Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Multi-ward YW craft night & clothes swap Mutual Activity

Tonight was our 2nd Annual All-girls Activity with a neighboring ward (who shares our building). So fun! Read about last year's swap activity on my post here

This year the YW President in the other ward suggested that we do something like a craft night (mini-Super Saturday type event), followed by our popular YW clothes swap. Not every girl is into crafts, but I think we did a good job of providing craft projects that can be given as gifts for birthdays or holidays - so at least they could have that as a motivation. I've tried to emphasis that even if you don't want such-and-such craft for yourself, you can make it for your mom/sister/friend/grandma and then you'll have a free gift to give!

Unlike most Super Saturday activities, however, we provided all the supplies and there is no charge (comes from our budgets). We picked simple, low cost crafts of course.

Each ward provided 1 craft for all of the girls to do (supplies, instruction, etc). We didn't have any sign-ups, we just made sure we had enough for everyone if all the girls showed up (plus a few extras)

Our ward's contribution was "Hand Scrub" in a jar

I tried to get donations of free baby food jars, but when I didn't get any offers, I went to Dollar Tree to try to find something that would work. They had various jars with lids, but I didn't find anything even remotely cute (I also didn't really want to pay $1/jar anyhow). Next I stopped at Big Lots, where they had the larger sized baby food jars selling for 33 cents each. So basically, it was cheaper to buy jars with something in them - 1/3 the price! I bought all 1 flavor (applesauce) and my younger kids (not babies, but applesauce fans) have been eating the contents for days.

I removed the labels, cleaned the jars, and then ran them (and the lids) through the dishwasher to make sure that I had fully cleaned & sanitized them. This may have been overkill, but I didn't want leftover food in a jar getting moldy later.

I spray-painted all of the lids gold (I think this is my 4th recent project in a row involving the same can of gold paint, so it was a good $5 investment). This took a couple of coats - you don't want to see the writing & expiration dates from the baby food peeking through the gold if you're giving this as a gift. I didn't move the lids during this process, I just sprayed the tops first. Dried. Sprayed from one side. Dried. Sprayed from the other side. Dried. Easy. Always do this outside or in the garage, though - too fumey for in the house!

I found scented body lotion at both Dollar Tree and Big Lots. You might not find these exact brands/flavors, but scented lotion is a regular staple at both stores and the price is right (they were $1 each at both stores). SMELL BEFORE YOU BUY, some of the scents they sell for $1 could peel your're not always going to get high quality for $1. I always avoid the perfume and/or flowery scents, which tend to be WAY over the top. Lotion versions of food smells (orange, vanilla, almond, plum, etc) are almost always good smelling and way less nauseating. Your whole cultural hall is going to wreak of the stuff!

I selected Mango/Mandarin and Coconut. You could use any "smell" but I recommend food-related scents.

We had girls and leaders there to help, but instructions were still a must.  Here are the instructions that I made on my computer using a word document and a canning jar clipart I found with a google search. I drew in some labels & a "lotion line" to make it easier to visualize.

I also made these labels using the free photo editing & design website Picmonkey (I am not affiliated with Picmonkey, but I use them almost every day)

The other ward's craft was adorable headbands- I didn't get a lot of photos of them and I don't have the instructions, but I found pin that describes how to make them! 
(click on photo of the headband) 

While the girls crafted (with help from a few leaders), the other leaders sorted the donated clothes by size to make searching easier.

I would guess we had over 200 items donated (mostly from the girls, but some from the leaders & other ward/stake members). Last year there were some complaints there wasn't anything for the larger sized girls, but this year we made sure that there were donations in every size, so that every girl found at least a couple of things she wanted. (I quietly asked around to some local ladies to see if they had any plus-sized clothing to donate anonymously to the cause and several did!). Every girl took home at least 1 shopping bag full of clothes. Some girls went home with MULTIPLE BAGS of clothes.

Our two rules for the swap: 

#1- Remember that modesty is the standard - items like tank-tops & low-cut shirts might be available, 
but they should be used for layering. 

#2- Be kind and charitable to each other. (By the time we got to the actual swapping, they were pretty amped up and most had already pre-staked out the items they wanted. I was afraid that things might get, uh - competitive - so it was for the best to talk to them about Christlike love, lets be courteous, etc. We didn't have any problems, so I guess it worked!)

After the girls had combed throughout he clothes, the leaders took a look to see if there was anything they wanted. Then the leftovers were bagged up and will be taken to Deseret Industries

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" 

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)

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)

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?!?!?!"

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

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! :)

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!