Friday, October 25, 2013

Finally - Mrs. Potato Head for Singing Time

I asked back in August if it would be helpful to post my Mrs. Potato Head parts.

I'm sorry this took me so long but first I wanted to see if there was enough interest to take the time to scan them. Then, I had to make the choice between finding time to cook and pull weeds ... or scan parts, ha ha.

I only scanned about 2/3 of the pieces that I have drawn but it is enough to keep you busy for a full singing time, I promise.

I used Velcro stickers, which you can find in the "velcro" section, usually in crafts or office supplies, in office supply stores, sewing stores, and even super centers. Make sure to be consistent with which texture you put on the "potato" vs. on all the other parts, e.g., if you use the fuzzy side on the potato, use the sharper side on all the "pieces."

To print, right-click on the image. A menu will appear. Click "print" from the menu option:

... or, just send me your email and I'll shoot these images straight over to you! (I will send this directly to everyone that sent me their email addresses back in August.)

I recommend you laminate everything you cut it out. I laminated because I colored all of this stuff in with a marker so I didn't want to lose all that effort, but it really does make it last longer against energetic children :)

I did not write my info on any of these images so PLEASE do not post these images elsewhere. Direct them back to my blog if they want a copy. Thanks.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Last Practice Before the Program!

This Sunday is our last practice before the program.

I don't have any special activity planned. I think it's important to just focus on fixing any issues and making sure we run through every song at least once. There are certain songs where the lyrics are a little quieter or weaker, and I'll stop and focus on those pieces as necessary.

I have a few special things planned so we'll work on the songs, fix any issues, and make sure to run through all the special things:

1. For "Every Star is Different" I have some children singing parts of the songs as little mini solos.

2. Most of the songs are being played by children so I will spend extra time on songs where the children play, as time permits. This is a unique and fun thing our ward does, and one I have mixed feelings about - it's difficult to put so much effort into a song and then sing it differently than practiced because the children that are accompanying are not at the appropriate skill level to accompany the song. I figure, the same could be said for a lot of our callings as adults - we learn as we go, so I will work to find ways to be supportive, and am refining my process of how I am involved and how I give input. For one thing, I am going to push back harder next year. My first year, I was completely taken by surprise and it was difficult. My second year, I wasn't asked at all, but since that had happened the previous year, I wasn't as surprised. I didn't express my shock that I wasn't involved in that decision so I guess it was my own fault. Fast forward - and next year, I'm going to take some control, including making it mandatory for kids to accompanying throughout the year, not just at the end of the year, for a specific song assigned to them. If they aren't comfortable and good enough to accompany during primary, they shouldn't be accompanying during the program yet. I'll still let children that aren't at that level yet accompany, but I will at least take control of making sure they are more ready. I want to find the balance between my intellectual understanding of quality playing and not letting intellect get in the way of the spiritual. If the ward music leader prayerfully chooses children, and if the children prepare faithfully, and if I am faithful, I expect at the end of the day things will work out, and they have in past years.

3. We have children playing strings for some of the songs, so we'll also practice with the strings.

4. For "A Child's Prayer," I'm having the primary teachers sing the duet with the primary children, so we'll work on that and see what adjustments need to be made. I have not been able to hear the teachers and children combined between junior and senior primary, so I'll have to pay attention and prepare to make adjustments when we have our practice on Saturday.

5. I'll still focus on volume, lyrics, and singing the song with the energy appropriate to each song. I'll bring a few props that I might want to use - my "mumbling mummy" sign, my "bored bat" sign, etc. that I will have the primary presidency hold up to show them how they are doing. I will bring my puppet, "Shy Samuel," who only responds to beautiful, loud singing, and will hide in his box if the children are singing too softly. I might also bring stickers to put on children to reward them for singing beautifully and with energy throughout the class time. I'm not sure if I will do any of this but I will bring some props just in case. Most of my focus though, will be simply on interrupting them during the song if I need to, to call out specific areas that need to be enhanced.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Review Song Game: Find the Butterfly (or Turkey or Pumpkin) ...

I'm playing a simple "find the butterfly" game this Sunday.

This is from an activity I planned two years ago and never had time to fit in - but modified. I want to share the original way I planned to play this game, as well as the modified version. One version is better for reviewing songs for the program, while the other version is better if you've completed the program and have a little more time.

This can clearly be adapted to any image but I originally made it for a Spring Activity. I've noticed the bright, bold colors tend to appeal to the younger children.

How it Works
Each petal, stem, and each section of grass is attached to the poster board with Velcro stickers. Children can "pluck" an item off the board to determine the next song.

Version 1 - Find the Butterfly and You Choose the Song
  • If a child chooses a petal with a butterfly behind it, they get to pick a song to sing. 
  • If a child chooses a petal with two butterflies behind it (that are attached together), their teacher gets to pick a song to sing.

This is a fun way to sing a variety of songs from throughout the year, not just the songs in the primary program. You can write some of the songs from this year's program and other well know songs behind various pedals and leafs.

Version 2 - Find the Butterfly and Win a Prize

I have given out treats a total of one or possibly two times my entire time as primary chorister because I generally don't want to resort to bribery or bring candy into the room as a way to get their attention. For that reason though, I am comfortable making an exception - because it is so rare.

  • If a child chooses a petal with a butterfly behind it, they earn one Starburst for each child and teacher in the room. I will tell the children that I'll count up how many they earned and give them to the teachers to hand out after the sharing time lesson. Obviously, I don't want them singing with a Starburst in their mouth, nor would the sharing time teacher appreciate hearing rustling paper while she teaches the lesson. I specifically chose the Starburst because of the program song, "Every Star is Different."
  • If a child chooses a petal with two butterflies behind it, they earn a sticker in Junior Primary. I'm not sure what they will earn in Senior Primary but I'm thinking the eleven-year-olds might not be very impressed with a sticker - maybe they get a different piece of candy.
I have to make this modification instead of going with Version 1 because we don't have time to sing extra songs if we are getting ready for the primary program. The children that are playing the piano in the program all need the opportunity to practice with the children so this method ensures I have time to focus on the children and their piano playing.

I plan to stop them and fix issues in the songs where we reach them, and just make a point of making sure each song is fine-tuned and ready for the program. I could do this just by itself but I hope the spring flowers adds a little bit of attention-getting variety without taking too much additional time. It will also encourage them to be reverent and participate because they of course will not be allowed to participate if they are not being reverent.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Happy General Conference Weekend!

Just wanted to wish you a Happy General Conference weekend.

I hope you have been as inspired by me by the amazing people who lead by example the ways of our Savior.