When I stood up today, I did a few things to calm them down and it worked beautifully! I've done these things in the past, but not in a while (because my primary kids are usually so reverent for me) so it was so satisfying to see how effective this was in changing the kids from noisy to reverent.
1. First, when I stood up, I pointed out that I could see they were being noisy and wiggly today and asked them to wiggle their fingers extra hard while we sang the wiggle song. When the song ended, one of the primary children was misbehaving so I said we were going to sing it one more time so xx could finish getting his wiggles out. We sang it again. (I rarely call someone out and I would not want anyone to feel bad. This time, it worked where I was gently teasing him but enough to get him to stop!)
2. I showed them the fun activity we were going to do. Everyone's hands went straight up. I said, "I'd like Rosie to come up. She has been so reverent today. Remember reverence isn't just about sitting still, but about paying attention. Rosie had her arms folded all during opening exercise. She paid attention to the speakers when they spoke, and to the children when they came up to share their thoughts (during a different special activity we had before opening exercise ended)." Rosie felt good, and it worked like a charm to get everyone else to sit still and try really hard to be reverent.
3. For the next song, I called up another child that had been reverent BEFORE I had to remind them to be reverent, congratulated her on the things she had done well to show reverence, and let her take a turn in our activity.
4. For the song after that, I asked a teacher to pick out someone that had been very reverent in their class.
In Senior Primary, I did something similar, mostly relying on teachers to help choose a reverent child. The first child I called up was one that I praised for being so reverent the previous week, and that I knew I had not had a chance to call up last Sunday. I also explained why I had called her up. I still had a few joke-ster boys in the corner, but I lead the music standing directly in front of them and that, as usual, did the trick.
After Junior Primary, the child that was misbehaving (for which we had to single the wiggle song twice), came up to me and said, "I don't like to sing very much." I think that was his version of an apology, and that his teacher may have made him apologize. Not everyone likes the same thing, so I think it's fair to acknowledge that some kids don't like to sing. I don't believe in forcing children to sing if they don't like to sing, though I would say I still have an almost 100% rate both in primary and during the primary program. So, I responded, "That's okay, but you still need to be reverent and not make funny noises during the song."
I have the vague notions for a lesson next week to focus on the music in a way that will further encourage reverence. More to come ...
P.S. For those who asked for the potato head ... I am trying to carve out some time to scan it. I work full-time and just switched to a new job role. The ramp-up has been extremely time-consuming. More to come!