My third and fourth graders are really enjoying the micro pianos. After spending a week or two working on note reading drills, we have now moved on to playing simple songs. It is really fun to see the kids glow with excitement about making music - especially those who have never taken piano lessons.
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.
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.
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).
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.
Our 1st-2nd Grade Choir is once again using a curriculum from a company called, Growing in Grace. This is a valuable recourse for teaching our kids to be worshippers, and it also teaches music fundamentals. Highly recommended.
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.)
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
Each year, our church does a candlelight Christmas Eve service. The church is packed! We dim the lights and focus on the simplicity of the Christmas story. The service basically consists of Scripture narration and congregational hymns followed by the Lord’s supper. At the end of the service, we light the candles that everyone was handed when they entered the building. With the room lit with only candlelight, we end the service singing “Silent Night.” It is a very simple service in structure, but it is very meaningful to our congregation. The service can easily be adapted for a kid’s program since the songs are already familiar to the kids and the congregation.
Scripture: Luke 1:26-33
Scripture: Luke 2:1-14
Song: “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing”
Scripture: Luke 2:15-20
Song: “O Come, All Ye Faithful”
Song: “Away In a Manger”
Scripture: Matthew 2:1-12
Solo related to Christmas
Song: “We Three Kings”
Lighting of Candles
Song: “Silent Night”
Sometimes, it is helpful to have a quick way to focus a group of kids in a fun and purposeful manner. For those times, I love to use drama games (also called theater games). Here are three of my favorites.
Dr. Know It All
Two or three people sit in chairs facing the audience. These kids are the “Doctor” who knows everything. The doctor answers questions from the audience, but the answer can only be stated one word at a time from each kid in turn. For example, a question might be, “Doctor Know It All, how do you make a sandwich?” The Doctor, which in this scenario is three different kids, then answers by each of the three kids saying just one word at a time, “First - you - take - a - piece - of - bread…” The kids playing the Doctor have to answer using just one word per person, and they cannot confer before answering. It is a lot of fun.
Two Truths and a Lie
The person who is “it” has to tell three facts about themselves. Two of these facts have to be true. One has to be false. The rest of the group then tries to guess which fact is the lie. Once this is done, another person is selected to be “it,” and the game continues.
Crazy Family Pics
This one involves the entire group. It helps if the director has a camera. (A phone camera is just fine for this.) The entire group is told that they are a strange family who will be having their family picture taken. On the count of 3, the group must strike a pose that represents the family “business.” After the countdown, the group freezes. The leader then quickly snaps the picture with the camera. The leader then lets the group know the new “family business,” and the process begins again. Ideas include, circus workers, fire fighters, thieves, super heroes, baseball players, etc.
Drama games are a lot of fun, but they also serve an educational purpose. They teach the students to be expressive, creative, and confident in their speech and actions. This carries over to other artistic aspects including drama, speech, and music. There are many books available for drama/theater game ideas. Search Amazon for options.
Kids Worship Arts children will be unofficially participating in our annual Singing Christmas Tree this year. At a certain point in the program, I'll be asking any KWA child who is present in the room to join us onstage to sing, "It's Christmas." Here is a sneak peak at a Facebook Advertisement for this year's Tree that will go live soon.
Here is a quick video I made to show how I typically setup for our large group assembly time.