On a glorious September day, ten Brownies met on our meeting space’s lawn, rather than the indoor room we ordinarily use. The sun shone, butterflies and bees danced among the flowers, and we were perfectly content to be spread out on blankets in the shade of the building. It was a perfect setting to earn the new Brownie Outdoor Art Creator Badge.
For the second year in a row, this new Outdoor badge was selected through the Girl Scout Girls Choice process, and it involves creating art both in and with nature. It was the perfect badge to do in one fun-packed hour and a half meeting!
Arrival Activity: Steps 1 and 4
As girls arrived, they took turns working on both Step 1: Find Art Ideas Outdoors and Step 4: Be a Nature Photographer. We gave girls a copy of the scavenger hunt in the badge requirements and had them go off in pairs to search for the items. Other girls worked in pairs using the leaders’ cell phones to photograph the world from a butterfly, ladybug, or grasshopper perspective. They loved it.
Step 2: Make Something!
After handing out pre-made balls of air-dry clay, we made nature print pendants. Many girls made multiples, they were so excited! We told them in advance that they could take loose stuff such as leaves, and that they could ask a leader for help if something needed picking. I had prior permission and knew what could be picked and what couldn’t, so this worked out nicely. Each girl wrote her name on a paper plate and left the pendant(s) to take home and dry.
Step 3: Dance or Make Music Outdoors
We all needed to get some wiggles out! We had prepared cards with garden animals and girls picked a card and danced or acted like that animal. Slithering like a snake was the most hilarious, while the “gnawing ladybug” was most difficult to guess. This activity made everyone laugh and helped us refocus for the final section of the meeting.
Step 5: Design with Nature
Land Art for Kids inspired the girls through it’s wonderful photography. We admired the photos and some girls immediately started arranging the materials left over from the necklace pendants. Others needed a bit more direction so we used the following steps, as suggested by the author in this interview with the Artful Parent:
- Collect 10 (or more) different leaves
- Explore wherever you are and collect one leaf from each different plant you can find (beware of poison ivy!)
- Examine each leaf and see the different colours, thicknesses, vein structures and so on
- Lay your leaves out on the ground or thread them onto sticks to display them
We played around with our leaves, admiring each others’ ideas, exclaiming appreciation, and laughing when the wind blew it all away.
Girls went home with their drying pendants and a baggie of beads and cord for making necklaces, in addition to their badges. They requested we meet again outdoors as often as possible. While we met at our regular location, a local park or nature area would have provided a wealth of inspiration. Just remember to bring blankets, bug spray, and sunscreen. Our rain plan was to do an indoor meeting working on a different badge, but thankfully the forecast was completely clear about it being gorgeous.