Saturday, July 27, 2013

Families Can Be Together Forever

Read below to see what I'm talking about but I just wanted to give an update that I ended up going with #2 and #5 below and it was fabulous! I had a group of children come up at a time to hold up a few lines of the flip chart in the wrong order, and then had the rest of the class put them in order. I did this in both Junior and Senior primary, that I added more parts of the flipchart for the older kids. In Senior, I had time for the rhythm game, so I had one side of the room touch their head, shoulders, knees, and then clap their hands (4/4 times) while the other side clapped to the beat of the song. This is a lot of fun so it was a great way to sing the song several times without it feeling repetitious. I swapped sides so each side could try the other part. Since there were no musical teachers in the room, I also had one of my more musical girls come up to help lead one side of the room. 

I am only spending one Sunday on "Families Can Be Together Forever," although I have been including the song in opening and closing songs for the last month. Basically, I know the children already know the song or have passing familiarity with it so I made sure to sing it to go with each Sunday's lessons, but I didn't spend any time on the song because I knew I had time to focus on some other songs. However, I still want to take a Sunday and talk about the  meaning of the song and make sure the kids are thinking about what they are singing so this is my one Sunday for this song, until I move onto "A Child's Prayer" next Sunday.

I didn't have time to create a flipchart of my own so I did a quick Google Search and printed the first one that popped up, which was excellent.

Now, I have several different options in mind, all of which I have done some variation of in the past:

1. Follow the suggestion that went with the flipchart and play a matching game. I like this idea, both if you're reviewing the song, or if you're teaching it for the first time, since the children will be fairly familiar with it, anyway.

2. A rhythm/clapping game. The children love the rhythm activities, so this would be a fun one to have one side clap to the beat, and one side do the rhythm, with or without rhythm band instruments.

3. Act it out. I'm tempted to assign each class a line of the song to come up and "teach" to everyone else. I've done this before with the "I Often Go Walking" mother's day song, which was way more complicated. It would be fun to have them do this with a much shorter and easier song, and not worry about props, since this song lends itself well to being creative. The children like coming up to the front so this is a nice way to give everyone an opportunity.

4. Cover the flipchart game.

5. Look for the matching picture around the room game. I will have the kids look around for the next line in the song and bring the picture up as we go until we have all the pictures at the front of the room. Or, I will have some children hold up the flipchart and have the rest of the class put the kids in the right order.

As usual, I want to educate them, so I will share what I learn about the composer, writer, circumstances of the song, etc.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Preparing for "A Child's Prayer"

I am not going to start teaching "A Child's Prayer" until the first Sunday of August but I do want to comment on this song for those that are nervous about the duet style of the song. Don't shy away from leading this song the way it was written to be sung. It's not as hard as it looks and the kids and parents will LOVE it!!!!

I taught and had the children sing "Love is Spoken Here" for Mother's Day. This is a duet-style song, just like "A Child's Prayer," and the kids LOVED it. They sang with gusto and volume. I had chills! Seriously, the kids went home and told their parents about it, that's how much they loved this song.

I followed this format:

1. I initially just taught them the words of the song, until everyone had every line memorized. This took one Sunday in Senior Primary and two Sundays in Junior Primary.

2. After I was confident that the children knew the lines of the song very, very well, I explained to the children that this song was actually a duet. I had the children move around in the room so that the different parts sat together. In the case of "Love is Spoken Here," I split the boys to one side of the room and the girls to the other side of the room. I had another leader come in and help lead one of the two parts of the song.

That was it! The trick is to have another leader come in and lead the other part of the duet. In an adult choir, or even a professional children's choir (where you don't end up only having 7 minutes to teach, like happened to me in Junior Primary last Sunday), you don't need the second leader, but our children our following our voices, our mouths, and our body language, and we can't sing two parts at once. The man I had help lead the boy's part in "Love is Spoken" here didn't even know how to lead music - it didn't matter. They just wanted needed someone to watch to make them feel confident they were coming in at the right part, etc.

I will post more about how to teach this song but come on, it's the fourth Sunday of the month. Have fun! Review songs. Sing last year's song. Mix it up! You have time, and if you don't - you can have a smaller group sing a song as a special number. So don't worry :)

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Pioneer Day Singing Time Ideas (3 fun options)

This week's post - I want to share three Pioneer-day themed singing times. A new one for this year as well as one I did a few weeks ago, and the one I did last year, which was a HUGE hit.

Option #1
Well, I forgot about Pioneer Day and I want to review songs so here was a simple way to combine the two:

I'll have the children fish for stuff to put in the wagon - only things that we need to take across the plains. I haven't decided what I mean by "fish" -- could be hidden under objects on a table, behind pictures on a board, around the room, pulled out of a bag, or I might attach magnets and a paper clip so that they actually fish.

(This has a detachable cover. Children put items that should go in the cart into a ziplock bag, which hangs over the cart, so they can see what they are adding!)

Rules of the game: To find items that a pioneer would want to take with them across the plains. As children find appropriate items, they will add them to the cart. If they find something we don't need, it gets left behind (at the log cabin).

Object of the game: To learn about Pioneers while singing!

Singing application: Some items will have a song on the back that we will sing and review, or a new pioneer song. It might even include a fun way to sing the song but probably not, because I actually want to discuss some of the things they've been having issues with in the songs and work on that. :)

If you don't want to draw all your own objects (or gather together and make physical objects, I've given you a head start here:

You can use this cart, by artist Chris Gunn. (Your printer will cut off part of the picture if you don't rotate your image clockwise or tell your printer to print in landscape mode instead of portrait mode. ) (Go to the link below to view and print a larger version of this image.)

Log cabin:
(Go to the link to get a bigger version of this image.)

Other items to look for and print, or draw ... or use real objects ...
Things that would go in the cart:
A pot
Pioneer hat
Needle and thread

Things that should stay behind:
etc ...

Images that I will print for context:
1. Image of Pioneers pulling hand carts ... okay you get the picture ...


While planning an even simpler Pioneer-themed singing time, I found this drawing, also by Chris Gunn, that actually inspired the entire activity, pretty immediately, so thanks Chris! (It was seeing the word "Tithing" on the side of the cart that was the trigger. -- also great for a tithing lesson or to incorporate into the sharing time lesson!!)

Handcart education:
  • To cut down on expensive wagons and oxen, some 3,000 of the pioneers subsequently used low-cost wooden handcarts that were light enough to be pulled across the Great Plains. One family or five individuals were assigned to a handcart, with 18 to 20 people sharing a tent. A cart hauled no more than 200 pounds — about 17 pounds of baggage per person.  Each highly organized company was led by an experienced guide and was accompanied by at least four oxen-drawn supply wagons.

Option #2
1. Last year's Pioneer Day Singing Time was one of my biggest hits, ever. They LOVED it. That's the most feedback I have received from the 4 and under age set :) All of the children basically made their own butter that they shook as we sang various Pioneer songs and did various actions (including marching around the room). I also taught them about Pioneers so there are a lot of fun facts in this post from last year.

Option #3
2. I had a Pioneer-day themed sharing time a few Sundays ago that I haven't posted about. Basically, I made a bunch of carts that could be used in numerous ways:

1. To show how well the children sang one song compared to another song.
2. To show how well the children sang various components of a song (change the title from song names to "volume," "lyrics," etc.)
3. To compete against each other, but I really have not enjoyed the singing times where I did this so I've pretty much decided it's not for me. Some other choristers love to do this but I really don't. :)

I used it to show them how well they knew the various songs, and asked another leader to help pull the carts along and explain to the children why the carts didn't make it all the way to the end.

How to build the singing meter:

1. First, I save stuff, like big pieces of cardboard, for opportunities like this one. I pulled out one of my cardboard pieces, and because it was very thick, used a hand drill to put holes through the cardboard, two holes for each cart. I used a thick drill setting.
2. I put string through each set of two holes and tied a knot. I repeated this down the cardboard, using a measuring stick to ensure my holes were somewhat even.
3. I drew, cut, and taped a drawing of a cart to each string. If you want to do this but don't want to draw your own cart, I found a few for you to use below :)

Handcart cut-outs from

This singing time inspired by

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Every Star is Different, Continued

I'm back! Sorry for the unintended absence. Life got a bit ahead of me recently. The one that I want to mention - my grandmother passed away last week in her sleep, which lead to a funeral and an impromptu family reunion. Grandma was an amazing woman who raised a tight-knit family across three major countries. She was a talented artist that raised two generations of family that all love art in one form or another. She raised children that are still taking care of each other, even though they are now grandparents themselves. I am so grateful for her elegance and the love she showed me all my life.

This Sunday
I wanted to continue reviewing "Every Star is Different" and I didn't have much time to prepare so I found a pre-made flip chart that had great images, thanks to JollyJenn, who, if you've never visited, is probably the largest resource of flip charts for LDS primary music. I often have something different in mind so I'll make my own flip chart or surf for other charts, but I really like how she handled this song because I can talk about why Jenn chose certain images for the chart with the children.

I also went to SugarDoodle to see how others had taught this song and found some great thoughts here. Sarah Harris had some ideas that were similar to what I had done the first week that I taught this, but I loved her new idea to use a disco ball to show how all of our lights together add up. I happen to have a small disco ball ornament so this takes no effort for me (yeah, I don't have to make a disco ball!). I will also bring in different colors of lights and different sizes of lights to emphasize how we are all different but how our light creates a greater light when we serve others and choose to be like our Savior.

Senior Primary already memorized the first line and chorus of this song with the brick game that I used the first week that I taught this song (super fun!) but we didn't have time to get very far in Junior Primary so we will begin learning the song in Junior Primary.

In Junior Primary, I will focus on the bridge portion of the song "A shining star, shining brightly ..." by following these tried and true methods:
1. Ask them to count how many times they sing "shining."
2. Have them start covering up flip chart pictures as they memorize a line.
3. Have them stand up and sit down every time they sing "shining"
4. Disco ball example I mentioned above
5. I am considering a method I have heard of before, where I have each class be an expert on a line of the song. Everyone hears me teach it to them so it helps everyone to memorize it, but each class feels like they have a special responsibility.

In Senior Primary, I will focus on reviewing the first verse and bridge, and learning the last verse:
1. I will put up the flip chart and discuss the pictures and words with them, and basically review the first verse and chorus of the song with them.
2. I may share the story about the little girl who is deaf and her conversation with a boy who had no legs, from near the end of Neil L. Andersen's talk, "You Know Enough" from General Conference October 2008. I may discuss with them the different ways we are different: physical, personality, talents, what we have etc. and that no matter our differences, our Heavenly Father loves us and knows that we can each contribute in our own ways
3. Disco ball example I mentioned above
4. I will have them start covering up flip chart pictures as they memorize a line.

Thanks everyone. I started this blog for so many different reasons but when I get busy, it's easy to not want to post - except that I see your comments and how many of you visit, and it makes me want to share!!