Activity ideas for darker nights
Unit meeting activities for the winter months
The clocks have changed, the evenings are getting darker, and we’re thinking about meeting activities that will bring some light into those colder nights.
With Bonfire Night, Diwali and Hanukkah coming up, we’ve come up with a few bright ideas for your next unit meetings. All of these festivals feature lovely lights; fireworks on Bonfire Night, Diwali is the Hindu festival of lights, and during Hanukkah you’ll see Jewish people lighting the candles of a hanukkiah (a Hanukkah menorah). And here are five ideas to make you feel as warm and bright as those celebrating these festivals will be feeling. Get your torches, candles and glow sticks ready and brighten up your meeting!
Gather your used jam jars and use them in a fun candle craft. For this activity, you’ll need some clean glass vessels, tissue paper, some PVA glue, paint brushes or glue spreaders, and tealights or electric candles. Rip up different colours of tissue paper into small pieces and glue them onto the outside of the glass jar with PVA glue. Let it dry and then carefully put the candle inside and see the lovely colours that the tissue paper makes. Be sure to remind young members about fire safety before using tealights.
Guides can work towards their Express Myself Theme award and combine this activity with the Wild Wax unit meeting activity. Part of pack 5, members use nature to decorate candles.
With a bit of imagination, anything can become a firework flying into the sky. A cherry tomato, orange segment and slice of yellow pepper could become the fire of a rocket, or a blueberry, grape and raspberry could become the bright colours coming out of the firework. All you need is a skewer for each young member and a place for them to cut any fruit and vegetables. For Rainbows and Brownies; it’s a great chance for them to learn to cut food under adult supervision. And after the fruit fireworks have been created, everyone can eat them up for a yummy end to the meeting. Make sure to check if any members have allergies.
Rainbows can work towards their Live smart Stage 1 at the same time. The Feeling fruity activity teaches girls how to peel, prepare and clean fruit properly ready to create a healthy firework. Take it further with Rainbows by having a go at the Underwater fireworks activity in pack 9 and have lots of fun with science.
For younger members, going on a walk in the dark is a new and exciting experience. Take Rainbows for a short walk outside the meeting place, complete with torches and perhaps even a warm hot chocolate to finish the evening. For Brownies, light sparklers in the dark in an outside area and paint pictures in the air (make sure everyone is wearing gloves and a bucket of water is nearby). If your meeting has outdoor space, get a campfire going and cook some treats and sing some songs. Get Brownies, Guides and Rangers to help leaders make the fire, get it going and make s’mores.
Bring the dark inside
If your unit can’t get outside, bring the dark inside instead. Turn off the lights in the meeting place and play some games with light – here are some ideas we love:
- Torch tag: Choose someone to have the torch to start the game and get them to count to 30. Everyone else should try and hide. The person who has the torch then tries to tag people by shining the light on them and saying their names. When someone is tagged, they go and wait in an area for people who have been spotted until the game finishes. The game is over when everyone has been tagged.
- Red light, green light: You’ll need a torch and some red cellophane to play this game. Tape the red cellophane to the torch and pick one player to be the “traffic officer.” They stand at one end of the meeting area with their flashlight while the rest of the players stand at the other end. With their torch off and their back to the players, the officer calls “green light!” and players move towards the officer. Then the officer turns quickly towards the players, turns on their red light, and yells “red light!” Players should then freeze on the spot. If the officer spots anyone still moving, that player goes back to the start. The game finishes when someone reaches the officer. That player becomes the officer for the next round.
- Glow in the dark bowling: Get some plastic bottles and put a glow stick in each one. Line up the bottles on a flat surface and use a ball to try to knock them down. Players get points for each bottle knocked down.
- Shadow puppets: Set up torches facing a blank wall or sheet. Members can use their hands to make different animals, or they cut out figures and glue them to lollypop sticks to move through the light. How about putting on a whole shadow play? Guide units can have a go at the Storytelling silhouettes unit meeting activity in pack 1 at the same time.
Great badges to do on darker nights
- Rainbows: Why not combine fruit fireworks with the Fruit and Veg badge, tell stories around the campfire as part of the Storyteller badge, or learn about autumn and winter plants and animals as part of the Nature badge?
- Brownies: Darker nights are perfect for getting excited about space! Identify constellations on a clear night, design an astronaut training programme and learn all about planets with the Space badge.
- Guides: Are you an al fresco newbie or a seasoned camper? Whatever your skill level cooking over a fire is, making food outside is fun, useful and tasty! If your unit is having a campfire, why not get cooking at the same time and earn the Backwoods Cooking badge at the same time as singing lots of fun songs.
- Rangers: Why not earn your Bushcraft badge? Learn how to light a fire without matches, build and camp in a shelter, navigate using the stars and more!
Learn about different celebrations
November is a month full of bright lights and important holidays for different groups and religions. It’s a great chance to learn more about different people and the events they celebrate.
Diwali is the five-day Festival of Lights and celebrated by millions of Hindus, Sikhs and Jains across the world. In 2021, it will take place from 4 November to 9 November.
It’s all about the triumph of good over evil, and light over darkness and for some people is also a celebration of harvest and the new year. Lights and oil lamps are lit on the streets and in house, people visit their relatives and have feasts, fireworks are set of and Lakshmi, the Hindu goddess of wealth, is worshipped as the bringer of blessings for the new year. Learn more about the Hindu faith and about the Sikh religion, and celebrate with a Diwali badge from the Girlguiding shop.
Bonfire Night, also known as Guy Fawkes Night and Fireworks Night, is a UK-based celebration that happens every 5 November. The reason we do it is because it's the anniversary of a failed attempt to blow up the Houses of Parliament. Expect to see bonfires, fireworks and sparklers and to see toffee apples, a treat of newly harvested apples covered in sugary caramel.
Also starting in November is the Jewish festival of lights, called Hanukkah. In 2021 it starts on 26 November and lasts until 6 December. The festival reminds Jewish people of a time over 2,000 years ago, when the Jews won a battle against the Greeks to practise their religion freely. Traditionally, there is a special game that children and adults play together with a spinning top called a dreidel, gifts are given and a candle is lit for each night of the festival. Jewish people also spend time with family and eat fried food like latkes, a type of potato fritter. Find out about the Jewish faith and including Jewish members. You can also buy a Hanukkah badge from the Girlguiding shop.