This simple object lesson is easy to put together & teach to youth groups, families, or even activity days groups. Make goal setting fun, personalized and get them thinking on what they want to take on next!
Getting youth and children excited to set goals can sometimes be a struggle. Lets be honest – it’s even a struggle for adults, especially when the rewards or outcomes of achieving our goals might not always include ice cream or a trip to Disneyland. When I started putting this activity together for our young women’s group I wanted to make it fun, but also really encourage the idea that goal setting is entirely personal – we all start in different places, have different interests and talents, and have a unique path that God wants us to follow.
I knew that a night of speakers wasn’t going to be that exciting for a week night activity, so I set out to create an opening activity that would fill the space of a “keynote speaker” of sorts and drive home the main ideas of what goal setting was really about.
Start it All With Road Trip Snacks
Just like the countless miles of a long road trip go by faster with snacks, I figured our goal setting would be the same. I pulled together “snacks” on 2 large dinner plates. Because our youth activity takes places in the evening, well after dinner time, I decided less is more but that it could still be fun.
The first dinner plate I filled with veggies and dip. The second plate I got creative and made small piles of each snack – kind of like a charcuterie board, but much smaller in size. I included things like Smartfood Cheddar popcorn, chocolate & yogurt covered pretzels, flavored marshmallows (these weren’t fancy – I found them on the baking row and they were llama shaped with fruit flavors), Pocky Sticks (you’ll find these with the Asian food), wafer cookies (I’m a big spender and went all out – vanilla, chocolate & strawberry), and some gummy candy hearts (Valentine’s candy was already out at Walmart and I couldn’t resist!)
I had some left over dessert plates in a variety of colors (I also had picked these up at Walmart, in the party row – they run around $1) so I brought those along for the girls to gather their munchies on. Everyone grabbed a plate and some snacks and then we got started on our goal setting adventure.
How to Guide the Goal Setting Object Lesson
This one is super easy – I did the whole thing on the fly. You’ll simply print and cut out the boards. Each board is just a grid of squares and has a star in the “starting square”. The file has several boards, each star is in a different place. Once the activity is over, this is a great point to make with the girls – we all start goal setting in different spots- and that doesn’t necessarily make our outcomes more or less successful.
To begin the activity you’ll hand out the boards and a box of crayons. Then you’ll tell the group a series of directions. I’ve included several ideas I used during our opener activity:
- go over X number of boxes and color your favorite color
- go to the left and color your least favorite color
- color X boxes in a row red
- color 3 boxes, in a diagonal line, red, yellow and blue
- draw an 8 in one box ( this will represent the ordinance of baptism and you’ll point out that we all do it but that it shows up in different places on our board and what that might mean)
- draw a fancy “S” in a box (this represents the Sacrament – you might want them to do this more than 1 time on their board – point out that the ordinance is a good time to think through our goals, where we are, and present our efforts to the Lord)
- draw a temple in a box (this box represents where we’re headed – all the temples will look different and show up in different squares, but the ordinance is the same. Some of us will get married, others will serve missions, some will do both, but our eye is always on the temple)
- have them draw arrows pointing towards the temple in the boxes that are surrounding the temple box
- have them draw a black dot (this could be a point where a goal just doesn’t seem to fit with what we want anymore – maybe we’ve had a change in lifestyle or interest, etc.)
- if they hit the edge – just tell them to find the closest square and begin again to follow the instructions.
During our activity, I purposefully left off directions like up, down, left and right at times. The girls always asked – “which way?” and I’d reply – “you pick!” We spent about 8 minutes working on coloring our squares and the whole time I and the other leaders were commenting – “ah, I like how your page is coming along”, “blue is my favorite color too”, “you had a great idea on colors there – I like it”. We wanted them to feel supported, but not direct them too much. We didn’t completely fill all the squares and we tied that in during our follow up discussion (the points I made in parentheses above) in our wrap up discussion – we still have squares to fill and goals to set.
Note: we had a few girls come in late and we just had them get started wherever we were at. I didn’t intend to point this out, but the girls did! They made the connection on their own that it was stressful to get “caught up” but that they realized that they’re work was just as good and interesting as the other girls – even though they had additional squares to fill AND that the most important thing was that they just jump in and work on the things they could to get going!
Prepping for your goal setting activity should take around an hour if you’ve gathered and purchased beforehand. Here’s how I made it happen:
- Print off all files, cut with paper trimmer or scissors. Tape or tie tag to gum packets. Stack trimmed opener activity papers and crayons together – I always have a basket that I gather all my “stuff” to take to the activity in. Sometimes it comes inside, other times it stays in the car. The girls always think I’m a little crazy, but they also know the basket means I usually have some type of a prize!
- Make your veggie plate and snack plate. I know there’s controversy in some places about whether food is a good thing. I say yes – but in the right proportions and not every time. If you have a lot of youth, you may have to increase your amounts, but for 12 girls 2 dinner plates was plenty. Sometimes I start to worry just a bit that I don’t have enough – that’s when I repeat, “it’s not dinner, it’s just a snack”.
- Decide what other areas you’re going to cover during your chat. We had one advisor talk about SMART goals for about 5 minutes, and another helps us brainstorm ideas in each category for about 15 minutes.
We ended the evening by passing out the gum packets and encouraging them to chew a piece each time they worked on their goals or were busy “Chews”ing their own adventure!
So if you’re looking for a great way to jumpstart goal setting this year for your activity days or youth groups – the Choose Your Own Adventure approach may be it! We were lucky enough to do the activity in person, but if you’re still stuck on Zoom this activity could easily be accomplished. Simply drop the handout and the activity sheet in a mailbox drop a few hours before the Zoom meeting and then walk them through the same steps!
Gathering Supplies for Your Goal Setting Activity
I know I gave you a run down of everything I did above, but I hate when I find an awesome idea and have to scroll through the whole blog post and re-read to find out the details. So here it is in bulleted form – everything you might need to gather, print, cut or put together for your Choose Your Own Adventure goal setting activity.
- dip packet
- sour cream
- cheddar popcorn
- flavored marshmallows
- gummy candies
- Pocky Sticks
- chocolate & yogurt covered pretzels
- wafer cookies (vanilla, strawberry, chocolate)
- gum packs
- 8 pack Crayola crayons (these are about $1 a piece on the art supply row)
TO GATHER(or possibly buy if you don’t have it on hand):
- white cardstock
- white copy paper (just normal printer paper works)
- crayons if you’re not going to buy a fresh pack
- scissors or paper trimmer
- access to a colored printer (or send that file out to your favorite copy shop)