent out uniform information, you'll still need to do some things to prepare for your first troop meeting.

There are some (hopefully) helpful notes in the Daisy post here that can carry over (I reference this post a lot down below, because I'm reusing a lot of the same ideas. Whatever works!).

But I am changing up a few things from last year. Here's my list, in no particular order:

- The template I created and used for our Girl Scout Promise and Law was Daisy-themed. I've made a new one that's Brownie-themed (plus last year's was on a half poster board and while it worked well, it's kind of beat up looking now. I need a new one). I'm still on the fence about it, but for now, it'll work.

Same thing as last year. Print it out on regular white paper, glue to long construction paper if you'd like, then glue that to a poster board cut in half. 

The correct codes for Girl Scout green are: PMS 355, Hex #00ae58, c94 m0 y100 k0, r0 g174 b88. You're welcome. ;) (While "official" guidelines say to use Arial font, this is not for publication. This is for the troop. So I want it to be clear, legible, and fun. There are a variety of SansSerif fonts that work well for that. It's entirely up to you.)

The template for the Girl Scout Promise is here

EDIT: I've had a request for the Pledge in a printable graphic (so you can print it out, mount to construction paper if desired, and glue to a half-poster like the Promise and Law I've posted). So here it is! 

- The Kaper chart from last year ended up being too complicated. I initially assumed I'd need a job for every girl. Not so. We ended up not referring to the Kaper chart as regularly as we probably should've. So this year I've pared it down a bit. And am putting more focus on Buddies -- so each job has two girls instead of one. By centering the jobs on the page I can use a clothespin on the left and right to indicate buddies. That way we cut down on unnecessary Kaper roles, and reinforce the Buddy System. 

Also, while we have a big troop, it isn't necessary to always have someone doing a job. Plus, there will always be someone who may be out of town or out sick, etc., so be sure to bring along the other clothespins just in case.

Here's the new Kaper chart template:

Super easy. :)

- Double check your First Aid bag! Make sure nothing's expired. Check out this post here for details. Contact your parents ASAP to get health forms in. Look over the contact info on them beforehand to make sure everything's legible. 

- Enter all parents' phone numbers into your cell phone. 

- Start folders for all the girls (be sure to re-use ones from last year -- just flip them inside out and write a new name on the tab, or use the same for returning Girl Scouts). 

- You may choose to do a manilla envelope for each girl to hold her take-home information, etc. I did this last year but it ended up being wasteful, I think, because our school has plastic take-home folders that everyone brings home each day. Since it was difficult for parents to remember to send in the manilla envelopes on troop meeting days, we ended up putting take-home info in the school folders. This year we're not doing manilla ones. Save a tree, etc.

- Make Welcome! certificates for your girls. You can incorporate this into your Bridging ceremony too, if you wish.

Here's a sample of ours:

Here's a blank template you can use:

I used hobo font for "Welcome" and troop info, ActionIs font for name and Date/Leader, and BoyzRGross for the "we are so glad" part. All these fonts are free from fontspace and approved for commercial-free use. I printed each on heavy cardstock, centered, and shrunk to fit. HEX code for green is #00ae58 and I used #663300 for brown (I couldn't find the official Brownie color, and that one matched the hats pretty well).

- Print out an Attendance sheet (create your own or use the one on the Girl Scout leader disc you should've received in your training packet).

- Get a portable file carrier if you don't already have one. Again, this post has more info in it.

I'll be posting a list of everything to bring for your first troop meeting, soon!