This week is brutally cold here in Ontario, Canada. We’re talking about 3-4 feet of snow and temps dipping down to -35C! It’s enough to make you just want to cancel the entire week and spend it under electric blankets in front of your fire place, sipping tea and reading a good long book!
Alas, up here in the True North, life goes on, even at -35C. I had been planning to do some more work on our Emergency Preparedness Ontario Challenge badge with the Sparks this week, but I just couldn’t ignore our first true taste of real winter. Of course, with the Sparks, it’s just a little too cold to get outside for our meeting to play in the snow for an hour.
So I’ve been thinking of ways to incorporate some of the other activities we had wanted to tackle into a Winter Fun Night. The result is a fun, easy, well-rounded winter theme night that anyone can throw together for their Spark or Brownie units. Here we go!
We always try to have an activity ready for when the girls come in. Sometimes it’s colouring sheets or a game, and sometimes I invite them to sit on our carpet and tell me something about their week. Check out my link here for great Gathering Conversation Starters. This week I will probably ask them IF they could control the weather tomorrow, what would it be?
We always start with Sparks are Here as a way to call everyone to the circle and let them know we are starting our meeting. Then I have a little chat about what we’ll do at tonight’s meeting. I had been planning for a while now to finally teach them one of my favourite Guiding Songs, White Coral Bells. So that’s on the agenda already. Obviously feel free to pick a fun winter song!
GF Badge Work: Science Lab, Art Studio
Anyone else curious as to why all the snow ploughs and people lay down salt on the roads and walk ways in the winter?? Here’s our chance to discover why! There are two activities to choose from, and if you’re a Brownie Guider you may have time to do both! But first, a quick explanation as to why we use salt to help cope with the winter snow.
As we know, water turns to ice at 0C. Salt helps lower this freezing point by a process called Freezing Point Depression. So once the salt is added, it makes the water a little harder to freeze. The more salt concentration, the lower the temperature needs to be for water to freeze.
So, to explore this within the coziness of your meeting place, I recommend two activities: String Magic and/or Melting Ice Sculptures. Each science activity explores how salt interacts with water to lower its freezing point in a fun and kid-friendly way!
Check them out here:
These activities, especially the ice sculptures one takes a bit of prep, so make sure you plan ahead!
Badgework: My Physical Self
We love to sing! Especially repeat-after-me-songs with big grand gestures and loud voices! I’m going to use a fun camp song called Long Johns to talk about winter clothing, and why layering is important. Have you ever done this song at camp or with your guiding unit? It’s hilarious. Click on the Long Johns link to check it out! I will also put on my hat and maybe bring in a pair of thermal long johns, to just to make sure we are all on the same page!
GF Badge Work: My Mighty Mind
Ever woke up and heard the weather report and raged against….well, who exactly do we send our weather complaints to? What a great time to explore our growth mindset and talk about what was can and cannot control. This is especially important to discuss with young children, as it is a concept they struggle with daily. Helping them understand what they can and cannot control is an extremely important life skill that even adults struggle with. It’s important to identify what you can change, and what you can’t and this exercise is a great way to help your Sparks, Brownies (or frankly any branch level-Trefoil, anyone?) improve their growth mindset.
Check out the full post here: Things I can Control
GF Badgework: Life Stuff, How To, My Physical Self; Emergency Preparedness Ontario Challenge Badge
For our Remembrance Day meeting this year we talked about the legacy of Guiding and how the Guides were instrumental during war-times to help the people affected by it. The girls were inspired to learn how to do first aid (they all got their Red Cross People Saver 1 first aid certifications!), they are doing the Emergency Preparedness Ontario Challenge, as well as a Sparky Challenge in fire safety in their homes! These girls are on fire!!
In keeping with being prepared and being helpers, I thought we could do the Emergency Survival Kit relay portion of the Emergency Preparedness Ontario Challenge. We will discuss how an emergency survival kit could help their families during some of the challenges created by our northern winters.
Here is how to do the relay:
More info on the Survival Kit and the Emergency Preparedness Challenge can be found here: Sparks Instant Meeting—Planning Ahead
Game – Survival Kit Relay Race
(10min)Put all of the survival kit items and a number of non-survival items in a pile. Tell the girls to imagine that were stuck in a dark room with no electricity. There are items in the pile that they would need to stay safe and be comfortable. There are other items that wouldn’t really help us. Divide the girls into two teams. Relay style, have a girl from each team run to the pile and pick one thing they think would belong in the emergency survival kit. When all of the girls are done, have them sit in a circle with their items. Put the leftover items in the middle along with a duffel bag.
Activity 4 (optional)
GF Badgework: Take Action
IF I were doing this meeting with Brownies and wanted an extra activity to fill up the last 1/2 hour, I would love to be able to add a service project. The Girls First program has a wonderful all-branch activity called Winter Wear. There are simple methods given there for making various outdoor accessories (necessities!) like scarves, mittens, hats, etc. The scarf one looks easy enough for Sparks to do.
People who are homeless often can’t protect themselves against the cold. Warm clothing, like coats, scarves and hats, can make all the difference…
What difference do you hope your project will make in someone’s life?
So there you have it. We’ve used this week’s extreme weather to explore science, mental health, physical health and being prepared. Please feel free to use this for a meeting of your own, in full or in part.