University of California 4-H Youth Development Program
University of California 4-H Youth Development Program
University of California 4-H Youth Development Program
University of California
University of California 4-H Youth Development Program



4O8C3016 (1)

This Teens as Teachers site is designed for educators and practitioners of cross-age teaching. It shares underlying principles, key ideas and effective practices based upon the research findings conducted by UCCE youth development academics.

This site includes links to files and other sites. The links are highlighted in a different color font. Downloadable files may be reproduced with credit cited to UCCE 4-H.

The research for the information in this site was conducted by University of California academics, and is available in the scholarly publication Journal of Extension at this site: Teenagers as Teachers

Thank you for your interest in Teens as Teachers, and for growing thriving youth!        

Essential Elements

There are 12 Essential Elements that are outlined in the following booklet that is no longer in print, but is available as a free download. The entire publication as a single file is available by clicking here: Teens as Teachers Essential Elements (PDF, 16.3MB)

Individual chapters of the booklet are also available by clicking on the chapter title. In addition to the twelve essential elements, there are six activity topics, with additional information added for some of the activities.

Click on each Essential Element link for the individual chapter pages (PDF):

1. Teenagers as Teachers
2. An Effective Program Director
3. Teen Recruitment
4. Curriculum
5. Attention to Details
6. Initial Training
7. Ongoing Training and Support
8. Team Building
9. Preparing Teens for Success
10. Recognition and Reward
11. Teen Voice and Involvement
12. Monitoring and Evaluation

Here are some training activities that have shown to be successful in helping teens become more effective cross-age teachers. The activities are divided into six topics in the booklet. Each topic's chapter is available as a separate PDF file through the links below. For the topics of Jigsaw & Role Play, additional information as Word docs is also available as links listed below those two topic titles.

Teen Training Activities
The Puzzle of Children
Directions, Please!
Problem-Solving Activities
a. Jigsaw - Ages & Stages
b. Jigsaw - Attention without Yelling  
c. Jigsaw - Behavior Mgmt & Positive Discipline
d. Jigsaw - Manipulating the Environment  
a. Role Play - Hot Potato  
b. Role Play - Bubble  
c. Role Play - Read Aloud

Growing Youth Who Thrive

The Step-It-Up-2-Thrive is a research-based process that motivates youth to work towards meaningful goals, teaches self-reflection skills, and incorporates contribution to others. It moves individuals towards optimum development rather than avoidance of negative outcomes.

6 C's of Positive Youth Development
Adult trainers can help teen trainers by focusing on 4 concepts. A handout is included in this site to introduce each concept. The handouts are downloadable as Word documents.
Goal Setting
6 C's

Additional information: Step-It-Up-2-Thrive

Additional Research

Bird, M. & Subramaniam, A. (2011). Teens as teachers enhance environmental education and personal skills through service learning. In A. Subramaniam, K. Heck, R. Carlos, & S. Junge (Eds.), Advances in Youth Development: Research and Evaluation from the University of California Cooperative Extension (2001 - 2010) (pp. 32-41). Davis, CA: Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

Bolshakova, V., Gieng, J., Sidhu, C., Vollinger, M., Gimeno, L., Guild, J. (2018). Teens as Teachers in the Garden: Cultivating a Sustainable Model for Teaching Healthy Living. Journal of Youth Development, 13 (3). Retrieved from: 

Worker, S. M., Iaccopucci, A. M., Bird, M., & Horowitz, M. (2018). Promoting Positive Youth Development Through Teenagers-as- Teachers Programs. Journal of Adolescent Research, 1(0). 

Teens-as-Teachers Programs

Youth Experiencing Science (YES!): The Youth Experiences in Science (YES!) Project provides high-quality children's science education projects for after-school settings. These easily adaptable activities make science fun and exciting. This curriculum includes seven science education experiences. Each activity guide includes the time required for the activity, suggested grouping of participants, materials needed, preparation information, activity directions, and discussion directions. An Activity Booklet, designed for parents and children to use at home to continue the science fun, follows each guide.

Cooking Academy: The Cooking Academy has been approved for CFHL, UC and EFNEP program requirements:

  • Each lesson children cook
  • Cooking is done as a team from start to finish
  • 1 ½- 2 hour lessons
  • Each lesson also includes a nutrition component 
  • Kitchens are not necessary. Electric skillets and griddles are used. 

 **Resources for virtual/blended delivery available: here**

Mindful Me: Mindful Me will introduce primary youth members, ages 5-8, to some basic concepts in mindfulness practices that include: mindful eating, affirmations (emotional support or encouragement), identification and management of emotions, being present in the current moment, and yoga.

Ten experiential learning activities designed for youth ages 5-8 to be delivered weekly by trained teens.

Topic covered include: mindful eating, affirmations, identification and management of emotions, being present in the current moment, and yoga.

Teen training includes an overview of mindfulness, an exploration of neuroscience, introduction to educational theories, and best practices for teaching primary members.


State 4-H Office | Sign-Up for Updates
The 4-H name and emblem service marks are protected under 18 U.S.C. 707.
Webmaster Email: