Boys & Girls Clubs do a LOT of things. If you made a list, it would go on and on and on and on and on and on and … you get the idea. But we can sum it up in one sentence- the Boys & Girls Club Mission.
To enable all young people, especially those who need us most, to reach their full potential as productive, caring, responsible citizens.
That’s it. That’s the goal. So how do we do it? We follow the Formula for Impact.
The formula says that if we take the Young People Who Need Us Most and provide them with the best possible Outcome-Driven Club Experience, they will achieve outcomes (the good things we want them to do and be) in the priority areas of Academic Success, Good Character and Citizenship, and Healthy Lifestyles.
The Outcome-Driven Club Experience? Those are the things we do every day and how we do them. We talk A LOT about the Five Key Elements for Positive Youth Development on ClubX Blog, so today we are going to highlight another part of the formula- High-Yield Activities.
Activities are those fun games and projects and things we do every day in afterschool that aren’t a part of an official curriculum, which we call Targeted Programs at Clubs. Activities are like the smallest building blocks of Club programming, and are single events of limited duration. Simple examples are playing Simon Says, or painting a picture, or air hockey.
Making an activity a HIGH-YIELD Activity takes it a step further. In order to be considered high-yield, there needs to be an intentional link to skill-building or one of the priority outcome areas. What kind of skills? You name it. Math skills, basketball skills, literacy skills, social-emotional skills, critical thinking skills. Another list that goes on and on! When we pair fun activities with helping youth learn and get better at skills, it’s magic.
Did you notice a key word I said in that last sentence? No, not magic. FUN. The Club isn’t school, so we can’t just throw a worksheet at a kid and think we are done. High-Yield Activities are designed to be exciting and appeal to youth’s interests and desire to play, and can even include some healthy competition. They should involve exploring, developing, creating, experimenting, playing, and learning.
The Program Basics BLUEprint has a great example for the Gamesroom. Let’s say that your youth like playing soccer video games. To make this a High-Yield Activity, turn it into a World-Cup style tournament, with individual teens representing different countries across the world. After each game, staff can help teens compile and analyze their performance statistics based on what happened in the game, and determine their current standing in tournament rankings. Staff tapped into an activity teens already enjoyed and found a creative way to incorporate math (sports statistics) and social studies (picking different countries and/or players).
High-Yield Activities don’t have to be super complex. One of my favorite games to use in the Learning Center is a game called Gladiator, which can use any kind of trivia questions or grade-level spelling words or even math facts. Divide youth into two teams. Each round, one member of each team comes up to the front to be the first to correctly answer a question. The winning gladiator earns their team a point. You can choose for the winner to remain at the front until they are defeated, or to include more youth, have two new gladiators each round. The team with the most points at the end of the game wins! Keep the game moving quickly to avoid restlessness. You can add a social studies component by learning about actual Roman Gladiators before you play. I loved to use grade-level BrainQuest cards for my group.
So where can you find examples of High-Yield Activities? We’ve posted a TON of them on the ClubX Blog, just search for “activities”. Boys & Girls Club staff can find a bunch on BGCA.net as well. Log in, then do a search for:
- High-Yield Activities Kits (There are more than 20 available! They are from several years ago, but still amazing.)
- Back Pocket Program Hints (This is a CLASSIC Club resource. If you have a paper copy kicking around your Club, with a likely battered and worn cover, TREASURE IT!!!)
- Back Pocket Program Hints, Too
- Back Pocket Program Hints for the Learning Center
As you plan your program schedule, include a mix of Targeted Programs like SMART Girls, Triple Play, or DIY STEM, and High-Yield Activities. And within those, keep a balance of high- and low-energy options. (What’s a low energy option? Having Club members paint a watercolor picture about how they are feeling, which combines arts and social-emotional skills.) But most importantly?
What are your favorite High-Yield Activities? Share with us by commenting below, on the BGCA Youth Development Facebook, or by emailing ClubXBlog@bgca.org.