Thursday, April 17, 2014

"The Family" Paper Bag Puppets

I made these puppets for a sharing time lesson but I realize they can be used effectively during Singing Time as well. I figured out that I can post PDF files directly to my blog if I use WordPress ... so you can download the template for these puppets at my other blog, Ilovetocreatestuff.com

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Some ideas for how to use these puppets:

1. Color the hair different bright colors. Invite the teachers to come up and help you. They will then randomly hold up their puppet during the song, and have their puppet "sing." Whenever a child has on the same clothes colors as the color of the hair (colored in purple, green, blue, yellow, brown ...), they get to sing too.

2. Use a boy puppet and a girl puppet to indicate when boys sing the song vs. when girls sing the song.

3. You can write stuff on the body of the puppet and use the puppets to indicate when the children should sing loudly vs. softly.

4. Integrate this month's song, "The Family is of God," by having six reverent children come up, and then letting them hold up their puppets at appropriate parts of the song. You can add images to the body of the puppet to represent some of the lines of the song, for example, show a father presiding over family home evening, or show a mother helping her child with homework ...

Friday, April 11, 2014

Fun Printable Cards to Use in Singing Time

I found this cute printable on what I believe is a vacation/travel site for the LA/Disneyland area so pardon the random link, but I thought these printable pics would translate easily into a no-fuss primary singing time activity. There are 48 cards in total, with one word and one simple picture, including: princess, giant, bones, ice cream, plane, surfboard ...

Ways to Use These Cards:

1. Fun way to sing a song - they have to figure out how to sing "The Family is of God," for instance, while on a plane, or while pretending to eat ice cream ("The family" - lick - "is of" - lick - ...).

2. Use the colors on the cards - the images are just for fun, but everyone in the room wearing the colors on the card that is drawn has to ... get up and sing the song at the front of the room together ... or pat their heads while they sing, etc. This works because most of the cards only use a few different colors, tops.

3. Us for practicing volume or speed or another "real" singing element, e.g., if they choose the "alligator" card they can practice crescendo and decrescendo. If they choose the "princess" card they can practice enunciation.

4. The object of the game is to find answers to some gospel questions, which are in primary song titles. So, take the blank tiles that come with these templates and write in the songs that you have been teaching, for example, "The Family is of God," "I Stand All Amazed." Then have five questions on the board, like "Which song talks about families?" or "Jesus Christ died for me. What song shares this awe for what he did for us?" Then, use just a few of the more appropriate "fun" tiles and mix them in there with the "right" tiles. The kids have a goal to answer the questions by drawing the right pieces before the end of Singing Time. If they draw the wrong piece, there could be a consequence, like maybe they have to answer a question about a line of the song.

One day when I am feeling more ambitious, I might actually make my own cards and have the kids string together something a little closer to what the site originally suggested the cards were for ... though I could see that getting out of hand, too! I have a small game of dice that uses this exact same concept, and there's a good primary singing time activity there as well.


Saturday, March 29, 2014

Teaching "The Family is of God" with a mini book

I put together this mini book for "The Family is of God" for a primary activity back in January. I love sharing mini books. The kids get such a kick out of it!You can print it out below to teach them the song.



I shared a mini book for the first time back in March 2012, so rather than then re-post the instructions on how to fold the mini book, you can view the instruction from the first mini-book I ever shared on my blog, here.

Since those instructions are for a different book though, I thought I'd at least include this picture so you can double-check your folds ... it's super easy but might seem a little confusing for your first book that you fold.


Here's where you would place the cuts on the sheet:


Make sure to fold a few extra mini books because your sunbeams and CTR 4 children will immediately start trying to take the book apart, then won't know how to get them back together, ha ha. This way, you can teach fluidly and switch out books on them if this happens before their primary teacher realizes what's happening. It's cute and funny, and not a big deal, but it's best to be prepared.

There are two ways to get this mini-book:

1. Download it here for a PDF (higher quality image).

2. Or you can save it from below:
(To print it, just right-click on the image below to save it to your computer first, then print the file you have saved to your computer. You have to save this file to your computer first or it won't print out correctly. If you absolutely can't get this to print, send me your email address and I'll email the file to you ... but try to pull the file from below first to ensure speedy access to this mini book.)



Ideas on teaching with this book
Since I originally made this book for an activity in January, I included four colored circles at the top. These circles perfectly fit the little round accomplishment stickers you can find in any sticker aisle. You can just ignore the circles, or you can put fun motivators in there, and have them earn their stickers. For instance, give each teacher a sticker pad. Have the children follow along with the pictures as you go over the first line. Sing the first line with them several times. Then ask a child to recite the first line without looking at their book. They earn their first sticker. Now you don't have time to do this with every child, but you can ask the teachers to listen to their children and award them their sticker.

The second sticker can be earned by answering a question correctly, e.g., "In the second line of the son, why did our Father in Heaven send us to earth, through birth?" etc. ...

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Singing Time for St. Patrick's Day

Last year I planned some Singing Time activities around St.Patrick's Day but I realize I didn't say this anywhere in the blog title ... so ... for St. Patrick Song Review ideas, visit my post from March 2013.

                                     

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Some Nice Participation Tricks

We had a sub in Singing Time last week (she has some sort of degree in teaching music to children), and I like how she worked with the primary.

She had them pat out the rhythm on their laps, which we've done before, but then she had them pat their hands against their head, after saying, "Now we want to make sure to get that into your heads so tap out the rhythm on your heads!"

Next, she told them they were the Tabernacle Choir and asked them to sit up straight, sit at the edge of their chairs, and "rise!" Then she had them sing beautifully as if they were the Tabernacle Choir. I was so impressed by how reverent they were for her, and how beautifully they sang. I love that she had them sit up straight and at the edge of their seats, though.

She also did something I always do, which is that if I motion for them to rise, and they are sloppy about it, I have them try several times until they get it right. It's a subtle way to help them get their wiggles out, too.


Monday, March 10, 2014

Respecting the Sharing Time / Singing Time Split

I sometimes pop onto discussion boards, and primary choristers tend to have two big sore points, if they have one at all:

1. They run into a problem with children being reverent.

2. Their primary presidency is hogging their Singing Time.

I've addressed #1 in this post, but wanted to make a comment on #2.

I served as the primary chorister through three primary programs, and am now serving as the primary president. When I was the primary chorister, our children had all of the songs memorized and sang them beautifully, with dynamics and even some sign language, in the program. I believe this will happen this year with our new chorister.

I feel this was able to happen (and will continue to happen) because:

1. The primary presidency work with me as a team. We supported each other and loved each other, and that love and respect helped bring the spirit into the room.

2. We respected each others' times. Per the official church Handbook 2, Singing Time should be about 20 minutes, and Sharing Time should be about 15 minutes. Notice the word "about!"

Often times Opening Exercises ran late. If this happened, I would take my Singing Time a few minutes over into Sharing Time to split the difference. Sometimes, the primary president or a counselor would just let me know that I could use up even more of her time. Other times, if they were running a little behind (which is often because sacrament runs late) but had a particularly complicated lesson, they would just let me know that they wanted to make sure to get their full 15 minutes. I rarely had more than 15 minutes in Junior Primary, but the presidency rarely had more than 10 minutes, too; it was just the complexity of Junior Primary.

3. We had Singing Time first, then Sharing Time, which helped to keep us on our toes with the schedules. In other words, if the presidency was behind, they could see that it put me behind schedule, and in turn, I could evaluate and see where to split the difference to get a fair amount of time without impeding their ability to teach an important gospel lesson.

The church would not have both a Sharing Time AND a Singing Time if they didn't feel that it was important. If your primary presidency is being too casual about opening exercises, and then taking a long Sharing Time, then talk to your president about your concerns. Pray for guidance on how to best handle the situation. You are on the same team, your Heavenly Father's, and this is Heavenly Father's primary, not yours. You both have the same goal to teach the children the gospel and to let them know how much they are loved! Both you and the primary presidency are trying their best with the current callings and if you are fighting and don't try to work it out between yourselves, you will both lose by driving the spirit from the room as you feel resentful toward each other.

What I posted on the message board:

 I would recommend both the presidency and the music leader read and review Section 11.4.2 of Handbook 2 (https://www.lds.org/.../handbook-2.../primary...). Singing Time should be about 20 mins. Sharing Time should be about 15 mins. I have been both Primary Chorister and Primary President so I have experienced both sides. In both situations, we have been respectful of each others' time, which is to say, that sometimes one of us went over a bit, but we were and are both trying. Some weeks skew a little more toward extra Singing Time, and some weeks skew a little more toward Sharing Time, but generally, we follow the 20/15 split. You need to make sure your concerns are understood and recognized before you start to go down the path of feeling resentful or escalating. The primary presidency may for some reason not know, or may be overwhelmed if they are new, or, I hate to think this - but for some ridiculous reason simply not understand the value of teaching the gospel through music. You want the children to feel the spirit in the room as you teach, which means you and your primary presidency need to be a team and have good feelings toward each other. You all have the same goal! Good luck.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Teaching "I Stand All Amazed" - Continued

Teaching this song following the church's suggestion worked really well last week. If you did something different, I highly recommend you teach the second week and use the church's suggestion as a review. As usual, with it being Fast Sunday last week, we did not have very much time in Junior Primary so I would continue with the lesson from last week with Junior Primary.

However, the options below work for Junior Primary too, so (and I've done this in the past) I might have Junior Primary just trail one week behind with each song activity until I can catch them back up at the end of the month.

This is such a beautiful, reverent song that I want to be careful not to have too silly of activities with it. This song talks about our Savior, that he died and was crucified for us. The kids need to be reminded that this is a very reverent song, and to understand what they are singing. Our chorister did an amazing job last week sharing her testimony about how she loves this song, and about how it's so great to learn this song because its one the children can sing in sacrament. I want to stick with that direction in teaching this song. 

A few ways I have thought about doing this ... I have done all of these things in the past (so I know they work very effectively), and they just seem super appropriate for this song:

Option 1 - 
Pass out the pictures from last week. Sing the song and have children come to the front of the room and hold up their pictures as you sing it. The object is for them to recognize when it's their to come up on their own.

Option 2 - 
Put the picture from last week in order on the board. The pictures will be in scrambled order, and a child will have an opportunity to point to the correct picture as we sing the song, as a game to see if they can point in the correct order.

Option 3 - 
Print out four pictures per page from last week so they are about the size of a traditional photograph. 

To do this:
1. Save all the pictures from last week's post to a folder on your computer.
2. Click on one of the images inside the folder, then press CTRL and A buttons at the same time. All the images in the folder will appear to be highlighted.


3. Right-click with your mouse to bring up the task menu. Click "print."
4. When the Print Pictures dialog box appears, choose "3.5 x 5." This will print four pictures to a page.



Now that you have the pictures ready: 

Pass out the pictures so that every child has one. You might want to make sure that all the sunbeams and all the CTR4 children have the same picture so their teacher can help them.

Then, ask the children to hold up the picture that corresponds to their part of the song as we sing it. When they've done this once, have the children pass their pictures to the row behind them (and the back row passed back to the front), and then sing the song again. 

Finally, we should be bearing our testimonies constantly, but especially with this song!

Additional activity
With any of these activities, you can add in an additional piece and give the children opportunities to share their thoughts and feelings about the picture they are holding. Just be prepared with the youngest children that they might end up telling you about their vacation or something, so you can gently steer them back on track!