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!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Brownies: Harry Potter Magic/Science Fun Patch (2 Meetings)

So the top patch the girls picked to work on was a Harry Potter "Scientific Sorcery" patch. I found the patches on a Facebook site that sells patches for troop leaders, based upon popular movies, books, etc. There are a variety of wizard-themed fun patches out there. Any of them would work. You don't have to use Harry Potter, but my girls like HP, so that's what we did. :)

Some of these activities could work for other patches/badges. It's basically fun science experiments, with a little magical twist.

First up, we made magic wands! You may choose to make them ahead of time, and let the girls paint them, or have the girls make them from start to finish. It involves a glue gun (must have for this project), so be sure to use a low-temp one if the girls will be doing the first part themselves.

Because I have a large troop, and didn't have enough glue guns to go around, I pre-made the wands, and they painted them.

When I brought them in for the girls to paint, I had them raise their right hands and repeat after me:


They all repeated dutifully and then the fun began!

How to Make Wands

You will need the following supplies to do this:

Small wooden dowels (one per girl)
Glue gun (low temp)
Lots of glue sticks (like a whole bag. Seriously. This project takes LOTS of glue sticks)
Twine (don't get hemp, or something that frays. I used cotton cooking twine. It worked great!)
Beads (optional but fun; one per girl)
Paint (we used acrylic craft paint)
Brushes or sponges with handles
Painting dishes/water bowls
Paper towels
Baking sheet for a drying rack (optional)
Gallon Ziplocs to put them in afterwards, if they're still a little wet

Stuff You Will Need

First, glop glue around the base of the dowel (yeah, glop is a word. If not, it should be, because this is a very gloppy project). Stick the end of the twine around the bottom of the dowel.

You'll want to glop on enough glue (about three inches or so) from the bottom of the dowel, up its sides. Coat this section well. This is going to form the handle of your wand.

Wrap the twine around it as you go, pressing it into the glue, to form a nice grippy handle.

Making magic!

Then apply (glop!) glue up the dowel at an angle, like a candy cane. Twist the dowel as you go, and apply (glop!) glue. Pause and stick the twine to the glue as you go (hot glue dries pretty fast). Don't worry if it's a mess. Paint will cover it up. The purpose of the glue and twine is to give it texture.

This is what I mean by candy cane shape

Then once you get to the top, glop on a good bit of glue and wrap the twine and squish it into the glue really well. Clip the twine. Glop glue on the very top of the wand, and stick a bead on it. Put lots of glue around the base and side of the bead (the purpose of the bead is to make the tip rounded, so use beads that are the same size as your dowel is thick, if that makes sense).

You need that extra glue around the bead, or else it will pop off

Once you're finished, add more glue around the base, over the twine. This will help ensure the twine doesn't come off, and will add more grip, and make it more comfy.

They're all a little bit different. That's okay!

Stack them somewhere to dry. I just criss-crossed mine on top of a can. Be careful not to put super gloppy wet ones on top of another one that's gloppy, as they'll stick together.



I left mine overnight to dry. But it doesn't take long for hot glue to dry. I just did all this ahead of time. If you're doing it during a meeting, and the girls are using the glue guns, you can set them up to dry and have a snack, or skip to the next activity, while they're drying. Keep in mind you will also need drying time after painting. So if you're crunched on time, make them yourself ahead of time, and let the girls paint them. Then have an activity to do while the paint dries. It took our paint 25-30 minutes to dry enough to put into gallon Ziplocs to take home.

Ready to paint!

I packed them up, along with a bunch of paint and foam brushes with handles (paper towels, water containers -- I use plastic restaurant take-out containers. They lids were turned upside down and used as palettes, the bowls were used for water. Bring lots of paper towels), and took them in to the troop meeting. I let the girls choose whatever colors they wanted. Some were solid. Some were multi-colored. All were unique. I told them to paint over the beads if they wanted (this helped them not fuss about who got whatever favorite color bead, etc.).

This is mine. Because I wanted a wand too!

Mine is brown, because I wanted it to look like wood.

After they finished painting, they laid them to dry in an old baking pan (I brought it in from home). After they were mostly dry, when it was time to go home, we put each one in a gallon Ziploc for each girl.

While waiting on the wands to dry, we started talking about light and photography. I brought out my camera and asked them what would happen if I turned off all the lights and tried to take a picture, without the flash on. "It wouldn't work!" they all said. Yep. Wouldn't work. You have to have LIGHT to take pictures. We talked a little about how photography works, and the importance of light.

"LUMOS" is the Harry Potter spell for making light. You can talk about the root/stem part of the word "Lum" for light (luminous, luminaries, etc.), if you want. Or pick another spell from Harry Potter as your focus, if you don't want to do this project. It should be something scientific though, IMO. Try Googling Harry Potter party ideas, etc. There are some super creative ideas out there!

Nature Photo Paper Project

Here's a great resource for this project, and many others!

What you will need for this:

Nature/Sunlight Photo Paper
Cardboard (about 5x8" works)
Straight pins or tacks (straight pins work better, I think)
Plastic container with water in it (I used a Tupperware style rectangle shape one, packed supplies in it, then put water in it when we were ready to go outside)
Access to the outdoors, including found objects and sunlight (cloudy day can work but takes longer)
Letter stickers or a Sharpie (if you use stickers, the small fat foam ones work best. I got mine at Walmart for cheap. That link is to Amazon. Try Walmart first. Pick out first initial for each girl ahead of time so you aren't digging at the last minute)
Cardboard box with lid to put it all in
Gallon Ziplocs

I purchased some sunlight photo paper ahead of time (best deal I found was here). Be sure to get enough for some extras in case someone messes up (we didn't have anyone upset over how hers turned out though, but any exposure to light can muck it up. Don't expect them to be perfect. The focus is on the role of light, not creating a perfect photo).

I had other moms helping me, so we could get it done in a timely manner. It can get tricky when you're dealing with a large troop, so get some helpers if you have lots of girls.

Take the troop outside and explain to them what they will be doing. They have 10 minutes (or whatever), to find at least two objects. The most solid the better: so a rock, small pinecone, heavy leaf, etc., works well. Something very lightweight or thin, that sunlight could penetrate (like a super thin leaf), won't work as well, but is still okay. Good to have at least one thick, heavier object if possible.

While they're off finding their objects, be in a VERY shaded spot. Take one piece of paper out of the package (they come in a covered, sealed package to prevent light from getting in. Don't open them until you're ready to use them), get out your straight pins, cardboard sheets, and stickers (or Sharpie). Line them up on the ground in the shade. Carefully pin (at an angle so the pins aren't poking through) the corners of the paper to the cardboard (this is to keep it from blowing away). Lay the sticker on the PAPER (don't stick it -- just lay it on there. If you use the fat foam letters then they won't blow away). Or write initials/name in Sharpie at the bottom of each sheet. I didn't use Sharpie, so no clue if it acts weird.

As the girls return with their objects, pin any object that could blow away onto the paper. Then hand it to the girl and have her immediately go into the sun, and lay it on a flat spot (sidewalk) and don't let any shadows cover it. Stand by your sheet, don't let your shadow fall on it.

Keep going until all the girls are lined up next to their paper with objects. Hold up pretend wands (because actual ones were inside, drying, or use actual ones if yours are dry) and say, "LUMOS!"

The paper will begin to turn a different shade of blue once it's ready (about 5-8 minutes in full sun. 15-25 if it's cloudy). Once the paper is ready, have them come back into the shade and remove the objects and pins from the paper (don't drop the pins. It's tough to find them in grass. Not that we did that. Not too many, at least).

Take the paper off the cardboard one at a time. Submerge each paper in your container of water (one at a time). Doesn't take long at all. Just needs to get wet.

As soon as you pull it from the water, you can see the pictures of the items on it. Very cool! Yay!

Place paper back on cardboard, in the shade, to dry. Don't have to pin it. It'll stick because it's damp.

Laid out in the shade to dry

It's like . . . MAGIC!

After they've dried completely, the images will be even clearer. The kids LOVED this project! The moms did too. :) Science is fun!

Making GAK

For our second HP meeting, we made "GAK" (a sticky, gooey, gross mess. They loved it!). Gak is pretty much a staple in Girl Scouts, like Sit-Upons. Everyone needs to make gak at some point. Because it's a blast! It's crazy messy though, so make sure they roll up their sleeves and take off their vests beforehand.

Before we got started, I asked them what the word "durable" means. I was surprised at how challenging it was for them to come up with the right answer. (Kids surprise you; sometimes they can tell you the most complicated things, and other times? They don't know what durable means. It was fun!)

I picked up a spoon and dropped it on the floor. DURABLE! Hard to break. We talked about the difference between a wooden spoon and a plastic one. If I bent the wooden one it would be hard to break. If I bent the plastic one, it would break (I didn't break one. I needed them all). Which one is more durable? What else is durable? (The tables! The stools! The floor!) What isn't very durable? (A straw! Paper! And so on.)

The Harry Potter spell for making things solid/hard is "DURO" -- so we practiced saying "DURO!" and talked about the root/stem word and durable, etc.

We also talked about polymers and elastomers (Google it), and how spaghetti behaves (you could accomplish the same goal for this by making spaghetti instead of gak, but we don't have a stove at our meeting place. Plus, gak is fun). And how when spaghetti is dry, it doesn't stick together, but after it's boiled, and drained, it does. You can get as scientific/specific (or not) as you like here. Key is to keep it fun.

Anyway. On to gak!

There are tons of websites with instructions, but I'll go ahead and list it all here just so it's convenient for you.

What you will need:

Measuring spoon (or measure ahead of time 1 tsp.)
Measuring cup (1/2 cup)
One regular sized bottle of glue per TWO girls (I split them into pairs)
1 tsp. Borax per pair (I measured ahead of time and put into small Tupperware containers)
Plastic cups (1 per pair. I brought in a bunch of the "Take-and-Toss" cups)
Wooden spoons (1 per pair. Long-handled kind. Metal doesn't work as well as wooden, in my experience)
Small plastic spoons (1 per pair -- picnic type spoons)
Medium-sized plastic bowls (1 per pair. I bought some at the Dollar Store on clearance)
Package of food coloring (liquid -- the four-pack worked fine for the whole troop)
Access to a sink with warm water
PAPER TOWELS. A fat roll. This is messy stuff!
Sandwich or quart-sized Ziplocs with each girl's name written on the outside in Sharpie

Clear off the tables. Use your Kapers here for set-up, but each pair is responsible for cleaning up her own mess. You will need adult helpers, likely, especially if you have a lot of girls.

Put down paper towels. Give each pair a mixing bowl, wooden spoon, and bottle of glue.

The girls do the work: open the glue (easier to unscrew the top off completely than to squirt) pour into the bowl. Once it's mostly empty, fill it up with warm water. Carefully pour the water into the bowl and one girl (the 'stirrer") begin to stir. Some websites say add more warm water. Don't do it. Even the one full glue bottle's worth might be a bit much. But that's okay. You can't really mess up gak.

Give each pair the small container of Borax, or let them measure out 1 teaspoon of Borax for their gak. DO NOT DUMP IT INTO THE BOWL. Put 1/2 cup water (warm or room temp) into your Take-and-Toss cups. Then have the girls slowly add the Borax into the cup and stir, using the plastic spoon (other "stirrer" is still stirring glue mixture). Then carefully pour the Borax/water solution into the glue/water solution. Stir carefully.

OOOOOH! GROSS! COOL! NEAT! ACK! GAK! (I don't have pictures. I was too busy being messy. Google it!)

Walk around the room and ask them what color they want their gak to be. Work as teams! They all did great! :) Squirt a couple drops of food coloring into each mixing bowl (another adult is collecting the Take-and-Toss cups and Borax containers and rinsing out, while someone else is handing out more paper towels to the kids. Love my adult volunteers!). Mix slowly. Don't slosh it out!

Once it's solidifying, pull out the spoon and use your hands. Too liquidy? No problem! Just pull the wad of gak out of the bowl (set bowl aside) and place directly on the table. Do not place on a paper towel. It will stick.

Continue to knead it. Split it in half so each pair of girls has her own gak to knead. Play with it! Fun!

Once they're done, time to clean up! Lots of hand-washing and table-washing. Put the gak into the Ziplocs and straight into their backpacks.

Gak! Just as good as the kind you can buy. And way more fun, because you made it yourself!


The last thing we did for Harry Potter was kind of unrelated. But doesn't have to be. You can do whatever you like, really. A dry ice experiment, something with glowsticks, whatever! But one of our volunteer dads is good with knot-tying stuff (and archery and all kinds of thing), and came in to teach the girls how to tie different knots.

My original plan was to incorporate magic tricks in this activity (it is for Harry Potter after all), but we ended up running short on time once our knot expert arrived, and had to skip the magic show and dive straight into knots. That's okay. The girls didn't know about the magic tricks. They were excited that we had a visitor, and still hyper from all the gak-making.

Whether you have a visitor come, or you do it yourself, you will need at least two lengths of rope per girl, and a carabiner is nice to have as well. Decide ahead of time which knots you want to teach them (we focused primarily on square knots, and a couple others depending on how quickly each girl was able to accomplish the square knot). Here's a site with some info on knots.

Step-by-step with pictures: How to tie a square knot.

Why doesn't GSUSA offer a Brownie badge for this? No clue. So I found a fun patch that will be a bonus to the HP patch they're getting:

Overall, I'm pleased to say Harry Potter Scientific Sorcery was a HUGE hit! They had a blast. And so did I!

Up next? Pets! Or maybe How to Train Your Dragon. Happy, fall, all! :)