Helping girls develop new skills at every level as they journey through guiding
Skills builders are specially designed to help girls develop core skills as they travel from Rainbows to Brownies and on to Guides and Rangers.
We see our skills builders as an evolution of the staged badges, like Cyclist and Survival, that were available for all sections from the late 80s. These badges gave girls the opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of a subject over time, something which was missing from guiding since the staged badges were discontinued.
Our members told us that they missed the growth and progression that came from this structure, so we launched skills builders in 2018 to help girls tackle new topics, reach their potential and grow their abilities in ways that are relevant to their experiences in Girlguiding and beyond!
A variety of skills, from traditional to bang up to date.
There are 12 skills builder topics. They all link with our programme themes and cover everything girls love about guiding from outdoor adventures to learning leadership skills.
There's six stages to complete in each topic and girls earn a badge for every stage they complete. Each stage is a bit more challenging than the one before – so if a girl starts stage 1 in Rainbows, by the time she reaches stage 5 as a Guide she’ll have gained some very valuable skills, got a great set of badges and had a lot of fun!
For example, as they progress through the stages of the Innovate skills builder, girls learn about design, construction, experimenting and a whole range of skills. It introduces them to science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) in a fun and relatable way.
We really enjoyed this and would do more fun things that we don't get a chance to do at school – Brownie unit who tested activities for the Innovate skills builder.
Skills builders by numbers
- 5 activities to do at each stage
- 6 stages in a skills builder
- 12 different skills builder topics to try
- 2 skills builder topics for each of the 6 programme themes
Girls completing any stage from 1-5 can complete four out of the five activities to achieve a skills builder badge. For stage 6 all five activities need to be completed. Some skills builder stages have linked activities – where it clearly says they must be done in order. With these stages, linked activities should be prioritised and make up part of the four completed activities.
Girls do skills builders in unit meetings
Skills builder stages are great for girls to work on in their regular unit meetings. There are five activities to complete at each stage, each one developed to work brilliantly as a small group activity. This means that several groups can be working on a different stage, or different topics, in the same meeting.
At each stage girls will also have an opportunity to develop their skills independently. Whether through preparing something for a group activity, creating something unique to them or by reflecting on what they’ve learnt during the activities they’ve done.
Interesting to see younger Rainbows become involved in teamwork which is sometimes not visible during meetings where other activities are chosen by the girls. – Rainbow leader who tested skill builder activities
Girls choose the challenge that’s right for them
Girls in all sections will work with their leaders to decide which stage they’re ready to start, by looking at their experiences in and out of guiding. This means that all girls have the chance to challenge themselves, whichever stage they’re at.
There’s no restriction on the lowest stage a girl can start on. So if your Brownie feels nervous about stage 2 but ready for stage 1, she can start there. There is an upper limit for each section to encourage girls to develop a breadth as well as depth of skills. So Rainbows can’t go higher than stage 2, Brownies stage 3, Guides stage 5 and the new Rangers section can reach stage 6.
Everyone loves the activity cards
The look of the skills builder activities – available to buy in packs of activity cards – will be familiar to leaders and volunteers already. They follow the colourful, step-by-step approach used on our unit meeting activity cards. They feature extra information on safety advice, adaptations of the activity and ‘top tips’ for how to tackle it.
The card layout makes them perfect for handing out to small groups to work on together.
- Some of our best feedback on activities came in the form of drawings.
Why we’re excited about skills builders
The range of topics available means there’s something for every girl, and the stages mean they’re suited for every level of skill. Girls can go from being new to a subject to becoming a whizz as they journey through guiding. And being able to carry on doing things they have enjoyed as they transition to a new section will just make it even more exciting to be joining a new group.
Volunteers and staff who worked on creating the new activities loved being a part of something that will help so many girls grow and develop. They could often be found moving around furniture to make space for a 'crime scene' or a relay race as they worked out how to respond to your activity testing feedback.
All to make sure that the skills builders are a fun and rewarding way for girls to develop skills like leadership, teamwork and communication, earning badges as they go!