It's been a long while, but I'm subbing for our Primary chorister tomorrow so I thought I'd share my plans. Our chorister wants to spend more time learning "A Child's Prayer" better so I'm going to pull out some old review techniques I have done in the past that were effective and fun. Junior and Senior will have different versions.
Of course, you can do all the activities I have below as a song review and have them draw to see which song they will work on next. Personally, I plan to primarily focus on "A Child's Prayer" because that is what our chorister feels like we need to work on most. They "lost" some practice time preparing to sing in sacrament for Father's Day. By the way, if any of you are struggling with leading the children in this duet, the best thing I ever did was to have another leader (with music ability) come up and lead the second verse for the duet. It works great, and that's how we did it in the program several years ago. Also, it was fun because I deliberately looked for a man to lead the other part, who had children in primary. The kids ate it up, especially when so many of the people they see at the front of the room in primary are women.
1. The old counting trick (that makes them listen really carefully to the words)
This works best at the start of a practice to get their attention. I usually do this when I am first introducing a song but there's nothing wrong with using this trick a little later in the practice! I'm going to ask them to sing the song with me and count how many times they sing the word "pray" or "prayer." Then hold up their fingers to show how many times they counted it. That gets us to sing and listen to the song once. I think I will do this separately with the first verse vs. the second vs. Other versions of this activity are having children do certain activities when they sing certain words, or hold a picture of someone praying when they sing "pray/prayer," etc. ... but this Sunday I want them to count. I think for the little Sunbeams I might even say a sentence to help them practice because I know counting isn't necessarily their thing yet :)
2. Echo Game
This is one of my favorite games to play and I know the kids haven't done it in three years, which means that many of the kids in Junior Primary have never done it before. I first did this in 2012 while
preparing for Mother's Day. All you have to do is divide the room either in half, thirds, or quarters and have them stand in the corners of the room with their teachers. We have enough children in our Primary (about 40 in Junior and 40 in Senior) that we can use all four corners. I'll sing one line of the song with the pianist, then each corner takes turns echoing the song. It is a great way to work on repetition with a method that entertains the children! You just have to prep the pianist so she knows she is playing each line four times before she move onto the next line (something I always fail to do - we have talented pianists who are good sports, ha).
3. Singing Elephant
I might pull out my old singing elephant and have them sing it again. If you don't have a singing elephant, skip to the next one because most of these activities require almost zero prep time. It's a good opportunity for kids to participate at the front of the room. If you don't have time to make a singing elephant, I have giant glasses from the dollar store that I use to look for "super singers" that come up to the front of the room, sing the next song with me, and look for the next "super singer."
4. Follow the Leader
I had completely forgotten about this one and just stumbled on it on accident. I guess this is why I kept a blog while I was primary chorister :) I'll do this depending on how the kids are behaving.
Bells! I am going to have the children sing this song with bells. I had starting preparing this song to sing with bells in the past but realized I never finished because this song is a bit more difficult than some of the other songs that we have done with bells. However, the Primary children in Senior Primary really should know this song from having sung it only three years ago in the Primary Program so I'm going to give them the benefit of the doubt and try this song with bells.
If you own bells, just write the notes up on the chalkboard, and then, here's the important thing - point to the notes as the children sing so they know when to ring their bells. It's a lot easier for them to be confident and keep up if you point to the note that shows them that it's their turn to ring the bell.
If you don't have bells, then, go to my back-up activities for Senior.
My plan is to sing this song at least 3 or 4 times so that every child and possibly even the teachers will have an opportunity to play the bells.
1. Echo Game
All of my primary kids love this game so I hope to have time to do it in Senior Primary and Junior Primary. However, if we play the bells several times, I'll switch to a different primary song to do the Echo Game
2. One Word Singing or One Line Singing
This is actually pretty hard for the kids to do but it makes them THINK (and giggle a little) so I love to pull this out once in a great while. They have to sing the review song but each child just sings ONE word of the song. The pianist needs to play a little more slowly for this to work. Or, I'm thinking about having each class sing one line of the song only. The other version of this is hot potato, where everyone sings, but where the potato lands is where the music stops and the child has to say the next word in the song. I like hot potato but I think the first two versions are less stressful and more fun for the kids because they are on high alert, but they know when to expect to have to be called on (because shy kids get stressed so I want to be considerate of pushing them, but not too much).
3. Beat It Out
I'm not planning to do this one Sunday because the first two activities should use up all of my time. However, the kids enjoy beating out the song and it's always a good back-up. I'll show them one rhythm, we'll sing with it (lap, clap, tap, or something), and then I'll show them another one. And then one side will do one, while the other side does the other. I remember, this was the activity that my oldest primary boys that were too cool tended to really enjoy and perk up to do ...