You are probably well aware that everyone has a preferred learning style. It's our preference as to how we interact and process the world around us. Some people are experiential, some process by thinking, some by doing, some in relationship with others etc. The list goes on and can get quite complicated. So let's make it simpler. Terry Clutterham of Scripture Union came up with the idea of hearts, heads and hands.
If you are a heart person you prefer to learning by experience; if you are a heads person you like to think about it; and if you are hands person then you like to do. Roughly speaking, any large group of people will have about a third of each learning type in it. In practice that means that if you do your assembly and it's all thinking, then only one third of the children will 'get it'. Worse than that, the other two thirds may well disengage with what you are doing and start to wriggle and mess. So the guide is to make sure that you include something for everyone.
Hang on, how can you get them involved in your Christmas assembly when they are all sitting on the floor in front of you? Well there are some things that you can do. Firstly if it is a smaller school you can give them anything cheap and reproducible like a photocopy of, say, pictures that tell the Christmas story. So from the front you could tell the story, and then have the children retell the story to one another, using the pictures as a guide.
This will then engage their brains in remembering what to say (heads), talking (hearts), and they are actually doing something (hands). You could take this idea one stage further. Mix up the pictures, or even give groups of children a pack of 6 cards with the pictures, mixed up, that they have to put in what they think is the right order before you say anything. Tell the Christmas story and then get them to check if they got it right or they need to change something.
What if it is a big group of children? Think for a moment, how often do we watch chat shows (stay with me, it will all makes sense)? Have you ever considered the fascination of it, no matter what your learning preference. It's because we catch something of the emotion and interaction of the guest and host on the stage, and lose ourselves in that interaction. We also compare our story, and there before make sense of who we are, by listening to their story.
Let that help you in your Christmas primary assembly. Get one of the kids up to help you, and then interact with that child.Let them experience whatever it is that you want to achieve. Get your message across to this one child and you will find that all the children catch it. Remember to keep the hearts, heads and hands involved.Let's apply that.
Returning to our original idea, have six children stand at the front of the assembly holding up large pictures on card of the key elements of the Christmas story:
- Angel (no wings please! They do not have wings) – the annunciation
- Donkey – Mary and Joseph had to travel 70 miles from Nazareth to Bethlehem
- Sign saying 'no room'
- Shepherds – the first visitors
Give the cards out mixed up, and then have another couple of children come and organize the cards. Interact with them. Unless you are very experienced do not allow the rest of the children to start shouting out or else else it will just get out of hand. Then tell the story. Summarize the story by looking at the work done at the beginning of the assembly to see if they got it right.