Curriculum Lessons Kids Will Remember for a Lifetime

Do you remember a message you heard 6 month ago?  Probably not.  I know I can't. 

Most lessons are not written to get into kids' long-term memory.  The lessons are missing key elements that cause the teaching to move from short-term memory to long-term memory.

If you want kids to remember your lesson for years to come, then here are some key elements you need to include. 

Repetition.  It has often been said that repetition is the key to learning.  

Did you know that if a child hears something once in a month their long-term retention rate is only 10%?  But if a child hears something 6 times in a month, their long-term retention rate jumps up to 90%!  An effective lesson will have the kids say the key truth at least 6 times in a month.  In the curriculum I created, I actually have the kids say the key truth a minimum of 6 times each week.  This helps ensure they will remember the key truth long-term.

I recommend you have one key truth the kids say each week for a month.  This is more effective than having a different key truth each week. 

Emotions.  You remember what you feel.  Create situations where kids emotions are tapped into.  Here's an example.  

One weekend we were teaching about being generous.  When the kids came in the room, they were each given a bag of candy.  They were instructed to place it in front of where they were sitting.  The lesson was about being generous.  At the end of the lesson we had them bow their heads.  We explained that they had two options.  One - they could keep the candy for themselves.  Or they could leave it and it would be delivered to some needy kids in our area.

We asked them to close their eyes and talk to God.  What was He telling them to do?  You could feel the tension and emotions in the room.  When it was decision time, most of the kids left the candy.  

That is a lesson they will never forget.  Why?  Because they felt the emotions of what they were doing.

Pictures.  Today's kids hear with their eyes.  A picture truly is worth a thousand words.  Use pictures for key points and kids will connect to the lesson and remember it.

Experiences.  We live in an "experience economy."  Kids remember their good and bad experiences growing up.  What will they remember about their experience in your ministry?  Boring?  Monotone?  Exciting?  Engaging?  Relevant?

Videos.  Kids love watching videos.  Movies.  YouTube.  Instagram.  Television shows.  Use video clips to illustrate your lesson.  

Here's an example.  in the Lion King movie, remember the scene where Simba is trapped in the gully and is about to be crushed by the stampede?  At the last moment, Mufasa comes down into the gully and rescues Simba.  Mufasa gives up his life to rescue Simba.  This is a great example of using a video to illustrate Biblical truth.  Mufasa is an example of what Jesus did for us.  We were trapped in our sins.  There was no way we could get ourselves out of it.  But that's when Jesus came down and rescued us.  He gave His life so we could escape the penalty for our sins.  

Each time kids see this movie, it will help them remember what Jesus did for them.

Big surprises.  What can you do to surprise everyone?  These are things you can't do every week but you can do to make a big impact on a big day.  This is when you go all out and over the top.  Here's an example.  One Sunday, I was teaching on Daniel and the Lion's Den.  I had a big cage up front that was covered by a canopy.  When we got to the part of the lesson that talked about the lions, we pulled the canopy off the cage and there was a real, fully grown lion inside the cage.  He let out a roar and the kids were blown away.  If you ask those grown-up kids today about that lesson, they will remember it.

Every day objects.  Jesus often did this.  He used birds of the air, fish, coins, gates and other everyday objects to illustrate what He was teaching.  Take a cue from Jesus and use every day objects in your lessons to illustrate Biblical truth.  

Use items and places that kids are in contact with on an regular basis.  Something from school.  Their favorite toy or video game.  A pet.  A ball from their favorite sport.  A food they eat.

I remember when I taught a lesson about Jesus being the only way to heaven.  I used a one way sign to illustrate it.  One year later, I was driving the kids to camp and a boy on the back of the bus yelled out, "Look Pastor Dale, a one way sign.  Jesus is the one way to heaven!" 

Key truths that rhyme.  Did you know kids remember things better when they rhyme.  All 12 of our key truths rhyme. Here's 3 examples.

The Bible is true...I can trust it through and through.  

This is my story...worshiping God and declaring His glory.

The Bible is clear to say...Jesus is the only way.

Play games.  Activity games.  Icebreaker games.  Review games.  All of these are great ways to move your teaching truth into kids' long term memory.  

Want to do a test to see if you are getting truth into the lives of kids?  Stand at the exit door and ask them what they learned today.  Ask them to say the key truth of the month.  If they can say what it is, you're getting it stuck in their memory. 

The curriculum I created has all these elements in them.  I created a filter that every lesson had to pass through before it was completed. You can see samples of the curriculum by clicking on the logo below.

Our goal must be to get God's Word into children's long term memory.  When we do this, we will begin to see their faith grow and they can serve God for a lifetime.