Category Archives: Meeting Activities

Colored Carnations

Colored Carnations

This is a perfect craft around any holiday or any time of year.  The colors you choose to transform the carnations into can be themed to match holidays, events, ceremonies, or seasons.  Darker colors will work best to color the carnations, but any color is worth a try!  It’s simple and creative.  It’s also a great science experiment for younger girls.   This craft can be combined with other crafts, like making a plastic bottle vase or recycled glass vase.

Materials NeededMaterials Needed:

  • White carnations
  • Liquid food coloring
  • Flower vases
  • Water

DirectionsDirections:

  1. Fill vase ¼ of water.
  2. Add about 15 drops of food coloring to the water in the vase (more if the vase is large and the shade looks too light).
  3. Trim about 1″ off of the stems at the bottom at an angular cut.
  4. Put a flower in the vase and let it sit for 24 hours.

Safety TipsSafety Tips!

  1. Always have an adult cut the flower stems.
  2. Use non-toxic food coloring.

The best way to go about this, since it does take about 24 hours for the flowers to change color, is to set up the experiment during the meeting and have the girls take them home.  Tell them to watch them and ask parents to take photos of the flowers the next day.  At the following meeting, the girls can bring their flowers back if they’re still alive or bring in the photos to share their results.

This is a great craft when working on science badges or as a prelude to a scientific outing.  The process of the water moving up the stem into the petals is known as cohesion. The process gets its name because water is considered a very cohesive or sticky substance, which means that water pulled up through the stem takes on a magnetic-like effect, pulling the water up. The tubes in the plant (also known as capillaries) are very small and thin.

Recycled Glass Vase

Recycled Glass Vase

Last week’s vase project was really more of a project for older girls, but this vase can be made by young girls and older girls as well.  It emphasizes the importance of recycling as it uses clean, re-purposed bottles.  Seek out unique and interesting shaped glass bottles, and involve the girls in collecting these glass bottles.  Make sure to let the parents know what you’ll be using the glass bottles for; they will need to have the labels removed with the inside and outside both thoroughly cleaned.  Collect some glass bottles to bring as extras for any girls that are unable to collect bottles on their own.

Materials NeededMaterials Needed:

  • Empty glass bottles (or a regular glass jar or vase will work)
  • Tissue paper
  • Scissors
  • Mod Podge (or 2 tbsp. white glue mixed with 2 tbsp. water)
  • Paint brushes

DirectionsDirections:

  1. Cut out shapes of your choice from the tissue paper.  Cut out several of each shape.  Feel free to trace out shapes with pencil before hand.
  2. Paint on the Mod Podge (or glue solution) onto a small section of the bottle.  Stick on a tissue paper shape.  Paint more Mod Podge or glue solution over the top of the tissue and add another layer.  Continue until the shape is as opaque as you would like. Don’t worry about getting one layer exactly on top of another layer. It looks fine if they are a little off.
  3. Continue adding tissue shapes all over the bottle or jar. When you are done, paint a coat of Mod Podge over the whole thing.
  4. Let dry. The Mod Podge will dry clear.

Safety TipsSafety Tips!

  1. Use scissors with blades sized appropriately to the age of the girls you’re w0rking with.
  2. Ensure that girls are not getting the glue or Mod Podge in their mouths.

Be aware that the adhesive you’re using is water soluable, so you should use these primarily with fake flowers or have adults take great care in washing the insides ONLY if used with real flowers.

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Plastic Bottle Vase

I admit, this is a new project that I haven’t tried myself but it looks awesome.  I went Googlin’ for a vase creation project to go with next week’s craft project – in my own defense, I remember making some vases in my youth with various materials and supplies and was trying to refresh my memory about materials.

Due to the level of skill involved with making this vase, this craft is best suited for older Juniors, Cadettes, Seniors, and even Ambassador scouts.

Materials NeededMaterials Needed:

  • A 20 oz. plastic bottle
  • Scissors

plastic bottle vaseDirectionsDirections:

  1. Mark and cut the smooth middle portion of the bottle to give an even edge approx 7.5 to 8cm (3″) above where you want the fluted rim to be.
  2. Measure and make straight, evenly spaced cuts all the way around the bottle. Cut the segments in half and then cut each of those in half to make even, thin strips.
  3. Carefully press and fold all the strips outward to make a level edge all the way around.
  4. Press the bottle upside down on a flat surface to ensure an even edge.
  5. Weave the tip of a strip over the next one and under the next two. Fold and crease it so that the tip is at the place shown here by the arrow.
  6. Fold and crease the next one the same way, but weave this one over two and under one.
  7. Fold the third strip and weave the same as the first one.
  8. Continue around in this pattern until the last three and tuck each one under the next until woven in completely.

Safety TipsSafety Tips!

  1. Use craft scissors sharp enough to cut through the lightweight plastic but not too sharp that the girls can’t handle them safely.
  2. Be sure to supervise carefully as the cuts on the plastic might be rough.

This looks like a beautiful project for girls that are slightly older and can do a better job with scissors.  Younger girls should probably stick to easier vase projects, which will come soon!

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Bicycle Outings & Safety Reminders

Bicycle Outings & Safety Reminders

One of the best activities to get together as a troop and do is ride bikes.  In any given area, whether it’s rural or urban, you should be able to do some minimal research on bike paths that are appropriate. Here are some tips for planning your bicycle riding outing.

When

Determining when to go on your bicycle riding outing greatly depends on the girls.  If they’re younger girls with beginning bicycle riding skills, you will want to go riding during the day.  You can schedule the ride during a meeting time if you usually meet during the day, or plan on a separate weekend outing to avoid evening rides.  If the girls are older and more adept bike riders, an evening ride may be an option.  Consider the maturity level of your girls and the area in which you are considering riding before making a decision whether to ride during the day or in the evening.

Where

Do some research with parents on the skill level of the girls on their bicycles.  Generally speaking, if they’re younger and less skilled, you will want to research bicycle paths that are paved, exclusive for bike riders to minimize pedestrians, and as flat and straight as possible.  More advanced bike riders can handle paths that are not paved, more bumpy or curved, and may have the chance of sharing the space with pedestrians.  Older, more mature girls may even be able to handle more urban rides using bicycle lanes on city streets.

Once you’ve determined what kinds of skills your girls have, you can start looking for appropriate paths in your area.  Even in urban areas, regional parks are usually nearby.  Of course, bike transportation will have to be considered if you choose a path not close to your meeting area or neighborhood where most girls live.  Regional parks are more likely to have paths or trails specifically designated for bicycles, whereas local city parks are more likely to have pedestrians sharing paths.

How

Choosing an area nearby where your meetings are normally held will increase the number of girls that can participate.  This is because not every parent will have a vehicle big enough to transport a bike to a remote location or a portable bike rack for a car.  Keep in mind how you are going to get the girls, their equipment, and their bicycles to the location before deciding on one.

Cost

You can decide, if doing the ride at a regional park, to charge for the outing if there is a fee to enter the park.  If transportation of the bikes is an issue, you can easily rent a small moving truck or trailer for around $20 for the day.  If there are girls in your troop that do not have access to their own bicycles, you can look for spare bicycles from other families willing to loan them out or consider renting them.  Some areas with bicycle paths also have independent vendors that rent bicycles for nominal fees.

Preparation

Schedule the activity enough in advance for parents to make plans to get bicycles checked out and in working order, or purchase a new bicycle for their daughter and make sure she has a helmet.  Planning a month in advance will give you time to make your arrangements and send out permission slips about two weeks before the scheduled date.    If you decide to charge for the event, be sure to add an extra week as a courtesy for parents.  Let them know what the cost is covering (i.e. park entry, transportation, parking, maybe a lunch or souvenir, etc).  Be sure to make calls to the parents in addition to sending notes home if the girls are younger and prone to forgetting.

Parents also need time to register the bikes, just in case something happens.  Usually the local fire station will accept bicycle registrations for a nominal fee, or you can go to National Bike Registry and do it online.  $10 will cover registration for 10 years.

At least one meeting before the scheduled outing, review bike safety and proper bike riding etiquette with the girls.  To make it fun you can build in a small quiz and prizes.  For younger girls, tying in a craft project making their own bike licenses or safety certificates using construction paper and markers or glitter will also make it fun and keep it in the forefront of their minds.

SafetySafety

Remember the girls’ safety is YOUR responsibility.  Be sure to brush up on these safety tips and review bicycle safety the meeting before your outing so the girls are best prepared.

  • Stop at all stop signs and obey traffic lights just as cars do. Yield to pedestrians, stop at red lights, and be especially careful at intersections.
  • Always ride in the same direction as cars do. Never ride against traffic.
  • Always wear a helmet, even adults.  Some states don’t require adults over age 18 to wear a helmet, however you should wear as a good example.
  • A safety check should always be done on the bicycles before riding.  All bicycles should have their brakes in proper working order with reflectors on the front, rear, and on the wheels.
  • If you’re planning on riding in the evening or at night, bicycles should be equipped with a light on the front and rear of the bicycle.  Girls should also wear a reflective vest or light colored clothing.
  • Remember your bicycle hand signals:

    Bike Hand Signals
    Bike Hand Signals
  • When riding on a path also being used by pedestrians, be aware of how close you are getting to groups and identify yourself as a bike rider.
  • When passing other bikers or people on the street, always pass to their left and call out “On your left!” so they’ll watch for you.
  • Never share the seat with a friend or ride on the handlebars — only one person should be on a bike at a time. It’s easy to lose balance or suddenly swerve into traffic when riding with a passenger.
  • When encountering a large group of pedestrians, it’s best to pull to the side and get off of the bicycle and walk past.
  • If riding on the sidewalk, get off and walk your bicycle across the street, staying in the cross walk.
  • At least one person traveling with your group should know how to fix a flat tire and carry a flat tire fix kit and portable tire pump.
  • At least one adult should lead the group and another should bring up the rear, with other available adults dispersed through the group.
  • Girls should always wear pants or shorts when riding.  Pants should be fairly tight at the ankle or able to be folded up or secured above the knee on the side of the gears if there is no gear guard.  Special bands can be purchase from bicycle or sporting goods shops to secure pant legs from getting caught in the gears.  In a pinch, masking tape can be used.

Dipped Candles

Dipped Candles

I remember making dip candles for as long as I can remember.  Whether at a summer troop meeting or most often at camp, dip candles were a welcome craft that I loved.  It’s a remarkably easy process that even the younger girls can do with some supervision.  All materials are available at your local craft store and are relatively inexpensive.  You can even substitute the wax with old broken crayons, though they do have a distinct smell to them.

Remember that many times these candles are not intended for practical use – the girls put a lot of time into dipping them in the different colors to make creative layers and shapes.  These are best kept on a shelf and dusted off once in a while as a camp keepsake!

Materials NeededMaterials Needed:

  • ½ lb. paraffin wax, plain
  • Old wooden spoon (don’t plan on using it with food again)
  • metal coffee cans (one for each color you plan to make)
  • a pot full of water large enough to hold the coffee cans (you’re making a double boiler, here)
  • A heat source – this can be your stove, a camp stove, or portable burners.
  • wicks, your choice of length (1″ of wick makes about a 1″ candle)
  • coloring chips (you can use color chips or liquids bought at your craft store or use old crayons with the papers removed)

DirectionsDirections:

  1. Most of the time the plain paraffin wax comes in blocks, so chop it up into smaller pieces (about 1″) for faster, easier melting.
  2. Fill the pot with water and heat on medium to a gentle boil.
  3. Place the wax into the coffee can and carefully insert it into the water.
  4. Stir the wax until it is completely melted.  If you have a thermometer, the temperature should be 160°F.
  5. Turn the heat down; keep the water warm enough to keep the wax melted and about the same temperature.
  6. Add the coloring a little at a time until you’ve reached the shade of the color you want.  You want the melted wax to be a shade darker than your final result because it will lighten up a little when it’s dry.
  7. Repeat steps 1-6 simultaneously if you want to prepare different colors.
  8. While an adult has been preparing steps 1-6, the younger girls can be cutting their wicks to the desired lenghts.  There are metal discs you can buy in the candle aisle at the craft store to start the candles on, or you can just tie a small knot into the bottom end of the candle.
  9. Be sure to leave an extra inch on the wick for extra finger space to hold while dipping.  The excess can be cut off once the candle cools.
  10. To start the candle, dip the wick in the wax for a few seconds to build it up around the knot.
  11. Continue dipping the wick into the wax until you’ve built up your desired candle.  Leave at least 30 seconds in between dips for the wax to begin drying, or else you’ll end up dipping for a long time and just remelting the same layer.
  12. Once your candle is done but still warm, an adult can take a sharp knife and cut off the bottom to create a level sitting surface for the candle.  Another technique is to set the candle on a flat surface and mold the still warm wax slightly to form a base.
  13. Set the candles aside to dry and set for a few hours.  If this activity is done at camp, it’s best to let the girls have them later in the afternoon or the next day.  If done at a troop meeting, you can either give the warm candles to the parents who pick them up to continue drying or pack them up carefully and give the finished candles to the girls at the next troop meeting.

Safety TipsSafety Tips!

  1. Never leave the girls unattended with the hot wax or sharp knife.
  2. Never leave the hot wax alone.
  3. Do not heat the wax above 275°F.
  4. Never let wax come in contact with flames. If you develop a wax fire, treat it as you would a grease fire. Do not throw water on it. Use a fire extinguisher (type ABC) or if it is contained in a pan, cover with a lid, extinguish any heat source and leave the lid in place until the area has cooled.
  5. Always use the double boiler water method to reduce the risk of wax fires.
  6. Remember to replenish the water in the pot as it evaporates keeping the wax melted.
  7. Do not pour the wax down the drain; it will block them.

Remember that the wax can be reused for candles at another time – that’s the beauty of using old coffee cans instead of pots for the double boiler.  Just let the wax cool and dry inside and set them aside where children can’t get to them.  The next time you’re ready for candle making, use an old chisel or ice pick and chop up the wax in the can for easier remelting.

Another great method that I learned once at camp is making ice candles, but we’ll leave that for another time :)

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