Saturday, September 9, 2017

10 Song Review Ideas to Get Ready for the Primary Program

It's that time of the year when Primary choristers and leaders are preparing for the Primary Program.

Here's a round-up of my favorite song review activities that I've personally seen be very effective for the kids - not just singing every song over and over again, but finding ways to identify problem areas and strengthen them in a way that is fun and effective.

These activities are highly engaging so everyone is paying attention, plus someone gets the honor of coming to the front of the room so there's high participation all the way around.

I've added a "prep work" level so you know if you can prepare this the morning of church or if you need to do some work in advance.

1. For Senior Primary: Helmet Hero. For Junior Primary: Singing Elephant.
Prep work: Moderate for Senior, High for Junior
What: Children get to come up to the front of the room and fill in the blank to finish the missing lines to a song. This is difficult for Junior Primary because they can't read so I have them play Singing Elephant instead.

2. Red Light, Green Light
Prep work: Moderate
What: The entire class is forced to think about lines of the song when they stop singing and then start singing again in random spots depending on what color thread is pulled out of a canister. Let the kids pull the thread out!

3. Echo Chamber
Prep work: None
What: This is a no-prep activity and it really drills the lines into children's heads without them feeling bored about it, as children split into each corner of the room and take turns echoing one line at each other before moving to the next line. You need to give your pianist a little bit of warning though! The other fun way to do this is to have the two sides of the room echo each other, but I like four corners better.

4. How Loud Can You Sing?
Prep work: Low
What: (Same link as previous post so you have to scroll down a bit for this one.) I do this one last because once the kids can show me they are confident that they know the words, we work on their confidence in being able to sing loudly but beautifully while in the big chapel.

5. Singing Olympics
Prep work: High
What: This is if you want to "go big" and if your president will let you have the entire hour for singing time. Prepare fun activities that lead to choosing a song, then the judges review your for how well you know the lyrics, how loudly you sang, if you were watching the chorister, etc. It's a really great way to identify where the children need help singing. Oftentimes, it's the second verse of the song that's a problem. This is also best as a two-week activity. But, it's so fun!

6. Judges Song Review
Prep work: Low
What: If you want to do something similar to #5 but with way less prep work, prepare some simple but themed signs like these ones, put the songs for review in a jar, and ask a few judges to come in at the end of the song, hold up signs for how the children did. You can make it fancier if you want by having a progress bar up on the board that shows how the judges ranked each song.

(If I get at least 10 requests for these guys, which also includes Proud Pumpkin and Say What Werewolf. I will re-draw them and scan them for folks to print out.)

I made a fancy progress bar several years ago for Pioneer Day but you could even just draw bars on the chalkboard and color them in:

7. For Junior: Pop-Up Puppet
Prep work: Low
What: The kids in Junior primary LOVE this puppet that slowly creeps out of a box and looks around if the children are doing a good job with singing. So this is also a good way to test lyrics and volume. I love this because all I did was put wrapping paper around a box and put my arm through, using a puppet I owned. If you don't own one ask your neighbors. My friend that was a chorister before me had a really cool homemade one that was attached to a stick and sat inside what I remember as being an ice cream cone shaped funnel. But I can see using a Pringle canister.

8. Hot Potato
Prep work: Low
What: This is another great no prep activity. Grab a potato, a pom-pom, something easy to pass from one child to the other. They sing the song and when the music stops, whomever is holding the item has to tell everyone the next line of the song. A few caveats: I don't like to make kids too uncomfortable with being put on the spot so they are allowed to ask the neighbor to the left and right of them for help with the words. Also, they are not allowed to throw the item. They have to pass it gently.

9. Pretend It's the Day!
Prep work: Low
What: Pretend it's the day of the program. Have them come in, talk to them in low voices, maybe describe the scene. Ask them if they are at the edge of their seats. Have them slowly rise. Make them sit back down and stand again if they did this poorly. Sing the song, etc. This one isn't going to be as fun if you don't get into all the extra moves and I wouldn't do this until the end. It's more of performance preparation than song review so I saved this one for the end.

10. Follow the Leader
Here's another end-of-the-line prep one but it's also so great to work on dynamics with them. You could even have a child come up to the front and get to try doing the moves and having everyone follow that person.

And finally, on a related note, but not one that will help with song reviews:

I have a little announcement! I have a new children's book coming out that I wrote for my Primary kids. From now until October 10, 2017, you can enter to win one of ten free copies here!

My Nativity ABCs
is available for pre-order now on Amazon and will be in bookstores in mid-October. I'm so excited. Thanks for all the support of my primary chorister blog over the years. After years of putting together creative ideas for the children my mind has been so full of ideas for the children. I'm so excited to share this with the Primary kids. I actually have this book to a tune in my head (it's a rhyming ABC story).


  1. Great ideas! I especially like the Pop-Up Puppet. Thanks for sharing.

  2. I hope I win the book, but if not, I will look for it on Amazon!

    1. I hope you win it, too! Thank you :) :) :)