Sunday, March 22, 2015

Cadettes Wood Work Badge

OK Leaders.... so I am pretty upscale savvy and good with power tools, but teaching a wood working badge to my Cadettes had me stumped.  As usual I scoured the Internet, but I was unable to find any concrete suggestions on how to obtain this badge.  I moseyed on over to Pinterest and still could not find much via Girl Scout Boards, but I was able to find some clever ideas to help meet the requirements of this badge.  And while I am not certain I met every criteria GS would suggest, my girls had fun and they learned a lot!  In my mind that makes this badge worth-while and meaningful.

Discussion 30 minutes
To begin our meeting I posed a few questions to my girls...

Has anyone ever used a power drill?  For what?
Drills come in all sizes today and you can use electrical power, battery or re-chargeable batteries

Has anyone hung a picture using something other than tack?  What?

What is the most complicated thing you have made? or built?

Have you ever fixed or helped to fix a household item?  What?  Did you have directions?  
At this point I highly encouraged the girls to help the next time Mom or Dad is putting together something in the house that requires directions, i.e. a new entertainment center, large toy for a sibling, swing set, installing a washer.  Girls can learn a lot from reading directions, handing tools to Dad and simply watching. 

If something breaks in your home, do your parents call a handyman or repair service?  Do they attempt to fix it on their own?
I encouraged the girls to try and fix items that break in the household through trial and error, especially if they plan on calling a handyman any ways.  They might just get lucky and fix it themselves, building their confidence, saving money and learning a lot in the process.

Where to start?  Consider re-purposing or sprucing up existing furniture.  How?
I showed the girls some great photos of Furniture Upscaling, simply taking an old piece of furniture in their attic, from a garage sale or thrift store and transforming it into something different and new. You can view my Pinterest Board, "Upscaling Furniture", by searching for my pins Shannan Willman-Needleman

Most importantly I tried to make them realize that in the near future they will move on to college and Mom and Dad will not always be around to help hang a picture and they will not be able to afford brand new, nice furniture, but they can fix things on their own and build things to meet their needs with some simple knowledge and the confidence to try on their own.

Next we talked about some very important safety tips:
Dress appropriately.  Do not wear gloves, ties, scarves, loose fitting clothing or jewelry around moving equipment.
Avoid distractions at all times.
Always wear safety equipment such as goggles, face shields, dust masks, and hearing protection appropriate for the type of tool or equipment being used.
Keep the working area and floor clean.
Do not stand in water or use any electrical equipment in the rain.
Be sure all equipment is properly grounded before use.
Always use the correct tools and equipment for the job.  Never use a tool or attachment on a machine for which it was not designed.
Before plugging in a machine, make sure the switch is in the OFF position.  Keep the power cords away from equipment while operating.

We ended our discussion with a quick Hardware Challenge Worksheet I created and we reviewed some hardware facts.  E-Mail me and I am happy to send these pdf files to you.

Opening Activity:  20 minutes
Each girl got a block of wood and was asked to drill in one flathead phillips screw.  First they tried to drill in the screw by hand using a phillips screwdriver.  Next they attempted to use a small drill, the Black and Decker Gyro.  They attempted WITHOUT a pilot hole and struggled.  So I taught them how to drill a small pilot hole using a drill bit and then they screwed in 2 screws and REMOVED them.  
***The Black & Decker Gyro is one of the niftiest power tools on the market.  It is perfect for every hand size and operates with the flick of the wrist.  It comes in black and pink as a lady version.  And the drill makes a great graduation gift :-)***  It is a nice tool for girls.

In hind sight I probably would have chosen one of these activities below rather than trying to fit in both during our 3 hour, once a month Sunday meeting.  Some girls were focused and nearly finished both, others barely got one done.  If you have 2 meetings, you might be able to do both.  It would be hard to choose one or the other however, the girls really liked both.

Lighted Wooden Letters (1 hour Minimum):
Goal:  Girls will learn how to use a power drill and spray paint

I purchased each girl their first name letter from Hobby Lobby ($3.99).
I purchased 20 mini lights battery operated string lights ($3.99)
Additional Supplies:
Spray Paint
Painter's Tape
Staple Gun and Staples (mine was electric, but any heavy duty stapler would suffice)
Power Drill with a 13/64th drill bit (preferably electric, my rechargeable battery power drill lost                    power after the 4 or 5th letter)

Directions:  Have the girls pencil 12-15 dots on the letters evenly spaced and avoid the edges of the letter, so try and have them stay relatively midline

Using the 13/64 bit, drill holes where the girls penciled the dots.  Allow the girls to drill the holes, watch closely and offer assistance.  MAKE SURE YOU HAVE A SCRAP PIECE OF WOOD BELOW THE LETTER BECAUSE THE DRILL BIT WILL DRILL THROUGH THE LETTER AND INTO THE SCRAP WOOD.  

Next have the girls paint the letter.  My daughter chose to use chalkboard paint, some girls created chevrons using painter's tape.  I had a variety of spray paint colors.  The girls were asked to spray outside in the grass using an old cardboard box.  This dries within 15 minutes to touch.  

Finally the girls poked the lights through the holes and I stapled the wires into place.  I would not let the girls use the electric stapler, but they could probably use a simple heavy duty stapler.

PRESTO!  The girl's were mesmerized by the light and the marque-look.  They can hang the letters, but I recommend a tripod for display so you can set the relatively heavy battery box next to the letter.

Wood String-Art Elephant (1 hour Minimum):
I really worried the girls might not be able to handle this project, but I was pleasantly surprised.  The girls loved hammering and did amazingly well.  
Goal:  Girls will use hammer, nails and stain

Wooden Plaque from Wal-Mart ($3.49)
Grey String from Wal-Mart (100yards for $1.99, can make 2 or more)
Nails (18gauge, 3/4in length, make sure the nails have a head or the string  will pop off)
Tack hammer from Wal-Mart ($2.79)
Foam Brush
Mechanical Pencil (lead removed) 
Elephant Template (printed on simple, white computer paper)
Saw-Tooth Picture Hanger

Stain the wood and remove the excess with a damp cloth (baby wipes).  Allow to dry for a few minutes.  
Set elephant template on the plaque and place 3 nails on the 3 dots on the template to hold into place. Nails do not have to go in deep, merely a few taps to press the nails in 1/4 of the way. Continue taping in nails every 1cm or less, not too close, not too far away :-)

Once all the nails have been placed, remove the template by simply ripping it off the plaque.  
Next, I used an exacto knife to create a small hole in the side of the mechanical pencil and thread the string through the hole and out the tip of the pencil.  This step is CRITICAL and was a fantastic Pinterest suggestion.  I am not sure the girls could have completed the stringing part without it.  
Click here for the Mechanical Pencil Tip:
(The only difference I made my hole closer to the tip)
I DID NOT LET THEG IRLS USE THE EXACTO KNIFE.  I had these ready for use at the meeting.

Knot the thread onto one nail and begin the stringing part.  It is really self explanatory if you look at the picture really well.  Tip:  Be sure and double wind the string around a nail after every 3-4 nails, this will ensure that the string stays in place.  At the end simply double knot the string and trim.

Embellish with gems or sequins near the trunk.  We used E-6000 to adhere the sequins.

Turn over plaque and hammer in the saw-tooth hanger.

Here is one of the girl's elephant:

Awesome Right?

Please e-mail me if you would like any of the files to complete these projects: 

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Amazing Race

Amazing Race

Last Spring I arranged an Amazing Race for my Cadette Cookie Reward.  After sleeping over at the museum, going to Build a Bear, camping, zip-lining and spending the night at Great Wolf Lodge, I ran out of fun and AMAZING things to do for our End of the Year, Cookie Reward Bash.  Last year was particularly challenging as the girls have aged and all enjoy different things. The weeks were slipping by and I felt the pressure to find an activity.  While browsing different TV channels I came across an old episode of The Amazing Race.  Quickly I worked hard to create a really fun and unique event for my girls.  This proved to be fairly easy, inexpensive and the girls really love it!

I held this event in our neighborhood Town Square which is a large outdoor mall.  I felt this was a safe place with plenty of people, room to roam and lots of businesses to use for the tasks.  Creating the objectives was probably the most difficult part of this activity. I scoured the Internet for ideas and pulled some of the best ones.  Plus, it my internet search was great fuel to inspire my own ideas.  Once I arranged the tasks, I then created tickets, envelopes and obtained all the items needed to play the game.

On the day of the event we met for pizza at the mall and I explained all the rules.  The girls were divided into 2 and 3 man teams (based on numbers).  Next, each girl was given an Amazing Race T-Shirt.

These were easily made using iron on transfers, a simple black and white "Amazing Race" logo and my printer.  I purchased the t-shirts from Michaels in bold neon colors for $3 each, on sale. The t-shirts indentified the teams, kept the girls together and helped us keep track them from a distance.  Plus, it was a nice momento for the girls.  My daughter wears her shirt as a sleep shirt.

After dinner we walked them to the square, near the fountain, which was the designated meeting area.  The girls had 11 clues and they were passed out in different orders, so no teams were doing the same activity at the same time (to the best of our ability).  The goal was to complete all the tasks first. Everything must be done as a team, teams could not split up to complete in an attempt to complete the tasks faster, or the team would be disqualified.  

Every team was given their 1st clue, inside the envelope the girls had eveything they needed to complete the task.  The Post Office donated a few cardboard Priority Mail envelopes that sealed tightly.  The girls had to pull a tab to open.  this felt really official and kept all the clues hidden and organized.  The girls scattered once they received their clues and it was fun to watch them get really excited about winning.  They could not wait to move on to the next task.

I purchased gift cards from different stores at the mall as the prizes.  I hid the gift cards in their stores' bags and I attached some small visible item from the store like a headband, fingernail polish etc.  The 1st team got to choose from the bags and so on.  Girls at this age love gift cards!  After the game was over, I allowed the girls to spend their cards with their group if they wanted too.

Following our 2 1/2 hour race we went to a movie and then we had a backyard camp out, complete with a midnight swim. My daughter still talks about the event.  The race would make  a great Birthday Party as well.

I am happy to share any and all my resources for this event including my rules, clues, and t-shirt logos.  If you have any questions concerning the race, please e-mail me:

Iron-on Logo:  (Printed on 8.5x11" iron transfer paper, then cut in half and applied to t-shirt, remember to reverse print unless your printer does it for you)






****Tip: Provide a map of the mall to each participant or one per a team.

E-mail me and I will provide you with any of the materials above in a pdf format for easy transfer to your computer or to print.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Cadettes: Special Agent Badge

The Special Agent badge is a truly fun and unique badge which any age can enjoy.  As we know gaining the attention of a Cadette or 13 year old teenager is difficult at best, so I cranked it up a gear to make this badge exciting.  I invited a Dallas Private Investigator to our meeting and asked him to bring some high tech toys.  He was a fabulous guest speaker and once he opened the discussion for questions the girls could not wait to talk with him.  

He hit on the topics of forensic science and talked about blood splatter and luminol.  
Did you know luminol only allows blood to glow for 30 seconds and every second the blood is exposed to the UV light it degrades, destroying some of the properties of the blood and DNA?  
Did you know that teeth are just as reliable at identifying a person as the human fingerprint?  
Did you know that you can determine how often, how recent and what drugs have been used by a person from one strand of hair? 
Our PI was filled with great and fascinating facts.  Did you know every glitter placed in cosmetics, on clothes or crafts are different?  Every company that manufactures glitter has to enter their exact dimensions, shape and refractory into a database.  Any glitter at a crime scene can be identified.

The girls most enjoyed using all his fun, high tech gadgets like the key fob that was actually a camera. A special photography lens that could take accurate pictures over 50 ft away... in the dark!  A pen with a special voice recording device.  Sunglasses with special lenses so he could see behind him.  A water bottle equipped with a hidden camera.  

The PI gave the girls tips on how he follows a suspect in a car.  He explained how you should try and drive in their blind spot, time stoplights and drive an inconspicuous, plain vehicle.

He talked about difficult insurance fraud cases where he was staked out in front of houses, sometimes days, waiting for suspects to falter.   He talked about interviewing neighbors to get clues about a suspect's reliability or demeanor.

Finally he talked about the importance of fingerprints.  He revieewed the different patterns that can identify suspects.  He even fingerprinted each girl and allowed them to fingerprint their buddy and then we analyzed the prints.

Once our amazing guest left, the girls were ready to become spies themselves so we discussed the Morse Code.  The girls were given a special Morse Code Cheat Sheet which helped them decipher the code in less than a minute.  Using a website designed to teach Morse Code the girls identified each letter of the alphabet. 
Next I created 2 mystery codes using a fun website.  I offered a prize for the girls who could crack the code.  They really enjoyed this exercise and we learned a lot about the art of secret communication.

FYI: I used Quicktime to record the Morse Code alphabet and secret message and then I e-mailed the audio clip to myself so I could play it on my phone for the girls.  You could also burn a CD of the audio clips and play on a computer or CD player.  If you don't have access to Quick Time, you could record the audio clip using your voice recorder on your phone as well.  I use this feature on my phone quite a bit and not just for voice memos.

My notes for this discussion cover topics in Forensic Science, Fingerprinting and the Morse Code with the 1 Minute Morse Code Cheat Sheet.  I am happy to -email them to you: