Arthropod Scavenger Hunt

I used the following arthropod scavenger hunt checklist with my elementary science class as we studied chapter 13 of Exploring Creation with Zoology 3: Land Animals of the Sixth Day.


arthropod_scavenger_hunt (PDF)

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Super Secret Message for AJ

Favor de cerrar la cortina de baño.

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Snowman Ice Packs for 400 Girl Scouts, oh my!

mallshow_icepackRecently my juniors participated in a Girl Scout Mall Show, where the theme was Science: Serious and Silly. I’m a big fan of science and love hands-on activities for kids, so I thought this project would be a big hit . . . and it was! We were anticipating 400+ Girl Scouts and I think we helped just about every one of them make a ice pack. It was a super easy, inexpensive and useful project; it can be done for one, a few or many children making it a great homeschool or VBS project.

For each girl in my troop, I needed:

  • a zip-top snack size plastic baggie (snack size is about half that of sandwich size)
  • a small disposable diaper (sodium polyacrylate)
  • a quarter cup of rubbing alcohol
  • a cup of water
  • a black permanent marker (and orange if you want to color in the nose)
  • a paper printout of a snowman (a b&w “coloring book” image, sized and trimmed to fit inside of your baggie)
  • a section of duct tape (long enough to cover the open edge of the baggie)

For a LARGE group, I ordered the following materials online:

First you will need to decorate your baggie. I slipped a print out of a snowman in the baggie so the girls could trace the outline using the permanent markers. We used another image of a more famous snowman for the Disney fans in my troop, but I don’t want to get into sharing that. 🙂 You can have the girls trace or draw just about anything . . . or nothing at all. Fill in the orange nose first, then trace the outline with black marker to keep from ruining your orange markers. Once the image is traced, pull the paper out and you are ready to fill your baggie.

Now you will need to “harvest” the sodium polyacrylate from the diaper. This can be messy and might be done more efficiently by an adult than by younger scouts. A quick web search of “making snow with diapers” videos can give you a visual on how to do this. A small diaper gave us about half teaspoon, which was enough to fill our baggie with gel. I am not a big fan of waste, so I would suggest buying a small quantity of sodium polyacrylate online if you are doing it with a group of girls.

Put the sodium polyacrylate into the baggie. Pour in the rubbing alcohol and water, CAREFULLY work the air out of the baggie, and zip close. If the rubbing alcohol drips on the outside of the baggie, it will smear your snowman decoration. Watch as the polymer quickly turns to gel. You might have to gently poke at the baggie a bit to mix it up, but wait a few minutes before adding any more powder or liquid. It will take a few minutes to “clump” up. One of my girls suggested taping the baggies shut with a piece of duct tape folded over the open end to keep little fingers from making a mess. When finished, you can store in the refrigerator or freezer. The rubbing alcohol should keep the gel from freezing solid.

The mixture is non-toxic; however, I will warn you NOT to get it into your pipes if the bag breaks. This stuff will continue to swell if exposed to more water. The place I bought it from suggested mixing it with your potted plant soil to help keep your plants moist.

Printable Snowman Sheet

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Christmas Gift Exchange Game for Girls

I have used this word game with my Girl Scouts to help the girls circulate their Christmas grab-bag gifts. It helps if the girls can read; however, you can read their slip for them. Simply print out this single sheet and cut into strips/cards. Throw them in a bag or cup and each girl can pick, or pass them out. Keep playing until no one has the gift they brought. MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Gift Exchange Game Printable

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Washington Robotics Society – Adult Robotics Workshop

Adult RoboticsWorkshop

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Easy Hand-Warmers

At the junior level, my troop is interested in learning how to sew so I have been looking for EASY projects for them to tackle. We attempted to make “easy” elastic-banded skirts last year. Unfortunately, that didn’t work out as I had planned it in my mind. However, I did manage to pull a fun and functional project out of the scraps – literally. We used 8×3-inch leftover fleece scraps to make hand-warmers.

 (terrible picture – eeekk!)

First, the girls hand-stitched on some felt daisy embellishments I had leftover from a previous project. Second, they folded their 8×3-inch rectangle into a 4×3-inch rectangle (with the embellishment on the inside) and machine-stitched the opened edges leaving about a 2-inch opening at the end. Third, they turned the “pillow” inside out so that the embellishment was on the outside and filled the “pillow” with rice using a funnel and an extra pair of mom hands. Finally, I stitched the “pillow” shut as this required a bit more finesse (and little fingers too close to the needle!).

The final product was an adorable pair of hand-warmers that can be thrown in the microwave for 30 seconds to keep little fingers cozy warm at the bus stop. Rice is food, so they don’t hold up to getting wet. However, they were so affordable to make with scraps they could be disposable.

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Taxonomy / KPCOFGS Activity

We’ve started working on Flying Creatures of the Fifth Day, and the first activity we did in class was one that illustrated our taxonomy lesson. I printed out the following images on different sheets of colored paper; however, you could easily color each sheet or draw a picture of the mnemonic you make up. We cut out and pasted each circle on top of the previous to build a little visual reminder in addition to our mnemonic: Kids Play Clarinets Only For Good Snacks – (K) for Kingdom, (P) for Phylum, (C) for Class, (O) for Order, (F) for Family, (G) for Genus, and (S) for Species. AND FOR GIRL SCOUTS: Kids Purchase Cookies Only From Girl Scouts.

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus Species KPCOFGS_printable (B&W PDF)

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Starting Off a New Year

Since our very first meeting, I have been compiling a scrapbook for the girls in my girl scout troop. At our first meeting of the year, I will take a picture of each girl and of the troop together. The girls will then each decorate a 12×12 scrapbook page with whatever stickers, drawings, or images they cut out of magazines. I also ask them each to fill out a little “about me” sheet to include on the page somewhere. You can print out the graphic below (two to a sheet of paper). There is plenty of room at the top for a name. This idea can also be used to personalize the front of a homeschool portfolio.

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Puzzle Piece Picture Frame & Swap

This was a fun project to do with my girl scout troop on our first camping weekend! I bought a 25-piece wooden puzzle for a dollar and spray painted over the image-side before we left for camp. On a rainy afternoon at camp, I gave each girl an “edge” piece and a “middle” piece, as well as glitter glue pens, puffy paint and markers, and asked them to decorate their pieces however they liked. I let the pieces dry overnight, but they were still pretty gooey the next day. With the somewhat dry pieces, I made a swap for the girls by hot gluing a pin back to middle pieces and a picture frame with the edge pieces, in which I plan display a group pic from our camping trip. When presenting the idea to the girls, I used a puzzle piece that sort of looked like a person and explained to them how we are each a piece of our troop’s puzzle — we’re all different, but we all fit together to make something pretty cool. Super cute, super easy!

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Packing Your Sit-A-Can

In my opinion, every girl scout should have a properly packed sit-a-can. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the idea, a sit-a-can is a large, lidded, plastic bucket, which can be filled with all your camping necessities. One of our dads was able to get us new paint buckets; however, I have heard of using large (5-gallon) food tubs from bakeries or restaurants, large kitty litter buckets, etc. (NOTE: I am all for recycling, but I would stay away from tubs that once stored chemicals just to be safe. You can purchase new buckets from most hardware stores.) A sit-a-can makes a handy stool, convenient nightstand, extra campfire seating, cellphone safe, and water-proof catch-all whenever camping in the rain — not to mention the perfect daycamp lunchbox/storage unit. As a leader, I have stored a pack of matches, pocket knife, extra batteries, a magazine, my notebook, small first aid kit, and roster in my sit-a-can.

This is a list I gave my Brownies to help them with ideas for their sit-a-can. It is by no means complete but a good starting point. As the scouts get older, this list changes.

Packing Your Sit-a-can

  • Mess Kit & Utensils
  • Bandanna
  • Rain Poncho (or garbage bag)
  • Water Bottle
  • Sit-Upon *
  • Sunscreen/SPF Lip Balm
  • Bug Repellent
  • Hair Bands/Barrettes
  • Baseball Cap
  • Sun Glasses
  • Hand Wipes (small baggie with wet paper towel)
  • Small Plastic Bag (Ziploc – for cellphone or camera protection in the rain)
  • Large Plastic Bag (Kitchen or Grocery – for muddy whatever)

* A “sit-upon” is a waterproof pad, usually made by wrapping a folded newspaper with either a pocket of flannel-backed table cloth stitched with yarn or a large Ziploc bag, designed to keep you from sitting on a wet seat.

I printed out each scout’s name on sticker paper which the girls used along with other sheet stickers to decorate their sit-a-cans at a meeting. Sadly, my sit-a-can was the saddest looking. The above picture wasn’t included to show off my decorating skills! 🙂


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