Sunday, February 24, 2013

Trip Around the World Recap

If you're trying to decide how to introduce "If the Savior Stood Beside Me," then check out my last post.

If you're looking for a fun review activity, I just want to show how what I envisioned for today's singing time review turned out:

These are all the places where our ward has missionaries right now; two of which returned just this month. I had all the pictures turned around so that children could come up and choose which song to turn over. I then told them something interesting about the image I featured, the country (or U.S. state) in which it was found, and the name of the missionary that is currently serving in that location.

The children loved being called up. I assigned a song and a fun way to sing each song to each picture, e.g., sing "Stand for the Right" in staccato. I of course made sure to sing, "My Heavenly Father Loves Me" once, as that was the theme of this singing time - things around the world that show how our Heavenly Father loves us.

Senior primary was very motivated and intrigued. Junior primary liked it took, but I wish I had brought my giant glasses so that I could tell children that I was going to look for a super singer to come up to choose the next picture to turn over, and to wear the super singer glasses, instead of just choosing names for the Helping Hands jar.

The Boab tree in Australia and the Cock-of-the-Rock bird in Peru were probably some of the favorites.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Teaching "If the Savior Stood Beside Me" with the help of my NEW Flip chart and the back story

I am excited to share with my primary children the new flip chart that I made to teach "If the Savior Stood Beside Me." My first week with this song, I will focus on teaching the message of this song but we will also begin memorizing the words together by covering a picture at a time - an old, classic method. This flip chart is 12 pages long and covers three verses.

You are welcome to download the flip chart for incidental, noncommercial home and church use. I am also happy to email the flip chart directly to you if you send me your email address.

First, the back story / Introducing the song
I usually like to play a "What Song Am I?" game to introduce a new program song but since this one is not in the Children's Hymn Book, I think a much smaller percentage of the children will know this song. Therefore, I will simply have the pianist play the song one time through and ask children to raise one hand if they at least recognize the tune, and both hands if they think they know the song. This gives them a chance to start becoming familiar with the tune.

Then, I will share the story of who wrote this song and why, which can be found on Sally DeFord's site:

A classic flip chart memorizing technique

1. I will put all the pieces of the flip chart on the board, in order. Then, I will take them through the words of the song (singing and/or talking about each line of the song), and discussing why I chose certain pictures/what they mean.

2. I will invite all of the children and teachers to sing the song with me, using the flip chart.

3. I will invite a child to come to the front of the room and choose a picture to cover. We will then sing the song again and see if we can remember the lines that we have just covered.

4. I will  choose another child to come up and cover a second picture, and then we will sing the song again, with two pictures covered. This uses repetition to help the children learn the song, but in a fun way. As we sing the song again and again, we can grow more aggressive with covering more pictures at a time. My primary children often let me know when they are ready to start covering more than one picture at a time.

The beauty of teaching this song this way is that it does not become too repetitive because the children are so engrossed in the game. (Also, I only teach a song this way once or twice a year, so it never gets repetitive.) From past experience, I will probably be able to teach Senior Primary the entire song this way in one Sunday, depending on how much time I spend talking about the lyrics. In Junior Primary, I expect to be able to teach one verse the first Sunday, and the remaining two verses the second Sunday, using this method.

I love that teaching the song this way allows me to teach not just the words, but the gospel message of this song, because I can talk about the individual pictures I used to highlight each line. For instance, I chose a picture of Joseph Smith comforting a child for the line, "So I'll be the kind of person that I know I'd like to be." I will talk about how Joseph Smith was kind and loving like our Savior, and that this picture of him can remind us to remember the type of person we want to emulate with our own actions. Another example is that  I showed how the child in one picture is sharing the gospel by giving a friend a copy of "Friend" magazine. I also like to explain "difficult" words. In this case, I will stop to make sure the children know that "nigh" means "near."

All of the images I used for the flip chart are all available at: but like I said before - you can download my flip chart, or if you have difficulty with that, just send me our email address and I will email it to you.

Friday, February 15, 2013

My Heavenly Father Loves Me - Lesson 3 (Around the World Song Review Activity)

I'm looking forward to an upcoming Singing Time that I have been noodling over, a journey Around the World to see the wonderful creations that show that our Heavenly Father Loves Us.

** Update 2/24: I put up a quick post of how it went teaching this lesson.

This is essentially a Song Reviews Sunday, with emphasis on "My Heavenly Father Loves Me," and "I am a Child of God." We'll be visiting the places where our ward's missionaries are currently, then sing songs as we "travel." We will sing the song in fun ways. If you're just looking for ways to practice this month's theme song, then skip on down, because that section alone could be it's own lesson. I may stretch this over two Sundays, or revisit it at the end of the following month.

Introduction to the lesson
I will say something like, "Most of you know someone that is on a mission right now, or that is leaving one or will start one soon. They can be called to serve all over the world, and when they do, they can see so many of the wonderful things that our Heavenly Father has created for us to enjoy. I think of all these beautiful things when I think of the song 'My Heavenly Father Loves Me.' We are going to travel around the world and see some of those sights because I want you to see how much our Heavenly Father loves us, and how his presence is all around us. We see it in the gifts he has given us of our bodies, we see it in the missionaries that he sends out to teach those who haven't found the gospel, and we see it in the creations around the world. He has made this earth unique and wonderful, and there is more than any one person could ever see in their entire lifetimes."

Then, I will share the map I have put together, which will look something like the above. I might draw it on the move-able chalkboard beforehand, and then tape the pictures onto the board, or I might go buy a cheap map, or I might print out the shapes of countries and just put that on the pin board without a map. Whatever way is easiest/cheapest, since each approach will convey the message to the children.

Children will come up and pick an image to turn around. I will tell them that so-and-so is serving in that country, highlight the unique feature I chose to show a picture of for that location, and then we will sing a song. It's simply a fun way to choose a song, but in a way that helps emphasize the theme that our Heavenly Father loves us, and gave us our senses, and gave us the beauty in the world, to show his love for us.

I will choose several different relevant songs, and sing them different fun ways:

1. "I Am a Child of God" - I will have them practice our sign language with this song.

3. Various missionary songs - I will have them hold up flip charts, or pretend to be missionaries.

4. Songs from last year - I do not want them to forget all of the songs they learned for last year's primary program. We will sing these songs with extra twists, like adding in hand motions, singing fast or slow, loud or quiet, etc.

5. "My Heavenly Father Loves Me" - Hold up Your Card

I might save this for a few months out, since the activity is elaborate enough, but I have prepared everything just in case. I am going to pass out cards with different objects on them that represent lines of the song, as shown above. I've done it without putting them on a stick before, but thought it would be fun. I will ask the children to hold up their picture every time we sing their line of the song. That's it! So simple, but the children love the versions that I have done of this "game," especially junior primary, but even senior primary loves to participate.

You can mix it up by having the children trade pictures with each other.

If you want to do JUST this song, and feel like the children are getting tired of this game, then ask them to sing the song, but as they do, hand their picture to the person to their right. When the piano stops at random times, only the children holding a card with a picture of  [pick a picture] can answer the question, which is, "What is the next line of the song." Fun, simple, and it helps them review the words!

I've linked to the location on the Internet where I found these pictures, if you want to go there to find a bigger version than what I have posted.

Bird singing
  Blue Sky  


Velvet Rose
   Lilac Tree    


Butterfly Wings

Life, Heart, Mind


I thank him reverently

I was inspired by four things when putting together this lesson:

Inspiration #1 - Three talks I read online, which I planned to make into a singing time lesson, and may arrange into something in March, the way I did for a lesson almost exactly a year ago, using quotes from our prophet.
Find ways to recognize and remember God’s kindness. It will build our testimonies.

February 2013 Friend

God's Love for His Children

April 1989, Friend(Adapted from an April 1988 general conference address. SeeEnsign, May 1988, pages 57–59.)

Inspiration #2  -  Our ward's annual Missionary Month is in February. We will have stake missionaries visiting our primary the Sunday of this lesson. I wanted to tie the Singing Time lesson into missionary month, in a fun way that the children can really relate to - most of the children know at least one of the missionaries in our ward, if they aren't the sibling of one of the missionaries! This map only shows about a third of our ward's missionaries - I will have a picture for each location.
Inspiration #3 - Our theme song this month, "My Heavenly Father Loves Me," and how it should inspire us to look around at all the blessings the Lord has put on the earth for us.
Inspiration #4 - A comment a child made in primary last Sunday. Last week when the children were responding to a question from our presidency, one of the children in my senior primary class last Sunday, "B.", stated that he knows Heavenly Father loves us when he sees all the unique creations that the Lord has made for us all over the world. He gave a specific example of a unique natural feature, which I don't remember anymore, but I loved how he focused on the unique and beautiful creations from our Father in Heaven. I love to travel and see the beauty around me, and I wanted to use this child's wonderful example to help the children see why this song teaches us so beautiful that our Heavenly Father loves us.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

"My Heavenly Father Loves Me" - Lesson 2 - "I Spy with My Primary Eye"

Since the children will have just learned this song the previous week, I want to take at least one additional week to reinforce the words in their minds in a fun, engaging way. Well, two engaging ways ...

I Spy with My Primary Eye

Gather items that represent the words of the song. I want them to match the objects I chose to highlight in my flip chart as closely as possible, as I think it will be easier for the children to match up the objects that way.

I think this will be more fun if the images are three-dimensional but of course, the easy option is flat images. (You can print off any of the images below in place of finding a three-dimensional object.) I'm still looking for objects around my house so I'll post them as I find them ...

Bird - "Whenever I heard the song of a bird ..."

Sky - "... or look at the blue, blue sky .."
Cotton glued to blue paper

Rain - "whenever I feel the rain on my face ..."
Umbrella or rain coat if it's obvious enough

Wind - "or the wind as it rushes by ..."
Handheld Fan (was going to use chimes but that might be too much of a riddle for them)

Rose - "whenever I touch a velvet rose ..."
(I found a rose labelled "Velvet Rose" at the dollar store. How appropriate! February is a convenient month for finding velvet roses.)

Tree - "or look at a lilac tree ..."
(I am using an image for this one so the children know what a lilac tree looks like ...

World - "I'm glad that I live in this beautiful world, Heavenly Father created for me."

Eyes - "He gave me my eyes that I might see ..."
Sunglasses (I use these for other primary activities. Perfect way to re-use.)

Butterfly - "the color of butterfly wings ..."

Ears - "He gave me my ears that I might hear the magical sound of things ..."
Ear muffs or ear phones (I bet I could find some giant fake ears at the dollar store ... guess I need to make another trip back.)

Life / Mind / Heart - "He gave me my life, my mind, my heart ..."
Drawing of a body with a drawing for the brain and heart

Gratitude - "I thank him reverently, for all these creations of which I'm a part ..."
Picture of someone praying, or statue of someone praying ...

1. First, I will spend a little bit of time on the flip chart from the previous week, either singing with it or reviewing it once just to refresh their memories.

2. Next, I will tell them that I hid items around the room, which I will do in advance. I will ask the children to look around and then tell them that we are going to find the objects and bring them up to the table in the front of the room. There are so many fun ways to do this. Right now, I am leaning toward going class by class, so we will sing one line of the song, then I will ask the class to send a member or two to go retrieve the object, and on and on until all the objects are on the table.

3. Once all the items are on the table, I'm going to mix them all up, then have the children come up and try to put them in order while we are singing the song. We will do this one or a few times depending on interest level and time.

I then want to share a quote from M. Russell Ballard (source info in the next blog post):
He said:

To truly reverence the Creator, we must appreciate His creations. We need to take time with our families to share the miracle of buds changing into fragrant blossoms, to sit on a hillside and feel the tranquility of the sun casting its last golden glow over the horizon, to smell the roses.
When we look at the evidence of creation all around us, from a grain of sand to the majestic planets, we begin to realize that we are the greatest of all God’s creations; we are created in His image.

Wendy Buchanan shared that she is having the primary play Pictionary with this song, and really, it's the perfect song for it, because the song is so full of imagery. She is having teachers draw one line of the song, and children guess and sing the line. I don't plan to have enough time for this but it's a nice add-on activity If I do ... or to save for a future song as the main activity.

Or ...

Move Over Senses!
I'm going to ask the children to pay attention closely, and move one seat over every time they hear a sense described. I'll go into detail to make sure they understand - like "whenever I HEAR the song of a bird or LOOK at the blue, blue sky ..." This might be tough but I will direct them to help them know when to move. I will use this opportunity to emphasize how blessed we are to have sight, hearing, etc.

After this, I will move onto another song so they don't feel like they are just drilling away at one song, over and over:

Song Review Fun
Our ward does a special Missionary Month every February, which affects what we teach out of the primary sharing time manual as well. Therefore, I will take the extra time remaining to have fun with some review songs combining missionary topics and other recent songs:

I Hope They Call Me on a Mission - I have little objects for the children to hold up for this song, which I made in the past (a tie, a mission badge, two rulers, and then I ask a volunteer to bring up their scriptures)

I Want to Be a Missionary Now
Flipchart here:

We'll Bring the World His Truth

Praise to the Man

I am a Child of God

Friday, February 1, 2013

Teaching My Heavenly Father Loves Me - Lesson 1 Details (with a Valentines Twist) (REVISED 1.3.13)

I realize I never really elaborated on my plans for Lesson 1 of this song. We have Stake Conference this week so I actually have a whole extra week to figure it out, but this is my tentative plan for now.

Revised the 1st time, 2nd time, 3rd time piece under item #2 on 1/3/13 since I am now thinking about how I am going to teach this next Sunday, now that Stake Conference is over ...

1. Start with the "Guess what song I am?" game to introduce the new song
As I have mentioned before, there are a ton of fun ways to play this game, my favorites being to pop a balloon, unwrap something, or dig it out of something. I have done a poor job of tagging my posts but if you click the "What song am I?" label on the right side of my blog (among all the many labels there), you can see specific details about how I have played this game in the past.

This time, I'm going to hide the hints under the chairs, and have the children read their hints one at a time. Since I will be teaching this the Sunday before Valentines (I have Stake Conference on the first Sunday of the month), I will be sharing my hints in the form of Valentines Cards. (Or maybe I'll just put the Valentines in a mailbox that we happen to have in the primary room, and let them check for a Valentine. Oh yeah, definitely just changed my mind.)

As usual, I will ask children to raise their hands if they think they can guess the song after a child reads each hint.

My hints this time:

Hint #1 - Play two notes of the song. (If they have already played two notes, then they play four this time.)

Hint #2 - Read D&C 20:18 (17–18) (I like to remind them that it's good to bring their scriptures!)
17  By these things we know that there is a God in heaven, who is infinite and eternal, from everlasting to everlasting the same unchangeable God, the framer of heaven and earth, and all things which are in them; 18  And that he created man, male and female, after his own image and in his own likeness, created he them;

Hint #3 - Often time, the words of a song and the music to the song are written by different people, but Clara W. McMaster wrote both the words AND the music for this song in 1961.

Hint #4 - The person that wrote this song also wrote the music for "Teach Me to Walk in the Light," "Reverently, Quietly," "Choose the Right Way," and "Kindness Begins with Me." (Source:

Hint #5 - Play two notes of the song. (If they have already played two notes, then they play four this time.)

Hint #6 - The person who wrote this song was a member of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir for 22 years.

Hint #7 - This song is on page 228 of the Children's Song Book

Hint #8 - This song focuses on Genesis 1.
(Can anyone tell me what Genesis 1 in the Bible is about? It is about the creation of the world and everything on it.)

2. Flip chart
If you waited until Sunday morning to look for ideas, just use a regular flip chart (there are tons online) but for me I wanted to make this exciting flip chart that was inspired by Wendy B., who is also a primary chorister, and whose mother made this when she was a chorister. For more details, go to my previous post). The earth rotates on a brad, so that the picture in the wedge constantly changes to depict the lines of the song - "Whenever I hear the song of a BIRD, or look at the BLUE, BLUE SKY, whenever I feel the RAIN on my face ..."

I have read repeatedly that children need to hear the song three times to really learn it so we're going to do it three times.

1st time - I'll sing the song for them and move the wedge around so they can see all the pictures that go with it. I will ask the children and teachers that know the song to sing with me.

2nd time - I'll say that the song emphasizes three of our five senses (hearing, sight, touch) (but not taste and smell) and ask them to listen carefully (and sing if they would like) to the senses that this song emphasizes. I will list or draw the senses on the board as the children listen them out, after we sing the song again. Asking these questions helps them stay engaged with listening carefully to the words of the song.

3rd time - The third time, I'll sing it with them and challenge them to listen for words that rhyme.

(If you don't have your own rotating earth, then just put your flip chart on the chalk board and have them flip a page over and sing it, then do it again with another page flipped over, until no pages are showing. Works great as a fun and effective memorization technique!)

3. If there's time
If I have any time remaining, I will share a personal story about how I feel blessed by the Lord's creations, and give them an opportunity to participate as well. Then, end with my testimony! Simple. I might do some searching for a good story from to bring with me but have not had a chance to check yet ...