New Girlguiding Programme Initial Views

It has been two weeks since the big reveal of the new Girlguiding programme, I’m surprised it hasn’t been longer! There has been so much discussion online about the changes and I’d like to share my views too.

At this stage, I have only seen the new books, read some of the skills builders and browsed through the new books. I’ve also done all the e-learning modules to get my head around it all, but none of this has been put into practice yet!

I’m quite excited to get started on the new programme. I want to try it out and see how the Brownies get along with it.

Unit Activity Cards – Pros & Cons

Last year we were given a set of Unit Activity Cards, the new in unit activity instructions that we need to plan time for to allow the Brownies opportunity to earn their Theme Awards. So far our Brownies have run three of these activities and they’ve been a major success. My favourite thing about these cards is that the Brownies can lead themselves. There is little need to prep, aside from sourcing resources. Just go into the unit, give the card to a couple of girls ready to lead and let them loose.

The downside, in terms of the activities going toward Theme Awards, is that they have a preconceived amount of time allocated, and that is all the time the Brownie will get toward their four hours. We did Soapy Solutions last year and I’m sure we spent a lot longer than 15 minutes on it! It also means there actually isn’t that much by way of girl-led guiding, at some point we will need to do all the Unit Activity Cards, whether the Brownies like the idea of not, to fit in their four hours. As more cards come out we may have more than the four hours per theme.

Skills Builders – Pros & Cons

I like that the badges are set up like the Unit Activity Cards, that the Brownies will be able to lead themselves. For our unit and the number of leaders we have I cannot imagine us running more than two skill builders at a time though. I’m looking forward to giving this a try in January, and it is a good excuse to mix the Brownies up into different small groups. (It can be difficult having disruptive Brownies, their six members can get tired of their antics!)

I unfortunately have a lot more cons for skill builders at the moment, firstly the design seems rather boring in comparison to the interested badges. There is so much colour in everything else! It may have been too many different choices, but I picture young women with blankets filled with Skill Builders unable to remember if they earned their First Aid Stage 3 in Brownies or Guides, separate colour edging per section would be nice.

More importantly, my major concern is the five compulsory activities. When we ran badges in the past we would offer more clauses than required to ensure girls who missed one week could still earn the badge. Or a clause is sent home to be completed. The Skill Builders are not set up for either scenario. Having a catch up night will only work if only a handful of Brownies miss a week, and preferably the same week so they can work together in a small group! Five activities, possibly over five nights in the case of Innovate, with two groups, that is potential for ten activities to be repeated. I cannot see us keeping up with that. I also wish the five activities totalled to the same amount of time in each topic and stage, it would make planning a lot simpler.

Interest Badges – Pros and Cons

I like the design of the new badges, the fact that they’re smaller is a bonus too. It is good to see some progression with the sections. I really hope units stick to the new rules and do not run these as programmes within the unit, that’ll take away from the work of those Brownies who do make the effort to achieve something for themselves. I completed my Look Wider a few years ago, my own choice and it gave me the freedom to try new things and build my self motivation. It is exactly what I wanted to see Girlguiding implement. I wish the topics were wider ranged, so the young members could govern themselves more, it’d fit a lot better with being girl-led.

At Rainbow and Brownie age it can be difficult for some to take part in these without their parents’ support. I envision having a district badge event, where girls can use a local meeting place and resources to work on their badges on their own, with local leaders to help support with reading the syllabus and answering queries and questions. The Brownies could also then work in small groups to earnt he badge together, as mentioned in the badge book.

How will we introduce this?

Our Autumn term is taken up by a project that will fill around half the term, with the other half not being long enough to introduce the programme and run a skills builder we will probably save our first one of those for January.

Instead, we will start by talking through the new themes. I’m thinking of using the dice to get the Brownies shouting out about the topics within each theme. Then running some games around which badges & skill builders fit into which theme, like the one in the Guiding magazine. Plus an evening looking at the interest badges, explaining how they are earned and giving them a deadline for ‘badge night’, should they want to bring work in. Then doing some small activities based on the new badges to get them interested. I’m sure we will fit in some unit activity cards, led by our older girls, and then choosing which skills builder each group would like to work on in January!

Advertisements

Seeing Hamilton in London

So for the past year or so I’ve been living with Hamilton lyrics stuck in my head on repeat.

A colleague was playing some Hamilton songs at work, I knew of the show and the songs sounded nice but I had no idea what was going on. One song he had played a few times suddenly had me intrigued. In the song one character was begging another to take a break, and this other character (who I assumed to be the love interest) had come all this way to see him. I cannot stand not knowing the answer to something so with nothing else planned that evening I sat and listened to the whole musical on Spotify. I then immediately bought the CD from Amazon and it played in my car on repeat on my commutes home.

The words get sucked into my head, and James ended up singing along to ‘The Room where it Happened’ in the house having never heard the CD due to my constant rapping! So James searched the ticket websites a few times in the lead up to Christmas and managed to get us reasonably priced stall tickets. He tried to play it off that he’d bought my tickets for Matilda, but I knew from the way he dashed up the stairs to check we were free on a particular date that we had Hamilton tickets!

Backstory (mine, not Hamilton’s) aside, James and I went to see the incredible show at the Victoria Palace last night and I was not disappointed. I’m not going to explain the story, it really doesn’t need to be said again, but I’ll give you my experience here in case it helps any other fans have a smooth experience.

hammy

Arrive early!

As the paperless tickets tell you, aim to arrive an hour before the show starts. The theatre opens 90 minutes before but I couldn’t convince James to go any earlier! Getting into the theatre is swift, slight queue outside (took longer as James became entranced with a police officer’s explosive detection dog’s snazzy curly haircut) but at this point they briefly check your confirmation email and direct you to the correct door. Then a thorough bag check and another person takes your payment card, swipes it and these beautiful Hamilton tickets come out for you to keep! Then you’re in!

Loos

I’d talk about them, and they are fancy, but there wasn’t anything to say form my personal experience. We arrived at 6.30, when straight to the stalls’ loos and I went straight into a cubicle. At intermission though James said the sight of the ladies’ loos queue was awful! I never go mid show so couldn’t tell you.

Merchandise

There is a nice orderly queue for merchandise outside the ladies’ loos opposite the doors to the stalls. As you queue there are laminates showing the merch and prices, however I had done some research on the newly opened Hamilton London online shop. I’d decided I wanted the £10 brochure and the £8 keyring for my keys. No last minute panics for me!

But I never saw online that there are two brochures, the £10 picture one with images of the original Broadway cast and the £4 programme containing the details of the London cast. I decided I would get both, for an extra £4 it was worth it.

Then James returned from the gents and got hold of one of the laminate cards and was reminding me of all the other things on offer. ‘Do you want a t-shirt? Look, they do a ladies’ tee? What about a hoodie then? Aww, they have a bauble. And a water bottle. How about a magnet for the fridge. You’re not getting the badges?’ With so much choice I decided to get the magnet too. I asked for these items and then from behind me James appears and buys the bauble as well (doubling the price of our merch just like that! You might notice, I’m the saver and James is the spender!). I didn’t fight it though, this was a special event for me and I never treat myself to stuff like this.

Everything packed into a cute Hamilton plastic bag and to our seats we go!

Seating

The stalls opened at about 6.45pm I believe. Just as we arrived after loos, merch and the bar (just bought a bottle of water, nothing to report). The seats are fairly tight. James is about 6 foot and his knees were just about touching the seats in front. Much taller and I bet it could get uncomfortable.

View is great, we were about 5 rows from the back and could see almost everything. (Big headed guy in front meant I missed some action from the left of the stage.) We took loads of photos before the show started.

20180519_184911

The show itself

Just amazing. I couldn’t believe I was watching the show I had pictured in my head for the past year in it’s full glory. Being FA Cup final day, I was concerned we would have understudies! We did, for both Burr and Hamilton. But aside from the videos on YouTube I didn’t have much to compare them to. Sifiso Mazibuko as Burr was brilliant. I had read an article about him a few weeks back, he also understudies for Hamilton and Lafayette/Jefferson so has to know his stuff. His portrayal was just as I expected Burr to be and I wonder if I’d be disappointed with Giles Terera’s take when I come back. My slight gripe with Ash Hunter’s Hamilton is that he looks down too much. At the start I hoped it was a part of showing his growth, so by Act 2 he’d be standing upright and confident but it didn’t really happen. But aside from that he was excellent in the part.

The rest of the cast were amazing too. Not a weak person. Madison repeated a line in ‘The Adams Administration’ instead of another line, but I asked James afterwards and he didn’t notice. I really liked the actor playing Hercules/Madison a lot, I never picked up from the CD how different the two characters come across physically. Seeing Madison and Jefferson together in the second half was a highlight. There is a lot more physical comedy that you cannot pick on from the CD either, lines got laughs that I hadn’t imagined. Something that sounded intense and moody on the CD could come across light and pull a laugh on stage.

Jefferson

There were parts that I’d directed differently in my head too, some lines are washed over rather than emphasised as I do when I’m singing along in my car. It almost felt like watching a film of a beloved book! I’d pictured so much in my head that it wouldn’t compete in some ways, but in others I was excited to see how it looked on stage.

James’ favourite songs were always King George’s on the CD, and he didn’t disappoint on stage. This was James’ favourite parts of the musical. It is such a laugh.

When am I going back?

I always knew this wouldn’t be a one off visit! I don’t have tickets yet but I’ll certainly be looking out for more reasonably priced ones. There is so many layers to this show, there was lots about the choreography that went over my head that repeat viewings would make clearly, same with the lyrics and music on the CD. But when? It is only a matter of time.

 

How to make slime with Brownies (UK!)

I don’t think you can spend time around a Junior school aged child and not hear about slime at the moment. It seems to be everywhere!

At Brownies we have a tradition that the girls moving up the Guides attend one final evening at the start of term and stay on for Guides straight after, a double session. We also use this as an opportunity to let the leaving girls decide the meeting’s activity, whether it be something new or repeating an old favourite.

Last summer I asked two girls due to leave at Christmas what they wanted to do, and they were excited to make slime! I was nervous as I’d tried a recipe the previous year and it did not work at all, but I wanted to be able to give them a special last session.

I did some research and found an awesome UK recipe (For lack of a better word!) using items easily found in a local supermarket.

How to make slime at Brownies!

Per four Brownies you’ll need:

The links will take you to the exact products I used, you’ll probably find similar in other shops. We gave the choice of green or pink food colouring.

  1. Split the Brownies into groups based on what colour slime they’d like to make, then group the Brownies into threes or fours depending how many bottles of glue & eye solution you have.
  2. Give each group one food container box to create their mix. Start by giving each group the 150ml of PVA glue to pour into the food container.
  3. Supervise each group as they drip a couple drops of food colour into the mix (less is more! Most of our pink slime turned out brown!) and instruct the Brownies to use the plastic spoons / wooden lolly sticks to mix the colouring into the glue.
  4. Give each group a spoon and let them put the headed teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda into the mix and continue mixing.
  5. Finally, a few drops at a time, add the eye lens solution / eye drops. Mix and then add more as needed. As the Brownies mix it’ll become thicker to the point they can pick it up and squish it. Keep going until it looses stickiness and becomes a solid mixture you can stretch and mould.
  6. Split the mixture between the Brownies and give each a food container to take it home in.
  7. Warn the Brownies that the mixture will become watery in a day or so unless regularly moulded, so keep it in the container!

This was such a brilliant evening, much better than I’d imagined. Many of the older Brownies had made slime at home, and were surprised at the amount of bicarbonate of soda they needed to add. But they were very pleased with how it turned out, saying it was the best slime they’d made, and were thanking me for introducing this version to them!

I wish I could show you images but they all have the Brownies very shocked and excited faces in them!

At our Brownies we split it between groups of three or four due to the cost of the eye drops, you might find cheaper so that the girls can have more slime, but I also felt working in groups helped the Brownies learn about team work.

My 1000 adventure list

Yeah, 1000 adventures. I’ve not thought of them all yet but that’s my impossible goal! I’m so inspired by reading other people’s bucket lists, and I get a sense of achievement when I look over the experiences I’ve had in my life so I’m combining the two into this ultimate life list. This has been a piece of work over the last few months, and I’ll continue adding to it as I think of new ideas and achieve new things.

Some of the completed experiences have links to my corresponding blog post, perhaps a new goal will be to write about each one too!

The list below includes future goals and past achievements, the ones I’ve completed are in bold.

  1. Visit Disney World, Florida
  2. Ride underwater in a submarine
  3. Visit the Louvre
  4. Have a caricature drawn of me
  5. Complete a life journal
  6. Ride in a dune buddy
  7. Make a YouTube video
  8. Make pastry from scratch
  9. Get a tattoo
  10. Complete a scrapbook
  11. Eat pizza in Naples
  12. Ride in a helicopter
  13. Keep a line-a-day journal for one year
  14. Complete all coding lessons on Khan Academy
  15. Try stand up paddling
  16. Play human table football
  17. Take a Bookkeeping course
  18. Feed a giraffe
  19. Get a promotion
  20. Earn my Girlguiding leadership qualification
  21. See sunset and sunrise in the same night
  22. Attend Comic Con
  23. Go on safari
  24. See Hamilton
  25. Ride the vomit comit
  26. Attend a cooking class
  27. Attend a baking class
  28. Visit Reykjavik
  29. Shoot paintballs with a slingshot
  30. Camp at a music festival
  31. Tour the Houses of Parliament
  32. Win a big game of Monopoly
  33. Visit the Colosseum
  34. Ride a Segway
  35. Take an indoor skydiving lesson
  36. Be able to recite all the Commonwealth countries
  37. Take a creative writing course
  38. Try archery
  39. Workout every day for 3 months
  40. Donate blood
  41. Tour a police station
  42. Try caving
  43. See the northern lights
  44. Watch all the Disney classic films
  45. Do yoga
  46. Take a fencing class
  47. Swim with dolphins
  48. Ride a jet ski
  49. Take a bushcraft lesson
  50. Publish a novel
  51. See a caravan banger race
  52. Hold a plank for 5 minutes
  53. Get the high score on an arcade machine
  54. Visit a castle
  55. Play Basketball
  56. Attend a Formula One race
  57. Eat a croissant in Paris
  58. Go white water rafting
  59. Witness a wedding proposal
  60. Learn to use chopsticks
  61. Visit Pax Lodge
  62. Read one novel every month for a year
  63. Attend a secret cinema event
  64. Attend a Brazilian carnival
  65. Complete the Girlguiding ‘Going Away’ qualification
  66. Go up a volcano
  67. Visit Sagrada Familia, Barcelona
  68. Run 5k
  69. Visit Universal Studios, Florida
  70. Take a skiing lesson
  71. Be able to tread water
  72. Visit another Scandinavian city
  73. Drink beer at Oktoberfest
  74. Buy a house
  75. Go to a driving range (golf)
  76. Go zorbing
  77. Be fluent in another language
  78. Visit New York
  79. Complete the Golden Circle, Iceland
  80. Visit the Tower of London
  81. Go on a ghost hunt
  82. Eat chocolate at Cadbury World, Birmingham
  83. Organise a tombola fundraiser
  84. See a tennis match at Wimbledon
  85. Learn the periodic table
  86. Gut a fish
  87. Go camping
  88. Try clay pigeon shooting
  89. Design and paint a games room mural in my home
  90. Be able to recite all the European countries & their capitals
  91. Have a palm reading
  92. Attend a wine tasting
  93. Have Afternoon Tea
  94. Mosh in a mosh pit
  95. Contact someone with the same name
  96. Have a dolphin perform a trick
  97. Visit the Vatican
  98. Learn ballroom dancing
  99. Make soap
  100. Watch all Studio Ghibli films
  101. Tour the Churchill Cabinet War Rooms
  102. Attend a murder mystery
  103. Ride Kingda Ka at Six Flags, New Jersey
  104. Travel first class
  105. Play laser tag
  106. Ride The Smiler at Alton Towers
  107. Go on a cruise
  108. Take a life drawing course
  109. Put on a bet at Newmarket
  110. Tour the Globe Theatre
  111. Attend a concert
  112. Complete all statistics lessons on Khan Academy
  113. Bury a time capsule
  114. Be a Girlguiding Peer Educator
  115. Act on stage
  116. Go zip lining
  117. Walk along the Great Wall of China
  118. Go paintballing
  119. Complete my web comic
  120. Learn to crochet
  121. Visit the Blue Lagoon, Iceland
  122. Go rock climbing
  123. Ride The Ultimate at Lightwater Valley
  124. Explore a cave
  125. Do a high ropes course
  126. See Mount Rushmore
  127. Read all of ‘A Song of Ice & Fire’
  128. Make a wish at the Trevi Fountain
  129. Visit Porta Ventura theme park in Spain… three times!
  130. Escape an escape room
  131. Race a Go Kart
  132. Collect and donate school equipment to Malawi
  133. Stand at the top of Mount Vesuvius
  134. Learn to start a campfire
  135. Send flowers
  136. Visit Australia
  137. Hold a Tarantula
  138. Learn basic origami
  139. See Blue Man Group live
  140. Be a Post Pals Fortnightly Writer for a year
  141. See the red arrows
  142. Visit ICANDO
  143. Be able to recite the 50 American States
  144. Attend the Edinburgh Festival
  145. See WWE live
  146. Eat a cannoli in Italy
  147. Take a Jack the Ripper tour around London
  148. Visit an Ice Bar
  149. Find way out of a corn maze at night
  150. See a Boxing match
  151. Go to a horror maze experience for Halloween
  152. Ride in a limo
  153. See Derren Brown live
  154. Visit Pompeii
  155. See the New Year fireworks in London
  156. Learn to spot constellations
  157. Eat at a dark restaurant
  158. Publish my web comic online
  159. Visit Niagara Falls
  160. Lead a campfire
  161. Organise an event for over 100 people
  162. Try kayaking
  163. Visit Platform 9 & 3/4
  164. Attend a demolition derby
  165. Build snowman twins
  166. See a show / musical from a private box
  167. Visit Stonehenge
  168. Try a reflexology treatment…reluctantly!
  169. Complete the Commonwealth Award
  170. See an event at the summer Olympics
  171. Ride the London Eye
  172. Go to a Japanese theme park
  173. Go to the top of the Eiffel Tower
  174. Go parasailing
  175. Visit the catacombs of Paris
  176. Walk over the o2
  177. Try a corn dog in America
  178. Climb Stealth at Thorpe Park
  179. Understand Macbeth
  180. Create a family tree going back at least three generations
  181. Make a hummingbird in origami
  182. Watch experiments at the Science Museum
  183. Run 10K
  184. Visit Disney Land, California
  185. Complete the Chief Guide’s Challenge
  186. See a Basketball match
  187. Watch Chelsea at Stamford Bridge
  188. Change a flat tyre on my own
  189. Write a children’s novel
  190. Organise a Girlguiding district event
  191. Eat a Macaroon in Paris
  192. Carve a pumpkin
  193. Know how to solve a Rubik’s cube
  194. Be able to mix three cocktails
  195. Be a Girlguiding Mentor for a new leader
  196. Count the vote in an election
  197. Play Hockey
  198. Run a half marathon
  199. Visit all capital cities in the UK
  200. Learn five songs on the guitar
  201. Be able to comfortably touch my toes with straight legs
  202. Complete a 365 Day photo challenge
  203. Co-ordinate and produce a 40 page brochure
  204. Attend the live filming of a TV show
  205. Learn to juggle
  206. Meet a sloth
  207. Bake a creative cake I’m proud of
  208. Paint a Christmas bauble for our tree
  209. Eat churros in America
  210. Drink Limoncello in Sorrento
  211. Make beaded pattern bracelets on a loom
  212. Tour the Blackpool Tower
  213. Learn to knit (and complete all the knitting kits I’ve been given!!)
  214. Have an illustration published
  215. Attend a TED Talk
  216. Complete a NaNoWriMo
  217. Sit on a jury
  218. Understand chess strategies
  219. See a Cirque du Soleil show
  220. Attend an equestrian event
  221. Eat McDonalds three times in 24 hours!
  222. Try disc golf
  223. Make a piñata
  224. Go geocaching
  225. Figure out crosswords
  226. Buy art at an auction
  227. Spend 24 hours at an airport
  228. See the Trooping of the Colour
  229. Be able to complete a full car check
  230. Sponsor a child for 5 years
  231. Complete a Wasjig puzzle
  232. Publish a blog post every week for a year
  233. Eat chocolate and waffles in Brussels
  234. Walk the London Bridges
  235. Hold a snake
  236. Learn five Christmas songs on the piano
  237. Make slime
  238. Celebrate Christmas in Lapland
  239. Make some balloon animals
  240. Be interviewed for a magazine article
  241. Make an advent calendar
  242. Complete my camp blanket
  243. Go to an aquarium
  244. Eat a Grande Big Mac
  245. Bake Lebkuchens
  246. Become a Girlguiding trainer
  247. See The Little Mermaid statue in Denmark
  248. Be visited by the 13 Yule Lads of Christmas
  249. Learn to shuffle cards properly
  250. Build a website from scratch
  251. Organise an international Brownie pen pal exchange
  252. Build a bird table
  253. Volunteer at a national Girlguiding event
  254. Visit a planetarium
  255. Design a charity Christmas card
  256. Go to a silent disco
  257. Take a photo at each Monopoly location in London
  258. Attend a self improvement class
  259. Complete a cryptic crossword
  260. Volunteer at a Peer Educator training weekend
  261. Beat James at table tennis
  262. Scare someone in Madame Tussards
  263. Learn Morse Code
  264. Complete a 30 day yoga challenge
  265. See a demolition derby
  266. Build a gingerbread house
  267. Bake a gingerbread house
  268. Watch a full season of LOST in 24 hours
  269. Attend Big Gig
  270. Volunteer at Wellies & Wristbands
  271. Attend a Girlguiding international trip
  272. Own a pet axolotl
  273. Ride in a hot air balloon
  274. Carry the Olympic torch
  275. Raise a child
  276. Go to space
  277. Add 1000 experiences to this list

Who was the real American Vandal? (Netflix theory)

No, actually, not a theory but the obvious truth!

I’ve just finished watched the complete 4+ hours of the new Netflix mockumentary ‘American Vandal’ – a parody of true crime documentaries such as ‘Making a Murderer’ and ‘Serial’ where the film makers try to clear a convicted criminal. But set in a high school where someone has painted 27 dicks on teacher cars. I loved this show and watched the whole thing in two sittings.

So now come the spoilers, so please go and watch the show first and then come back…

Who actually did the crime?

The show leaves it open ended. It implies Christa did it to get back at the school for ignoring her complaint about the coach. But film maker Peter only gives this as his best guess, knowing how speculation ruined Dylan and many other students lives during the series.

It could also be taken that Dylan may have been involved, having drawn the same doodle on Ms. Shapiro’s driveway. But this seemed more like Dylan yearning back for the life that he thought he had to live up to (and the balls were different, a very good subtle clue!). Plus he has a concrete alibi.

I think the true American Vandal is Peter Maldonado – the film maker and narrator to the show. Here are my reasons why:

  1. Peter’s alibi means nothing without video evidence. He had a cinema stub showing he went to see a film at 1.45pm. How easy would it have been for him to enter the cinema, have the ticket ripped, and left again to commit the crime? And no mention of who he was with at the cinema.
  2. He had access to the security tapes and proved he knew how to delete it.
  3. Peter benefitted from the crime. He could create a documentary following his efforts to exonerate Dylan (or whoever got the blame), knowing he was innocent and could very likely find evidence if he keep looking.
  4. When Sam did his investigation into whether Peter could have done it, benefitting from the documentary is discussed among jokes about liking dicks as his motive. Peter was clearly annoyed about this part and wanted Sam to do a proper investigation – perhaps he was just concerned Sam had hit the nail on the head and didn’t want it public?
  5. The final episode spends a lot of time on Dylan and how he adjusts to life after being exonerated. The documentary briefly goes back to the crime, but under the guise of ‘not implementing another person without hard evidence’ Peter offers his best guess and the question isn’t answered. That’s because Peter has done his job, got the story he wants, and doesn’t want anyone else looking into it.
  6. (Here we get a little more farfetched) The girl who held the party at her Nan’s house – she was surprised when Sam said they hadn’t been there. This was supposed to be taken as a hit at their popularity as everyone was there – but what if she remembered seeing Peter there but was too drunk to be positive about it? This is flimsy though, he isn’t in any videos, and why would he go there just to steal the spray paint, unless he saw the prom-posal on Facebook Live and thought it’d be good for the documentary? (Maybe ignore this one!)

I bet with another watching there would be more clues. From early on I was suspicious but from about episode 4/5 I was certain he did it. I spent the whole of the last episode waiting for some clue to come about that showed it was him, with Sam completing the documentary. But perhaps the way it ended was even better. The clues are there but being an unreliable narrator we have to find the real conclusion ourselves!

I’m not seeing much about American Vandal online just yet, but I suspect this will be a major theory!

Taking Brownies to Kidzania

Yesterday we had an awesome day out to the Kidzania centre in London, and while I was concerned about many aspects following reviews online we actually had an amazing time! Here is everything I wish I knew beforehand… even just to cure some of my worries!

Arrival:

Make sure to do the research on how to find Kidzania within Westfields, it isn’t signposted too well but there were staff around to help point us the right way. While I’d looked at the Westfields map online, being in the centre looked very different! The entrance is beside some lifts, you’re greeted in a rather small entrance that leads to escalators, after taking four of these you’re at arrivals.

The Brownies and adults are given security tags, and the Brownies are given Kidzo money and hair nets (which some will proceed to put on straight away! But they’re for the food activities and I believe they put them on before putting on helmets for the climbing and air conditioning.)

As we go into the centre we’re greeted by a staff member who explains to the Brownies how the system works, how to check how long an activity will take and whether they have to pay Kidzos to take part, or of they get paid!

The only disappointment here is that the time it takes to get your security tags is included in the 4 hours. We walked into the Kidzania town itself at 11am (our booked time slot) but were told as we started checking in at 10.45am we would finish at 2.45pm.

Setting up a base:

We decided to set up base in the Town Square, an area with tables and chairs designed for resting and eating. The Brownies dumped their bags on and under our table and as leaders we took turns staying at the table and going around the centre and seeing what the girls were up to. This meant the Brownies always knew where to find an adult, it was placed very close to the toilets, and often the Brownies would pass by anyway between, or during, their jobs.

Security tags:

A major disappoint for us was that the security tags did not work. For a start, no one even mentioned this aspect of the Kidzania experience to us, I was only aware of this from a colleague who had previously taken her daughter. At the Job Information stand, right next to where you first walk in, there is a screen. Press the green ‘tracker’ icon and then scan your wristband and you should be able to see on the map where all the young members of your group have last scanned in (those running each activity scan the kids in and out). Great for leaders and for the girls to be able to find each other, but none of our tags worked. We were told it was because we were a large group and to go to the airport to fix it. A fellow leader discussed this with a manager for a little while, it didn’t get sorted which was a shame (if it had included getting all the girls together to scan their wrists again it wouldn’t have been worth the loss of time).

Lunch:

As of when we went in Summer 2017, youth groups and schools are allowed to take packed lunches into the centre. This was great as organising 16 kids buying lunch would’ve been a nightmare! We kept their lunches at our base and the girls came and sat with us the eat their lunch when they were hungry between activities. This worked so much better than trying to collect up all 16, and meant there was more space for other families.

The Activities!:

There was so much to do! We gave our Brownies parents the list of jobs to read through before the day, and again to the girls on the journey up, so they could decide what their preferences were.

There really was activities to please everyone and our girls did such a variety. Reading reviews online I was concerned about queuing, being a sunny, hot day may have worked in our favour as the queues weren’t very bad at all. Many were just waiting for the previous group to finish and were next in. But some activities seem to have a constant queue, such as the firefighters and the chocolate factory.

Some activities were a little disappointing. A few younger ones were excited about the Smoothie Making Lab – but as ‘fruitologists’ their job seemed to be about identifying fruits rather than actually making smoothies – they did have some to taste though.

The air conditioning unit was tunnelling with tasks to do along the way, like counting up broken light bulbs.

Many were dashing around as couriers making deliveries, some were looking around for units to measure up to sell as estate agents, and some were looking after new born babies in the special care unit. Some were fashion designers and using a select number of clothes had to design an outfit for a client based on ‘tomboy’ or ‘girly girl’. Some became vets, although I was told the staff were a little unenthusiastic which made the session feel boring, I think the right staff really does make the activities as some others were fantastic.

One Brownie became a reporter and wrote an article on the dance studio, she selected the images to use and then her report was printed in front of her, hot of the press!

After a couple of the little ones went to university and got their Kidzania degree, the Brownies soon realised they would get paid more money in some jobs if they had one too! After achieving their degree they receive a little photo card which was a nice souvenir in itself.

They also figured out to make the most money they needed to become window cleaners. (I imagine this is because Kidzania actually benefits from the kids keeping their windows clean!)

By the end of the session the goal most Brownies had was to open their bank account. They need 75 Kidzos before they can make a deposit and receive their bank card, they’re given 50 on arrival to the centre and each activity earns 5-12 Kidzos. But watch them after they receive their bank cards, after queuing 15 minutes to deposit their Kidzos they’re straight at the ATMs trying to withdraw it all back out!

The only activity I was frustrated with was the Cadbury’s chocolate factory. One of our littlest Brownies queued by herself for so long for this, as she stood at the front of the queue we watched as the group before finished and left, and then another 10 minutes as the staff leisurely set up for the next group. When they’re finally let in (and you pay for this one, you don’t get paid) and they have their aprons on and wash their hands, then the official photographer came in to take a photo of each child holding a giant chocolate bar. It took so long to do anything. I’m not sure what actually happens during the activity, but when they finish they’re given a token, about A6 in size with the picture of a chocolate bar on it to hand in when they leave to receive some chocolate so we were a little disappointed when our girls who took part were given a ‘Heroes’ dairy milk! I didn’t understand why this couldn’t have just been given at the end of the activity rather than getting their hopes up!

We let the Brownies decide if they wanted to stay paired up or go it alone, though we did this thinking we could keep track of them but it actually worked out fine. Some stayed in groups the whole time, others had their own aspirations so split up for a bit, but they knew where to find a leader if they wanted to pair up with a group again.

Spending those hard earned Kidzos!:

Don’t expect to get much for your money. I tried to explain to some that this is the value of money and you have to work lots of times to buy the things you want. There is a shop, kids only, that sells pencils for 40 Kidzos, rulers for 45 Kidzos, necklaces for 120 Kidzos. But at the end of a session, if you hadn’t spent anything elsewhere, you’re likely to have about 85 Kidzos at most. The Brownies who had money didn’t even want to spend it on a pencil or a ruler, I wish I had advised them sooner to think about spending it on actual activities instead. It costs Kidzos to have your face painted or attempt the climbing wall. I believe there was a drum workshop too but I never saw it. Most of ours came home with bundles of Kidzo notes, so at least they can return with it in the future!

Departure:

About 20 minutes before our time was up we started directing girls to the shop if they wanted to spend their money. This worked as a bit of a wind down time. We queued to have our security tags taken off and it was “bye bye” Kidzania!

In Conclusion:

Great day! Very pleased that the queuing wasn’t an issue, we had a few moans but I think this was part of the lesson they learned during the session. If I’d had the option I would’ve gone for a longer session, 4 hours goes so quickly, but actually being there the girls were starting to wind down after that amount of time anyway. The security tags were a disappointment but it didn’t ruin the day, it would’ve been nice to know where they were. Also, handing out maps would be a good idea too. There were signposts but I never looked at them so doubt ten year olds would! I never saw where the pilot and cabin crew activities were, or the music workshop. The stadium, engineering and animation studio were out of the way too so many of the kids may not notice them. But overall we had a fantastic day, we had great feedback from the girls including “this is the best thing I’ve ever done in my life” – you can’t beat that!

15 Months of the Bullet Journal

At the start of September I will move into my new Leuchtturm 1917 after filling up my first with Bullet Journal greatness over the last 15 months.

I’ve organised my life through diaries for years. In 2015 I got myself a day-to-page view A4 diary and loved it, and it was necessary for noting down all my plans to complete my Look Wider challenge. In 2016 I bought another day-to-page but an A5 one, which I never took too. It was too small for all the this I wanted to note down. Then I discovered the Bullet Journal system in May 2016.

You can read up on the initial birth of this organisational phenomenon here:

Bullet Journal 101

And you can find amazing layouts, ideas and ways to decorate a bullet journal all over YouTube and Pinterest.

But I’m going to write about my experience, since the brilliance of the system is that you can tailor it to suit your own needs. While I do enjoy my art, my Bullet Journal is purely a item of productivity, motivation and organisation, there isn’t much art in mine!

What works for me:

  • A four page spread split into three months per page, this I use to keep everyone’s birthdays, annual reminders such as car tax and MOTs, and appointments and events too far ahead of my calendar.
  • A four page spread of the year,  my calendar, this is where I note down every event, appointment and day specific items. At the turn of 2017 I rewrote this into my Bullet Journal to add a further 6 months.
  • A monthly spread, the month drawn out as a standard calendar month. I input anything from the birthdays spread and the yearly spread onto the appropriate days. Plus my Brownie sessions and any annual leave.
  • I now use four different monthly pages too:
    • A spending log to note down where I’m spending, on what and how – at the end of the month I compare this to my bank account and I use this as a way of seeing at a glance my spending habits.
    • A line a day journal; every day I write one thing down about that day – it is really fun to look back on!
    • Habit tracker – each day of the month has a column and I track habits such as working out, drinking enough water, reading and no sweets. If I complete the habit that day I fill in the box. This is a good at-a-month glance of what I’m keeping up with and what I’m not.
    • Monthly goals. Lastly I make goals for the month, usually based on my long term goals or on my master to do list. This usually includes something to do with my career, finance, health and girlguiding.
  • A weekly spread on one page, on Sunday I draw this up and plan out what tasks need to be done on which days, anything from my monthly log for that week, and I have a spare box for to dos and reminders. I usually write my workouts into here also.
  • Daily pages, I’ve gotten into a system where I have the weekly spread on the left and the dailies for most of that week on the right. It is good to see the week at a glance while I write my daily to do list. I also have a water reminder, sometimes my weight and anything else I need to remember to do daily on here.

I sometimes have other pages too. I used to do gratitude logs which were nice, but I fell off that habit. I sometimes have pages for specific goals to track such as planking or drawing, I have a page to write all the books I’ve read in 2017, one time I left a blank page so I filled it in with a motivational quote.

When I go through my bullet journal I don’t usually leave blank pages, I like to use it as intended and just use the next blank space for whatever I plan to write next – but I also found it rather productive to have the weekly spread next to the relevant dailies so now I try to plan it slightly in advance.

It took a year of testing to get myself to the system that works best for me. In the beginning I never had goal pages but began those a few months in. I started the line a day journal in January and love that addition. I only started using it for my budget a few months ago but this is a habit I should really stick to now.

Funnily enough I’ve been using the same monthly, weekly and daily spreads since I started, I used to sometimes write about my day under my dailies but I didn’t keep this up. The line a day journal pages work a lot better. I know some people like to try out different spreads, which is one of the benefits of using a bullet journal, but if it isn’t broken don’t fix it!

So what is new for my second bullet journal? To get myself started I’ve created a vision board across the front two pages, taking images from Pinterest of things I want to see myself as and quotes of who I want to be. I included my name within it so I can visualise that I’m thinking of myself when I see this page.

I’m going to try and use the index a little better in this one. I kid myself that I don’t need it as I remember where everything is but that isn’t always true!

I’ve been listening to the audio book ‘ Getting Things Done’ by David Allen, so I have included some pages at the front for my master projects list which I can review each week when deciding on tasks.

It is a little sad to say goodbye to the notebook I’ve been carrying with me everywhere for the last 15 months, just to see it relegated to the book shelf. But it’ll be a fun one to pick up in a few years and look back on. Onwards to my exciting new blue bullet journal!