One of the best ways to engage an audience full of kids is to bring a few of their peers on stage. To many storytellers I know, the very thought of having kids on stage to help with the story gives them heart palpitations. It’s true: When you work with kids, there’s a chance a child could derail the storyline or not cooperate or start crying or throw you off or …
Let’s face it, any number of unexpected moments are possible when you start to include kids in the story. But here’s the thing: The reward of what happens when kids are included in the Bible story is worth risking the unknown.
Your fears are probably legitimate. We’ve all been in an audience where the child on stage didn’t cooperate with the storyteller. But here are some answers to help you overcome those fears.
“What if I pull up a child who’s never heard the story before and doesn’t know how to respond to the action?”
We have a huge heart for kids and never want them to feel uncomfortable. However, research shows kids learn through tension. As the storyteller, you can guide them to how they should “fight Goliath” or “complain like the Israelites” within the context of the story. Who knows? How you explain complaining or fighting may be a lightbulb moment for someone in the audience as well.
Even if kids do know the story, they may freeze on stage when asked to say what David or Joseph might have said. Be ready with a quick phrase that you can “feed” to the child to help them win in the moment.
“The story calls for eight kids. I only have eight kids, no one will be in the audience.”
You don’t need an audience to tell a good story. In fact, those kids will learn more about the story you’re telling if they’re all immersed in the action on stage. They move from passive learning to active learning, from watching to experiencing. This is most often not a bad thing.
“My time is limited, and it takes more time to choose the kids from the audience and wait for them to come on stage.”
This is a true statement. Depending on the size of your room and the number of kids, this could take a while. Here’s an idea: As kids are coming into the room, pre-select the children you’ll need for the story. Have them sit toward the front of the room. They’ll be ready to come on stage when you need them.
Adding kids to the story will lengthen the story as well, simply because there’s more wait time as the child figures out what to do or say. Knowing that beforehand allows you to tweak the story to fit within your time constraints.
Those are just a few simple ideas to get you started. How do you incorporate children into the Bible story? Share your thoughts below!