Volume 5 Issue 5
December 1998


A Genius Kit can be used in your den meeting or as a pre-opening activity

A genuis kit is something you put together that the boys take and make something from. Example, a paper sack filled with 2 paper plates, some q tips, paper cup, maybe a 1 liter empty bottle, wire, paper clips, etc... Anything you want to put in them.
At one of our roundtables all adult leaders were given the same thing and had to bring back a completed item the next roundtable. I used the above items to make a lamp complete with a pleated shade made from the paper sack! Of course I won a painted lightbulb for the brightest idea. As long as you put the same in everyone's kit it can contain anything.
Nancy Jones

Genius Kits
York Adams-Area Council

I can’t imagine that anyone hasn’t at least seen a description of the Genius Kit activity, but for those that haven’t I am including my description here. And for those that have never done a Genius Kit activity, you are really missing out on one of the most incredible, eye-opening activities you could possibly imagine. We run one of these activities at least every couple years because they are always fun and the results are never the same.

What is a Genius Kit?
Well it’s a group of 20 or more odds and ends thrown together into a container and given to a boy to turn into something. (Variations include letting the boys pick their own items from a large open container, but again, the items are odds and ends.)

What is the purpose of the Genius Kit activity?
The object is to let the kids use their imaginations to come up with some of the most unbelievable creations from the junk they have. You will be amazed at the results!

How do you run a Genius Kit activity?
I have seen them run two different ways. First, as said above, is to give the kids a chance to pick their own items from a general junk bin and then let them work on making their creations. The other way is to give each boy an identical Genius Kit and have each on come up with his own creation.
We also apply rules depending on how we are running the event. For example, when we’ve given the boys all the same items, we’ve said no painting and only the materials supplied and clear glue can be used. This keeps them from adding to their creations beyond the "level playing field."
Finally, this activity doesn’t lend itself to a large group setting. The hot glue and white glue can end up everywhere and might hurt someone. If you want to incorporate it into the Pack Meeting, have the boys work on them at home and bring them in for display and judging. (This is just my opinion.)

How do you judge the Genius Kits?
For either "method," we try to have enough categories that virtually all of the creations get ribbons. It isn’t easy for the judges, let me tell you. Your best bet is to make sure you have ribbons or certificates for all participants and then you can come up with some Top Prizes.


I was floundering a bit for ideas when I started with the Cubstruction theme. Mike Bowman was kind enough to send me these ideas.

This is a fun one where you can go wild on handicraft, shopcraft, and games that involve building - you know the ones where you stack up blocks and pull 'em out one at a time. Cubstruction is wonderful because it is a prime opportunity for hands on doing experiences instead of being lectured to death. And you can get a little crazy and maybe off track with building by adding odd things like building a monster submarine sandwich, making a huge pizza, touring places that make things, going to a construction lot or lumber yard and letting the boys pound nails, making bird houses for the spring, helping to fix up a park (service projects) or a building, etc. How about making Cub Stools for the meeting place - real simple with a square piece of plywood about 18' square and four pre-cut 2x2s for legs, have the board prepared with pre-drilled guide holes and let the boys screw on the legs and then paint them with splashes of various colors or decorate 'em with decals and the like. Sing the John Henry song or others with steam engines, action, banging and clanging. How about a skit using a variation of the big bad wolf and three pigs with a few local refinements to make it funny, but get across the point of the story. How about a special pack uniform for the month with construction helmets borrowed for the meeting and tool belts as props for a skit or song. Can't remember the song but we had one where every so often it called for a clap or bang and instead we had the cubs lined up and let them bang a piece of sheet metal with a hammer. The noise was terrible, but they liked the rowdiness.

Modeling Dough
Alameda, Marin, Piedmont & San Francisco Bay Area Council

Homemade Modeling Clay
Mix 2 cup table salt and 2/3 cup water in saucepan. Simmer over medium heat, stirring constantly until mixture is well-heated (approx. 3-4 minutes). Remove from heat. Add mixture of 1-cup cornstarch and 1/2 cup cold water.

Mix hard. This will make thick, stiff dough. Add food coloring if desired. Store in plastic bag in refrigerator.

Salt-Flour Modeling Dough

Combine 1/2 cup and 1 cup flour. With your hands, mix and knead enough water to make a stiff dough. Tint with food coloring or tempera paint. Store in plastic bag in refrigerator.

Cornstarch Baking Soda Dough

Mix 1 cup cornstarch, 2 cups baking soda. Add 1 1/4 cups water and mix. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. This will thicken to the consistency of slightly dry mashed potatoes. Store in refrigerator up to two weeks. Recipes may be cut in half.

Bread Modeling Dough

Remove crusts from several slices of white bread. Break up bread into small pieces and mix with white glue. Add a few drips of lemon juice. Mix until it is the consistency of clay. Color with tempera paint. Store in plastic bag in refrigerator.

I have been feeding goldfinches and housefinches for about 3 or 4 years. The goldfinches (especially the males) are simply beautiful during the summer. But now that the weather has turned decidedly cold here I have decided to also feed the other wild birds who aren't vacationing in Florida. Below are some ideas that you can share with your Cubs about feeding birds and some recipes.

Rules For Feeding Birds
Alameda, Marin, Piedmont & San Francisco Bay Area Council

  1. Once you start, continue. Birds will get use to coming and finding food in your feeders. Don't disappoint them.
    2. Birds need moisture too. If you don't have regular birdbath for water, use an old hub cap or shallow pan on top of an overturned garbage can. If temperature is freezing, boil water every morning and pour over pan, taking out ice. Remaining water will cool quickly for birds to use.
    3. Feed everyday and early 5:30 or 6 a.m., is not too early to get out and check feeders. This is when the birds eat.

Bird Cake

Wild bird seed
1/2 pound suet
12 ounce juice can
Long piece of wire (such as telephone)
Piece of vegetable (onion or potato)

1. Cut vegetable sack to fit inside can top with extra sticking up above can top.
2. Cut suet into small pieces and heat in double boiler so it won't burn. Let cool and harden. If any pieces of meat are seen, remove them.
3. Reheat suet. After it has melted again, mix in one-cup birdseed. Pour this mixture into can. Cool until it hardens.
4. To remove birdcake from can, set can in warm water. Carefully run a knife around inside to loosen sack. Pull top of sack to get cake out.
5. Tie ends of sack with wire, leaving enough wire to tie to tree limb. Hang as far out from trunk as possible to keep it from squirrels.

Food for Birds:

Sunflower seeds Corn
Small seed mixture Peanut
Bread crumbs (but no mold) Popcorn
Combination suet and seed Suet in mesh bag
Rolled oats Corn Meal
Buckwheat Thistles

Occasional Special Treats

Peanut Butter Bits of apple Other fresh and dried fruits

Bird Treat

Save all crumbs, cookies, bread, cake, cereal, potato chips. Add to pan of melted suet or bacon grease. Stir in some peanut butter. Pour mixture into 2 paper cups. Insert stick into each one. Refigerate 24 hours. Peel paper cups away and insert a third stick between ends of two treats to join them together. Tie length of twine to end of stics and hand.

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