Thursday, January 30, 2014

Introducing "I Will Follow God's Plan"

This song is great because it has such visual words. This will be Fast Sunday, so of course, singing time and sharing time tends to be shorter, but I think in Junior Primary you could almost stick to just the intro and begin the object game, to be finished on a second Sunday. My senior primary knows this song well so for them, this is just a review, but I think this type of activity is fun even if you already know the words of the song.

The great thing about this activity is that it teaches the song in an attention-getting way, but only takes about 10 minutes to prepare the lesson. The rest is up to you to make sure you have learned the song :)

I. First, introduce the song
Pick a fun, new way for children to select papers that let them read clues about the song. I haven't done my Singing Notes in over a year, so I'd bring that back (in short, find a fun visual, hide clues under the papers, and let the kids throw bean bags or something, or even put blind folds on them, to let them pick a note, or whatever other object you made).  Or, since Chinese New Year is this weekend, it would be nice to put the clues in the traditional red envelopes. 

Clues for "I Will Follow God's Plan":

1. The words and music for this song were written by Vanja Y. Watkins.
2. This song is about Mosiah 2:41.
3. This song is on page 164 of the Children's Songbook.
4. This song was written in 1981.
5. The writer of this song also has six other songs in the Children's Songbook, though this is probably her most well-known. She also wrote "Easter Hosanna," "Thank Thee for Everything," and "For Thy Bounteous Blessings."
6. Play two notes of the song. (Add two notes if two notes have already been played.)
7. Play two notes of the song.  (Add two notes if two notes have already been played.)

II. Introduce the words and meaning

Option #1
I did this activity two years ago in January 2012;  basically, have a "right" and a "wrong" option for key visuals in the song that will help the children to remember the song. Then, call a reverent child to the front of the room, tell the child the line of the song, but without the "missing" word, and have them guess the correct object use. I had all the objects set up on the table, but would hold up the two that were relevant to that line of the song (which I had jotted down on notes in front of me so I wasn't scrambling to find the correct object to use).

For instance, the first line of the song is, "My life is a gift." Therefore, you could have two objects - a wrapped present and a banana, and say, do you think it is, "My life is a gift" or "My life is a banana?" 

My life is a  - or - My life is a ??

As the children correctly sort through the objects, have them sing lines of the song, and hold up the objects for them to remind them of the words that they will sing. This helps them to do the repetition that is so crucial to memorizing and learning, but without them feeling like they are singing the same words over and over. In addition, it gives you a chance to talk about each line of the song, and why the appropriate word was used.

I made recommendations of what objects to use below. Make sure your "wrong" object is clearly the wrong choice. 

Line of song
Correct object
Wrong object
My life is a GIFT; 
Wrapped present
Banana or other piece of fruit
my life has a PLAN.
Draw a little map that replicates what the presidency has been teaching during sharing time, showing a person on the left, the pre-mortal world, earth, and returning to our Father in Heaven.
Bike pump
My life has a purpose, in HEAV'N it began.
Arrow pointing up (draw this on a piece of paper with grass below and sky above so it’s clear that you are pointing up, not down).
A necklace
CTR ring or giant shield
was to come to this lovely HOME 
Small house statue or picture of a house
Shampoo bottle
a keychain
And seek for God's LIGHT to direct me from birth. I will follow God's plan for me,
Etc … other suggestions … scissors, a pen, an ipod, a box of tissues … small things that are neutral and might cause a couple of giggles but are also not disrespectful!

Option #2
Another fun way to do this is to write all the words out on a poster board, put the pictures on the chalkboard, and let children pick which image is correct to fill in the blank. This way is harder because there are some pics that could potentially go in some of the spots but would not be the correct picture for that spot. 

Use velcro stickers so the children can add the picture to the correct spot on the poster board as they identify the correct pictures.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

The last Sunday of the Month

Don't forget to take a break from working on your January song. The children (and teachers!) are going to get bored of working on the same song over and over again, and you're only on Song #1 of the new year. I know it's so hard to break it up sometimes when you think "I have only one month before I have to move onto the next song, or I'm going to get behind!!" However, it always works out - this year there are many songs that have been in recent past programs, which means the senior kids at least only need a refresher.

One tip if it makes you nervous to skip a Sunday of working on that song, is to use the song for either opening or closing exercises.

Some fun options for singing time this Sunday:

1. Chinese New Year is coming up at the end of the month. Ask them if anyone knows what special holiday is coming up at the end of the week. I'll bet this answer will vary depending on where you live in the United States.

You can pick up the traditional red envelopes that are given in honor of the holiday (usually with money in them) at Asian markets at this time of year. You can also make your own red envelope, since the kids aren't likely to realize that it doesn't look authentic! However, instead of putting the traditional money in the envelope, put either a song they know, a trivia question, or some other fun option in each envelope. Since this month's song is a series of questions and answers, it would be fun to have the trivia part be the questions from "He Sent His Son," but to actually leave that song out, and have all the other envelopes be other songs that are related to the theme for the month, "Heavenly Father Prepared a Way for Me to Return to His Presence."

2. Puzzle. Valentine's Day is coming up and I NEVER seem to have time to do a Valentine's Day theme. Cut out a giant, red heart. Cut it into five pieces, then stuff them each in a balloon before blowing it up. Children get to come up, pop the balloon, get out the puzzle piece, and sing the song on the balloon. You can tell children you are going to choose them by how well they are singing, or how reverent they are during sharing time, etc. I would focus on having them sing songs from the theme this month, and reviewing 2013 and 2012 songs ... "lest they forget." :)

3. You can be really theme-based by cutting out footprints and putting them on the ground. Children will be invited up to choose a footprint. They will be able to read what is on top of the footprint, which will review something they learning in sharing time this month, and then the song underneath. Sometimes it will be blank so they will not have a song to sing. Or maybe instead of being blank, it will have a question asking them how they can show that they are preparing to follow Jesus Christ to live with their Father in Heaven again.

For footsteps about things they learned, refer to the sharing time manual, but here are some ideas:

1. Psalms 82:6 tells us that we are children of God and can be like him someday.
2. Christ’s Atonement is like a bridge that will help us return to Heavenly Father; if we repent and obey the commandments, we will be able to live with Him again.
3. Jesus Christ is our perfect example. He showed love to others and wants us to do the same.
4. We follow the example of Jesus Christ when we serve others.
5. Heavenly Father loves every one of us and wants us to feel his love for us.