10 Tips for Organizing your Scratch Day
By Saskia Leggett
At Scratch, we believe in the power of events. Events are opportunities for creating community, for fostering new relationships, and for sparking connections to creative ideas.
As a Scratch Day host, you can design your event to be whatever experience you imagine. Every element of your event, from activities to decorations to swag, has the potential to enforce and enhance your vision.
In honor of Scratch’s 10th Anniversary, we’re sharing 10 tips to help you design a fun, creative, and well-organized event from start to finish.
1. Imagine your experience
Before you begin planning, take some time to envision your Scratch Day. What are your goals for yourself and for your participants? What do you hope participants walk away with? What would an ideal experience look like? What will it feel like to be part of the event? Use these answers to drive your event design. You can periodically revisit your goals to make sure you are staying true to your vision, and add to them as you scope out your plan. Grounding your event in a vision will help your guests experience the magic of being part of a Scratch Day celebration even more powerfully.
2. Secure a space
Securing a space is a crucial step in designing a Scratch Day. The makeup of your space can aid your planning process. More importantly, the environment you design in your space can help create the conditions for experimenting, collaborating, and learning. To start, think about your audience and the kind of Scratch Day you want to create. Are you designing for a smaller group that could celebrate in a home or classroom, or a group that might need a larger space, like a library, museum, auditorium, or university? Consider reaching out to local partners like businesses and community centers to inquire about collaborating and finding spaces together.
3. Make a plan
Before you begin diving into the details, make a basic plan based on your space, how many participants you will have, what their interests and Scratch expertise levels are, and what kinds of experiences you hope they will walk away with. When we plan, we look at our space constraints first, think about our agenda, determine the activities we want to do with our space and time constraints, then build out the details from there. You might find our Planning Checklist helpful to start, use the Sample Agendas to think about timing, and browse through activity ideas to brainstorm what your guests will do.
4. Recruit a few friends (and empower them to design)
Whatever the size of your Scratch Day, planning is more fun with friends, especially when they are empowered to design activities that they are excited about. If your friends, colleagues, partners, or volunteers are helping out with the event, encourage them to take ownership of their roles and activities. What activities would they be thrilled to plan? What roles speak to their interests and expertise? The more your team is able to take ownership of things they care about, the more invested they will be in the experience. And the more help you have, the smoother your event will run!
5. Communicate clearly
Prepare your team by letting them know what to expect and when. It’s helpful to give them a sense of the plans a few weeks before the event and to check in with planning periodically. On our team, we communicate plans via email early on, create a shared document that people can use to write down their plans and needs, and meet before the event to go through the schedule together. We also send each volunteer an individual schedule broken down by time and role. On the day of the event, the whole team (including volunteers) gathers to walk through plans, then the activity leaders split off to discuss specifics with their individual teams.
6. Consider facilitation
People learn best when they are in charge of their own learning. When designing your activities, think about experiences where participants are creating, constructing, and exploring on their own. Even better, what are ways that the Scratchers themselves can design and lead activities?
When preparing your volunteers, encourage them to ask questions, learn about participants’ interests, and leave room for kids to explore on their own (rather than telling them what to do or doing tasks for them). Check out the Tips for Effective Facilitation sheet on the Scratch Day site for more facilitation ideas.
7. Spread the word
If your event is open to the public, let them know about the amazing day you are planning! Use assets from the Scratch Logo & Graphics section on the How to Host page to create graphics for flyers, Twitter, Facebook, and any other medium your community uses to learn about events. Consider using a service like Eventbrite to organize your guests, and email them beforehand to prepare them for the event.
8. Do a walk-through
Close your eyes and imagine your event from start to finish, thinking about the experiences of your guests, parents, volunteers, and facilitators. Ask yourself questions as you visualize the day: What will guests do when they arrive? How will they know where to go? How will volunteers know what to do? How will you communicate the schedule? How will people share their work? What will clean-up look like? Most likely, you’ll identify areas that might need a little extra planning. It’s helpful to have a detailed schedule (ours is broken up by 15-minute increments) that you can fill in with more ideas from your visual walk-through.
9. Embrace the chaos
More often than not, plans go awry — and that’s okay! The best thing to do is to be prepared as much as you can, and be ready to adjust and adapt when unexpected issues arise. (In our Scratch Days, we’ve encountered everything from unexpected connectivity issues to children becoming sick from excitement. It happens!) Make sure to have the necessities (first aid kit, emergency contact numbers, power strips, presentation adapters, chargers, wifi), and get ready to improvise the rest and impress yourself with your on-the-fly skills. Having backup plans for activities are always helpful as well.
10. Enjoy the day!
Scratch Day is a celebration! Make sure you have what you need to have fun at your event, too. Witness your participants’ moments of joy, take pictures, try out a few new activities, and meet new friends. And make sure to celebrate yourself and your team when the day ends!