Sunday, July 31, 2011

Games and Closing

The final two parts of the meeting are the Game and Closing sections.

Game: The games section gives girls a chance to be active for a time during the meeting, plus they're interacting with each other in a positive way. If you can, this is a great way to reinforce what you've learned during the meeting. If you learned the Girl Scout Handshake, for example, you can incorporate that into the Handshake Game.
Make it GSLE: Try using cooperative or noncompetitive games instead of traditional games with winners and losers. Not only will you have fewer tears to dry, you'll be promoting girls working together to solve problems.

Closing: The Closing signals the end of the meeting. The most popular closing ceremony is the Friendship Squeeze (but watch out for girls starting to "squeeze" each other too hard!), though you can make this part of the meeting fit your group however you like. It's also a great idea to praise the girls for doing something well to encourage them.
Make it GSLE: Try asking the girls for feedback at the end of each meeting. Questions like "did you have fun?" "did you learn anything?" "should we do this type of thing again?" and "what was your favorite part of the meeting?" ensure that the girls' voices are being heard, allowing them to direct the troop activities. A simple way to ask for feedback is to use the Fists of Five: After you ask a question, each girl shows on her hand how much she agrees. For example, if you ask, "Did you have fun today?" and most girls put up one finger, you might want to adjust the type of activities you're planning. If most girls put up four or five fingers, though, it's been a successful meeting!

Bonus Section! Energizers: Energizers are something I plan to incorporate into most meetings this year. After all, girls ages 5 to 6 have a lot of energy and short attention spans. Try having a few energizers that require no equipment ready to break out whenever you see the girls getting restless. These should be quick activities (no more than 5 minutes) that get the wiggles out and refocus their attention on the task at hand.

What type of Closing ceremony do you use? Do you have any great Energizers that work wonders? Leave a message in the comments section below!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Circle, Snack, and Activity

The next three parts of the meeting are the Friendship Circle, Snack, and Activity.

Friendship Circle: The Friendship Circle is the time to have the girls share experiences and decide on business. It should be pretty simple to make this a GSLE experience, as the girls will be leading the discussion and learning together. Tune in in the coming weeks for examples of things to do during the circle time.

Snack: Snack time is a great time for girls to connect to one another. We asked parents to sign up at the beginning of the year to bring snack to meetings throughout the year.
Make it GSLE: Be sure to have the girls work together to pass out and clean up the snacks and drinks. You might even make this part of your kapers so that they share the responsibilities from meeting to meeting.

Activity: Use your activity time to work toward badges or other active interests. While the Friendship Circle should be a time for calm talking, the activity time can (and should!) be an opportunity to get the girls up and moving around--the Learning by Doing of the GSLE processes.
Make it GSLE: Let the girls' interests guide you in your decisions for what to do during the activity. Perhaps they can vote on which petal to earn or choose between a variety of activities to try.

Next week, I'll talk about the Game and Closing portions of the meetings. (Plus, I'll have a special bonus section!)

Friday, July 1, 2011

Pre-Meeting, Opening, and Song

The first three sections of a meeting are designed to bring the girls together and focus their energy on the meeting. The girls in my troop had a lot of energy, so it was really important to get them together to focus that on Scouts, rather than running around and playing games (which isn't, in and of itself, a bad thing, but you want them to get more from Scouting that just Fishy, Fishy, Cross My Ocean!). I'll go over these parts of the meetings, with some tactics and ideas for making them meet the GSLE.

Pre-Meeting: Last year, I planned most meetings with a Pre-Meeting activity of coloring pages. You can find all sorts of free options on the web, like at Making Friends, or this really cool Girl Scout Law coloring book. However, since the girls usually came in wanting to play games and run around the building, this didn't work as well as I had hoped. It was usually tough to corral them into sitting down at the table. This year, I plan to have more active ideas, such as an alphabet hike or playing the What's in the Bag? game, to help expend some of their energy before the meeting begins and to keep them all in one area.
Make it GSLE: For the first few meetings, you may want to plan these activities yourself. Make them cooperative games (like lining up by height without talking), or use activities that promote learning by doing (like the What's in the Bag? game). After the first few meetings, consider asking the girls what they would like to do, and try incorporating some of these ideas into your Pre-Meeting Activity.

Opening: Our opening ceremony was generally quite short. We said the Pledge of Allegiance, the Promise, and the Law. You may want to add in your own rituals to suit your troop.
Make it GSLE: To make this ceremony girl led, try using your kaper chart to have one (or more) girl(s) lead the pledge, promise and law. One girl could also hold the flag at each meeting. By changing the responsibility from girl to girl each meeting, their confidence in leading will grow!

Song: After the opening ceremony, it can be a good idea to have a song planned, especially one with lots of actions! This way, the girls will get some of their energy out before sitting down for the friendship circle. Have fun with the songs you choose! There are many great Girl Scout-specific songs, as well as fun camp songs you might remember from childhood. Teaching songs to Daisys is easiest if you sing one line at a time, and have them sing it back to you. At the end of each verse, have them try to sing the entire verse. Don't be afraid if you don't have a great singing voice--I'll be the first to admit that I'm not usually on key, but as long as you're enthusiastic, the girls will respond positively!
Make it GSLE: Try offering the girls the chance to vote on 2 songs that you've chosen. Or, have Song Choice be a kaper, so that each meeting offers a different girl the chance to pick a song. Daisys may find it a bit overwhelming to choose a song without having any choices, or choosing from more than 2 or 3 options. If your girls seem brave and like to share, you might even consider having them teach a song at each meeting.

Next week, I'll be talking about the Friendship Circle, Snack, and the Activity portions of the meeting.

How do you gather your Scouts for meetings? Leave a message below!