Experiential Learning Activities for Students

The best educational strategies include experiential learning activities for students of all ages. Discover how hands-on lessons prepare students for life!

One hallmark of effective education is an emphasis on hand-on instruction that invites students to investigate, probe, ponder, and discover. Experiential learning activities for students are essential to academic and personal growth; they help young people internalize lessons designed to engage students through interactive, collaborative activities. This article will highlight three reasons why experiential learning activities give students an edge as they prepare for college and beyond:

  • Experiential activities stir the imagination.

  • Experiential activities foster community.

  • Experiential activities encourage independence.

Experiential Learning in a Private School Setting

Although various types of schools have embraced experiential learning, private schools are uniquely poised to enrich a student’s education through hands-on activities. Since most private school classrooms are smaller, students benefit from individualized attention.

Moreover, private schools tend to have greater parental involvement, which means that families can review and reinforce important lessons when they are at home. Learning, then, extends beyond the school walls to the home, workplace, and world as students begin to see education as a process.

Finally, many private schools, like Marlborough, have superior funding, which means that they have greater access to cutting-edge technology, safe and welcoming facilities, and highly trained faculty. When established, respected schools, like Marlborough, incorporate experiential learning activities, the results are impressive.

For instance, Rami P. ’19 partnered with Children of the Night to help vulnerable or exploited children through one-on-one tutoring in math, science, social studies, and reading. As a Marlborough student, Rami had benefited from experiential learning, so she knew how to use Google Drive and Quizlet to create interactive study guides for the children.

What are “Experiential Activities” & Why Do They Matter?

Experiential learning refers to child-driven education that integrates skills, knowledge, and experience, many of which students acquire outside the traditional classroom setting. While it may include internships, studies abroad, field trips, field research, and service-learning projects, most lessons can incorporate hand-on instruction.

Thus, students gain an enduring appreciation for education through transformative experiences that peak their interests and stimulate their curiosity.

As one educator explains, experiential learning reflects cumulative growth as students move through four consecutive stages:

  • Concrete Experience

  • Reflective Observation

  • Abstract Conceptualization

  • Active Experimentation

Child-centered, hands-on learning activities identify and target specific skills or educational gaps that students must develop.

As a single-sex school, Marlborough believes that middle and high school girls learn best in a creative, cooperative environment. Consequently, we combine experiential activities with trailblazing programs that stretch the girls academically while helping them forge strong bonds within the community.

Our Capstone Honors Program, for instance, allowed Eliza Z. ’19 to complete a photographic study with her peers who are studying dance and choreography. Thus, she applied her experiential knowledge of photography to celebrate the female body in her art.

Likewise, younger students benefit from experiential activities in school, including courses that enhance self-awareness while instilling confidence. Here are two examples from Marlborough’s middle school program:

  • The Digital Citizenship Project is a collaborative course that stresses experiential scholarship. As seventh graders learn to navigate the internet judiciously, they begin to interact with social media with positive goals in mind; thus, they cultivate their online research safely, while simultaneously developing multimedia presentation skills.

  • Self-Empowerment: Mind & Body teaches eighth-grade girls to maintain a healthy lifestyle as they develop life skills to help them stay safe in the world. This empowering class combines self-defense techniques with lessons about decision making, boundaries, and standing up for oneself.

Although experiential learning appeals to high school students because of its range and depth, it also prepares middle schoolers for life in a changing world. Indeed, forward-thinking schools, like Marlborough, embrace and integrate experiential learning activities at every level.

1. Experiential Learning Activities for Students Stir the Imagination

For hundreds of years, schools relied on textbooks and memorization to educate children. While these historic methods certainly have a valid place in the classroom, educators now understand that students tend to remember interesting, multi-sensory experiences better than lectures or rote learning alone.

Furthermore, classrooms are diverse settings, filled with students who process information in various ways and at different rates. Marlborough teachers appreciate these distinctions and see them as opportunities to reach individuals.

Accordingly, experiential activities honor the students’ differences while targeting their particular learning style. Some students, for instance, are auditory learners, while others are visual, tactile, or kinesthetic learners. Experiential activities, then, meet the student where she is, inviting her to try something new in a way that is safe, even exciting.

Marlborough’s teachers know how to incorporate music, art, role playing, and movement into their lessons. They recognize the individual student’s cognitive wiring as they invite her to transcend the moment, concurrently fostering curiosity and stirring the imagination!

Students who participate in experiential activities enjoy school, so they develop a lifelong love of learning. Indeed, Marlborough’s students profit from classes that regularly incorporate experiential learning, including the following:

  • Journalism and Multimedia gives seventh and eighth graders a chance to contribute to the middle school newspaper in print and online, learning the basics of writing news and opinions, as well as photography, infographics, videography, and page/screen design; additionally, students discuss the role of news media in society.

  • Robotics appeals to girls of all ages; therefore, Marlborough offers several interactive robotics classes that integrate practical engineering skills with teamwork, leadership, and competition. Our students design, build, program, and operate robots who compete head to head; during the year, they participate in the national FIRST Tech Challenge.

Although experiential activities are fun and interesting, they help students expand their capacity for learning by stirring their imagination and boosting confidence.

2.    Experiential Learning Activities for Students Foster Community

Most of the time, experiential learning takes place in a group setting, which means that it depends heavily on teamwork.

At Marlborough, community is key, which is why we offer courses that promote respect, communication, and empathy; we want our students to look beyond themselves so they can serve others.

  • Experiential activities at Marlborough, like debate or theater, give students frequent opportunities to work in large and small groups, where students practice their communication skills. Not surprisingly, girls must rely on experiential activities to project their voices, to gesture, or emote. Whether seeking to persuade or entertain, the girls ultimately forge a cohesive unit that enriches the larger, school community.

  • By contrast, other courses at Marlborough call for collaborative experimentation and analysis, such as astronomy or oceanography. Thus, experiential activities in oceanography, for instance, differ from exercises students use in debate or theater. Here, students set up, monitor, and maintain an aquarium; the girls also take field trips, where they observe tide pools and lagoons. Whether students gaze at the stars or explore the sea, they work in concert for a common goal: to appreciate and steward the planet.

Even though experiential learning encompasses a broad range of activities, it can build community as students work together toward a shared objective.

3.    Experiential Learning Activities for Students Encourage Independence

For more than 130 years, Marlborough has empowered girls to succeed. We offer innovative courses that prepare girls for the future in computer science, engineering design and analysis, digital art, and entrepreneurship. Each of these classes involves experiential learning, generating a greater sense of independence. Here are two other examples:

  • 3D Design & Build invites middle school girls to create original, 3-dimensional models, including sculptures, furniture design, book art, or garden/playground design. While students enjoy experiential activities, they learn how to work effectively with cardboard, wood, metal, wire, Plexiglas, and found objects, thus boosting their resourcefulness.

  • Select high school seniors enroll in Marlborough’s Honors Capstone Program in Social Justice to learn about the disparity that often exists between individuals and society. This hands-on course provides motivated students with avenues to identify needs in nearby communities and partner with agencies to find sustainable solutions. While the students apply experiential learning to real-world problems, they also develop leadership, including organizational skills, discernment, and courage to act.

Marlborough empowers girls to become independent, confident young women. Experiential learning activities can amplify knowledge, while it empowers girls to chart their own path in the context of a loving, supportive community.

Why Choose Marlborough?  

Marlborough serves girls in grades 7 through 12. We are a private, college-preparatory secondary school, conveniently located in the heart of Los Angeles, California.  

Our goal is to ignite intellectual inquiry and to build the problem-solving, creativity, collaboration, and communication skills that our students will need to innovate, invent, and lead in college and beyond.

Next Steps


If you want your daughter to become a curious, agile thinker, consider Marlborough. Why not check out some of our other classes and see for yourself how experiential learning activities can prepare your daughter for the future?

Want to know more about the Marlborough experience? 

Get in touch now

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