How to Layer a Message to Create a Memorable Learning Experience

The true method of knowledge is experiment.” —William Blake

In another post on creating a memorable learning experience, I promised to talk more about layering activities that add to, build on, or complement the message during a learning session.

5 Possible Layering Ideas

An Illustration of Layering: A preschool Sunday school lesson on Jesus and the Miraculous Catch of Fish as told in the Gospel of John.

1.  Start the learning as soon as participants enter the room. Decorate the space with items or pictures that relate to the subject that will be addressed.

Example: For a dog training class, hang posters around the room of dogs heeling, waiting, and responding to other commands the dog owners will learn.

2.  Provide activities for participants to enjoy while people are still arriving. Make sure each connects in some way to the main lesson.

 Example: Have resource materials related to a conference’s subject displayed on tables for participants to peruse before the conference starts.

3.  Take advantage of layering in all periods of a class, a conference, or workshop. It’s okay if the connection is minor in some.

 Example: If times for singing or physical exercise are included, relate the songs or games to the class’s theme.

 4.  Use roleplaying to layer what has just been presented. Make sure it’s more fun than intimidating.

 Example: In an English As a Second Language class on food, set up a café complete with round table and inexpensive plastic food. Invite participants to take turns ordering and serving.

 5.  Send home with participants a goody that encourages using the new knowledge. Something tangible will remind participants of the learning experience days later.

 Example: In a workshop on prayer, have participants make prayer chains with animal beads that represent people to be prayed for.

An Illustration of Layering: A preschool Sunday school lesson on Jesus and the Miraculous Catch of Fish as told in the Gospel of John.

Story: This was the third time Jesus appeared to His disciples after His death and resurrection. Some of His disciples fished from a boat close to shore, not catching anything. They didn’t recognize the man on the shore who told them to throw their nets to the other side. They obeyed and caught 153 fish.

When Peter realized the man was Jesus he jumped into the water and headed to Jesus while the others followed in the boat. Jesus had cooked them a breakfast of fish and bread before imparting directives to Peter.

Did you count 153?

Opening Free Play: Layer fishing and cooking. Three stations 1) make breakfast with cooking gear and play food; 2) form fishes and bread loaves from playdough; 3) fish for paper-clipped fish with pole and magnet hook.

Storytime: Layer message. Dramatic telling of the Bible story.

Scripture: Layer message. Children teach verse to their sock “fishing” worm puppets.

Story Reinforcement: Layer message. Children make bell ring by answering 5 story questions.

Large Muscle Exercise: Layer story. Role-play the story wearing Bible clothes, rowing, jumping out of boat, cooking, and eating.

Music: Layer message. Brief introductions to lesson-reinforcing songs stress the message.

Snack: Layer fish. Enjoy eating goldfish crackers.

Take-home Craft: Layer message. Talk about the story while children creatively decorate their fish with the Bible verse on the backs.

Closing: Layer boat. Play Doggy, Doggy Where’s Your Bone? substituting a plastic boat for the bone.

How have you layered activities for a learning experience?

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