Sunday, July 29, 2012

Primary Singing Time Olympics, Week 2

Updates to this post (activities better defined) on August 3 (Friday).

Our 2012 Singing Time Olympic Sunday on July 29 was super fun, and we came away with really great feedback on how we could sing each song even better. I am using that feedback to plan next Sunday's activity, around an Olympics-themed training session to get ready for our next judging ceremony (which will be on August 12, to coincide as closely as possible with the closing of the 2012 Summer Games).

I'll just focus on a few of our weakest songs, since the time will be tight to judge every song anyway.I highly recommend taking advantage of the Olympics theme in primary. It's not that much preparation time, is a fun twist for the primary, and totally worth all the great feedback.

(I took down the judge name plates before I took this picture. It made it look even cooler. Oh well.)

I want to make some comments about our judges. While I don't think a ton of musical knowledge is a necessary prerequisite to being a judge for this type of activity, I did feel like it was a great benefit. They gave great constructive feedback, which I was sure to tell the children is the same type of feedback that our adults hear in ward choir (all three have had choir-related callings). In addition, two of these judges have children in the primary. I was particularly pleased to see how proud the children were that had a parent as a judge, and how they took it up a notch for their parents. (I am privileged to work with an amazing group of children, and I know that in part, I have some amazing parents to thank for showering their children with love, support, and the knowledge that they are children of our Father in Heaven. )

So now ... Singing Time Olympics, Week 2
Based on the judge's feedback, I want to work on one or more of the following elements, with different bullet points going to different songs, since none of these problems perpetuated across every song.
  • Not singing in sync with their neighbor
  • Not singing words clearly
  • Not singing loudly
  • Not singing reverently (too many wiggling bodies before or after the song ends)
  • Not watching the choir director (me) so that we all started at the same time
  • Forgetting some of the words
  • Not all signing or all singing (for CTR song)
  • Not showing emotion/enthusiasm for a particular song

I want to start with this story called "Day of Delight" from the 1993 New Era. It talks about music, the Sabbath day, and a Christian Olympian who in 1924 chose to not run in the race in which he was supposed to win gold because it was on the Sabbath Day. He instead ran a race length that was not his strength (the 400m instead of the 100m), that was not on the Sabbath day, and he won gold. This story is about faith, about good examples in his life, about turning to God, and also about Olympics and music. :)

I love the story too that an American handed him a note before his race that was from 1 Samuel 2:30, which read, "Those who honor me I will honor."

The Game - Choosing a Song and Activity with Archery.
I think I may bring a bow and arrows into primary and have the children try to hit a target that has the activity we are going to do on certain panels of the target. I will see if I can pick one up at a dollar store today. I have seen them in the toy section of grocery stores too. However, if you that doesn't work out, back up Plan B will be to let them toss balls into baskets or some other little game. I prefer archery though, since it is an Olympic event. Also, we had a member of the ward bring in his ancestor's homemade bow during Pioneer Day, so it will tie in past lessons for our ward.

Target #1 - Singing in Sync for Nephi's Courage
I spoke with one of the judges afterward, and he recommended singing staccato, and then legato, to work on singing in sync. That was the one I was most worried about fixing since they know the words and they know the tune - why are they not singing at the same time?! We will do this for "Nephi's Courage," where I could hear children starting the words just a millisecond off from each other, but enough that you could hear it they were not totally in sync. I will also have them sing while clapping to the tune, something I have seen another one of the judges that I invited do to help the children (and to help adult choir members) sing better.

What's the Olympic tie-in?
I will call this the horse trot and have them envision the horse prancing around the room for the staccato part, and then gliding around the room for the legato part. I will make up a different horse race for the clapping part. I think for Junior Primary I will make a little visual where we can watch the horse move across the board. Ping-pong would also be a good one for this song. I might have them pretend to be ping-pong balls for the staccato part of the song, and even have the two sides of the room ping-pong back and forth on each of the words of the song.

Target #2 - Singing Words Clearly for Choose the Right
I will have children make funny faces to exaggerate the words of the song as they sing it. I might even bring in a couple of mirrors and have the children pass them around and look at themselves as they sing. 

What's the Olympic tie-in?
[hmm, in progress ... suggestions would be appreciated ... maybe tie in to precision sport and practice saying certain words together, maybe with more staccato ...??]

Target #3 - Singing Loudly with Volleyball for [need to check my notes for which song] by Watching the Choir Director
I will have children practice watching me and knowing by arm movements that they need to sing more loudly or more quietly. I will occasionally move from setting to bumping, and also sneak in singing quietly and loudly. I will throw in some side activity, like randomly stopping in the middle of a song, to see how well children are watching me and paying attention to what I'm doing. I will ask the pianist to keep playing when I do that to make sure the children are stopping because of me, not because of the music.

What's the Olympic tie-in?
I will talk about how in games like Volleyball, sometimes the front person will make signals behind their back to indicate what they are going to do during a volley. That means the other person has to pay attention and recognize the subtle signs.

Target #5 - Singing Reverently
I think I might just talk about this one and remind children that they need to do this one all the way through.

What's the Olympic tie-in?
I will talk about the concentration needed for so many Olympic events, and remind them about how quiet the audience is during a tennis match so that the players can concentrate.

What's the Olympic tie-in?
This one will be Olympic basketball, and I will talk about how in basketball, you don't always know who is going to pass the ball to you unless you are watching. Hm .... okay, this one is weak. I would to turn this one into an activity ... so I will update this one as I get closer to next week and figure out what I'm going to do exactly ...

Target #6 - Remembering all the Words for vs.2 of "When I Am Baptized," vs. 3 of "Nephi's Courage," and vs.2 of "I Think When I Hear." 

When I Am Baptized - Team Rowing
I will have each side of the room take turns rowing, and when they row, their side will sing a line of the song, so that we go back and forth.

Nephi's Courage - Cycling
I am going to talk about how they draft off each other when they are going very fast. You know how when someone is yelling to you out of a car and the sound carries? We're cycling and draft, and singing, so the sound is going to carry - first one side is going to sing the song, then the other side of the room is going to sing the same line. Then we're going to repeat heading in the other direction.

I Think When I Hear - Soccer
I'll have them pass a soccer ball around the room while they sing the song. If the ball stops on them when the piano stops, their whole class has to stand up together and recite all the words of the song from the beginning until that point - because soccer is a team sport.

What's the Olympic tie-in?
I will talk about how in gymnastics, they have their routines perfectly memorized, so that if they forget a section, they can pick up right where they left off and keep going.

Showing Enthusiasm / Emotion
I will talk a little about each song and remind them about what they are singing for each song. I will talk to them about what the Stake choir director did to help us be enthusiastic and emotional about a particular song. 

What's the Olympic tie-in?
I will talk about how when we watch the Olympics, the commentators talk about the back stories of the participants, and how that helps to make us feel emotionally invested in the athletes. We want to be emotionally invested in the songs.

Friday, July 27, 2012

The Singing Time Olympics, Part II

This is the first week of the Singing Time Olympics, but the second post about it since I wanted to give folks that were interested in doing this a heads up. So, go to my previous post for my initial thoughts on this. I love this activity because I really think the kids will love it, you can tie it into the Olympics that are actually happening right now (I love watching the Olympics!), and you basically will have your next three Sundays planned out. Wa-hoo!

(I also did some pre-Olympic "training" activities on a previous Sunday, which you could work into one of your three Sundays.)

And now ... the Summer Singing Time Olympics 2012 begins!

(I took this pic after primary today ... the rest of this post was from before the Singing Time activity actually happened, but I can tell you that it went well, was a lot of fun, and gave me great ideas about what to work on with the children to improve how well they sing each of these songs.)

I will put up a poster board with the Olympic Rings, which I shared a few week ago (made by tracing lids with colored markers). I will also print up copies of the Olympic Rings to place around the room or on the judges' table for decor (found here:

I will act as both commentator and coach for the primary kids. (Maybe I will alternate between wearing an announcer tie and a coach whistle?) As the announcer, I will say something like,

"Thank you participants for your timely arrival at the 2012 Summer Singing Time Olympic Games. We appreciate your reverence as the judges for the Olympic games file in."

The judges will come in (holding clipboards?) and sit at a table that has been decorated with a table cloth, flowers(?), - whatever I can think of to make it look very official and "Olympics-ish." I made little name plates for them that say "Judge Smith," etc. I found a name plate template to save myself time in making these. Seriously, this part took me about three minutes - just long enough to Google a name plate, change the names in the template, print it out, and fold the paper.

I will then say something like, "And now, it is time for the Opening Ceremony, the passing of the Olympic Torch. Everyone, please stand as we sing [pick a song] and pass the torch across the room until we reach [choose the child nearest to the end on the front row]." (I will have time for this since I get the whole hour for primary this Sunday. If you don't, use one of your songs that you feel confident about, rather than using it for the judging portion of the activity.)

I will then have opening ceremonies - the passing of the torch. I will have everyone stand and we will pass the torch around the room until it gets placed in its honorary spot at the front of the room. While we are passing the torch, we will sing a song that is not on our program list.

Here's my torch. It took me less than a minute to make (once I had all the pieces in front of me ... so okay, two minutes)! So easy ...

How to make the torch
You'll need:
A paper towel roll, or if you don't have that, strong paper that you can roll into a funnel (e.g. roll up your junk mail!)
Red and orange issue paper or cellophane

I scrounged around the house to find these supplies so there's a lot you can substitute depending on what you have on hand. I took a paper towel roll, cut it straight down one side, then re-rolled it into more of a funnel shape. I then wrapped it in foil, placing the roll at an angle to the foil so that it took less foil to cover the material. I then stuffed one piece of tissue paper into a red cellophane bag. I then stuffed that cellphane bag into the foil-covered roll. That's it! So easy. I had planned to dig up orange tissue paper and wrap it in red tissue paper, but a red cellophane bag and gold tissue paper gave the same flame-like effective that I was seeking. The idea is to have a good visual but not spend a lot of money on materials. You can find stuff around your house.

How judging will work
I want to keep this pretty simple. I will have the children sing each of the songs that we are working on for the primary program, then have the judges hold up their scores after each song. I want to add a little anticipation here, with a bit of a drum roll, giving each judge time to hold up their cards individually so the children are not seeing all of the scores at once. The judges will then each have an opportunity to discuss why they awarded them with certain points, and to talk about where the children need to improve. I have seen all three of these judges give great feedback in ward choir so they will not need any coaching here on what type of feedback they can give to the children.

The judges' score cards
I will explain the score card to the children so that they will know how they are being judged. The judges will have a smaller copy of this on their own score cards, which I made for them in advance. Feel free to print my version out (you'll need two copies for each judge = six copies). You can just right click to save it to your computer, then print it. Or, post your email and I'll send you a file that you can easily print.

I have thought about having my score card add up to a total of 12 points but with the judges only awarding as much as 10 points. This way, the judges can mark the children down and discuss the areas they are being marked down for, but still give them a decent overall score. Right now though, I think I might just make the total 10 points. I will let judges know they can award 1/2 points and 1/4 points on their score card, but then ultimately round up when they choose what final score to hold up.

Scoring will be based on the following criteria. I found a nice scorecard on SugarDoodle, too, but it wasn't what I was looking for so I made my own version. I do want to
share that version though, as it has some fun ideas that I did not use but feel it's a shame not to know about for future reference. 
  • Memorization. How well do you know the song?  2 possible points.
  • Volume. How well can we hear you singing the song? 2 possible points.
  • Diction. How clearly can we hear the words of the song? 1 possible point.
  • Blending. How well are you blending your voice with the person next to you? 1 possible point.
  • Reverence. How reverent is the primary room as a whole? (e.g., standing still, not talking to neighbors, enjoying the music) 2 possible points.
  • Other. The judges will use their discretion to judge for other qualities in a good choir, e.g., standing still, smiling, overall sounding great - whatever they want to throw in. 2 possible points.
I thought about having each judge score on different things but I think it will be more fun to anticipate how each judges score compared to each other. They can talk beforehand and agree to keep it within a certain range if they are worried about being way off from each other.

I also wanted to leave plenty of room on the page for judges to jot down notes.

Guide for the judges
I am also going to print out a little mini-instruction sheet for the judges. Something to the effect of:
1. You can award 1/2 points and 1/4 points, but for your final score, be sure to round up. Note that each item (like "memory") has a total amount of points that you can award per song.
2. Please jot any notes along the sides of the paper or in the score boxes to help me know what to work on with the children next week.
3. Wait for me to ask you to hold up your score cards.
4. I will ask each judge to explain their scores to the children and give them advice on how they can improve as they sing that song.

Holding up their Olympic scores
I think it would be cheaper to use a hollow font or just write out the numbers with a permanent marker but I wanted things to look very official for effect so I created numbers in PowerPoint. Obviously, you can do this in Word as well. I was planning to put a border around the numbers. I happened to forget until after I printed the pages. Oh well.

The Olympic Games Continue ... (Weeks 2 and 3)

For Week 2 of the Olympic games:
We will review where children need to improve their songs, but I will tie this into some fun Olympic games of some sort, like "Pass the Torch." (I just made that up so I don't know the rules yet.)

For Week 3 of the Olympic games:
I will have the judges return, judge them again, and this time, award them with higher scores. They will then receive gold medals for their improvements. (See my previous post. I did a lot of comparison shopping and ultimately bought 72 medals for only about $23. Cheaper than making them unless I went ultra, ultra, ultra cheap and had medals made out of paper, I guess.)

Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Singing Time Olympics

I timed the Singing Time Olympics to start the first Sunday of the 2012 Olympic Games in London.

I haven't worked everything out yet but wanted to throw up a quick post so that if you want to do the same, you can start preparing now, since this coming Sunday will be the first Sunday of our primary Olympic games!

This is basically a singing time review but to make it fun, I'm bringing in three "official" judges that will hold up score cards after the children sing each song. My stake primary music leader mentioned this idea several months ago; its one that other wards in our stake have done before, as well as other wards outside of our stake. I'm not sure of the specifics so that's the fun part where I get to make stuff up and blog about it :)

I have seen a singing time activity that brought in three judges before, for a different type of activity, so I expect from past experience that this will be quite a bit of fun, but also, that I will be able to maintain a respect and reverence for the music we will be singing.

For now, ask three people in your ward to come be judges for this coming Sunday. I ended up with our ward choir director, ward choir pianist, and our counselor over the primary, who happens to be extremely musically gifted. Therefore, all three are talented music people. I also like that two of them have children in the primary, and that I have a mix of male and female judges that I know our children will like.

More to come ... for now, I am creating:
- score cards for the judges to take notes and for the children to see that they mean business!
- score cards to hold up for the children
- a chart so the children can see their overall score

I also ordered gold medals off Amazon to distribute at the end. YOU HAVE TIME to do this still because this activity will be stretched out over at least two Sundays, maybe three! I did a TON of research trying to find the best prices for some gold medals, including making them myself with canning lids and patriotic ribbon, making them with foil-wrapped cookies (but I like to avoid food), and making them with washers from the hardware store. I also checked all the local and online party stores. Anyway, order these now - I received them in less than a week so if you order ASAP, you'll have them in time to present Gold medals to all of your primary kids while the real Olympics are happening.

I do think designing and laminating medals might have been the second cheapest option but the lamination paper, and cutting everything up, would take a lot of time.

Anyway, this was by far the best price I could find both in terms of money and time: 72 gold medals for $23.94 on

More to come as I put together the visual aids for this activity, and the specifics about what to do this Sunday vs. next ...

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Pioneer Day!

Pioneer Day-related Singing Time
A friend recently told me that his son still remembered making butter during Singing Time over a year ago. I too, still remember when I was about seven years old and participated in a series of fun primary activities, including milking a cow (plastic glove with holes punched into the fingertips), and making my own butter. I was amazed as I shook my little jar of heavy whipping cream, and it turned into a delicious butter.

Until now, I have not done a single Singing Time activity that involved food. I worry about food allergies, being reverent, and bribing children to be reverent (not really the most effective way, eh?). That said, I am excited to make an exception this time, and use making butter to talk about our Mormon Pioneer heritage. This will help make it more memorable. I just want to make sure that I have very clear tie-ins to our church history and music, and that we are not just making butter for the sake of making butter.

With that in mind, I am having the children make butter for Singing Time, but we will sing Pioneer Day songs, and I will relate the music and butter-making to real Mormon Pioneer stories. The children can then sample their own butter on Hard Tack. I reference the recipe for that near the bottom of this blog.

Here's my homemade Hard Tack:

Even if a child's pioneer ancestors aren't the ones we picture (for example, my parents are both converts), we all still have pioneers somewhere in our heritage, by the definition of a pioneer.

"Of course, not every child in the Church is descended from these early pioneers. But everyone has a pioneer story in his or her life. Perhaps a child’s grandparents were baptized after meeting missionaries. Maybe a parent traveled from one country to another to start a new life. Even children can be pioneers when they accept the gospel or help their families keep the commandments. No matter our story, we can all be proud of our 
heritage, a word defined in this month’s Bulletin Board."

The Songs
I will focus on singing two Pioneer songs. Our primary president invited members of our ward to come to primary and share stories about their pioneer ancestors, I believe with the tie-in to this week's theme of Honesty. We will sing songs between stories.

I will start by reminding the children that Pioneer Day is coming up (if the presidency hasn't already), and talk about how the pioneers sang as they crossed the plains to arrive in Salt Lake City.

I will quote part of  Elder L. Tom Perry's thoughts from July 2012 and remind the children that they can use music the same way in their own lives:

L. Tom Perry
"On the 24th of July, we celebrate the arrival of the pioneers in the Salt Lake Valley. They left everything behind—their homes, their businesses, their farms, and even their beloved family members—to journey into a wilderness.The pioneers danced and sang as they crossed the plains. It was a way they kept their spirits high in the face of tremendous hardships. With firm faith in God and their leaders, the early pioneers went to work to create beautiful communities in the shadows of the mountains. What a glorious legacy of faith, courage, and ingenuity those noble pioneers have left for us to build upon."

I chose the two Pioneer songs in the Children's Hymn book that I thought would be appropriate, fun, and easy to learn since we will only work on them this one Sunday. I may end up only singing one song, but either way, I will simply put up a flip chart that someone else made, have them sing it with me once with the flip chart, and then move into the activity, with the flip chart.

There are so many flipcharts out there but I chose these two:

Pioneer Children Sang as they Walked - page 214
Flipchart made by Sandy Elcock.

The Handcart Song - page 220
Flipchart for the Handcart song by Mary Ann Clements.

Ways to sing this song with the butter:
1. Sing it and shake the jar the first time.
2. Get up and "walk and walk and walk" to Pioneer Children Sang as they Walked the second time.
3. Smack bottle against hand and sing to the beat of the song the third time. This is helpful as the cream thickens and it feels like nothing is happening as they shake their bottles.

Making Butter - The Pioneer Story
I will talk about our Pioneer ancestors by quickly sharing a few main insights:

  • Our ancestors may not have been Mormon Pioneers, but we honor them because they paved the way for us.
  • Thousands of pioneers traveled by foot over hundreds of miles to find a place where they would be welcome and can settle their families.
  • The trek was very hard. Many became very ill, some died, and many were very hungry and very tried most of the journey. I want to have them make butter today, so I can remind them that the early pioneers did a lot more for themselves, rather than just going to a store to buy things, and this included things like making butter. I also want to remind them though that on the trail, they had so little food that  even butter was quite a luxury, but that they definitely made butter when they got to Salt Lake City. And that it seems that some were able to make it while on the trail.
I am disturbed that I can't find a source for this quote to validate it, but this is the quote I want to read:

"The way we made our butter was we'd milk the cows in the morning and strain the milk into lg. churns, which were put in the back of the wagon. at night, through the constant motion of the wagon all day, there would be pieces of rich yellow butter clinging to the sides of the churn; some of which 
would be the size of goose eggs." From the diary of a 12 year old girl on the Mormon Trail, 1850

Stuhr Museum is one of many that list this story (without documenting the name of the source, grrr! hard to verify its accurate). They have several pioneer recipes here. I was going to bring crackers for the butter but I think I might make one of the flapjacks or something. Right now, I am leaning toward making Pioneer Hardtack (scroll down) to go with the butter, as found at The recipe was too long to post in this already long post, but just scroll to the bottom of the Pioneer Hardtack recipe page.

I also found a short butter to emphasize what a treat it was to a small budget, that I wanted to mention if there was time:
Until We Reach the Valley-O

" Not much variety of food, for our mother was desperately poor, but what there was, was fit for princes—just white light buttermilk biscuits with butter, clear water from the creek, and dark, sweet, sticky fluid called “Molasses.” "

Making Butter - The Recipe
Heaving whipping cream
Pinch of salt
Jar (bottle)

Place cream in jar with a pinch of salt. Leave plenty of room to shake your jar of liquid. Then shake! Eventually (20 minutes) it will start to turn to cream, then to butter. Pour out the liquid. Spread the butter on something yummy! (The liquid will make the butter go rancid faster so if you are planning to not eat the butter right away, you'll want to actually pour out the liquid, and rinse it.)

A friend that works at business that makes nutritional supplements donated bottles to give to each child to make butter. Clear bottles would be better but if you can get them free, do it! I started calling pharmacies (another individual's suggestion in our primary blog world) but a good friend of mine took care of that problem for me very quickly.

Other Ideas from that I wanted to use, time pending (which is unlikely):
Have 1776 Family Home Evening
Some fun ideas of other activities you could do during Singing Time and Sharing Time.

A Melting Pot of Pioneer Recipes
This is a good reminder that while making butter is a pioneer "thing," it was certainly not something every pioneer did because the first pioneers had so little.

Other Stories
LDS Girls in the Pioneer West
This talks about how common of a chore it was to make butter.

They Walked 1300 Miles
There are many stories here but I like how this one applies to butter:

When handcart pioneers are mentioned, most minds turn to the tragic story of the Willie and Martin handcart companies of 1856. But they were only two of 10 handcart companies, and the only two devastated by tragedy. Following is the story of the first and second handcart companies—captained by Edmund Lovell Ellsworth and Daniel D. McArthur, respectively—as told from the journal accounts of those who walked the 1,300 miles from Iowa City, Iowa, to the Salt Lake Valley.

“Count the Steps”

Two days after arriving in the Salt Lake Valley, the Saints held a meeting in the old Bowery. Mary Powell wrote, “My little sister Annie, age four, had been promised a big piece of bread and butter when she reached the valley. [She had walked all the way by the side of Captain Ellsworth, and he put her on his shoulders when they came into the valley.] Just as we were lined up to hear a few words from Brother Brigham, a lady held up a piece of bread and Annie ran toward her. ‘That’s my piece of bread and butter!’ she cried joyously. At the sight of this, President Young wept. ‘God bless the child!’” 16

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Fun Song Review - Fishing for ... Lions, and Owls, and Fish? With Some Olympics Thrown In ...

After pondering all week and trying to figure out a good Singing Time activity for last Sunday, inspiration came Friday night. Fishing for animals! Not just fish, but lions, and turtles, and butterflies. Then, take those animals to the Olympics!

Six months ago, I found some pre-painted, cute wood cutouts of a lion, owl, ladybug, fish, butterfly, and turtle at Wal-Mart while I was picking up some other cheap art supplies for Primary. I think they were only  $.50 each so I bought some magnets in the same aisle, and turned the cutouts into decorative magnets. Check your fridge though ... there's a good chance you have random magnets that will do the trick.

The magnets I "made" however, are inexpensive and can be used in a number of ways. I'll share some other ideas further down in the post, but for now, this is what I did:

1. I attached a magnet to string, and then to a pole. I then painted a picture specifically designed to go with the magnets. Children were asked to come up and fish for the magnets, then match them up to their designated spots in the picture. I color-coordinated the magnets and poster board so each magnet stood for a song we would sing.

I then added in a little, fun, extra Olympic theme to give the wiggly bodies a chance to relax a bit, and move around a bit, since I don't do that every week. Also, I have a planned Olympic activity coming up soon, so this is a precursor (more on that in a future post - I'll post early so you can plan it too!).

I traced giant Yogurt lids to make perfect circles for my Olympic rings.

I drew each animal magnet participating in an Olympic activity. So, when the children sang "As a Child of God," I had them do the breast stroke and the back stroke for two different verses, for example. The butterfly is synchronized swimming, so I told the children to listen carefully to each other and blend their voices with the person next to them, and told that it was something professional choirs did, too. They sounded amazing! I was so pleased.

For skating, I told the children to sway in place, side to side, while they did the motions for "The Wise Man and the Foolish Man." The ladybug had three verses, so I picked three Olympic activities. The first one was archery, which was super fun, but I had the pianist stop playing so that I could remind the children that if I could hear the sound of arrows being launched, it meant they weren't singing!

In senior primary, because I had time, and because the theme was reverence, we ended with a new reverence song, that helped introduce the lesson for the day, once singing time was over! (The teacher was very pleased!)

Creating a picture.
To create a picture around magnets, if you don't like to draw, just cut out some magazine pictures, or even find a poster of a landscape, and simply use that as the background for your activity. You can have children work to complete the poster, either by calling children up to choose an illustration to attach to the poster (place magnets in areas on the poster.) Each magnet they choose could represent either a way to sing the song, or a song you want them to sing. You can also have children guess what illustration will go with what magnet on the poster.

Other ways to use the magnets: match the magnet
Give each class a magnet with a description on the back. Read a clue, then ask each class to review their magnet and see if their magnet matches the clue. If it does, they get to send someone to the front of the class to bring their magnet up, place it on the board, and then pick a song to sing.

Other ways to use the magnets: match the magnet: tell a story
Each magnet represents a story, for example, the magnet of the owl could be the parable of the Wise Man and the Foolish Man from the Bible; Matthew 7:24-27. Since the theme for last week was "Reverent," I could associate one of these magnets with a story about reverence. I might tell them for instance that I am only going to tell them the story about one of the magnets, but that each magnet comes with a story. 

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Learning "When I Am Baptized"

I just found this draft for a post that I never published. Better late than never? I obviously meant to publish it over a month ago ...

The theme for this month is Repentance and Baptism, so the theme song is "When I Am Baptized." The children already know this song, and in fact, it is a favorite of several of the youngest children that learned this song last year. There is a whole new group of three-year-olds that never learned the song, though, so I am would like to help them learn it this week.

Junior Primary Activity #1 - Introduce "When I Am Baptized"
I will draw pictures on the chalkboard and ask children to raise their hand as they recognize what song I am drawing. I like to draw, but even if you don't, this will be easy because each line of the song can be so easily represented by a simple object.

"I like to look for rainbows" - draw a rainbow

"Whenever there is rain" - draw a cloud with rain coming out

"And ponder on the beauty of an earth made clean again" - draw the earth

I will then say, "keep your hands up if you want me to call on you to guess the song."

Talk to the children about what it means to be baptized.

Junior Primary Activity #2 - Learn "When I Am Baptized"
To help the three-year-olds to catch up to the older children on learning this song, I would like to have them help me invite hand movements that represent each line of the song. That's it! Simple, fun, and easy.

We talked about this activity in our Stake Primary Chorister training, but I have also read about it before. I think our instructor that day may have learned this at Worldwide Chorister training, but also, the primary manual talks about how well little children respond to hand movements and things that they can copy. I have also taught the children sign language for one song and part of another song, and have seen how much they love to follow me. In short, the frequency with which I have heard versions of this idea or even experienced versions myself, confirms for me that this is an activity that will be appropriate and helpful for these children.

I will start out by giving an example, for instance, "I like to look for rainbows" could be holding my hands to my eyes like binoculars, or shading my eyes to help me see better. I could also sweep my hands out to form a rainbow.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Singing Measles Song Review - With a Few New Twists

I have kept colored dot stickers in my church bag for six months now, just in case I needed to motivate my primary kids to participate better, but they are generally so enthusiastic that I have not had to turn to my emergency plan. I stuck a wand in my bag for my new emergency plan, and instead, "Singing Measles" is going to be this Sunday's main activity!

This is an idea that I saw floating around on various primary music blogs when I started this calling. I don't think this was the first place I saw this idea, but it was one of them, and one that gives plenty of detail about how this works the way that I like best. The chorister that describes this activity has been pulling out her "Measles" stickers for over a decade. I assume this means it is a successful activity with the children. I've also added a few of my own twists, depending on how much time we have during the activity.

Review songs in fun way that will keep the children interested, but not take away from the songs themselves!

What you need
I bought colored dot stickers for the measles. I found mine in the "office" section of a grocery store, but I also recently spotted additional sizes of colored dots at Map World that I purchased as well, since I would rather have too many "measles" than too few. So, I have two types of colored sticker dots. I've seen other bloggers use "cute" stickers but I like the simplicity of plain, colored dots. I don't want the kids to be focused on which patterned sticker they hope to receive, so much as just receiving a sticker.

How it works
Pick some songs you want to review. Then, give a few sheets of stickers to each teacher, and ask them to place them on children that are singing particularly, or at least participating, particularly well. You can explain this to the teachers while you are passing out the stickers so the children can be motivated and understand how they will earn their dots. I will also ask the primary presidency to circulate and look for children that look like they are singing hard and should receive more dots.

All the children will end up with the "measles," but some will have more than others depending on how their teachers evaluated how well they were singing and participating.

From reading various blogs, it sounds like children really get into this, and that the senior primary like to be creative with where they put their dots, to make mustaches, etc.

I think I will introduce the activity by starting out with a few dots on my own face, which I'll put on after opening exercises. I've noticed that the children (and teachers!) seem to get into the activities more when I demonstrate them myself.

Keeping the children reverent
I worry that the children will become too rowdy so I think there are a few different ways to handle this:

1. Remind the children that they have to be reverent to earn the stickers. I don't plan to remove stickers from children, but at least they can't keep earning them if they are not being reverent.
2. Make one of the sticker colors a "reverent" color that children can only earn that particular way. The primary presidency that circulates could specifically be assigned to only pass out reverence dots that are that particular color, or one color could be for reverence, one could be for something else.

Bonus dots activity
My little twist on this great idea is giving children assignments based on the color of dots they have on them. For example, the child with the most red dots gets to come up and pick the next song (then put all the song titles into a jar so the children can draw for songs).

Removing the dots
I have also read the option of putting stickers on the teachers instead of the children, so I am tempted to combine these two ideas, pick the class with the most dots, or the most reverent children, and have everyone put all their dots (or at least some of their dots) on this teacher! This way, I can get the dots off the children before the primary presidency teaches their lesson. More likely, I will save this version for the next time I do singing measles.