My little nephew loves all things Paw Patrol. He's not alone, millions of preschoolers love Paw Patrol as well. If you have a 3-to-5 year old, I'm sure you're familiar with it as well.
Paw Patrol is made in Canada and is an animated show for preschoolers about a team of dogs who protect a seaside town called Adventure Bay. It deputed in 2013 and is still going strong at the time of this writing.
The show is a global hit among 2 to 5 year olds. It is aired in 160 countries. It has also generated $300 million a year in toy sales and was named one of the top 10 Christmas toys by Amazon.
Anytime you see a product that endears millions of kids, it's worth taking a closer look to find out why. Why has Paw Patrol captivated children? What can we learn from them about connecting with preschoolers? Let's take a closer look and find out why.
Cool technology. Today's kids are growing up immersed in technology from an early age. The pups have transforming vehicles and backpacks. Each season they are introduced to more complex technology.
Merch. As I mentioned above, the show generates over $300 million a year in merch sales. Stats show that 25% of toys sold come from a TV or movie-based character.
I believe preschool ministries should put their name and logo on as many of their "products"as possible. T-shirts. First time guests' gifts, video and media screens, signage, etc.
Make it age-appropriate. Preschoolers are very different from an elementary child. They live in a concrete world instead of an abstract world. Make sure your lessons, illustrations and stories are concrete rather than abstract, so kids will be able to make a connection with what you are teaching.
Here's an example.
Jesus is the door to heaven. When you say that, preschoolers are thinking that Jesus is a literal door that you must find and walk through. But a pre-teen will make the connection that the door is simply an example and not a real door.
Appeal to boys and girls. Another popular show for preschoolers was Bob the Builder. But 90% of the Bob the Builder's audience were boys. But puppies appeal to both boys and girls. This is one reason Paw Patrol has surpassed even Bob the builder in popularity.
Crossing into long-term memory. For children to remember something long-term, it must be stored in their long-term money. The goal for the makers of Paw Patrol is for children to remember the shows for the rest of their lives.
The same should be said about the Word of God. We want to see preschoolers remember what we teach them from the Bible for the rest of their lives. Here are a few things Paw Patrol does for long-term member that we can learn from.
Use small phrases. The show's catch phrases are short taglines like..."This pup's gotta' fly" and "Chase is on the Case" and "Rubble on the double." Use short Bible phrases like that. A great example is "Jesus loves me." Come up with a short phrase for each lesson or series and have the kids memorize it.
Repetition. Preschoolers love saying these phrases over and over. It makes them feel smart. And we know repetition is one of the key ways to put ideas into kids' long-term memory.
Humor. The show has slapstick humor, puns and alliteration. The goal is to help kids not only laugh, but to remember the show that made them laugh and have fun.
Connect your message to something kids already love and are involved in. Another reason preschoolers love Paw Patrol is because the characters are dogs. And dogs are already a big part of children's lives. So, when you create lessons or themes or events, think about using something that preschoolers already love. Take that object and bring it into your lesson. The goal is for kids to connect the Bible truth you taught them every time they see that object.
Music. One of the best things you can use for long-term memory are songs. Think about songs you still remember now that you first heard in childhood. The catchy little songs from Paw Patrol get stuck in children's long-term memory.
Kids want to be a super hero and help people. The Paw Patrol is all about helping people. Show preschoolers some ways they can be a superhero that is age-appropriate for them. Super hero moves like sharing toys, being kind, helping clean up, etc.
One of the tag lines for the show is "no job is too big, no pup is too small." Teach kids that they can be used of God no matter their age. You see children who were used by God throughout the Bible.
Solving problems. Preschoolers love to "figure things out" and help solve problems. The show gives them the opportunity to do this. You can take this process right into your lessons. Present a problem and see how Jesus or another Bible character solved or fixed it. Then challenge them with an age-appropriate problem to solve.
Team work - Each character on Paw Patrol is equipped with a special skill and special job to do. Together they use their skills to complete their missions. Think about ways you can help children work together to accomplish a mission for God.
Adventure. Preschooler love adventure and Paw Patrol delivers. But it's nothing compared to the adventures kids can go on through God's Word. Get them actively involved in your lesson and take them on an adventure in God's Word.
Here's an example. If you are teaching about Moses and the Israelites crossing the Red Sea, then get a big blue tarp and hold up the sides to create the middle of the sea. Have kids walk through the Red Sea while being lightly sprayed with water mist.
Be kind to others. The characters are polite and kind to each other. You can use this to help children be kind to each other. Perhaps even showing a clip from the show where they are kind and then taking a minute or two to find out how they were kind and how we can be kind as well.
So there's a few reasons why preschoolers love Paw Patrol. Try these tips and I guarantee you that you will see more engagement and interest in your preschool lessons.
Your turn. What do you think about Paw Patrol? What else can we learn from it that can be translated into children's ministry? Share your thoughts and comments below.