If you're using autofocus, change it to the Al Servo mode. Like wgp said, use the manual modes, you will learn much faster. If you want to stay close to auto, use the shutter priority mode. I do that sometimes to save time setting up even though it doesnt save much work.
Try using your flash to get the looks on their faces, and get low. Otherwise, it's a good start.
Edit: Gienek beat me to the fill flash