What is an Activity Based Curriculum?

Activity-based Curriculum

An Activity-based curriculum is nothing new; it has a long history.

Dewey used the expression "Activity Programme" as early as 1897 in a session with parents and teachers at his laboratory school in Chicago (U.S.A.).

However, until 1920 the term did not gain much popularity. The probable reason behind not gaining popularity could be the common mindset that activity is the child's natural urge to do things by themselves.

The Activity-Based Curriculum or activity-oriented curriculum is also termed "project curriculum" or an "experience curriculum", but the name activity is a fundamental conception. A curriculum material translated in terms of activity is what we call an "activity curriculum." The subject matter is taught through activities. This activity is used as a means to convey knowledge and skills. Activity-based curriculum design is a great source of motivation for kids as it provides freedom of expression to the child be ''themself fully. However, the activity should not be intermingled with the game. It is rather a playful way of learning things. More emphasis is placed on the way, and then the "learn by doing" activity becomes educative. One must not consider a learning activity as physical activity.

When we say an activity, we mean physical as well as an intellectual activity. The teacher should involve students in activities such that, during the development of manual skills, mental satisfaction in the job should be achieved. Students ought not to be passive hearers but active participants in the learning process. Gaining experience is real learning. A learning activity must end with a gainful experience. When activity is the process, then the experience becomes the product of the activity. And they can never be isolated from one another.

Thus, institutions favouring an activity-oriented curriculum must plan the activities so that by the end of the lesson or course, students gain mastery in particular experiences. They should undertake learning in a difficult situation in a natural environment.

In simpler words, activity-based learning is "learning by doing." It is a process of learning by performing certain activities. It is highly effective as instead of asking kids to sit, listen and take notes, this mode of learning allows them to participate in their own learning experience via practical activities such as independent investigation and problem-solving.

The activity-based curriculum design is structured around the following concepts:

  • Experimentation – learning from experience.
  • Exploration – Collecting knowledge and developing skills through active surveys.
  • Expression – Encouraging children to express their views via visual presentations.

Why Activity-Based Learning?

Activity-based learning motivates encouraging kids to enjoy their learning experience; activity-based learning has many benefits, including:

Help students retain information

An activity-based curriculum encourages children to participate physically and mentally in the learning process and helps students learn and retain information. This learning process allows children to remember and understand learning materials based on their personal experiences.

Encourage children to become self-reliant and inquisitive learners

Activity-based learning is concerned with independent investigation and analysis. By probing children to work individually or in small groups, this methodology encourages students to be curious, think critically and learn from their own experiences. This self-learning process, in turn, promotes the acquisition of knowledge outside and inside the educational environment. 

Supports social development

While activity-based learning encourages children to take responsibility for their own learning experience, group-based activity also helps students develop team and social skills. These skills will subsequently prove to be essential to their job and social life.

Focuses on the relevance of education materials

Children do not always understand the appropriateness of learning materials when they put a pen on paper. Activity-based learning, however, helps children understand the "real" relevance of learning materials by encouraging them to explore and solve real-world problems and scenarios.

Encourage children to express themselves in various ways

Activity-based learning encourages children to be creative in how they express their knowledge. This learning method allows students to express what they have learned by doing and making a verbal presentation.

Are there any disadvantages of the Activity Oriented Curriculum?

The activity-based instruction method requires long-term planning with minute details of the whole process. Before engaging learners, the teacher should ensure that all students have sufficient knowledge and skills about their tasks. Consequently, this method cannot be used regularly and daily because it involves a lengthy procedure.

The goals of the method can only be achieved with impeccable lesson planning. If there is any flaw in planning, this approach will do more harm than good.

Learners have varying degrees of merit and comprehension. Thus less deserving students might not prepare for a task like the others that could lead to the failure of the goals of the whole process.

Many well-known educators also believe that the activity-based method is better suited to the branches of experimental science and less useful to social science subjects.

It is a fun approach to learning as it boosts children's development by providing constant stimulus by prompting them for responses. Activity-based learning is achieved broadly in three ways, namely, exploration, experimentation, and expression.

What are the types of Activity Oriented Curriculum?

Activity-based learning can be categorized broadly into two types:

The student-centric approach

An approach where the overall learning process is designed with the student as the major factor. This process promotes self-learning.

The teacher-centric approach

An approach where the educator leads the student through the entire learning process.

How to introduce an Activity-Based Curriculum in class?

There are various types of games and activities to help you plan a fantastic activity-based curriculum.

Teachers can incorporate problem-solving games for the interactive whiteboard to improve key skills based on particular subjects for younger learners. For instance, if you are teaching maths, you can try Math game time or Funbrain.com etc.

For fun-filled English learning, teachers can Mystery of the Astronaut Phonics Game, which innovatively teaches phonics. Also, try British Council Learn English to help students explore the language and play games of all tastes, including Spelloween, Beat the Keeper and Pic-Your-Wits, plus illustrated jokes and wordplay fun.

Use Real Objects

Making use of real objects help learners understand better rather than experiencing something virtual or imaginary. For instance, the class will be about basic maths: addition, subtraction, multiplication and division; then, the teacher may ask students to bring fruits to class, and the teacher can use them to perform the basic math calculations through buying and selling fruits. This methodology can be extremely beneficial for teaching science and maths specifically. Also, assigning project work regularly increases subject knowledge and breaks the monotony and increases the curiosity to learn more and with clarity.

Include Thematic Learning

To make the learning exciting rather than having students come back to the same walls daily. Teachers may create their own thematic classroom space to incorporate the excitement and create a conducive environment for the period. The theme can be changed on every alternative or within a week or two.

Use Video-Based Lessons

Incorporating video lessons in class can do wonders as we humans learn better by watching than listening to something. It can easily grab learners' attention. The video lessons could either be a documentary, a movie, or a lesson. Any form of video will be able to earn the interest of students. Rather than conducting the old traditional class, opt for video-based classes for better learning outcomes.

Conduct Interactive Sessions

Motivate students to be high- interactive in class to get them involved. Teachers may express that they love to hear doubts no matter how silly they are a very motivating factor for a student to pay attention to the lessons. If the students are not interactive during the class, it is better to have a separate question and answer session to get everyone talking.

Play Puzzles and Games

When we say games or solving puzzles, it means more fun and involvement. Get some scrabble games or word puzzles to solve and teach new words or new concepts to your students. They would surely enjoy and learn better by this experience and teachers too can find this rewarding for their efforts. 

How do you plan your Activity-based Curriculum? Do let us know in the comments.


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About the Author
Author: Saniya Khan
Saniya Khan I am Saniya Khan, Copy-Editor at EdTechReview - India’s leading edtech media. As a part of the group, my aim is to spread awareness on the growing edtech market by guiding all educational stakeholders on latest and quality news, information and resources. A voraciously curious writer with a dedication to excellence creates interesting yet informational pieces, playing with words since 2016.

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