Little Leprechaun - Putting the Green Hats to Use
I will put a fun game under each hat (the games listed below). A child will come up and choose the hat. Depending on the hat they choose, we'll play a certain game for a single verse or the song or two if necessary depending on how much lyric time we need for each game. After the game is over, the teacher for the class that was singing the best has to wear the hat for the rest of primary. (This could be substituted with hand-drawn clovers taped to the wall, etc.)
Every Other Lyric
Just to make this more exciting, I'm going to have everyone stand up and form a big circle. We're going to go around the room and have everyone take turns saying the next word of the song. That's it! If they are horrible at it, then I'll go around and say all the words and point to each person. This will have the effect of secretly making everyone listen and commit the words of the song into their memories better than before! (The hat prize mentioned above obviously doesn't work for this game.).
I will bring a fun object into the room. Maybe something squishy. I have done this spur-of-the-moment before and used whatever objects I had used for the lesson that day. The children pass the item to the person next to them, and if the pianist stops while they are holding the object, then they have to say the next word of the song. If they forget, they can ask the person on either side of them. Teachers have to play, too, but I always tell the children that it's easier for children to memorize than adults, so they have to be prepared to help their teacher!
Beware, this is not the most reverent game. I have to warn them not to THROW the item at people but to be gentle, and that they need to all sing, sing, sing! However, they love it, and used sparingly, it is a fun, effective way to keep the children enthusiastic.
Singing or Standing By Color
I don't want to bring out all the favorite games at once so I'll add this one as a safe filler. I'll bring five popsicle sticks with a different bright color attached to each in a big round circle. If they are wearing that color, they have to sing. OR, maybe I'll have everyone sing but they have to stand up while their color is up, so I get to see children bopping up and down. They will still have the incentive that their teacher may end up wearing TWO of the green hats if they sing the best. I'll add a picture once I've made these pieces.
One child is called to the front of the room. The child has some lyrics of the song written on their "helmet." The class will sing the song and skip that line. Then, the child has to tell us what lined we skipped over. For junior primary, because they can't read well, I would send the child out of the room so I could whisper the words that we are skipping over to the children.
I made my last version of this helmet by folding a half-sized poster board into a paper hat. I used paper clips to change out what it said on the hat, by clipping the sheet in. It worked great! I am considering painting it with chalk paint as well ... I'll add some pictures if I do this approach.
Even my most reluctant singers love this game. It's so great to have them come up and realize they really are memorizing the words of the song!
I will have half the class clap out the beat of the song, and have the class clap out the rhythm of the song while we sing it.