Aim High

Walt Disney, the master at engaging children of all ages, knew that you have to aim high.  

In other words, if you're trying to connect with kids of various ages in a large group setting, always target the oldest kids in the group.  If you connect with the older kids, you'll grab the attention of all the kids.

Look what he said.

It was the first entertainment that Walt Disney had ever designed expressly for children. 'But we are not going to talk down to the kids...let's aim for the 12-year-old. The younger ones will watch...they'll want to see what their older brothers and sisters are looking at.'

Marketing experts know and practice this principle.  Here is what they do.

Target the oldest boy in the group.  In other words, appeal to your oldest boys and you will appeal to everyone.

Choose music that will appeal to the oldest kids in the group.  Know what style of music the oldest kids in your group are listening to.  Nothing will turn off your group quicker than playing songs that sound too "babyish."  

Feature older kids in your graphics and videos.  Our elementary print peices contain pictures of the oldest kids in the age group. If we do a video or skit involving kids, we normally use 5th and 6th graders as actors.  

Use the oldest kids in the room on the praise team.  If the oldest boys in your group are standing around with their hands in their pockets during worship, check who's leading.  The praise team should be comprised of the oldest kids in the room, junior and senior high school students and adults.

Use clips from movies that upper elementary kids think are "cool."  If your clips are from movies aimed at upper elementary kids, you'll engage all grades.

Bring in upper elementary kids and ask them to rate the "coolness" of your programming. They can quickly help you identify what needs to be adjusted.

Take cues from preteen marketers.  they can give you valuable ideas on how to connect with today's older kids.