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!

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Juniors: aMUSE Journey Supplement (Self-Esteem/Friendship/Bullying/Stereotypes)

I hope this works! It's been a long time since I tried to link to a file, so if you have issues, please let me know.

I am not a fan of Journeys, honestly. I think they are far too much like homework, and require too much work on the part of leaders to make them relevant to the girls, and engaging.

However, since GSUSA currently requires completion of a Journey for the Bronze Award, we partnered up with another Junior troop to knock out the aMUSE Journey in a day.

I didn't like how this Journey focused so heavily on careers (in my view). We have many girls who needed a focus on self-esteem, and how to deal with bullying. We had many who are struggling at school with their peers (and their own self-image), and to me, this was a priority over trying on "roles."

So I came up with the "All About Me" book to address the more important issues in depth, and the other leader helped with other activities and we both worked together in planning and gathering supplies.

It's possible there are other Journeys out there that already included these issues, but the aMUSE one is what the girls picked ahead of time -- based on flipping through the three Journey books I'd brought in. They immediately dismissed the others as "boring."

But I didn't want to pass up the opportunity to help with some of the relevant and current issues my girls are having, which is why I created this book project for them as part of their Journey.

Looking for a way to address some of these issues with younger girls? Check out the Brownie Community badge I totally revamped, specifically to work on friendship and inclusion.

I'm not going to get into a tutorial on how to do the entire Journey in one day (sorry! But there are loads of good ideas on the Internet, and some usable ideas, IMO, from the leader book, that you can use for your own girls), I focused on something that I felt was far more relevant to the girls at this age (4th & 5th graders), and saved it in a format that I could link to for this blog. :)

This book project was addressing not only self-awareness, but also the difference between true friends and bullies, stereotypes, and how to break them, etc.

Here are some sample pages -- for the full .pdf file, scroll down.

I love this so much!

We focused on boosting self-esteem, a LOT!

Identifying a True Friend is something many of my girls struggle with

We pulled out every craft item we had for this -- loads of things, and made sure they weren't stereotypical, either! Every girl created her own individual book, celebrating her as an individual.

If you choose to use this supplement, you will need to print each "book" (front/back) beforehand, and hole punch the pages for binding. Then bring gobs of craft materials for them to decorate the books, and either have them bring in a picture of themselves, or take a Polaroid of each when they arrive.

We used ribbon and yarn through the holes to keep the pages together, then crafted with construction paper and colorful duct tape for the binding (though some girls chose to use other craft supplies, which was fine! We let them run wild with decorating it).

I hope you find the book helpful. As always, pick what works for your troop!

Here is the link to our All About Me book.


Halloween Scavenger Hunt

I used this as an extra part of our Junior Detective badge, but this would work for many levels, I think, with some adjustments where needed.

It was a really fun event and the girls loved it! It took some prep time (mostly coming up with the riddles -- which I've shared below, and that should cut out a good chuck of prep time for you!), but it was worth every minute. We had a blast!

A little backstory: I love to tell stories, and one time, during a stormy troop meeting, I told the girls a story about some giants and a thunderstorm (just to distract them from the real storm outside). When it was over, one little girl asked me if the giants had anything to do with tornados and I flippantly responded that giants had nothing to do with tornados. Then I added, "THAT was a witch. But that's a story for another day."

Then that little girl proceeded to ask me, at every troop meeting that followed, to tell the story about the witch and the tornado. I promised them I would, at some point, once I'd made up a good tale.

Problem was, I tried for a long time, but couldn't make up a good story involving a witch and a tornado that wasn't super scary. I didn't want it to be scary (a tornado story should be funny, or at least not scary, since tornados aren't nearly uncommon enough around here).

I was stumped.

Then while trying to come up with a fun activity for the Detective badge, it hit me: We could do a scavenger hunt and have the clues reveal the story.

And they LOVED it!

You can give your girls any amount of information ahead of time that you wish. I didn't say a word to them about the story I'd promised to tell them one day (the scavenger hunt was how I told it, with clues leading up to the reveal). I just let them find the clues and figure it out themselves. Halloween was the perfect time for this tale.

I required RSVPs for this event, in order to prep ahead of time for teams of two. I had each girl bring a food item for potluck, as it was also a Halloween party for the troop. You can do it however you wish. :)


You Will Need the Following (scroll way down for details on where to hide Morse Code clues):

- Printer paper
- Printer
- Laminating sheets (if desired)
- Scissors to cut clues, etc.
- Witch hat
- One paper pad and pencil per team
- Fly printables, cut out and laminated (see below)
- Glue dots or tape (to adhere flies/Morse Code clues)
- Extension cord (optional -- for speaker dock)
- iPod (or similar) with speaker dock, with bird song on repeat. I used this bird song. (Don't have an iPod or dock? Get creative! See below)
- Old digital clock with "2:00" taped on it (see below)
- Old cooking pot with fireplace ashes in it (need something with a burned smell. We just scooped out charcoal ashes from the grill, dumped them in a pot, then put the pot on the [cold] grill, and shut the lid)
- Fake poop (I found this at the local dollar store -- you could make your own out of clay? This is gross but the girls laughed so hard!)
- Hand fan
- Wand (see this post for tutorial to make your own)
- Riddle clues 1-9 printed, cut, and folded (one per team -- place in envelope
- Riddle clue 10, printed, cut (one per team -- you keep)
- Morse Code Clues (only need to print out ONE copy each of these. Cut and laminate if desired, then hide them accordingly and mark hiding spot with a fly)
- 2 envelopes per team (one marked "Completed")
- 1 envelope for you to keep copies of riddle clue #10 in
- Master Answer Sheet (see below -- For Your Eyes Only)
- Pencils (one per team, but you'll need spares)
- Notepads (one per team)
- 1 print out of Morse Code key per team (corresponds to riddle clue 10)
- A large area (preferably outdoors) where you can place the clues before girls arrive (more info below)
- Another adult volunteer to help place clues and set everything up beforehand (optional)

Ahead of Time:

Print out enough 1-9 riddle clues so each team gets one of each clue, cut the clue strips out and fold them up, then place in an envelope. (You're folding them so they will draw one random clue at a time. It's more fun to do it out of order initially, plus that way you don't have teams searching for the same clues at the same time.) Make sure each envelope has all 1-9 clues in it.

Print out riddle clue #10 (one per team), but you keep these in your own envelope to give to girls when they've completed 1-9.

Print out copies of Magical Key and place at riddle clue #10's spot (wand). Each team takes one when they find it. So print out enough for each team to have one.

But save riddle clue #10 until they've finished 1-9. It's likely you will have some teams working on it sooner than others, and if you want them all to work together to decode the final message from all the Morse Code clues at the end, then have them take a break to eat once they've gotten all 9 clues plus #10 with the key. Then work together as a group to solve it.

Print out each Morse Code Clue, cut and laminate. You only need one of each of these, because they will be hidden all over, and the girls copy it down. (Make sure to tell them not to take or move it. Just copy the code on it, leave everything as they found it for the next team, and move on.)

Print out the flies (you will need nine small and one large -- see below). Laminate and use glue dots or tape (as needed) to stick them near the objects hiding the Morse Code clues. Don't stick on painted surfaces unless you're okay with the glue peeling the paint.

You don't have to laminate anything but the weather forecast for us was iffy with possible rain, and I was using a standard inkjet printer -- the colors would've run if wet. So I laminated the Morse Code clues and flies, and covered the speaker dock with a plastic bag.

Make a list of girls attending, and put them into teams. I labeled the teams by color, and each team received corresponding envelopes.

You can have them draw names if you prefer to make teams that way. We have a large troop, and it was just easier to assign teams beforehand. We had two girls per team, but you can do it however you want. Don't go above three per team though, and some of the clues ended up being a bit challenging, so I was glad we didn't have them do it all individually.

Each team receives one envelope full of folded riddle clues 1-9 to find, one envelope to place completed clues, a pad of paper, and a pencil.

Do not include riddle clue #10. The girls will come to YOU to receive those, once they've completed 1-9.

It worked out so that we had the girls all come together at the end to work on deciphering the end puzzle together. It was great!

The Day of the Scavenger Hunt:

My Camp Mom helped with this and we both dressed up as witches, and decorated the house with Halloween decor.

We hid the Morse Code Clues with corresponding objects, all over the front and back yard. We kept it outdoors because the weather ended up cooperating, and spread clues out all over so the teams wouldn't be stumbling over one another.

When the girls arrived, we put them into teams, explained that they would take ONE riddle clue out of each envelope (doesn't matter which one), then try to find the item that corresponded to that clue.

You can tell them that each hiding spot is marked with a FLY, but we didn't. They figured it out quickly enough.

We did tell them but they weren't to touch any object they found unless it corresponded to the riddle clue they were working on. Because once they figured out the flies marked the hiding spots, it would've been tempting to not solve the actual riddle clues in order to find the Morse Code. 

They did great and ignored flies in random spots, focusing only on the clue they had drawn from their envelope.

Once they'd found the right item from the riddle clue, they were to look for a Morse Code clue, and copy it EXACTLY as it appeared, and mark it with the riddle clue number.

This is very important, because they were solving the riddle clues out of order, and copying down Morse Code out of order, but in order to decipher the end message, they had to have the clues in the right order from 1-9 (the Morse Code spelled out a sentence). Clue #10 lets them find the Morse Code key (don't tell them that though -- let it all be a surprise!).

Be sure to tell your girls to leave the Morse Code clue, item, and fly where they found it, copy the Morse Code with clue #, then put their used riddle clue into their "Completed" envelope, and pull out the next folded clue.

We told them the clues could be found in the backyard and in the front yard, and all "off limits" areas (garage, parts of porch, etc.) were marked off.

We handed out the envelopes (don't open them until we say go!), then gave each team the "Before you begin" sheet, notepads, and pencils. They were to go off with their teammate to an area of the yard (front or back), and read the "Before you begin" sheet, then start with their first riddle clue.

Once they'd solved riddle clues 1-9 (and copied down the Morse Code) they were to return to us for the final clue #10.

We told them if they were unable to solve a riddle clue, they could come to us for additional hints. At that point, we basically told them front yard or back yard, and off they went! The purpose wasn't to go randomly searching for flies. It was to think of what the answer could be, for each riddle, then search for an item that corresponded to it.

Print one of each of these to give to each team with their initial envelopes, pencils, and notepads.

The following clues will be cut into strips, folded, and placed in each team's envelope:

Print one of these per team, cut each clue out and fold, then place in Clues Envelope

Print one of these per team, cut each clue out and fold, then place in Clues Envelope

Clue #9 is the same as 1-8: Print, cut, and fold. Then place in each team's envelope. Cut out Clue #10 and save it to hand out as each team completes 1-9. This way they don't get the Morse Code Key until the very end (otherwise they'll try to decipher as they go).

Save Clue #10 to hand each team once they've completed Clues 1-9.

Print one Magical Key per team and leave them at the "wand" hiding spot.

Giant fly corresponds to clue #9 only

Use the small flies to mark hiding spots

Print this to tape over a digital clock (doesn't need to be plugged in)

Where to Hide the Morse Code Clues:

We spread them out over a really big backyard, and then also placed some way over in the front yard, to spread the teams out a bit. Use your imagination, but keep in mind that the harder you hide the flies and clues, the longer the scavenger hunt will take. That might be a good thing! Or not. As always, adjust to suit your troop.

Don't forget to mark each clue's hiding spot with a fly!

Clue 1 - Fire Pit (or fireplace or heater. Don't have any of those? Get some hand warmers, or a big blanket, etc.). Fly was on top of a rock in the (cold) fire pit. Morse Code clue was taped to the underside of the rock.
Clue 2 - Speaker/iPod with bird song on repeat (don't have this? Have an extra helper literally hiding and making a bird sound); we used an extension cord from the garage (taped down so no one would trip) and put it at the corner of the yard. The fly was taped atop the dock, and the Morse Code card tucked with edge under the dock.
Clue 3 - Clock with "2:00" taped on it
Clue 4 - An Old Pot inside the covered grill -- with burned smell (we put charcoal ashes inside the old pot)
Clue 5 - Fake Poop (this was one of the hardest for them to find! We taped the Morse Code on the underside of the fake poop, and taped the fly right on top, and stuck the "poop" at the base of a tree, way back in the yard. It was hilarious when each team found it. They had to pick it up to copy the code.
Clue 6 - Hand Fan (or a portable battery fan, etc.)
Clue 7 - Window Pane (we just taped the Morse Code clue onto the window at eye level, with a fly next to it)
Clue 8 - Witch's Hat (we placed it on the porch, but the house was decorated with Halloween stuff, so it took a bit for some to find)
Clue 9 - Giant Fly (laminate if desired, and place this wherever you want. We taped the Morse Code clue on the back of it)
Clue 10 - Wand (we hid this underneath a cushion on a chair out front. The fly was taped to the chair, and the wand with clue was under the cushion).

Morse Code Clues:
Print out one of each, laminate if desired (highly recommended, since you're going to be taping them down at times), and hide with corresponding objects listed above.

Print out, cut out each one, laminate, and hide (mark spot with fly)

Print out, cut out each one, laminate, and hide (mark spot with fly)

Print out, cut out each one, laminate, and hide (mark spot with fly)

Print out, cut out, laminate, and hide (mark spot with fly, and don't forget to put the Magical Key sheets there as well)


Here is the list of clues with Final Answer for you to read aloud (in quasi-story-form) at the end, after they've figured it all out, if you wish:

Once upon a time, there was a short-tempered witch. One day, while she was outside working on a new spell, a fly flew into her yard. And this is what happened....

1. Brr, brr, it's getting cold! And the spell is incomplete. 
Find the fly who buzzed into the Witch's source of heat. 
2. Tip-toe in, be quiet now, and listen for the bird. 
Who'd help the Witch and catch the fly, if only it were heard.
3. Now's the time to use your eyes, look for the hidden clue. 
It's near the fly who buzzed into the clock that just struck two.
4. The fly is maddening! Think with your nose! 
Chasing flies made Witch forget the pot upon the stove.
5. Shoo, shoo, fly! What is that smell? 
Ew gross, the poop upon the floor made Witch forget her spell. 
6. Yikes! It's getting warm in here, the witch is getting hot! 
She's hopping mad, and needs a fan, to cool her on the spot!
7. That awful fly won't leave her be. It's driving Witch insane. 
It won't stop buzzing over her head, upon the window pane..
8. Witch so mad, she blew her top. Her hat flew off her head. 
The fly buzzed 'round and drove her nuts, she couldn't kill it dead. 
9. “I know,” Witch thought. “I'll cast a spell, and slow the fly in flight!” 
But spell went wrong and fly grew BIG! And gave the Witch a fright!
10.“ No more!” she cried, and waved her wand to cast a wicked charm. 
“The fly will die! Is not enough to do it just some harm.”
She put all of her anger in the spell to kill the fly. 
And here's your final clue: All the bits you found today? 
Here's the key to find the truth!

1. The answer 
2. that has 
3. been eluding 
4. you is 
5. all because 
6. of a 
7. tiny buzzing 
8. fly, the 
9. witch created 
10. a tornado!

The answer that has been eluding you is all because of a tiny buzzing fly, the witch created a tornado!

Here's a printable version:
For Your Eyes Only!

And that's it! We had a great time with this activity. I'm way behind on posting here because it's been a crazy busy year, so I will try to catch up over the summer.

As always, if you have questions or comments, feel free to post them below. Thanks!