Conquer and Divide is a theory I practice often when hosting children’s events. I believe kids learn better in smaller more intimate environments than they do sitting in large groups of 100+ kids.
We group them as they arrive and include a traditional rotation schedule in the programming. In the past we’ve planned 3-4 lessons for kids to experience and recruited one teacher for each lesson. That teacher then repeats the same lesson for each group in the rotation.
In the past it has worked well and some of the benefits include:
- Teachers only learn one lesson, repeating it for each group
- All the kids get exactly the same teaching from the same teacher at each learning station.
The downside to this system is:
- All lessons must be equal in length to keep all the groups on schedule.
- All the kids (no matter the grade) get exactly the same teaching from the same teacher at each learning station.
This year, we mixed it up a bit. Instead of having the kids rotate to the teachers, the teachers rotated with the kids. Each teacher traveled with the same group, from station to station, as their personal Expedition Guide, teaching them as they went.
What I love about this method:
- The kids met the teachers as soon as they arrived and developed an immediate connection with them.
- The lessons were adapted to fit each age group.
- Each lessons timing was independent of the others. (ie: The first two were longer and the last one shorter.)
- If a teacher needed to spend more time on one lesson they had the freedom to make that call because another group was not waiting on them to finish.
- The teachers had the same assistants all evening and thus were able to utilize their help better.
What this looked like for our Stewardship Program:
- We broke our kids into groups based on grade
- Each group had 4 adult Expedition Assistants and 1 Expedition Teacher
- The Expedition Assistants and Teacher greeted welcomed each of the children in their group as they arrived.
- It was great to see how the groups bonded so quickly at the beginning and maintained this sort of “hoorah!! Spirit” throughout the night.
LESSONS & ROTATIONS
- Each of the five grade groups rotated to different rooms on the campus
- No groups used the same room back-to-back.
- This made each groups travel plans unique and non-dependant on other groups progress. They could move more quickly or slowly through each lesson as the kids learning dictated.
- Each lesson was tweaked to be age appropriate for the group
- We provided simple fill-in journals for the 1st & 2nd grades with easier puzzles and games to work on.
- The 3rd -5th grade journal required more fill-in work and the puzzles were more challenging.
Our team of volunteers embraced the changes we made to this year’s Stewardship program wholeheartedly. Even though the teachers were required to learn 3 lessons, they loved being with the same kids throughout the night and felt that they were much more effective this way.
In a nutshell . . .
The teaching was dictated by learning pace of the kids and not by the ticking of the clock.
♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦
What can you change about the way you do your big group events this year? Think about what matters most and move to make that happen.