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Planning Activities for youth in Curriculum Materials

Activities are provided to help learners apply newly acquired knowledge and practice skills to attain the desired intended out­comes. Designing activities that support the intended outcomes is perhaps one of the most important, and challenging, steps in the curriculum development process. A clearly stated intended outcome answers the question: What will the learner learn and be able to do after participating in a curriculum activity?  An example might be: after participating in the Budget Building Activity, learners will be able to develop and manage their personal or family budget.

Activities must be designed in such a way that a skill will be practiced or new knowledge applied. Activities must be appropriate for: the learner (i.e., stage of development and level of knowledge); the environment or setting (gender sensitivity needs to be considered); and the curriculum content.

The following outline provides a list and brief description of the most important components of activity sheets. It is designed to serve as a checklist and lesson plan which could be used for any content area. This format is used for the Population Education Sample Activities Sheets at the end of the ADDENDUM.

Curriculum developers are encouraged to modify, improve, and adapt the components to fit their specific situation or topic.

.ACTIVITY SHEET OUTLINE: Use one separate page for each activity, (or front and back)

  1. Title: Identify the topic or life skill. Use a catchy title that will attract the attention of the target audience. (Youth on the design team will suggest creative and catchy titles if encouraged!)
  2. Intended Outcome: The reason for the activity and what the learner is expected to learn or do. (Components are: condition, performance, and standard.)
  3. Life   Skills Identify the skill(s) to be practiced. Limit the number of skills to one or two per activity. Reinforce each skill with a variety of activities.
  4. What to do; Briefly state what the learners will be asked to do. Estimate time needed for the activity. Suggested appropriate group size.
  5. The Experience: Describe procedures and methods for group leaders/ facilitator to involve learners. This is the lesson plan of the activity. It needs to be  action-oriented, hands-on, experien­tial, i.e., learning-by-doing. Each step in the activity should be label­ed and described with directions and/or questions for the leader/ facilitator. Components should include:
  1. Reflections and Talking it Over. The four processing steps of the experiential learning model - share, process, generalize, and apply (Step 6) - conclude the learning activity. These steps, when used effectively, can move the learner from the activity to thinking about the life skills used during the activity and apply them to real life situations and behavior change. These four steps include:
  1. More Challenges: Learners are challenged to utilize what was learned (knowledge acquired or skills practiced) in a new way or asked to do or respond to new opportunities for further learning and growth.
  2. Information: This part may not be needed for every activity. In many cases this will present a key concept, idea, or procedure for the learner to pursue an area of high interest. Include suggestions about where to find additional resources and information.


Below are some techniques to help design the curriculum materials and to assist youth group facilitators as coaches and guides.

Developing Experiential Curriculum

Steps And Techniques For Facilitators Working With Youth

Experience - Begin with a concrete experience (i.e., an individual activity or group experience that involves "doing something"). Learning takes place when an experience is unfamiliar or a first-time discovery activity for the learner that pushes the learner beyond any previous performance levels. It is uncomfortable and includes the risk of failure.

Share - Next, get the learner(s) to talk about the experience. Share reactions and observations. Let me group talk freely. Acknowledge ideas; put them in writing and in front or around the group (it validates and reinforces them and the contributor of the idea). Allow time for youth to share responses (do not interrupt silence when the group is gathering thoughts to share - it takes longer than you may feel comfortable with sometimes - resist the temptation to fill in, youth will share their thoughts - usually but it takes time and trust within the group). Encourage group members to answer questions posed by others. Avoid facilitator domination. Learn to be comfortable with pauses and silence. Use shared group experiences as a teaching tool.

Process - Discuss how themes, problems, and issues are brought out by the exercise. Guide youth to speak to specific problems and issues that the group discovers from the exercise or recalls from personal experience. Be a coach, help youth see what they have done and how it may benefit or affect them throughout their lives.

Look for recurring themes and list them in front of the group. Have small groups discuss and report back, use panel discussions of the group members. Generate written ideas individually. Collect and share them with the group. Use flip charts to post ideas and reports (for the visual learners). Trust is built when contributions to the group process are validated, recognized, appreciated and encouraged.

Generalize - Find general trends or common truths in the experience. Draw out and identify the important principles. List key terms and concepts that capture the 'lessons learned".   Identify other situations where the principles apply. Involve youth in reporting and highlighting what the group has discovered. Ask them to help summarize - this reinforces skills in reasoning, analysis, synthesis and evaluation - the higher order cognitive skills.

Apply - Concentrate on how the new learning or skills can be applied to everyday situations. Discuss how issues raised by this activity can be useful to them in the future. Describe how more effective behaviors can grow out of that is learned. Write personal goals for behavior changes, take turns solving problem situations in groups of two or three, or role-play situations that show how new behavior is learned. Each individual should feel a sense of ownership for what is learned and a sense of commitment to act upon newly gained insights.

Additional Experiential Education Suggestions For Facilitators

Use a Variety of Activities

You might consider any one or a combination of the following: tours, interviews, judging, games, pantomimes, skits, puzzles, situation plays, searches, demonstrations, problems to solve, using a tool, systematic observation, creating a product, visualization, brainstorming, group initiative, case studies, simulations, surveys, leading an event or activity, public speaking, etc.

Develop Questions To Ask

The types of questions asked will vary with the activity. Some questions may relate to the content but must go beyond it. If a specific life skill is to be acquired and enhanced, then the members should have opportunities to become as involved with under-standing the life skill as understanding the content-related skill. Questions to help move in this direction may be as straightforward as these examples:

Sharing Questions:

  1. What did you do?
  2. What happened?
  3. How did you feel?
  4. How did it feel to....?
  5. What was most difficult?
  6. What was easiest?

Generalizing Questions:

  1.  What did you learn about yourself through this activity?
  2.  What did you learn about life skills (Such as making decisions, leadership, etc.)?
  3.  How do the major themes or ideas relate to real life and not just the activity?
  4.  How did you go about making your decision?

Processing Questions:

(Use data generated from sharing questions).

  1. What problems or issues seemed to occur over and over?
  2. What similar experiences have you had?

Applying Questions;

  1.  How can you apply what you learned to a new situation?
  2.  How will the issues raised by this activity be useful in the future?
  3.  How will you act differently in the future as a result of this activity?

Each general question could be enhanced by adding specific terms referring to experiences from a particular activity. Use general questions to get responses about the content from the learners. When possible, a question about content should tie in with the targeted life skill.

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