Skip to main content

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

YouthShaped Deconstructed Roleplay

Let imaginations run wild in this roleplay activity to spark ideas for your YouShape Award.

Back to Activities

You’ll need

  • Camera or phone
  • A mixture of different sized and shaped cardboard boxes
  • Clean recycled fabrics or clean adult clothes, such as old bed sheets and old t-shirts
  • Household items, such as buckets, step ladders, biscuit tin, blankets and pillows

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 ‘Central’ 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 ‘Central’ badge out at the end of the session.

Setting up this activity

·       Gather your props and materials. It’s best to keep items neutral, vague and unbranded, so they could be used in different ways.

·       You could ask young people to bring in things they find at home or outside, but remember not everyone may be able to do this, so it’s good to have items that everyone can use.

·       Set out the objects and equipment, making sure everyone had access to them. You might use separate containers or set all the items up in different creative ways.

·       Make sure there is plenty of room and space, especially for people to get into groups.

·       Make sure equipment and materials are age appropriate. Supervise the activity closely to make sure small objects are not put in mouths, ears and noses. Remind young people not to put anything in their mouth and wash hands regularly.

·    You may want to run this activity outside, depending on the weather. Before running this session, you might want to run a session collecting the items on a YouShaped Nature Walk.

Run the activity

1.     Gather everyone together and explain that you’re going to use your imaginations to pretend things. The fewer instructions you give, the better. If they ask questions, you can answer or you can ask them what they think the answer is.

2.     Ask everyone to look at the materials. You might hold up an item and say, ‘What could it be?’ or ‘How could you use this differently? What else could it be, or what else could you do with it?’

3.     Give people time to think about how to use the items and let them start playing and acting. There’s no wrong or right way for them to engage with the materials. They can work individually, in pairs or in groups, though they may all interact or switch between groups, if they’d like to, as you go along.

4.     Once everyone has started playing and creating, volunteers and young leaders should spend time going round and asking everyone what they’re doing or who they’re being, noting how they're using the objects.

5.     If people are unsure of what to do, you could use more directive language, such as by asking ‘What could you build?’ or ‘Where would you like to play?’ Remember that whatever you say could guide the young person’s imagination, thoughts or creativity, so try to give prompts rather than ideas.

6.     Let everyone continue creating and give them plenty of time to play and roleplay in what they create. The main thing is just to let people create, see what they invent and what roleplays they explore within the structures or objects they build.

7.     Once everyone’s finished, take photos of their set-ups, making sure to follow our photography guidelines.

8.     When everyone has finished, get together in a circle. As a group, talk about what everyone did. They could talk about what they played with, which objects they liked, what they built, what roles they had, if they told a story and what it was, what jobs or activities they did, and why they chose certain objects or roles.  Remember, people can ask each other questions.

9.     Listen and note down what everyone says, remembering to ask more questions to develop ideas. For example, if someone builds a hospital, you could ask ‘Who works in a hospital?’ or ‘Has anyone ever been to a hospital?’

10.  Based on how their and each other’s creations inspire everyone, talk about what you might like to continue exploring for their YouShape Award. For example, the person who built the hospital may then choose to learn first aid, collect donations for a hospital or find out about the different job roles in a hospital.

11.  Ask everyone to think about or write down what their theme for their YouShape award is. It could be based on what they’ve made. Remember, different individuals, pairs or groups could set different themes, rather than having a whole section theme. This can be useful, especially if people have similar themes or ideas.


This activity was all about playing, imagination and creativity. How did you decide what to use? What objects were your favourites, or did you like the best? Which ones did you really want to use?

This activity was also about communication, teamwork and sharing. How did you tell other people what you were pretending to do, what you were imagining or what your story was? Did you make sure everyone could join in with what you were doing? How did you share the objects and make sure other people got to use them, as well as you?

There were lots of objects for us to use. How did you use the objects? Did you think differently as to what some things could be, such as using a box for a car?

How did you choose what to pretend and play about? Was it based on something you like? A job you want to do? Your favourite thing? Is it based on something else, like a book or film? Is it something you want to know more about or enjoy doing?

Thinking about what you made and did in the roleplay, 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.

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

You could set up a ‘building’ (such as a blanket fort), ‘a train’ (such as some cardboard boxes together in a row) or a 'library' (a ladder with books on), before you start, so people understand what’s expected of them or how they can think differently to use items in other ways.

·       People could also work with a partner or in a small group, so they can help each other. For example, someone could help someone else put a crown on their head or do up some buttons.

·       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.

·       If anyone has any phobias or fears or allergies, such as a fear of snakes or being allergic to latex, make sure to take this into account when choosing the items.

·       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. 

·       You could have a whole group discussion before letting people decide, as this might help people think of ideas or choose the best option for them. If they find it difficult, you could have a ready-made list of ideas for people to use and pick from. The list might inspire another idea!

All Scout activities should be inclusive and accessible.

You can run this session again to further develop people’s YouShape Award goals or ideas. In each session, build on what was created in the last one. If people 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.

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.