Over the past 12 years, I’ve had the pleasure of working with several different age groups and let’s face it, sometimes kids have a mind of their own.

What’s that you say? I’m the only one who has ever dealt with six screaming toddlers—I mean, “loud talkers”—at the same time? Or a classroom of three-year-olds that want to have a dance party instead of sit quietly during circle time? No, you wouldn’t be reading this blog if that were the case!

But because I love those few kids I lead and because I try to encourage and embrace their creativity, imagination, and sense of wonder, here are some effective ways I’ve found to gain control over the chaos.

First, I make sure I have snacks on hand. Yes I said it, snacks. Goldfish, animal crackers, Cheerios, and Ritz crackers work WONDERS! I’m not saying stuff them full, but a little cupful for the older kids and a handful for the littles is helpful. Snacks help kids slow down and focus when listening to Bible stories or other circle time activities as well as distract from separation anxiety. I don’t know too many kiddos that will turn down a good snack.

Second, when the kiddos get too loud, I flick the lights off for just a second. A rush of silence falls over the room. It’s a beautiful thing. Enjoy it. I flick them on and off a couple times, and then continue with what we were doing. I do have to warn you, there will be a couple giggles every time you do this (by the way, these are also the ones that like to run through the room in the dark).

Bubbles are fun way to regain attention, too. They can soothe and quiet a room as well as fill it with laughter. A simple way I keep the bubbles flowing and myself from passing out is to use a table fan. Fans pump out way more bubbles than I ever could! Transition the kids by asking them to follow the bubbles to the next activity or try to catch them with their hands, knees, and nose while sitting on the floor.

Lastly, I have to be prepared to get silly. Preschoolers love silly. I sing, dance, and move my body in funny ways. These sweet kids don’t care if I know the best dance moves or can carry a tune. I dance and sing to the special monthly music or to preschool songs I grew up with. I even sing silly made up songs. Have fun. The kids will too.

Even if you are prepared, be okay with veering off the path. Don’t be so set in your ways that you have to do something a certain way. There will be times when it just doesn’t work the way you want. There will be times when those few little ones just need a Goldfish break!

I know I’m not the only one out there to come across priceless methods of gaining control over the chaos. What are some ways that work with your few? Remember, your input could be invaluable to someone (including me!)

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