Five Ways to Get Silence
This is a great game for long car rides. Don’t start off with it—save it for after the first or second rest stop. Hand out pens and a pack of small Post-it Notes to each student. Explain that they may not text or use any electronic devices until the next rest stop. They also must not speak or whisper. Their only means of communication is through the passing of notes. When their pack of Post-it Notes is gone, they must be silent for the rest of the game.
This one works for small groups. If you’re having trouble getting your students’ attention, stand still and place your index finger on the tip of your nose. Make this a rather dramatic gesture. Wait until you catch one student’s eye, and then raise your eyebrows. They will follow suit. Soon you’ll have everyone touching his or her nose and waiting to hear what you’ll say next. This is also a great game to determine who’s going to ask the blessing or who’s going to clean up the dishes.
When you have a larger group and the commotion before a meeting is too loud, stand at the front of the room and say, “Clap once if you can hear me.” Repeat this until someone claps once. Then say, “Clap twice if you can hear me.” Take this up to “Clap five times,” and then go back to one. Soon the room will be engaged in the game. When you stop playing, you’ll have silence to make announcements.
Here’s the Church
This is very much like Nose Goes, only now it’s churchy. Silently—and with grand gestures—fold your hands in the classic children’s fingerplay game. The students will start to copy your motions. If they speak, hold your finger to your lips and indicate that they must play silently.
Tibetan Prayer Bowl
This is sometimes called a singing bowl. I know not everyone has access to a Tibetan prayer bowl, but you’d be amazed at how effective these can be. You can find them fairly cheap on eBay. Don’t strike the bowl—instead, rub the stick around the outside. The tone will carry over the din, and even chatty students will stop to see where the sound is coming from. If you have some money in your budget, find two or three bowls with different tones and, with your adult volunteers, create a chord. The tone slowly rising over the crowd will calm your students to a place of listening.
Steve Case has been active in youth ministry for 18 years, currently at Windermere Union United Church of Christ near Orlando, Florida. He’s also a popular speaker and the author of several books, includingEVERYTHING COUNTS and THE BOOK OF UNCOMMON PRAYER. Find more of his books HERE and visit his website HERE.
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