Posted by Linda Carlblom on Sep 25th, 2013 | 6 comments
We all remember sitting in classes when the teacher seemed to drone on like the teacher in Charlie Brown cartoons. Even though the content may have been good, the delivery fell flat. The same can happen when writing children’s curriculum if we’re not careful. Here are a few tips to keep your writing and lessons for kids engaging, fresh, and downright fun.
- Make your lessons active. Gone are the days when kids sit quietly around a table coloring worksheets with the Bible verse on them. Suggest games, drama, or other activities that gets kids out of their seats and involved in the lesson. Let them experience the Bible story or Bible point, not just hear about it.
- Look at scripture literally. Remember, kids think concretely, rather than abstractly, until they’re 8-10 years old. Pay particular attention to the verse’s verbs, nouns, and descriptive words or phrases. How can you use them in a way kids can relate? Use visual aids whenever possible. For example, look at Psalm 5:11. “… Spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may rejoice in you” (NIV). In my Interactive Children’s Sermons book, I took the word’ spread’ and equated it to spreading peanut butter and jelly on a piece of bread (and included an allergy warning). First you put the peanut butter on. It protects the bread from the jelly. When you spread the jelly, it only touches the peanut butter. God protects us like the peanut butter protects the bread. In a similar way, the evil in the world may come close to us, but it won’t affect us the same way it does unbelievers because of God’s protection.
- Keep kids engaged. Provide more material than you think would fit into the time period. A teacher’s worst nightmare is running out of material and having the class start to spin out of control. Having extra activities eliminates this problem by keeping kids busy. Some activities may not take as long as you estimate, so always provide more than you think necessary.
- Use your imagination as you write and allow time in the lesson for kids to use theirs, too. Ask open-ended questions like, “How do you think Jesus felt when his friend Lazarus died?” or “What do you think Lazarus smelled like after being dead for four days?” Engage their five senses as much as possible.
- If you’re writing a book or a series of lessons, use the same format for each one. For instance, your format may be a scripture, lesson theme, supplies needed, lesson overview, game, and activity. Whatever elements you use, repeat it for each lesson.
- Make your text speak directly to the children. Put italicized directions to the teacher in parentheses.
- Keep lessons, or lesson segments, short. Keep in mind the age of the students you’re writing for and the length of their attention span. An average child’s attention span in minutes is usually about the same as their age. A five-year-old can sit still and listen for about five minutes.
- Use humor, the more ridiculous the better. Children love to catch you in a “mistake,” so why not write some in to keep them listening? When telling the story about Jesus feeding the five thousand, write that the little boy pulled out a hamburger and fries instead of loaves and fishes. Then put italicized directions to the teacher to pause and wait for the children to react. Humor keeps kids engaged and makes learning way more fun.
Writing children’s curriculum can be fun and rewarding. Touching young lives for Jesus is the best pay around!
What ideas would you add to this list?