If we're on the same level (for example, in the Library Media Center or gym floor) the maximum seems to be about 150 kids. A few more if they're PK & K because they don't take up as much space. More than 150 students and the kids in the back have a hard time seeing and want to get up on their knees in an attempt to get a better view.
If we're on different levels (for example, I'm on a cafeteria stage or the kids are in tiered seating like bleachers in the gym while I'm on the gym floor) then my sound system can handle up to 500.
Obviously, smaller groups are better than larger groups, so these are maximum numbers, not “ideal” group sizes.
Within every school there are certain areas with different “classroom cultures.” The Library Media Center tends to be the best location for an assembly because it is a location that has a culture of fun and learning in a group setting. The down side is that the library tends to be a smaller area, but it is still my preferred location.
Second best is the cafeteria stage because it allows for larger groups. It is an area with a culture of quiet conversation so the students tend to be a bit louder and more distracted than in the library and this is compounded with larger group sizes.
The gym is the only classroom where children are actually ENCOURAGED to yell and cheer for their classmates. It is the one classroom with a culture of running, jumping, and moving. For this reason it is the least desirable for an assembly program, even though it is the area where it is easiest to seat the largest number of students (which exacerbates the compulsion to talk and move). Gyms also have the worst acoustics of any room in the school.
That being said, I regularly perform in all of these settings as well as Large Group Instruction (LGI) areas.
A working electrical outlet somewhere within 35 feet of the performance area.
That's it. I bring my own mic, my own sound system, my own tables, everything. Just make sure I have some electricity. I even bring my own extension cords. Oh, maybe a bottle of water.
Most schools hire me to present a single show multiple times. I can reset my shows and be ready for the next group faster than you can get a group of kids out and the next group seated and ready. Plan at least ten minutes for this transition, but I use less than four minutes to reset. If you're planning on splitting a day with another campus then you can expect to get one or two shows before lunch or one or two shows AFTER lunch. Occasionally it is possible to schedule a THIRD show during a half day for an ADDITIONAL $175. I don't encourage this because it usually results in three shorter shows rather than the usual full presentation. But it works for lots of schools.
If I'm on your campus for the whole day, I usually do five shows. I've done as many as eight in a single day (AM-PK, K, 1st, 2nd, PM-PK, 3rd, 4th, 5th). I can tell you that this is NOT desirable for anyone. After figuring in transition times, the shows end up being about 30 minutes long. But they're 50 minute shows, so 15 minutes worth of material had to be removed and the remaining 35 minutes presented in a rushed and hurried way. It's much better to combine grade levels if needed.
That being said, if you hire me I'm going to do what needs to be done to the best of my ability. But part of what you hire me for is my expertise in ensuring a successful assembly. That means I'll do my best to talk you into doing what is best for your students, because that's the best way for me to get invited back.
Occasionally I get asked to do one show for some students and a DIFFERENT show for other students. This involves a costume change, striking one show set, bringing in a second show set and setting it up. I don't mind doing this, but you need to take into account that this takes about an hour. So, if you have me for a full-day it means I'll do two shows in the AM, then trade out shows during lunch and do two more presentations of a second show in the PM.
If I'm at two schools splitting the day, then I would be striking one set anyway, so it's no extra work above what we've already planned.
Sharing a day is NOT an option with the Game Show due to the elaborate set up involved.
Unlike a manufacturing company I can't “ramp up production” during periods of peak demand. I can only sell my time and expertise as an author, teacher, and professional speaker. So my “inventory” consists of calendar days. Many of those are weekends, vacations, school holidays, and lately way too many of them are testing days. Once I take a day off the calendar I can't sell it to anyone else. I can't put it back into my inventory if the show is canceled for any reason. It's gone forever.
So I've found the most equitable solution is to sell my days. You buy a day and it's yours. I'll do one show, two shows, five shows, I'll even do two shows at one school and two more at another one nearby. If you only need one show, we can work together to find someone nearby who wants the other half of your day. Once I'm there I can do just one show, but you might as well schedule the second show if you can. Or have some envelopes for me to address or library books to re-shelve. I'm not too proud to work wherever you need me.
The only exception to a “discount” is that I occasionally charge a flat $300 for a single presentation but it has to meet at least one of the following conditions:
It is worth noting, that if you are thinking of an evening program, the most powerful and effective way to do it is to have me at the school during the day, and then I can promote the evening program at the end of each show. You will have the most successful “Parent Night” ever, guaranteed!
PK-5th. There are very slight variations in the presentations if you break them out by grade level but not much at all. We have done programs for 6th graders but please consult with us as there are certain programs that are better received by this age group (Set Sail, Simple Machines, Chris Van Allsburg Tribute, etc.).
The Game Show is designed for the third grade level all the way through the 12th grade level. The Game Show is a very popular show among the sometimes "difficult to please" crowd of middle school and high school students. If you work with secondary students we highly recommend the Game Show option.
The school assembly programs and SRC shows (including the elementary writing workshops, elementary science assembly, and the elementary science shows) really have been designed by a team of professional educators and authors with over 75 years of combined classroom teaching experience. It may seem impossible, particularly if you've had bad experiences in the past, to believe that one program can be just as entertaining to the older students as it is with the younger ones, or as educationally significant for the younger ones as it is for the older ones. But that is exactly what I offer and I encourage you to call any of my past clients and ask them for yourself.
I've had schools tell me "Since you use puppets, we are going to let you present only to the younger children" and then I've been to others who said "Since your assembly programs are so educational we are going to let you present only to the older students." Without fail they later tell me "Well I think the whole school would have benefited from that program. We'll have to have you back!"
While I love to be invited back, it seems silly not to let everyone enjoy the program each time I visit, particularly since I don't charge by the number of programs I present, or by the number of students in attendance.
45-55 minutes. Personally I prefer the 55 minute versions since I'm able to cover more material, but I can easily work within your scheduling needs.
The shows reset very quickly. I can be ready to go for another program before you can get one group of kids out and the next group in, but please plan for this time. If you schedule the start times 45 minutes apart (with no additional time for transitions), it actually means the programs will run about 30-35 minutes each, which means they are going to be either rushed, have dropped material, or both. Usually 10-15 minutes is adequate time to transition groups.
When you book a show, I'll send you several full-sized (18” X 24”), full-color posters to promote the show. There's a place on each poster where you can write in the show times, or location, or include whatever message you want. These are sent out free and are the best way to promote the assembly presentation. If you want to create an email or e-newsletter content, you are welcome to use any of the text or images on my web site for this purpose by simply right clicking on the image and choosing “Save image as..”