Friday, December 23, 2011

New Sunbeams

One of the cutest and potentially the most frustrating tasks as a chorister (and presidency member, we don't want to overlook them), is orienting new sunbeams to the primary schedule and structure.

Many of you have been having them come in for a few weeks, which is great.
Many of you already do the singing time in nursery, so the kids are familiar with you and may know several songs already.
Many of you are worried about how you're going to start teaching new songs and be able to give attention to the little ones without them monopolizing your time.  Especially those of you with combined Jr/Sr.  Scary!

Here are a couple of ideas for you, if I think of more I'll post them.  I've tried the egg one, and just thought of the Sunbeam Airlines one, so it could be a disaster.  Of course, your circumstances will be different (anyone with 20 sunbeams coming in?  I know you're out there!) so adapt and use them as creative springboards.  And of course, as always, share with us what works for you!

Sunbeam Orientation Idea #1:  Keep the egg warm
This is an idea I saw (I think) on the I Sing U Sing blog.  Print and laminate these eggs, enough for each child plus a few extras.  Find a nest or something like that, and fill it with small treats (I used jelly beans).  As each sunbeam comes in, have them choose an egg and explain to them the following - you're going to tape the egg to their chair, they have to sit on the egg to keep it warm, if they keep their egg warm all during singing time they will get a treat out of the nest {show them the nest}.  If their egg gets cold, they don't get a treat but they can try again next week or during sharing time.  Add your own flourishes to get them excited, but dude.  They're 3.  Candy is cool, and eggs are cool.  During your 20 minutes, if the eggs are getting cold, grab the nest and wave it in front of them.  See if it works!

Sunbeam Orientation Idea #2:  Sunbeam Airlines
OK, this one can be fun, but you do have to have at least 1-2 weeks to dedicate to this theme.  The key here is two visual aids.  #1:  Flight wings.  You can print Sunbeam Airlines official pilot wings here.  #2:  Seatbelts.  I know, I know.  Seatbelts?  It can work, I assure you.  They're easy to assemble - long strips of fabric and velcro.  I don't have pictures, but I'll see if I can get some done for you.  As you begin singing time, address the primary as a flight attendant on Sunbeam Airlines.  Give them a spiel on exits, and play it up as much as you want.  Tell the sunbeams that they need to fasten their seatbelts, because you're going to go on a wild singing ride today!  Assist the teacher in "buckling" each child in, which entails looping the fabric underneath the chair and velcro-ing it on their lap.  They are clearly meant for effect and not to actually strap the child in.  That would be weird, and I'm pretty sure illegal.  So don't make them tight.  Or real.  The goal is for them to stay in their seats for the entire flight and earn their wings.  If they earn them, use tape, a clothespin, or a magnet to fasten the wings to each child's shirt/dress.  I would laminate them so you can use them week after week.  If you want to include the whole primary, print enough for each child.

That's all I got so far.  I'll keep thinking, though.  The purpose of these activities is to train the children to sit in their chairs.  It's a really long time to sit for these little ones, so have fun and be patient with them.

Also helpful for sunbeams:

  • Make sure to incorporate a lot of actions, standing up, sitting down, stretching, wiggle songs and nursery songs.
  • PLEASE don't overlook them, and by overlook them I literally mean don't always look to the back of the room or to the older kids who automatically grab your attention.  Make an effort to look each of them in the eye every few minutes.  
  • Pick at least one of them as a helper each week, even if it means they get more turns for the first little while.  

Let us all know how the transition goes!
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  1. We have had some big sunbeam groups the last few years. Instead of worrying about keeping 14 sunbeams sitting and singing or listening during sharing time, we dismissed them to class and went around and did a couple weeks of sunbeam only singing and sharing time. Eventually they stayed longer and longer until they were ready. Made the transition a lot easier. Our super fabulous nursery leaders do a great job of preparing them to sit anyway, so that helps too.

  2. Thanks for this! Love your cute ideas. I've got a bunch of 'em coming in... we'll see how they do learning to sit still. I'm excited to try these ideas! Although, I'd probably want to do them for the whole Junior Primary because they would most definitely feel left out and bummed if they didn't get eggs.

  3. We had 30 Sunbeams last year. I teach one of the classes. The #1 thing that has kept them in their seats is putting them in the adult size chairs. It works like a charm. I discovered it on Sunday by accident when the wrong chairs were out. The chairs are so big, they can't get out of them easily.

  4. We have a new class of 13 sunbeams this year! I used the idea with the eggs. I cut them out with my silhouette in two colors. I have a cute ceramic yellow "chick" bowl for spring, so I filled that with some of my Easter fill grass. While everything was crazy and everyone (even the big kids!) were trying to figure out their new spots, I went to each new sunbeam with my egg basket. Luckily I knew them from going in to do nursery music. I told them how excited I was that they are in the big primary now and that I have a very special job for them. I explained the eggs and let them choose their egg. The teachers really got into it, too. Pretty soon some of the older kids wanted eggs and I told them it was just for our new sunbeams. I couldn't believe it!! Everything was crazy and we had sharing time first instead of singing time. Those sunbeams were so serious about keeping their egg warm that when some of them were invited to come help with sharing time, they refused saying that they HAD to keep their egg warm!

  5. Used your awesome idea for our class of 10 sunbeams this year. I made a nest with a picture of a mommy chick sitting on her eggs. In the nest I put a selection of dum-dum suckers. I took the egg and the cute, colored eggs into the nursery and talked to the new Sunbeams the week before they would be coming into primary for the first time. I explained the egg/nest/treat situation. They were so excited. Worked like a charm. They never left their seats. Once I had to move a disruptive little Sunbeam (my own child :)) to another seat, as I lifted him off, he was like, "no! No! My egg is getting cold!" of course, we picked up the egg and it moved along with him :) I even had moms tell me their little sunbeams were talking about their eggs at home. If you have Sunbeams coming in, I highly recommend this activity! Thanks for sharing.


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