Saturday, September 29, 2012

Fun Song Review: A short activity (20 mins) or a long activity (40+ mins) - You choose!

I said a few posts back that I had a fun singing time coming up the Sunday after General Conference. Well, plans changed so I scaled way back.

I have two options below:
- a memory game with a fun twist - better for a longer sharing time (40+ minutes) but can do the bare bones version in 20 minutes
- a matching game that challenges children to really understand their lyrics - i plan to do this one in 20 minutes but I know that means that I will really have to watch the time in junior primary.

I will be playing the matching game with my primary children this Sunday (option #2).

Option #1 - Pick-a-Song: Memory
I have not yet played the classic Memory game with my primary children but I have prepared the pieces. To play this game, I glued two identical pictures to represent each song, card stock. I used the same card stock for every picture so that when the pictures were turned around, people would not know where to find the match.

I will use the "Singing Time" jar to fairly choose a child to guess which two pictures to turn over, or I will go back and forth across the room, from class to class, and have the teacher choose a reverent child. Once a child correctly finds a match, we sing that song.

To add a bit of fun to this, and also to help the children improve how they sing each song, time pending, I will introduce a fun way to sing each song, that I will have pre-selected for each song. I'll put a little symbol on each matching picture to add some mystery, because they'll be trying to guess what "fun" way to sing the song that the symbol represents.

For instance, here are some fun ways I might sing each of the following songs:

  • I'm Trying to Be Like Jesus - Have them sing crescendo and decrescendo (get slowly more loud, then slowly more quiet)
  • Stand for the Right - Have everyone stand and take a step to the right when they sing "right." Then, have everyone turn and face the back of the room and sing the song again with the same rules, to get back to their seat.
  • Choose the Right - I am doing this song in sign language so for me, I will have them alternate between singing the aloud and thinking it in their head while they sign a few lines silently. Another option to make them listen to the words carefully is have them stand up every time they hear "choose," spin around once and sit back down every time they hear "right," and stand on one foot every time they hear the word "light."
  • As a Child of God - Have different sides of the room sing different lines, or boys vs. girls sing different lines. This helps them listen to each other and to the words. I may also have boys sing one verse during the program, and girls sing another verse, so I'll want to try just to see how they sound.
  • Nephi's Courage - Sing staccato.
  • When I Am Baptized - Echo chamber game, as described when I did this to review for the Mother's Day program. This one is great because it needs no advanced preparation. 
  • I Think When I Read that Sweet Story - How loud can you sing? game, also described when I did this to review for the Mother's Day program. This one also needs very little advanced prep - just a piece a paper and some tape so that children can see how far down the hallway their voices reached when they sang. 
  • The Wise Man and the Foolish Man - Follow the Leader game - ask them to watch you and deliberately have them sing loudly, softly, quietly, etc. This is good practice for teaching them to watch you, and to remind them that we don't actually use the motions when we sing this song in sacrament.

Option #2 - Pick-a-Song: Matching the Meanings
I will tell the children that one thing that will help them to sound amazing when they are singing these beautiful songs in church on Sunday is to really think about the words that they are singing, and what they mean. I will then have children match up pictures and/or scriptures on the board. We will sing the song when the children successfully make a match.

I haven't quite finished fine-tuning this part yet, but I want to use both scriptures and pictures (which I found all over Google Images and on the GAK image database). The tricky part is that many of these pictures can go with more than one song, so I plan to explain some of the pictures a bit beforehand. Also, I will modify this to be easier for junior primary vs. senior primary.

Another option is to cluster the pictures together for each song. Then have children match the scripture to the cluster of pictures. This makes it easier to find the match and puts even more focus on the doctrine on which the music is based ...

These are the scriptures I plan to use, so far:

  • I'm Trying to Be Like Jesus -

    1 John 3:23

    23 And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment.
  • Stand for the Right -

    Alma 30:41

    41 But, behold, I have all things as a testimony that these things aretrue; and ye also have all things as a testimony unto you that they aretrue; and will ye deny them? Believest thou that these things are true?
  • Choose the Right -
    Joshua 24:15 - And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom he will serve; whether the gods which your father served that [were] on the other side of the fllod, or the gods of the Amorite, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.
  • As a Child of God -
    D&C 93:40 - But I have commanded you to bring up your children in light and truth.
  • Nephi's Courage -
    1 Nephi 3:7 - And it came to pass that I, Nephi, said unto my father: I will go and do the things which the Lord had commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them.
  • When I Am Baptized -
    Alma 7:15 - Yea, I say unto you come and fear not, and lay aside every sin, which easily doth beset you, which doth bind you down to destruction, yeah, come and go forth, and show unto your God that ye are willing to repent of your sings and enter into a covenant with him to keep his commandements, and witness it until him this day by going into the waters of baptism.
  • I Think When I Read that Sweet Story -
    Luke 18:16 - But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for such is the kingdom of God.
  • The Wise Man and the Foolish Man -
    24 ¶Therefore whosoever aheareth these sayings of mine, andbdoeth them, cI will liken him unto a dwise man, which ebuilt his house upon fa rock:
     25 And the arain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and bbeat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a crock.
     26 And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a afoolish man, which built his house upon the sand:
     27 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that ahouse; and it bfell: and great was the fall of it.
Helamen 5: 12 And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon thearock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your bfoundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty cstorm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall.

And here are some examples of some of the pictures:

As a Child of God, for instance, might focus on a picture that represents "light" and one that represents listening to the Holy Spirit: (I found these all over the Internet, just Google terms like "child light" and "child listening")

found this picture here

Nephi's Courage I wanted to show pictures of youth being courageous, which was a difficult term to search on Google, so I finally landed here, along with the obvious pictures of Nephi:

David and Goliath


We sing the song once the children have correctly matched two or more items (time pending) for one song. I might have a child talk about each picture and why it goes with the song ... you get the picture.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Follow the Leader!

This week is our Stake Conference so I am taking a little vacation from preparing a Singing Time lesson.

However, I have a fun singing time planned for an upcoming Sunday where I will have both Senior and Junior primaries together for BOTH hours! It will involve a number of activities to keep the children interested and attentive.

Here's an easy one you can use for this Sunday that I've been "inventing" over the last few weeks as I've been pondering how to use my last few Sundays before the program:

Follow the Leader
Tell the children you want to see how well they can follow the leader - you! The purpose of this easy activity is to encourage children to WATCH YOU while you are conducting.

Show them the motions and ask them if they can guess what each one means. Have them raise their hand and call on them.

Proceed to conduct, going back and forth with the different motions during a song to make it a game, but also to remind them to watch you carefully. I imagine every chorister has a different set of motions that they use, but this is what I do when I lead:

"I can't hear you!" - I put my hand behind my ear and lean forward a little to remind them that I can't hear them and that they need to sing louder.

"Louder!" - I also wave my conducting arm in a bigger pattern to remind children to sing louder.

"Shhhh!" - I draw my non-leading hand downward and even purse my lips to remind them to sing more quietly.

"Quieter!" - I also wave my conducting hand in a quieter motion to remind children to sing more quietly.

"Stop!" - I put both my pointer fingers over my lips to indicate the should not be singing.

"Stand up!" - I hold my hands palms up, and lift them upward. I use this during the program to remind them to stand up to sing the song.

"Sit down!" - I hold my hands palms down, and push them downard. I use this during the program to remind them to sit down to sing the song.

"Staccato!" - Okay, I've never used this motion in the program but I have use it during practice. I hold my pointer and thumb together and bounce them in the air in a staccato beat.

Alligator mouth - I have also used my hands like an alligator mouth, getting bigger and bigger to indicate a crescendo (singing louder and louder) and getting smaller and smaller to indicate a decrescendo (getting quieter and quieter).

"Hold it!" - Remind children to hold a note when I hold my hand out.

"Start .... NOW!" - Remind children to all come in at the exact same time in the song by watching me as I indicate when to start.

I think I will throw in a few fun ones just to keep it interesting. I don't want to overdo this because of timing but I am also thinking of using subtle movements to indicate:

"Spin one time around." - Move finger in a spinning motion.

You get the picture ...
Parting shot:

I just got around to posting my Conducting Elephant pic from two weeks ago though, so I thought I'd repost it again, and wish you all a happy singing time review. I have just two more practices left before our primary program, so I am already planning my last two lessons. Stay posted! I am super excited about my lesson in two weeks. I may post that one first :) I think the children and presidency are both going to love it.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Song Review - Secret Word

I had originally planned to play tic tac toe with my primary kids (I have not done this with them yet, but it is a an old favorite that I think I might even remember from when I was a child). I changed my mind about tomorrow's activity because I so loved the idea of assigning each class a secret word, shared by Primary Singing Time Ideas for Leaders. I want to focus on the best way possible to sing every song and force the children to really think about the words, and I think this activity will help me to accomplish that goal.

The concept is simple, but I specifically wanted to share what secret words I will use and why, as well as how I want to incorporate origami for presentation.

First, the concept:

Assign each class a secret word. As the class sings all the primary songs, each class has a special action for their secret word, which they will make whenever the word comes up, no matter the song. At the end of the class, we'll try to see if children can guess each classes' secret word. That's it! So simple, but I think it will really make the children think about the words and be interested in singing.

These are the words I selected based on the frequency in which they occur in songs, as well as where I can recall they appear in songs (I have about six classes per sharing time so this gives me a spare). Each of the words I selected appears in at least two songs that we will be singing in our primary program. In addition, each of the songs will have at least two words in it for which a class will be participating.

The secret word and the action that I will be using (unless I change my mind about the action before Sunday, ha ha):

  • Choose or Choice - Stand up and sit down (I have the children sign this song so I didn't want to pick something that made it so that they couldn't continue to sign, too.)
  • Right - Stand, spin around once, and sit down (I have the children sign this song so I didn't want to pick something that made it so that they couldn't continue to sign, too.)
  • Jesus, Lord, or God -  Clap three times
  • Light - Do the wave
  • Rain - Stomp your feet a few times
  • Holy Ghost/ Holy Spirit - Hold your hand to your ear as if you are listening to the Holy Ghost
  • Man or Men - Change seats with someone in your class
  • Try - Hop on one foot three times
  • Wise or Wisdom - Clap your hands, then snap your fingers. Do this twice. (So you clap, snap, clap, snap.)
  • Child or Children - Shake someone's hand. (Hint: If there are an uneven number of children in your class, you may need to shake two people's hands.)

Where I noted the word appears in the songs that we are singing in our Primary Program
(and hence, why I selected that word):

As a Child of God - Light, God, Choose, Holy Ghost, Child
When I Am Baptized - God, Rain
Choose the Right - Light, Right, Holy Spirit, Choose, Wisdom, God
Stand for the Right - Light, Right
I'm Trying to Be Like Jesus, vs.1 - Jesus, Choice, Try
The Wise Man and the Foolish Man - Wise, Rain, Man
Nephi's Courage - Lord, Try
I Think When I Read that Sweet Story - Jesus, Men, Children

When I was in fifth grade, we passed each other notes in class by folding the paper in a fun way that had a little tab at the top. I'll upload a picture once I've done it but having used origami for several previous sharing time activities, I know there are plenty of origami sites if you want to add a little extra fun here. This way, I can get them excited about the came and pass to their teachers their secret words.

Making the songs mean something:
I feel it is really important to make sure the children understand and are thinking about the meaning behind the words they sing, so this is something I always try to emphasize.

This week, I saw a beautiful rainbow, so I am going to ask the children to raise their hand if they saw a rainbow this week (since I saw it in our neighborhood). Then, I will ask them if it reminded any of them of the covenants they have made or will make with their Father in Heaven, and use it as refresher reminder about the beauty and meaning of the lovely song, "When I Am Baptized."

Friday, September 7, 2012

Preparing for our October Presentation - Red Light, Green Light

I have very few Sundays left for our mid-October Primary Presentation due to General Conference, Stake Conference, and an upcoming Temple Dedication, so I am focusing my remaining Sundays on fun ways to sing the songs that help children to focus on the words to the song, on singing in sync, and other fun stuff.

Last week, I did Red Light, Green Light, which is not an original idea, but above you can see how I designed my version of it. The premise is simple: tie green, red, and yellow yarn together at varying lengths and intervals (unless you have the unusual fortunate to find a ball of yarn that fits that description). Have a child come up and pull out the yarn while everyone sings. If the yarn turns red, stop singing. If the yarn turns green, sing. If the yarn turns yellow, hum.

I made my version by wrapping yarn around a paper towel roll, then placing it inside of a giant poster tube. I then glued a stop light sign to the tube, that I had a spare of from when I prepared the Watching for Signs singing time lesson. I had one child pull out the yarn, and another one winding it, but it was still a bit of a tangled mess by the end. However, since the beauty of this activity is that the yarn changes colors, it's not a big deal to snip it wherever it tangles and to retie and rewind the yarn ball for the next time this activity comes out of the Singing Time closet!

I actually prepared this activity about six months ago, and was pleased when on Saturday night, I changed my mind about my previously planned activity, and was able to switch to this one without any additional work, since it was ready to go. I had originally intended it to give to someone if I asked them to sub for me and they didn't know what to do. I think I will still use it as a possible substitute activity, but I like that the children are now familiar with it.

I was worried that the children would get bored of this activity but my twenty minutes went by FAST, and the children were excited to come up and be the ones to pull the yarn.

A few things:

1. I told the children that we were humming on yellow instead of slowing down on yellow because it was hard for the pianist to see the yarn changing colors so frequently.
2. I engaged the children right off the bat by saying, "This is a stop sign. What does 'red' do?," and letting them yell out the answer, and then telling them how that related to the way that we would sing the song.
3. I bore my testimony at the end of the activity.

A special thanks:

I just spent 20 minutes trying to track down the original post I found about this activity, and found about 15 other stop lights! They were all wonderful, but if you happen to have a big poster tube, my version takes the least amount of effort, which is sometimes nice after preparing new activities week after week. I will post her link once I find it. She used a large, round food canister for her version of the stop light. It was super cute.

P.S. (Added September 9) - I meant to mention that if the children grew bored of this, I planned to have the different colors represent different activities (sing louder, softer, staccato, etc.) I did not need to switch it up after all but it's a nice option ...