Wednesday, September 26, 2012

World of Girls: Session 3

After Session 2, I decided that I would have to be a little more proactive in determining what was a good fit for the girls in my troop. So, I reevaluated and decided we would work our ways through the books and get the key points done and understand the main concepts. We would substitute when possible and not over do the same point. Girls are intelligent and don't need to be hounded to get the idea. So... if you are comparing my sessions and ideas to the book, you will see there are some variances. That's okay. Just as the badges, you can customize the journey to fit your girls interests. As long as you are giving the main ideas, you are doing fine. Don't stress over each little item on the list. Step back and look at the big picture. 

Session 3 deals with diversity. We go from Story Clues to Story Change. You want to see if the girls can come up with a simple idea to change something to make the end result different. 

To talk about diversity, we had Chex Mix as a snack. We talked about the different types of Chex that goes into the recipe. We talked about how pretzels weren't cereal at all, but added a nice touch to the mix. We then discussed the spices that you don't even really see, but you taste. All of these items together work well. Diversity is a good thing. We then talked about the different types of Chex Mix you see in the store and how you can change a few spices and elements to have the same basic item, but a totally different taste or outcome. We all had our favorites and least favorites when discussing the varieties, but could see the similarities between all of them.

My girls love skits and creative writing, so we did the role-playing game. I had the girls divide into two groups. They were to come up with a short skit showing a problem and how to solve it. One group showed how a chair in the way was causing people to trip. The solution: Move the chair. I had to chuckle to myself because their skits were really quite funny, but they got the idea. They learned how to problem solve. They showed how to change something to resolve the problems their characters faced. 

Next up was the Girl Scout Law index cards. I have one word on each card and the girls raced down to find the word, put it in line and go tag the next girl in line. We had pretty much mastered the Girl Scout Law from memory at this point, so it wasn't a big deal to them. They did however dig the relay race, even if they weren't really racing against anything. 

We also did a Two Story Relay. I had printed out the words from the Leader's book onto cards and the girls worked as a team to arrange them into sentences and tell a story. It was a great team building exercise, as they had to continually work together to make choices. Once they were done, I asked them to change the words around to show a different outcome. They completed this pretty quickly, although they were limited with the words I gave them, too. 

The last items we did from the book was Circle Round the Story. We did discuss how stories have a beginning, middle, and end. One at a time we took turns telling a story in progressive fashion. We had done this the year before as part of the Puppets and Plays Try-it, so to be honest the girls weren't over excited about it. They did a good job and we talked about how each person was able to add something to change or continue the story line. It just wasn't anything "new" to them. 

We did Passport Work, as in the first two sessions. I had flags from the countries our spices were from. They worked on coloring and assembling them. 

For next time, I asked the girls to think of something we can do for a positive change for the community. Without stifling their creativity, I reminded them we needed something we could do in a troop meeting and to think locally or even focus around their school.

Monday, September 24, 2012

World of Girls: Session 2

With Session 2, I tried to get a little creative. I knew my girls wouldn't want to sit and read the entire time. I also feel it's important to get up and move. I like to make everything in the meeting fun, too!

We started off our meeting with our Opening Circle, as usual. We sang the Brownie Smile song and talked about how this song was a tradition and sang by girls just like them all over the world. We then sang the International Hello Song. The girls love this song and made up movements to go along with it.

After opening circle, the girls were intrigued by a pile of different fruits. I explained we were going to do a "fruit flight". Yes, that is a play on a "wine flight". We tried figs, papaya, pomegranate, pineapple, grapes, and plantains. I did the research and found what country each fruit came from, a little about that country, and anything interesting I could find that would intrigue the girls. We each had a plate of fruit and worked our way through them together. The girls led the flight and decided which fruit to taste next. To simplify that process, I started on one side of the table and worked the way around. Each girl would state which fruit to try and everyone would try it together. It was great fun and a year later... I'm still getting asked when we can do that again!

Our next activity came from the book... sort of... we went outside and drew three circles that overlapped. I randomly chose something that I felt they may or may not have in common... such as "You go to _____ school". "You have a dog". "You love music". If it was true you put a foot in that circle or overlapping circle segment... if not, then you didn't. The problem we had was either I'm not clever enough to get variances or all my girls are too much in common... We did try again with "I have blonde hair.", "I go to ____ church", etc. The girls understood how they could have differences and still be friends. You don't have to have everything in common in order to get along and work together. I will be honest and say the girls weren't too excited about this and I really did try to sell it. But, it was a flop. If I had it to do over... I would have each girl write down 3 things about themselves and then use a piece of paper to draw more than three circles and try to find how many overlaps and differences they had.

The next activity was called Me & My Girl Worlds. The girls drew a stick figure in the middle and then thought of all the "worlds" they are part of that are just girls. They drew circles and connected them to the stick figure. The girls in my troop actually felt this wasn't a real picture of their world. It excluded all male influence from their life. I have to agree with them.

The next activity was Girl Worlds in Stories. I had the girls think of their favorite books, shows, etc. where a girl was a character. We discussed iCarly and Hannah Montana... a lot... The girls wrote one word descriptions about those characters. We then talked about whether or not it was a good characteristic and one they possessed, as well.

We did read Shali's story from the book and we talked about looking for clues. I'm not sure if it was because the girls were in 3rd grade and this should have been done in 2nd or if they just weren't into it. This again was a lot of talking and a lot of sighs from my girls. It was too much like school and they had done this type of activity in school in 1st and 2nd grade. They were not intrigued.

We then worked on our passports created in Session 1. We added the flags from our Fruit Flight. We talked about things they wanted to do next time. We talked about what they liked and what they didn't like about today's session. It was a pretty clear answer they did not like all the "boring talking stuff". Although, I think maybe later in life the lesson behind the "boring" will hit home. At least, I hope.

After this session you earn the first badge. We had decided to make it more a celebration and wait to pass out the badges until Court of Awards at the end of the semester. So, I stamped their books but didn't pass out badges.

We wanted to end on a good note, so my co-leader and I saved something fun for last. We played Escargot Hopscotch. It's the French version of hopscotch. My co-leader drew a large snail shaped board and the girls took turns hopping through. They had a great time and asked "Can we go again? and again?" We broke the game up briefly to do Closing and then let them go hopping again until parents arrived. The snail redeemed us during this meeting.

As I have said before in my posts... a lot of the excitement will be based on the presentation. I will admit that I just really didn't get excited about this session. I read over the list of things we were to do and I knew it was a lot of talking and not a lot of doing. For my girls, I knew that wasn't going to be a good time. I think if I did this Journey again, I would break up some of these activities through the other sessions. So, you are still doing them... just not all at the same meeting. You do have the ability to do that... read through the whole book and all the sample sessions and decide what works best for your girls. I put on my game face and tried to be excited and positive about this session, but it was a struggle and it just wasn't happening very easily.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Agent of Change: Session 2

Session 2 seemed rather simple and easy to accomplish: 

The basics for the session are:
  • Sharing HerStories 
  • Talking about who led the way 
  • Real Powers/Real Girl Scouts 
  • Trust Me! game 

They suggest you have the girls do the Power Search on page 26 of their book when they come in, but we didn't do this. We were doing a different word search for Earth Day words to help with our 1970s Windows to the Past bar. Plus, the word search in the girl's book doesn't have a list of words to find and I knew that would confuse and frustrate the girls. So, we skipped that.

During Opening Circle, we reviewed our Good Turns from the previous meeting and sang "On My Honor". I love this song, because it drives home the responsibilities and spirit of Girl Scouting. The girls liked it, too. 

We did have snack time, of course, and shared our HerStories. I was very impressed the girls all were ready and willing to share. Hands flew up when I asked who wanted to go first. Now, remember, I told the girls they could interview anyone they wanted or do research on a women from history. The group was split on what they did. One girl actually interviewed a fellow Girl Scout troop member, another interviewed her Grandma who was a Troop Leader at one time, a couple did women from history, and we even had a girl interview her teacher. They did a great job and I asked them why they chose that person, what makes them interested in them, and various other questions. Discussing these over snack worked well for us, because it made it less formal and less "school-like". 

Outside we went for our Trust Me! obstacle course game, which is described in the Leader's Book. The girls brought out chairs and set up an obstacle course. They then divided into pairs. One girl was blindfolded and the other led her around the course preventing her injury. It was interesting to see how the girls gave direction. I was impressed at how willing they were to be blindfolded and let one of their sisters lead them. I think our troop may already have the "trust" thing down. To bring this lesson home, we talked afterwards about how it takes a team to get through life. You can do it on your own, but if you have a support unit it will be easier. We also discussed how we need to ignore outside influences (the other girls were cheering, saying "watch out!", etc.) and stay focused on the team (partner in this case). I asked the girls a simple questions "Was it easier to lead or be led?" Their responses were perfect... I heard "It was hard leading! You had to be able to know what to say to make sure they didn't get hurt!" and "It was hard to be led, because you weren't sure if the person leading you would be careful enough." So, we briefly discussed how we need to make sure as a troop we have each other's back, per say. That we should be able to trust our sister Girl Scouts enough to know they wouldn't lead us into danger and that it's more fun if we take turns leading than having one person do it all the time. It was a great lesson and there are so many more lessons in this activity... not only are you doing a Power of Team activity, but there are a many valuable lessons about leadership and peer pressure, etc. Go with the flow and talk about what you notice. 

Back inside we worked on ATCs (Artist Trading Cards). I had printed the girls photos in wallet size and preprinted on to card stock the information for the back. The girls had to fill out the cards and glue together. We discussed how this was our Power Team. We each are good at things and bring something to the team. Together we are strong, because we are all contributing. The girls traded cards and I heard a lot of "Really? You want to be...." and "That is so cool! We have the same favorite color!"

Next up was Power Log time. I set aside 10 minutes for this. The girls wrote or drew whatever they wanted into their journals. It was a nice way to wind down and focus on what powers we were learning and the experiences we were gaining in our troop meeting. I also told the girls they could ask me questions and I would answer before the next meeting. They are welcome to share or keep it to themselves.

We did our Closing Circle complete with Friendship Squeeze and Turn Out. 

Monday, September 17, 2012

World of Girls: Session 1

To begin everything off, I showed the girls our world map and explained we would be "visiting" lots of countries and marking our journey. I brought labels with me and the girls would fill them out as we traveled. 

I tried to make sure each part of our meeting would touch a country somewhere in the world. This did begin to prove a little difficult with snack time as the meetings progressed, but it was worth it and the girls enjoyed it. 

Session 1 snack consisted of  Salsa & Chips, Tamarind Candy, Jarritos. My Co-Leaders Mom was kind enough to get the girls candy and soda from an international store close to her. So, we traveled to Mexico for snack times. 

As they snacked I explained how there were girls living all around the world and their lives are sometimes very different than our own.... some better, some much worse. But, that we all have a few things in common and a lot of times interests form common bonds. We talked about Girl Guides and how many countries have Girl Scouting programs. We then recited the Girl Scout Promise and Law thinking about the thousands of girls around the globe that were meeting and doing the exact same thing as us! We even mentioned that it was very possible that another troop was meeting at the exact same time to start the exact same journey book. 

Our troop loves to sing. So, I looked up a couple songs that would tie into this international/global feeling and tried to think of a way to "touch" another country. I chose the International Hello Song and Princess Pat. The lyrics to those songs can be found on the "Songs" page here on the blog. 

One of the activities the journey suggests you do is make a passport. We had a surplus of lunch bags, so I pre-punched the holes and binder clipped them together into a paper bag album. I had the girls thread through yarn and decorate the album. Each meeting I would go to Crayola and get the flags/facts on each country and have those ready. The girls colored the flags, cut them out and pasted them into the pages of the passport. 

We then played two games. The first was Banyoka. It's an obstacle course and described in the leader's book that goes with the journey. We also played Cencio Mollo, which is a handkerchief game. I'm not sure if we didn't understand the game well enough or if it just wasn't one that ended up being a huge hit with my troop, but the girls were into Banyoka much more than Cencio Mollo. 

At the end of the meeting, we had a recap. We talked about all the countries we visited and labels the map. The book says to run yarn from each, but our meeting place is not one where we could leave our map and the map was rolled between each meeting. So, we simply labeled the map and wrote  on the label what we did for that country. The girls really enjoyed looking for the countries, seeing where they were in relation to the USA, and remembering what we did. As the meetings progressed, they liked going back and recounting what we did, too. 

To wrap up the meeting and calm down from all the games, we read the story: Flying into Shali’s Desert Home. For the next meeting we asked the girls think of girls in stories and one word to describe them for an activity for next time. They could be any girl from a movie, book, or comic. As long as they could communicate who it was and what they were like, they didn't need to write anything down. 

Until next time... good luck with Session 1.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Brownie Journey: World of Girls Overview

Our troop went on a Journey last year to discover the World of Girls. I will admit I was a little scared. It was the first Journey for our troop and this portion of the National Portfolio are still rather new to Girl Scout world... so, I knew my resources online would be limited. I asked other Leaders and no one had done this particular Journey, either. That's what I get for choosing the newest one, right? HA!

I read through the book... a few times... it helped me think about what to do but it also made me wonder what I had gotten myself into, because there is a lot of information in that book! So, I broke it down. The Leader's book does break it down to Sessions and some of the Sessions seemed a little short, so we even combined Sessions at times or pulled from a couple different things to make up our own. Yes, this is allowed! As long as you get from point A to B with the same outcome, you are okay. Girl Scout Promise! Plus, my philosophy is if the girls have fun and it keeps them in Girl Scouts...that is the true outcome you are trying to achieve. The leadership essentials will come... just keep them coming to meetings. 

Now, I am relying on memory for these posts and it's been a year. But, I will start putting together what we did and how we did it and what the girls thought. I'm going to break it down by how we did it. It may not go "by the book", but hopefully you can pick up some tips and tricks and adjust to what YOUR girls want to do. 

A few things I gathered before starting were:

  • a map (a large world map where you can actually read the countries... Barnes & Noble)
  • labels to keep track of where we went on our Journey
  • paper lunch bags (a bunch of them because we made paper bag albums for our passports)
  • resources for flags, foods, and information (which I will share... promise!)
  • water bottles and cloth napkins (yes... cloth napkins! I'll explain in Session 1)

I will give you a spoiler and tell you the girls LOVED this Journey and making connections with countries and learning about girls all over the world. I can look back and think about what I would have done differently or other things to incorporate in, but the end result was the girls had fun and it left them excited about the next Journey and about Girl Scouts. At the end of the year, I asked them what they liked the best about the year and unanimously they agreed the Journey was the best. 

It's all in the way you present it. Don't present it as a LOT of work, rather present it with it's name... "We are going on a Journey! Each meeting will be a trip to someplace new. We're going to learn a lot, have a lot of fun, and find out all kinds of things about the girls around the world. There is a whole World of Girls out there!" It's also in the way you try to incorporate things in that they are interested in. Ask them what they want to know about each country and girl world you visit. My girls are foodies... so we learned a lot about food and farming and what grows where.

to be continued with Session 1....

Monday, September 10, 2012

Agent of Change: Session 1

I like things simple. I like to break it down into manageable chunks rather than take on the whole thing at once. It becomes overwhelming for me, if I don't break it down. So, that's what I did for Session 1.

The meeting before, I prepared the girls and we discussed what we were going to be doing. We talked about the theme of the Journey a few of the things we would be doing and how we were going to go about it. I made sure to let them know I was excited about this adventure and that it was going to be something we were all going to do together. Everyone is a key element in this project. I also talked to parents and asked for help with ideas and networking with people.

Basically, Session 1 consists of a few key elements:

  • Rope Ceremony
  • What is Power?
  • Her Stories
  • Power of One words
  • Power Log

We began our meeting with a Rope Ceremony. It is described in the Leader's book. You get a long piece of rope... long enough to go around all the girls. There is a knot for each girl to hold in her hand. The first girl takes the rope, says one thing about herself that she is good at. I explained this needed to be a talent and not just a simple "I'm nice". After she declared her talent, she would pass the rest of the rope to the next girl. She continued holding her knot in her hand. The next girl did the same... all the way through the group. At the end, my co-leader and I also took a knot and declared something we were good at. The next part is the tricky one. At least, it was for my girls. We remained in our tight little circle and went around one more time. This time, we all stated a part of the Girl Scout Law that we knew we needed to improve upon. As the girls said they wanted to be more fair to little sisters, considerate to Mom when she's busy, honest about how we feel.. I couldn't help but see my little Brownies psychologically bridging to Juniors and growing up. They are taking responsibility for themselves and identifying areas for improvement. That's a pretty grown-up task, in my opinion. Just a milestone I identified in their lives. After the verbal piece of our Rope Ceremony, we sat down and wrote what we said on a piece of cardstock and safety pinned it to our knot. Yes, we kept track of our knot. The rope is a symbol of our individual strengths and weaknesses. It is a symbol of our Power of One and together with each other's knots... our Power of Team. (Take a moment for a tissue here.. it is rather touching. I get a little teary when I think about how far these girls have come. Leaders all over know... these are the moments that make the late nights and stressful crafts-gone-bad moments worth it. Really.. they do!)

As we snacked, we discussed what is Power and Her Stories. We talked about what makes someone powerful. Is it muscles? Knowledge? Force? The girls were very intelligent about deciphering what true power is. I was very proud, although I knew my girls know the difference between power and power.

We read about several influential women from the past that have made a difference in the world. We talked about how each of our mothers, sisters, aunts, grandmothers, and teachers all have a Her Story. They were quick to add that my co-leader and I also have Her Stories to share. (oh, if they only knew..) I also made sure the girls knew that they have a Her Story and many more to come. They are capable of making a difference in the world, just as the women we read about. I reminded them the women in the stories were once their age, a couple were even Girl Scouts just like them. For an "at home" project, each of the girls were given a sheet of paper with a basic outline for a Her Story. I don't want Girl Scouts to become like school. I feel it's important they do a few things outside of meetings, yet I don't want to make it so hard that they don't want to do it at all. So, I felt the basic outline given in the Leader's Book for the journey was something that would help them get started. They are to bring these with them to the next meeting. (see goodies below)

Then, it was time to identify our Power words. (see goodies below) I had made up aPower Log (fancy name for journal) with the Journey, so why not combine it into one project? The girls mod podged a photo of themselves and the power words they chose, plus making up some of their own, on to the front cover of a notebook. I will bring the notebooks back and forth with me, so they come back to each meeting when we need them, and then at the end of the Journey or year they will take them home with them.
sheet of "power words" for the girls and printed photos from the last meeting. You are to keep a

I admit, the girls were not "thrilled" about the whole journaling thing. But, they grew more interested when I explained that I didn't expect them to sit and write for a long time. We are going to set aside 10-15 minutes at the end of each meeting for Power Log time. They can choose to write thoughts, write a story, write what we did in the meeting, draw a picture, doodle it out, whatever they want. It's THEIR power log and their way to reflect and build those powers. So, however they choose to do that is fine. I'm also going to make sure they know they can write questions for me and I'll answer them between meetings in their power log. I also plan on writing little notes about good turns I observed them doing during the meeting. They will be able to keep those hush hush or share. It's completely up to them.

Since the Power Logs were drying... we didn't actually write in them the first meeting. We did have a discussion about the Dream Team Trading Cards we'll be doing in Session 2 and I reminded the girls to collect a Her Story. The girls were very excited and thinking/sharing people they knew that would have a great story to share with the group.

That was Session 1. We hit all the main components and had fun in the process. In my book, that's success.

A couple goodies for YOU!

Friday, September 7, 2012

Agent of Change: Overview

Want to go on a Journey with Juniors? Why, you ask?

Journey books were introduced a couple years ago now. I will be the first to admit I was not thrilled. I was a new leader for Brownies and had just mastered the whole "Try-It" mentality and then something else gets tossed my way. My girls did do a Brownie Journey, though. We did World of Girls and it was fun. At some point, I'll do the breakdown of that Journey, so you can grab a few ideas. But, for now, I'm going to try to focus on Agent of Change.

Agent of Change is for the Junior level. It is basically comprised of three things: Power of One, Power of Team, Power of Community. The book defined community as any group the girls belong to. You don't have to think "city equals community". School is a community, dance class is a community, your street, your church family... you get the idea, right? This helped me a lot, because city overwhelms me. What were going to do and where? I do want to add, I also believe that our troop does have the ability to change our city. Never discourage any girl from thinking otherwise. Believe it with everything in you. But, we need to get there. We need a few smaller projects to prepare ourselves and gain the tools we need before taking on the world.

All our pieces sort of fell in to place and I'm excited about our Journey. By the way, be excited about the Journey!! If you are all "ugh... journey", so will be the girls reaction. The girls voted last Spring before bridging to Juniors on which Journey they wanted to do. My co-leader and I also talked about the three Journey's offered for Juniors and the girls and adults all agree that Agent of Change is definitely the way to go for our group. There will be work involved, but we are all excited.

So, yes... Agent of Change... this is how we began our Junior adventure. My girls do want to work on the Bronze and you have to complete a Journey, so this way we get off to a great start on that path. Although, I have heard whispers of them wanting their Journey Summit pin, so I am thinking we may Journey more over the next two years. That's fine with me, too. Girl led, remember.

My plan with this series of posts is to just let you know what we did. I am going to be honest and forthcoming right here and say that we will adjust some activities the book outlines and do our own thing that still get the point across. I don't think we're better than the book. I know you have to make the book work for your girls. Go with their lead. Go with their interests. Just as the Founder would say, "Let's ask the girls". It really is the easiest way to get an answer and direction.

I hope you will find the posts helpful.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Good Turns

"Do a good turn daily".

That simple little phrase carries a lot weight. It's a Girl Scout slogan. In fact, if you check the glossary at, it's THE Girl Scout slogan.

But, what is a "good turn" and what should you teach your troops?

First of all... good turn is simply a good deed. Remember the story of the Brownie Elf? Think Elf. It's something a Girl Scout does without expecting recognition or praise. Of course, as a troop Leader, make a point to praise the girls for doing good turns. They need that positive reinforcement.... no matter what age... no matter if they just shrug it off and say "no biggie".

Our troop opens our meetings with Opening Circle. It's where we discuss the agenda and recite the GS Promise and Law. We also hold ourselves accountable from the last meeting and mention something we did since the last meeting as a "good turn". Now, honestly, the girls don't need to be held accountable and they definitely shouldn't be punished for not getting their "good turn" completed. It's just a way that I helped young Brownies remember that they needed to do something nice. It seemed to help them remember after a couple times of having to say they forgot to do what they said they were going to do. And yes, my co-leader and I are also participating and stating a "good turn" we are going to do. After all, good turns aren't just for the young girls you are leading... and remember to lead by example. I also admit when I didn't do what I said I was going to.

At Closing Circle, we do the Friendship Squeeze and turn out. But, first... we sing a song and we  go around the circle saying what good turns we will complete before the next meeting.

As I explain to my troop, a good turn is something you do to help someone out without being asked. It can simply be cleaning your room without being asked, clearing the dinner table, entertaining your little brother while Mom/Dad is cooking, or inviting the new student at school to sit by you at lunch. It should benefit a person.

It's all about continuity. I'm sure when the girls reach 8th or 9th grade we won't be going through this ritual, because hopefully by that point they will have learned the unspoken lesson of having a volunteer's heart and forever being grateful that we are able to help out someone else. I also hope they see how one simple good turn can start a fire within others and spread to change the world in which we live.

So... what is your good turn for today?