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.
The semester is winding down, and it is time to start thinking about what we will present to the congregation the first Sunday night of December. Here is a quick video showing how we plan to let our kids combine some of their instruments with the song, "Do Lord."
Today is the 500th anniversary of the day that Martin Luther nailed his Ninety-five Theses to the door of All Saints' Church in Wittenberg, Germany. Luther's desire was to have an honest scholarly dialogue concerning some major concerns he had with the Catholic Church of which he belonged. His actions, however, started a major chain of event which resulted in what we now refer to as the Protestant Reformation. Check out this short stop-motion video for more information.
A few summers ago, I taught a photography class to a group of kids at a state-wide music camp. Many of the students that attended the class had marginal cameras at best, but they learned to take good photos with the equipment they owned. That experience got me to thinking that a track which focused on photography might be a good option for our KWA kids at some point. Having been an amateur portrait photographer for several years, I’ve gleaned a few pointers to help beginners get started. The tips below apply mainly to taking portraits, but they can also be utilized in other forms of photography as well.
In my opinion, the primary difference between a snapshot and a portrait boils down to two things: lighting and composition. If one can grasp these two basic concepts early, then the other components of the photography art (posing, lens selection, camera settings, etc.) usually can be conquered later as the student continues to develop. Furthermore, neither of these primary items necessarily requires expensive equipment.
Concerning lighting, one of the easiest and least expensive ways for a novice photographer to get great portraits is to shoot outside about an hour before sunset. At that time of day, the sun has moved behind local trees and/or buildings. Everything is still well lit, but the large open sky is providing the primary illumination - not the harsh sun. With a typical consumer camera, one will have about thirty minutes or so before it starts to get too dark to shoot. When shooting at other times of the day, I try to position my subject on the edge of "open shade" - still in the shadows, but just barely. Cloudy days are also great for portraits. The main point to remember is this: To make the most pleasing outdoor photos in most locations, avoid direct sun-light when possible.
Regarding composition, the general rule of thumb is this: Portraits usually look best when the subject's eyes are about 1/3 from the top of the frame. Most pictures also look the most pleasing when there is a bit more room in front of the subject than behind.
The other compositional component of which to be mindful is the background. Make sure everything complements the subject. While there are always exceptions, a good default approach is to make sure the background is not overly bright or distracting. Never be afraid to reposition your subject if the current location does not lend itself to a flattering portrait. Other than that, just experiment with what looks best. Move the camera position and/or your subject around within a scene until a location/angle is found that works best.
With these basic tips in mind, quality portraits are easily within the reach of almost any photographer regardless of their equipment, age, or experience.
One of our former KWA students will be leading our newly formed youth praise band. Brianna is now in the eighth grade, and she has been taking guitar and voice through our Worship Arts Academy for two and a half years. Our immediate plan is for the youth praise band to accompany our youth ensemble as they lead worship a couple of times this fall. In the spring, this ministry will expand to leading worship on a more regular basis.
The picture included here was taken this past Sunday afternoon as the team rehearsed. The band's first worship leading opportunity will be in a few weeks. Our Youth Worship Arts Ministry is scheduled to lead a thanksgiving service for a halfway house ministry that our church supports in a nearby town.
While we've had talented singers in our Youth Worship Arts Ministry for years, having skilled youth instrumental leader has been a challenge. Hopefully, this is changing. Through the efforts of our Kids Worship Arts Ministry (large scale ministry) and our Worship Arts Academy (private lessons), our goal is to equip the next generation of instrumentalists and singers for worship leadership in the Kingdom.
If you are looking for a good anthem to sing with any combination of kids, youth, and adults, "It’s Christmas" should be on your short list. Made popular and written by Chris Tomlin, the song includes a medley of "Away in a Manger," "Go, Tell it on the Mountain," and a new refrain entitled, "It’s Christmas." Our particular arrangement is arranged by Jay Rouse and is published by Word Music.
The included traditional Christmas carols have been given a jazzy/syncopated rhythmic treatment. Our kids seem to really enjoy it. We are singing the anthem as part of our Adult Choir Christmas program, and we are inviting any KWA kids present in the audience for that presentation to join us on stage as we sing it. We are also planning on incorporating the song into our KWA Celebration night the first Sunday evening of December.