Transition Times with Ease and Purpose
Transition times can be tricky as kids are dropped off or picked up. Clothing, crafts and handouts must be rounded up, and everything must be connected with parents. Room dynamics change quickly and dramatically as the population changes. This is when leaders’ attention and juggling skills are tested, as they deal with getting kids and their stuff in and out.
Ideally, transition times help kids feel good about kids ministry, and should be “open-ended” and easy to quit. They should be easy to do with one kid or large groups, and they should prepare kids for whatever is next. Don’t do activities that have an end or goal that you may have to abandon before completion. As an example, don’t start stories that may be cut short when ministry time begins.
Plan simple things that will attract the boisterous kids, while you also offer your quieter, introverted kids something too.
For opening transition, add a countdown clock video in the background about 5 minutes before you want ministry time to begin. That way, leaders and students will be ready and anticipating the start of your ministry time together. Some kids will simply watch the countdowns, while others will let them be the sub-conscious background to their activities.
Countdowns keep everyone aware of when things will start, and focus their attention on the next activity. It’s like watching the countdown to a rocket blast-off. After “3-2-1-0!!” everybody is ready to start. It’s a great audio/visual cue that something important is about to begin.
Activities should be as self-tending as possible, with little-to-no cleaning or pick-up. Avoid transition activities with lots of parts that must be collected and stored. Trust me–opening & closing transition time is not the time to start macaroni art projects!
To illustrate these points, here are a few transition time suggestions for quiet and exuberant kids:
- Sing songs! Kids can sing along quietly or exuberantly. They can join in as soon as they arrive, or leave at any point in any song. Use DVDs or video files that make it easy to join in singing. For transition times, pick songs that are fun, and involve minds and bodies. Let kids move, and let them make up their own motions, if they want. In smaller groups, try rotating kids into leading songs.
- For your quiet kids, let them do quiet solo activities, like coloring lesson-related materials, “alone time” with books, puzzles, blocks or other toys.
- For open-ended group activities with a leader (any age): try “Simon Says,” and variants of that game. Make a list of “Simon Says” things you want to do, before you leave home. You’ll only need to make the list once. Start rotating kids in the role of “Simon” as the group gets larger. Let each kid lead once or twice, then select another one. Offer suggestions to the leaders. If a child doesn’t want to lead, move on to another quickly.
- Games like “Duck, Duck, Goose!” are good, because they can go on forever, or be stopped at any time. “Musical chairs” is not good, because it works toward an end that probably won’t synchronize with the beginning of ministry time.
Bob Singleton, Head Worship Guy at God’s Kids Worship; worship ministry leader, Grammy & Dove nominated kids music producer & composer.
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