This past weekend my Sparks group held a sleepover with one of the Brownie units in our district. This worked really well for several reasons: it’s a great bridging activity between the levels; our Sparks group is small so this gave us a bigger group to work with; and all the leaders from the Brownie unit are brand new so this gave me a chance to help them out with the paperwork and organizational structure of a sleepover-type event.
The theme we chose for the sleepover was “Under the Sea”. There are lots of parts of the Spark program that fit well under this theme, and the activities we did can also be counted toward Brownie badges of course!
I made name tags in advance for everyone. At the dollar store, I picked up some star shaped fun foam pieces and some rows of rhinestone stickers. A little patience and voila: starfish nametags! It worked out that I was able to give each Spark a pink one, each Brownie an orange one and each Guider a blue one.
Our first craft was a sea glass mosaic ornaments. I have a friend who lives on an incredible sea glass beach in PEI who donated a big Ziplock bag full of green, brown and white glass for the girls to use in the mosaic. If you don’t have access to sea or beach glass of your own you could purchase some or simply use mosaic supplies from a craft store. I purchased round wooden blanks for 49 cents each at Michael’s to use for the base. For the glue I found one called Elmer’s ProBond Advanced which is the strongest non-toxic glue I could find. It held the glass quite strongly onto the wood but it is a bit fragile – one girl dropped her mosaic the next day and a few pieces fell off. We skipped the part to make it a true mosaic by putting grout in the gaps since that would be a time consuming and messy process – and since they looked great without! As usual, there was a great variety in the styles, neatness and designs the girls came up with, which is part of what fascinates me about working with kids. Glue a ribbon on the back and these will make great keepsake ornaments!
For snack we had “edible aquariums”. This idea comes from the Sparks program book as part of the Going Outside keeper. Each girl gets a small ziplock bag full of blue jello. Then you provide fish, whale, or other sea-animal shaped gummies and let the girls fill their “aquariums” with sea life. Then you close the ziplock bag and squish the aquarium to make the sea creatures swim, before opening it back up and devouring the whole sugary concoction. Lots of sugar but the girls love it! Just make sure you leave time before bed for the sugar high to wear off.
After snack we did a craft I found on Pinterest: paper plate octopuses (or jellyfish, if you prefer). This was a great craft for fine motor skills practice as well as artistic expression, and fit in perfectly with our theme. It also covers one of the suggested activities in the Sparks program for Going Outside – make an animal craft.
To make the craft a little faster and easier for the smaller girls, I pre-cut all the paper plates in half and hole punched each one with 8 holes along the bottom. We used drinking straws instead of coloured pasta, and I also pre-cut all the straws into short chunks for stringing. This bit of pre-preparation made the craft flow a lot more smoothly! I also gave each girl a bundle of the same rainbow colours of pipecleaners so no one would be fighting over the limited quantity of pink ones available.
The girls decorated the plates with octopus heads, then fitted a pipecleaner through each hole and twisted it on. Then each pipecleaner was strung with pieces of straw, and folded over at the end. Lastly, the girls could choose which colour and size of googly eyes to attach. (We did this step last so the wet gluey eyes wouldn’t slide off while the pipecleaner and straw steps were accomplished).
Then it was time to get ready for bed! Once the girls were all pyjama’d and on their beds, we put a movie on the “big screen” – using a projector to show the movie on the big white wall of our meeting space! We watched Finding Nemo since it fit so well with our theme and since it’s such a cute movie. By the time the movie was over most of the girls were asleep or close to it, so they settled down pretty quickly and we all got to go to sleep!
In the morning, the girls woke up and began to pack their belongings while everyone got changed. Then we served a simple breakfast of cereal, milk, fruit and juice. Aside from one girl dumping another girl’s cereal onto her lap, breakfast went over well!
One last activity before going home: pirate flags! One of the other leaders found templates for a skull and crossbones and a sword online, which we gave to each girl to colour. We then cut them out and the girls glued them (in whatever configuration they liked) to a half piece of construction paper. Then we taped a straw to each flag so they could be waved proudly!
We also had some backup activities planned in case we needed to fill more time, such as a story about Oak Island treasure, and an outdoor wide game called Octopus (from the Spark program list), but we didn’t need them.
We all had a great time and the girls all went home happy!