AHG New Handbooks

Well they finally arrived – American Heritage Girls has new girl Handbooks.  Have you seen them?  Do you love them or hate them?  After spending some time looking through them and discussing it with other members that I know, here are my initial thoughts.

While there were several program changes introduced in the Handbook (level award requirements or introducing new badges) today I am focusing on the presentation of the material.  It will take me more time and seeing it’s implementation first hand before I am ready to share my opinion on program changes.

THE TENDERHEART & EXPLORER HANDBOOK

PRO’S

  • Colorful – All little girls love bright cheery colors
  • Removed unneeded PiPa requirements – The extensive list of requirements that do not apply to them can be overwhelming and distracting to young girls
  • Service Hour tracking is much improved – I love that there is a separate page for Tenderhearts and Explorers.  Including service stars to color as you earn them is an excellent idea.
  • They added explanations of flag ceremony commands (new members did not always know what the word “two” meant)
  • Great job explaining how to arrange badges in the flower according to the frontier they belong to.
  • I love that the Handbook is only expected to last 6 years. After 10 years, my daughter’s book is showing a lot of wear.

CON’S

  • For long time AHG members, I do not understand why they changed the color of the badge frontiers – for the last 10 years, I knew that all Heritage Frontier Badges are in the blue section – now they are orange. We all know that orange used to be Arts, but not anymore.
  • Some of the graphics continue under the badge requirement boxes.  I can forsee this being a problem for new readers, especially if they are struggling readers.
  • The new uniform information says that neckerchief slides are now required – I can get used to that, but several of the girls pictured in the book are not wearing them.
  • The arrangement of insignia on the vest is not as detailed – the previous book showed a tape measure to guide you in placing the troop number or Honor Troop Patch.
  • The Pioneer and Patriot Handbook explain how to book flap badges that do not fit.  This is not explained at this lower level.
  • Previously the book had a metal spiral binding – I’m not sure how well the plastic will hold up.

THE PIONEER AND PATRIOT HANDBOOK

PRO’S

  • A fresh clean book will be nice for the older girls without the wear that comes after dragging a book around for 12 years
  • I love the clean pages – They only have a little bit of color.  They have a much more mature feel for the girls
  • They added explanations of flag ceremony commands (new members did not always know what the word “two” meant)

CON’S

  • Many badges include an optional requirement of teaching a younger unit, but, the requirements are not available to them. They will need to purchase both Handbooks.
  • With the changing of badge names (Our Feathered Friends is now called Birds for lower levels and Ornithology for the older girls) the badges appear in different orders within the books – making it harder to leaders to switch between the two books.
  • The journaling ability on each page is very redundant and offers no variety.
  • The arrangement of insignia on the sash is not as detailed – the previous book showed a tape measure to guide you in placing the components
  • There is no place to date the requirements. Sometimes a badge is not completed at one time but covers several years and different opportunities.
  • Previously the book had a metal spiral binding – I’m not sure how well the plastic will hold up.

CONCLUSION:

I understand the need to update the handbooks and give them a more modern feel.  I do not think that readability was considered when adding bright colors to the Tenderheart and Explorer Handbook. Creating two separate Handbooks is great for long term use, but by adding a plastic binding, I’m not sure if they will survive 6 years, and without access to both books life will be harder for the PiPas.

WHAT’S NEXT:

I currently have over 200 badge helps for the previous badge book.  Because each badge has been updated and re-written, I have a lot of work to do to try to re-create badge helps for you my reader.  So I better get to work.  I am especially excited about diving in to the new badges.

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