Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Coconut Unbrellas~ Choosing Children

There are many ways to choose children to help in Primary.  Probably the most common is the popsicle sticks colored red and green on the ends. I find that I like to have my own choosing idea just for singing time.  This is a personal choice and is not necessary in all situations.  Here is why I choose to do it this way.

  • I don't love the sticks.  I feel as though a lot of times the sticks get mixed up and different people are pulling the wrong way.  It also seems that the same children are still being called up, even with this way of choosing.  This is strictly my opinion, and just an observation from 16 years in Primary.  I believe it can work, but often doesn't.
  • Our primary is large... like 120 children large.  When you have large Primaries, it becomes very easy to miss having some children help.  It becomes a sea of faces sometimes and names tend to escape me.  Some are very quiet as well and get overlooked.  So when you have a large Primary, I find it helpful to have a way to pick names.
  • Another issue is that children want to be called up ALL the time.  They feel that if a few weeks have gone by and they haven't been called that it is their turn and everyone else has had multiple turns in between.  It's not true, but in their mind it is more than true. :)
  • Bored.  Children get bored with the same thing.  As a matter of fact, adults get bored with the same thing.  Or maybe just this adult does! :)  I like to have things new and fresh.

So how does this way of choosing solve these problems?  
I'll tell you!

I make a choosing activity every few months. (That is about how long it takes to get through all the names in Primary with just Singing Time using them.  If your Sharing Time also would like to use them, that will lessen the time substantially.)   I find something I can attach names on labels to that is inexpensive or free.  I then print out names for all the Primary children on small labels.  I print all the Junior in red ink and the Senior in blue ink.  That way if they ever get mixed up, it is easy to figure out which container they go into.  I then find 2 containers, one for junior and one for senior.  You could use a generic container and just switch out the object.  I just like to have different containers because that is me. :)  

I then present this to Primary and explain the rules:
  1. Every name is in there 1 time.
  2. You will get a chance to be picked and when you do, you get to keep the object.
  3. If you have received your object then you have been picked already.
  4. You must wait until everyone has had a chance to receive their object.
  5. If there are still objects in the container, then there are still other children who have not yet been picked.
  6. If at the end you did not receive an object then come to me immediately to fix the problem.
Why this process works:
First, every child can understand that they get something.  Then if they have gotten one and there are still more, then everyone still hasn't gotten one.  It completely ends the whining and asking of when their turn is coming.  If one child (usually a little one) asks why they haven't been called, it is easy enough to say, "Have you gotten your (object)?"  if "No" then "Yours is in there and you will get a turn!"  or if "Yes" then "That's great!  But look at how many other children still haven't had a turn?"  Conversation over. Simple as that.

How I handle misbehavior or irreverence when choosing children:  I let the children know up front that when I am choosing names, I will look to see if the child has been participating and trying.  If they are not doing what they should, I will not have a problem putting their name back in the container.  (As a note, I do not read the name aloud until I am sure that I will choose that child.  I do not what to shame the child, but I will not choose someone who is not ready to help.)

What I like to do in cases of inactive or regularly missing children.  I will call their name off.  If I am told they are not there or sometimes I'll hear, "They never come!"  I will take a second to ask if anyone knows that child.  If they do, I ask them to tell that particular person when they see them at school or wherever it may be,  that we missed them in Primary and hope to see them there soon.  It reinforces friendships and that Primary is for everyone... it's called missionary work! :)

Sorry for such a long post!  I will be posting more ideas as the months progress and I make different ones.  Some ideas are stickers, table scatter, crayons, small pieces of candy, etc...

 This picking children idea came from a recent vacation right before starting my first week as chorister.  I had a bunch of mini umbrellas that were given to me years ago and had yet to be used.  I thought they were perfect for my first way to choose children.  I did have a little reservation about using these just because of the pointy end of the umbrella, but after discussing it with the children in Primary on how to properly handle and use them, I felt they were going to be great in handling this object.  This will be specific to your Primary.  Choose what fits you best!

The coconuts I found at the dollar store and attached straws with the flags for Junior and Senior.  Simple and fun! The kids are loving it and excited to see what color umbrella they get. :)

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