What Every Teen Should Know

About this article

An incredible amount of wisdom exists in our young people! This assignment originated as an idea for a birthday present for the author's teen daughter, and a great deal of insight was found for all involved. Easily adapted for different age-groups, genders, and content.

I often joke with my students that they help me parent my children! When my daughter Ellie was turning thirteen, all of a sudden I was struck with this idea that turned out to be an awesome activity for my students and a keepsake for my daughter. I believe that this idea can be used in a variety of ways in many content areas in the theology classroom.

I asked the students to spend some time reflecting on what they wished they knew or what they needed to hear when they were turning thirteen, and then they were to put together a "Top Ten" list of these items. Of course, my students went to town with colored paper, markers, etc. Once collected, I put the papers in sheet protectors and a binder for my daughter. Before I gave it to her, I read it and was overwhelmed at how wise these students were. Ranging from silly to serious, the advice they offered my new teen was exactly what she needed to know.

Because the assignment was for a girl and done by my students, all girls, there was a definite feminine feel. Some of the wise thoughts included:

  • You are pretty without makeup.
  • Boys are not as important as your girlfriends.
  • Listen to what your parents say; they usually know what they are talking about.
  • Barbie is not a real person.
  • Stay connected at church.

The opportunity to share wisdom can be an excellent activity. Consider using Top Ten lists in other areas, such as:

  • Ways to Pray
  • How to Get Involved at Your Parish
  • Reasons to Read Your Bible
  • Things to Know in This Chapter

Be sure to have students share their thoughts with one another, possibly in dramatic ways. I think you will probably find some lists to keep for the next year. Maybe start a binder?


Published April 15, 2001.