How to Layer a Message to Create a Memorable Learning Experience

by | Leading | 5 comments

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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  1. Crystal A. Murray

    I found the link to this article on the ACFW loop. The title of your blog got my attention, and the subject matter kept me reading. The article is well-written and full of great advice even for teaching adults. I’m the president or our local Christian writer’s group, and now you’ve got me wanting to figure out a way to send members home with something every month to reinforce our meeting topics. Thanks for getting my creative wheels turning.

  2. Zoe M. McCarthy

    Crystal, thanks for your kind word and interest in Creative in Everything. I’m glad you found some information useful.

  3. Marcia A. Lahti

    This reminds of Bible Study Fellowship. First you are given questions on the scripture studied. You can spend easily an hour a day on the questions. When you come to class, you enter a discussion group to discuss and share answers. Then you listen to a teaching leader go over the material with illustrations and applications. Then you are given a few pages of commentary on this same material with some questions on how you applied this material over the next week with more questions for the next lesson. Even the hymns are carefully chosen to enhance the lesson. That’s at least six layers.

  4. Zoe M. McCarthy

    Marcia, Bible Study Fellowship is a good example of layering. That’s one thing I really like about its process.

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