I wanted the children to memorize "I Often Go Walking" today to prepare for Mother's Day. The plan is that after today, they know the song pretty well so I can pull it into practice once in a while. This way, I will have more leisure and less stress to fine-tune this song, as well as to work on introducing other songs, including hopefully a second Mother's Day song and Father's Day songs.
I also spent a little bit of time on this month's theme song, "Stand for the Right," but I'll talk about that in a separate post.
Assign each class a line or two of the song from "I Often Go Walking." Give them objects (NOT flat pictures - this makes it more exciting for them) that help represent their line of the song. Have the teachers help them decide how they are going to act out that line of the song. Remind the children that they need to sing while they are performing the line (and then of course, sing with them to help prod them along). Then, have the entire primary sing the line again with them while they act out the line.
Objects you need
- Fake flowers - mostly blue ones for "armfuls of blossoms of blue" but also colored ones for "all blossoms remind me of you"
Cut these up so you have more flowers to pass around without spending too much money. I checked a few stores and finally bought four bunches for $1 each.
I also made a bunch out of origami as that was even cheaper; tutorial for flowers here.
- Drawings of clovers or use fuzzy wire to bend clovers, etc.
- "Mom" items - e.g., apron, mixing bowl and wooden spoon, purse, pearl necklace or other "mom" jewelry
- Green poster board or green plastic table cloth or fabric to represent meadows
v1, line 1. I often go walking in meadows of clover,
Items: meadows, clover
Suggestions:: Choose people to walk, to hold the meadow, and to hold clover.
v1, line 2 And I gather armfuls of blossoms of blue.
Items: blue flowers
Suggestions: Choose people to gather blossoms. Some could hold the flowers and pretend to be part of the meadow.
v1, line 3 I gather the blossoms the whole meadow over;
v1, line 4 Dear mother, all flowers remind me of you.
Items: meadow, flowers, “mother items” – a purse and a necklace
Suggestions: Choose people to gather blossoms. Some could hold the flowers. Some could be “mother.”
v2, line 1. O mother, I give you my love with each flower
Items: flowers, giant heart, “mother items”
Suggestions: Choose someone to be “Mother.” Choose people to hand hearts and flowers to “Mother” (could have all do this and stand in a line)
v2, line 2 To give forth sweet fragrance a whole lifetime through;
Items: Perfume bottles, flowers
v2, line 3 For if I love blossoms and meadows and walking
Items: Blossoms, Meadows
Suggestions: Act out enjoying blossoms, meadows, and walking (a few different people would do each one)
v2, line 4 I learn how to love them, dear mother, from you.
Items: Book, Heart, Mother items
Suggestions: “Learn” by reading from book, Hold out hearts, point to someone dressed as “Mother”
Evaluation and tips
Overall, I think this activity was a success and am glad I did it. The children memorized the song pretty well and from all appearances, had a lot of fun. Singing should be fun! Reverent, yes, but also, fun. When I had them sing the song without any of the objects, they sang the song through without any problems, so I feel that I did accomplish my main goal of ingraining the song in their memories.
I did have some worries at first. I wasn't sure if they were truly learning the song until the end. In addition, the noise levels were a bit high for a while, but mostly when children were preparing their lines, which is not surprising. In hindsight, I wish I had asked the teachers to make sure the children were all engaged, and suggested they have the children fold their arms when the class was done discussing what they were going to do.
The noise level went back down once the classes began coming up to share their lines. I had a small problem with inattentive children playing with their flowers/meadows/etc. for the first line or two in junior primary, but I just made sure the children knew that I would be taking their props away if they didn't pay attention and participate. That generally did the trick. I also specifically asked a couple of children, by name, to turn around and face the front of the class. I made the children sing some of the lines more than once if I felt like I had less than 90% participation (and told them why we were singing it again) for a particular line, at which point they improved.
Some thoughts around my activity choice
I briefly introduced "I Often Go Walking" last Sunday using a flip chart that I found online. I am not sharing it here because the children complained that the pictures (thought absolutely gorgeous) were too similar to each other (lots of pictures of blue flowers).
I am sure some of them know it but they haven't sung it in sacrament for over two years, since they didn't sing last Mother's Day. I also tried to be sensitive to the fact there may be children in the room that have special situations, for example, an absentee mom, a divorce, a death, etc. I encouraged all children to come up but didn't push it if they didn't.