Parks and green spaces are great locations to give families their first taste of Woodcraft Folk. Why not plan one off or regular park activities to recruit new children and families to your group?
Getting new children and volunteers to your group
Having longer chats with parents and carers about what's involved
Creating a relaxed, fun environment for families in your community to meet each other
Things to watch out for:
As it’s outside, this style of outreach is weather dependent
- Contact forms
- Risk assessment
- Playout arrangements checklist - contains a blank session plan
- First aid report form
- First aid kit
- Dog poo bags
- Activity resources eg parachute, craft supplies
- Drinking water, or drinks and snacks if you know parents will be there. Don't give unaccompanied children food or drink - they may be allergic.
- A clipboard and / or folding table
- Shelter and / or groundsheet
- A Woodcraft Folk banner or flag
Councils are often supportive of organisations offering free kids activities and may help you publicise your playout. For this reason, and to check your plans don't clash with other events, its a good idea to contact the council parks department before the playout.
Some councils may ask you to fill out a booking form. An example is provided below, but bear in mind this was an application for multiple events where we took an event shelter and several boxes of equipment. A one off small event is unlikely to need such a form.
Have a clear message or ‘call to action’ for families. This will usually be ‘come to our taster session or group night’ let them know a date, time and venue. Go to the publicity guidance page to find flyer templates and examples for an easy way to do this.
Do as much publicity for the playout as possible:
- Posters on community noticeboards in or near the park.
- Post about the playout on local facebook groups
- Contact the ‘friends of’ group for the park if there is one, asking if they can help spread the word - the council parks department may be able to help with this.
Make it clear in any publicity that your event is weather dependant. Be explicit, for example 'we have a shelter so will only cancel if it rains hard'.
Don't forget that you are publicising your group, not just the playout. All publicity should have the group info and contact details on too. Have flyers available on the day encouraging people to try out the group.
Choose a location: very small local parks will mean you’re really targetted, but you may encounter a high proportion of unaccompanied children. Large city parks tend to attract people from all over, so avoid unless you’re running playouts as a district.
Choose a time - mid afternoon works well. Don’t over stretch yourself - 2 hours may be enough.
You may have unaccompanied children wanting to join in. We recommend you use an ‘open access’ policy, where children are free to come and go without parents. An example policy can be found in the playout handbook, along with associated safety guidance. It is important to think about this beforehand, as open access does have different risks compared to a regular group night.
Playouts are weather dependent, but if you have access to a covered area - either your own shelter, or a bandstand etc. you may find you have a more captive audience in less than ideal weather when there are fewer outdoor kids activities on offer. Prepare for hot weather - take lots of water, sunscreen, and ensure there is access to a shady spot if there is the slightest chance it will be hot.
- Playout example risk assessment
- Playout arrangements checklist
- First aid report form
- A summary of two successful playout programmes run by members of the New Group Project team in 2015
Plan a variety of activities, for example running around games, quieter games, den building and a simple craft activity. Similar to a group night!
Choose craft activities that are easy to explain to your target age range. Anything requiring multiple steps of instructions will be time consuming - you want to be able to talk properly with adults too.
- That are not too messy
- Where children can see they are contributing to a communal project. Eg a giant rain maker, nature art or building a den
- That people can take home - provide a small bag, especially if paint or glue still has to dry, or a paper plate for clay animals
- That are fairly self explanatory, so require less supervision - take ready made samples to show
Some activities that have gone down well at playouts:
- Den building
- Decorating plant pots or paper cups with colouring pens and stickers, then planting fast growing seeds.
- Making peg insects
- Nature craft - we did clay or salt dough animals - make animal shapes and use sticks for limbs and grass etc for decoration, or smilie faces on plates.
- Making bunting (cut out triangles of fabric for each child to decorate with sharpies - try drawing round hands)
- Junk instruments - make lollipop stick kazoo and giant rain maker
- Sea creature mobile - see the craft activities download for a session plan
- 'What's in the tent' game - find on the Growing Groups page
- Yarn monsters and dolls
- game ideas
- Sticky boards - card with double sided sticky tape attached - children can stick natural materials on to make a small collage
- The craft possibilites are endless. Here's a few more craft activities that could work outside. They're taken from Craft, craft, craft
It's important that you're visible, and that its obvious to passers by that your playout is open to all. Why not create a banner during a group night? Or you can purchase Woodcraft Folk flags from Folk Supply. Alternatively, try contacting Folk Office to check if there are banners you can borrow - bear in mind you may have to pay postage costs.
Laminated posters put up around the park a week or so before your event are also successful in attracting people, and letting them know what's going on on the day. Make sure you take them down before you leave.
Check for litter, and especially dog poo in the area you will run the activity and have dog litter bags on hand to clear away anything you need to. This is becoming more and more of a necessisty as local council parks maintenance budgets are reducing.
When playing running around games, get children to help you mark out a boundary with cones - this will give them a physical understanding of where they need to stick to.
You might want to consider giving children name stickers. If you know how many you've given out during the day, there's an added advantage of monitoring numbers of children engaged.
Whilst you are setting up, and during the activities, have one or two people walking the park and playground and inviting families to join in. Hand out flyers with the group info on for people to take home.
Divide tasks out: one person talking to parents or handing out flyers, others leading children’s activities. Unless you have lots of volunteers, avoid letting children do different activities. You’ll end up trying to do too many things at once, and it’ll feel less like a Woodcraft Folk activity.
Draw adults in to the activities. This is a good way of showing them our ethos of family involvement. In the quieter activities such as craft, ask them what they enjoy doing as a family, and what things they’d like to try in a larger group.
Ensure you’ve planned in time to follow up the contacts you’ve made soon after you meet them. A quick follow up text the next day is ideal until you have time to call or email with a more personal and detailed message. Arrange a time for them to chat further and visit a group.
Use contact forms to collect people’s details, not a register. This keeps everyone’s details private, and also gives you more space to jot down notes about any conversations you had with that person.
Please note: If you haven’t set up your group yet, we suggest you decide on a date, time and venue before putting lots of energy into outreach and publicity. This makes it easier for people to say yes, and minimises disappointment later if families are busy on the day you decide to run the group.
However, if you don’t think you have enough adult volunteers, you might find them by running playout sessions - just be really clear that you need helpers to make the group happen.
This resource was created by the new groups project. From September 2014 to March 2016 the project supported new groups to start in West Yorkshire, Mersyside, North Wales, Glasgow, Stirling and Falkirk. To see more resources created by the project, please visit thenew groups project page.