Monthly Archives: January 2016

Happy Burns Night!

Last week my Rainbows celebrated Burns Night (a bit early – the great man’s birthday is actually today).

We looked at a map of the UK and after a few wild guesses found Scotland and where we live. We spoke about how far away Scotland is from us. If we’d started driving right after Rainbows, we’d have reached the border around midnight.

Next, a game. I’d printed some pictures of typical Scottish things, and when Unit Helper held up a picture and I called out what it was, the Rainbows had to do an action, as follows.

  • Loch Ness monster – pretend to swim and make splashing noises
  • Highland cow – go on hands and knees, and moo (one Rainbow was excited because she’d seen real highland cattle in Scotland. I have too, so I could agree with her that it’s exciting)
  • Highland dancing – do a dance
  • Bagpipes – pretend to play bagpipes and sing a little tune
  • Porridge – pretend to eat porridge and say “yum yum”
  • Highland games – pretend to toss a caber

When we felt thoroughly immersed in these fine points of Scottish culture, we made tartan bagpipes by sticking strips of paper on a coloured circle, then sticking that on a colouring sheet I made (click to download it). I’d brought a plaid shirt to demonstrate what tartan was, but I had an even better example because one Rainbow deliberately came in a tartan skirt for the occasion!

bagpipe colouring

This was my demonstration. It’s very bland compared to what the Rainbows did.

While the Rainbows were sticking and colouring, our special guest arrived: a bagpipe player!

A couple of weeks earlier, when I was planning the term, I got in touch with some local pipers and pipe bands on the offchance that anyone was willing to come and play for us for a few minutes free of charge. I got a few very sweet replies saying no, sorry, it’s a busy time of year and they were booked elsewhere. Then I got a yes, so it was well worth asking.

I wasn’t sure what to expect – we hadn’t had much contact other than me telling him the time and place – so I was delighted when in walked a man in full highland dress. The Rainbows were fascinated, and to be honest we adults weren’t far behind. The piper was lovely, and I think he was surprised the Rainbows were so small, so basically we were all in awe of each other.

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We sat down 15 minutes before the end, and he played us a few tunes. It was nice that some parents, Brownies and Brownie leaders were starting to arrive, so they came in and listened too. Well, it was hard not to listen. We meet in quite a big hall so it wasn’t deafening, but a few Rainbows were happier with their hands over their ears. He told us a bit about his pipes, answered some questions, and then it was time for thank yous (we’d made him a card) and goodbyes.

On the way out we gave the Rainbows a taster of shortbread, oatcakes and Edinburgh rock. The Brownies and Guides who meet after us were having haggis, but I wasn’t that brave!

New year’s Rainbows

This term my Rainbows are doing activities from Rainbow Roundabout Festivals, plus lot of other festival-themed activities too. It’s a good time of year for them. I know we don’t have to do them at the time of year when they actually happen, but it works out that there’s one to celebrate almost every week between now and Easter. It’s a nice structured way to ease me into my first term as the one in charge.

In our first meeting of the new year, we spoke a bit about festivals, and thought of ones that we knew.

We started with Christmas by playing the Christmas card game. This is a classic first-meeting-after-the-holidays game in my old Guide unit (and many others, I suspect). I brought in a load of old Christmas cards and put them in a pile on the floor. The Rainbows lined up in teams. I called out something you might find on a card, like “Santa” or “a snowman”. The first Rainbow in each line ran up to the pile and tried to be the first to find a card with that thing on it. When the first one found it, she waved it in the air. I gave her team a point, she put her card back, and the girls who had come up went to the back of their line.

The Rainbows enjoyed it, but they were nowhere near as competitive as my Guides! They were more interested in looking at the pretty pictures on the cards.

Next we moved forward to the new year. We wrote/drew new year’s wishes on stars, and stuck them on a big star. I’m glad I had more stars than Rainbows, because most of them wanted to do 2 or 3 each.

new year's wishes

Their new year’s wishes included:

  • to look after their dog (twice)
  • a cat
  • a brother
  • not to tease their brother
  • happiness for everyone (I think that was a parent helper)
  • to visit everywhere in the world
  • snow (several times)
  • sun, the beach and ice cream (several times…I think the beach can be arranged, since we meet within spitting distance of one)
  • more/longer Rainbows (woohoo!)
  • to go to bed later (well, maybe if we have a sleepover)
  • not to go to school
  • a peashooter

I feel like we could have had a bit of a discussion about these – along the lines of sometimes we can achieve or work towards what we wish for, sometimes we have to be patient for it, and sometimes what we want isn’t really what’s best for us – but the girls were getting restless so instead we had some ball and skipping rope time.

After that we played an excellent game I learned from a Facebook group. The girls stand in partners and the leader calls out body parts. So “hand to hand” the partners touch hands, “knee to knee” they touch knees etc. Every so often the leader calls “Rainbow to Rainbow” which means change partners. I was advised – and can confirm – that they found a new partner without fuss as long as I called the next body part very quickly. “Bum to bum”, of course, they found hilarious.

That took us to the end of the meeting. I had a couple of Promise activities prepared too, but we can easily do them another week. I’m still getting used to how much and what balance of activities Rainbows can do in an hour!


Division Christmas do

After our last Rainbow meeting of term I went out for a meal with some of the other Rainbow, Brownie and Guide leaders who were there, which was lovely and a nice chance to get to know them a bit more outside of guiding.

A few days later I went to my first leaders’ meeting in my new place. I think it was the shortest one I’ve ever been to! Back in my old district we always seemed to have lots to discuss and catch up on, and our termly leaders’ meetings were rarely under 2 hours. At this one we only had a few short bits of business (introductions mostly for my benefit, a few awards achieved, the funeral of a Trefoil Guild member, and our Thinking Day event) and it was all over in half an hour, leaving more time for festive nibbles and mingling. I’m very impressed.

I chatted to most of the leaders there – some I already knew, others I didn’t, and others I’d heard of (“only good things I hope, ha ha”). Luckily in guiding it’s usually easy to get the conversation flowing. I got far with questions like:

  • Which group do you help with?
  • When/where do you meet?
  • How long have you been doing it?
  • How many girls do you have?
  • What have you been doing this term?
  • Are you planning any trips/holidays next year?
  • Are you looking forward to the Christmas holidays? (Ok, that one mostly goes without saying.)

What I’m about to write might not make sense outside the UK, but in my local area we don’t have districts, just a division. I can see the advantage – not so many meetings, a shorter chain of emails and paperwork hopefully more mingling between units, and one Commissioner (and her helpers) for the whole area rather than having to find several every few years when there might not be enough suitable people who haven’t already done it. On the other hand, it’s a lot of units and leaders for one Commissioner to be responsible for, and I’m in awe.

Anyway. It was a good evening, and I’m glad to have met more local leaders. I’ll see many of them at Thinking Day if not before.

Summer cook outs

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It’s another flashback to last summer, since I got out of the blogging habit then.

As usual, my Guides did two cook outs in the summer term. They enjoy them, and it means on the second one they know what they’re doing, make their fires more efficiently, and get more adventurous with their food.

Actually I do my Guides a disservice. This year especially, I was very impressed with them even at the first cook out. Usually they need lots of reminders to collect wood and make a pile (“that fire’s not going to feed itself”), but this time they pretty much all just got on with it. And some of them were already cooking fancy things alongside their burgers and sausages – like wraps and pizzas.

For the first cook out we met at a leader’s house not too far away. Not one of our leaders; she’s the commissioner of another District in our Division, but she’s lovely and generous and has a big garden that she doesn’t mind us turfing up holes in.

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The second time we met at one of our Guides’ houses. It’s up on a hill above town, and they have a paddock behind the house that, again, her parents didn’t mind us making holes in. This Guide was really excited to have everyone over to visit, and we all enjoyed meeting her pets and horses. We were very lucky with the weather here: it’s an exposed place so it could have been miserable if it was windy or rainy, but instead it was a glorious still sunny evening. Oh how I miss summer.

The girls brought their own food and cooking implements, but we have Unit Leader to thank for bringing everything else we needed, from turfing tools and tables to sauces and spare hairbands.