Saturday, August 19, 2017

The Not-So-Obvious Things She Needs for Back-To-School

Think back to your own school days. Whether you felt excited or nervous or just couldn’t wait to show your friends the new moves you learned at basketball camp—you wanted to be sure you were prepared for that first day back in the classroom. And while today’s back-to-school shopping lists might be more tech-focused than they were in your youth, much remains the same. Pocket folders are still adorned with kittens, unicorns, and super heroes (no shame in picking up one for yourself while you’re hitting the school supply aisles—they can hold grown up stuff like tax documents, too…) and that fresh crayon smell is just as you’ve always remembered it. Ah, nostalgia.

But beyond pencils, paper, and glue sticks, there are a few back-to-school essentials you won’t find at your local big-box store, and that you can’t even order online. Girl Scouts’ Developmental Psychologist, Dr. Andrea Bastiani Archibald recommends adding these vital things to your girl’s back-to-school checklist:

1. A Bold Streak 

Raising your hand to ask for help, or to answer a question you’re not totally sure you have the right answer to, can take courage. So can trying out for the basketball team or running for student council. Help your girl get comfortable taking these kinds of risks by talking with her about the value of trying—and yes, of failing! The most successful leaders in our world take risks all the time. Many of them don’t work out, but the ones that do make it all worthwhile. 

2. Team Spirit 
While it’s vital for your girl to feel confident completing tasks on her own, it’s just as crucial that she knows how to work collaboratively as part of a team. Talk with her about the importance of listening to others’ opinions (even if she doesn’t agree with them) and how everyone has something unique and valuable to add to the team effort. Oftentimes, the most innovative and creative ideas and solutions are reached when a group of diverse people put their minds together! 

3. Social Smarts 
Making friends is easier for some kids than others. Give your girl some strategies to get to know her classmates. For instance, being observant and noticing characters, animals, or even music groups on other kids’ clothing, backpacks, or school supplies can help her start a conversation about things they have in common. Asking if they want to join in a game at recess or asking about the books they get at the school library can be good openers, too!

4. Energy to Learn 
Did you know that the National Sleep Foundation recommends that children aged 5 to 12 get between 10 and 11 hours of sleep each night? It’s true—and following their advice could raise your child’s test scores. A well-rested brain is better at retaining new information and at remembering what it’s already learned. And once your little learner is out of bed and getting ready for her school day, ensure that she gets a good breakfast—preferably one with protein and whole grains that will help her feel fuller longer and give her lasting energy. Many studies show a link between having a balanced breakfast and good school performance, so make sure to start her day off right!

5. A Supportive Adult—that’s YOU! 
Your girl needs you more than you may know. Get engaged by asking specific questions about her school day and showing interest in the things she’s learning. She’s growing into an independent girl, but knowing you’re on her side will make her far more likely to discuss any academic or social challenges with you if they do arise. Plus, knowing you’re on her team and that you’re cheering her on in all that she does will help her confidence grow.

For more amazing insights into helping her have her best school year yet, visit for more on Raising Awesome Girls. Another way to ensure her success is to give her the confidence so many girls achieve through Girl Scouts. For more on how to sign her up today, visit

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Troop Program Ideas: Turn Your Troop Into a Team

With the beginning of the new school year, Girl Scouts of San Jacinto Council is excited to see new troops forming. Girls and adults alike will make new friends, so it's important to start the year intentionally by turning your troop into a team

In Girl Scouts, girls find their inner G.I.R.L. (Go-getter, Innovator, Risk-Taker, Leader)™ and work together to find their unique strengths. The following team-building exercise will ensure your troop stays strong all year long by helping them identify how each of them shines and is a valuable member of the troop. 

Listen and Learn 

Do you ever notice how often you daydream while others are talking? We all do it, and chances are so do your Girl Scouts. Our girls have a lot to be proud of, so it's easy to want to get a word out before the other person is done talking, but what daydreaming doesn't do is help us learn more about our troop members. Encourage your troop to be a community where they practice not only listening to each other, but learning about and from each other. 

  1. Have your troop sit together in a closed circle. 
  2. Once everyone is seated, have each girl introduce herself and her interests for one minute. 
  3. After each turn, go around the circle and ask each girl something they learned about the speaker. This will encourage them to listen. Ask everyone what makes her unique and how her unique abilities and experiences can make the troop stronger. 
  4. Once everyone has had their turn and responses have been given, hold an open discussion with your troop about how our differences make us better when we are together.
How about a demonstration for your visual learners! To further bring home the point, ask two of your troop members to place their palms flat with their fingers aligned to form praying hands. Notice how easy it is for them to pull their hands apart? Instruct them to do so, and then bring their hands back together. This time, tell them to shift their palms slightly so their fingers fall between each others fingers, and then have them grip the other's hand into a closed grasp. 

The lesson is, when we, like our fingers, don't always align perfectly, instead of creating a weakness where we pull away from each other, our differences make us stronger by filling in the gaps others may have. Imagine what we can learn from each other if we take the time to listen and learn. 

Remember, TEAM stands for Together Everyone Achieves More.

Need a few quick activities for your next troop meeting? Girl Scouts of San Jacinto Council's Troop Program Ideas, published in the Golden Link, gives Daisy, Brownie and Junior troop leaders fun ideas for games, songs, crafts, snacks and ceremonies to use throughout the year. Visit our Council publication site for past programs. 

Friday, August 11, 2017

Say Yes to More S'mores and Getting Girls Outdoors

Yesterday on National S’mores Day, Girl Scouts of the U.S.A. announced that crowd favorite Girl Scout S’mores™ will return from 2017 to the 2018 Girl Scout Cookie season lineup. Last season, Girl Scout S’mores became the most popular flavor to launch in the 100 years of Girl Scouts selling cookies—can you believe they out-sold even Thin Mints?

We're already counting down the days till next cookie season, and Girl Scouts from across the Girl Scouts of San Jacinto Council and the country are ready to bring you this crispy graham cookie double dipped in a crème icing and enrobed in a chocolatey coating. 

Girl Scouts have been making S'mores since the 1920s. We pride our ability to get girls outdoors and have fun--and a treat--while we do it.  This month, Girl Scouts also announced that we will be introducing seven, count it seven, new outdoor badges. Last month,  we introduced 23 new badges, including the outdoor badges which will focus on building outdoor skills. 

In fact, according to our Girl Scout Impact Report, Girl Scouts are almost twice as likely as their non–Girl Scout peers to participate in outdoor activities. Which is one of the reasons why Girl Scouts helps to build girls of courage, confidence and character who make the world a better place.

For s’more about S'mores, Girl Scouts and how to join or volunteer, visit for details. 

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Help Her Make the World She Dreams

When was the last time you sat down with your girl and encouraged her to make something—something she wanted to truly create—from scratch? In a society seemingly run by screens, it can be easy to forget about hands-on projects, yet those can be some of the most important activities for your girl to do. The act of making things isn’t just fun, it can set her up for major success in life.

“Making capitalizes on play-based experiences (the best way for kids to learn), and is also a wonderful entry to the world of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) as kids are naturally curious and creative,” says Girl Scouts Developmental Psychologist Dr. Andrea Bastiani Archibald. Plus, making emphasizes the process—the actual doing—rather than the end product in a way that so little in our lives does. From dreaming up ideas and designing projects to testing ideas and problem solving on her own terms, these hands-on projects are one of the best ways to keep your girl learning.

The art of creation also gives girls agency in a world where most things—where they live, when they go to school, even what they’re having for dinner—are usually out of their control. “Kids live in a world largely built and managed by adults,” says Dr. Bastiani Archibald. “When they are given the freedom to make something entirely of their own imagination, designing how it looks and operates, they can feel true ownership and control in a way they don’t often have the opportunity to.”

Being able to follow through on an idea of your own is psychologically satisfying. “When a child—or anyone—dreams up a project, but then has to hand it over to someone else to execute, they’re giving away part of their power,” she continues. “Meanwhile, the process of transforming their idea into a tangible object or product allows that person to retain complete control over the look, feel, and function—and culminates with an amazing sense of pride.”

What counts as making, though? Really, lots of things! Your girl can make or build a:

Bird feeder
Soapbox derby car
Campfire (with supervision!)
Basic robot
Short film or movie
Cooking project
A lemon battery
Gingerbread house
Cardboard hat or crown
Comic book or flip book
Marble race track
Duct tape wallet
Backyard stage set
Miniature sailboat
Paper airplane or glider
Song or musical composition
Balsa wood model
Knotted friendship bracelet
Wind sock
Knitted scarf
Blanket fort
Wind chime
Or anything else she sets her mind to!
You can play a big role in encouraging your girl to be a maker. Here’s how:

1. Set aside an area in your home as a free-for-all making space. Creativity is rarely neat, and your girl needs to feel that it’s okay to explore and really get her hands dirty.

2. Gather found objects your girl might be inspired to make things from. These can be paper towel tubes, excess tin foil, sticks, rocks, old scraps of fabric, string, rubber bands, random buttons, empty milk cartons or cardboard boxes, and even age-appropriate and safe pieces of outdated electronics and appliances. All of these items—along with some more traditional crafting supplies like glue, tape, paints, markers, and construction paper—will give her the materials she needs to get going. Open-ended creativity and building projects and toys can also be helpful.

3.  Set aside uninterrupted time for her to brainstorm projects and then actually make them.

4.  Ask her to talk you through what she made and why she made certain decisions. What does she like most about the project, and what (if anything) would she do differently next time?

5. Take photos of her creations and create a Maker gallery on the refrigerator, in the hallway, or in her room

For more from Raising Awesome Girls, visit and find more articles under the "For Adults" tab at the top of the page.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

A Girl's Guide to Watching the 2017 Solar Eclipse

The 2017 Solar Eclipse is sure to be an exciting event visible from across all of North America. On Monday, August 21, the moon will block parts of the sun for 2-3 hours. Depending on where you are, you may even be able to see stars and other planets! Girl Scouts of San Jacinto Council encourages everyone to enjoy the eclipse, but make sure to watch it safely. Watch the video, and follow these instructions to making your own Solar Eclipse Pinhole Projector.

What You'll Need

Tape, black tape, scissors, a utility knife, a pin, sheet of paper, aluminum sheet and two small, same-sized boxes.

Build a Pinhole Projector
  1. Cut the bottom off one box and the top off the other box with scissors. 
  2. On one box, cut two squares on opposite corners to create the pinhole and the viewer. 
  3. Next, cut your foil slightly larger than the pinhole opening.
  4. Tape the foil over the pinhole opening. 
  5. Use the pin to poke a hole in the foil. 
  6. Once the above steps are complete, take your sheet of paper and trace the edge of your other box on the paper.
  7. Cut your paper outline and tape the sheet to the inside of your box. 
  8. With your black tape, now tape your two boxes together and cover any openings. 
  9. Once your Solar Eclipse Pinhole Projector is made, with your back to the sun, look through the viewer. 
You've done it! The eclipse will be projected on the white paper inside the box. Want more guides? Subscribe to our YouTube channel

Did you know 90% of all female astronauts were Girl Scouts? If you have a passion for astronomy and space, visit for information about our Astronomy special interest group for girls and other opportunities to explore STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math).