What to do with Girl Scouts, spare time and a paper bag?
by: Lynn W Jager
As a troop leader, sometimes your ideas for a meeting program just don’t come together, even with the best planning and preparation. Or maybe your troop is at a program or event waiting in line. Sometimes you remember on your way home from work that you have a Girl Scout meeting tonight! You need a last-minute activity that girls of any age will enjoy. All you need is a paper bag and some imagination. My best advice to leaders, new and old: Don’t be afraid to wing it! The girls are so happy to get together, they don’t have any idea how long you fretted (or NOT) over the program.
Below are just a few ideas that I’ve used or are in my bag of tricks waiting for those times when we need a quick activity:
- Balloons. Inflate a worn, softened lunch size paper bag, gather the opening in your hand, tie a scrap piece of ribbon to it for special effect (optional), and invert it so it looks like a balloon. Hold it in one hand above your head and tell a story about what you might see if you were the balloon flying high (or low) over your neighborhood (school, farm, city, Disneyland, etc.). Pass the balloon to the next Girl Scout for her visionary tale.
- Pet Sitting. Open a paper bag and gather the opening so when you put your hand in it, it will close around your arm. AS you feel around the completely empty bag, briefly describe the pet you find within. Use as many adjectives and noises as you can to make it funny and memorable. Remember, the bag can contain anything you want; a fishbowl of water, a piano, a cloud, or a tiny piece of cheese Pass the bag to the next girl to see what kind of pet she has. For an added challenge, after the last scout has described her pet, pass out paper/pencil to each scout. Have her list each of the pets she just met.
- Adjectives. Give an opened, empty paper bag to a scout and ask her to feel inside. Then ask her to tell you what is in the bag that is really __________. (squishy, cold, hard, sticky, licky, etc.) Pass the bag to the next scout and give another adjective. This could be used for specific badge work or to cover cookie knowledge and safety.
- Nature Sounds. (No bag necessary) Ask the scout what she would hear if she sat on a beach, in a boat, on the limb of a tree, zipping through a forest, under a potato plant, etc.
- Colors. (No bag necessary) Use a specific color and no imaginary items. The scout must find a real item that color, challenging the girls. You could restrict the types of items she finds such as food if you are eating a rainbow, exploring garnishing, or color reactions to smoothies. (This could also be badge or Journey specific.)
- Microphone. Use inflated paper bag (or brush, pencil, etc.) to use as the “microphone.” When you are holding the bag, it is your turn to share with the group. You could also have the speaker be story starter, song leader, etc.
- Story Time. Gathering the Empty bag around your hand, feel around until you invent something you could start a story with. For instance, you “find” a marble in the bag, but wait; there is something sticky on it! Oh no! It’s stuck to your hand and you think you smell strawberries……then pass the empty bag to the next girl. She puts her hand in and continues the story with the sticky marble by finding something else. (For smaller or younger groups, you could put some items in the bag to get the story going. In this case, you felt the marble so you start your story there. Perhaps the next scout feels a bandana and makes a sling to carry ALL her marbles. The next girl may find a spoon and use it to shovel sand into the bundle to keep the marbles from rattling, etc.) Each scout must continue the story of all the previously used items and ADDING her time into the story, WITHOUT repeating an item (so make sure there are a couple more items than there are participants).
- Brain Exercise. Before your meeting, fill a paper bag with about 10-15 items you find around your house. For example a quarter, a cotton swab, a sock, a pencil, a wine cork, a Polly Pocket, etc. Make sure you pick items with varying weight, textures, sizes and shapes. Use items that are age appropriate for your girls. When you get to your meeting, give each scout a piece of paper and a pencil. Space the girls out around the table. Explain that they each have only three minutes to put one hand in the bag and feel around all the items. Without talking, she has to try to remember as many of the items as she can. When the three minutes is up, pass the bag to the next scout and start the timer. The previous girl can now start writing down what she thought she felt in the bag.
- What Color is It? Similar to Brain Exercise. Use only ten items. These items are chosen by their “usual” color. The idea is for the girls to remember the color of the item they cannot see, rather than the item. For example: oranges are orange; nails are gray; cotton balls are white; etc. (You could do this same thing with textures instead of colors for a nature badge activity.)
- Puppets. Using a lunch sized bag, draw very simple eyes and mouth on the bottom flap like a puppet face. Use very minimal markings. Put the puppet on your hand and introduce your “friend” to the group, changing your voice to include the “friend” in the conversation. For example: Hello, this is my friend Sam. Sam is a big, bumpy, shiny, yellow dragon. He doesn’t look that big now but (whispering) he thinks he is huge!! Say hello to Sam. (Sing-yell really loud in a ridiculous tiny voice) Heeeeeelllllooooooooie. Wait for the giggles and then pass the bag.