Saturday, September 25, 2010

Program Practice


I feel real sympathy for the kids during the practices for the sacrament meeting program. I know it is necessary, I just wish that it could somehow be easier on the children. It must seem like a nightmare to them. Think about it - two hours of sitting in chairs that don’t fit while watching adults talk to each other and shuffle children, with intermittent breaks of singing songs that you’ve sung over and over and over again. And sometimes getting reproved, with love, of course. It feels like a ordeal to me too.

So I am anticipating some restlessness, and trying to think of ways that I can redirect attention and forestall problems where I can. I’m not much into bribery and treats, so my ideas are pretty simple really. Our practices happen on Sunday during primary time because everyone lives too far to come in on an extra day. So I need quick reminders that are themselves reverent and appropriate for Sunday. I have my reverence feather, a couple of secret pictures, and some reverence riddles prepared (see this post) for one of the weeks.

I’ve also prepared a “secret sack” with different pictures of body parts to point out reverent actions. When needed, a child is called on and he or she takes a picture from the bag and asks, “What should you do with your _______ to show reverence?” Allow everyone to respond by showing the action and then move into the song. I’ll just do one when it seems necessary.



Suggested points: Mouth or Lips - speak quietly, smile, sing songs, remain closed when someone is talking, etc. Eyes - Look at the one who is talking, close during the prayer, watch my face during the song, etc. Hands - Keep still, raise to take part, keep in your lap, folded or at your sides while we sing, etc. Arms - fold during the prayer, keep still, raise to take part, etc. Feet - walk quietly, remain still, etc. Ears - Listen to what is being said, etc. Head - Turned toward me, bow during the prayer, etc.

I’m also going to try Matilda’s measles idea one week. I expect the kids will want to sing well enough to get a spot. How does your primary handle the program fidgets? Our program isn't until November so I have a couple of weeks to make plans or to change my mind. Does anyone have any other good ideas for me?

I know something like this takes a bit of time, but it surely doesn’t take much more than stopping to scold every few minutes.

12 comments:

shannon said...

I'm impressed with all your great ideas. I don't really understand why any ward should need more than one practice. (We only practice once - the Sunday before) As Primary Pres, i try to keep it simple. For one thing, we don't have all the kids say their "talks" AT ALL during practice (we have about 60 kids who speak) - just walk up to the microphone and say their name. They can practice their words at home. I also suggest to the music leader that we not have many (if any) solos, duets and trios - it just makes the coordinating who goes where and when more complicated. We also have all the kids grouped by color, so when it's their turn to go up, a leader holds up a small red card and all the red head up to the podium and form a line. This really cuts down on time needed to practice. Depending on the size of your unit, i'm sure there are lots of ways of adjusting and making it simple, etc. It's really important to me that we not make the kids feel like it's a performance, rather an opportunity to share their testimonies while bringing the spirit into the meeting. Too often I think it's the leaders who feel like everything has to be "just right," which leads to way to much "practice time."

: ) Paula said...

Throughout the months of August and September I have been using the "bribery" method in my preparations for the primary program (which was yesterday-whew!). I bought four boxes of Mike & Ikes candy from the dollar store and I'd hand out a few here and there for good behavior, for great singing, or during games.

So yesterday during the SLOW part of the program when the children were most restless--we had "Faith" "The Holy Ghost" and "Come Follow Me" all in a row (with speakers in between), I held up a sign that said "Sing so Mike & Ike can hear you" before the song "The Holy Ghost." It ended the wiggles and perked everyone up and they sang so well. After the end of the three hour block, I handed out snack zip bags with Mike & Ikes and cookies and a note that said "Thank you for singing today." I am a huge fan of the "bribery" method.

The Children Sing said...

Shannon, Good for you for keeping it simple! I'm sure those with whom you work love you for it!

Paula, LOL - no question, bribery works. ;o)

Brittney said...

I have white glove that I take on and off. When the kids start getting restless, I quietly slip on the glove and start doing subtle things with my hands that symbolize reverence (I cover my mouth, put my hand behind my ear, fold my arms, etc). The kids at first don't notice, but pretty soon every one is watching me quietly. I take it on and off several times during practice or singing time so they pay attention to when it is on. This is also a good way to get them to focus on singing. Good luck! Our program isn't until Nov. 14th, so I have a few weeks until the practices.

Thanks for all of your fun ideas! I've used a lot of them!

-Brittney
afprimarysingingtime.blogspot.com

The Children Sing said...

That's a great idea Brittney; a simple, low key reminder.

Simply Sarah *K* said...

Recently I found an idea...where we give the children a chance to 'serve' by putting the older children next to younger children. The service they are performing is keeping the younger child quiet. I even made up stickers that say "I served in Primary today". I've only used it for 2 Sundays, but it seems to help. Helps the older ones concentrate on someone besides themselves. I like your measle idea! I'm totally going to use it!

Amie said...

I am not a chorister, but I have been involved in the management of a minimum of 5 CSPM. We have over 120 kids involved this year, so 3practices are necessary (2 Sundays and one extra). One easy way to keep reverence during practices is to allow the Sunbeams to come and go as needed. We actually have them sit in the front during the CSMP(where the sacrament tables are) in small chairs, facing the congregation. They walk up to the stairs to sing. This allows them time to move around (up to stairs and down to seats) and allows them "down time" when they are not involved. And NEVER forget the power of a reverence "sticker"! It works wonders with the Juniors! Personally, I do not think sweets are the way to go. stckiness in the chapel is one drawback, not to mention the ill effects of colored dyes... The feather is a cute idea. Maybe a pipecleaner for each of the Juniors to play with while not singing? Just remember that the kids ALWAYS do well for the actual program, even when the practices seem to be total flops. There are the occassional funny faces or tears, but that's part of the charm of the CSMP. Hearing children sing and bear their testimonies is so precious. Those "extra" exhibits(i.e. goofiness or nose picking) are just as delightful! Good luck. Ours is done (phew!)and was wonderful!

MortFamily said...

I'm trying to come up with ideas for the program practice too. I was going to try your idea with the reverent body parts. Where did you get your pictures for that? I was trying to get them off of the friend online but I can't figure out how to. What did you do?

The Children Sing said...

Although I have had a subscription to the Friend for many years and love to look through my hard copies, I also have downloaded the digital pdf copies of the magazine that are online at lds.org. This way I can bring them up at home where I can print out the pages that I need. The church has shared the last 10 years of the magazine in these pdf files and I'm so glad to have digital files as well as the hard copies. Go to this link, choose a magazine and click to open it. It will take a few minutes to open. Once it opens up you can save it to a location on your computer. Once you have it on your own computer you can print the pages. Hopefully. ;o)

The Children Sing said...

Aaacckk! I forgot to type out the link to the pdf files for the Friend. Here it is: http://lds.org/gospellibrary/pdfmagazine/0,7779,594-7-1,00.html#

Tanya Zech said...

I love your ideas everyone! My children feel burned out for sure and cry every time I tell them we are going to church to practice the program ( on Thursdays). For some reason they have practice the program 6 times already! In the sacrament room...no games...no balloons... Nothing.. Candy once in a while.... But really is Just sitting down "revently". ( we are a branch, so no more than 20 children). How do I as a parent, suggest the P. Presidency to make changes?

Kathleen said...

Tanya, I don't have great suggestions for interacting with your presidency. I have been through this so many times, with different people, and I see the problem. The women in your primary obviously feel strongly about having a perfect program. I think, if you feel strongly enough, you may just have to confront them as gently as possible and tell them the truth, as you see it. I agree with you - six additional, more, extra, added, supplementary, or further practices for a program with 20 children seems more than overkill. If you can remember that sometimes these women feel like their ability or reputation is somehow wrapped up in this program, you will be gentle with them. Sometimes the presidency gets pressure from other places, --the stake, the bishopric. Or, at least they feel pressure and so sometimes they respond by moving the pressure on to the children. If you can't tackle it head on, my advice would be to just stay home from the extra practices and protect your children. When they confront you, you can explain the situation from your family's point of view.

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