Friday, January 4, 2013

Introducing "I Am a Child of God"

[Before I jump into teaching, "I Am a Child of God," want to mention that for junior primary, I am also going to have a little extra fun with the new Sunbeams. I am going to sing the Sunbeam song with them, but pass out little "suns" that they get to hold up as they stand up and say "Sunbeam." I will do a few extra wiggle songs and hopefully help them feel more comfortable.]

I am excited to introduce "I Am a Child of God," the January theme song for the primary. I will stick to some simple principles that will be fun, but also help the children to learn. I except most primary children know this song fairly well, so we will start with a "What Song Am I?" game.

Introduce the Song- "What Song Am I?" Game
I will talk about a new song that we are working on this month and then ask the children to guess the song by playing a little game. There are of course many ways to play this game. In my first "What Song Am I" game I had them throw a little ball at something, and depending on where the ball landed, they saw a different hint. I have had them pop some balloons with hints inside. I have had them go fishing for clues. I have had them dig through "sand" (I used rice) for clues. This time, I  may have them select images from a poster for the hint behind it, or choose pieces of paper that have already been cut up, to assemble a picture. So many fun options! (Note from the following Sunday: This is the way I ended up playing the game.)

Either way, the point of the game is to offer hints, and I don't want to take too long to get to the actual hints so I want the game to be fun, but also very simple.

The game will have the following hints:

1. Play one note of the song. (If they've already pulled this hint, then they get to combine it and play two notes total.)

2. This song is about what all of these people have in common. (Show a picture of several different people with different ages, ethnic backgrounds, and other unique characteristics.)

3. This is the very first song in the Children's Songbook.

4. Play one note of the song. (If they've already pulled this hint, then they get to combine it and play two notes total.)

5. This song was written in 1957. The fourth verse was added in 1978, though!

6. This song is about Psalms 82:6.

7. Play one note of the song. (If they've already pulled this hint, then they get to combine it and play two notes total.)

8. The lyrics were written in 1957 by Naomi W. Randall and have been translated into over 90 languages.

9. Naomi W. Randall composed the first three verses of this song at the request of some Primary leaders. The board wanted a song that could teach children about LDS Church teachings on the nature of a child's relationship with God. Randall described how she composed the song:
I got down on my knees and prayed aloud, pleading that our Heavenly Father would let me know the right words. Around 2:00 a.m., I awakened and began to think again about the song. Words came to my mind. … I immediately got up and began to write the words down as they had come to me. Three verses and a chorus were soon formed. I gratefully surveyed the work, drank of the message of the words, and returned to my bedroom where I knelt before my Father in Heaven to say "Thank you!"[1]

10. The song was first performed at a stake Primary conference in 1957, over 50 years ago.

11. This song has four verses. The fourth verse was not added until almost 20 years after it was first written.

I expect the children to guess the song before I even make it through half the hints. To get through more hints, I tell the children to raise their hand if they think they recognize the song, but then we keep going through the hints, since the hints are really learning opportunities. If we make it through all the hints and the children still do not recognize the song, I will have the pianist play more notes of the song.

Song Activity
My experience is that if the Primary organizers put in a specific suggestion for introducing a new song, it is well thought out and worth following, so I am going to go with the suggestion in the Primary 2013 Sharing Time Manual, at the bottom of Page 3. (I really feel it helps to teach the music well to read the lesson for that day and the theme for that month.)

Ask the children to sing the chorus of “I Am a Child of God” (CS, 2–3) with you and listen for
words that describe what they would like someone to do for them. List their responses (lead,
guide, walk beside, help, teach) on the board. Ask a question about each word. For example, “Who
leads us?” or “Why would you want someone to walk beside you?” Testify of the blessings of having parents, teachers, leaders, prophets, the scriptures, and the Holy Ghost to help us find our way
back to Heavenly Father.

The questions I will ask:

1. Who leads you? (Our Heavenly Father through prophets, scriptures, etc; our parents, our teachers ...)
2. What does it mean to be guided? (Someone that shows you the path, give example of a tour guide)
3. Why would you want someone to walk beside you? (You are never alone, even when it feels like ...)
4. When this song says, "Help me find the way," what do you think it asking about? What way? (We are put on this earth to be tested and to find our way back to our Heavenly Father)

We will then sing the chorus together again (repetition, repetition to learn a song well!). If they know the first verse of the song, which I expect many of them will, we will sing the first verse as well.

Sign Language
If there is time remaining, which I definitely don't expect in junior primary, especially on Fast Sunday, then I will start teaching them the sign language for the chorus of the song. I think this is a good song for sign language, and will refer to the ASL video that the LDS church provides in the links on the right of the I Am a Child of God song page.

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