Saturday, December 11, 2010

A Good Question!

I recently received an e-mail question and I really hope some of you can help me answer it.

One of the things I find challenging is the size of my primary. There are 120 children in our Primary and most of them come on a regular basis. So I have 60 kids for jr, then 60 for sr each week. That's great, isn't it? But it makes some activities impractical or too expensive or just too chaotic in our crowded room.

So my question is: do you have any ideas for working with a really big primary? Ideas for adapting ideas for lots and lots of children? Things that work especially well with large groups?

I have never, in all my experience worked with a group quite this size, but I know that many of you do week after week. I have the utmost admiration for you!! May I ask those of you with large primaries to leave a comment and help Jenny out. Pretty please... I know she will appreciate your comments and I will also!


matilda said...

I have spent a lot of time with large, primaries. I have seen the primary room so packed with children you can't possibly learn all their names. I would sit at the piano with my pianist and the primary class lists and try to learn their names during sharing times.
There are some ideas that are simply not practical with huge primaries, and others that you could never do with small ones.
One thing I found very successful were songs with parts. With a large chorus songs like "Love is Spoken Here" really sound amazing. The kids love that too because they can really hear the parts being sung and it inspires them to sing well.
When you know in advance that not every child in the primary will get a "turn" in whatever game you play, and that it will be difficult to know all their names there are definitely some things that you can do to still make it a great experience.
1. Ask a teacher to choose a child in their class who sang well/reverently/knew all the words etc. and have them say that child's name aloud (they know the kids names!).
2. Play games that everyone can participate in, like hide the beanbag (then sing loud and soft to find it), sing better than the other side of the room, singing meters.
3. In a small primary you can have the children help you make visual aids, but in a large primary I would ask one class to help with them.
4. I would poll the children by sending sheets to each class asking for each child's favorite song, then I would create a top 10 favorite songs and reveal them to the kids during singing time and we would sing them. They loved that, and it was a great way to know what they wanted to sing, so when we have a few minutes extra time we can sing one of their favorites.
Sometimes it's a challenge to keep a big group focused. I have a conductors baton that I have covered with lights that are battery operated. You can get them at Target and cost about $1. They have about 20 lights on them. When the kids see the baton light up they look at it, it attracts their attention and they quiet down.
I also like to move around the room. I don't just stand at the front, sometimes I'll stand in the middle, or right at the back and have everyone stand up and turn around. That way everyone gets to be up close for at least part of the singing time.
One thing I really like about having a big Senior Primary at Christmas time is pulling out the Hymn books and having them sing right out of the book all the Christmas songs. It makes older kids feel so grown up. They always respond well when we use the Hymn book because they like not being treated like the little kids.

Betts Family said...

I have a big primary and I started a blog with all the ideas that have proved successful and inexpensive. . .check out for some ideas.

Kathleen said...

Thanks for the link! I hope you will keep posting your ideas. :o)

Shane and Kim said...

We have 90 children and recently I was asked to do singing time right before church so I went to the library had enough paper cut in half so each child could have half a piece of paper. They wrote their fav. song on it or one they wanted to sing. Then I had them make a snow ball by crunching the paper all up. Then we had a reverent snowball fight. They through there paper at me. The kids loved it. Rules - can only through it once, has to stay were it landed. I started picking up the snow balls and reading them. We sang most of them. The rest I have been using for days we need to fill time.

shannon said...

I was the Chorister for a couple years with a similar sized primary. There are a few things I remember that were pretty helpful.(I moved and was called to the same position but have a very small primary but I still use these tricks and they really help!)

1.We utilized choosing sticks--tongue depressors with each of the children's names on them all put in a can. Once a child was chosen it came out until the next Sunday. This allowed me to learn names to faces as well as be fair about who got a chance to participate.

2. Prepare throughout the week and arrive early to set up. I found when I took time during primary to put up the flip charts or draw pictures on the board for the songs or set up a game, the kids grew restless and I wasted valuable teaching time. Things ran so much more smoothly when the kids saw I was ready and waiting for them. It not only increased the time I had to teach, but it also set a more reverent tone for primary.

3. Model good behavior when seeking quiet and reverent children. We as leaders set the tone in primary and have the opportunity to invite the Spirit. I've found it effective to be a little silly and creative. If the kids are being overly talkative and loud I will go through a simple series of verbal directions and see if they will follow: "If you can hear me, wiggle your fingers. If you can hear me roll your hands. If you can hear me cross your zip your lips...and throw away the key!" All the while you do the actions and the kids quiet down and start paying attention. You've accomplished this without getting flustered or offending the Spirit. (Yay!)

4. Keep an ear out for children who really love to sing and do it well. Put together a special group to sing in the program or select a song and have them do it for a musical number on any Sunday. The Sr. Primary kids love being apart of something "special" and you never know who you will inspire to cultivate their singing talents.

5. Games Games Games! Teach the songs while playing a game. Stimulate as many learning styles as you can and have fun doing it. Viual flip charts with pics and words, Kinesthetic--games, Auditory--have painist play pieces of the song or echo the words with the kids. What ever you do, just have fun. The kids will learn without knowing it cause they'll be having so much fun. I really love cause she has so many great game ideas.
Good luck!!

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