When we first began Kids Worship Arts, I really wanted to offer guitar. However, experience had taught me that learning guitar was often a slow, painful, and frustrating process. We needed a better option. Enter the baritone ukulele. It looks like a small guitar, but it has nylon strings which make it easier for little hands.
We purchased eight, because a class much larger than this can quickly become challenging.
We tuned the instruments to an open C chord. (We chose a C Major chord, but any chord would have been fine.) This meant that the four open strings of the instrument made a C major chord without the player having to fret anything. To make other chords, the child simply "barred" (pressed all four strings at the same time) at the 5th fret for an F chord, or at the 7th fret for a G chord. This technique worked great, and kids were up and running with simple songs in the key of C very quickly.
For our advanced guitar class, we use standard baritone ukulele tuning. See the September 14, 2016 post below for more information about this more traditional technique.