The Brownies and Their Pow Wow at Cahokia Mounds

Looking for a three-hour plus educational adventure for your Girl Scout?  Look no further than a field trip to Cahokia Mounds, designated a World Heritage Site by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization.

IMG_1691Beginning with an engaging performance by The Kahok Dancers, the Brownies not only watched The Pipe Dance and The Eagle Dance, they participated.  Quite the workout if I do say so myself . . .

From there, our group, Arrowhead, headed to our crafts/games session.  The girls began by rubbing copper-colored tin wrapped around tiles with Native American imagery.  The completed rubbing was then transformed into a necklace.  Once this was finished, girls then used their hands to form clay into a bowl similar to those seen in the museum.

The games portion consisted of learning how to throw spears using two different devices.  One of our Brownies, Miss G., found her calling as a future javelin thrower as she was able to throw further than any other adult or child in our group.

Next, girls watched the award-winning movie, Cahokia:  City of the Sun and then explored the museum.

IMG_1726Storytelling with Marilyn Kinsella followed with her telling the legend of the origins of light and darkness.  Not a peep was heard until after she concluded her time with instructions on how to make a bracelet out of jute.

Our final session involved our returning to the auditorium where an archaeologist showed us various Native American tools, how they were crafted and where they were found.  Learning soil color and striations matter when excavating, the girls put this knowledge to the test with their snack.  Girls created their own “soil” layers with chocolate pudding, vanilla pudding, cookie crumbles, Gushers as “evidence,” chocolate sprinkles, and a gummy worm on top.

Given new energy, the girls then drove (me) or walked (others) across the street to Monks Mound and climbed the stairs, some more than once (not I).

This is most definitely a field trip worth taking, and one I think our Brownies will remember for a long time to come.

The Girl Scouts Take on The Magic House and Win*

Interested in four hours of nonstop playful learning for your third grader (or Brownie or Junior Girl Scout) followed by a slumber party?  Then, a Wintertime Blues Camp-In is just right for you.

Arriving at 8 p.m. at The Magic House in Kirkwood, Missouri, our Brownie troop checked in, dropped off our gear of sleeping bags and pillows, and were then let loose in The Magic House for an hour of free play.

Think the Kracken with an endless supply of energy unleashed x10.  Yes, young girls given free reign in this 55,000 square foot children’s museum.  The result . . . laughter, wide eyes, perspiration, hurried movements, and exploration due to such activities as fishing, cracking bank vaults, rocking babies, shopping for groceries, and climbing the beanstalk over and over and over and over again.  Time out . . .  I need a minute to catch my breath.

IMG_1501

After an hour passed, stinky bodies (okay, my stinky body) gathered in the legislative branch to hear our instructions for the evening from our young, energetic facilitators.  Directed to our snack of pizza and beverage, we were then assigned our Scavenger Hunt to complete as a team for a special prize.  Passing this task on to our former Cookie Queen, Miss Toni guided the girls from room to room in order to discover answers to such questions as, “How many yellow balloons are in the Conservatory?”  When all questions were completed, the girls hustled to the front desk so that their answers could be graded for completion.  Discovering an incomplete response, the girls hustled back downstairs in search of the correct answer.  I, on the other hand, decided to hold down the fort right where I was.  With another climbing of the bean stalk under their belts, the girls returned to the front desk in order to retrieve their prize, a colored pin of their choosing with The Magic House logo.

IMG_1503

Allotted further free time to play before our assigned Art Class at 10:30 p.m., the girls spent a great deal of time in the special exhibit, Magic Tree House, based on the children’s book series by Mary Pope Osborne.

IMG_1506 IMG_1507 IMG_1508 IMG_1509 IMG_1510

By the time Art Class rolled around, I was beat.  Finding a place on the carpet, I rested my head on my Rapunzel backpack while instructors led the girls in Simon Says before leading them in a stamping project.

IMG_1518

Once again granted free play until our 11:30 p.m. settle down and make camp time, the Brownies played in frenzied delight while I found a chair with a back in a corner of the bank where I observed robberies, deposits, and overall Magic House mayhem.

Grateful when it was time to roll out the sleeping bags, my squirt staked claim on a closet for us to sleep in our designated area (insert forced “Woo!” here).  With the sound of steady snores and gregarious giggles in the background, I actually drifted off to sleep until close to our 7 a.m. wake time.  With a doughnut in each of our bellies, we exited the building with our much deserved patch in hand (it’s hard work earning a fun patch) and our carelessly folded baggage under our arms.

Silence ensued on the ride home as I dreamt of an actual bed in which to rest my weary forty-three-year-old body whereas, I am sure, my squirt and her fellow Girl Scouts remembered fondly, then and for a long time to come, the previous night’s events at this house filled with much magic.

Sassy!
Sassy!

*This post is dedicated to the fearless Mommas who survived a night at the museum.

Five Minute Friday: Welcome

Welcome.  I think I have had this discussion about feeling welcome over fifty times in the seven years I have known woman blessing Sarah, my co-leader to two Girl Scout troops (only one in which she has a daughter), my co-coach in soccer, my co-teacher at church, and my co-yogi.  In these endeavors, we always make it a priority to make the children as well as the parents feel welcome.  We send invites to events we are attending outside of our scheduled events which range from VBS to Zumba at the library.  We do this because in our conversations with one another we have discussed our experiences with the warm, nurturing feeling of being welcomed with open arms as well as the opposite, the loneliness which inevitably accompanies a feeling of being unwelcome.

We ended up at the church where we attend due to woman blessing Sherri who continued to welcome, invite, engage, and inquire whenever we saw her in the hallways during preschool pick-up.  She is one of those people whom you feel as if you have known forever upon meeting her on day one.  We finally succumbed to her advances and eventually ended up teaching Wednesday evening Bible studies to preschoolers under her direction.  Now that was a warm welcome which created results.

As a child, I changed schools four times in three years as the aftermath of my parents’ divorce.  As an eight-year-old, I can tell you how much a difference it made when I felt welcomed by students, teachers, and parents and when I did not.  I think of this always when I work with children of all ages as well as adults (who inevitably house an inner child).  Perhaps, they, too, once, twice, or several times have felt unwelcome.  Wouldn’t it be incredible to be that person who allows him/her to feel welcome for the first time?

This evening I plan to welcome my Daisies and Brownies to the Cookie Rally, and I definitely plan to welcome my two volunteer Cookie Queen Goddesses with open arms.  Whom do you plan to welcome today?

Bras, Brooches, and Beads

Jacoby Arts Center.  Our Brownie troop had a field trip this past Saturday to the Jacoby Arts Center located in Alton, IL.  Without a doubt, this is one inspiring nonprofit arts center.  Entering the historic building we immediately saw rows of decorated bras hanging on the walls of the gallery.  As a breast cancer survivor, I knew I was home.  That evening the Jacoby Arts Center along with Alton Memorial Hospital hosted Bras on Broadway, an exhibition of art bra creations to benefit Alton Memorial’s breast cancer support program, You’ve Got a Friend.  Our third-grade Brownies enjoyed viewing the themed bras and selecting their favorites;  my Brownie was partial to the Wonder Woman bra since this was who she chose to be for Halloween.  I gravitated towards the sequined bra which must have involved a LOT of gluing.

Making our way downstairs for our BeJeweled class, we met Ms. Susan Elmendorf, a knowledgeable teacher who held the girls’ interest and encouraged their creativity from start to finish.  The first project consisted of creating a brooch out of magazines, ribbons, sequins, and construction paper.  The results truly exemplified inspired thinking outside the box.

IMG_1318The next project involved working with clay in order to create enough beads for two bracelets.  Again, the sky was the limit as to bead formation.  Ms. Elmendorf stressed the importance of carving tool safety with much humor and explained the mental and physical benefits of working with this medium.  Soon moms, dads, and grandmas were joining in on the handiwork.

With all of the collaboration happening, I thought I might have heard Unchained Melody in the background.

I (heart) Jacoby Arts Center.  Give it a try, and you will be saying, “Ditto.”