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Learning Activities

All Learning Activities

Puberty and Growing Up — a workshop for youth

The following learning activity is designed to help youth understand and cope with the physical and emotional changes that occur during puberty. It includes the following sections:


At the completion of this session, youth will:

  1. Describe the basic physical changes that occur on the outside of the body during puberty

  2. Describe the basic physical changes that occur in the inside of the body during puberty

  3. Describe the basic emotional changes that occur during puberty, and

  4. Identify ways to manage or handle these changes.


One hour



  1. Gather the materials listed for this session including an appropriate number of puberty pamphlets.

  2. Write session learning objectives on flipchart paper.

  3. Make a copy of the "Find Someone Who" handout for each youth.

  4. Draw an outline of a boy's body and a girl's body on two separate pieces of flipchart paper or enlarge the Girl's Body Outline and Boy's Body Outline included in this learning activity.

  5. Study the "Background Information for the Facilitator."

  6. Make a copy of the Family Activity worksheet for each youth.



Introduction (5 minutes)

  1. Welcome the youth.

  2. Tell the youth that today we are going to talk about puberty and all the changes that people their age go through.

  3. Review the learning objectives (written on flipchart paper) for this session with the youth.

Find Someone Who ... Energizer (10 minutes)

  1. Tell the youth that you want to give them an opportunity to get to know each other even better. Distribute the "Find Someone Who" handout and a pencil to each youth. Tell them that they have three minutes to get signatures from others in the room.

    Tell the youth that in order to get a signature, a person has to find another person who has the characteristic or qualities represented in one of the nine squares on the handout. For example, if you find someone who knows how to ride a bicycle, ask him or her to sign in that box. Each youth can only sign another person's handout once. Encourage youth to get as many signatures as they can. You may want to quickly explain what each picture represents before starting the activity.

  2. After three minutes, ask youth to find their seats. Call out each of the characteristics/qualities in each of the boxes and find out how many youth received signatures by a show of hands. Make sure to end on the last box representing children talking with their parents about sexuality/puberty.

  3. Acknowledge that some youth may have already spoken with their parents about puberty and sexuality, and congratulate them for doing so. Tell the youth that they will learn a lot of new information today and encourage them to share what they have learned with their parents.

Defining Puberty (5 minutes)

  1. Write the word "puberty" on flipchart paper. Ask youth to tell you what comes to mind when they hear or see the word "puberty." Record their responses on flipchart paper. Be sure that the group has a good definition of puberty before moving on to the next step of this activity.

    PUBERTY is the time in a human being's life when he or she changes from boyhood or girlhood to manhood or womanhood. This is the period of time in a person's life when it becomes physiologically possible to reproduce. Puberty usually begins between the ages of 9 and 16 years. Your body will know when it's the right time for you to begin puberty. Generally, boys begin puberty about two years after girls. Puberty is not a month-long process; it actually takes several years to complete all the changes.

  2. Tell the youth that puberty can be an exciting time; it can also be confusing, awkward and scary for young people. Asking questions about puberty during today's session and talking with your parents are two ways to better understand the changes your body is making. Learning more about your body can help you feel more comfortable about growing up.

Physical and Emotional Changes (30 minutes)

  1. Tell the youth that they will learn about the physical and emotional changes that occur during puberty. Draw and post outlines of boy's and girl's bodies, each on its own flipchart paper (or enlarge the outlines supplied with this learning activity). Each drawing should be large enough to fill the length of a piece of flipchart paper.

  2. Ask the youth to give you some examples of the physical and emotional changes that occur during puberty. As each youth mentions a change, ask him or her to choose a marker and come to the front of the room to draw that change in the diagrams. If the change is something that occurs in both boys and girls (i.e. underarm hair), ask them to draw the change on both diagrams.

    Note: You may want to help the volunteer youth who is uncomfortable drawing genitals or other body parts.

    Remind the youth that the physical changes that occur during puberty can occur inside and outside the body. Emotional changes such as wanting to "be more independent" may more easily be written as a short phrase as opposed to being drawn.

    Note: Youth may find it difficult to find the words to express emotional changes occurring during puberty. You may want to write some of these changes (see "Background Information for the Facilitator") on laminated index cards and give these cards to a few youth to post on or near the body outlines.

  3. As youth mention and draw changes, you should take the opportunity to explain why these changes occur (refer to "Background Information for the Facilitator"). In some cases, you may want to explain what should be done to handle or manage these changes. For example, to deal with an increase in perspiration, take regular showers or use a mild deodorant. Youth may especially want to know how to cope with emotional changes. For example, to deal with an increased need to be independent, youth may want to initiate a conversation with their parents to talk about their wish to take on more responsibility and be more independent.

    Refer to "Background Information for the Facilitator" for a list of physical and emotional changes occurring during puberty.

    Show youth a tampon and a sanitary pad when the topic of menstruation is discussed.

Pamphlets (5 minutes)

  1. Distribute puberty pamphlets to the youth. Ask youth to read these pamphlets when they get home.

  2. Distribute the Family Activity worksheet to the youth. Ask them to talk with their parents about the questions on the worksheet and then record some notes on what they talked about with their parents. Ask the youth to bring the worksheet to the next session (if you have one).

    Note: Depending on your budget, you may want to offer a small incentive to those youth who complete the Family Activity Worksheet.


Summary (5 minutes)

  1. Ask the youth to think about one advantage of going through puberty and one new responsibility they will have as they grow into adulthood. Ask them to write their thoughts on paper. Ask a few youth to share their thoughts.

  2. Summarize by saying that puberty can be an exciting time in a young adult's life. It's the time when your body makes many changes — both physical and emotional — to prepare for adulthood. There is a lot to know about your body and how it works. Today we had the opportunity to start learning about all those changes. Your parents can teach you even more.

  3. Thank the youth for their participation.