Tag Archives: festivals

Happy Holi-days!

Last week the Rainbows celebrated Holi, the Hindu festival of spring and colour.

We started with a game of “What’s the colour, Miss Rainbow?” It’s like “What’s the time, Mr Wolf?” but instead of a time, the Rainbow at the front says one, two or three colours and the others repeat them and take that many steps. Supposedly. There was a lot of cheating reinterpreting the rules going on!

Then we went outside and drew on the paving slabs with giant chalks. The chalks were possibly the best £1 I’ve ever spent. It was great, all of them got really into it, and we had a lovely clear evening to do it.

So we didn’t throw paint at each other as is the tradition at Holi, but from the amount of chalk some Rainbows managed to get on themselves and their clothes, we might as well have! They were all really excited to show me how chalky their hands were.

My Brownie helper was particularly helpful this evening. She was very good at handing out and collecting the chalks, and at the end of the meeting she taught us all a new game. I’ve been a bit uncertain about what to do with such a young helper, but now I feel more encouraged about it – hopefully it’ll be a win for everyone.

Dydd Gŵyl Dewi Hapus! (Happy St David’s Day!)



Last week at Rainbows we celebrated St David’s day with some Welsh-themed activities.

First we sang Head, shoulders, knees and toes in Welsh (a bit like in this video from 00:43). The Rainbows found it really fun and they picked the words up quickly.

Then we made Welsh cakes – the Rainbows mixed the dough and cut out rounds, which my brilliant mum helpers took off to the kitchen and fried. The recipe involves rubbing the fat into the flour, and rolling the mixture on a floury surface, so it was good messy fun.

Alas! We didn’t get to eat them. My helpers thought they weren’t cooked enough in the middle, and didn’t want to risk giving the girls undercooked egg. While I like my Welsh cakes a bit gooey and I’d guess the mixture got hot enough to kill bacteria even though it didn’t set, I had to respect their judgement, so we threw the lot away. Oh well, we learn more when things don’t go as planned! Next time I’d ask the girls to roll the mixture more thinly.

No time for photos, but here’s the test batch I made the night before. They were delicious and, to be fair, not as squidgy as the Rainbows’ ones.







The Rainbows had some playtime while the cakes were cooking and the leaders wiped down the tables.

With 10 minutes to go, we made daffodils like the one above – expect the Rainbows made three each, they decorated the cups, and they didn’t stick the paper bits together. It was a bit rushed – I was overambitious to plan two activities for one evening! But everyone did at least leave with something that more or less looked like a daffodil.

I haven’t decided what activities we’re doing later this week, but I’ll make it a bit more leisurely…

Muslim festivals

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Last week at Rainbows I had a break from planning, because my unit helper and leader in training (who are mother and daughter, and Muslim) kindly agreed to run a meeting on Muslim festivals.

All I had to do was turn up with a jam jar for everyone, and sharpies to decorate them. I was pleased that I had just the right number of jars in my hoard. Or rather, I did once I’d finished some jam and chocolate spread – it’s a tough job but someone’s got to do it. I discovered the power of WD40 for getting stubborn sticky label glue off jars, and now I have a bit more space in my cupboard of containers.

My unit helper came in a beautiful salwar kameez. She started with some show and tell, passing round photos of her wedding, a Koran, and a bowl of tasty nutty rice pudding-like food for everyone to try. Lots of Rainbows had a taste, but only one liked it! I thought it was great, I’d have happily finished it! I’ll have to ask how to make it.

Then we decorated our jars with sharpies to turn them into coloured lanterns. We didn’t try lighting them there, but the Rainbows put a tea light inside their jars to take home. (And yes, I removed all trace of WD40 from the jars – perhaps next time I’ll try cleaning them with something less flammable!)

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After that we played a quick game and did an activity from Rainbow Roundabout Festivals based on the Night of Forgiveness, where we chatted about what it means to say sorry and forgive someone, and we said kind things about each other. Another quick game, and it was time to finish.

It was nice having having breathing space to do a little admin and badge stuff in the meeting, and have fun with the Rainbows helping them to follow the instructions. They probably enjoyed listening to someone different too!

Chinese New Year

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Last week the Rainbows celebrated yet another festival: Chinese New Year.

Unlike Groundhog Day, they knew lots about CNY already, from school. In our chat at the beginning they volunteered lots of facts, like that it’ll be the year of the monkey, and they’d seen/made/carried Chinese dragons. I asked if any of them had been to China, and four girls raised their hands. I suspect they might have misunderstood me, but I didn’t enquire further.

First I read this story about how the Chinese zodiac began. I gave everyone a little sticky badge with an animal picture on, thinking they could act it out, but actually there wasn’t much for everyone to do except pretend to swim (except the rat, who gets up to all sorts of antics). Still, at least they might remember the various animals.

Then we did a chopstick challenge. In groups, the Rainbows had to transfer food from one bowl to another using chopsticks (free ones swiped resourced from a restaurant), with each taking it in turns to move one piece of fruit. Dried fruit (apples, bananas, apricots and sultanas) was a good choice of food to use, because:

  • it’s squidgy and sticky, which makes it easier to pick up than something smooth and hard like beans
  • it comes in a range of sizes, so the Rainbows could start with the easy apple bits and work their way down to sultanas
  • the apple pieces have a hole in the middle, so if all else failed they could just hook it with the chopstick
  • they got to eat the fruit afterwards, and it’s vaguely healthy (actually, they left most of it, so I now have lots at home…oh wait, we can use it as a pancake topping next week
  • bonus relevance: it’s the year of the monkey, and monkeys like fruit

Actually, I was impressed at how good the Rainbows were with chopsticks. Some of them were holding them in one hand, look:

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Next we did a scrapheap challenge: each group had a pile of clean recycling, and had to make various animals from the zodiac story. Here’s a cat (he got left out of the zodiac because he was asleep):

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I wasn’t sure how well the Rainbows would work together in a group of 5 or 6. They’re quite young for teamwork as adults understand it. One group worked together to make one animal (helped by an adult), one group sort of did, and one group split into pairs and individuals doing their own thing. Good to know for future reference.

After all that working together, they needed running around time! So we played a quick and energetic game of traffic lights which left everyone so exhausted they needed a lie down!

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Groundhog Day


Continuing with our festivals theme, last week the Rainbows learned about Groundhog Day.

Whenever I hear those words, I remember a Guide camp I went to a few years ago. I shared a tent with one of the cooks, and every morning when we woke up the first thing she’d say was “It’s like blooming Groundhog Day” (or words to that effect). Same thing every day!

Anyway, I don’t think any of my Rainbows had heard of it before – no reason why they would have – but they were interested to look at a picture of a groundhog I’d printed off. It occurred to me it would be even better to have a cuddly groundhog . I think I need one as part of my guider stash.

We played the game where the Rainbows run around (“groundhogs playtime”), then crouch down on the floor and close their eyes (“groundhogs go to bed”) and a leader covers one with a blanket, then the others get up (“groundhogs wake up”) and have to guess who’s hidden. They only needed one hint, for one of our newest Rainbows.

Then we made these pop-up groundhogs. The Rainbow Roundabout pack suggests using paper/plastic cups and lolly sticks, but we used big yogurt pots and drinking straws because I have lots of them at home. It’s a relief to have a bit more space in my hoarding cupboard.

The one in the picture is mine, but the Rainbows’ ones were much more colourful, of course. Actually, one girl made such a neat and tidy groundhog that I picked it up at the end thinking it was mine. She had to tell me twice that she couldn’t find hers before I realised I was holding it – whoops!

What was really nice was I posted this picture on a Rainbow leaders’ Facebook group and got not only some replies from other leaders who were doing this/had done it, but also a comment from the lady who put them into the Rainbow Roundabout. She said she got the idea from a Sparks group (Canadian version of Rainbows) and had used it many times over the years. It’s lovely to hear where these things come from. Thanks, Angela!

When everyone was finished we sang a song. It’s possibly meant to go to the tune of I’m a Little Teapot, but it ended up more like Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. Hey, whatever fits.

Wake up little groundhog, it’s time to rise, [pop groundhog up]
Time to wake up and open your eyes.
If you see your shadow, down you pop [pop groundhog down]
For six more weeks till winter stops.

On a different note, I learned a lesson this week: always check the toilets after the meeting. The week before, some Rainbows had made a mess (not deliberately, just because they’re little and can’t reach everything easily), and the Brownie leaders who meet after us had to clean it up. Oh dear. I should have been checking already, but I’ll remember in future.

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!



I wasn’t at Guides this week: I had to work an evening shift and missed out on pancakes!  From past years, I know roughly what went on…

Each Guide brought an empty, clean tin can with the lid removed and holes made in the side.  We brought an example in the week before and warned about being careful/getting an adult to help with making the holes.  We also asked everyone to bring a household candle – not a tealight, as experience has taught us they’re not strong enough.

The leaders brought batter ingredients and toppings, and spare cans and candles.

On plates or trays, the Guides lit their candles and placed the cans over the top.  The cans really need a lot of big holes to let enough oxygen in.  The Guides mixed batter, and poured it onto the top surface of the can when it’s hot enough (with a bit of oil, I think?).  Let pancake cook, turn it over with an implement, let it cook a bit more, remove and put on a plate, add toppings, eat and enjoy, repeat until the batter runs out or you’ve had enough.

Sometimes we also make popcorn in foil pie cases, and/or toast marshmallows and make s’mores.  I’m not sure what they did this time, but there were a lot of unused marshmallows in the Guide hall (left over from my pack holiday) so hopefully some of them found a good home.