Previous PageTable of ContentsNext Page


Before You Begin

Before you develop curriculum materials, have clear, written intended outcomes. Ask yourself:

Why am I developing these materials?
Who will use them?

The questions may seem obvious, but basics are  sometimes overlooked as the project gets underway.

Once you know who the intended user will be, picture a person you know with their characteristics. As you develop the curriculum materials, mentally direct your design and activities to that person. Make your audience "real." It gives you a filter to see if your materials are appropriate. The population education curriculum materials audience is assumed to be group facilitators of rural out-of-school youth groups.

"Keep The Learner In Mind"


Tips for good writing, layout, and use of type in developing curriculum products include:

Basic Tips:

Adapted from: Curriculum Development for Issues  Programming: A National Handbook for Extension Youth Development Professionals.  USDA/ES, 1992.





 Color is one of the strongest interest grabbers for people of all ages. Solid, bright colors are always effective.


Interesting visuals are worth a "thousand words." Cartoons are special favorites. Mix photography and line art, cartoons, and realistic drawings. Straight photography or realistic art can look too business-like and "cold." Become aware of copyright laws that affect printed materials. Use artwork by youth the same age or local artists.


Care should be taken that humor is appropriate for the subject and audience. It should not "make fun" of groups of people. Many cultures/countries have "folk wisdom" or sayings that can be used effectively. Fables or stories about folk heroes can also get an educational concept across effectively.

Comfortable Reading Level   

Keep sentences crisp, clean, and relatively short. 
Limit three- and four-syllable words.
Eliminate unnecessary words. If in doubt, test with a readability scale. It will tell you the approximate grade level of your materials.
Sound natural in your writing. Check it by reading your material out loud. Is this how people talk? If not, how can you rewrite it to sound more natural?
• Use bullets and phrases when appropriate.

Take an Unusual Approach   

Capitalize on curiosity. Be creative! Need a picture of a tree? Take it from the ground view looking up! Do close-ups or bird's-eye views. Challenge creative thinking through questions that ask "What if....?"

Offer Active Learning   

Do you like to read sentences and paragraphs about things, or would  you rather do learning activities? Most people prefer activities. Replace  lengthy copy with: crossword puzzles, word search games, hidden pictures, riddles, mazes, pencil puzzles ,etc.!

Food for Thought   

Surround yourself with good examples of publications that are designed for the target audience and on the topic or issue.

Source:   Jan Hoppe, January 1990. North Central 4-H animal science project.
Adapted from: Curriculum Development for Issues Programming: A National Handbook for Extension Youth Development Professionals. USDA/ES, 1992.




The volunteer leader/facilitator should be able to identify the intended outcome and easily understand matching activities. Approximately 15 to 20 activities should be provided to facilitate each 40 to 60 minute learn-by-doing session with 5 to 15 learners. Learners should be able to do, reflect, and apply specific life skills while learning about population education concepts.


Each activity in the volunteer facilitator's guide should encourage active participation by all learners.


32-40 pages (must be a multiple of four) depending on content for each major topic. The most challenging task of the curriculum developer is to determine essential information and decide topics or activities to omit.



  1. Wraparound art on cover and back outside page.
  2. Catchy yet descriptive title.
  3. Place for sponsoring organization identification and authors.
  4. Identification of target audience and overall statement of the purpose of the publication.

Meeting Ideas

List 30 or more one-topic meeting ideas. Describe many alternative activities and resources.


  1. Congratulations on becoming a volunteer facilitator.
  2. Overview of the primary purpose of the intended outcomes and activities.
  3. Suggestions  for using the experiential learning methodology.
  4. How to conduct a successful group experience.
  5. Suggestions for creating interesting visual aids and activities to support learning.

Content Page

List intended outcomes and life   skills.
Relate chapters or units to specific intended outcomes and content topics. Include 15 to 20 total activity meetings per guide.

Chapter Title Pages

  1. Title: States the intended outcome or describes  essence of content in a catchy (interesting) way.
  2. Introduction:Provides an overview of the topic. Identifies intended outcomes and the knowledge, attitudes, skills, aspirations, and behaviors (KASAB) learners will have an opportunity to attain.
  3. Information:Short background information piece designed to help the facilitator understand this particular topic.
  4. Activity Ideas:Outlines several ways a leader can help build group trust and provide KASAB experiential learning. Offers suggestions for get-acquainted activities (gathering), ice breakers, games, etc. that can be used to enhance meetings designed around this intended outcome.

Activities for Each Life Skill or Topic

  1. Activity  Title:Catchy "Gets Attention."
  2. Intended Outcome: States what the learner will be able to do.
  3. Life   Skills:May be the same as the tide or a supporting life skill.
  4. What the group will do:Briefly describes activities and outcomes.
  5. Age  level:
  6. Time  involved:The approximate time required to complete each stage of the learning activity.
  7. Suggested group size:Some activities require different group sizes to foster greater learner participation. Indicate when a "whole group" experience is appropriate and when smaller work or discussion groups should be formed.
  8. Materials needed:List all materials the group facilitator will need to carry out the activities.
  9. Involve learners:This is the lesson plan of the activity. An action-oriented, hands-on, learn-by-doing (before being told or shown how), experiential approach should be used to promote life skills development. Reduce the tendency to tell youth what we know before we facilitate encouraging them to tell or show us what they know. This portion of the lesson plan should explicitly follow the five steps in the experiential model.

Step  1.Experience:

Step 2.    Share:

Step 3.    Process:

Step 4.    Generalize:

Step 5.    Apply:

Use the information provided earlier in the experiential learning model to help you design experiences and write questions.

Label each step and provide directions and/or questions for the volunteer facilitator to ask learners. Provide answers for the facilitator to use as well.

  1. Optional Population Education Questions: You may wish to provide facilitators with a short set of optional questions and simple answers. Again, remember to challenge yourself as you write these by asking,
    "What difference will it make to the learner in 5 to 10 years if he/she knows this information?"
  2. Supporting Activities:Suggest  additional ideas and resources to help youth  understand the topic and expand their knowledge and skills. Slide sets, ideas for tours, community service projects, presentation topics, interviews, and references to other related meeting topics may be included here.


Provide the facilitator with an evaluation form consistent with the outlined evaluation strategies. Encourage the facilitator to get learner feedback and report feedback as appropriate.



Citations of resources used in the presentation.


 Include your ideas, pictures, clip art, and sketches for  appropriate art work to help the volunteer understand the activity. Each activity should have at least one drawing. The art work should show learner involvement and active participation.

**See Population Education Sample Activity   Sheets at the end of the Addendum.

Adapted from: Curriculum Development for Issues Programming: A National Handbook for Extension Youth Development Professionals.  USDA/ES, 1992.

Previous PageTop of PageNext Page