I wanted to take you behind the curtain a bit, and share a little about how I create complete curriculum units in a short amount of time—as I’m often asked for “my secret” or for help when friends find they need to crank out an entire series in a short amount of time!
I’m heading to another week of camp speaking, and I’m excited about the theme:
You also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. I Peter 2:5
I’ve done a Kid’s Church unit in the past where we looked at our “Connections” to God, Family, Church, Friends, Neighbors and the World. But I had 8 chapels to write and that series was only 6 lessons—and while I could do an intro and a review—the creative in me said, “Time to do something new and fresh!” rather than rehash something old. I did look through them for “lego ideas” that would be transferable.
Then the Lord led me to a great “building verse” in 2 Peter chapter one, verses 5-7:
Because you have these blessings, do your best to add these things to your lives: to your faith, add goodness; and to your goodness, add knowledge; and to your knowledge, add self-control; and to your self-control, add patience; and to your patience, add service for God; and to your service for God, add kindness for your brothers and sisters in Christ; and to this kindness, add love. (NCV)
And there I had my 8 chapels—eight things we need to BUILD into our lives!
FAITH – GOODNESS – KNOWLEDGE – SELF-CONTROL – PATIENCE – SERVICE – KINDNESS – and LOVE.
Prayer, Bible, Friends and Church
I decided to help the kids remember these, I would use the word LEGO and add an action verb to each:
- LEARN THROUGH THE BIBLE
- ENTER THE THRONE ROOM THROUGH PRAYER
- GATHER WITH BELIEVERS AT CHURCH
- OPEN UP TO FRIENDS
These are the things we need in order to succeed as we Build our lives after the design that God has for us.
I’m often asked by folks how I crank out an entire series quickly—and I enjoy sharing a little secret as I know many of us in children’s ministry leadership find ourselves writing curriculum—if not for our regular programs—for special things that come up.
Writing eight lessons one at a time would honestly take days, as there would be constant editing and moving things around back and forth between lessons as you progressed. I used to find myself getting an idea and realizing it fit better in a previous lesson, and then I had to edit that one, and figure out what to do with the idea that was there that I was removing. It ate up a lot of time and made managing the content of the lessons difficult. I developed a technique while writing DiscipleTown that speeds up the process quite a bit.
I make a chart with the lessons across the top and the lesson elements down the side, and I don’t write by lesson, I write by element. Another way to say it, is I write horizontal instead of vertical. In other words, instead of completely writing lesson one before starting lesson two, I go across the page filling in the “Teaching Game” column and create a game for each lesson that fits the topic for that day. (Faith, Goodness, Knowledge, Self-Control, Patience, Godliness/Service, Kindness, and Love) Of course, I invented games with Legos! Keeping my mind and focus on only games is more efficient than shifting gears constantly from fun games, to dramas, to the more serious lesson, to other elements. Then, as an example, since I use a puppet to introduce my lessons, I’ll write his intro across all lessons. Since I like to do a magic trick during each chapel at camp, I took my list of magic tricks, and looked for ones that fit each topic and entered that on the chart. For Bible Story, I prayed about what Bible Story best illustrates the topic of the lesson. (Google helped too, shhhhh!) Since I have some Toybox Tales created with Legos, I ened up choosing a Toybox Tale video for each lesson. At camp, I always use a Real Life Story, so I thought about what life story or experience fit the lesson. You can do the same with Object Lessons or whatever teaching elements you use. And so on, until all the lesson elements are filled in. You may find you add or remove lesson elements as you go, as you decide what is needed. Within hours (instead of days) your lessons are all done!
Here is a glimpse of what it looks like: (this is just partial to give you an idea)
Then, you merely weave the elements together to teach and it takes about an hour of prep to finalize each lesson before teaching, but I can do that at camp when I can be focused on just the lesson I’m about to teach and leave the rest for when their time comes. The important thing for now, is that I’m sure I’ll have all the props and gadgets I need for the lessons since the games, visuals, objects, props, etc. are all planned.
Now, a master of curriculum writing you will be! Use the Holy Spirit you must! Plan ahead you must! Be strategic you must so that powwwwwerful lessons you may teach! Heh, heh, heh.