In our unit we have a group of 20-30 girls aged 5-8. We have some young girls who are just starting to read. We were able to find great ways to illustrate the 5 major concepts of water in this challenge badge in a meaningful way for their age AND (most importantly) WE MADE IT FUN!

In Canada there is an event called the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup that happens annually. Every year our group signs up and participates in cleaning up one of our local freshwater shorelines. This event is especially great because it allows the girls to bring in friends and family to help clean up. We follow safety protocols and proper disposal of trash. Every year the girls seem shocked at how much garbage is not only washed up on the shore, but also on land from beach visitors. The girls made comments like “Why can’t people just throw out their own trash” and “If I catch one of these littering people I am going to tell them what to do!” It was very cute. Volunteering to spend a morning picking up trash definitely makes the participants not want to litter. Some of the parent comments were “I’m astonished that there are cigarette packages this close to a garbage?” Clearly littered by an adult.

For our group we encountered a surprise that day at the beach. There was a warning sign about an algae bloom in the water. The sign said that no-one could safely swim in the water. We could even see the colour difference of where it was in the Great Lake. This prompted many questions about algae that we will be working into our program later in the year. It was a whole different type of risk to the water habitat that the girls had never witnessed.

Our cleanup at the shoreline completed A.01, C.01, C.03, and E.02.

We wanted to give the girls a tactile way of seeing water usage. Our Water Challenge Badge was completed throughout the year. We referenced the information provided in the challenge kit on pages 30, 39 and 40 which highlight how much water is used to make or grow items. The leaders also used internet research for other items we knew would be at camp - example t-shirts, winter jackets, winter boots, leaders coffee, takeout cups etc.

Armed with this information as well as an abundance of stickers and a Bristol board we set off on our weekend winter camp. When we arrived at camp on Friday night we explained to the girls that this was our Water-Use Board. We told them we wanted them to understand the concept of invisible water – water that’s used to create and make things. We started small asking the girls who has a reusable water bottle they are drinking? All of those girls came up to the board and put a sticker on. Then we asked who went to the washroom before they left home? If it was low flush toilet - 1 sticker. If it was full flush toilet - 2 stickers. Next we asked who brought a coat. Every girl then had to add stickers for their coat. Once everyone was seated we asked who brought winter boots? Again every girl had to put a sticker on the board. We then asked how many girls parents had a coffee on the drive up to camp - add 5 stickers for 54 gallons! Then while up, we asked them to take a guess how much water is used to make a car? Everyone, except those who carpooled, had to add stickers to the board.

Later that night we went through hand washing, the water used to grow the food from our snack and the building we were camping in, in addition to their own houses. The board was starting to look very busy.

In the morning everyone had to put on a sticker for teeth brushing, their sleeping bag, and then we asked who has a different outfit on? Once again everyone had to put more stickers on the board. We kept this up at every snack or meal time by the end of the weekend there was no sign of the board underneath it was just a mass of stickers.

When the kids returned home they continued to tell their families about the water they don’t see. This activity was able to accomplish the challenge criteria of B.01, B.04, B.10, and B.11.

We did two science experiments for water. The first was about the differences between fresh water and salt water. We created two types of ice cubes, regular tap water and then saltwater with food colouring added to be able to tell the difference. We talked about ice and water and what affect the kids thought the salt would have on the water. We then carefully melted the ice cubes, timing and observing the differences. This experiment would work well in a weekly meeting. This completed badge criteria A.15.

For Section D, the second experiment kids can create a water droplet in their hands to hold and think about how precious water is. Here is the experiment where  kids are able to hold water in their hands and talk about how important it is before they finally ate the water.

We played two active games the first was about water efficiencies. The concept was if its good for the earth run to the right, if its not great for the earth run to the left and if your not sure stay in the middle of the room. We would hold up a regular toilet flash card we made, and everyone ran to the left of the room. Then held up a low flush toilet and everyone ran to the right of the room, we did the same for bottled water as opposed to a reusable water bottle and so on. This was a great water tie in for when the 5-8 year olds needed some running. This completed B.10 as well.

On our Thinking Day event where we focus on the millennium development goals set out by the UN, we combined the Right To Water and Infections. We got three kids in the group and put cinnamon on their hands. We then had everyone mingle, shaking hands constantly. By the end of 5 minutes everyone was covered with the “Evil Cinnamon Pox” and faced the problem of what if you didn’t have water to wash it off? This built on the core themes of hand washing and how important it is to wash and what a problem it is when you can’t wash. This was conducted by another leader at the multi group event. This also contributed to section D.

At the end after having used a reusable water bottle all year, and pledging to continue these activities, our group of kids earned their Water Challenge Badge. In addition these activities earned core badges in the Brownie and Spark books in a new and exciting way.

Working on our Biodiversity Challenge badge

We invited a local beekeeper to come speak to our group.

He was able to tell us all about bees, how they grow, forage, and make honey. We learned how people get the honey from the bees.

The kids were able to ask all the questions they could. We learned that green and blue bees exist. We discovered that a Queen Bee is made from what food it is fed as a baby.

He explained the differences between Hornets Wasps and Bee’s. That with his 13 colonies close to a million bees and he only got stung 10 times in a year.

We learned what happens when they sting. He talked us through how much honey bees can make, and what he does to protect the bees.

Making sure they have enough food first, then ensuring they are protected from Mites which can harm them.

Even how you can make sugar water or a nectar replacement. He explained the difference between nectar and pollen.

Then the kids learned about how important they are to the eco system and how bees make their fruits and vegetables possible through pollination. We learned what would happen to our food if the Bees go exstinct in our area.

The beekeeper explained the different risks affecting Bees in our area, and why there aren’t more Beekeepers.

We also found out about how three types of Bee’s are needed to have a healthy colony of bee’s.

Girls got to ask their questions about Bee’s being Endangered and what that means to the bee’s and to us as people.

When the girls asked what they can do to help, the Beekeeper suggested planting Bee friendly flowers and eating local food.

Leading up to the Beekeeper coming in the group created a Bee Mascot, who each week will go home with a girl for her to record in the Bee’s journal what the girl did that week to help the earth.

Each week a different girl takes the mascot home, this keeps the activities going all year through.

We used Bee’s Wax sheets and made rolled candles. Sparks ages 5-6 made straight rolled candles, where brownies age 7-8 made slanted candles creating a striped pattern effect.

We got white clay, and soil and a seed packet that said Bumble Bee and Butterfly friendly. We made some clay in a ball in our hands and made a finger sized hole filled with soil and seeds then plugged with the air dry clay.

The children will be able to drop these bundles into the ground and when the rain melts the clay the soil and seeds with take hold and grow.

The leaders were impressed to learn how one box of Bees is about 70,000 Bees.

By the next morning we had received 4 emails from parents saying how the kids were still talking about the Bee’s that night.

How honey can last forever. People have been sharing it with Bees so long that it was even found in pyramids.

To continue the critical thinking at their level, each age group of kids was given a page for their books to complete.

Girls 5-6 who may not have writing or spelling yet were asked to draw a picture of a Bee Superhero prompting them to think about what a Bee would want powers in and What they would want to be able to fix.

Girls 7-8 were asked to  draw a picture of themselves as a Bee to think about empathy with Bee’s then a picture of how they will help Bee’s. The page also included a written portion where they were to think of the best and worst parts of  being a Bee. One 8 year old girl wrote the best part would be flying and the worst part would be the short life. (They only live about 45 days.)

These activities completed Badge Requirements: A.03 A.07 C.02 D.02 D.06 D.17

They also Earned their Endangered Species Crest from their Brownie Program, and parts of Spark Keeper Crests. 

The stuffed Bee Mascot was made by leader “Honey Badger” and the attached PDF work sheets were created by Leader “Alicat”

Our local Beekeeper guest speaker was From Gibbs Honey

Ocean Biodiversity and Soil

We got a group of 30 children together with some parents. The group had both boys and girls ranging in ages from 5-10.

We wanted to explore some hand on activities relating to each other. 

First  we decided to have them make an Ocean Life Box. We recycled various boxes and found all kinds of craft materials to make our boxes look like the ocean. The children worked together in small groups and cut pictures from magazines, used spare fabric, ribbons, sea shells, tissue paper markers, sand and some sea stickers. 

After the children were happy with their boxes, the adults then came along and put lots of small plastic garbage into their boxes. 

The children's faces were truly shocked! The couldn't believe we would do that. We asked them about plastic garbage in the ocean. We said this represents real life and what is happening. The children started coming up immediately with ways to fix it, from lets build robots to pick it up, or we should just close the ocean so no one can do that. 

Then one little girl suggested we should just use less plastic and everyone agreed with her. This was a great way to spark critical thinking about a huge issue while having it very real in front of them. Little minds could see and understand a very big problem.

Next we watched a video about Ocean acidification. 

There was a lot of new words but the cartoon visuals made it so even the 5 year olds had a clear opinion of too much fertilizer chemicals into the water makes it hard for sea creatures to grow shells. The older children understood how this would make it hard for people to eat in certain areas. 

We tied this back to the boxes they had just made earlier and asked what if all those sea shells were weak. What if the creatures you wanted in your box were also hungry?

We went around the room and asked everyone to say how they felt after watching the video. Answers ranged from sad, bad to want to stop people doing that.

We asked them if they would like to learn about a different way to add fertilizer to grow vegetables? All the kids jumped and said yes. 

Each child was given a biodegradable bamboo pot, then they added soil to the bottom, then everyone added a pinch of the left over coffee grinds from the adults coffees. 

Adding coffee grinds increased the nitrogen in the soil. Then the children each crushed half a eggshell into their pot to add calcium. After more soil, the children planted three plants each. A lettuce, a tomato, and a cucumber seedlings. Each child was able to identify 3 different plants by looking at the leaves. When the children found out this would actually grow them a salad they could share with their families, they were really proud of their pots. (A leader had green housed the seeds for 3 weeks prior to planting.) We find that an actual plant is able for the children to relate better to then seeds, because they can already see its living. 

It was a great day, the children learned a lot of things, and had a great take home salad growing in their fertilized pots. 

These activities completed a few cross activities: Ocean B.01, D.04 D.05

Biodiversity: C.12, C.14,

Soil: A.07,


Image of bioluminescent algae glowing at night in the vials given to the children. ©

We got a group of 30 children together with some parents. The group had both boys and girls ranging in ages from 5-10.

While exploring the ocean challenge badge we found a local issue with our water was an algal bloom. The children were unable to play in our local water because of this.

The children had asked what is algae? Why does it close the lake beach?

We decided to focus on Algaes to learn more about the ocean. One of the ocean challenge badge tasks was to learn about an ocean species.

Through the amazing support of Sunny Sea Farms we were able to get the children each a vial of bioluminescent Algae. Each child got to experience a small piece of ocean life, even though we live very far from the ocean.

The children learned all about what they eat and how to give them more algae growth in a couple months. They were aware of photosynthesis in plants on the ground, but were surprised to learn things in water can photosynthesize. The vials when they glow, glow dots that they wouldn’t see without the glow. Attached is an image of the vials of Algaes each kid got to take home and take care of.

Each child took them home and the responses pouring in from parents has been incredible that the children are so careful to take care and ensure they get enough light but not too much and enough dark at night.

This has sparked great interest in the ocean, one child chose her next school book report about the ocean. Children are now eager to take an active role in helping the ocean because there are such wonderful creatures they didn’t even know about. These truly are something special, and each of the children will now always have a connection to the ocean, and the life forms unseen in it.

Building on their enthusiasm to protect the ocean, we then wanted to address the algal bloom issue.

We started by asking who likes candy? All hands went up. Then we asked what happens when you eat too much candy? Every child had an experience of tummy aches from too much sweets at some point.So we agree some is great and too much is a problem. All children agreed. We then led into what do you think would happen with too much of a different kind of Algae? 

Followed by showing them this short video 

We joked about the long word Eutrophication and pronouncing it, but the concept was easy to understand with the cartoon visuals.

Afterwards we asked the children to make posters in groups about how they feel about algal blooms.

Both parents and children had a great time exploring the ocean in a way that hadn’t previously been explored locally.

On our posters we discussed and answered Ocean Challenge badge questions: A.01, C.02, C.03

 Algal Bloom video and discussion earned E.06
 Algaes vials earned Ocean life. 

Thanks again to for helping to make this day possible. 

Nutrition Challenge Badge Event

On Dec 10th a group of kids got together to earn their UN FAO Nutrition challenge badge. We were able to partner with regional resources and with local High School Students. an organization whose goal is to promote healthy lifestyles in children ages 0-12. The goal is to reduce childhood obesity by encouraging active lifestyles, healthy eating, drinking water and reducing screen time made it possible for us to have a Venue. When we asked the English Second Language students from Central High School to come and share with the children local dishes from their countries and villages, they were eager to help. We also had support in the form of physical tracker pedometer kits for each child participating from an organization supporting physical activity. We had 30 children from age 7-11

To earn the badge we had a lot of fun. Children were dropped off and parents told to bring a reusable mug and come for food when they picked them up. To start we made a brew (3 large waters infused with child selected strawberry mint, cucumber basil lemon, and apple cinnamon) which then infused throughout the day and when parents came they tasted great. 

We interspersed the day with some great Ted Talk Cartoons to help with the more complex concepts like Microbes. We had them circle areas that need to be cleaned on an image of a kitchen. Then to have a bit of grey fun we made hand soaps with “microbes” in them to take home. Kids could put the soaps at the sink and remember to keep the bad germs out and the good organisms in. The soap jars are refillable as well to keep the fun going. 

The children sang for their supper - literally they took the Lyrics to “I’ve got a feeling” and changed it to be about eating healthy food and “I’ve got an apple in my pocket”…. etc. 

At the beginning of the day we asked the kids what would be their perfect meal?  I lot of sugar was the answer. After separating the flyer ads of foods into seasonal groups and healthy, and learning what water and food do to your body and brain the children had a change of opinion and when we brought out felt and paper plates asked them to make their own healthy meal, the children made balanced meals with veggies and fruit, sushi and pasta, pad thai and salad. 

When the parents came the teenagers who had helped all day presented their cultural foods and then everyone dug into the delicious feast. Because it was Dec 10th that made it World Terra Madre day and it was a wonderful community sharing food experience. The best part of the day was when the children then performed their new version of the song and received there certificates to parent applause. 

A lot of very hard work went into making this day possible. Meg and Dania would like to thank everyone who helped out. 

A2. Take home pedometer kits

A.4 Sing for your super

B.1 Cultural food samplings 

B.3 Nutrient Video

B.11 Make a brew, fun things to try in water

C.1 Food safety and printouts of kitchens and circle areas they need to be aware of and where people need to clean (trick question it was everywhere and the kids knew it).

C.9 Micro organism video and soap microbes.

Brain video and Water Video.

D.1 Meal Mania who plans your food, what would you plan? Felt cut out meals

D.3 Draw or cut out magazines pictures of seasonal fruit in each season

E.2 Terra Madre Day whole day of activities Meg order kit

E.3 Performance for parents