Keyboards and Melodic Lines

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The 3rd and 4th graders really enjoy playing with the micro keyboards. Some in the group are taking piano and love to “show off” their skills. Others, merely enjoy the novelty of the experience. All seem to love to play the various sounds that come with the device. It can get quite lively at times.

We are winding down our music reading emphasis with these kids for this semester. After Spring Break, the 4th graders will be focusing on regular-tuned baritone ukuleles, and the 3rd graders will be doing puppets.

Rhythm Trash Cans

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This is the setup for my rhythm-teaching session. The kids will be divided into several groups. Each group will have to play the rhythms on the flash cards, and they will get two tries if needed. One point will be given per card. The team with the most points at the end wins.

It will be a pretty loud game, but it will be a fun way to reinforce rhythmic concepts. The cans are simply 35 gallon trash cans purchased from our local Lowes Hardware store. The mallets were purchased from an online music store.

Hand Chimes

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Tonight, I’ll be introducing hand chimes to our 3rd and 4th graders. They have been working on their rhythm and note reading skills for the past few weeks. This evening, we take it to the next level. I’ve highlighted their notes on each music part, but I also have an unhighlighted copy on the back of each sheet. This will allow me to quickly work with both beginning music readers as well as more advanced students. If things are too simple for a given student, I’ll simply have them turn the sheet over and let them play without the guides. If time permits, we’ll change positions and play different chimes/notes.

Rhythm Flashcards

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One of the best resources that I’ve found for teaching and reinforcing rhythms in a large-group setting is Hal Leonard’s Rhythm Flashcard Kit. I use these cards to teach rhythms as well as for rhythm games. The kids love to show off their rhythmic skills, and this resource helps keep things fun in the process.

Micro Keyboards

We have progressed in our music fundamentals to the point where I’ve once again introduced inexpensive small keyboards to the kids. To several of the keyboards, I have added note names and staff locations. However, some of our kids are taking private piano lessons. That extra information is not beneficial for them. All they need is to know where “middle C” is located on these small instruments.

To date, we have only been playing short exercises. Soon, we’ll be introducing songs for them to play. It is a tactical method of musical learning, and the kids really seem to enjoy it.

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Buttons for Prizes

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For quick prizes for my class, I purchased a bag of assorted buttons from Amazon. These have proven to be an inexpensive but valuable resource. Recently I gave out buttons for every word a kid spelled on the staff. Another day, I give buttons to the team that won a competitive music game. Even the boys love getting the buttons. I hand them out and let the kids trade with each other as desired.

Music Boards

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I recently purchased individual music marker boards for each child from Amazon. We’ve used these boards in several ways, but one of the more successful applications was to reinforce the names of notes in the treble clef - FACE and EGBDF (Empty Garbage Before Dad Freaks).

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One of the staff games we played was my putting a list of words on the large board and they had to “spell” out the words on their staff. Those with the most words after a period of time won a prize. We are working toward the kids being able to follow a melody line in an anthem by Christmas. It is a lot of fun to see their little competitive brains absorb theses fundamental music concepts.

KWA Drama Class

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For our year-end program this semester, I wanted to find a short drama with which our older kids could excercise their acting skills. I found several options at Skitguys.com. The one I eventually chose was entitled, “Little Rock Big God.” Using a Dr. Seuss-style narrative, this skit creatively retells the back story of David and his epic victory over Goliath. Our plan is to have the 5th & 6th grader girls read the skit in a readers theater style format while the older boys act out the scenes. It’s a bit of a departure from what we’ve done in the past, but it should prove interesting for all concerned. (The skit is written by Mitch Teemley.)

KWA Artists

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For our annual year-end presentation to our church, we always utilize various media throughout our program. This year, our KWA kids will be utilizing their artistic skills as part of our presentation. The younger kids will be drawing pictures about God’s love, the third graders will be drawing pictures pertaining to Jonah and the fish. The older kids will draw pictures about David and Goliath. These themes correspond to the three major components of our upcoming presentation in early June, and the plan is to scan these hand-drawn pictures into the computer and use the images as background graphics throughout the evening.

KWA Beginning Guitar Class

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We started a new guitar class last Wednesday. We had 9 students in the class, and we had just enough guitars for everyone to have one. It was a totally new adventure for most of the kids. This class will run for a total of 5 weeks. During that short time, we can only hope to inspire them to continue learning the instrument. However, it is a fun adventure to begin!

KWA Church Tech Class

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For the past several weeks, our 4th-6th grade boys have been attending an exciting new church sound class. Led by two of our church’s finest sound technicians, our KWA boys have been able to do some fun hands-on learning with real-world sound equipment. This Wednesday, it is the girls turn! The next few weeks will will, no-doubt, be a lot of fun for those young ladies. Our hope is that these classes will inspire the next generation of audio/visual ministers at our church and beyond.

Blacklight Puppets

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Our third graders started working on their blacklight puppets yesterday. I purchased several different colors of fluorescent poster board from Hobby Lobby and asked the kids to draw and cut out fish. Under the blacklight, the colors really popped, and anything in black simply disappeared. It is a really cool effect. 

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Puppets

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Our third graders are learning puppets this session. When done well, puppetry is a powerful means of teaching and entertaining, but in all honesty, puppetry is not a real strength of mine. However, the kids do not seem to mind, and my hope is that a willing heart and enthusiasm will make up for my puppeteering deficiencies. Our plan is to perform a song for their parents using regular puppets and also incorporate some black light elements into the mix as well. It should prove to be a very interesting semester.

Church Tech Class

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This semester, we are offering a cool new class for our older kids that we’re calling, “Church Technology.”  This will mainly involve sound system setup and operation, but will also cover other tech as well. We had so many kids interested in taking the class that we are having to split it and offer it twice to accommodate everyone.

We are blessed at our church with an outstanding worship tech team, and the two instructors for this class are among the best we have. I’m sure that the kids will learn a lot and have a lot of fun in the process. I wish I could have taken such a class when I was a kid. Our heart’s desire is to inspire the next generation of church worship technicians, and we are off to a great start!

Blacklight Puppetry

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I’m exploring the possibility of incorporating blacklight puppetry into our ministry. I found a company online, www.creativemin.com, that had some very helpful resources. The first step was to purchase the blacklights themselves. I purchased two 4-foot led lights. While I was at it, I purchased several training videos and a booklet to help us get started. Initially, we will use the blacklights in conjunction with our sign-language class. Also, we’ll probably add a blacklight “flair” to some aspect of third grade puppet track as well.

Classroom Management

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Looking for ways help you manage a large group of kids? Michael Linsin’s Classroom Management for Art, Music and PE Teachers is a great resource. The book is geared for specialist teachers in the public school system, but the techniques apply to any teacher who only sees their students periodically. It is well written with proven techniques, and the chapters are presented in small, bite-sized chunks. Highly recommended.

Different Versions of Amazing

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Last month, the Women’s Ministry at our church held it’s annual holiday banquet. As part of the evening, several different hostess decorated various tables in the Fellowship Hall for the evening’s festivities. While I did not attend the event, I did have the privilege of seeing the room decorated. I can honestly say that this is the nicest that our Fellowship Hall has ever looked. Each table was meticulously decorated, but each was totally different. It was amazing.

In many ways, this concept of “distinct beauty” is a metaphor of my vision for this website and ministry. At First Baptist, we are very passionate about Kids Worship Arts Ministry, but our exact ministry could not easily be duplicated in another setting. No one else has the same exact set of people and material resources that our church possesses. This is how it should be. Instead, our dream is that other churches will embrace the principles that we are espousing, that of developing young worshipping artists, but we want each church to put their own “spin” on the ministry. We desire is for every church inspired by our approach to ministry to develop it’s own “beautiful table” of kids worship ministry that uniquely reflects the people and resources that only that church possesses. If that happens, that will be amazing indeed.

A Good Christmas Music Resource

If you are looking for a good basic Christmas music book to use with sing-a-longs at Christmas time, The Christmas Music Fake book a great resource. Made primarily for guitarists and keyboard players who can chord, the strength of the book is that all the songs are in the key of C. This is also it's weakness because that key is not necessarily the best one for the average singer. However, it is still a valuable resource to have in one's library, and a guitar capo can do wonders for helping move a song into a more singable range.