Thursday, March 7, 2013

Personal Progress Spotlight- Individual Worth

Once a month (the first Wednesday of every month) our ward YW secretary, Sister McGrath, does a Personal Progress Spotlight for the first 1/2 hour of Mutual. This has been one of the many tools she has used to start sparking interest in Personal Progress among the girls (see the posts under the  Personal Progress label on the right side of this page for more of her ideas).

When you hear the term Personal Progress Spotlight, it probably sounds like we "spotlight" one of the girls who has signed something off for Personal Progress. Actually, what she does instead is spotlight the Values themselves and tries to encourage all of the girls to work on Personal Progress.

Sister McGrath focuses on the YW Value of the month (Faith, Divine Nature, etc - whatever our monthly Value theme is) and how it can be applied to our lives, especially with Personal Progress. Sometimes she gives a presentation, sometimes we play a game - its different every time, so it never gets old. The girls are always encouraged to work on their Personal Progress and set goals. Some do, some don't, but at least they are all reminded about it.

This month in our Ward's YW the Value is "Individual Worth." Sister McGrath wanted to have a Personal Progress Value Experience that the girls could start that night and finish the same night. That way, everyone could have at least one Value Experience completed by the end of the night. We have a number of brand new Beehives (and some older girls) who haven't completed any Experiences yet, so if they could get started on one and finish it the same night, they could finally mark something off on our big Personal Progress Chart and get the ball rolling!

Individual Worth Value Experience #7 is what she chose to focus on this month, and it worked perfect.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Spinach/Artichoke Dip & Baked Tortilla Chips ("Life Skills" Series)


I really want to teach "Life Skills" to the Mia Maids during some of our Mutual activities, so tonight we did some cooking for our class activity. We made Hot Spinach & Artichoke Dip and Baked Tortilla Chips. I chose these items because I thought they would be unique enough to interest them, but easy enough that they could do the mixing and cooking themselves.

First, two girls got started on the Hot Spinach & Artichoke Dip. I used a great recipe from Alton Brown (one of my personal heroes) with 3 small adjustments. I was able to have them follow the recipe with very little help from me.

Here is the original  recipe

And here is my version
1 cup thawed, chopped frozen spinach
2 cans of artichoke hearts (not the marinated kind that comes in glass jars)*
6 ounces cream cheese
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup mozzarella cheese**
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

Directions: Drain artichokes. Put spinach and artichokes in a large microwavable bowl with 1 cup of water and microwave*** for 2 minutes (stirring once after each minute). Drain again. In a separate bowl, heat cream cheese in microwave for 1 minute. Stir all of the ingredients (artichokes, spinach, cream cheese, and everything else listed above) together in a large bowl. Heat in the microwave for 2 minutes (stirring once after 1 minute).

* Change #1: I checked several grocery stores, but I could not find frozen artichokes. So I just used canned artichoke hearts instead. It was totally fine.

**Change #2: Added mozzarella cheese. Only because I bought some at the store when I couldn't remember what kind of cheese I needed, so we just threw it in there!

*** Change #3: We made our dip in the microwave instead of cooking it on the stovetop. It worked fine.



Meanwhile, I had another girl start on the baked tortilla chips. I brought a package of whole wheat tortillas and handed her the recipe, and she handled it all on her own. They were great! I don't have a photo of the chips, but here is a link to a website that explains how to make chips from tortillas (I prefer the whole wheat, but you could use any kind). 3 tortillas made 24 triangular chips, so you could get a lot of chips from a single bag of tortillas.

The girls seemed to like the dip and chips overall and the whole process only took about 15 minutes (20 minutes if you count clean-up). There were some complaints about the smell of the spinach/artichoke combo while it was cooking, but once the other ingredients were added it was "all good"

This recipe made a large amount of dip - probably 5 cups worth. But the smell of the finished dip and chips wafting through the church soon brought the other YW, the YM, and the adult leaders around to see what was going on in the kitchen. By the time Mutual was over, everything was completely gone. It was good for the girls to see that they had made something delicious that others appreciated (and it was pretty easy). Luckily I had brought a box of crackers also, because they ate all those, too!

PURPOSE: Teaching basic cooking skills - either with a microwave or a stovetop. Baking using an oven. Following a recipe. Providing an opportunity to feel pride in something they've made.

COST: Approximately $13.00 (ingredients for dip and tortilla chips - enough to feed about 10 people a 1/2 cup serving of dip)

Saturday, March 2, 2013

PRE-DATING BOOT CAMP

  GUYS AND GIRLS - A GUIDE FOR PRE-DATERS
There is a big transition in the relationship between girls and boys during the years they are in Young Women. Some girls (and most boys) are still in the "cooties and hair-pulling" phase when they turn 12, but they must learn to start to relate to each other as equals during their Beehive/Deacon years. By the time they are Mia Maids/Teachers, they are expected to be more mature and start relating to each other in pre-dating situations (ie, church dances). And finally as Laurels they are old enough to start dating. Luckily, they are able to learn line upon line...
 
Some of the issues that I've observed in our area (and I imagine that these are pretty common everywhere) are:
  • Girls avoiding eating in front of boys (seems to be a behavior copied from older girls)
  • Deacon & Beehive age kids teasing each other & sometimes crossing the line to being mean
  • Girls standing in groups and whispering/giggling about boys
  • Girls making a big deal when a girl gets asked out on a date ("Ooooooh....he LIKES you!")
  • A boy or a girl assuming that a date (or several dates) means that they're a "couple"
  • Girls (16 & up) who wish they had more dates
  • Girls and boys (14 & up) too intimidated or shy to go to church dances
To address some of these issues, we will be having "pre-dating boot camp" for the Mia Maids. My husband used to teach a similar class for Young Men called "Dating Boot Camp" in a previous ward. It was always a big hit. We will be doing basically the same thing, just for the girls this time.
 It doesn't really have anything to do with "boot camp", we just thought it sounded more fun to call it that (If you wanted to have a boot camp theme, like have the presenter wear camo or something, that would be fun!) 

I geared this activity to be specifically for our Mia Maids, but it could be adapted for the needs of Beehives or Laurels as well. A lesson for the Beehives could focus more on how to treat boys as friends and equals (and discuss why boys do some of the things they do, like teasing). An activity for the Laurels might focus more on the dating aspects, how to accept or turn down a date, how to keeps things casual, (and maybe date ideas?). You could also have a general presentation for all the girls together, then split them up into age-specific mini-classes.

Here is the handout we are giving the Mia Maids to try to drum up interest in the activity: 

This Wednesday night for Mutual: LEARN ABOUT BOYS at “pre-dating boot camp”
Brother Rogers will be giving a presentation about how to understand and interact with boys as friends and in pre-dating situations like dances, etc. He will also give some tips on how to relate to boys in dating situations that will help you prepare for when you’re old enough to start dating.

 Some of the topics covered will be:
·   Why do some girls avoid eating in front of guys?What do boys think of that?
·   Should a girl ask a guy to dance?
·   If a guy asks you on a date does it mean he ‘likes’ you?
·   Why do guys show off so much?
·   Should you ever turn a boy down if he asks you to dance?
·   How can you turn someone down without being mean?
·   What can girls do to encourage more guys to dance?
·   What can girls do to encourage guys to date more?
·   Is there anything that girls do that confuses guys (or makes it hard for them to approach girls)?

We have sent out an email survey to every boy we know in the Stake between the ages of 14-18 and got THEIR answers to all THESE questions (and more!). To find out what their answers were, come to this activity!!!
 
I really did send out a survey to some of the Young Men (14 & up) in our Stake. I sent it to some of the boys in our ward  and also to boys that we know in other wards in the area. I wanted to get real opinions from real boys who live right here. Here is the message I sent out (via Facebook personal message):

"My husband and I are putting on a pre-dating workshop in our ward for some of our YW who are old enough to go to dances and will start dating soon. He wants to get some info from young men in our Stake to help our YW out.
If you have a few minutes to spare, please reply to this 11-question questionnaire (below). Most of the questions have yes or no answers. We are sending this out to all of the YM we know who are 14 and up. We want to get feedback that is relevant in our area. YOUR NAME WILL NOT BE USED AT ALL, so feel free to answer honestly. Some of the questions are about dating, so if you are under 16, just give your opinion about the dating questions anyhow.
THANKS SO MUCH FOR YOUR HELP!!!!

1. Do you think its unlady-like for a girl to eat in front of guys?
2. Would you think it was strange if a girl didn’t want to eat in front of you?
3. Is there any reason why girls should try to pretend like they don’t eat much?
4. Should girls ask guys to dance?
5. If a girl asks a guy to dance, does that mean she must ‘like’ him?
6. If a guy asks a girl to dance, does that mean he must ‘like’ her?
7. Do guys in our Stake ask a variety of girls out on dates (for fun and as friends) or mostly just ask the girl(s) they are interested in romantically?
8. Would you ask a girl out (for a date) as friends if you didn’t ‘like’ her (romantically)?
9. Are guys concerned that asking a girl out for a date as friends might be misunderstood as romantic?
10. Would it be easier for guys to ask more girls out if the girls didn’t jump to conclusions that it means they ‘like’ her?
11. Is there anything that girls do that you wish they wouldn’t?"

We based our questions on issues that we have observed in our area, but you can adjust them to suit your needs. This is an opportunity to reinforce the standards in For the Strength of Youth, so you could also cover topics like "Do boys find it easier to talk to girls who dress modestly?" There is an excellent article from the New Era magazine (HERE) that covers a lot of these issues and may give you more ideas.

I have received back answers from 90% of the boys I sent the survey to. I can tell you, I am not shocked by their answers - they were exactly what I predicted they would say. Actually, their answers were nearly identical to each other...
I've combined the responses I've received into a general answer below:

1. Do you think its unlady-like for a girl to eat in front of guys?  No
2. Would you think it was strange if a girl didn’t want to eat in front of you? Yes
3. Is there any reason why girls should try to pretend like they don’t eat much? No
4. Should girls ask guys to dance? Yes, if they want to (one boy pointed out that girls should not repeatedly ask the same boy, because that limits who he gets to meet/dance with, though he might not say so)
5. If a girl asks a guy to dance, does that mean she must ‘like’ him? No (unless they keep asking the same boy over and over)
6. If a guy asks a girl to dance, does that mean he must ‘like’ her? No (unless they keep asking the same girl over and over)
7. Do guys in our Stake ask a variety of girls out on dates (for fun and as friends) or mostly just ask the girl(s) they are interested in romantically? Mostly just for fun, a variety.
8. Would you ask a girl out (for a date) as friends if you didn’t ‘like’ her (romantically)? Yes
9. Are guys concerned that asking a girl out for a date as friends might be misunderstood as romantic?Yes, they sometimes assume it means more, and that can be awkward
10. Would it be easier for guys to ask more girls out if the girls didn’t jump to conclusions that it means they ‘like’ her? Yes, much easier. Would definitely ask out more girl if guys didn't have to worry about this.
11. Is there anything that girls do that you wish they wouldn’t? Don't be so shy, don't giggle so much, don't stand in a group of girls in a dance and giggle - that makes it hard for boys to ask, don't assume that dates are romantic - its supposed to be casual.

I will add more details about the activity and how it went after the activity is over (next week)!