In my previous post about the top 4 performing styles for kids entertainment events, I talked about what artistic disciplines work best in various children’s venues, including school assemblies. In this post, we’ll go into the factors that make a school assembly show a raging success.
The school assembly is a unique venue in many ways (one of which is you need to be willing to teach), and it is open to more styles of performing compared to other venues. Whatever performing style you use for your show, these four practices that are observed in most SUCCESSFUL school shows will help you make your program more engaging and effective. (I understand that many of these also apply to other venues, but I will indicate only how they apply to elementary schools. For the purposes of this post, I will address only school shows for elementary schools, for children aged 5-12.)
1. Audience Participation
There are many ways to achieve this. Using the call-and-response technique is one, and it can PHYSICALLY and MENTALLY engage the audience. Here’s an example:
Performer: When I name a product made from oil, you answer ‘OIL!’ Sponge on a mop?
Performer: Bags used to shop?
Performer: Pens and their ink?
Performer: Bottles used to drink?
As simple as it may seem, this kind of interaction works and helps the students retain the educational message you’re looking to impart or reinforce.
We all know how great humor is in breaking the ice. It’s a two-way communication: the performer says or does something funny, and then the audience laughs back. It’s a great way to add in the element of fun to your show. But since you also seek to teach in school assemblies, take care not to go overboard with the comedy. Don’t drown out the educational message in too much antics or laughter.
3. Visual Aids
Teachers use visual aids; performers use props. They are actually the same thing. They not only catch the audience’s eyes; they also help kids understand and retain better what you’re there to teach them. And if you are a storyteller who doesn’t use too much props, you can consider your gesticulation as your visual aid. Gestures and movements are a form of communication, too.
4. Dynamic Changes
Change helps hold attention. It can be achieved through many means: volume, mood, tempo, silence, visuals, and so forth. Even a high-energy rock concert that never brings the dynamics down here and there puts me to sleep, so do add some variety to your school show.
Aside from these four, here are three other activities that you can use in school assembly programs. These are not vital, but they can help improve your show.
Music could be considered a subcategory of Dynamic Changes because music changes the mood and energy of the show. Almost every performing style, be it magic or juggling, storytelling or pantomime, can be enhanced with background music. But then again, don’t use music during every second of the show. Remember: the important thing is adding some form of variety.
b. Guests on Stage
This could be a subcategory of Audience Participation. However, there are a few things you can do differently if you ask volunteers to join you on stage.
Everyone is involved
Do not engage a heckler
No limit on how many times
A FEW GUESTS ON STAGE
Guests can do more specific actions
Have fun using ad lib with guests
Keep stage guests to only four or five times
Kids love, love, love playing games. It’s in their DNA. To quickly organize a competition, use the traditional “Boys against Girls.” It works well and involves the entire audience. For example, you can say, “Let’s see who can sing this the best.” You can even go into the audience and do quick individual competitions that teach, such as “Let’s see if anyone can say the words ‘polyethylene terephthalate’.” That would get the kids’ competitive spirits up.
Try these tips and see the difference that they make in your show. And if you have other practices or activities that you incorporate in your school performances to make them more fantastic, please share them below for the benefit of all school show entertainers. Thanks in advance!