We held our Brownies Christmas Bazaar the last Saturday in November. There was a good turn out from friends and relatives of Brownies and Rainbows, and we even managed to entice a few random people to come in off the street and have a browse.
This is the second year that we’ve done one of these – last year was a “one off” to raise money for our trip to Paris. The parents loved it so much that they requested another one. They liked the social aspect, the chance to sit and chat while their children visited Santa or the secret present room, safe in the knowledge that (with a stall in the entrance to the building manned by leaders) their children weren’t leaving without them. This year we expanded the “cafe” area so they could have more of what they loved. Turkey, stuffing and cranberry rolls, tea and coffee, cake, and biscuits were among the offerings for sale.
I think we learnt a lot from last year’s efforts. This year we had fewer stalls, because we eliminated the ones that were nothing but hassle and made very little profit. We didn’t, for example, spend six weeks at Brownies making decorations and other items for people to buy. It was definitely less stressful. We also had a few guests – one of the other Brownie units in the area had a stall, and the Beaver colony also ran one.
The other difference this year was the “pamper” stall. This was an idea which was raised, planned and carried out by the older Brownies. We have been doing our Gromit Unleashed challenge badge, and we needed to raise some money for the Grand Appeal, so we asked the Adventure On girls to plan how they would do it. The result? A beauty salon.
There was nail polish, “make up” (AKA face painting), hair dressing and tattoos. The only part that wasn’t done by the girls themselves was the handling of the curling tongs, for which we managed to rope in an actual hairdresser. The girls set up the stall, decided on the prices, collected money and dealt with the customers. It was a good experience for them, I think!
The girls also chose, with no prompting, to give some of the profits from their stall to the DEC Philipines appeal. People say that young children don’t pay attention to world affairs, and only care about themselves, but in my experience that just isn’t true.
Are you running a Christmas Bazaar this year? What stalls do the best?
Hot Chocolate Milkshakes
This week was the last week of term. So we had a bit of a party. There were games, hot chocolate milkshakes, and an indoor campfire.
What is a hot chocolate milkshake, I hear you ask?
Take hot chocolate. Add squirty cream, chocolate sauce, hundreds and thousands, ice cream, and marshmallows. And then try to figure out whether to drink it or eat it with a spoon. Delicious!
The indoor campfire was a little confusing for some of the girls. They claimed they couldn’t see it! But we managed to restart their imaginations, and they managed to feel the heat and hear the crackling of the flames. Enough to start singing, anyway!
Mince Pie Madness
My other Brownies made mince pies last week. We were slightly hampered by my inability to remember to bring rolling pins, but we made do. Not all of them made it as far as the oven, because the girls got really into decorating the lids and took too long!
I can’t believe there’s only one more meeting until Christmas. It feels like this year has just disappeared into thin air. We’ve done so much it’s hard to keep track, and even harder to choose my favourite thing.
What is your favourite memory of this year? Is there anything you’ll be repeating?
Todays fun fact is about a Korean method of finger counting called Chisenbop. As well as having a very cool name, Chisenbop is pretty useful for doing maths when you don’t have a calculator. Some of my Brownies have to do mental arithmetic at school. I guess this is a pretty neat way of semi-cheating.
The basic principle of Chisenbop is how to count. You can represent the numbers from 0 to 99 just using your ten fingers. Here’s how:
- The right hand is units, the left hand is tens.
- Hold both hands out, hovering over a table, and “switch on” each finger by touching the surface of the table with it.
- The index finger of your right hand is “one”, index and second are “two”, three fingers is “three”, four fingers is “four”.
- The thumb is “five”; thumb and index is “six”, thumb and two fingers is “seven”, etc.
- When you get to ten, start with the same system on the left hand – index finger is “ten”, two fingers is “twenty”, etc.
So this is forty six:
This is eighty three:
What’s this one?
Some Neat Tricks
Now that you know how to count, there are some funky things you can do easily.
Addition & Subtraction
Addition and subtraction are mostly a case of knowing the counting system well and counting your extra numbers. So, to add 28 and 7, I make my hands look like this:
and then I count on 7 extra fingers and see where I end up.
If I want to add two “big” numbers, like 28 and 46, I can do it by adding the tens and units columns separately. So I would start with 28, add 4 to my left hand (tens), and then add six units.
It sounds slightly convoluted and not terribly helpful, but I’m told that if you are used to it, it can be faster than finding your calculator.
Video of a cute kid: click here.
Multiply by Nine
Chisenbop is all about doing maths with your fingers. This one doesn’t use the same counting system as I’ve been describing so far, but it still counts (see that joke I made there?) as chisenbop, because it uses your fingers.
It’s very easy to multiply by nine. Hold out all ten of your fingers. Say you want to do 6 x 9. Counting from the left, fold down the 6th digit you get to – in this case your right thumb.
Now, how many digits are there before the folded one? That’s your tens. How many are there after? That’s your ones. So with my right thumb folded in, I have all five digits on my left hand, followed by four fingers on my right hand. So my answer is 5×10 + 4 = 54.
Try a few others:
Multiply numbers between 5 and 9
This one’s kind of neat.
Imagine that each of your hands has fingers which represent the numbers 5 to 9. To multiply 6 by 8, match the “six” finger on one hand to the “eight” finger on the other:
Now, the fingers above the joined ones: how many are there? There are four, so my answer is going to be 40-something.
Now take the fingers you haven’t used yet. You should have four on one hand and two on the other. Multiply those together (which should be easier, since they’ll be small numbers). You get 8.
So, 6 x 8 = 48!
Simple, yet effective.
What strategies do you use for counting on your fingers?
The picture represents the number 13.
On Wednesday night, we threw a surprise party for Sunrise. She was recently given a Good Service award, and the parents from our Brownie unit wanted to congratulate and thank her. We arranged for her daughter to be spirited away at the end of Brownies and a change of clothes provided, and we whisked her away to a pub. She had no idea what was happening!
But, fun though it was to be involved in arranging such a surprise, that is not the topic of this post. One of the parents at the party brought up a question which I thought deserved a longer and more public reply.
We’d been discussing what an amazing experience Guiding was for the children, how they grow in confidence and have experiences which they will remember for the rest of their lives. And then she asked this:
“… but what do you get out of it?”
That stumped me for a long moment.
Where could I possibly begin?
The most obvious starting point is fun. In running a Brownie unit I have the perfect excuse to play with paint and glue and glitter, to make models and play games and sing songs. I get to burn (appropriate) things without people looking at me oddly. I get to camp out and cook on an open fire and make s’mores. I get to go abseiling and kayaking and to Disneyland.
As a member of Girlguiding I’ve been to Iceland, Mongolia, India and Mexico.
In short, I enjoy it.
But in reality, it’s so much more than that.
I get friends. I am surrounded by people who I love and trust, people who I know will be there for me no matter what. People who I would gladly be there for, no matter what happens to them.
I get guaranteed friends, basically for ever. No matter what happens in my life, where I end up going, I know that there will always be people I can call my friends. If, for example, I end up moving to Canada, no problem! Girl Guides of Canada will be there for me, a new family ready and willing to accept me. If I have to go to Bangladesh, or Bahrain, or Uganda, or any of 145 different countries around the world, Guiding has me covered. Of course, the less extreme version, involving moving from Bristol to say, Westerleigh, would also get me an increase in friends!
I get to learn things – I believe the buzzword is “transferable skills”. As a leader with Girlguiding I have grown in confidence, learned how to speak in public, learned how to organise events both large and small, and learned first aid. I’ve learned how to speak to people of different ages and abilities without patronising or confusing them. I’ve learned to take pride in my work, and different ways to inspire others to do the same. I’ve learned how to manage a team of other people.
I think the most important part, for me, is that I get to watch the girls develop from timid, uncertain, children into confident and knowledgeable young women. I’ve seen the expression on a young girl’s face when she finally gets it, or manages a task she had previously failed at. I’ve seen girls overcome their fears – of heights, of spiders, of staying away from home – and girls who have discovered the joy of helping others overcome their fears.
I get to contribute to that development. I am constantly in awe of the responsibility I have because of that. I know how much I was influenced by my Brownie leaders, and I just hope that my legacy is even close to theirs.
And occasionally, very occasionally, a girl will come up to me, her eyes shining with the light of discovery and adventure.
That was amazing, she’ll say.
I’m going to remember that for ever.
And that, my friends, is what I get out of it.
I’ve mentioned previously that my Brownies are working on their Gromit Unleashed challenge badge. One of the clauses is to raise some money for Wallace and Gromit’s Grand Appeal, and last Friday was the big night!
Bring-a-friend, fancy dress, Fright Night party and cake sale.
The start was a little chaotic, as due to having to work for a living I didn’t have as much time as I would have liked to set up before the children arrived. But I was mostly done, and I don’t think any of the girls noticed!
Most of the Brownies were there; and most of those brought a friend, so we had well over 50 children in the hall. Fortunately some of the parents had agreed to stay and help! Interestingly, although I didn’t put any restrictions on who they could bring (except, human), all of the Brownies chose to bring a girl friend or sister. No boys at all.
We’re quite lucky in the arrangement of our hall. We have three interconnected rooms, one of which has a nice easy-to-clean lino floor. So we could split the girls into three groups and have them almost entirely separate. The “messy room” contained marshmallow ghosts; the tiny room contained very little lighting and some spooky stories (as told by the Brownies); and the main room had games and cake.
Bluebird, our Young Leader, was in charge of ghosts. She had the idea, planned it and explained to the girls what they were doing. She’s not even 16 yet and she’s already worth her weight in gold.
Seahorse was in charge of spooky stories. I think she got a little bored of hearing minor variations on the same theme after a while!
“I saw a ghost last night” was the game of choice for the third rotation – it’s quick, fun, and they wanted to get on with the cakes! Two of the parents were running the cake stall, and they had so much cake to sell it was ridiculous. After three rotations of children we had enough left that we had to invite the parents in to buy the spares to take home with them!
All in all, it was a really good evening. Everyone had fun, and we raised over £130 for the Grand Appeal.
Even better, a number of the parents came up to me afterwards to thank me and express their amazement at the effort it must have taken. I think it’s finally starting to sink in that we’re all volunteers!
I’ve been a little quiet recently, haven’t I?
I went to Paris with my Brownies, and while I had intended to write a couple of posts during the week, you know how it is! After spending the day obsessively counting children, and updating the blog I was doing for the parents of girls on the trip, I didn’t have much time (or energy) left for more personal blogging.
We had an amazing week, though!
After our long journey on Monday the girls had a run around playing some mini-olympics type games, which I think was very welcome after ten hours on a coach.
Tuesday was when the fun began. Two days at Disneyland is not really enough. The girls definitely wanted to stay for longer. I think the leaders were quite glad to leave, though – keeping track of your Brownies in a crowd of other children is hard work!
We’ve been on Pirates of the Caribbean, Big Thunder Mountain, the Rock’n'Rollercoaster, the Tower of Terror (I was petrified, personally, but the children declared it “amazing, can we do it again?”), and a nice calm carousel.
We also went to see a show (in which Mickey Mouse spoke French and Donald Duck spoke English, and I was slightly confused), hunted for Disney characters to get autographs, and saw two parades, one for Halloween and one general Disney parade.
I was very impressed with Mickey Mouse in the final parade. He just keeps dancing! He was on top of a tall float, and when the parade was finished and they disappeared behind the gates the top of his float was still visible. As the float parked up he kept dancing. As the crane was wheeled over to get him down, he kept dancing. As he got into the crane, there was a dance in his step, and as the crane was lowered behind the gates, he was still going!
On the first evening we made crepes, but by the second evening everyone just wanted to go to bed, so we had some quiet time in our dorms. I believe there was a wedding performed in one dorm – Mickey and Minnie Mouse. I feel quite jealous – the Young Leaders were invited to the wedding, but none of the Leaders were!
Two days in Disney, as I said, was enough for the leaders, and our final day was spent in Paris. Everyone made it to the top of the Eiffel Tower – even those that were afraid of heights. I was very proud of them all!
We took a boat trip along the Seine (not the highlight of the trip, but probably worth doing). One of the bridges has loads of padlocks on – apparently lovers come to Paris and attach a padlock, and throw the key into the Seine as a symbol of their undying affection for each other. At first I thought it was romantic, but then Sunrise pointed out that it’s more like they are prisoners, forever locked together. The more I think about that the creepier it seems.
Another of the bridges is called the “New Bridge”. It’s the oldest bridge in Paris.
And under one bridge we were told we had to make a wish. Mine came true – but then I did wish for something easy. I wonder if anyone else’s came true?
Even our coach journey to and from Paris was interesting. Our tour guide gave us all sorts of fun facts. Did you know that Paris has a cloud factory? It’s part of a government initiative to protect the citizens from UV rays.
There’s also a factory that separates peas. The good peas are sent to supermarkets and restaurants; the bad peas are pumped into the Seine. Every so often they dredge the river and collect the mushy peas to sell to the British!
On Thursday evening, we had a Halloween party! The girls played “draw the face on the pumpkin”, “musical tombstones”, and “witches brew”. Some of the pumpkin faces were entertaining!
After that, all that was left to do was one last sleep and then a long coach journey home again. I was quite sad to leave (although I suspect that had more to do with the fact that I had to go back to work the next week).
The up-side of all those long hours on a coach, though, was that we got a lot of planning done. Brownies is going to be exciting for the next few months!
Following on from my Leader’s Holiday last week, this is where I am now:
Myself, a number of other leaders and young leaders, and 28 very excited Brownies have come to Paris!
It took us a long time to get here – eleven hours on a coach, although it didn’t feel like that long. It was my first time on the euro tunnel, which was quite fun.
The weather, despite being forecast… less than desireable, was actually quite pleasant, at least once we’d left behind the West Country.
I was quite glad we weren’t on a ferry though.
We’re off to Disney tomorrow, for a day of bouncy happy fun. I can’t wait!
Have you heard the phrase “busman’s holiday”?
A vacation during which one engages in activity that is similar to one’s usual work.
My Brownies didn’t meet tonight. It’s sort of half term. Sort of because some of the schools are off and some of them aren’t. We decided that enough of the girls would be missing that it wasn’t worth meeting.
Plus, I’ll be spending all next week with some of them on our first very exciting international adventure! Expect some interesting posts next week on that topic.
All of which means I’ve got a night off. What am I doing with it?
- Checking over the kit I’m taking next week and packing as much as possible.
- Setting up blog templates for posts we’re going to write next week.
- Tidying the spare room so that another leader can spend the night before at my house.
- Updating Go.
- Updating the accounts for my two units and the division.
- Sending reminders to parents who haven’t paid subs recently.
So, taking a holiday from Brownies, then. That’s going well.