Tag Archives: brownies

Snowmen and Jelly Babies

snowmen (10) - Copy.jpg

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.

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Brownies, alleys, beaches and chips

brownies beach

After Rainbows, I went off to join the Brownies. I knew they were somewhere in the town doing a trail, so I cycled around the back streets. It didn’t take long to find them in those hi vis jackets.

They were going around in Sixes finding all the little alleyways between the high street and the sea. There are more than I realised, some with very colourful names.

The Six I joined up finished quickly. We had a bit of time before we had to be at our final destination, so we went down to the beach for a few minutes, then took a trip to the public toilets. Oh the adventure.

We ended up at a takeaway owned by a Brownie’s parents (who are family friends of Brown Owl), where we all had chips and a drink in the garden. All in all a lovely evening, helped by the glorious weather.

Bilingual Brownies

deddf-y-brownis

The Brownie Law: A Brownie Guide thinks of others before herself and does a good turn every day.

Happy International Mother Language Day! In honour of my favourite awareness day, here’s a languagey post.

A couple of weeks ago I read this post from the Girl Guides of Canada about running a bilingual unit. It reminded me of my own experiences in a (sort of) bilingual unit a few years ago.

(Incidentally, I love the word bilingual because it describes itself.)

In 2011-12 I lived in deepest darkest Wales for a year while I was doing a Master’s course, and I helped at a Brownie unit. We had lots of good times, and looking back on it I learned a lot as a leader that year. Here are my jumbled thoughts on the languagey things I learned.

My Brownies were a cross section of the local community. Some went to Welsh-speaking schools and others went to English-speaking schools – it was roughly 50/50. At home some spoke only Welsh, some only English, some a mixture of both, and some a mixture of English and Arabic or Urdu.

The leaders only had limited Welsh. Three of us had moved there from England, and the fourth came from a not-very-Welsh part of Wales. It was a challenge which I’m sure many other units share. We wanted to be inclusive, to let the Brownies use whichever language they felt comfortable in, but we spoke to them and wrote letters to parents almost entirely in English, because we are Sasenach oppressors that was the only language we felt comfortable enough with.

To some extent it affected the activities we did. Early on when we were doing some writing, I noticed some Brownies, even almost 10-year-olds, made spelling “mistakes” that monolingual English children wouldn’t think of: when in doubt they operated by Welsh rules. One I remember was gini pyg for guinea pig. It brought it home to me that my Brownies at Welsh schools might have very little literacy in English – I think they didn’t start English lessons until the last few years of primary school.

After that I consciously planned activities that didn’t involve a lot of reading or writing, which I think is good practice anyway: guiding isn’t school. If there was writing, I tried to make it bilingual (like the Brownie Law mice in the photo – the English version is on the other side). I didn’t always succeed. We offered new Brownies a choice of which language to make their Promise in. (They all chose English in my time there.)

When some new 7-year-old Brownies joined later in the year, I noticed one in particular wasn’t confident speaking English. Well, why would you be when you never use it at home or at school? For example, when they lined up in order of their birthday and we asked them to call out the month they were born, most said it in English but this Brownie called “Tachwedd”. Cool, we know which month that is (November) so you’re in the right order, next please. I think she was happy, she had friends and their older sisters there so she wasn’t isolated.

My guess is that the Welsh-speaking Brownies get more bilingual as they get older, but I wasn’t there long enough to see it happen. Sadly, I’d also guess that the English-speaking Brownies don’t get more bilingual. They just don’t need to in day-to-day life. It’s a tricky issue.

It’s well-known that there are a gazillion advantages to being multilingual, and in the grand scheme of humanity it’s strange and unnatural to only have one language. The obvious advantages for my Cymraeg Brownies were:

  • they had a secret language to communicate in that the leaders could barely understand. When I was that age I loved secret codes, secret diaries etc. I’d have gone wild for a whole secret language.
  • they got to teach us leaders bits of Welsh and encourage/laugh at our efforts to learn. When you’re 7/8/9 years old it’s not often you’re better at something than an adult. With the right attitude from leaders, it can be really good for girls to be the experts for a change. Of course this applies to all girls in all sorts of things, not just languages.

I’ve lost touch with most of my leader friends from Wales, but I hope they and my Brownies, whichever languages they speak, are doing ok. Fingers crossed some of them are Guides and Senior Section now.

Christmas party

For the last Rainbow meeting of term, we had a joint party with the Brownies and Guides who meet on the same night, plus parents. Lucky we have a big hall!

After a welcome from the Commissioner, the girls and parents got into groups and played Christmas tree beetle. Roll a dice to make a Christmas tree from bits of laminated paper – you have to get a pot first, then a tree, then you can add the other bits in any order.

1=star 2=bauble 3=bauble 4=bauble 5=tree 6=pot

When we’d played that for a while, we had nibbles and mulled fruit juice. Last week Commissioner warned the Rainbows that there’d just be a few bits of party food, not a proper meal. My expectations were greatly exceeded: there was lots of festive party food! I was a bit worried there’d be lots left over, but then the Guides arrived and helped us out with that.

Then a lady came to play the piano and we sang some Christmassy songs: Away in a MangerJingle Bells, that sort of thing that most people knew to join in with. We might have had more joining in if we’d moved all the chairs round near the piano before we started, but as it happened it was nice and relaxed: those who wanted to join in came and sat near the piano to sing, while a few parents and girls (and leaders) who wanted to chat and play at the back of the hall did that.

To finish off, we sang the goodbye songs for the various sections and gave the girls presents as they left. It was a good evening for bringing the different ages together and reminding everyone that guiding is more than just our unit. I spoke to a few leaders that I hadn’t before, and met one of my Rainbows and her mother for the first time, as she hadn’t been to the last few meetings.

So that’s my first half term over, and after Christmas I’ll be getting involved in running the unit. Exciting-stroke-challenging! Come to think of it, I’m not sure which date we’re going back. I should probably find that out…

World Thinking Day 2015

This year we had our Thinking Day celebrations on actual Thinking Day, since it was a Sunday. We did it as a district, nothing fancy, just a couple of hours of international-themed activities, squash and cake, renewal of Promises, a little singsong, and off we all go.

We had six rotating activities based on the three countries our international trip Guides and Young Leaders are visiting this year:

  • Japan (origami and races moving things with chopsticks)

  • India (making/decorating card elephants and drawing round hands then drawing on henna designs)

  • USA (s’mores and making the Golden Gate Bridge out of marshmallows and spaghetti)

I was on s’mores, along with Queen’s Guide Buddy and our old Young Leader who was back from university for a few days. The girls toasted marshmallows/veggie jelly sweets on skewers over tealights, and smooshed them with a square of chocolate between two digestives. Om nom nom. And only a couple of “burned” fingers. Yes, we did have a handwashing/cooling bucket to hand, and the girls did tie back their hair.

The girls went around in mixed-age and mixed-unit groups, decided by coloured name stickers as they arrived, which meant they got to hang out with some new people and the older ones could help the younger ones.

We also had the second round of the Great Girlguiding Bake Off. The three(ish) winners from each unit brought along another three decorated cupcakes, and our judges (a couple of Trefoil Guilders) named a winner and a runner up from each section. One of my Guides was runner up, but the winning Guide was from the other unit – she’ll be making something else for the Division round in March.

I’m relieved to say I didn’t win the adult competition, as I think my housemates are getting fed up with Victoria sandwich!

As expected, there were a lot of Rainbows and Brownies, but only a few Guides – and most of them were only there because they were in the Bake Off. Maybe a bit of a shame, as Thinking Day should be for them too, but they have more pressures on their time and I can see why a “fun activity afternoon” isn’t enough to tempt them. There were quite a few Senior Section helping out with activities, and some Trefoil Guilders, so we did at least have someone from every section of the guiding family.

A belated happy Thinking Day to my friends in Girlguiding and Girl Scouting everywhere.

Found over Christmas

While I was at my parents’ house over Christmas, I sorted and cleared out some of the piles of paperwork I’ve been keeping there.  Among them were some things left over from guiding activities.  I really don’t need them, but they brought back good memories and it would be a shame to forget them, so I took photos before throwing them to the recycling.  I found…

Promise decoration 1

Promise decoration 2

A hanging Promise decoration from a training weekend at Foxlease.

Llygoden deddf Brownis

Brownie law mouse

Brownie law mouse templatesA Brownie law mouse and its templates (tie a knot in the tail every time you do a good turn), which I did with my Welsh Brownies.  Amser da.

Hairdryer

A picture of a hairdryer from those same Brownies: part of a game about what we do and don’t pack for travelling abroad.

Russia map

A map of Russia with the approximate locations I visited on GOLD in 2011.

Thoth neck ring

A neck-ring I made at an Ancient Egpyt-themed Brownie holiday.  That was the one and only time I’ve been a QM, and I enjoyed it very much.  I wouldn’t mind doing it again for an indoor weekend, though I wouldn’t be too keen to cater at camp, at this stage.

Reindeer

Finally, here are the cardboard reindeer from my Guides’ Christmas party.  They had races flapping them across the floor with newspaper.

A spooky assessment

A few weeks ago, I visited another Brownie pack holiday to assess a leader for her Going Away With… qualification.  I was interested to see the venue, as it was a place I’d heard of but never seen, a Girlguiding property just outside the county.

I must admit, I had mixed feelings about it.  The house itself was cosy, a bit old-fashioned but very comfortable and full of guiding decor and nicknacks, with plenty of communal space and a good-sized kitchen.  There was a grassy area outside with a campfire circle and space for running around or a few tents, and a track ran around the whole area, making a clear boundary.

However, I found getting to the house a bit spooky!  Maybe it was just because it was getting dark at the time, but it was in the middle of remote-feeling woodland with public footpaths running through it, and the drive went past lots of run-down buildings.  No obvious site warden…not sure I’d want to stay there except in high summer, but other leaders I’ve spoken to assure me that they’ve had perfectly good holidays there.

Anyway, this leader was doing a great job of running the holiday.  It was jungle-themed, and all the girls, Young Leaders and leaders seemed to be having a fun and relaxed time.