Start planning your programme

Start planning fun and varied activities for your new unit

Now for the fun bit - planning your first activities

Girls take part in activities with their unit that help them learn about themselves and the world around them. We call this our programme. 

If you’re starting your Leadership qualification, your training should give you a good understanding of the programme for your section.  If you’re new to guiding, have a look at each of our different sections and the programmes they follow.

By visiting other units in your area you'll be able to see the kinds of activities that are fun and appropriate for girls. Check out our ideas for activities and resources to use in your meetings too.

Using our programme

We’ve built our programme around six themes that offer girls a broad range of experiences. One theme might include activities to build confidence, another will take girls on a muddy adventure or teach them how to fix a plug.

The programme themes are:

  • Know myself
  • Express myself
  • Be well
  • Have adventures
  • Take action
  • Skills for my future

When a girl does any activity, badge or award as part of the programme she’ll be contributing to her journey in one of these themes. The themes stay the same through every section of guiding.

By planning activities across different themes, you can make sure you’re offering girls a balanced and varied programme.

Our programme for every girl includes things you can do with girls in meeting and what they can do independently at home. But you can mix and match additional activities, the things you love to do as a unit, with activities from the programme to give girls an exciting and varied experience.

Thinking about the Five Essentials

There are five key ideas that tie together everything we do. You should always think about these Five Essentials when planning and running activities, as well as in your relationships with girls and adults in Girlguiding. They are:

  • Working together in small groups
  • Encouraging self-government and decision making
  • A balanced and varied programme which is girl-led
  • Caring for the individual
  • Sharing a commitment to a common standard

They apply to all young members – Rainbows, Brownies, Guides and Rangers – as well as adult volunteers.

Our educational framework

We offer activities that help girls to develop across six areas: emotionally, intellectually, morally, physically, socially and spiritually.


We call this our educational framework and you can use it to help you plan a balanced programme that supports girls’ overall development.

Planning your first term

Talk to your mentor or buddy about how they plan what they do and what their termly plan looks like. How do they get ideas from girls? How do they include badges, unit meeting activities, themed events and trips? How do they link with local units?

As well as learning from experience, there are plenty of other places to find ideas for things to do with girls.

  • Start by browsing through these ideas and planning tools.
  • Find ideas in guiding magazine, our termly member magazine.
  • Use this programme planner to plan out how a whole term might look.
  • Get involved in some programme training, either face-to-face or online. We have modules on all areas of the programme including a programme planning module.
  • Browse through our Activity finder and Badge finder
  • Prepare a variety of unit meeting activities and skills builders and ask the girls what they want to do!

We’ve also developed these programme planning tools specifically if you’re new to guiding and want some guidance on your first term. Developed by our deputy lead volunteer for Growth & Insight, they include detailed plans of games and ways to introduce the Girlguiding programme. You can adapt them as you need to:

Guides first term planner

Rangers first term planner

Plans for Rainbows and Brownies are coming soon!

Remember to make sure whatever you plan is designed with the specific needs of the girls in mind. There will be ways you can adapt activities so that everyone can be included. Also think about the venue where you meet and the time you have for your meeting.

Guiding traditions

Girlguiding is over 100 years old, but we’ve changed to keep up with the needs of today’s girls and young women. If you were involved in guiding as a girl, you might find some traditions you remember – and that others have disappeared.

It’s great to celebrate our history, but don’t worry that you’ll ‘get guiding wrong’. For example, if you’d like to be called ‘Brown Owl’ then please go ahead. If not, that’s absolutely fine with us. How you choose to run your unit is up to you, as long as it’s inclusive, age-appropriate, follows the Girlguiding programme and covers the Five Essentials.