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.


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.)