Thursday, August 31, 2017

Cub Scout Wild Animal Adventures

Call of the Wild and 
Fur, Feathers and Ferns

Den Meeting #1: Signs of Wildlife Hunt
For a gathering activity we learned the overhand and square knots (optional, so it doesn't matter if every boy has time to do this). I have failed at knot teaching with cub scouts twice, but I remembered having an easy time teaching knots as a teenager using colored rope, so I bought the colored paracord at Walmart to match the picture on the badge and it worked miracles!  The boys loved it.

For the square knot, I showed them that it is essentially two loops stuck together, the trick is getting them together.  Here is a wild animal story to help.
Square Knot Snake Story
step 1. make the red rope into a loop and hold it out in front of you, this loop will be the hole of the snake's den.
step 2. make the blue rope into a snake coming up out of the hole formed by the red loop.
step 3. have the snake slither under 2 sticks (these are the two ends of the red loop)
step 4. the snake is tired and goes back down into his hole, pull tight and you have a beautiful square knot!

1-mile hike around the pond to look for evidence of wildlife, birds, insects, mammals, and fish.  Take a magnifying glass and look closely at small things like leaves or pill bugs.  Take binoculars to look at things far away (optional).

I chose our local duck pond, because it was a place I knew for sure we would see fish, insects, and birds, I was hoping for squirrels, but no such luck.  We saw Mallard ducks, black ducks, Rainbow trout, Grass Carp, two kinds of dragon flies, a praying mantis, found large spider webs, poop, tracks, and feathers as evidence of wildlife.
Here is my new cub scout, my own son, yay!

Den Meeting #2: Endangered Animal Day

Gathering: as each boy arrived he chose an endangered animal and taped a picture of it on himself.  We told stories about our favorite animals.  We also had the ropes out again to practice knots.

During our talk time I announced we would be going on a field trip and asked the boys how they would dress differently for sunny vs. rainy weather.  Then I told them that as scouts we like to be prepared and so we were going to review how to be safe in an earthquake.  They all identified the safest places to be in an earthquake.  Another way to be prepared is to know how to keep germs from spreading: wash hands thoroughly (wash up high (fingertips), wash down low (palms), in between (fingers), then your clean!

Musical Chairs: Next we played an extinction game to find out which animal will go extinct first and which one will survive!   If the scouts don't want to be eliminated, you can just ask for their animal picture if they don't get a chair and let them keep marching until every animal but one or two are "extinct".  You could also let each boy have two animal pictures to wear if it is a very small group.

Four Corners: The next game was similar although we used recently extinct animals.  Have one boy in the middle of the room blindfolded.  He points at each corner and gives it a number.  Then everyone gets to choose a corner.  The boy in the middle chooses a corner and everyone in that corner gets to choose an extinct animal to wear.  Keep playing until all the extinct animals have been chosen.  A different boy can be in the middle every single time if you wish or it can be the den mother the whole time.  This game is very adaptable.

Movie:  Finally we talked about why animals go extinct.  The big reasons we identified are loss of habitat, over-hunting/fishing/poaching, and climate change (mainly from carbon and methane gases.)  You probably won't have time, but if you do, we watched a few minutes of "Racing Extinction" on youtube while we had a snack (starting at about 26:10 to 33:04 minutes).  I explained that in this video scientists are talking about how extinction happens.  It can be from over-hunting for example fishing all the sharks to sell for soup or poaching elephants to sell their tusks.  They will also see how the gases from our cars and factories can change the ocean water so much that it can kill sea-life!  Some oyster farmers lost millions of oysters in one day just because the water finally got too bad!  Lastly they see how eating too much meat is really hard on the planet--trees are cut down for grazing land and the animals produce gases 20 times worse than carbon dioxide.  Have you ever smelled cows?  A cub scout can help animals just by eating a few more vegetables!  

Let all the boys take animal pictures home to show their families!

Den Meeting #3 "Zoo fieldtrip"
Wild Animal Exhibit:  We went to "Scales and Tails" wild animal show at the county fair.  They had every single boy's undivided attention for an hour, we saw and learned all about tarantulas, skinks, gila monsters, snapping turtles, gators, and snakes.  This was an amazing den meeting!  It was a great animal activity and the county fair is free and close to home for us.  The rest of the year there is a museum that does reptile shows by request.  There is also a fish farm nearby we could have visited which is great because it is an "outdoor activity" for the Wolves.  There are also people in our neighborhood that have lots of reptiles and/or amazing salt water fish tanks that could have shared with our den.  They even talked about endangered animals a little bit more for the boys which was a great review from last week.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Air of the Wolf

This is a great summertime adventure! 

We started with choosing Air Experiments- (Comparing variations in the shape of wings through the air, and Variations in the Volume of Air)
A. Make a paper airplane and fly it five times. Try to make it fly farther by altering its shape. Fly it at least five more times to see if your changes were effective.  This makes a great gathering activity.  We had fun comparing completely different shapes of airplanes.  I would recommend having airplanes all folded that the boys can color and write their names on.  Then they can really focus on the adjusting the shape of the plane rather than getting burnt out on the folding part.  Finally, hope a windstorm doesn't kick up at exactly the time you want to test the planes like happened to us!  If it does, you'll have to fly the planes indoors and that is a bit chaotic!

B. Make a balloon-powered sled- I bought balloons for sleds, but then realized with my special needs den they wouldn't be able to blow up the balloons, so we improvised and used stomp rockets to accomplish the same experiment.  Instead of varying the size of the balloon, we varied the size of the bottle on the stomp rocket.  I'm not sure this variation counts so we did C as well just to be sure.  The rockets took too long to make.  A den leader in another pack told me she always has the rockets pre-made and the boys just decorate.  I think that is a good idea since the focus here is experimenting with air, not rocket building.
building the launcher 
we used 16oz, 2 liter, and 3 liter bottle attachments
rocket is just over the roof in this picture
pretty good air for just a little bottle!
C. Bounce a basketball that doesn’t have enough air in it. Then bounce one that has the right amount of air in it. Do each one 10 times. Describe how the ball bounces differently when the amount of air changes.  I had the balls sitting inside my house as the boys arrived and they just automatically started bouncing them when they walked in.  This experiement is easy to do with boys.

Bonus: For treats we made popcorn using a hot air popper.

Air and Sound Experiment and a Fun Air Activity
For the gathering we launched rockets a few more times and  bounced balls.  Repeating requirements is good in the summer because someone is gone every den meeting and it helps more boys earn the badge.

C. With an adult, conduct an investigation on how speed can affect sound.

I made a simple bull roars with string taped to a wide craft stick and then let the boys swing them.

E. With your den participate in a rain gutter regatta. Explain how air helps the vehicle move.

We made boats with pool noodles, shish kabob sticks, and foam sails.  At first we tried using straws for the mast instead of shish kabob sticks and that did not work well.  We did our boat races fairly quickly and then played in the water the rest of the den meeting.  I warned the boys before den meeting that there would be water and they might get wet.  You can make rain gutters with tin foil.  You can also put one of the tin foil river rain gutters on a hill and let the boys play with floating things down stream.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Wolf Running With The Pack

For several of the boys in my den, physical activities are a challenge.  Therefore, I wanted to disguise the activities in such a way that they wouldn't realize they were doing the fitness badge.  However, by contrast, when I taught this badge last year, the boys asked me why none of the requirements for the "Running" badge were running!  Good question, eh?  I had them run some foot races and they loved it.  What a great lesson in adapting to the den you have.

Requirement #1

Play catch with someone in your den or family who is standing 10 steps away from you. Play until you can throw and catch successfully at this distance. Take a step back, and see if you can improve your throwing and catching ability.

For this one we did a teddy bear toss as a gathering activity to work on the catching ability.  One of my boys who had never really caught anything in his life was very successful, I told him to catch the bear in a hug and he never missed a catch for the whole time we played, it was awesome!

The next week for gathering we did water bombing.  I let the boys throw these water bombs three times each and see if they could get farther each time.  The boys that would normally go hide when it was time to play catch were begging for more turns!  It was really a personal challenge because the water bombs left wet splotches marking how far they had thrown and it encouraged them to try again and see if they could beat themselves.  The ability levels varied so much that the boys focused on beating themselves.

bucket of water and homemade sponge water bombs
the Yoga ball made an irrestible "balance" activity and the red circle in the sky is a water bomb sailing across the street.
Most of the boys and I could only throw to the end of the driveway.

Requirement #2

Practice balancing as you walk forward, backward, and sideways.

Requirement #3
Practice flexibility and balance by doing a front roll, a back roll, and a frog stand.

Requirement #4
Play a sport or game with your den or family, and show good sportsmanship.

One of the boys in our den hosted a whole den meeting where we played ping pong.  It worked well, we started just trying to hit the ball and work up to trying to return the ball and then to taking turns with a partner.  
I don't have any pictures, but this one from Croation Martyrs Parish Youth Group looks a lot like us:)
A few of our boys missed the ping pong activity, but they had a great activity to show good sportsmanship with this jousting game at day camp!  
  Requirement #5
Do at least two of the following: frog leap, inchworm walk, kangaroo hop, or crab walk.

This activity was several days before Mother's Day, so we played "Mother May I".  I made this game with two paper plates and an improvised brad made out of a twist tie.  You secretly spin it each turn so the boys don't know how many steps each animal will earn.  I divided the boys into two teams and each team's turn the boys would say, "Mother May I... crab walk, (or inchworm walk, frog leap,or kangaroo hop)?"  Then I would reveal how many steps they got.  
I just had to laugh that my Running with the Pack pictures and my Reebok Ragnar pictures were all lumped together on my computer.   I did a lot of "Running with the Pack" (12 person relay) myself while the cubs were working on this badge.  This is the finish line at the Cape Cod Ragnar.  I did a post on Ragnar and it got accidentally deleted, I hope to rewrite it, but for now this is it.

Requirement #6

Demonstrate what it means to eat a balanced diet by helping to plan a healthy menu for a meal for your family. Make a shopping list of the food used to prepare the meal.

I take exception to the meal planning guide, since it seems to be designed by lobbyists.  Also since the government of each country has a different plan--how can you say which country is right?  So, I just came up with a basic meal planner based on scriptures, which seems pretty safe and untrendy.

Fruit and Veggies: I explained that the reason the vegetable part of the plate was the biggest is that vegetables take a lot of room (think a dinner salad, a pile of broccoli, or corn on the cob).  We usually don't have fruit with dinner at my house, but if you had a slice of watermelon with dinner, that also takes up a lot of space on the plate.

Water: I explained that all healthy eating should include plenty of water and NOT fruit juice and soda.  I explained that if they like to have milk with their dinner that is a protein and to put that in the protein section of their meal plan.  Fruit juice is fine to have, but it since it is all sugar, it really goes in the dessert category!  We have it for special occasions, but not for promoting health.

Protein:  I talked about how dinner doesn't always have to be meat, for example cheese, beans, seeds, and nuts can all count for the protein.  For example, Cheese pizza, bean burritoes, chilli with beans, hummus, or peanutbutter all have some protein.  The boys hadn't heard of protein, so this was a great time to introduce the concept.

Grains:  The boys also didn't know what this was, but it was great to learn.  I am gluten free, so I use a huge variety of grains in my diet and I think potatoes fit well on this part of the plate even though obviously not a grain.

Instructions: Draw or write your Healthy Meal Plan on this plate!

The boys did a great job on this.  Then we planned and made another healthy meal of sorts.  They got to choose the fruit assortment to go in three smoothies.  I put a handful of spinach and carrots in one to make it a super healthy green smoothie meal! One had a lot of bananas and blueberries and turned out purple it was our brain food smoothie.  The last one had a lot of pineapple and strawberry and mango and it turned out orange, great for vitamins!  We served up all-you-can-eat samples in dixie cups.  Most of the boys tried the green smoothie and were surprised to find that it was nearly as sweet and yummy as the fruit smoothies.  We had tons of smoothie left over, so smoothie is what my family actually did get for dinner that night!  No pictures, but here is one from my archives.  Kid's love smoothies, even green ones.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Wolf Finding Your Way Adventure

Our first den meeting for this geography badge was Pirate Day.

Gathering.  I had a few maps of our town and neighborhood and they had to find their house.  The neighborhood one was the most useful because with only 100 houses, they could all find their houses easily.  The city map blew them away it was so big although some of the boys had a good time looking at it and finding large things like the high school and fair grounds.  Then they started their pirate map.  I had made a den map example with my house and each boy's house marked.  Their assignment was to make a map showing how to get to den meeting.

Cub Scout maps often don't look much like maps.  To make it funner we did pirate maps.
I provided brown crinkly paper: brown water color wash, crumble (this makes it hard to write on perhaps skip this unless you are willing to iron the paper flat again) , burn edges.
I provided a stencil of our neighborhood to help because last time we did maps the boys struggled so much.  The blocks of houses looked like islands on our pirate maps.  The boys liked the map stencils a lot, it made this so much easier for them.  One creative scout colored the streets blue to look like rivers.  He marked each scout's home with an initial.  To finish I encouraged them to draw a compass rose and legend, although not all of them did.  We did find them on real maps and discussed them.

Last we played  with an iPad compass and learned how to use it to locate our very own pirate treasure!

Den Meeting #2
Snack Day (snacks are an optional requirement, but of course do this one if you have time!)
For our second den meeting we had a snack potluck party.
For the gathering we figured out where each snack had come from and located it on Google earth.  We talked about which ones were from far away and which ones were close to home.  

Activity #1 we played Compass Eye Spy.  One scout would leave the room and the others would choose an object.  Then when the other scout came back we told him what direction to face to look for it using the compass directions.

Activity #2 we played a "Life Size Map" game.  This is an old family birthday party favorite that I added to the den meeting to get the boys playing together and hungry for their snacks.  I give the boys a starting and ending point for their map pathway and they have to build it using objects from my garage.  However they are not allowed to touch the grass.  They must stay on their path hopping from object to object at all times as they go back and forth from the garage to the end of their path!  I have two teams building a path at a time to see who can make the most creative path the quickest.   Below you see the path they had to build and pictures of things in my garage.  I watch in the garage to make sure they get appropriate items and the other leader watches the paths to make sure they stay on their path and don't walk on the grass to add new stepping stones!  Sometimes I add things to my garage in advance to help get them started.
starting at my driveway ending at the playhouse in the back yard.
about one third of the way there.
jackets, sports bag, toy boxes, and pails
here are some stepping stones the boys could have located in my garage.
a bike on its side could be used this would be hard, but a long stepping stone
a camping chair could be a stepping stone or the life jackets underneath it
they could use the cooler for a stepping stone if they sat on it to get across it. 
the red blanket is a super easy stepping stone
lots of cardboard and plywood  work well too.
Finally the boys got to eat their snacks from around the world!

Den Meeting #3
A hike in the neighborhood or hills, lets the boys use their compass and map skills one more time!