It’s a virtual online Christmas program and you are in charge! Don’t panic!
Narrated children’s Christmas programs can be easily adapted to go virtual. As a director, you will recruit families with children that want to be a part of the program, adapt the script and hand out the parts, set up a timeline, work with the tech crew and do a little cheerleading!
Check with families to let them know what your plans are for this year’s Christmas program. Their willingness to participate means that they will be responsible for helping their children rehearse, round up props & costumes, and record videos or take pictures. Once families have committed, recruit children for all the parts in the program.
1. Cut the Christmas script into bite-size pieces. No need to re-type the script . . . Cathy will
e-mail you an MSWord document of the script that you can cut apart and easily adapt. (And don’t forget to make a director’s copy that includes children’s names . . . you will want to share that with the tech crew later!)
2. Use one narrator OR divide the script into multiple narrator parts to include more children.
3. Narrators will be responsible for making videos or audio recordings of themselves reading the narrator parts. These will be done in pieces so that the tech crew can insert the costumed character pictures/videos in between the narrator’s readings.
1. Cut the costumed character parts into bite-size pieces – Mary, Joseph, Angels, Shepherds & Wisemen – depending on which musical you choose. These costumed characters will do a little acting in a video or pose for a photo.
2. Costumed characters will need costumes and props. Instruct families to swing by the church to pick up their costumes OR let them design their own. Robes, belts, and vests work well for the main characters. Dish towels held in place with a stretchy headband make great head pieces. Glittery tree garland can be cut to size for a perfect angel halo.
3. Costumed characters will be responsible for making videos or taking digital pictures of themselves acting out their parts.
NOTE: If you prefer not to include costumed characters, you can scan children’s drawings of the Christmas story OR take pictures of the characters in traditional nativity sets that children have in their homes.
Extra Parts for Children
If you need parts for more children, create parts for those who are willing to:
1. dress as animals or pose with their pets at the manger
2. pose for a picture with a prop like a star or a candle
3. hold up a “No Room” sign
4. be a part of the crowd in Bethlehem
1. Record children singing along with Cathy’s MP3 vocal tracks OR take Cathy out of the mix and record children singing with the MP3 accompaniment tracks of the songs in the musical.
2. Post the lyrics to the songs on slides and invite those watching to sing along.
3. Don’t have a lot of singers? You can use the Cathy’s vocal MP3s as background music and videotape or take pictures of your children doing the motions, claps and sign language to the songs.
4. If your children play piano or other instruments, record them playing a Christmas song and insert it into the program.
Family members will use their phones or devices to record videos or audio files. Check with the tech crew on what videotaping guidelines they would like everyone to follow. Check out my guidelines for videotaping with a phone or computer:
1. If using a phone, tilt your phone sideways for horizontal video.
2. Have the camera of your device at approximately eye-level to avoid shooting up or down.
3. Use windows to your advantage: face the window so natural light illuminates your face OR record out of doors.
4. Stand within 5 feet of the camera for good audio and be sure to use your “outside voice”.
5. Whenever possible, have the camera mounted or resting on something so it is not handheld.
6. IMPORTANT: After you start the recording, look into the lens for a full 3 seconds before you start talking and a full 3 seconds after you finish talking. These extra seconds can be edited out if needed.
When the video and audio files are finished, they will need to be e-mailed or uploaded to the tech crew. Check with the tech crew at your church, if you have one, for instructions on uploading or emailing the files to them.
1. After they edit individual clips, the tech crew will link all of the pieces of the Christmas program together. Some movie apps let you do a split screen so you can have the narrator on one side of the screen and your costumed characters on the other. Remember to give a script to the tech crew so they know exactly how everything should fit together.
2. If you don’t have a tech crew, I recommend consulting with a 13-year-old in the area or in your congregation. Many teens are experienced at using apps and websites to create movies and presentations for projects at school (ex. iMovie, Slides carnival, Prezi & Powtoon).
3. Once the Christmas program has been edited, post it on your church web site or your church’s Facebook page for a watch party.
Sit back and enjoy
Here’s the best part! Invite church members, families and grandparents to tune in to watch the children make the Christmas story come to life. Immanuel, God is with us!