8 ways to bring the outside in

Try these activities to bring the outdoors indoors this winter

Zoe, Girlguiding Digital team
3 Jan 2019

Spending time outside can be trickier in winter. It can be cold, dark and quite possibly wet too. So take a look at these activity ideas, suggested by our members, for ways to bring the outside into your unit meetings instead. All the magic of nature without the cold feet. 

1. Try virtual pond dipping

We loved leader Han’s idea of holding a virtual pond dipping session.

She says ‘Put laminated pictures of pond creatures into a paddling pool or large bucket of water and have fun identifying them. They can be given different weights, so they float at different levels in the water. Identification charts and facts about the creatures can be easily found for free on the internet.’

Han’s a leader with 1st Portsmouth North Rangers and Senior Section and 3rd Cosham Guides.

2. Five minute filler
Get girls thinking about the effect of humans on animal habitats with a really wild version of musical chairs. Find out how to play Get habitat aware.

3. Pitch up inside (it’s guaranteed not to rain!)

The 3rd Neston Guides had lots of fun setting up their own indoor camp. Leader Anna says ‘Set up tents in a circle with an indoor campfire in the middle. Sleepover in the tents with hot chocolate and s'mores made on portable stoves.'

You can learn about the great outdoors and all things camping in the Camp skills builder. From pitching tents to packing your bag, lots of it can be done indoors so get started this winter. 

4. Make planters and bird feeders ready for spring

‘Make newspaper planters for sunflower seeds or bulbs and lard bird feeders’ suggests Felicity, leader in training at 4th Hastings Guides.

Take a look at our how to guides to making bird feeders and upcycling old items into plant pots to get started. Girls who want to learn more about upcycling could try the Upcycling interest badge at home too.

5. Help our spiky friends by making hedgehog feeders

Leader Helen from 1st Clatford Brownies says ‘Make hedgehog feeders from mushroom boxes, chicken wire and bits of moss, twigs, dried leaves. Get them ready for hedgehogs coming out of hibernation in Spring 🦔. Put a big tarpaulin on the floor with the natural materials on. Then give the girls some info about what and how to feed hedgehogs and put them out in their gardens or nearby public spaces.’

With hedgehog numbers in the British countryside falling by more than half since 2000, it’s more important than ever to make our green spaces hedgehog friendly. You can find out more about making hedgehog feeders and what to feed them on the RSPB and Hedgehog Street websites.

6. Five minute filler
Pretend to be birds and try to meet up with your flock in this quick game. Play Birdcall Brownies.

7. Build bird and bat boxes

Getting involved with local wildlife initiatives is a great way to learn about nature in your area. Units in South Langbaurgh division are taking part in a Tees Wildlife Trust initiative (funded by Biffa), which will get 1,000 bird and bat boxes up in Tees Valley Wildlife Trust Nature Reserve by spring.

1st Kirkleatham Guides Leader Tracey says ‘We had a lady from the Tees Valley Wildlife Trust come in and do a presentation for our unit. Then we made bird boxes to be put up in one of our local nature reserves. She brought all of the materials needed to make the bird boxes, they were made with fence panel planks that were cut to size ready for nailing together by our girls.’

3rd Saltburn Brownies will also be taking part this January. Leader Alison says ‘We have just done the Live smart skills builder stage 2 and this included safe use of tools so this will consolidate the girls knowledge of this. Hammers at the ready #skillsformyfuture nailed :)’

8. Winter tree line-up

Eloise (also known as Long Eared Owl at 1st Much Wenlock Brownies and Guides 🦉) suggests holding your own winter tree identification sessions. Instead of looking at leaves as you might in the summer or autumn, take a closer look at twigs and buds. You could look at pictures together as a group and then encourage girls to spot the trees when they’re out and about.

Eloise says ‘The Woodland Trust have a few good resources for engaging young people with winter tree ID’. 

Giving girls a fun and varied experience

When it comes to unit meetings you can mix activities and ideas of your own with the new programme to create a fun and varied term plan.