Wednesday, October 1, 2008

it's audience participation time!

Do you have a kid? Are you a teacher? Do you home school? Are you in any way affiliated with a Girl Scout troop? Do you run or know of a good kids craft/activity blog? Have you ever interacted with a kid in any way whatsoever? Then please take pity on me and help!

My Brownie troop of second graders is starting up soon (Soon as in tomorrow. I am so prepared!) and I really want to come up with exciting things for us to do this year. Meaning, I am sick of making cloud pictures using cotton balls. Because if I have to get myself all excited about that one more time I will scream. And my Brownies will cry. And I'll have to shove the cotton balls into my ears.

I have an activity planned for tomorrow, which hopefully will take up as much time as possible. (If you know kids at all then you know this will not be the case. This one activity, which I'm hoping will last 30 to 45 minutes, will last 5 minutes at the most. And that's if I talk real slow-like when I give the instructions) If time doesn't fly by I have my fall back plan of "Let's go play outside with sidewalk chalk!" but that is only entertaining for so long and that's when I'm faced with answering the question "What are we doing next?" or the dreaded "When are we going to have some stinkin' FUN?" (One girl asked me that last year. At every meeting. That makes me feel like a great leader).

So, do you have any activity suggestions? Maybe a fun website you want to share with the class? Perhaps a book I should go purchase? Honestly you don't have to be that specific, I'll take random craft or activity suggestions. Something that has stuck with you over the years from your golden Girl Scout days? Seriously, I'll take any suggestion you have, no matter how dumb you think it is.


  1. My niece and nephew were making necklaces with beads and such last weekend when I was there. They seemed to like that. And putting beads on a string takes time.

    That is all I have because I'm an alcoholic spinster with cats.

  2. You could make play-dough. It's like flour and water and cornstarch and food coloring or something like that. Adam knows how b/c we were talking about this the other day. Or just Google the recipe.

    Don't they have a Girl Scout Leader Handbook with craft ideas??? If they don't someone should write one!

  3. Oh, you could get some cheap cardboard pencil boxes, and have them decorate them with macaroni or paint or something, and maybe use cardboard to make little divider sections to hold beads or jewelry or something. If you know anyone with a bunch of cigar boxes, those are good too. Oh, you could make purses out of cigar boxes! Or you can fabric paint tee shirts or canvas bags (you can get canvas bags really cheap on the internet, so maybe that activity is better for another day). Good Luck!

  4. You can be little research scientists who make cookies. Make several batches of chocolate chip cookies (each batch being about half the size of a regular batch), but leave out one of the ingredients with each batch. Or make some sort of modification, such as:

    one batch with everything but the baking soda
    one batch with one less or one more egg
    one batch with less or more flour
    one batch with Crisco instead of butter

    Anyway, you get the idea. And then bake each batch and have the girls give their opinions on how the cookies look when they come out of the oven. Ask them how they *think* they will taste and feel before they taste them. And then eat them! You don't have to get all perfectly scientific with them, but the overall idea is that if you change the recipe, it *will* make a difference, so let's see how it might make a difference.

    I base this on the college experience my friend Heather and I had when we would make cookie dough, but never bake the dough. One time, Heather says, why are we bothering to add the baking soda if we never bake them? So we don't add the baking soda in this one batch. We eat some, and put the rest in the freezer, as per usual.

    Fast forward a week when we have a meeting for a committee we're both on. Heather says, hey we have some cookie dough in the freezer, let's bake it into cookies and bring them to the meeting! It was a great idea until after the cookies came out of the oven we remembered there was no baking soda in them...

    Since then, we *always* put baking soda in our cookie dough juuuust in case we decide to bake them.

  5. Buy sugar cookies, white frosting, and food coloring. Color the frosting with autumn-y colors. Decorate the sugar cookies. Nom.

    Buy construction paper, and make sure there's plenty of brown, red, orange, and yellow in the package. Have the girls trace their hands onto the paper. Cut out the hand prints (preferably around 10 hand prints.). Glue the hand prints finger to palm in a circle and voilĂ , autumn wreath.

  6. Have them decorate baby pumpkins using paint pens and pipe cleaners for arms and legs. Make pine cone bird feeders by coating pine cones with peanut butter. Then shake the cones in paper bags with birdseed. Finally tie a string on the cone to hang from a tree. Send the cones home in the paper bag to avoid a mess.

  7. Surely you can find some fun ideas here. There's some great examples of mini pumpkins.

  8. How about a Halloween pinata. What kids wouldn't go crazy over beating the crap out of something with a stick and then being rewarded with candy!

  9. E-BEADS!!! ummm....Gimp and God's Eyes and friendship bracelets?? Make them pick out some Try-Its they want to earn and you can work on those during your time. Paint flower pots and then plant seeds / herbs in them. What about those beads that you make a design and then melt them? Do some sort of halloween craft (Martha Stewart may have a good idea for this). For Christmas you can go buy some porcelain or wooden ornaments from a craft store and have them paint them (my mom always did this for her art classes she taught). Maybe try some oragami? You can make sit-upons!!!! haha. Sun - catchers? Pine cone bird feeders (it's messy which makes it fun). You can combine your snack and craft and make ants on a log or those A-Frame fire things with pretzels and teach them how to become pyromaniacs and how to burn bras in a safe manner. Make a troop first aid kit (yeah, kind of lame but it might give them a Try-it). ZINC THE ZEBRA!!!!! (oh you know you can't resist ZINC!)

    Okay, I'm done thinking. Let me know if you need more ideas.

  10. Do Brownies not do badges any more? Can you all work on badges together? That was my job when I was a leader (forever ago) I had to figure out which badge to work on and we all worked on it. I was also the tester for the badges (riveting, I know).
    Can you get them to work on a (multi week) project that can help the community in some fashion?

  11. I remember making whizzums, which we played with for hours after we made them. You need string, cardboard, and markers. Cut out a circle of cardboard, 3 inches in diameter. Use the markers to color the circle with a spiral. Punch two small holes in a line near the center of the cardboard circle, so it looks like a button. Cut a piece of string, maybe 2 feet long. Thread the string through the two holes, and tie the ends of the string together. Move the cardboard circle to the middle of the string loop (shaped like an 8). Holding the string loop at the two ends, swing the cardboard circle like a mini jump rope, so that the string starts to wind itself up, drawing the ends of the loop closer to the center. Once it's wound, pull the ends of the loop away from each other. It should spin the cardboard circle (the spiral pattern will look like stripes), and make a nice whizzy noise, and because it's moving so fast, it will wind itself up the other way, so you can keep doing it. Maybe get the kids to experiment with different patterns on the cardboard - like a yellow half and a blue half might make it look green when it's spinning.

    How about make your own bat/angel/butterfly wings for Halloween? Make a couple of patterns of different wing shapes, which they can trace and cut out on large paper/paper bags/cardboard, paint them however they like (glitter! ribbons!), and attach them with arm loops made of black/white elastic, which can be stapled to the wings.

  12. How about a little cultural activity? You could teach them about Dia de los Muertos, and then let them decorate sugar skulls with colored frosting. You'd probably have to get a mold and make the sugar skulls in advance.


  14. I can't help. My campers were/are the downfall of the of future America. Their favorite thing to do was play video games and OD on Popsicles. We tried to do an arts and crafts and they all rebelled. But it was coffee filter butterflies... coffee filters, watercolors, and black pipe cleaners. The ones that actually were completed looked really pretty in the sunshine in the window.

    My co-worker and I spent all our own money on craft supplies too, because my boss didn't believe in such things-- camp was apparently just for video games and tennis. We were desperate for the kids to do something other than stare at the TV screens but it was clearly a failure. Ugh.

    I have all the colored paper we bought here in my drawer. It was never even opened.

    SORRY I am ranting about my spoiled brat campers! I hope your Brownies are much more charming! And I hope in the future they run over my campers with their success!!

  15. Hey, I have a bunch of melt-and-pour soap stuff that I wanted to give to a good home. Brownies sound like the perfect "good home". It's easier than pie to make and b/c it's glycerin, no toxic lye to have around. I have one brick of glycerin, some shea and cocoa butter, fragrance, and a few molds. Your's if you want them.

  16. Let's see:

    1. Popsicle stick and bead jewelry boxes
    2. Leather craft kits
    3. Sing songs (my sister's brownie troop sang a lot)
    4. You guys are out in beautiful Cali! Go on a nature hike/scavenger hunt!
    5. I like the community idea. It's probably required for one of the badges, what about visiting an assisted living center? They could sing songs and stuff.
    6. Make mobiles from wire hangers, yarn, and cutouts
    7. The soap idea is neat. What about candles?
    8. Get them outside. Play stuff like "Red Rover", Freeze tag, et al.
    9. Field trips to places where they can watch something be made. Bakeries are fun ones.
    10. Visit the local zoo, planetarium, or aquarium. Give them some challenges like, "How many reptiles can you find?" and see what they tell you at the end of the visit.

    Biggest thing is to be a little daring. Kids are sharp, and they want to do something they can be proud of, to tell mom and dad. Unfortunately, they're only 7 or 8, so they can't articulate that very well. Best of luck!