How I take an assembly
Ask yourself: "where else are you going to get 300-400 people during a week day forced to sit down and listen to the Christian message?" What an opportunity but also with that comes great responsibility! We need to give the best we can leaving no stone unturned and thinking through the best way we can communicate our message. What can seem a simple 10-15 minute assembly can be the result of days of thought! It is not always like that - just the right material can fall into our minds in minutes and sometimes that is all the time we have!
Much of the content I use from Rock Solid material is adaptable. I also have a selection of assembly books as well as a favourite website for inspiration. One key bit of advice is: Think of one message you want to convey and make that your one aim. I tend to enjoy junior assemblies more because I get more participation from the children (probably my insecurities need that response!).
For me assemblies must have at least 2 of 3 aspects: Participation, visual stimulation, Short explanation + a song and prayer.(oops that's 5 aspects!)
Something to join in with ...
I always start the ball rolling with something fun which will most times involve some children coming to the front and doing a game (e.g. I had a 'wrapping the parcel race' the other day as an intro to the theme of determination - stamps 'stick to one thing until they reach their destination'. At the same time younger children were throwing plastic balls at the contestants to try and hinder them.) Occasionally I may do something on Powerpoint for the whole school as a quiz. If I am fortunate to have a someone with me we will introduce it with some silly banter and then a game. This must not last more than 5 minutes but must be fun and engaging.
Something to see ...
This could again be something on the Powerpoint (Perhaps the Bible story) or some card trick / article to look at / anything for the children to look at ...
Something to learn ...
Here we can apply the things we have done before perhaps with a story, or simply a round up of what has been taught through the story.
Sometimes the children are far too hyper to do anything fun with without you spending half the assembly to get them to be quiet. In such cases I do not encourage involvement or throw out open questions - I answer my own questions and they just have to listen! At those times I rely on a good story and a good visual stimulus. There is nothing more gripping than a good story. This could be a personal story, a Bible story well told or a favourite story.
I have a list of fave stories which I shall collate all in good time. I will also post up some assemblies as ideas. Very often I will check out assemblies.org for ideas and then make up something from what I find that is suitable to my theme and the way I want to convey it. I reckon that it is important that you are comfortable with whatever you do or the children will pick up that you are not and feel uncomfortable also. I.e. don't sing if you feel uncomfortable with it (... also beware of singing and being comfortable with not being able to sing)
If you like me get around a few schools and depend on your Powerpoint technology (which is sad I know) always have backup - a USB stick, your own computer and monitor cable and a monitor. If it is your first time check what facilities they have.
How I run a club
The material I have used over the years is 'Youth for Christ's Rock Solid material. This is an excellent resourse as it deals with subjects which are relevant to young people, gives optional ideas including video clips, and can be adaptable to either a secular group or those more religiously inclined. In schools I go down the middle on this.
I always plan to have more material than I need. I always put the kids into groups. I always use a renumeratory system in the form of paper currency - in the case of young people - 'megabucks' (taken from Rock Solid's "how to handle your money" meeting). It is important that I never take megabucks off a team for wrong behaviour but rather use positive reinforcement. Recently I have started using 'random bucks' made up of 6 different pictures (e.g. cups,stars,flags,hearts,keys,flowers) The young people earn them through the sessions but the value of each symbol is determined by a throw of the random dice at the end (e.g. stars = 6 keys = 2 flowers = 2) The benefit of this is that no one knows who will win till the very end!
I always open up with a 'luck' game such as random dice in which each team chooses a number by turn and if they get it right they get 20 megabucks - if not the others get 5. Also I may do 'random balloon' - I blow up the balloon and let go. Where ever the balloon lands is the team which gets 5 mbs. Silly but fun! - Oh and not forgetting the random hedgehog.
We then have a couple of group games - perhaps pictionary, categories etc. The best games are those that involve the whole team and relate well to the theme. Then we will perhaps have a work sheet or a code breaker. A code breaker is an easy thing to make with todays word processors. Simply make an alphabet a-z underwhich through copy and pasting change text to a dingbat font (I use Journal Dingbats 10). There is the keycode sheet (laminate for continual use). Then on another sheet of paper type out the verse or statement you want them to learn, convert it to the dingbat font, and give each team a copy or two to convert back using the key sheet. Near the end I give a talk which generally lasts no more than 5 minutes which could develop into a discussion.
Then - 'Count up your megabucks!' (or random bucks) The winning team for the session gets a Freddo bar + sweets while each of the rest get a few penny sweets.
Thats it in a nutshell said the squirrel:
- Random games
- Theme related skilled games
- 'crack the code'
- illustrated talk
- final fun game (if time)
- countupyour megabucks
- sweets and go!
For childrens clubs (see Fizzbang) it is much of the same thing but more adaptable agewise with games teaching etc.
How to take a class