Using Visual Resources

Visual resources and instructional plans allow Scouts to keep working on a task without having to ask a leader or adult for immediate guidance or support. Using visual resources might seem like ‘turning Scouts into school’, but is actually a way to promote all the best things about Scouts – learning by doing rather than just listening, learning through experience and from peers instead of from an adult, and doing things independently rather than relying on an adult for guidance.   

Visual Instructional Plans

A visual instructional plan (VIP) provides all the steps a Scout needs to do in order to complete a task.

Case Study: Teaching square lashings

A square lashing involves a number of separate steps, all of which need to be completed accurately and in order to successfully lash two spars together. Without a visual aid, you might:

  1. Explain what you’re about to do, and what a square lashing is used for.
  2. Demonstrate how to do the lashing, narrating it (explaining the steps) verbally as you work
  3. Give Scouts time to practice it – you might have even made it part of a game or challenge to keep it fun!
  4. Provide guidance and encouragement to Scouts who are struggling.

This sounds good in theory – but what happens when a Scout is too busy watching your hands to hear what you’re saying? What if they were struggling to pay attention? They might remember how to tie off the end, but it’s unlikely they’ll remember how to start it! You’ve even given them a sample of the finished product, but there’s one problem: It doesn’t tell them how you got there.

A visual instructional plan here will show every step of the lashing. It could be a printout showing photos of each step, or (for the adventurous) could be a series of sample lashings, each one showing the next step, laid out in order.  You could ask your older Scouts to help with this task 

Preparing VIPs might seem like a high-cost process because it can take some time, but remember – it’s not just you who is counting the cost. Thorough VIPs will allow Scouts to help themselves, saving you from having to explain it several times in a session. If you’ve taken the time to prepare printable VIPs, the cost-saving is multiplied: next time you teach that skill, you can reuse the VIPs you prepared earlier. For Scouts, VIPs mean more time on task and more self-driven problem-solving: Rather than waiting for your help (or getting bored and distracted), they have a tool to help themselves which also encourages their self-confidence and engages them more in self-driven learning. 

Where to find visual resources

  • The Boy Scout Handbook or Fieldbook for Australian Scouting is a great starting point.
  • Your local library may have books on knots, navigation and first aid which you can borrow: Look for one with images which accompany the text, and clear instructions. 
  • Take photos! Your phone camera can help you capture images when you see something you would like Scouts to emulate. 
  • You can use Google to find images. Remember to use images with clean backgrounds

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