Sunday, December 11, 2011

December - Week 1 - Unwrapping a Nativity

In an effort to incorporate Christmas (Christ's birth), the lesson, and songs that needed to be practiced to be sung in sacrament on Sunday, the lesson on the first week of December offered:

1. An overall Nativity theme.
2. "Silent Night" melody game, inspired by
3. A "He Sent His Son" "guess the picture" game inspired by all the wonderful flip charts out there (I made my own but it used many of the same pictures as other flip charts ... they were just the best fit for the song.)
4. "Samuel Tells the Story of Baby Jesus," sung in several different ways to teach them some basic music formats as well as help them practice this song further.

This was a lot to cram into one lesson so I wasn't able to do everything in junior and senior primary. This is the highly condensed summary of what I taught. There was way too much material here but it's hard to resist all the beautiful Christmas songs that we only sing for one month of the year.

Nativity Theme
I wrapped the individual pieces of a nativity set. I wrote on most of the pieces of wrapping paper with either the name of a song, or the name of a song and a special way to sing it. This gave the children an ongoing theme to work toward. I also made a big deal of telling them I was looking specifically to call on reverent children and asked the teachers to help me choose the children that would come up to unwrap the nativity pieces. I wanted to do this early on so that I could use the Nativity for other activities later in the month, but start with the unwrapping activity. I did not spend too much time talking about the individual pieces because I wanted to save that for later.

Silent Night
Using this recommendation for "Joy to the World," I "drew" the melody lines for "Silent Night," as a series of curves and dots. I then asked the children if they could identify the mystery song. This was a fun introduction to the song. The children knew it really well so I had someone come up and trace the melody lines for me while we sang the song again. I only tried this in senior primary but I want to try it with junior primary next week.

He Sent His Son
I made another flip chart for this beautiful song about how our Father in Heaven sent Jesus Christ to earth to teach us. However, since this song is a series of questions and answers, I put question marks about each question (which was in the form of a picture) and a happy face above each answer (which was also in the form of a picture). In junior primary, I put all the pictures up on the board, then read/sang each line one at a time, and asked children to raise their hand and identify which picture went to that line. For senior primary, I handed out all the pictures and had the kids come up and put them on the board as I read or sang that line for them. I also stopped inbetween for both songs to have the children sing parts or say parts back to me. I did this one a little too fast because we were short on time.

Samuel Tells the Story of Baby Jesus
We will be singing this song on Christmas Sunday, so I wanted to make sure the children had the song well memorized and also sang it well. In junior primary, we practiced singing the song loudly and quietly by crescendo and decrescendo. In senior primary, we practiced singing the song staccato style and allegro (fast) and largo (slow) style. I held pictures up to remind the children how to sing when we varied between allegro/largo and loud/quiet. I was impressed by how well the children did. I plan to practice this with them again next week, this time putting the dynamics where they make the most sense, and maybe talking to the children about dynamics a bit first. 

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