smallhobbit: (screech owl)
Screech Owl is back at Brownies - as is Brown Owl.  Sparkly Owl is on holiday far away in the sunshine.

I've just been reading my entry for this time last year, when we had masses of Brownies - this time, for reasons I will explain below, we have far fewer to start with.  We had 12 due to come back, and slightly to our surprise, 11 did - there's usually a few drop out over the summer.  The only one who didn't come had been erratic last term - she has other activities after school, and her grandmother can't always get her to us.  In addition she's probably only got one more term with us until she's 10, so they may have decided it's easier if she stops now.

Sadly, despite initial interest, we have no new offers of help, so we shall carry on.  It seems to be a widespread problem.  On the other hand, there are new girls wanting to join.  We had two start yesterday - a third had found a place in another pack at a more suitable time.  That's fair enough - we have a further seven (I think) who are old enough to join now and will be invited to start in a couple of week's time.

We played various games - our normal opening night activity.  A number of the girls were very excitable, which meant I had to be stricter in enforcing the rules than I would normally be.  With some of the Brownies' help I pointed out we have rules to make it safe to play (if half the runners go the opposite way round the circle from the other half, there will be an accident) and to make it fair to all.  And, of course, there is the ultimate rule "If Screech Owl says you're out, you're out!"

We stacked in the cupboard all the goodies we got from collecting Sainsbury's Active Kids vouchers:

At the front is a ball (yet to be blown up) in the shape of a globe - handy for both games and when we talk about different countries.  There's a stop watch; enough plant pots and saucers for everybody (either for growing seeds, or for table decorations); and two storage boxes (for pens, rubbers, etc).

Next week we're off to visit the local Police Headquarters.  They can only take 15 girls at a time, which is why we restricted how many new Brownies could start at the beginning of term.
smallhobbit: (screech owl)
Faithful readers of this blog will know that sometime last month I asked if anyone wanted to ask me something.  Most of you already know far more about me than is strictly necessary, but [personal profile] aome  asked how I got involved with Brownies in the first place.

The simple answer, which is probably the same for three-quarters of leaders, is because the daughter's Guide Unit needed help.  But there's more to why I'm still involved.

To begin at the very beginning:  The daughter was always a very enthusiastic guiding member.  She began Rainbows a little above the minimum age, but the first time she went she came home asking if I could sponsor her, could she go to an event, and when did she get her uniform.  When she moved onto Brownies she had the option of joining two trips at the end of the summer term, or waiting until the autumn - there was no question, she was going on the trips.  And so onto Guides - one week there and she's signed up for camp the following month.

So when her unit were in desperate need of help, I wanted to make sure she could continue with something she enjoyed.  I started as a Unit Helper, but was persuaded to take the qualification and become an Assistant Leader.  And inevitably the leader moved with her husband, and I took the final part of the qualification to become the Unit Leader.  The daughter got older and moved onto Explorer Scouts.

Time passed, and my Assistant Leader could no longer help.  The daughter took GCSEs and started college, where she was residential.  We needed to pay for the accommodation which meant I needed to find a full-time job (I had worked part-time whilst the kids were growing up.)  So with less time and less help I did one further term as Unit Leader, but then was forced to close the unit.

I still wanted to do 'something' and having had involvement with the Scouts whilst the daughter was there, I went to help with a Beaver Scout unit.  It turned out that Scouting wasn't for me.  So after a couple of terms I stopped.

And enquired at the village Brownie pack whether I could be of assistance.  I knew the leaders from my time with the Guides, and had helped them with the annual London trip and on other odd occasions.  Strangely enough, it turned out that an experienced pair of hands would be very welcome.  So I completed the group specific part of the qualification, so I could lead Brownies.  Then, when one of the Brownie leaders proposed starting a new Guide Unit in the nearby town I offered to help and provide experience of the Guide programme.  So for two terms I was doing both Brownies and Guides.  (By that point I had changed job again and was working slightly less hours).

Then, when we moved to Gloucester, I asked one of my current Brownie Leaders if she knew a pack I could join.  She recommended the one I'm at now, which was ideal because it suited my style of leadership.  So, 14 years later, I'm still involved as a Brownie leader.
smallhobbit: (screech owl)
Sad, in that we will be losing some Brownies who've made a real contribution to the pack.  However, I have no problem with having a break ;)

Last week we made code breakers, which proved yet again the simplest things will provide a challenge.  How, when Brown Owl has drawn the circle for you to cut out, does your disc turn out half the size it should be?  But with the expected help for the youngest girls nearly everyone managed to write and decode a message.  The Brownie who we know has difficulties was carefully colouring in her code breaker, but not attempting to write a message.  I suspect she really didn't understand the idea, so I went to help her and we agreed she'd write an important message for her mother to decode.  Mum was happy to try when I told her when she picked her daughter up.  The message was indeed important "I like ice cream".

This week we finished with games, active games and quieter games interspersed, as it had been a hot day.  We asked each of the three girls who were leaving to choose a game, which meant we played Port & Starboard, Wink Murder, and The Colour Game.  Followed by Screech Owl Says as we still had some time.  We then finished with an enrollment, before going home for the holidays.

We shall most certainly miss our leavers.  One Brownie has been with us since she was just 7 and has been very enthusiastic and helpful; she was made Sixer of a six which for nearly two years hadn't worked well together and really turned them round.  One Brownie had transferred over when her previous pack closed, and only spent a year with us, but again has really added to the pack.  Her mother brought each of the leaders a bottle of wine as a thank you, which was very kind, and totally unexpected.  And our final Brownie has been really committed to us, even though at times she's had less support from her family - it was her younger sister who was enrolled, and mum, another sister, and mum's partner all came to the enrollment.  Which was proof of how they must value what we do.

I wrote before that Brown Owl wants to stand down.  With no sign of anyone coming to help she will continue, because she doesn't want the pack to fold.  Various people came up to ask us when she was leaving, which shows they had read the magazine article I'd written.  Unfortunately no-one also volunteered to help.  I've just put a post on Facebook, under the "Spotted in XYZ" section, which has produced three people who say they're interested.  We shall see.  Meanwhile, I've just arranged for us to visit the Police Control Centre early next term - so many things I wouldn't get to do if I didn't go to Brownies ;)
smallhobbit: (screech owl)
Last week was badge night.  We had a special badge tester in - an ex-guider - to do a lot of the testing, and we picked up a few.  We were all, including our tester, extremely impressed with the variety of badges the Brownies had chosen, and the standard they achieved.  Just so you know what a Brownie can do, with a little help at home, here's the full list: Booklover, Cook (more buns, colourfully iced), Fire Safety (which last week proved very appropriate), Sport (Football - most of it signed off by her coach, I did the final clause), Brownie Skills, Home Skills, Hostess (2 of, cups of tea for all leaders), Craft (3 of), Designer, Friend to Animals (she's adopted a cheetah - the toy version came in), and Wildlife Explorer.

And this week we all worked for our World Traveller badge.  Once their passports had been issued, the Brownies were divided into three groups (one of the sixes was split to join the other three sixes) to tackle three tasks (aka badge clauses).  The first task was to play Kim's Game, which is where a selection of items are laid on a tray, and the girls had to remember and list them afterwards.  There were a selection of souvenirs from various countries, together with cookery and guide books; one of my dragons and Edel Lion came to help.  The Brownies individually listed what they could remember and then each group combined their list to see if they'd remembered everything.  Each group managed 15 out of the 17 items, which is good.  Strangely, they all forgot the suntan lotion.

The next task was a quiz identifying which countries the international car registration marks related to.  I had chosen all European countries, some easier than others, including GBZ for our recent transfer from Gibraltar.  Two of the groups managed quite well, with some surprises as to who knew what.  One group floundered, but Brown Owl was there to assist.

The final task gave each girl a cardboard doll to colour with the correct uniform for a Brownie (or the equivalent) from around the world.  My flist, as ever, turned up trumps, so I had details from Ireland, France, Switzerland, USA, Canada and Australia for them to choose from.  On the back of the doll they wrote the country, the date when GirlGuiding started there, and what they would be called if they were guiding in that country.  For a simple task it was really popular and there were several requests to take the dolls home, which all of them did.

Lastly, they went into their two language groups, and after a quick revision, the French speakers and the Spanish speakrs faced each other, counted from one to ten, said Hello, Thank you, and Goodbye.  And a number of them looked pleased at what they'd remembered.

For each completed task they received a stamp on the back of their passports.  And with four stamps they all received a badge.  They then went home with badge, passport and doll, together with their individual badges for the week before.

World traveller
smallhobbit: (Edel Lion)
SM has been off doing a singing workshop today, leaving me at home with nothing particularly pressing.  I have however been reasonably productive!

Apart that is from the usual puttering around on the internet, catching up with emails/LJ comments/fic reading, and the washing - which has dried nicely and is waiting for me to bring it in!

I have thought about the 'talk in the sermon slot' I'm doing next month and got an idea of where I'm going with it.  Have also thought about the talk for tomorrow's Combined Family Praise Fathers' (and Others') Day service.

I have written part of the chapter two of my Gen Bingo fic.  This is the one which follows on from Master Baggins the Baker's Son.  I have vague ideas, which are changing as I write, but so far I'm pleased with the way it's going.  Incidentally, Master Baggins is my most kudos fic for 2017, and my top five kudos fics this year are all The Hobbit and Bagginshield.

I have done the edits for my Not Prime Time exchange fic, with many thanks to [personal profile] thewhitelily  for her hard work in beta-ing it and saying 'this needs another sentence of explanation/reaction'.  All very true - I particularly appreciate her help, since it was a fandom she doesn't know.

I have booked tickets for a play.  This is put on by a new company Elliot & Harper Productions at London's Wyndhams Theatre.  The play Heisenberg will star Anne-Marie Duff (the reason for booking) and Kenneth Cranham.  The company are the ones who will also be putting on a play directed by Yael Harper, in which there are rumours Richard Armitage will star.  But ignoring that possibility for the moment SM and I are going between Christmas and New Year, and having a couple of days in London as well, which should be good.  I can see the run up to Christmas being busy, and learning from Easter, having a proper break afterwards seems like a good idea.

And lastly, apart of course from writing this blog post, I have ordered the Active Kids equipment for the Sainsbury's vouchers we collected.  It was quite difficult to decide what to get, but in the end we're having an earth ball - a ball with a map of the world printed on it, which should be good both for games and when we talk about Brownies around the world.  They also do gardening equipment, so I've ordered a set of small plant pots and saucers which we can use for a craft/gift/activity.  And with the remaining vouchers I selected a stop watch - we've been using a phone as a timer, but this would be easier - and a couple of food containers, which we can use for general storage.  Not a bad haul at all.

Hope your're all having a good weekend too!
smallhobbit: (screech owl)
So, back at Brownies for the last few weeks before the summer holidays.  We have a slightly smaller pack at the moment, having lost two Brownies and we don't take new ones on for these weeks, as it's not worth it.  One Brownie was the one with the impossible mother; the other we were sorry to see go, but understood why.  She's gone to join Cubs with her twin brother - which will make life easier for the mother, because both groups meet at about the same time, but in different locations.

We began work on the World Traveller badge yesterday.  It's a relative easy badge, but should be quite enjoyable.  It's one of the badges where you choose five activities from a long list, so with a little bit of adapting we can have a couple of fun evenings while earning a badge.

First things first - I had designed a simple passport for them to complete, with their name on the front, and inside was a space for them to draw a picture of themselves and fill in some details.  Since this was a special Brownie passport, instead of their address they had to include their six and which Brownie pack they belong to.  On the back there is space for stamps.  These will be applied when they complete the activities in a couple of week's time.  Although simple, this kept them happily occupied for quite a while.

One of the other sections of the badge requires them to count from one to ten and say hello, goodbye and thank you, in a foreign language.  Most of the older girls learn a language at school and French predominates.  A few learn Spanish and we have a new transferee who has recently arrived from Gibraltar.  So we split the girls into two groups and helped them practise.  Then they formed two lines, facing each other, to demonstrate their French and Spanish.  Again they enjoyed themselves, and looked pleased at what they had achieved.

Au revoir   and   Adios
smallhobbit: (screech owl)
It's been a couple of easier weeks at Brownies - by easier I mean I wasn't leading the activities.  Last week we found activities for them to do from their Adventure books, which involved looking at the strengths and talents of the girls within their sixes, and then asking them to read various scenarios and discuss the best outcome from the choices provided.  It got the Brownies talking to each other, and as far as we could see they were all able to contribute something.

This week we were doing the Mr Men and Little Miss Marathon challenge which enables groups to raise funds for children with cancer.  The idea is to do 26 things and be sponsored in the process.  Sparkly Owl suggested they do 26 exercises for one minute each.  Last week they were sent out with their forms and then this week they did their exercises.  It was a proper challenge, but overall they agreed it was worth doing.  And hopefully we will raise a good sum for charity.  We know one of our Brownies has had a good number of sponsors because people think it's a good charity.

Thank you to all those of my flist who provided me with the website of their national guiding/girl scouting organisation.  I've been able to find all the information I need for the activity towards our Brownie World Traveller badge.  I've also kept a note of the details so I can use them again.

I'm currently counting Sainsburys vouchers.  Every year we collect Active Kids vouchers.  Last year we collected enough to obtain four brightly coloured skipping ropes - not much in the great scheme of things, but it all helps our group.  This time we have about five times as many vouchers, which is wonderful.  It's nice to feel the parents are supporting us in this way, including involving grandparents and other relatives.
smallhobbit: (screech owl)
We started back at Brownies last week, with our customary games night.  We had two new girls, one the younger sister of one of our current Brownies, the other a transfer, as the family have just moved back from Gibraltar (which is a first for us).  Another new girl joined us this week, bringing us up to 21 girls.

This week we opted for a simple craft, since Sparkly Owl was on holiday.  We asked the Brownies what was special about May, and after some thought, one of them said, 'Isn't it Star Wars Day?' so I gave the correct greeting of 'May the fourth be with you' and we carried on trying to get someone to say May Day celebrations.  They didn't, but nevertheless we did our May Day craft - a thin hairband to be decorated with paper flowers.  Very simple and very popular.

Last week we'd said we would be running another badge night and asked the Brownies to think which badge they wanted to work for.  So this week, while they were working on their craft I went round to each of them to discuss what they wanted to do.  They've chosen a wide variety of badges, so we're very hopeful as to what will be produced.

On Sunday afternoon, one of the mothers had phoned Brown Owl to rant that her daughter wasn't to do any badges, because she found it too stressful.  We were completely unimpressed, and I was all geared up to say something when she came in to continue her reasoning as she had promised to do.  In fact all she did was drop her daughter off and stand as far as possible from the door to make sure she came in.  I spoke to the daughter, came up with a solution which she was happy with (we have all sorts of ways of enabling the girls to achieve badges) and then when the daughter told her mother she said to me 'and she's happy with that?'  By and large we can cope with problem Brownies, problem parents are another matter.

Brown Owl has decided she wants to retire, having spent over 30 years leading Brownie packs.  Although sad, I can understand her feelings.  I'm not taking on the running of the pack, although intend to continue helping.  Unfortunately support from county headquarters to find someone to take over is limited to 'here are places you can try to get help'.  Which always annoys me - the reason for stopping doing something is generally need for the time, so it isn't helpful to say 'continue what you're doing and do more'.

And finally, a request to my non-UK flist.  If you know it, could you point me to your national Girlguiding/Girl Scout website so I can look at uniforms and a few basic details, like the different groups and their age ranges.  It's for an activity I'm planning for next month.
smallhobbit: (screech owl)
Which, as the more observant will have realised from the Screech Owl icon, means this is a Brownie post.

But first, last week we went to Tesco's again.  This time it wasn't to take part in the store trail, but to enjoy their Easter activities.  So we learnt a little about hot cross buns (and got to eat one).  We discovered the differences between raisins, sultanas and currants - I say we, because the leaders got to taste everything as well.  After which we learnt about the tradition of Easter eggs, and tried dark, milk and white chocolate.  And then the Brownies got to decorate a polystyrene egg and take part in a colouring competition, with one of the girls winning an egg.  I then led the Brownies back through Tesco to their waiting parents - it's quite funny going through the store and seeing the customers reaction as this long trail of girls make their way through the aisles.

I mentioned a couple of posts ago I had submitted the article one of our Brownies wrote for her Writer's Badge to the local free magazine.  This week I took a copy in for her.  She was really thrilled to see her article in print and delighted to be given a copy.  It's always nice to feel you've encouraged someone.

This week, for reasons best known to herself, Sparkly Owl decided the Brownies would make Easter bunnies, with a pink pompom body.  We've made pompoms not very successfully before.  It seems we still make them not very successfully.  The three of us spent most of our time undoing knots in the wool.  We'd untangle one attempt and look up to see all four Brownies on another table with their hands up because they were all knotted.  With a bit of help about half of them managed to make bunnies - ears, eyes and tail were just stuck on - although some of the bunnies were rather skinny.  The other half took their pompoms home in a bag with the other bits to finish later.

And so another term ends and we have two weeks to recover before we head back into the fray :D
smallhobbit: (screech owl)
We had a visitor this week to Brownies who helped them make these lovely decorations.  It was really sweet to see the girls trying to hide the flowers from their mothers when they were collected.  Or proudly getting the dads to help hide them if it was dad who came.  One particularly lovely moment was the last Brownie to be collected.  Mum had been to pick up dad who'd been away for the week (he's in the forces) and he cheerfully greeted his daughter and then dramatically hid the present.  She left with a big smile on her face.

So Happy Mother's Day to mothers everywhere!

Happy Mother's Day )
smallhobbit: (screech owl)
To conclude our Brownie Science Investigator Badge I had arranged for two local scientists to come to speak.  I had asked if we could have female speakers, to encourage the girls to see science is for them too.  And last week two were due to come.  Except at 7.30 that morning I had an email from one saying she was sick and couldn't make it.

However, the other turned up and was happy to take all 19 Brownies together.  She is a micro paleontologist.  She brought special moulds for the Brownies to pour plaster of Paris in to make their own fossil shapes.  And then while the fossils were setting she talked about her work, showed a couple of models of dinosaurs plus let them see and touch some fossilised coral and a large ammonite.  They (and we) were fascinated.

Unfortunately it was a slightly different type of plaster of Paris, which didn't set, so we put all the moulds into our cupboard and she very kindly said she would come back this week to see if they had set and collect the moulds.  She also offered to return to have another go, which was really kind of her.  Fortunately, this week sufficient of the moulds had set (some were still runny) so that all those who had taken part last week got to take home a fossil shape.  In addition, she's said she's working on another group talk and wondered if our Brownies could be guinea pigs for it - we were delighted.

This week we had our termly games night.  We adapted a couple of the games to have a more scientific theme.  So 'Port and Starboard' became 'Sea shore and Hills' for fossil hunters, and 'Fishes' became 'Scientists' with paleontologist, geologist and volcanologist as the options - I needed a spare set of teeth for that one.  And at the end we awarded the Brownies their badges.

smallhobbit: (screech owl)
You'd never have guessed this was a Brownie post, would you?

Back at Brownies last week after half term, we have one new girl and one Brownie who we suspect won't be returning, since she's almost ten.  Which leaves us with a pack of 20 - a manageable number.

There is an African drumming group who meet in the Community Centre after we finish.  They had offered to run a session for the Brownies, which we happily accepted.  There was a drum for each girl and they enjoyed learning to copy and play simple rhythms.

This week was the final experiment for the Science Investigator badge.  The challenge was to build a structure which would survive a simulated earthquake out of marshmallows and cocktail sticks.  They worked in their sixes and four very different structures were built, one of which was well-designed - the others were wobbly but they'd all tried hard.  And got sticky.  We had originally planned to let the Brownies eat the unused marshmallows, but we rapidly revised this decision.

We then had an enrollment, which, since Brown Owl had to go early, I did.  Sadly, no-one came to watch our new Brownie be enrolled.  She was proud of herself and bounced out to tell whoever collected her that "I was enrolled tonight", but it was slightly disappointing nonetheless.
smallhobbit: (screech owl)
What with one thing and another I haven't got round to doing a Brownie post, time to rectify that.

We returned to Brownies to learn a couple more weren't coming back and we had one new girl, which gives us 20.  We can go up to 24, but there are a number on the waiting list who will turn 7 in the next couple of months so we'll keep places ready for them.  Also a group of 20 is easier to work with than 24, especially if we only have two leaders one week.  I learnt this week one of the girls left because 'Brownies is boring' - the Brownie who told me said Brownies wasn't as she continued enthusiastically cutting and sticking.  In the case in question 'boring' means 'didn't do what I wanted to do'.

The first week we discussed plans for this half term and played games.  The plans include working for the Science Investigator badge, so last week they made a colour wheel and spun it in the hope it would turn white.  We are also encouraging each Brownie to work on a badge of their own at home, for testing before half term.  I spent most of the evening going round and discussing badges, making sure the girls knew what could be signed at home by a parent (eg Cook's badge requires washing up) and what needed to be brought in.

This week Sparkly Owl was away, so I prepared an activity which could safely be run by two of us - not a week for running experiments.  One of the badge clauses is to find out about two scientists.  This sounds too much like school work, fine for a Brownie doing the badge at home, but not very exciting as a whole pack activity, so I decided to tweak it a bit.With the help of my Twitter flist I collected the names of several female scientists.  Each six was given 12 scientists with brief details and instructions for a small drawing to draw underneath.  Then the scientists and drawings were cut out and glued on a timeline.

After which we had a quiz.  Based on the information I had provided about the scientists I asked 12 multiple choice questions.  As a six the Brownies had to run to the correct corner for the answer they chose (or if they weren't sure they were allowed to split into two).  Points were awarded for the correct answer, and the winning team were congratulated.  Afterwards, as we stood in our horseshoe, I asked them if anything particular had struck them.  A good number did have something to say, including being amazed some of the scientists were still alive.

So no, Brownies isn't boring!
smallhobbit: (screech owl)
Last week we took the Brownies to Frankie & Benny's for our Christmas celebration.  Eighteen girls either side of a long table.  What could possibly go wrong?  Well ...  The beginning was promising.  As the Brownies were dropped off Sparkly Owl and I got them sat down at the table.  Each place had a small activity book and pencils and they were soon busy filling in their books.

But then we discovered Brown Owl had got lost.  She's lived in Gloucester for 30 years, but she got in the wrong lane at one of the junctions, was shunted off in a different direction and took a while to get her bearings.  And then there was an accident in the road she needed to drive down, so all the traffic stopped.  Meanwhile the food was ready, for we had ordered in advance.  Only, Brown Owl had the list of who was having what.

It wasn't too bad, overall.  A couple didn't have the drinks they thought they'd ordered, but since one said she wanted water that was easy and I drank the spare orange.  In fact, the main courses weren't too bad - some of the girls had forgotten what they'd ordered (it's possible some didn't know if their mothers did the ordering) and only one child took the wrong meal, so we had one girl who was a bit disappointed, but she was okay about it.  And then Brown Owl arrived in time for the desserts.

But they all enjoyed themselves and they were well-behaved, so it was only Sparkly Owl and I who went home feeling exhausted.

This week we finished with a Christmas craft.  Very simple - a Christmas wreath made from a circle of cardboard, covered with the strips from paper chains, with cotton wool balls and a couple of baubles attached.  They all went home proudly showing off their addition to the Christmas decorations.  One mother said they still had the wreath her older daughter had made when she was in Brownies and so now younger sister's would be going up too.  I didn't make one, but the following shows wreath making in progress:
wreath making )
smallhobbit: (screech owl)
It's ages since I last did a Brownie post.  I missed the first week, since I was travelling home from Italy (a good an excuse as any) and then the weeks seemed to come very fast.  Anyway ...

A couple of weeks ago we took the Brownies to Tesco's for a Farm to Fork Visit.  This is part of Tesco contribution to the community - or making themselves look good.  However, it was a free evening out and there was a badge at the end.  Plus most of our parents will already be shopping in Tesco (we have a superstore very close) so it was hardly a promotion.  The girls got to see a number of different types of fish - and poke them (they were wearing gloves, but I wouldn't fancy a Brownie-poked fish for tea).  We looked at different colours of fruit and veg.  And then they made faces out of small pieces of fruit and veg and paper plates, before eating them.  They all enjoyed themselves and found it interesting.  The woman who took us round commented on how well behaved they were, and suggested we return in the spring to learn about some more of the departments, which I'm now organising.  So a good time was had by all.

Last week we played games and had an enrolment for six new Brownies.  Two of the new girls admitted they hadn't read the Brownie story, so I got the pack acting it out, which was surprisingly good fun and they all joined in enthusiastically.

And yesterday we handed out digestive biscuits and lots of writing icing tubes in different colours and gave them free range to decorate the biscuits.  We suggested they might like to make them look like Christmas tree baubles and once again they were very happily engaged.  Some of them produced some very pretty biscuits, others less so, but they were all very happy to be taking home four highly decorated biscuits each.

This term we've moved a few of the girls into different sixes, so they can have a chance to lead them, and it's been really encouraging seeing the difference they've made and see a couple of the sixes which weren't working very well suddenly improving and managing to achieve things.
smallhobbit: (screech owl)
But before that, last week we did our final part of the Senior Section badge.  The instructions said, 'let the girls choose a decade and found out about the music, clothing etc and share what they've found'.  We agreed this would be of little interest to most of our girls, too much like school and with too little active participation.  So instead we built on an activity we'd used a couple of years ago when celebrating 100 years of Brownies Bombings, Birthdays and Being Safe.  Only one of our girls had been with us then, but she remembered the day we pretended to evacuate them.  This time we looked at what the older guides and rangers did - welcoming evacuees, 'make do and mend', first aid and sending messages.

They worked in their sixes, with the sixer and seconder welcoming all the younger ones.  They were each given a dress for a larger child/small adult, which, with the aid of safety pins (we were not sewing), they had to adjust to fit their smallest girl.  With help they put the arm of one of the other Brownies in a sling.  And finally they had to use semaphore to spell out the word H - E - L - P, with each girl spelling one letter.  E is spelled with one arm, so logically the Brownie with her arm in the sling would spell that letter; it turned out this was not as obvious as we thought and two of the sixes tried to spell H with one arm.  Sigh.

We finished the evening with a modified game of Fishes.  So air raid wardens, first aiders and fire fighters instead of cod, haddock and plaice, road's blocked (tide's turning) and siren sounding (all fishes).  Despite the odd (very odd) hiccup the evening went well and the Brownies enjoyed themselves.

This week, with Sparkly Owl on holiday, Brown Owl organised friendship cards.  Nice and easy - cut a piece of coloured paper, stick it on the card, pass card on to the next person.  The card circulates until it's completely covered.  One girl has two cards to do at once, another has none.  Get glue over table.  Drop bits of paper all over floor.  Take twice as long as expected.  However in the end all the cards were finished, so we collected them up, shuffled them and then gave them out again so everyone had a friendship card to take home.

By the time they had finished the craft we didn't have long for a game.  Certainly not long enough to go into the bigger hall, organise themselves into a circle, play game and come back.  It's amazing how long moving 22 Brownies can take.  So we settled for a quick game of Screech Owl says and then into the horseshoe, hand out badges and that's another half term over.
smallhobbit: (screech owl)
Last week we took our Brownies to The Barn Owl Centre for a Nature Experience.  Having been told a little about the work of the centre and walked past some of the cages we were able to watch Luna, one of the barn owls, flying and a few of the girls were able to wear a gauntlet and have her fly to a treat in their fist.  However, Luna soon decided she didn't want to play and when called she pointedly turned her head the other way.  Which, since owls can turn their heads 180 degrees, was really rather funny.  After which Mrs Harris, a harris hawk, was brought out.  She was nervous, but was gradually encouraged to come closer until she, too, would settle on the raised fist of a few of the Brownies.  Having read H is for Hawk last year, I found it very interesting watching the training process of a hawk in action.

By this time it was getting cooler, and since a number of the Brownies only had t-shirts on (the note home had said 'outdoor activity' which clearly hadn't registered with the parents, although they did manage to bring them to the different venue), it was a good point to go indoors.  There Kaln, a European eagle owl, flew up and down the room.  We got to see how silently he glided, and with their eyes shut the Brownies could feel the draft from his wings but couldn't hear him at all.  Even when flying there was very little sound, which showed how effective an owl is as a preditor.

It was a very good experience and we were pleased with the way the pack behaved.  At the beginning of term it had seemed like they were going to be hard work, but the influence from last year's core is working its way out and the guy in charge of the session was favourably impressed.

Last night we returned to working on the Senior Section badge.  This time we took the healthy heart challenge.  The idea was the girls between them device a circuit to get the blood pumping.  Since this would have been difficult to do altogether, we asked each six to produce a short activity which they would demonstrate and then they moved round and tried each separate activity.  So we had beanbags (safer than balls), the new skipping ropes we had received from Sainsbury's Active Kids vouchers, the 'feelings' ball plus one six made up a routine of jumps and squats.

They all worked hard.  I was particularly impressed with the six who had to produce a routine; each of the girls tried really hard even though some of them are not particularly sporty.  And as ever the 'feelings' ball lead to some interesting answers: 'I am worried when ... daddy goes away' (a forces' child) and 'If I were prime minister I would ... make everyone happy' (from one of our very quiet new Brownies).  We finished the evening with more six-based compliments.

There was one other positive.  One of our Brownies doesn't always come, becomes she need someone to bring her - an older sister, occasionally mum ...  We didn't think the family were that interested.  And then last night older sister asked when the next one in the family could join - clearly Brownies is seen as a good thing.
smallhobbit: (screech owl)
Into the Community Centre strode the valiant leaders.

We have a lot of Brownies this term.  There were ten new girls last week.  Last term we were functioning happily with 18 to 20 each week.  Now we have 27 on our books, and have had 22 both weeks (slightly different girls).  Four have moved over from another pack who shut suddenly (we have another 10 on our waiting list who we cannot take at the moment).  Three have moved up from Rainbows, which is expected and natural progression.  And three more are from the general interest in Brownies we also see, and try to encourage.  Ten different girls, all with unknown needs and abilities.  No wonder I came home last night and liberated the wine from the fridge.

Last week we did our customary introduction plus 'this is how we do things here' - important because we will function slightly differently from the other pack and we know our ways work in our situation.  Then we played games as is traditional at the start of term.  It was the usual fine balance of making sure the new ones didn't get out first time (which they tend to do) and keeping our older Brownies happy.  Fortunately when one looked quizzically at me I said, "you didn't expect me not to give them a chance, did you?" and she grinned back, because they're starting to learn there's a need to support each other.

This week we made paper dolls - for those of you who remember doing it, a folded piece of paper has a drawing of a doll on it, which is cut out to produce a line of dolls holding hands.  The idea then was to decorate the dolls in Brownie uniform, and either uniforms from other sections (so the ex-Rainbows could include a Rainbow), or uniforms from previous decades.  This was supposed to be a half hour activity.  It took all evening.  It was complicated!  Most of them hadn't done it before, so it was a new skill.  We did the initial paper folding all together (it's amazing how easy it is to fold a piece of paper the wrong way) and I resorted to getting them to hold up their sheet of folded paper at each stage.  I didn't think they'd want to do this, but they were all enthusiastic.  Then they had to draw the doll - and have it checked before they cut it out, to ensure the dolls would be holding hands once they were cut out.  Again I had thought especially the older ones would complain about this step, but none did.  After which we did various repair jobs, or in extreme cases gave them a new set cut out by Brown Owl.  By the end of the evening some of them had produced some really good dolls.  I was especially pleased because one of our just seven year olds managed a complete set of eight; she hadn't known what to do for the last few, but at my suggestion had included her twin brother in his Beaver uniform (including beautifully drawn necker), plus her older sister when she was a Brownie.

In addition for the next few weeks we are aiming for 100 compliments as part of the Senior Section badge we're working for.  So the girls in each six had to go round their six, each one saying something nice about the person to their left.  We didn't supervise this, but when I checked they had done so as we stood in our horseshoe at the end there were vigorous nods from them all.

Which is why, by the end of the meeting, Brown Owl and I were exhausted!  Because Sparkly Owl had gone out to dinner to celebrate her wedding anniversary.  She's not allowed another anniversary on a Thursday for years.

ETA: I have added the wonderful Lots of Brownies badge from [ profile] bunn (see comments) to my profile.
smallhobbit: (screech owl)
It was our last Brownie meeting of the term yesterday.  We always finish early - so many school activities at this time of year mean we inevitably lose half the girls.

Last week we had a walk round Gloucester city centre.  Brown Owl is a proper city guide, so she was able to lead us round in a formal capacity.  I learnt a number of things I hadn't known before, so it was very interesting.  We only covered a small area based around the cross: Northgate Street, Eastgate Street, Southgate Street, and yes, you've guessed it, Westgate Street.

We saw the statue of the Emperor Nerva, the location of the original Crypt School, Robert Raikes House (the man who began Sunday Schools), and the New Inn, which dates from 1450.  On a walk down Westgate Street to see the original house for Beatrix Potter's Tailor of Gloucester, Brown Owl was telling us about a medieval merchant's house which could just been seen if a side door happened to be open.  The owner of the shop next door heard her and offered to unlock the door so we could take the Brownies down to see it.  To date, not many people recently have had that opportunity, and the girls were impressed to see the house, with its over hanging upper floors from the narrow corridor we stood in.  There's a couple of pictures here.

This week the Brownies completed the booklets they were given following their walk.  We worked our way through altogether and were really pleased at how much they had remembered.  We finished by playing some of the most popular games: Pink Knickers; Big Cats (a version of Fishes, but with lions, jaguars and panthers) and Screech Owl says (a version of Simon Says).  We said goodbye to one of our new Brownies, whose dad has been re-posted and look forward to seeing the others in September.

Next week Brown Owl and I are tackling the cupboard, which suffers from having things shoved back in at the end of the evening.  We already have some plans for the autumn term, which is good.  With the closure of one of the other Brownie packs in the area we may be taking in some of their current girls, although we don't have sufficient space for all of them.  So, Brownie reports will most certainly be back in the autumn.

Beatrix Potter badge

Pirate Day

Jun. 28th, 2016 06:53 pm
smallhobbit: (screech owl)
The much anticipated Pirate Day at Brownies happened last week.  Two girls came as pirates (although the big sister of one when collecting her did say "Why are you wearing your Hallowe'en costume?") and one came as a shark.  We hadn't anticipated anyone being dressed up.

Pirate Day! )


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