This is an overview and guide for a series of three lessons on generosity of about 50-60 minutes. Each is created for mixed age groups containing adults, children and youth.
LEADER’S GUIDE AND OVERVIEW
Financial Stewardship Lesson Plans for Mixed Age Groups
Created by Dr. Diane E. Shallue
This is a series of three lessons of about 50-60 minutes each created for mixed age groups containing adults, children and youth. Each lesson can be used by itself or as part of a series. The lessons are broken into segments of five to fifteen minutes to accommodate different attention spans. You might want to take more time for a segment but keep the lesson moving. If too much time is spent on one section, boredom will be allowed to emerge. Some of the lessons have supplementary activities at the end.
These lessons will require two to three hours of preparation. Intergenerational lessons require more preparation time than age specific lessons because objects needs to be gathered and the learning environment carefully prepared. The learning will emerge as the participants interact with each other and the stories and activities. Intergenerational lessons are often chaotic and noisy. When working with mixed age groups, movement and short activities are important to hold the interest of the younger members. You will find the adults are also more engaged because they are moving and responding rather than sitting and listening.
The goal of these lessons is to be experiential. Experiential learning is learning through reflection on doing. An example of experiential learning is going to the zoo and learning through observation and interactions with the zoo environment, as opposed to reading about animals from a book. These lessons on financial stewardship will use movies, stories, music, games and discussion to help participants of all ages discover how God wants us to be generous givers.
In creating these lessons, I used these assumptions.
1. Learning the value of money begins as soon as a child is able to understand the meaning of rewards, work and consequences.
2. Adults model for children attitudes and practices towards money.
3. The materialism of children mirrors the materialism of adults.
4. Adults and children can learn from each other.
5. Learning experiences are more effective when people of several generations are engaged in interactive experiences together and then talk about their experiences.
6. God wants faithful followers to be generous with their money.
7. Stewardship should be connected to grace, forgiveness, joy and gratitude — not to the law.
8. You can give without loving but you can not love without giving.
9. Giving is not an obligation but participation in what God is doing in the world. We have the privilege to be God’s hands in the world and offer our time, money and skills as a joyful response to all that God has given us. We give because we are created in the image of a God who is a gracious and abundant giver.
10.People under the age of 18 need to be involved in the financial giving programs in a congregation.
11.People under the age of 18 who receive an allowance or earn money should be encouraged to give from a generous heart to the work of the congregation.
12.People under the age of 18 can participate in the mission of Christ in the world.
MANAGING MIXED AGE GROUPS
As you prepare these intergenerational stewardship lessons, be mindful of how different this learning environment will be for most of the participants. In our society today, children and adults spend most of their time with peer groups. Most of our society is age segregated including the places where we learn and the places where we play. So it is not unusual for adults to feel bothered and impatient with children whose needs they do not understand. And it is not unusual for children, especially older children to feel impatient and bothered with adults.
In order to form an intergenerational group, adults need to be willing to move out of the traditional adult orientated comfort zone. They will need to be:
- Willing to love and encourage.
- Willing to sacrifice self-interest for the interests of others.
- Patient. Things will not go smoothly at first. Children will have to get used to what is happening and what is expected of them. The adults will have to get used a group whose members may wiggle more and make more noise than adult only groups.
- Willing to learn: In an intergenerational group, everyone comes to learn together. Adults don’t come to pour their knowledge into children. Adults are to listen and guide. We establish an atmosphere where everyone learns together.
- Be a good role model. Children don’t know what it’s like to be an adult, so they watch and listen to adults. Adults in the group are teaching more by their example as they model life as a follower of Jesus for the younger member of the group.
Children can misbehave when they are unclear as to who is in charge. I suggest these guidelines be made clear to everyone.
1. When you meet as a large group with adults and children, the parents are in charge of their own child’s behavior.
2. When children and adults meet separately, the people who are supervising the children are the ones to be obeyed. They will enforce the rules.
3. When you are meeting at a house, the person whose house it is, has the last word on what is or is not out of bounds for their house. It will help if doors are closed to any room that is off limits and if fragile or treasured objects are put in safe places.
Often in intergenerational groups, the adults and the youth will tend to sit together. Sometimes this is also true of younger children. These lesson plans required mixed age groups at each table.
Here is a technique that works well to divide people into mixed age groups. An easy way to do this is to give people from the five generations each a different color name tag. Then say that they need at least one person from each age group sitting at their table. Divide by these groups.
a. Born between 1925-1942 (Silent Generation.) Red name tags
b. Born between 1943-1960 (Boomer Generation) Green name tags
c. Born between 1961 — 1982 ( Regeneration X) Blue name tags
d. Born between 1983 — 2007 (Millennium Generation) Yellow name tags
e. Born between 1901-1924 (Civic Generation) Purple name tags
Discussion techniques for mixed age groups
- Small group discussions are more likely to keep the focus of the younger members of your group than large group discussions so whenever possible have “Table Talk Time” rather than a large group.
- If information from the Table Talk Time is to be shared with the large group, have each group write down the keys points of their discussion on newsprint and then post around the room. Then allow people to wander from poster to poster reading the responses with younger participants assigned to an older participants so that they read the responses together.
- Use the Mutual Invitation Technique which is particularly effect for mixed age groups. Often the younger participants will dominate the discussion or not say anything. This might be true for the oldest participants also. With the MI Technique, all are given equal opportunity to share their ideas briefly. See detailed instructions in Appendix #1 at the end of this document.
- Prayers are best if they are short to reinforce the focus of the lesson.
OVERVIEW OF THE LESSONS
Lesson: Being a Cheerful Giver
This lesson combines discussion about generous people with thinking about having a big heart by watching the animated movie, “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.” It connects the biblical foundation in 2 Corinthians 9: 6-8 to how people act when they are generous cheerful givers.
This lesson is designed to be used with a mixed age group with children as young as six. It is for parents, grandparents, children, and single adults who could bring their nieces and nephews. The time frame is about 50 -60 minutes. It would be especially appropriate to be used during Advent. It could be used during an education hour on Sunday morning or a Saturday morning time with a brunch.
Lesson Focus: God wants us to be cheerful givers with large generous hearts. How do people with generous hearts act? What are their qualities?
Lesson: Calculating the Cost
This lesson uses the story of Zacchaeus from Luke 19: 1-10 to look at giving a percentage of income to the poor. It will encourage participants to pledge giving a percentage of their allowance or income to the poor. It also teaches briefly about the terms, “tithe” and “benevolence.” The main idea of this lesson is to encourage participants to think in terms of percentage rather than a fixed amount. This emphasizes equal sacrifice, rather than equal giving.
This is designed to be a 50-60 minute lesson for mixed ages groups with the 50 minute with the youngest being about age 10. This lesson involves some math skills and abstract thinking about percentages so is probably not appropriate for children younger than age 10. It would also work will with middle and high school students.
Lesson Focus: God wants us to give generously to the poor.
Lesson: Pennies For God
This lesson uses pennies, the story of the Widow’s Mite or Offering and the Story about Stone Soup to show how even a small gift when added to the gifts of others can provide abundantly for all. Participants will be asked to bring canned food for the local food shelf and to bring as many pennies as they can. A speaker or information about a local food shelf would work well with this lesson.
This is designed to be a 50-60 minute lesson for mixed age groups with parents, grandparents, children, youth and single adults. Participants should sit around tables. Family groups could sit together.
Lesson Focus: When everyone shares, there is enough for all.
Appendix # 1 Mutual Invitation Process
(from The Wolf Shall Dwell with the Lamb: Spirituality for Leadership in a Multicultural Community by Eric H. F. Law (1993) St. Louis, MO: Chalice Press
A. Let participants know how much time is set aside for this process.
B. Introduce the topic to be discussed or information to be gathered or question (s) to be answered. Write this on newsprint and put it up on a wall so everyone can see it.
C. Introduce the process by reading the following:
1. In order to ensure that everyone who wants to share has the opportunity to speak, we will proceed in the following way;
2. The leader or a designated person will share first. After that person has spoken, he or she then invites another to share. Whom you invite should not be the person next to you. After the next person has spoken, that person is given the privilege to invite another to share. If you don’t want to say anything, simple say “pass” or “pass for now” and proceed to invite another to share. We will do this until everyone has been invited. If anyone said “pass for now,” invite them again to share.
3. After everyone has had an opportunity to share, then you may ask questions or ask for clarification.
The first time you use this with the group, it will feel very awkward. The tendency is to give up on the process and go back to the whoever-wants-to-talk-can-talk way. If you are persistent in using this process every time you facilitate the gathering, the group will eventually get used to it and will have great fun with it.
Problems to anticipate:
This process addresses differences in the perception of personal power among the participants. Some people will be eager for their turn, while others will be reluctant to speak when they are invited. If a person speaks very briefly and then does not remember to invite the next person, do not invite for him or her. Simple point out that this person has the privilege to invite the next person to speak. This is especially important if a person “passes.” By ensuring that this person still has the privilege to invite, you affirm and value that person independent of that person’s verbal ability.
Dr. Diane E. Shallue is Director of Christian Education at University Lutheran Church of Hope in Minneapolis, MN.
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