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Hands-on Activities for High School Teachers of Child Development Class

written by: Keren Perles • edited by: Laurie Patsalides • updated: 9/11/2012

Tired of the same old child development curriculum? This article contains some hands-on child development class activities you can use with your students. Try them out to bring some variation to your classroom.

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    Are You Really Ready For a Baby?

    Because of the rise in teenage pregnancies, many child development teachers believe that it is important to focus a large section of their instruction on how much responsibility having a child really is. To do this, they might give each student an egg to carry around for several days or a week as their “baby." Students may not leave the egg alone and must take care to make sure that it does not break. Students are required to journal about the "baby's" welfare.

    In recent years, this tried-and-true child development class activity has been replaced by dolls that are programmed to act somewhat like a regular baby. The dolls need to be fed, changed, or held when they cry. (Some less technologically advanced dolls just need one reaction when they cry, such as turning a key in the doll’s back.) After each student has a turn with the doll, the teacher can print out a report that shows how responsive each student was to the doll’s “needs."

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    Guest Speakers

    If you’re looking for a change of pace in your child development class, consider inviting someone involved in childcare or a similar field into your class. You might invite a labor nurse or a doula, or you might ask a local preschool teacher or daycare provider to speak with your class. Hearing about child development from a professional can make a strong impact on students, and they will enjoy having a chance to ask their questions to an “expert" in the field.

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    Child Observations

    Hands-on learning teaches students much more than a lecture, so many child development instructions require their students to observe a child in order to find out more about the abilities of children of different ages. They might observe an infant, a toddler, or a preschooler. Depending on the goal of the class, you might want to have them fill out a checklist about the child’s abilities, or you might want to encourage them to interview a parent or guardian about the topics you’ve discussed in class.

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    The Use of Dolls

    Using dolls in class can also bring a sense of reality to child development lessons, especially those relating to infants. Use dolls to help students practice holding, bathing, and changing an infant correctly. These and other child development class activities for high-schoolers will help engage your students and practice the material they’re learning in a hands-on fashion.