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Volunteering at Scouts is changing to help us reach more young people

Volunteering is changing to help us reach more young people

Volunteering is changing at Scouts. Read more

Discover what this means

Plan a YouthShaped cardboard city

Use you YouShape award theme to plan a cardboard city.

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You’ll need

  • Pens or pencils
  • A4 paper
  • Camera or phone
  • Scissors
  • Sticky tape
  • Stapler
  • Coloured pens or pencils
  • Maps

Before you begin

·       Use the safety checklist to help you plan and risk assess your activity. Additional help to carry out your risk assessment, including examples can be found here. Don’t forget to make sure all young people and adults involved in the activity know how to take part safely.

·    Make sure you’ll have enough adult helpers. You may need some parents and carers to help if you’re short on helpers.

Contribution to the YouShape Award

This activity may contribute towards the Planning section of the YouShape Award, depending on the Scouts section you’re in. If this session completes the requirement for an individual or a group, you may want to hand the ‘Plan’ badge out at the end of the session.

Setting up this activity

·    You may want to run this session over several weeks, with one week to plan, one week to build and one week to play in your city. Make sure to take photos of what the city looks like if you need to break it down and store it between weeks.

·    You may want to stick smaller A4 sheets of paper together to create bigger A3, A2 or A1 sheets of paper.

·    Everyone could work on their own map. People could also work in pairs, groups or as a Section to create a map together.

Run the activity

1.     Gather everyone together and tell them they’re going to make their own city.

2.     Ask if anyone has seen a map before. A map is a drawing of an area. Maps can be on paper or on a mobile phone, tablet or computer. Maps can show the countryside, a town, a country or even the whole world. They are used to help plan routes from one place to another, or to find certain features such as castles or hills. They can also be used to help us plan what cities will look like, and everyone is going to plan and build their own city today.

3.     Ask everyone what they’d want to include in their own city. Ask everyone what buildings we might find in a city, such as houses, offices, police stations, swimming pools, ice rinks, shops, cafes, cinemas, libraries, hospitals, vets and theatres. What else is there in a city, other than buildings, such as parks, woodlands, building yards, farms, nature reserves, roads and lakes? A volunteer or young leader should write everything that people say.

4.     Give everyone a pencil, ruler, piece of paper and colouring pencils or felt tips. Ask everyone to draw a map of their dream city. People could work in small groups or pairs too.

5.     If young people are unsure of what to do, a volunteer or young leader could create some examples of maps. It’s best to use just shapes or patterns and leave the buildings or features unlabelled and unidentifiable. Remember that whatever is in an example could influence or guide the process, so it should be neutral.

6.     Ask everyone to put their maps in the middle of a space or table, then take time to go around the space and look at each other’s maps. Take photos of the maps to help you remember them.

7.     When everyone is ready, they should pick up their map and gather back in a circle.

8.     Take some time to talk about your maps. What did people include and why? What was most important to everyone? What could people do in their cities, either to work or to have fun? What’s their favourite part? What do they like? Is it missing anything?

9.     Discuss the places they want to create and what people will be needed to operate those places. People could suggest job titles and roles, as well as things they’d do in the city, such as going swimming or walking their dog. Remember to write these things down.

10.  Ask everyone what they’d like to know more about or learn about in their city to continue exploring for their YouShape award. What intrigues or excites them? What do they really like or want to know more about? Have they included anything in their city that they want to do? Listen and note down what everyone says, remembering to ask more questions to develop ideas. For example, if someone includes a rock-climbing wall, you could as ‘Have you been rock climbing?’ or ‘How big is the wall?’ For their YouShape award, they might then want to go rock climbing, design their own rock-climbing wall or find out about a famous climber.

11.  Tell everyone that you’ll be building and playing in your pretend city in ‘Build a cardboard city’. Gather in the maps, so they can be kept to help build your city.


This activity was all about planning, imagination and creativity. What was it like planning a city? Did you include anything from your map? What was your favourite thing?

There were lots of buildings or features you could include. How did you decide what to add to your city? What were your favourites, or what did you like the best? How did you make sure everyone could be included and live there? What else did you have to consider? And did you include anything that the city you live in has?

This activity was also about communication, teamwork and sharing. Did you work with someone to make your map? Did anyone want the same thing or have different ideas? How did you make sure all your ideas were included?

Thinking about what is on your map, can you think about one thing you want to learn about, get better at or know more about? What would you like to do or learn at Scouts?


All activities must be safely managed. You must complete a thorough risk assessment and take appropriate steps to reduce risk. Use the safety checklist to help you plan and risk assess your activity. Always get approval for the activity, and have suitable supervision and an InTouch process.

Phones and cameras

Make sure parents and carers are aware and have given consent for photography.

Rubbish and recycling

All items should be clean and suitable for this activity.

Heavy and awkward objects

Never lift or move heavy or awkward items alone. Ask for help or, if possible, break them down into smaller parts.

Glue and solvents

Always supervise young people appropriately when they’re using glue and solvent products. Make sure there’s plenty of ventilation. Be aware of any medical conditions that could be affected by glue or solvent use and make adjustments as needed.

You could simplify the number of different materials and see if people need more once they're playing.

You could have some examples before you start, so people understand what’s expected of them or how they can think differently to use items in other ways. It’s best to use just shapes or patterns and leave the buildings or features unlabelled and unidentifiable.

·       There’s a role for everyone in this activity. Some people could be planners or architects or builders.

·       People could also work with a partner, young leader or in a small group, so they can help each other. For example, someone could help draw the shapes or add notes to the buildings.

·       You could use different objects for people interact with, so there’s a range of items for people to be able to grip and hold. If anyone struggles with fine motor skills, they could use larger materials. You could swap out the items for something easier to handle.

·    People who struggle with making choices could find all the options a bit overwhelming, so they might need extra support. They might want to work with a friend, young leader or volunteer to be able to help be creative. 

All Scout activities should be inclusive and accessible.

You can run this session again and incorporate our Build a YouShaped Cardboard City and Deconstructed Roleplay activity and other YouShape themes or ideas. If some people planned for or built a hospital in the first session, then for the next session you could give them ‘props’ for their hospital, such as bandages, plasters, doctor’s fancy dress, clipboards, chairs, toy first aid kits and teddies or people as patients. You could also add more details to the cardboard box, such as painting a red cross on it, windows and an entrance.

Make sure you pay attention and note down the ideas each person generated. You can ask them questions about what they've made, experienced or shared. You might choose to do this individually, towards the end, or during a closing circle time.