Saturday, December 28, 2013

Learning "He Sent His Son"

Our primary sang "He Sent His Son" for the Christmas program last year so they actually learned this one fairly recently. I also ended up having our bishopric 1st Counselor introduce the song last year. I was not in primary that Sunday, but he told me that the primary already knew the song fairly well. So, I never used Week 1 of my lesson plan from 2012. Here's what I planned out last year to prepare this song for the Christmas program:

Week 1 - "What Song Am I" followed by an image-matching activity

Week 2 - Traditional "Cover the Flipchart" game and the bell game

I really did not spend much time on this song last year because they knew it so well!!

This is a great song though, for using the two sides of the room - one side sings the questions, and the other side sings the answers. You can do this a few times, then swap sides, etc.

My biggest win last year was successfully encouraging the Sunbeams to participate during singing time, with my "latch board" activity. I was super excited by how well this activity worked, and would use it again to kick off 2014, but with new hints and pictures behind the windows and doors for the new song.

Hints for What Song Am I? game:
1. This song was written by Mabel Jones Gabbott, who was born in 1910.
2. The music for this song was written by Michael Finlinson Moody, who was born in 1941. President Moody has served several missions for the church.
3. Moroni 7:48 talks about this song. (Look up the scripture.) ... or for the easier hint: John 3:16
4. This song was written in 1982. This means that in some cases, you parents weren't even born yet when this song was written!
5. The same two people who wrote the music and words for this song also wrote the music and words for "Sleep Little Jesus" and "Have a Very Merry Christmas." (This clue is significant for our ward because we did not knowingly pick two Christmas songs to learn that were written by the same two people!)
6. Play the first two notes of the song.
7. Play the first three notes of the song.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Primary Song CDs for the Primary Children

If you're just looking for a song idea, and have not done Mad Gab with your primary yet, it is sooo fun. To visit my Mad Gab post from last Christmas, go here.

Christmas Music CD gifts
I'm putting the finishing touches on these Christmas presents for the primary children today - CDs with the main program songs that the children sang in 2013, as well as next year's songs. (I left off songs that were too specific to Father's Day, Mother's Day, or Christmas.)

I like having the past and future year on the CD since the children will already have a sense of familiarity with half of the songs on the CD, in other words, they will be more excited to listen to and sing along with the music. This will in turn help them to listen to and sing next year's music.

I used two different types of CD cases (the clear ones and the cardboard envelopes pictured above) because I was trying to save money, and use up a previous supply of cases.

I did not purchase CD labels because, wow, they are expensive!

If you want to make your own CDs, here's some things I did:

1. Purchase Avery labels. Make sure to buy InkJet labels if you have an InkJet printer (if you have a small, personal printer that cost a couple hundred at most, it's most likely an InkJet.) If you have a LaserJet printer, then buy LaserJet paper. Otherwise, your ink will smear.

2. Google for design programs to make your CD cover if you don't want to go to the trouble of changing margins in a Word document. Microsoft Word offers free CD templates. I found this black and white picture on because I wanted something that would not be expensive to print if I needed to make as many as 80 copies.

3. Invest in a paper cutter. I use mine all the time for primary. You can print off a 40% off coupon for Joann's or Hobby Lobby and buy one for fairly cheap. I am a big fan of Fiskars.

To burn your own LDS music CD (these instructions assume you have iTunes installed on your computer and know how to create a playlist):

1. Go to for the Children's Songbook or for the Hymnal. The Children's Songbook landing page (or Hymnal landing page) will appear.

2. Either click on the song from the list on the left, or search for the song in the column on the right.

3. Download the song by either placing your mouse over the Down arrow circled here, then choosing "Vocals and Music," or if you went to the song's page, clicking on the Down arrow on that page, on the right side.

4. Create a playlist for your Primary Music CD. Then, drag and drop all of the songs you just downloaded into this playlist. 

5. Insert your CD into your CD player. A dialog box will appear.

6. Click on your playlist so that iTunes knows what you want to burn. Then, go to File --> Burn Playlist to CD. The Burn Settings dialog box will appear.

7. Select the "Audio CD" radio button, then clicked "Burn." The CD starts to burn.

8. You can view the read-out at the top to see how long it will take your CD to burn.

9. When your CD is done. Go to Controls --> Eject Disc to safely remove the disc from your computer.
I quality checked myself by playing every 10th CD in a separate CD player to make sure I had burned everything properly.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Christmas Singing Time with a Nativity Cut Out.

I found this great nativity cut-out in the LDS Media library.

Scavenger hunt, anyone?

** 12/16/13 update in red below. :) More ideas.

A few ideas for this one (first, cut out the four pictures).

Option #1. Hide the pictures around the room, but so that they are visible. Sing a Christmas song that talks about the nativity, and have the children point around the room as they sing the song. For example, if you were to sing, "Sleep, Little Jesus," then you would have the children look for and point to the baby Jesus for "Sleep, Little Jesus, Lord of the earth," then point to the shepherds for "Shepherds will come to thee ..." etc.
Update: My new chorister did a version of this activity on Sunday, but instead of having them point, she had them stand up and turn toward the picture. It was so fun to see all their bodies turn, and because the pictures were on all four walls, they turned all the way left, all the way right, all the way back - it was great participation; loved the idea!

Option #1. Hide the pieces around the room and play the hot/cold game with Christmas songs until all four pieces are found. Obviously, this is a slightly different take on the hot/cold game, so once the child has left the room, you'd have to tell the rest of the class where the item was hidden. You could always have another child hide the item after the first child leaves the room, but wrap the picture to add to the mystery of what they are actually looking for when they play this game.

Option #2. Play a matching game with these four pictures and four scriptures. This is a great way to make them think about the scriptures. When they find a match, sing a Christmas song you have associated with the picture.

Option #4. This week's lesson is about how we can prepare to live with Heavenly Father and Jesus again. To tie this into the Christmas-themed nativity, cut out the four pictures above, as well as four blank sheets of paper. The object of the activity is to build a nativity. Children choose from eight envelopes. They will either end up with a piece of the nativity, which they get to put up on the board, or they will end up with one of the four sheets of paper. If they choose a nativity piece, the class sings a Christmas song. If the class is working on a song for the Christmas program, then they sing the Christmas program song, but maybe in a fun different way (staccato, legato, etc.). If they choose one of the pieces of paper without a picture on it, then if they are working a program song, they have to answer a question about the next line of the song. If the class is not working on a program song, then if they choose the piece of paper, they have to name one thing they can do to prepare to live with Heavenly Father again. If they don't understand the question, give them an example, like, "Be kind to others."

Option #5. This week's lesson actually specifically calls out a number of songs in the primary book and is a particularly easy week to combine singing time and sharing time. You could do the same thing as #4 except behind every sheet of paper that is not a nativity, list the song from the lesson plan - I Will Follow God's Plan 164-5; Keep the Commandments, 146-7: Kindness Begins with Me, 145; 103 - When I Am Baptized. Then, ask the children after each song to explain how the song reminds us of things we can do to prepare to live with Heavenly Father again.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

How to choose children to participate - and encourage reverence

Last week, I dressed some of the children who were being reverent in some tunics, to represent prophets. This week, when the sharing time teacher asked what we learned about last week, I was pleased to see that among the raised hands, was every child who was chosen to put on a prophet costume, even the super shy one who NEVER raises her hand. I love that she enjoyed being chosen enough that her hand shot up today.

I usually prefer to pick one of three ways to ask children to come to the front of the room for an activity:

1. I make a big deal about someone that was really reverent and call them up. I try to do this with the next few children, so that I'm not just choosing children who are suddenly being reverent because they see a reward, but because they are genuinely striving to be reverent and were already being reverent before they realized there was a big "reward."

2. I ask each teacher to choose one reverent child in their class, one at a time.

3. I use the "Helping Hands" jar and choose a name - but I tell the children that if the name I pull belongs to a child that was not reverent, I am putting the name back in the jar.

Our new chorister introduced a fourth way that I am enjoying:

4. She stops in the middle of the song and has children raise their hand if they know the next word of the song. She then chooses a child, and they can go up to the front of the room to participate in the activity.

Some of the younger children don't yet understand that they have to take turns and share, but I rarely cave if they complain that they aren't being chosen. I tell them to try to be really reverent and maybe they'll get a turn. If they really try, I try to give them an opportunity to come up.

If a child waves his or her arms and jumps up and down, I'll eventually remind the class (without drawing attention to the child) that I'm looking for children that are reverently raising their hands.