Saturday, April 21, 2012

Learning "Mother Dear" for Mother's Day

My focus last week, this week, and the week after ward conference will be Mother's Day songs, although I will also spend some time on some other songs for this month's theme.

I want the primary to sing two songs for Mother's Day. The children memorized, "I Often Go Walking" probably two months ago when I was able to squeeze it into the singing time schedule, but I had not had time to work in a second song until last week. We also have a ward conference coming up so I knew I only had three Sundays left to learn a second song, as well as to continue to work on other new songs and song that fit the month's theme. Therefore, I decided that the second would be "Mother Dear." This song is more well-known, is lovely, and would be easier to memorize than some of the other songs, since there are some repeating lines.

I decided to attach pictures to magnets so that I could have the children pull them off the board as we memorized the song and just to make the pictures seem different to them than other flip charts I've used. So far, to mix up flip charts (which are too effective to stop using) I have tried:

  • Standard flip charts (sometimes children hold them up, sometimes placed on the board) with images collected from Internet
  • Pictures I have drawn
  • Poster board flip charts
  • Objects instead of flip charts
  • New this time: Large blocks of colored paper
The change this time was the last bullet point- to use big, bold blocks of color that I thought might be especially appealing to the younger children. I wanted to use big geometric shapes but there were a few that just didn't look right so I just drew them out, like the eyes. Also, I couldn't think of a good image to represent "joy" so I just used a butterfly cut-out that looked happy. Otherwise, these shapes were fun and easy to use for memorizing, and only required seven sheets of colored paper, a glue stick, some magnets, and a marker.

Last week - How I used the images
I attached the pictures to magnets and put them on the chalkboard, one verse at a time. I explained what each image represented as I put it up. I then had the children sing the line with me. Then, I drew names after each verse to have the children come up and remove a picture, then sing the song again, without the help of that image. I put my hand behind my ear and stop singing whenever we sang a part of the song where we had just removed the image. It was fun for me to see how well they did without any help from me. They are such bright children; they tend to pick this stuff up very quickly if they are enjoying the activity.

In Senior Primary, I also drew a second name and had a child tell me the line for the picture we removed, after we sang it once without the picture. If the child didn't know it, we sang the line again, while the child listened carefully. Also in Senior Primary, I had the children guess the song just by looking at the pictures I put up. They guessed the song in just three tries.

I am often taken by surprise by which activities I do that are the most fun for the children. I felt like both the senior and the junior primary were very engaged in this activity and had a good time. In fact, our primary president had to remind me that I was going wayyy over my time, to my embarrassment. I feel so bad when I realize I haven't been watching the clock closely enough. Sometimes I think I should set out a kitchen timer so it will buzz and remind me when I'm out of time. I like adding that second part where children are called on to show me how well they have learned a line too, because I think it helps them pay attention and to participate.

This week - How I will use the images this week
In junior primary we only made it through two verses so I will continue the same game, for all three verses. To mix it up a little, I will hide a few fun pictures behind some of the other pictures. If the child picks one of those pictures, I'll add some fun way to sing to that verse or some other reward. I will make sure NOT to add the fun pictures behind verse three, since that will be a new verse for them.

I may also play a scramble game, and have the children come up to hold the pictures in front of them. I will have them sing the song in order, then scramble the pictures and see if the children can get themselves unscrambled before the song is done. I may do this one verse at a time, especially in junior primary.

I may also play some sort of game where we stop the song at various points, and a child has to fill in the missing line. I don't like to put kids on the spot that are shy so I like to partner them with the children on either side of them if they get stuck.

April 2018 Update

Hi everyone,

I hope you have been enjoying my blog. I still receive and respond to requests even though I was released as a chorister 4.5 years ago. I still serve in the Primary though! After years of serving in Primary, I've written a book that is available at Deseret Book and Costco during the Christmas season. Or year round, you can find it online. It's called "My Nativity ABCs." I have a second Primary-oriented children's book coming out this fall. You can pre-order "My Nativity 1-2-3s" on Amazon!

I also recently began sharing my General Conference cards that I make for my Primary kids on Etsy. You can download your own digital copy for $4 and then print as many copies as you want to make for your Primary kids!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Easter Sunday: I Think When I Read that Sweet Story Flip Chart and Book

I posted my idea for introducing "I Think When I Read that Sweet Story" in my previous post. I think I am going to change it up a bit, though, so I can spend more time highlighting Easter Sunday.

You'll need the flip chart for a giant book and the mini books that I shared in my previous post to teach part or all of this lesson.

I talked about my giant book in my last post but I finally made it here. You can see the giant book below, along with some of the mini books:

I found that if you buy two of the the half-sized poster boards that are now more commonly available, and fold them in half, that you then have enough for one flip chart with no words, or the words typed up in a smaller font than in the flip chart I made ... OR ... you can buy four half-sized poster boards and put the words on one side and the pictures on the other. I just put a few staples in the "binding" to hold the book together, but you can punch a few holes and use some pretty string.

I deliberately excluded all the words from the giant book because of how I rearranged my original flip chart and mini book plans, but it would be easy to add the words too.

Here's the plan:

1. I'll talk about Easter and reference a General Conference talk from last weekend.

2. I'll read the children my special Easter book (the giant book) without using any words. I'll stop to talk about some of the lines of the song with them.

I'll ask them:

a) Why would they want Jesus' hands place on their hand?

b) What does it mean to call children like lambs to his fold?

3. I'll then pass out my Easter gift to them to help them remember Easter this Sunday and have them sing the song with me while reading the words of the song. This gives me an excuse to give them a little Easter present that is very appropriate for Easter Sunday.

4. Once they've sung the song through once, I'm going to tell them I want to see if anyone can come up and recite the whole song using my book that has no words. I'll tell them we'll sing it one more time again so they can think about it. Then, I'll have volunteers come up.

5. I will also give them the incentive that if they are good and sing well, I will let them fold another mini book all by themselves (senior primary only). I am working on two others right now, coming soon ... I really want the senior primary kids to have an opportunity to fold their own mini book but I think maybe I'll let them see a folded one first, and save folding it themselves for next time, since I was able to fold so many during General Conference!

If I have any time left, I am going to have them work on their Mother's Day songs. I also plan to point out the songs that the Mormon Tabernacle Choir sang during conference that are the songs that I know that the children have learned, just to make them aware of the music around them. I might even point out the dynamics and the different ways they sing the songs in the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Singing Dice with an Easy Easter Theme

I needed a substitute for primary last week, but did not want to lose progress with my primary children. I had planned to begin a new song, but instead, wanted them to at least be reviewing the songs that we have been learning for the last few months.


This is what I consider to be an old chorister favorite - dice! I think the Primary Manual even references this idea in the short section for choristers. I have been wanting to make these dice for a while now. I think they make a great activity, but also liked the idea of having them around for back-up, and for substitutes.

I was going to create dice for three different features but decided to honor Easter by putting the third option inside of Easter eggs.

My first choice substitute (J.P.) said, "yes," when I asked her, so I was very happy. She's a talented musician, and I thought she'd be great with the kids. I let her know that the activity was optional, but went ahead and shared the above with her as an optional activity.

The funny thing is that she told me later that her husband was asked to substitute for the chorister in ward choir on the same day. We have a lot of musical talent in our ward but somehow, both of us choristers went to the same family for our first choice substitute!

I have a lovely Easter tree that I wanted to work into my activity for Easter Sunday, too, but I don't think I will have enough time so it will have to wait another year. I'm actually going to be using the "I Think When I Read that Sweet Story" song from my previous post, but with a few Easter-y alterations to focus more strongly on the Savior. More to come ...

Dice 1: What song we will sing. 
Choose the Right
As a Child of God
I Often Go Walking
Stand for the Right
Child's Choice
Teacher's Choice

Dice 2: What verse we will sing.
Verse 1
Verse 2. If no verse 2, then sing verse 1 twice.
Verse 3. If no verse 3, then sing verse 2.
Verse 1.
Verse 2. If no verse 2, then sing verse 1 twice.
Verse 3. If no verse 3, then sing verse 1.

Easter Eggs: How to sing the song.
Crescendo and Decrescendo
Backwards (face the back of the room)
Standing on one foot
Pianist's choice
Teacher's choice (prepare some suggestions in advance so you don't catch a teacher off guard)
Echo (Have one side sing, and then the other side echo the song)
Snapping fingers
Clapping hands