All posts for the month January, 2006

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Ok – So, Mr. Carrey isn’t holding up his thumb – but this is Rules of Thumb 7 – count the fingers homey!

Here we go: Try to use volunteers as much as possible when teaching – I mean, hey, they’re right there in the room with you… what a great visual aid! Kids always pay attention to their peers – it will also create an attention-getter.

Using helpers from the audience gives others a chance to participate in the lesson. I try to find something that a volunteer could do – even if the lesson doesn’t call for it. here are a few suggestions:

  1. Play the part of a charecter in a story.
  2. Hold some of the object, pictures, signs…
  3. Dress up in garb that relates to the objects (Doctor, Scientist, Hockey Player, Cop, Professional Wrestler, etc).
  4. Demonstrate a skill that relates to the lesson (jump rope, sing, play an instrument, make strange noises, quote a verse, recite the books of the Bible, sports related skills – you get the idea) – this could be completly impromptu.
  5. Read a Bible verse related to the lesson – race someone else to look up the verse and read it.
  6. Interview them like a reporter.

If your lesson doesn’t need volunteers or you cannot think of a way to involove indvidules or a small group of kids, then try to get the entire crowd involved by repeating phrases after you or mimicking actions that are relevant to the lesson – make your lessons great!

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Two Part Rule:

Have a place to keep your props before you’re ready to present it. You want to create an element of surprise – this can happen if no props or objects are seen before they are presented or displayed. This will help curious hands from disturbing your props.

Have a place to put your items after the lesson is over with. Behind the puppet stage or under a covered table or perhaps it’s something you can give away after you’ve taught the lesson. Wherever it goes, just make sure that it’s out of the way for the rest of the lesson so it doesn’t become a distraction. You’re also not going to want children getting their hands on things that you need to keep nice.

There are various kinds of places to keep your stuff before and after the lesson. Let’s examine a few.

The Show Basket or Bucket:
I got this idea from the guy in my last post, David Ginn. He has a large basket, box, bucket or some kind of container that he calls his “show basket”. Everything starts in the basket and then as it’s used in the performance – it goes back into the basket.

A buddy of mine actually has a place built into his stage backdrop in the children’s church room where a curtain opens and a table on casters, with the day’s prop(s) on display ready to be used. If you use a puppet stage you could have the items within reach, just behind the curtain as well.

Suitcase Or Box With A Lid:
This is essentially the same as the show basket idea with one exception: you can close the lid so the items are not as tempting to disturb as you are shaking hands with the kids at the door. My buddy and children’s pastor, Jeff Post, has developed and entire show around this box concept called: THE BIG BLUE BOX Sammy Smith has two nice show cases available (the professional prop case and the baby prop case). – it looks sharp and the kids will know that it’s the box where you keep all your cool stuff.

Magic Table:
I was just talking about this with my good friend Ben Murray. It’s basically a large box on wheels with the back open and shelves for props inside. Mine is on wheels and can fold down into a suitcase sized box with a handle for easy transportation. It’s made by Joe Lefler and you can have your local magic shop order it for you.

Just Cover It:
Use some decorative material to cover the item if it’s too large to fit in a box or behind a curtain.

Here’s a little tip about displaying props or items to create anticipation: Don’t display it unless you know for sure you are going to use it. If you create the anticipation in the class and then never use the item – they will attack you! Or, they will just be really disappointed.

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Many have asked what I study when it comes to developing my skills as a presenter. The answer is not as easy as going to the local Christian bookstore and picking up a book or actually going to the Children’s Ministry Sites and ordering the next wave in curriculum, manual or DVD. I do something that those of you harsh, anti-secular children’s pastors would never think of doing. I study and learn from those in the real world – who do what I do, which is present and perform – but, they do it for the masses of children in the secular, public world, as magicians, clowns, jugglers, storytellers and the sort.

I have recently revived my interest in a guy named, David Ginn. Do you know this guy, have you met him… heard of him? He is the godfather of the kidshow/elementary school assembly. Ask any children’s magician who David Ginn is and the probability that they are performing a version of one of his routines or using lines that have been made famous from his books are greater then the people who actually know how David Blaine makes himself float.

I love to entertain kids and educate them at the same time. So my interest in David Ginn began back as a Jr. High school student. A children’s pastor who I was helping (Jeff Post) allowed me to borrow a few of his books on children’s magic. David Ginn’s “Children Laugh Louder” was one of them. I also read his copy of the famous book “KidBiz” by the same author. It started me on my journey as a performer in my own home town. I also realized that it was helping me to develop my children’s ministry lessons. I have continued to collect his books, videos, DVD’s and props to this day – I have even gotten the chance to meet him and see him lecture – what a great guy!

If you’re interested in taking an interesting journey into the world of the children’s entertainer, then get some of David’s books or DVD’s “Professional Magic for Children” is a great place to start. “Children Laugh Louder” and the most famous “KidBiz” are the next two to get your hands on. Tell him Jamie Doyle sent you and he will say, “…Who?”

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Practice Makes Perfect

The old sayaing goes something like; “Practice makes perfect… and perfect is as stupid does…” or something like that. Practice your lesson. Know it inside and out from start to finish. You don’t need to be distracted by accidentally dropping props or not knowing how to hold something so it can best be seen. Stand in front of a mirror if you need to see if you look natural. Analyze how the objects are to be used and make sure that everyone will be able to see it and understand. You may need to record yourself on video or audio so you can make adjustments to the words you use or which words or phrases to over emphasize. Give these children your best!

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Over the years I have carried a number things in my pockets prior to Children’s Church services that have helped me to connect with kids and sometimes, just for a laugh. Here are a few in no particular order that you might try – if you come up with a few, e-mail me and let me know… Better yet: send a response to this post with your thoughts!

A Pair of Pliers – every week, a kid will approach me and show me his/her loose tooth. I will say, “here, let me help you with that…” And I reach into my back pocket and display the pliers (The bigger, the better). “Open wide and you can get a visit from the tooth fairy tonite!” Kids will usually laugh and cover their mouths. Parents are amazed at how witty this is.

A small “nerf-like” ball – As the crowd gets bigger, I will just toss it out and have the kids toss it back. They actually go nuts over this. I have also used my juggling bean bags to toss one out during some juggling. Then have a kid toss it back. We see how far away I can toss it and catch it again and keep juggling.

A Small Birthday Candle and Kitchen Lighter – Somebody always tells me that their birthday is either coming up this week, or it was last week, or it’s their dog’s birthday. I pull out the little candle and light it while singing happy birthday in opera-style. They get to blow out the candle and I have all the kids who are nearby cheer for them, their dog or brother – whoever!

Pocket Magic Trick – This is an obvious one. But kids are always asking me to do a trick, so I have one in my pocket most times. Some suggestions – a thumbtip and thumbtip streamer, I produce the streamer from a borrowed dollar bill; Some coins for a few coin slieghts; sponge balls for a simple multiplying trick; Ring and a rope routine; check your local magic shops for these items.

Miniature Wallet – This is actually a magic trick that sells under the name “Mistaken Identity” I don’t actually do the trick part of it, I just use the little wallet. I scanned, shrunk, printed and laminated my driver’s license, credit cards, and family pictures I also bought some miniature play money to keep in it. And I talk about shrinking my wallet in the washing machine.

A Microphone Without A Cord – I will walk thru the crowd and pretend that I am a new reporter and interview kids with the microphone.

A digital camera – I learned this from my good friend, Chris Kliner. Just have the kids do funny faces, fun poses, actions etc. This keeps them occupied for a long time. Then, next week have the photos up on the big-screen, so all can see them.

Tiny Squirt Gun – During the hot months, kids show up at our church in shorts and t-shirts. So have a little squirt gun and just randomly squirt it over the crowd. The water lands on them and they don’t know where it comes from. I also get the back of kids’ legs. I will always give in and let a few kids, squirt me!

Pad of paper and pencil – I will draw pictures of kids in the audience. They are always funny looking “Kid-Art” type of drawings and the kids always laugh. So I sign it and give it to the kid that I drew a picture of. I also draw a “Droodle” and quiz kids to see if they know what it is.

ok, that’s enough for now – questions, e-mail me.

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Be excited when you teach and instruct the boys and girls. I wouldn’t want to be a Christian if you don’t look like you want to be one. Smile! Be exuberant and bold to proclaim God’s Word. You only get to see these children for an maybe an hour or a week. I want them to know me as the most exciting person they know who loves Jesus. I really believe that you can swing your class intensity by how your presentation is given. You need to match and go a few dgrees above where you want the kids to be, in thier intensity, when you finish teaching them. So… Suck it up, toss aside a little dignity and be a visual yourself.

I don’t care what you think of Bush… this is not a political website. I just needed a “Thumbs Up” Picture.

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So, I’m a fan of the Simpson’s – I’m sure many of you out there are too. If you are not a fan, you probably really hate the show. I hope you don’t abandon this blog because of it… I have always loved this picture. But a lot of people go into thier teaching time with very little on thier brain as to what they are really talking about.

Always be prepared by knowing your lesson ahead of time so you know exactly how to present it. Have the main points of the lesson memorized so you can make it personal. I’ve heard it said over and over: “If you don’t have something planned, the children will.” Allow yourself ample time to get to know every part of your lesson. This probably means that you should also practice

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