Thursday, November 06, 2014

My Family Story

Tessa's troop enjoyed Brownie Quest so much during their first Journey meeting that I was a little afraid to switch over to My Family Story badgework so soon. It seemed a natural break, though...like there should have been a big red arrow in the leader guide pointing to "insert My Family Story badgework here" (that would have been helpful, actually). Maybe our girls aren't picky, but they seemed to enjoy it just as well. Their favorite part was making family trees. It was all I could do to contain their excitement upon seeing my sample.

The full requirements for earning the My Family Story Badge can be found in the Brownie It’s Your World - Change It, Skill Building Badge Activity Set. The resources listed below are the ones we used to fulfill these requirements. We spread the work over two meetings.

Brownie My Family Story Badge


My Family Story

Every Family has stories. It's good to share them so you know who helped make you who you are. Do this badge to find out more about the people you love and who love you. That's your family!

1. Explore family stories. There are all kinds of family stories and all kinds of families. As you explore these stories, think about the questions in the box below. Talk about your answers with your family and Brownie friends!
  • Troop completed choice #3 - Share family stories with friends.
  • The girls used their completed Blue House School Discovering Family bags (scroll to bottom of linked page) as visual aids for telling about their families. (The Discovering Family bags I designed for the girls were intended to be twofold. Identifying the special qualities and values of their families at home fulfilled the final step of their Brownie Quest Discover Key. Using the bags as visual aids for sharing what they learned about their families with the rest of the troop fulfilled this step.)

Tessa included smiley face stickers, a wooden sunflower cutout (to represent Sunny the Sunflower) and a Playmobil doctor as clues in her Discovering Family bag. She chose "friendly and helpful" from the Girl Scout Law as the value that is important to our family because "being friendly and helpful shows that our family cares about people."
Tessa included smiley face stickers, a wooden sunflower cutout (to represent Sunny the Sunflower) and a Playmobil doctor as clues in her Discovering Family bag. She chose "friendly and helpful" from the Girl Scout Law as the value that is important to our family because "being friendly and helpful shows that our family cares about people."

2. Know where your family is from. Find out which different countries, states, or towns your family comes from. Family stories are passed down differently in different cultures. How does your family share its family traditions and history?
  • Troop completed choice #3 - Ask about a family recipe.
  • The girls made troop family recipe books with recipe cards that I sent home for their parents to fill out. I made photocopies of all of the completed cards for the girls to put in their books. (This project ties in with our Step 5 project below.)
Quick note: I realized when cutting out the aforementioned completed recipe cards that I messed up when designing them. Some are not correctly sized. And, they are just a funky size, in general. You might be better off searching for free recipe card printables on Pinterest. I'll try to fix this as soon as I can.

3. Make a story tree. Knowing who your family members are is only half the fun! Find a special detail about each person to write on your family tree. Then make your tree in one of these ways.
  • Troop completed choice #2. - Draw or paint your tree.
The previously mentioned Discovering Family bags were actually supposed to be threefold, but some girls missed a meeting due to parent-teacher conferences, so I ended up modifying my original idea a bit. Since I already had the girls draw their family members and write their special qualities on their Discovering Family bags, I had planned to collect the bags to scan their pictures into my computer, play around with them a bit in Photoshop and then print them in color on cardstock at appropriate sizes. Afterward, I had planned to use a circle punch to create ornaments the trees.

Here's what I ended up with instead. To save time, I made up kits for the girls that we completed one step at a time. It took about half an hour for the them to complete their family trees. I have included a quick rundown of the project below. For the most part, the only steps some girls needed physical assistance with were tying knots and gluing wiggle eyes and feathers on the bird. I was a little surprised how well they did and how well they turned out.

Sample family tree I created for Brownie Elf.
Sample family tree I created for Brownie Elf.

My Family Story Tree Kit
  • Small tree limb with many branches, which each girl selected from a table
  • Small tin pail with floral block cut to fit snuggly in the bottom half of the pail
  • School glue
  • Pre-measured pebbles in small plastic zipper bag, enough to fill to the top embossed line of the pail when poured on top of the floral block (pebbles were originally purchased from Lowe's for another project)
  • Excelsior grass (handed out in small clumps when we got to the appropriate step)
  • "Family" sign created with Going Places Cricut cartridge, 2 inches at actual size
  • 6-in. piece of orange ribbon (color matches the bird's beak)
  • Fifteen cardstock leaves (three each of red, orange, brown, green and yellow), which I cut from 2-in. circles with the pre-mentioned Cricut cartridge, folded, trimmed to shape and then punched with a teeny hole for hanging
  • Fifteen small metal Christmas ornament hangers
  • Large pre-threaded (and knotted) needle with a small eraser over the point for safety
  • Orange felt beak cut to size
  • Two small wiggle eyes
  • Two pompoms, which the girls selected from a bag
  • Feather, which the girls selected from a bag
  • Black, non-smear pen
  • Scissors

Believe it or not, I had most of this on hand. The only things I had to buy were the tin pails from Dollar Tree and a cheap pack of small Christmas ornament hangers from Wal-Mart.


My Family Story Tree Instructions
  • Complete Pom-pom Songbirds as directed, except substitute wiggle eyes and use smaller pompoms (set aside to dry)
  • Carefully center and push selected tree limb into floral block in pail (make sure the handle of the pail faces the front)
  • Cover floral block in pail completely with school glue, pour in half the small bag of pebbles, cover again with school glue, pour in the rest of the pebbles, cover one more time with school glue
  • Run a line of glue along the bottom of the "Family" sign and nestle into the pebbles in front of the tree
  • Press a clump of excelsior grass in the front of the pail, repeat for the back (add a bit more glue before or after, if needed)
  • Write names of family members (limited to those that live in the girl's house; I also allowed pets) on leaves, hang on tree; hang any number of extra leaves, if desired
  • Glue pompom bird into a study forked branch (test fork before gluing)
  • Knot ribbon around handle as shown, trim ends

Another potentially cheaper, simpler option I considered was to have the girls make paper bag trees and glue on the leaves. Birds could be made and added as well. Alternatively, birds could be purchased from a craft store or made by a troop leader ahead of time.

Tessa and her troop crafted family trees from real tree limbs for part of their My Family Story badges.
Tessa and her troop crafted family trees from real tree limbs for part of their My Family Story badges.

Tessa's completed My Family Story tree.
Tessa's completed My Family Story tree.

A couple of other family trees created by girls in Tessa's troop.
A couple of other family trees created by girls in Tessa's troop.

4. Find an object that means something to your family. Objects like photos, jewelry, and books can mean a lot. They can be favorite things from old times, or things that make people feel special. This means that objects can have their own stories.
  • Troop completed choice #1 - Ask about an old photo, or #2 - Talk about an object that has been handed down. (Each girl chose which of the two to bring to share in show and tell fashion.)

5. Share your family story. You've heard so many amazing family stories. Now it's time to share them with others! Pick one of these activities to help you tell your story.
  • Troop completed choice #2 - Make a family crest.
  • The girls completed contemporary "family crests" for the covers of their troop family recipe books. (This project ties in with Step 2.)

Tessa's troop created contemporary family crests for the covers of their family recipe books from patterned and plain cardstock, paper flowers, jeweled brads, shaped brads and pipe cleaners. Each girl chose from an assortment of papers, colors, shapes and brads to symbolize various aspects of their family.
Tessa's troop created contemporary family crests for the covers of their family recipe books from patterned and plain cardstock, paper flowers, jeweled brads, shaped brads and pipe cleaners. Each girl chose from an assortment of papers, colors, shapes and brads to symbolize various aspects of their family.

Purpose

When I've earned his badge, I'll know how to tell my family story.

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Computer Expert Badge

Brownie Computer Expert is one of those Girl Scout badges that I am both thankful for and rue just a bit. I will admit that I had been a little neglectful in developing Tessa's computer skills. It was always one of those we-will-get-to-it-one-day kind of things. I also wasn't keen on her using our laptop. And until recently, we were on a limited mobile broadband connection. After I lucked out in snagging a $59 Chromebook from Amazon and our neighbors installed an internet tower on their property, I really didn't have anymore excuses.

As I feared, though, Tessa asks to use the computer nearly every day now. Plus, there's recently been a rash of stuffed pet adoptions in our house. Ugh.

The full requirements for earning the Computer Expert Skill-Building Badge can be found in the Brownie It’s Your World - Change It, Skill Building Badge Activity Set. The resources listed below are the ones we used to fulfill these requirements.

Note: Even though Computer Expert is an associated badge for the Brownie Quest Journey our troop is completing, it's not one I currently have scheduled to complete as a troop. Logistically speaking, it's a little more complex than some of the other badges. I may end up sending it home with the girls who want to earn it on their own.



Computer Expert

Computers help you do so much. You can make amazing art, find incredible facts on the Internet, and send fun cards to friends and family. Earn this badge and you'll be a safe, secure computer expert!

Thanks to Girl Scouts, Tessa is a "computer expert" now!
Thanks to Girl Scouts, Tessa is a "computer expert" now!

1. Paint or draw with an art program. Just like a paintbrush, a computer can be a tool to make art. Movie animators, game makers, and people who design ads and take professional photos all use programs to make their art even better. Now it's your turn!

  • Completed choice #1 - Paint a picture.
  • Digitally painted pictures with Scrap Coloring. Scrap Coloring offers hundreds of free pictures that are very easy to digitally color, save and print. Three of Tessa's creations are featured below. She enjoyed experimenting with bright colors and wacky patterns for her designs.

Tessa's Scrap Coloring dog. Tessa's Scrap Coloring fox. Tessa's Scrap Coloring sub.

2. Find some cool facts. The Internet is like an encyclopedia that constantly changes and gets bigger. Use search engines to learn about a fun subject. (Search engines like Google and Bing use special math to quickly search the Web. They bring back links to articles, images, and videos related to what you typed.)
  • Completed choice #1 - All about animals.
  • Used KidRex to search for information about black bears. (I had planned to share the five facts Tessa came up with, but I have misplaced her list.)

3. Take a trip online. Just like a good book, the Internet can take you across your town or across the world--without getting in the car or on a plane! Learn something new from a trip on the Web.
  • Completed choice #1 - Road trip.
  • Used Google Maps to find our house, our local public school, Grandma's house and Sanibel, Florida, one of our family's favorite vacation spots. Tessa's especially liked the satellite and street views.

4. Make a connection. E-mail. E-cards. Instant messages. Wall posts. Video chats. These are just some of the ways to keep in touch with friends and family on the Web. Try one for yourself!
  • Completed choice #1 - Here is my card.
  • I thought sending e-cards would be a fun, easy choice for Tessa. As it turned out, pretty much all of the free e-card sites I used to use years ago are no longer free or you have to sign up for trials, etc. to access free content. Our experience ended in frustration time and again after one site and the next strung us along. Tessa ended up somewhat begrudgingly choosing "Carve a Happy Halloween" from Blue Mountain's sparse Halloween freebie section to send to three relatives.

    Note: Be sure to either preview all of the cards in a particular section or stick to the "for everyone" or "kids" sections before letting your girls roam around. I was surprised a couple of times when a few of the cards on various sites turned out to be decidedly adult.

5. Have more computer fun. From downloading music and making art to playing silly games that take you on adventures or make learning math or typing a blast, there are many more ways to have computer fun.
  • Completed choice #1 - Game on!
  • Played games at Webkinz, PBS Kids and Nick Jr. Webkinz was by far Tessa's favorite. Luckily, I saved (and found) the Webkinz code tags from various stuffed animals Tessa received as presents over the years. Along with a couple more critters than we picked up for cheap (as low as $1.99) at Tuesday Morning, she now has a small menagerie she plays with.

Purpose

When I've earned this badge, I'll know how to do many useful things on a computer.

Thursday, October 02, 2014

Brownie Quest - Discover Key

It's Your World - Change It!: A Leadership Journey
Girl Scout Brownies

As mentioned in a previous post, I am serving as co-leader for Brownies for the first time this year. We are a multi-level troop, so other leaders and parent helpers are working with the older girls.

Our Brownies will focus on the Brownie Quest Journey and associated badge work this time around. The troop meets every other week for about an hour and a half, which includes some introductory time with the entire troop and snack time. We will lose a handful of meetings to parties, prep work for World Thinking Day, inclement weather, etc. So, that's not a whole lot of time to get things done. My goal is to creatively cram as much fun and badge work into those days as humanly possible. Every now and again, I will squeeze in bits and pieces from Legacy badge work as well. If all goes as planned, the troop should be able to earn their Brownie Quest Journey, My Family Story, My Best Self, Home Scientist and Bugs badges this year. Hopefully, we'll find time for Money Manager and Meet My Customers too. Eek, that's a lot! We'll see how it goes.

Quick note related to the Discover Key, which is what this post is really all about. I made an executive decision to switch the order of Steps 1 and 2 in case we ran over into snack time a bit. Our chosen activities just fit better in my mind that way. Also, I typed out and adapted various parts of the script in the Brownie Quest How To Guide, which I read as we progressed through our meeting. Although Tessa and I will likely read the story from the Brownie Quest girls' book at home, we will not read it as a troop due to time constraints. I may use a piece from it here and there, but I have opted not to purchase copies of the book for the girls.

My apologies for not posting any photos from our actual meeting. There just wasn't any way for me to snap any while conducting the meeting. I took our camera and meant to have my husband take some, but I totally forgot to have him do so. Maybe next time...




Brownie Quest - Discover Key

To find the Discover Key, Brownies discover their special qualities and talents, the values of the Girl Scout Law, and the special qualities and values of their families.

Meeting 1
  • Sang the Brownie Smile Song.
We will begin the Brownie portion of each meeting with the Brownie Smile Song during the first half of the year. After that, we will switch to the Brownie Hiking Song. Doing so will nearly fulfill Girl Scout Way, Step 1.

I downloaded the Brownie Smile Song audio file from Girl Scouts University Song Leading Mini-Workshop and then played it during the meeting as the girls and I sang along. I also created my own lyrics sheet to match the audio file, which uses a slightly different version of the Brownie Smile Song than the lyrics sheet provided by the workshop. I posted the lyrics sheet on a portable magnetic dry erase board at the meeting as a visual aid to help the girls follow along and learn the song.

  • Searched to discover the values of the Girl Scout Law with a scavenger hunt. - Discover Key, Step 2 completed!
Our scavenger hunt was very similar to what is suggested in the Brownie Quest How To Guide. I took the activity one step further by having the girls assemble a set of paper keys with the lines of the Girl Scout Law printed on them. The completed key ring doubles as a set of flash cards to help the girls learn the Girl Scout Law at home. I promised a I Know the Scout Law Fun Patch to any girl who can memorize and recite the Law to me without mistakes.

For the discover the values of the Girl Scout Law scavenger hunt, I created bright orange packets of paper keys with lines of the Girl Scout Law printed on them that I hid in plain sight around our meeting space. After going ELF, each pair of girls brought back two packets...one for each girl. At my command, they dumped them onto the floor and guessed what the clues added up to. After correctly guessing the Girl Scout Law, we stacked the keys in the correct order. Finally, the girls added paper "Girl Scout Law" key fobs and fashioned key rings out of pipe cleaners (that I previously had cut in half).

Completed Girl Scout Law key rings double as flashcards to help the girls learn the Law at home. These must be printed on heavyweight card stock for durability. I used Staples® Brights, 65lb. Colored Paper in assorted colors. Leaders, please note that this activity is not for the faint of heart or cutting challenged. You must cut out eleven keys, plus the heart for each girl!

  • Discovered the girls' special talents and qualities by creating personalized I Spy jars. - Discover Key, Step 1 completed! (This also fulfills Senses, Step 1.)
I actually designed Find Out About... Cootie Catcher, which I based on the "Discovering Me" star from the Brownie Quest girls' book, over the summer to fulfill this step of the Journey. While I still think it's a good activity, one my daughter was excited about, the amount of writing it requires nagged at me. Our troop is primarily composed of new second graders who are still learning to spell and develop their writing stamina. I ended up changing my mind a couple of weeks ago. Instead, we made personalized I Spy jars!

I had long planned I Spy bottles for the first part of the Senses badge, so I was thrilled when the little light bulb in my head finally clicked on to show me that I could combine both the Senses and Discover Key steps. After a couple of brainstorming sessions with my friends at Pinterest, I decided to design a card with a checklist to make this idea work.

The I Spy jars took a lot of preparation on my part, but the girls absolutely loved them. Most of the what-nots I already had in my craft closet, so the jars were cost-efficient for us. If everything had to be purchased new, it could get pretty pricey. Luckily, I've been saving recyclables for over a year and had just enough empty Peter Pan Peanut Butter jars for the troop.

Note: The I Spy checklist must be printed on heavyweight cardstock. It also must be sent through your printer twice for front-to-back printing. (I have a duplex printer, but I couldn't get the cards to print correctly no matter what I did. Hopefully, others will have better luck.) Make sure you do some testing on scrap paper, as printers can be finicky. Be sure your paper is stacked neatly after every page or you may end up cutting the margins a little close on some of cards. I actually printed extra and picked the best ones for the girls to use with their jars.

The girls in our troop had a blast making personalized I Spy jars to discover their special talents and qualities. I prepared a couple of batches of colored rice and pre-measured it into zipper bags ahead of time. I also cut a funnel from an empty half-gallon milk jug that worked perfectly for pouring rice into the jars. A parent helper hot glued the jars shut during the meeting. Rubber bands were used to attach the removable checklist to the jar.

  • Handed out Discovering Family bag to be completed at home and returned at the next troop meeting.
I felt Discover Key, Step 3 a good place to transition to My Family Story associated badgework, so that's what we will mostly be working on during the next two meetings. I also handed out family recipe cards to be brought back the same day. The Discovering Family bag activity will fulfill the final Discover Key step as well as My Family Story, Step 1. The family recipes cards will fulfill My Family Story, Step 2.

Quick note: I realized when cutting out the aforementioned completed recipe cards that I messed up when designing them. Some are not correctly sized. And, they are just a funky size, in general. You might be better off searching for free recipe card printables on Pinterest. I'll try to fix this as soon as I can.

I created a sample Discovering Family bag for Brownie Elf to give the girls and their parents an idea of what a completed bag should look like. The girls will have fun guessing what Girl Scout Law value their fellow troopmate's families chose at the next meeting. Brownie Elf's family picked "be a sister to every Girl Scout," so she put a paper doll chain, a trefoil and a Girl Scout fun patch in her bag as clues. Her family considers friends to be family. Brownie Elf wants the girls in her troop to feel like family.

Meeting 2 (Scheduled for mid-October, 2014.)

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Girl Scouts - First Brownie Meeting!

Hope you're ready for some sprightly adventures. Tessa's a Girl Scout Brownie! Once again, we'll be documenting Tessa's badge-earning efforts here on Blue House School blog. This year, I am assisting our troop as a co-leader for Brownies. Our primary focus will be completing the Brownie Quest Journey. I plan to intertwine a few of the associated badges and whatever else I can manage to squeeze in. Our troop only meets twice a month, so Tessa will be working on additional badges and awards on her own time as well. She wants to earn them all again. Wish us luck...it's a lot of work!

Tessa sporting her new Brownie vest and beanie before heading out for our first meeting of the year. (Technically, it was our troop's second meeting, but Tessa was sick for the first.)
Tessa sporting her new Brownie vest and beanie before heading out for our first meeting of the year. (Technically, it was our troop's second meeting, but Tessa was sick for the first.)

We were in charge of snacks. I had planned on simply taking Rice Krispie treats with decorative sprinkles on top, but then I made the "mistake" of taking a peek at Pinterest. Twenty-five dollars and four hours later, we ended up with Owl Krispies and a nest of Chocolate Peanut Butter Acorns. Ah, well...the girls loved them.
We were in charge of snacks. I had planned on simply taking Rice Krispie treats with decorative sprinkles on top, but then I made the "mistake" of taking a peek at Pinterest. Twenty-five dollars and four hours later, we ended up with Owl Krispies and a nest of Chocolate Peanut Butter Acorns. Ah, well...the girls loved them.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Girl Scouts Global Action Award 2014

We are always on the lookout for quality life experiences for Tessa (hence our involvement in Girl Scouts). When we decided on a last-minute cruise with a port of call in Costa Maya, Mexico for our fall vacation this year, I knew The Native Choice Mayan Experience Tour would be a great opportunity for Tessa to earn her Global Action Award. As it turned out, it far exceeded our expectations. I highly recommend it to anyone traveling that way.

I'm not sure how much thought most troops give the Global Action Award, but to me, it's one of Girl Scouts' most important. It's nice for our girls to say that they want to make the world a better place, but the Global Action Award teaches why the world needs them to do so. I just wish Girl Scouts would go a step further and provide better support for this award. A good book and video list with copies available for checkout at Girl Scout resource centers across the nation would be a great start.

While the Mayan Experience Tour touched upon several of the United Nations' Millennium Development Goals, the one we primarily focused on was 2. Education opens doors. We completed a service project to benefit a village school in Costa Maya, which compliments activity nine from the Global Action Award for Girl Scout Brownies activities list.

2104 Girl Scouts Global Action Award

We began our Mayan Experience Tour an hour inland at Chacchoben Maya Ruins...a very nice collection of ruins in a jungle setting.
We began our Mayan Experience Tour an hour inland at Chacchoben Maya Ruins...a very nice collection of ruins in a jungle setting.

After leaving the Maya ruins, we stopped at a nearby village where Tessa got a firsthand look at modern Maya homes. It was fascinating to discover that many of them are built on top of ancient Maya homes...often built with some of the very same brick! She learned that people grow their own food and hire hunters to acquire meat. The beautiful vegetation around Maya homes is functional. The plants provide herbs, fruits, coffee, cocoa and other foodstuffs.
After leaving the Maya ruins, we stopped at a nearby village where Tessa got a firsthand look at modern Maya homes. It was fascinating to discover that many of them are built on top of ancient Maya homes...often built with some of the very same brick! She learned that people grow their own food and hire hunters to acquire meat. The beautiful vegetation around Maya homes is functional. The plants provide herbs, fruits, coffee, cocoa and other foodstuffs.

Our tour guide explained the process of turning corn into flour as a Mayan woman demonstrated how to make corn tortillas. Modern Mayans speak the Mayan language as well as Spanish. (Many younger generation Mayans speak English as well.)
Our tour guide explained the process of turning corn into flour as a Mayan woman demonstrated how to make corn tortillas. Modern Mayans speak the Mayan language as well as Spanish. (Many younger generation Mayans speak English as well.)

Tessa tried her hand at making a corn tortilla. We all did, actually. Our host who had many, many, many, many, many more years of practice had to tidy ours up a bit.
Tessa tried her hand at making a corn tortilla. We all did, actually. Our host who had many, many, many, many, many more years of practice had to tidy ours up a bit.

Corn tortillas are a staple of the modern Maya diet. Our tortillas were cooked on an open-air stove, which is the typical method of cooking at the village. The flavor and texture is a little different than those we buy here at the store, but Tessa loved them. I think she ate six-to-eight of them.
Corn tortillas are a staple of the modern Maya diet. Our tortillas were cooked on an open-air stove, which is the typical method of cooking at the village. The flavor and texture is a little different than those we buy here at the store, but Tessa loved them. I think she ate six-to-eight of them.

Our tour guide, David, who is also co-owner of The Native Choice, showed us the fruits, vegetables, beans, herbs and spices commonly used in Mayan cooking.
Our tour guide, David, who is also co-owner of The Native Choice, showed us the fruits, vegetables, beans, herbs and spices commonly used in Mayan cooking.

We enjoyed a traditional modern Maya meal as part of our tour. It was delicious! We particularly liked the chicken tamales and passion fruit.
We enjoyed a traditional modern Maya meal as part of our tour. It was delicious! We particularly liked the chicken tamales and passion fruit.

For Tessa's Global Action service project, we donated school supplies and some of Tessa's new and gently used clothes to children in Costa Maya.
For Tessa's Global Action service project, we donated school supplies and some of Tessa's new and gently used clothes to children in Costa Maya.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Second Grade 2014 - Age 7

Five weeks off and we're back again! How crazy is it that this is our fourth year homeschooling? Some days it seems like yesterday that we unwittingly started this adventure. Other times, it seems every bit that long. You may remember we didn't set out to homeschool. Our original plan was to help Tessa develop some basic reading and math skills at home that would give her a leg up her first year at public school. As is often the case in life, we ended up on a much different path than the one we began. Thank goodness that path led us right back to our front door. I don't often proclaim this or that to be a blessing, but homeschooling has been just that for our family.

Taking Tessa's first day back pic always precipitates a deluge of memories. This year, though, I was simply awestruck by how much more mature she looks than in last year's photo. As I mentioned in a previous post, seven seems like a magical age for Tessa. I know it's not just her body that has grown leaps and bounds this past year but her brain too. I expect great things from Tessa this year and can't wait witness every one of them.

Tessa's first day of second grade!

Thursday, August 07, 2014

Pets Skill-Building Badge

Thanks to Girl Scouts, Tessa now wants a rabbit, two guinea pigs and a hamster for pets. Hmm. I don't think so. Other than having to endure my constant rebuttals, Tessa thoroughly enjoyed learning about these pets and eagerly completed the requirements for earning the Brownie Pets Skill-Building Badge. More meaningful to me was her pride in making homemade treats, a toy and a new pet bed for our dog. Tessa positively glowed the first time she saw Sweetpea curled up sleeping on the bed.

The full requirements for earning the Pets Skill-Building Badge can be found in the Brownie It’s Your Story - Tell It, Skill Building Badge Activity Set. The resources listed below are the ones we used to fulfill these requirements.

Pets Skill-Building Badge


Pets

Whether they're cute and cuddly, or slimy and scaly, pets are so much fun. If you hope you have a pet someday, use this badge to learn how to choose the pet that's right for you--and make sure it stays happy and healthy. Or find out how to take the best care of a pet you already have!

Steps

1. Find out what care different pets need. Pets are as different as the people who love them. Play Pet Bingo to find out which pet would be the best fit for you.
  • Completed Choice #3 - Play bingo online.
  • Since our choices for Steps 1, 3 and 5 required a good deal of information gathering for multiple animals, I created a set of worksheets to make that task a little easier for Tessa. Of the animals listed on the Pet Bingo card, she was most interested in learning more about the small mammals. We checked out Small Pet Care: How To Look After Your Rabbit, Guinea Pig, or Hamster by Annabel Blackledge from a local library and used it as our primary source of information. We read about one animal a day on three separate days. After reading and gathering other pertinent information about the animal of the day, Tessa completed the worksheets.

    The first worksheet entitled "Learn About Pet Care Needs" was designed around the questions from the Pet Bingo card featured in the Pets badge information booklet. We also used some very nice free pet care tip sheets downloaded from ASPCA.org. (Update: Unfortunately, these tip sheets no longer seem to be available. There is still some good info to be found on ASPCA's site, but nothing as quick, easy and concise as the tip sheets.)

    Download Blue House School pet care worksheets. (The second page can be cut in half to better fit your troop's needs.)

"Small Pet Care: How To Look After Your Rabbit, Guinea Pig, or Hamster" - Annabel Blackledge

Tessa recorded information about proper pet care on a set of worksheets I created to help fulfill the requirements for Steps 1, 3 and 5 of the Brownies Pets Skill-Building Badge.
Tessa recorded information about proper pet care on a set of worksheets I created to help fulfill the requirements for Steps 1, 3 and 5 of the Brownies Pets Skill-Building Badge.

2. Keep a pet comfy. Pets need a clean and comfortable place to live--if their cage, tank, or doghouse is dirty, they can get sick. Learn what one pet needs to have a home sweet home.
  • Completed Choice #3 - Make a cozy sleeping space for a pet.
  • Sniffing out a pattern for a simple no-sew pet bed was more challenging than I imagined. There wasn't a lot variety on the sites I searched and most of what I did find required skills beyond Tessa's current abilities. We ended up using "No Sew Pet Bed" by scoochmaroo from the Instructables site, which uses knotting to keep fabric panels together.

    Another similar option I ran across was "Make a No Sew Pet Bed for Your Doll's Pet" by Karen Mom of Three's craft blog, which teaches the same skill, but might be a better fit for some troops.

To keep this project on a zero budget, we used fabric and "stuffing" that we had in the basement from previous projects. I did all of the prep work, which involved precise measuring and cutting. It took me about an hour to do this. The initial measurements for the bed we made were 28 in. x 32 in. (Don't forget to pre-wash your fabric. If nothing else, it will keep your pet from having to endure the fumes from the dyes.)
To keep this project on a zero budget, we used fabric and "stuffing" that we had in the basement from previous projects. I did all of the prep work, which involved precise measuring and cutting. It took me about an hour to do this. The initial measurements for the bed we made were 28 in. x 32 in. (Don't forget to pre-wash your fabric. If nothing else, it will keep your pet from having to endure the fumes from the dyes.)

Tessa and I shared the work of knotting the fringe. She knotted about half the bed. In a troop setting, having the girls knot one of the four sides would likely be plenty. That was about the extent of Tessa's stamina, but I urged her on a bit beyond that.
Tessa and I shared the work of knotting the fringe. She knotted about half the bed. In a troop setting, having the girls knot one of the four sides would likely be plenty. That was about the extent of Tessa's stamina, but I urged her on a bit beyond that.

Stuffing the bed with fiberfill was by far Tessa's favorite part. She had so much with it and did a good job after I explained that it's best to use large handfuls to keep lumps at bay.
Stuffing the bed with fiberfill was by far Tessa's favorite part. She had so much with it and did a good job after I explained that it's best to use large handfuls to keep lumps at bay.

Tessa thought Sweetpea's new bed looked plush enough for a posh princess pooch!
Tessa thought Sweetpea's new bed looked plush enough for a posh princess pooch! 

I had hoped for a better, cuter pic of Sweetpea enjoying her new bed, but I have only managed to capture her giving me the evil eye for once again waking her with my none-too-sneaky picture-taking pursuits. Ah, well. You get the idea...she likes it!
I had hoped for a better, cuter pic of Sweetpea enjoying her new bed, but I have only managed to capture her giving me the evil eye for once again waking her with my none-too-sneaky picture-taking pursuits. Ah, well. You get the idea...she likes it!

3. Help a pet stay healthy and safe. Just like humans, pets need special care to stay healthy. Find out about how to keep them safe, feeling good, and looking good, too.
  • Completed Choice #3 - Find out how to keep different pets looking good.
  • Completed Blue House School "Keep Pets Looking Good" worksheet for three animals using information from Small Pet Care: How To Look After Your Rabbit, Guinea Pig, or Hamster by Annabel Blackledge. Afterward, Tessa practiced grooming various stuffed animals.

4. Make a pet feel loved. Pets need attention, hugs and kind words, as well as lots of time to have fun and play. Learning to be a good pet owner is like learning to be a good parent!
  • Completed Choice #2 - Make a simply pet toy.
  • Getting well along in years, our dog Sweetpea is pretty picky about her toys these days. No homemade blue jean rope bones or tied up socks would do for her, so I had to put on my thinking cap for this one. One of Sweetpea's favorite things is opening presents. (She will bull up something horrible and pout all day if she doesn't have presents under the tree Christmas morning. No joke!) I also remembered that she enjoyed puzzle balls, etc. in her younger years.

    What I came up with was "DIY Dog Puzzle Toy" constructed from a simple toilet paper tube by It Started With Yum blog. I felt it was a little too simple for us on its own, so we combined it with making our own healthy dog treats, which Tessa used to fill the puzzle toy. We used "Oatmeal, Peanut Butter & Banana Dog Treats Recipe" by Miss Molly Says blog. The recipe was deliciously simple and we lucked out by having all of the ingredients on hand.

Tessa started off by smooshing overripe bananas in a plastic bread bag.
Tessa started off by smooshing overripe bananas in a plastic bread bag.

After adding peanut better, oatmeal, whole wheat flour and an egg to the mashed bananas, Tessa stirred and stirred.
After adding peanut better, oatmeal, whole wheat flour and an egg to the mashed bananas, Tessa stirred and stirred.

I had to help Tessa add a little more flour to get the constancy of the dough just right. She used a bone-shaped cookie cutter (and a couple of others) for Sweetpea's treats.
I had to help Tessa add a little more flour to get the constancy of the dough just right. She used a bone-shaped cookie cutter (and a couple of others) for Sweetpea's treats.

A plate of Tessa's scrumptious oatmeal, peanut butter and banana dog treats. I liked that Tessa could make these with very little help.
A plate of Tessa's scrumptious oatmeal, peanut butter and banana dog treats. I liked that Tessa could make these with very little help.

After a quick personal tutorial from yours truly, Tessa was able to make the actual puzzle toy in just a minute or two. For just the cost of a small box of dog biscuits, this would be a quick, easy and cheap make-and-take for any troop.
After a quick personal tutorial from yours truly, Tessa was able to make the actual puzzle toy in just a minute or two. For just the cost of a small box of dog biscuits, this would be a quick, easy and cheap make-and-take for any troop.

I think Tessa definitely achieved her goal of making a pet feel loved.
I think Tessa definitely achieved her goal of making a pet feel loved.

5. Feed a pet. One of the most important responsibilities of a pet owner is knowing what her pet eats, how much it needs to eat, and what it can't eat. And, of course, making sure there's food ready when the pet gets hungry.
  • Completed Choice #3 - Make a pet budget for two pets.
  • Completed Blue House School "Make a Pet Food Budget" worksheet for three animals using information from Small Pet Care: How To Look After Your Rabbit, Guinea Pig, or Hamster by Annabel Blackledge and prices found at Amazon.com.

Purpose

When I've earned this badge, I'll know how to take care of a pet.

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Looking for more activities to complement the Pets badge?

Check out my Girl Scout Law Ring Book - Pets Version - Girl Scout Daisies & Brownies printable scouting helper.

Monday, August 04, 2014

T Minus 2 Weeks and Counting...

Although we pretty much homeschool year around, we decided to take a much-needed five-week break from everything except for some leisurely summer reading this year. Let me rephrase that. Tessa has been enjoying a break. I, on the other hand, have been diligently (perhaps "frantically" would be a better descriptor) finalizing our second grade schedule and lesson plans. I have been at this since January, but this year has proven to be especially challenging.

Seven seems to be a magic age for Tessa. Her talents and capabilities are really starting to blossom. I want to take advantage of this new potential during school time, but keeping everything I want to explore with her within a four-hour window has been tough. My solution is to try block scheduling for our "elective" subjects, plus reading this year. Every six weeks, we will rotate between Composer Study/Music and Artist Study/Art, plus Chemistry and Early Modern History as well as what we use for reading. I think this will also help me stave off burnout. In previous years, I had to research and request between 50-75 science and history books, DVDs, etc. from the library every couple of weeks. Now, I will only have to order six weeks worth for one subject or the other at a time (and make sure I keep them renewed). Keeping my fingers crossed that it all works out.

We'll start back August 18, 2014.

A quick pic of Tessa enjoying summer. Climbing the chunky rocks at our local park helped fill the lulls of waiting for Forth of July fireworks to start.
A quick pic of Tessa enjoying summer. Climbing the chunky rocks at our local park helped fill the lulls of waiting for Forth of July fireworks to start.


Tessa's Second Grade Schedule

Daily

Vocabulary - A Word a Day, Grade 2
Reading - The Elson Readers: Book One (Block 1), historical fiction (Block 2), literature study (Block 3), All About Reading, Levels 3 & 4 (Blocks 4-6)
Logic (Friday only.) - Primarily Logic, and then Mindware Analogy Challenges: Level A, Perplexors: Basic Level
Spanish (Tuesday & Thursday only.) - Song School Spanish

Electives - Blocks 1, 3 & 5

Composer Study/Music (Monday, Wednesday & Friday only.) - The Story of the Orchestra

Electives - Blocks 2, 4 & 6

Artist Study/Art (Monday, Wednesday & Friday only.) - Picture Study Portfolios + Home Art Studio

Extracurricular Activities


* Titles listed are primary curricula only. Updated March 14, 2015...things changed a bit.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Making Friends Skill-Building Badge

Sometimes an opportunity arises that is so perfect that a badge just kind of falls into place. This past weekend, Tessa and I attended a She and Me camp at Camp Cedarledge. The schedule of activities were such that earning the Brownie Making Friends Skill-Building Badge could/should have been part of the program.

The full requirements for earning the Making Friends Skill-Building Badge can be found in the Brownie It’s Your Story - Tell It, Skill Building Badge Activity Set. The following lists just a few of the things Tessa did at Camp Cedarledge to earn the badge.

Making Friends Skill-Building Badge


Making Friends

Friends are another kind of family. They're the people you have fun with and who help you when you need it. Try this badge to learn how to make new friends, keep old friends, and be the best Brownie friend you can be.

Steps

1. Make friendly introductions. Making new friends can be as simple as introducing yourself. It's nice to share something about you when you introduce yourself, or one something about a friend when you're introducing them. Try it!
  • Completed Choice #1 - Introduce yourself.
  • Since we homeschool, camp stood in as a replacement for school in this requirement. I was really proud of Tessa. She was in a great mood the moment we arrived at camp and immediately ran up to the girls that arrived the same time we did and introduced herself. Just like that, they were off and playing. Perfect!

The girls chose camp names based on their likes, personalities or things they brought to camp. Tessa brought a stuffed frog with her, so she called herself "Froggy." They used their camp names when introducing themselves and making friends.
The girls chose camp names based on their likes, personalities or things they brought to camp. Tessa brought a stuffed frog with her, so she called herself "Froggy." They used their camp names when introducing themselves and making friends.

2. Show friends you care. Good friends remind one another of what makes them special, and help each other feel better when something goes wrong. Practice making a friend feel great in one of these ways.
  • Completed Choice #3 - Be a friend to someone you don't know.
  • Tessa was one of the first girls up our second day at camp and learned that she could find "lucky stones" (creek rocks with small natural holes eroded through them) around the campfire pit. Our unit had taken a creek walk the day before to look for these coveted "lucky stones," but many girls had a hard time finding small ones that could be used for making necklaces. Tessa helped other girls find "lucky stones" as they woke up and then they made necklaces with them out of yarn and pony beads.

Tessa wore her "lucky stone" necklace the entire last day of camp. I think it may end up being a memento she keeps forever.
Tessa wore her "lucky stone" necklace the entire last day of camp. I think it may end up being a memento she keeps forever.

3. Share favorite activities. A great way to show a friend you care is to pay special attention to what is important to them. Just because you are friends doesn't mean you both like the same things. Try one of these activities to learn more about a friend, and help them learn more about you.
  • Completed Choice #3 - Try a game or activity that's new to both of you.
  • Tessa learned so many new games and repeat-after-me songs with her camp friends that she completed this step many times over. Her favorite game was playing with the parachute. She liked the "Princess Pat" (what's linked is not the exact version Tessa learned, but I think this is the way it's supposed to be) and "There Was a Great Big Moose" (this one has motions too, but I couldn't find a good link that included them) songs best.

4. Learn how to disagree. Disagreement is when you don't feel the same way as a friend. For example, you want to play a game and they want to make snacks. It's okay to feel differently. You can still be friends! The important thing is to be a good friend while you disagree. Try one of these activities to practice.
  • Completed Choice #1 - Practice being a good listener.
  • Tessa instantly clicked with the first girl she met at camp. She and "Fumpy" practiced being good listeners and came up with workable solutions when they disagreed. Never did I hear an unkind word between them.

Tessa and her new instant best friend "Fumpy" were inseparable at camp. Tessa was super sad when it was time to go home. She wants to go to the same camp again next summer, but for longer.
Tessa and her new instant best friend "Fumpy" were inseparable at camp. Tessa was super sad when it was time to go home. She wants to go to the same camp again next summer, but for longer.

5. Practice friendship! Now it's time to practice your friend skills. First, make a list of the top three things you've discovered that make someone a good friend. Then try one of these activities and concentrate doing those things. Talk about the activity with your Brownie group.
  • Completed Choice #3 - Go to a dance or art class, sports game, camp, or other activity.
  • Tessa built on the skills she learned as a Girl Scout Daisy and earned her Brownie Making Friends badge during a She and Me camp at Camp Cedarledge. The top three things she thinks makes good friends are being kind, knowing how to share, and being willing to talk and play.

Camp Cedarledge Fun Patch

Purpose

When I've earned this badge, I'll know how to be a good friend.


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Looking for more Making Friends badge ideas?

Check out my Growing Girls Monster Friends - Girl Scout Brownies - "Making Friends" Pack - All 5 Steps! printable scouting helper.