The first Children's Chapel I ever did, four years ago, was in a circle. ONE circle, in one classroom, and it was all the kids in attendance that Sunday. Then we go a bit bigger, and we "graduated" from a circle to a more formal set up with rows all facing forward, to the "stage" where I put on the "show".
That was working fairly well, and the kids vied for the opportunity to be helpers and come up to light the chalice, read the opening words, and so forth. I walked around and read picture books, showing the illustrations to everyone, letting them make comments and participate as they felt moved to do so. But then we grew yet again, and our first Chapel this year we had 45 kids show up and squeeze in to the room, and it was TOO MUCH. They can't share and participate without it taking two hours, and children are pretty squirmy when they are asked to be a passive audience.
Luckily, inspiration is always close at hand in the form of my fabulous colleagues in this work, and a trip as a chaperone to a Middle School CON showed me yet another way to do Worship, with many small circles all doing the same thing at the same time. Due to the foresight of the planning committee that built the RE wing of our church two years ago, I can open up the walls and turn my three large classrooms into one really big classroom, and that is perfect for circle worship.
Each circle includes children of preschool-6th grade ages, and adults. Each circle has its own Chalice to light, but we all say the words together. We all sing together, then each circle can do Joys and Sorrows and there is actually enough time for every single person to share something. We did a meditation yesterday where we passed an (electric) candle around the circle and each child made a wish for someone else while they held the candle. We did it in silence, but everyone could watch it go around the circle and stay active during the process.
For now, this is working! It does mean no more stories during chapel, but I tell plenty of stories at other times.