Thursday, October 16, 2014

Ice-Blocking Activity



Our YM planned our combined YM/YW activity this week - "Ice-Blocking"
They bought a bunch of blocks of ice from the grocery store (they got about a dozen of them, which was perfect because we had about 20 kids show up, so they just took turns). Everyone brought a  small towel to sit on (dish towel sizes were too big, hand-towel size is better). The concept was simple - put the towel on the block of ice, sit on it, and sled down the hill! It had been raining, so it was slippery already...

It's mid-October, so the kids got pretty cold (sitting on blocks of ice), but it was lots of fun. My daughter thought it was the most fun activity we've done in a long time.

The best part was that the activity was self-perpetuating - they went down the hill, they walked back up, and repeat! They did this for several hours, without a lot of intervention from the leaders. Even though it was dark & cold, they had a blast!

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Life sized PAC MAN combined activity


For a recent combined activity, we needed to make decorations for a dance we were hosting the following weekend, but we knew it wouldn't take the entire time and wanted to have something fun to look forward to after the work was done...

We decided on a Life-Sized Pac-Man game!

I originally saw the idea on a youth-group website, but I couldn't find any real instructions on how to actually set it up or clear rules on how to play, so I just made it up. Feel free to adjust to your own needs.

While everyone else worked on the decorations in another room, I asked two of the YM leaders and a few of the youth to start setting up the maze for the game in the cultural hall (gym). I gave them a simplified version of the game layout to use as a guide (something like this photo below):




I think they adapted it a bit, which was totally fine (using actual chairs is a little different than drawing a straight line!) It just needs to be some sort of maze with at least a few entrances/exits. They used ALL the chairs from our table/chair storage room and the chapel overflow. It was AWESOME!


We used white lids (that I already had) from the dry-pack cannery as the power-pellets. You could use frisbees or paper plates instead. Pellets were distributed around the maze before each round.



I made "ghost" signs for the 2 people who volunteered to be the ghosts, so the audience could tell who was who! Once the game starts, its sort of a frenzy!



Pac-Man and the ghosts (we had 2, you could add more) all started in the middle. We gave Pac-Man a 5-second head-start, then the ghosts could leave the center and start pursuing Pac-Man.




 The object was for Pac-Man to collect all 6 Power-Pellets without being tagged by a ghost. The Power-Pellets did not give Pac-Man special powers or immunity. Instead, we placed 1 special (striped) pellet in the maze that Pac-Man could use for immunity for 1 "tag". The striped pellet did not count as one of the 6 pellets that they had to collect to win. This is different than the game of course, but had to make some adjustments for real-life!


 ADDITIONAL RULES (for safety):

1. Nobody can jump over or reach across/under rows to tag (or grab pellets). Must stay in the "lanes"
2. Pac-Man can walk quickly (we found running to be surprisingly dangerous), but ghosts MUST walk slowly (Frankenstein style).


Fun activity, everyone got a chance to be Pac-Man and/or a ghost a couple of times. No cost, easy to do, and different!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

YWIE - Be Who You Were MINT to Be




Our Mint themed YWIE was a big hit! We had a short program about Personal Progress and our theme "Be Who You Were MINT (Meant) To Be",  followed by the presentation of special top-secret compliment jars (that the YM helped us with), then a fancy array of chocolate-mint refreshments & viewing of the girls' display tables. 

We also introduced a new aspect of our YWIE that I hope to continue every year: the "Personal Progress Beehive" 
ALL THE DETAILS ARE EXPLAINED BELOW!


ADVERTISING:
I designed these handouts on Picmonkey (photo-editing website here). You can either edit a photo that you upload (add text, add blush, etc) OR select "design" and create a poster/handout/whatever using text, graphics, etc. That is what I did here.... I make things like this all of the time for YW advertising on our FB group, etc. Easy to do, and if you want to print them out, its relatively inexpensive to have them printed as photos at any photo place. I always order online from Walgreens (I'm not affiliated with Walgreens) and use a Walgreens online photo coupon code (that I find by doing a search online) and it ends up being a great deal. Much cheaper than printing at home, cutting, pasting, using a ton of ink, etc.

We mailed or hand-delivered to each parent, leader, and YW. I also send copies to other invited guests (our Stake YW Presidency, etc).

(Pink hearts were added to this photo to cover the name of the ward)

PROGRAM:
XXXXXXXXXX  Ward 
Young Women in Excellence 2014
“Be Who You Were MINT To Be”


Conducting: (Laurel President if you have one)
Pianist: (a YW if possible)
Chorister: (a YW if possible)

Opening Song: “I’ll Go Where You Want Me to Go,” hymn 270
Opening Prayer: (a YW if possible)

Introduction to the Personal Progress program: (YW President)

Speaker: "How Personal Progress is blessing my life" (a YW who is working on PP)

Speaker: "How I Stay Motivated to do Personal Progress" (a YW who is working on PP or has completed it)

Speaker: "Be Who You Were MINT (meant) to be"  (our new Stake YW President spoke, but anyone could do this)

Bishopric Remarks: (the Bishop or member of Bishopric)

(Presentation of Jars)

Closing Prayer & Blessing on Refreshments: (a YW if possible)

-Refreshments & Viewing of Display Tables-

(The program took less than 45 minutes - it was perfect. The rest of the evening was spent eating refreshments and viewing the display tables that the girls had set up)


PERSONAL PROGRESS BEEHIVE:
A week before YWIE, I contacted all of the YW leaders and mothers (and current YW who have earned their medallion) and asked them to please wear their medallion (old style or new style) to this event if possible. On the night of YWIE, we set up 10 extra chairs in two rows in the front of the cultural hall (near the podium we had set up). These seats were kept empty until I stood up to do my schpeel about the Personal Progress program. At that time, I invited all women (current YW, mothers, leaders, guests, etc) who had earned their medallion to sit in the "Personal Progress Beehive" (similar to the "Eagles Nest" that is a custom at Eagle Scout Court of Honors). It didn't matter if they had their medallion with them or not. This is the first time we've done anything like this, and I didn't tell anyone we were doing it, not even my Counselors. Some looked surprised, some laughed - I was worried that some Scouters might be offended by it, but I think it went well. I explained that we wanted to do something special to honor those who had worked so hard to complete this program. The members of the "Personal Progress Beehive" (which included current YW, Ward YW Leaders, Stake YW Leaders, and mothers of current YW) sat in these special seats for the remainder of the program. 


TAKE HOME GIFT - "What we think of you" Jars: 
Our Secretary came up with the idea to have each young man write what they thought of each individual YW and give them all these compliments as a gift. At first, it may kind of sound like this was a "my worth = what boys think of me" thing, but it was actually a really positive and uplifting experience. Some of the YW had commented that their parents "have to" say that they're talented, pretty, smart, etc, but thats not what other really people think. We wanted them to know how much they are respected, valued, and appreciated by others. It wasn't a "boy" thing, it was more of an "other youth in the ward who aren't going be getting a jar" thing - which left only the boys! (PS- We actually  added some compliments from the YW leaders as well, so it wasn't ALL boys)

She bought jars, mint candy, green burlap fabric, and brown ribbon. She made a LOT of little envelopes with coordinating paper, and a label with each girl's name... You could probably save a lot of time by buying small pre-made envelopes or even tiny cards with envelopes  We had to keep this whole project a surprise, so the girls didn't know what was coming. We wanted each of them to take home a whole jar of uplifting, positive ideas that would (hopefully) boost their self-esteem and help them realize their worth and potential. 


  

Besides assembling the jars themselves, this project required some significant behind-the-scenes planning and work. Several weeks ago, we asked the YM leaders to help us by having the YM write a short phrase or sentence about what they admire/like about each YW (they did this during part of a Mutual activity). We knew that this project would require some pre-screening (we didn't want anything negative, snarky, anything that would give away their identity -like inside jokes- or any iffy "you're hot" type comments)...we explained to the YM that all the YW leaders, the girls (and likely their parents) would see these comments, so they need to be positive. Also, their identities would be kept anonymous, so they wouldn't have to worry about being teased, embarrassed, etc.

I made a spread-sheet with each YW's name in one column and a space to write something about her next to it. They gave a copy to each YM. Most of the YM said things like, "She's friendly", "Nice smile", "Great at sports", "Good example to classmates", "Welcoming to new people", or "Plans really fun activities". It was actually (surprisingly) pretty non-superficial. We've recently had a ward reorganization, so one issue that the YM leaders ran into was that some of the boys didn't know some of the newer girls and some of the new (younger) boys didn't know any of the girls by name. It might be helpful to do this after a get-to-know-you activity, or at least have some photos of the YW available so that you can point them out. If they really didn't know anything about the person OR didn't have anything nice to say, they were asked to just leave that space blank. Some spaces were left blank, but it evened out overall.

They had the YM write everything on their own copy of the spreadsheet (no YM names were used so we didn't know who said what) and then I re-wrote their comments on the actual slips of paper we were going to use. This was mostly because we weren't sure what the hand-writing situation was going to be and we wanted them to be nice :) My daughter later pointed out that re-writing every compliment in my own hand-writing made it impossible for her and her friends to figure out who had said what about them (she was hoping to be able to outsmart us by recognizing the handwriting of classmates) :) You could also type up each comment if you wanted.

Some of the YW leaders wrote compliments for the YW as well. You could expand this to include notes from parents, the Bishopric, Seminary teachers, etc. Since there are no names, they don't ever find out who wrote what! We also included several envelopes that contained scriptures about worth, etc.

We asked the YM to please keep this whole thing a surprise, and to MY surprise, I don't think any of the YW knew what they were getting! At the end of the program, our Secretary got up and explained what their gifts were about and while we passed them out she asked that they wait until they get home to open their jars. I think they all waited, but every single girl was clutching her jar like it was the HOLY GRAIL! When the YM saw some of the YW with their jars, they even seemed excited - "Are those for that project we did?!?!?!"


REFRESHMENTS:
We did all of the refreshments to match the mint theme (mostly chocolate-mint). We also served mint-lime water.




DECORATIONS:
We kept it simple this year. I put some decorative items (a photo collage, a picture of Christ, a statue of Moroni, some framed quotes about Personal Progress, our YW plaque, and a photo of the 3 girls who have earned their Honor Bee). We tried to keep everything in the brown/green/white/gold color scheme. I even had the photos of the girls printed in "sepia" tone so that they coordinated! I didn't get a photo of the whole table because by the time I got to the table (which also held the refreshments), it was already a chocolate-mint massacre! :)








DISPLAY TABLES: 
The highlight of the night is always after the program, when all of the parents and leaders get to go around and see all of the young women's display tables. We set out a large round table (they seat 8 people, we use them for ward dinners, etc) for each YW to decorate with Personal Progress projects, Personal Progress awards, and other items that represent their accomplishments/hobbies/interests for the year. Some girls bring t-shirts from Girls Camp/EFY/Youth Conference, sports jerseys, ballet shoes, sewing projects, honor roll certificates, baked goods, collections, photography projects, dance photos, varsity letters, art projects... you name it, they displayed it! Again, I was having too much fun to remember to take photos, but if you look under the "Young Women in Excellence" label on the right side of this blog, you can see my past blogs about YWIE and there are some photos available there. The basic idea is that all of the girls get to display their accomplishments, whether or not they have chosen to participate in Personal Progress.


It was our biggest turnout ever, and most enjoyable YWIE that I've ever been a part of! Hooray!





Friday, August 15, 2014

PIE-THROWING FOR CAMP CERTIFICATION!


After learning that a number of the girls from our ward did not complete their certification at Girls Camp last year (in some cases because they didn't do the scripture-study portion), I really wanted to encourage all of the girls in our ward to certify for the year at Girls Camp this summer.

Throwing pies at my face is always favorite activity, and its been a while since we've done it, so I offered this challenge as an added incentive: any girl from our ward who goes to Girls Camp and completes their certification for the year gets to throw a pie in my face. We planned to do this at the end of an activity (the Mutual activity following the Stake fireside when the certification awards were presented). This was a couple of weeks after Camp, but gave the girls a chance to get any loose ends tied up.

I also provided an alternative for those girls who didn't go to Girls Camp (for whatever reason) - if they completed ONE new Personal Progress Value Experience before the Stakewide post- Girls Camp fireside (and I personally signed it off for them) they could also qualify to throw a pie at my face.

This was how I advertised (using photo from a previous pie-throwing event):



We had 14 girls go to Girls Camp this year and 13 of them certified. At least 2 of the girls who certified for this year had not certified when they went to Camp last year. BIG SUCCESS!


As usual, there was less "throwing" and more "smashing"....My daughter was first in line to smash a pie in my face! 










Thursday, July 31, 2014

WATER BALLOON VOLLEYBALL

I WOULD DEFINITELY RECOMMEND THIS FOR AN OUTSIDE ACTIVITY ON A WARM/HOT DAY! (THE KIDS DIDN'T GET TOTALLY SOAKED, BUT EVERYBODY GOT SPRINKLED A BIT WHEN BALLOONS HIT THE GROUND - OR A TREE BRANCH!)


YOU WILL NEED:
A VOLLEYBALL NET (OUR CHURCH BUILDING HAS ONE)
 20 (OR MORE) SMALL WATER BALLOONS (FILLED) -
I PUT THEM IN A PLASTIC BIN TO KEEP THEM OFF THE GROUND
6 TOWELS (BEACH TOWEL OR BATH TOWEL SIZE) -3 FOR EACH TEAM

FORTUNATELY, IN OUR CHURCH PARKING LOT, THERE ARE 2 TREES THAT ARE CLOSE ENOUGH TOGETHER THAT WE COULD PUT THE NET UP BETWEEN THEM (TYING THE ENDS AROUND THE TREES - SEE PHOTO BELOW)...


 IF YOU HAVE FREE-STANDING VOLLEYBALL POSTS AT YOUR BUILDING, YOU COULD PROBABLY TAKE THEM OUTSIDE. 
IF YOU DON'T HAVE A NET, YOU COULD STRING A ROPE BETWEEN TWO STRINGS (THAT THEY WOULD HAVE TO GET THE BALLOONS OVER) AND TIE THEM BETWEEN TREES OR POSTS. YOU COULD EVEN HAVE YOUTH TAKE TURNS HOLDING A NET (OR ROPE).

I WOULD NOT DO THIS ACTIVITY INSIDE A GYM/CULTURAL HALL - THE WATER SPRAYS EVERYWHERE AND IT WOULD BE SLIPPERY!

IT TOOK A COUPLE OF TURNS FOR THE YOUTH TO GET THE HANG OF IT - IT IS NOT AS EASY AS IT LOOKS!



WE DIDN'T HAVE STRICT RULES, ONE GROUP WOULD GET A BALLOON AND ONE TEAM WOULD TRY TO LAUNCH IT TO THE OTHER SIDE. THEN THE OTHER GROUP WOULD GET A TURN. WE DIDN'T REALLY KEEP SCORE OR TRY TO PASS - IT WAS VERY CASUAL! WE ROTATED KIDS IN AND OUT AND CHANGED TEAMS EVERY SO OFTEN.





MOST OF THE BALLOONS DIDN'T MAKE IT OVER, BUT THEY SEEMED TO HAVE A LOT OF FUN TRYING!









A BIG BAG OF WATER BALLOONS COST ABOUT $3, SO IT WAS A FUN AND LOW-COST SUMMER ACTIVITY!

I FILLED ABOUT 20 BALLOONS AND THEY WERE ABLE TO PLAY FOR ABOUT 30 MINUTES (THIS WAS THE FIRST 1/2 OF OUR ACTIVITY). THEY SAID THAT NEXT TIME, WE SHOULD HAVE MORE BALLOONS SO THEY CAN PLAY LONGER! I WOULD RECOMMEND 50 FILLED BALLOONS FOR AN HOUR WORTH OF PLAY WITH ONE NET.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Girls Camp Treats 2014



We usually send treats up with the Bishopric to Girls Camp on their Bishopric Night. The Bishopric also bring their own treats (usually ice cream sundaes) but I like to send along reinforcements from the YW Presidency as well. Most of us in the Presidency haven't been able to go along because of work, health, or other obligations, so we like the girls to know that we're thinking of them. I also make one for each YW Leader who is there from our ward (whether they are there in a Ward or Stake capacity)


We have one girl and one leader with Celiac disease (very serious gluten allergy), so I have to be careful about what I send. I don't want anyone to feel left out. 

I've seen on Pinterest that Starburst candies are delicious when roasted over a campfire (like you would roast a marshmallow). I haven't tried it myself, but it seemed like something the girls would like (and Starbursts are gluten-free).

I bought a couple of big bags of Starbursts and put several in some small jewelry-sized bags (I already had these, you can buy them at Walmart in the jewelry section).  For the bag sizes I had, 3 Starbursts fit inside perfectly.





I made instruction labels (I put them inside the bags) and name labels, then stapled them to the bags of candy with ribbon.















Easy and inexpensive!




Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Personal Progress Board UPDATE

Our Personal Progress Board was starting to look a little rough over the past few months. Some of the chipboard letter stickers kept falling off, and a few of them were lost somewhere between the YW room and the closet. For the past few weeks we've had a "Personal _rogress" board that I was too embarrassed to bring out of the closet. We had also had a bunch of new girls come into YW, so we were needing to update the charts as well.

So I brought it home this last weekend after church and gave it a makeover. I added new letters and printed new charts. This time I also made a separate section for the Honor Bee charts.

To make the charts, I simply made a Numbers spreadsheet (I have a Mac, you could use Excel) with the number of rows/columns I wanted, then added color to each row to correspond with the value color. Each chart has its own name at the top. For the Honor Bee charts, I also used a Numbers spreadsheet and then included a spot to mark completion of the Book of Mormon and mentoring.

See my photos of the new and improved board!








You can find the post about the original board and its predecessors on my blog HERE