Potato people

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Last week at Rainbows, we started Northop Brownies’ Vegetable Challenge badge. I’d planned to do Roundabout Healthy Eating, because according to the badges of my oldest Rainbows it was the only Roundabout they hadn’t done. (I’ve only been with this unit for a year, so some of the older girls were there before me .) But it was out of stock in the guiding shop, so I found a challenge badge on the same sort of topic.

Anyway, we made Potato People. My unit helper read a storybook called Potato People (I found a cheap second-hand copy of the book, and it was too perfect not to get), then the Rainbows made their own by rolling a dice to tell them which part to add.

  1. Googly eye
  2. Nose or mouth (draw with a felt-tip)
  3. Hair (wool, glued on)
  4. Arm (cocktail stick)
  5. Leg (cocktail stick)
  6. Button (push pin)

It’s a bit of a weird craft, and as my partner pointed out when I showed him the prototype, it ends up quite spiky with all the cocktail sticks poking out of the potato. The Rainbows enjoyed the game, and no one got stabbed. Most of the potatoes ended up looking similar-but-different, with the same number of features in slightly different places and styles. But my youngest Rainbow decided that four limbs were not enough, so she kept adding arms and legs until she had a sort of alien-octopus-potato. It was excellent.

After Rainbows, I led the Guides and older Brownies in an activity about being “true to myself and develop[ing] my beliefs”.

They stood in a line, one behind the other, I asked them a question with two options, and they had to jump one way if they agreed with the first option, and the other way for the second option. Then I asked another question, and they jumped one way or the other from where they were standing, so they soon ended up scattered around the room. Or that was the idea. We were in a small room so it wasn’t very scattered.

The idea was to get them thinking about how easy (or not) it was to go your own way and not be affected by other people’s choices.

The questions were a mixture of fun and serious ones (like “Do you prefer cats or dogs?” or “Which is more important to you, following fashion or being an individual?”).

Then they chose patrols and Go For Its, and planned their activities for the next couple of weeks.

The Guides are a tiny group, now that 3 of the girls are over 14 and are dipping between going Guides activities and being Young Leaders with the Brownies. We haven’t fully planned the term yet, but it looks like I’ll be leading a lot of their meetings although I’m not officially the unit leader (Brown Owl is, but she has a Brownie unit to run at the same time). I’m happy to, but I’ve been concentrating more on Rainbows, so I feel guiltily like the Guides aren’t getting anyone’s full attention. We can but do our best!

 

All About Me: quizzes and door hangers

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Back in November, the Rainbows had another night of doing activities from the Roundabout All About Me pack, which they had voted for.

First they did a quiz about Rainbows around the world, running to different parts of the room depending on what they thought the answer was. My younger Unit Helper ran this, and I was so happy (and told her so). I’d love her to do more activities like this.

Then they made door hangers (to go on bedroom door handles – I printed outlines on card, and the Rainbows cut them out) with their name and a picture of what it “means”. I put a book of baby names on each table so they could look up their name (with an adult helping).

Now I’m a massive name nerd. Reading and writing about names, collecting books about names, and collecting news and blog posts about names, is my other big hobby besides guiding. You might think this made the activity more fun, but actually it made it a bit stressful! This activity just needs a simple easy-to-draw meaning for a name, which is easy for some names (like Holly and Ruby) but just doesn’t exist for others (like Ellie and Millie). So I found myself compromising the facts a bit to give the Rainbows something to work with (“Er, yes, Ellie means ‘light’ and Millie means ‘hardworking'”).

My nerdy struggles aside, I think the Rainbows enjoyed it. They enjoyed seeing their names printed in books – fortunately I brought books that have all the Rainbows’ names in, so no one was left out.

Snowmen and Jelly Babies

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First night back at Rainbows, and we made snowmen with toilet roll tubes (which has made a good dent in my stash), cotton wool, and bits of fabric, paper and stickers – and lots of PVA glue.

An hour or so after Rainbows finished, it actually snowed, for the first time this winter, more heavily than expected. I felt pretty smug that I’d accidentally chosen a timely activity!

Then we played the Christmas Card Game. It’s my go-to activity for the first meeting after Christmas with any section (for example, I did it with Rainbows last year and Guides in 2014). You need a big pile of old Christmas cards and some teams of girls. You call out something to find (like a snowman, a robin, some glitter) and one girl from each team runs and tries to find it on a card. The first one to find it gets a point for her team.

It was a pretty quiet evening, with only 11 out of 16 Rainbows there. We had two new girls, who both have friends in the unit and settled in so well I hardly remembered they were new.

I stayed on to help with Brownies and Guides (all together tonight), and they did a Jelly Baby-themed evening in sixes and patrols:

  • A game where a leader called a word and the girls had to do an action – after a while, the girl who did it last/did the wrong action/wasn’t in a group of the right size was out and joined the judges
  • A relay quiz: each group stood in a line with one leader, who had a question sheet and pen. The leader read the first question to the first girl in the line, she ran to the middle of the room to find the answer on a packet of jelly babies (for example, one question was “What is the sell-by date?” The girl ran back and told the leader the answer, then the next girl got a question. When the first team finished, everyone stopped and marked the answers
  • Each group designed a new jelly baby and presented it to everyone

Then I took the Guides and the oldest Brownies off separately and we brainstormed what they’d like to do this term. Most of their ideas were big and outside the meeting place, so then we had a brainstorm of how they could raise money to do them. I collected the ideas, so now I need to sit down with the other leaders and work out a plan.

I found I was surprised at how well-behaved and generally pleasant the Brownies were (ok, they went a bit crazy when it started snowing, but let’s face it, it is THE MOST EXCITING THING when you’re 8). This made me realise how tired and hyper they (and we leaders) were getting towards the end of last term, though I didn’t notice at the time.

So this is encouraging. I’m refreshed, the Brownies are quite nice actually, and things are looking up for this term.

Rainbows in the dark

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Back in November, to loosely tie in with bonfire/fireworks night, we had a Rainbows meeting in the dark.

We started with Rainbow Chat with all the lights on, then each Rainbow got a glow stick and we turned off all the lights in the hall. There was some light coming through the door to the foyer, so it wasn’t completely dark.

We played hide and seek (the Rainbows found their partners using glow sticks) and Duck Duck Goose (the Rainbows bopped each other gently on the head with light-up balloons, which are really great – I got a packet from Wilko). Possibly some other games too.

Then we switched some of the lights on, and did a very quick food activity: making edible sparklers by dipping a chocolate finger into warm water (to melt the chocolate), then into sprinkles.

Some of the Rainbows said they were worried about the dark beforehand, but they were all fine once the lights were off. If anything they were more, er, energetic than usual because they thought they could get away with more if I couldn’t see them! Since then, some of them have asked to do it again…probably next autumn, I think.

I do like doing things in the dark, like this and night hikes – anything to teach the girls that darkness can be fun, and in itself isn’t anything to be afraid of.

Happy birthday to Her Majesty

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Back in the summer, my Division held a garden party for girls, to celebrate the Queen’s 90th birthday.

Only one of my Rainbows went, and I wasn’t involved in running anything, but it was fun to attend, watch, and be vaguely useful.

The girls made and decorated crowns to wear, constructed a hobby horse (in teams) and did relay races, and did a trail looking for the names of members of the royal family around the garden.

Then we had a tasty afternoon tea and did group photos with an arch some leaders had made, and a cardboard cutout of Her Maj herself. (We’ve still got the cutout, if anyone has a use for it…)

There with bells on! Rainbows do morris dancing

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Back in the summer, two members of the local morris side kindly came to Rainbows and taught us some dances.

Morris dancing is something close to my heart. I did it for a couple of years with a lovely Cotswold side before I moved to where I live now. I’d been considering joining this local group, so this seemed like a good way to case them out.

They came in their full kit, which caught the Rainbows’ attention, and told us a bit about the history of the group before teaching us a simple(ish) dance. They bravely gave the Rainbows sticks!

The Rainbows made a good effort learning the dance. After a while, they gradually reached the end of their attention, so some went and played with the hoops and skipping ropes while others kept dancing for a while.

It was a good meeting, with no preparation from me needed (yay), and now I think about it, it covered quite a few bases for the girls: exercise, agility, rhythm, working together, and the community they live in.