Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Song Review -Color Cube

This is another way to randomly choose who will sing in order to review a song several times. Roll the cube and those children who are wearing the colors shown on top of the cube should sing. I've made a new cube with two colors showing because the group I'm now working with is quite small. No one really likes to sing alone, so I tried to use neutral colors on all sides. This maximizes the number of children singing since almost everyone wears either black, brown, white or off-white, at least in their shoes and socks!

I made this cube out of plastic canvas and yarn. I whipped the edges together and put a large bell on the inside to make the cube roll better. I could have used a large bead or stuffed the cube to make it a little heavier, but I thought a bell was just the ticket. If the cube doesn't roll effectively it might be too light in weight. Cubes need some weight to give them momentum as they roll.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Attention Getter for Singing Time - Poem

The other day I was flipping through my stack of old issues of The Friend. Maybe you'll think I'm weird, but I really like to sit down with a stack of these magazines and just thumb through them, looking for ideas for singing time. I always find something I can use. I sometimes waste quite a lot of time doing this, because I have a pretty big stack of old issues! :o) However, this time wasn't wasted because I found this lovely little poem about spring to introduce my Spring Acrostic puzzle. (see the April 2009 issue, pg. 33) It's perfect! I'll read the poem and give the children a chance to tell me what they love about spring with each of the songs we sing.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Choose and Review - Objects for "Follow the Prophet"

This last week I used several objects to represent different principles that have been emphasized by latter-day prophets. I put the objects in the pockets of my apron and assigned an appropriate review song for each object. I also used the GAK picture of the prophet that emphasized each principle. I invited a child to choose an object from a pocket and gave them and the other children a chance to guess what the principle might be. Then I showed the picture of the prophet and told what they taught us about the principle. Then we put the picture and the object on the chalkboard tray and sang the song.

  • Book of Mormon - read the Book of Mormon - Benson - "I Know That My Savior Loves Me"

  • veggies - plant a garden - Kimball - "Follow the Prophet"

  • pencil - be smart - Hinckley - "Seek the Lord Early"

  • paint brush - improve talents - Grant - "Shine On"

  • popcorn - family night - Lee - "Families Can Be..."

  • missionary tag - missionary work - McKay - "I Hope They Call Me..."

  • hand - be of service - Monson - "A Happy Helper"

  • tithing envelope - pay tithing - Snow - "Thanks to Our Father"

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Singing Time Puzzle - Acrostic

Puzzles, like those typically found in the Funstuff features in The Friend Magazine, make a fun singing time for Primary. The last several days I've been working on writing down directions for the puzzles I have used for singing time. I think I may need help on technical writing! :o) Hopefully a picture really is worth a thousand words.

This puzzle is a typical acrostic, but is already written out, prepared and made easy for singing time. It seems to take so long to choose a child, invite them up, hand them chalk and let them stand there and decide on something! I just find it easier to do as much of that as I can ahead of time, so that we can sing more songs.

To create a puzzle for singing time, begin by choosing a word that describes the monthly or weekly theme, or a seasonal word, or even just a general word like "gospel". The example in the picture is SPRING, because I am so ready for spring! Next choose several words that match the puzzle word in some way. Choose one word for each letter in the puzzle word. These words should have a letter in common with the puzzle word. As you think of words, cross off the common letter in your main word. This will help you know which words you still need to come up with. Write these sub-words on a word strip, with the common letter highlighted in some way. Use a capital letter or use a different color, or both! Assign an appropriate song to sing with each word strip.

When you're ready to sing, post the word strips on the board in a column, in the order that will reveal the main word as the children turn them over. Have the children turn the word strips one at a time and then sing the song. As they turn the strip, have the children line up the colored letters to gradually reveal the main puzzle word. They can choose any word strip, just have them keep it in proper order in the column.

If you think you'd like to try this, some other examples of words that match upcoming themes are: "gospel" (tithinG, Ordinances, Service, rePent, prayEr, tempLe) "principle" (Prayer, scRiptures, faIth, repeNtance, serviCe, tIthing, baPtism, Love, obediencE) "restored" (pRayed, josEph, viSion, propheT, bOok of mormon, tRanslate, gospEl, appeareD) and "miracle" (Manna, faIth, poweR, Ask, peaCe, heaL, blEssing).

If you want to use a word that has more letters than you have time to sing songs, simply put a song on some of the word strips.

I really like to use puzzles for singing time. They are readily adapted to different themes and the kids like doing them because it seems like a game. It also makes a quick activity to prepare ahead for an emergency or to plan for a substitute. I have several more puzzles that I use and am trying to write down directions that make sense. I'll post these in upcoming weeks.

Friday, March 19, 2010

New Wiggle Worms

This coming Sunday is the first day of Spring. To honor the occasion I've made new wiggle worms and a bait can. At Christmas, my adult kids had so much fun making new objects for my singing time out of Sculpey clay. I've been wanting to get my hands in some Sculpey ever since, so I made these worms. I used numbers this time so that the worms can be more generic than my other wiggle sticks. I just have to make a numbered list of the wiggle songs to choose when I use these.

I wonder what else I could make with Sculpey clay? Any suggestions?

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Singing Time Rhythm Sticks

These are my rhythm sticks. I like to use rhythm instruments and have some nice ones that I bring occasionally to set up a little rhythm orchestra. However, too many instruments creates chaos. I work with a presidency who is very sensitive to chaos. These sticks are great because everyone can have a pair and participate at the same time, but they make the same sound so it is more orderly. I could add a few shakers or a couple of wood blocks to make things interesting, but the rhythm sticks are the standard right now.

Instruct the children to hold one stick firmly in one hand. Hold the other stick loosely between the thumb and forefinger of the other hand. Bounce this stick off of the other stick. I usually have the children play a steady beat with the sticks. It is fun to change the tempo of the song. Sometimes it's fun to divide into groups and play different rhythms, either taking turns between groups or tapping at the same time. Just demonstrate and have the children follow you. Invite another adult to lead the second or third group. Try the sticks with "Rain is Falling" (CS-241) to make the soft sounds of rain on the housetops.

You can get packaged dowels that are already precut to size somewhere in the wood aisle of the craft store. Each child will need two. Or, you can use unsharpened pencils.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Singing Time Review Game - "Who's the Leader?"

"Who's the Leader" is a fun game described on page 16 of the November 2003 issue of The Friend. I think it could be adapted to singing time by adding a review song(s) to the actions the children are doing.

Play the game by gathering into a circle. Send a child from the room. Choose another child to be the leader and have them choose actions like marching in place, waving a hand, patting their head, etc. They'll need to have several in mind and change them during the round of play. The rest of the children follow the leader's actions. Begin singing a review song and invite the first child back into the room. This child stands in the circle and tries to discover who the leader is by watching the children follow him. After the discovery is made you can repeat the game with two more children as often as interest or time allows.

The game fits perfectly with our theme in March and would be a good game to use to review the song "Follow the Prophet" (CS-110).

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Song Review - 5 W's

The 5 W's are useful for both teaching and reviewing songs during singing time. These cards have magnets on the back so that I can post them on the chalkboard. They are most helpful as a teaching aid if the song is narrative in nature. The verses for "Follow the Prophet" (CS-110) are an example of this narrative style, so I can use these cards as a review this month. I'll just post a card one at a time and challenge the children to listen carefully to discover "who" or "what" the verse talks about. I can sing the whole song or just a verse or phrase. It will also work to use just one card each week for a couple of weeks, singing the song through once for review.

This activity could be a little more random if I put the cards in a sack and draw them out one at a time. I can also put them on a cube or a spinner. Just remember that totally random doesn't always work. If there is only one answer for "who" and you keep rolling "who" on a cube, you'll be stuck singing one phrase again and again.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Steady, Sacred Music

One of the things I appreciate about this calling is the way the music just flows around in my brain all week as I prepare for Sunday. From my earliest years there has been Primary music in my life. This music and the feelings it stirs never change. It is a constant and steady influence that I treasure. I clearly remember the room where I attended Primary many years ago. Every week I walked down a long hall to an open door with familiar, reverent, sacred music drawing me in and a smiling woman standing at the door. There was a beautiful painting of Jesus hanging at the front of the room, friends sitting on heavy carved benches and that music playing in the background.

This has never really changed, though the benches have changed again and again. Over many years now, I have been the smiling woman at the door, or the smiling woman playing or leading the music, or singing this music in a classroom, family night or as a lullaby. Always, these special songs have filled my heart with the knowledge that I am a child of a loving Heavenly Father, that Jesus is my loving friend, and that all is right with the world. These songs allow me to express my testimony in a way that I cannot speak. And, even at my age, when I sing about my two little hands, I pause to think about whether they have learned to obey. With all of the turmoil in the world around me I am glad for the influence of steady, sacred music. The music that I have been singing for many years. I love those things that never, never change!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Music Aid - A Microphone

A "microphone" is a useful music aid. This one might look a little dated now. I'm not even sure what current microphones look like! This one is easy to make though. Use a short piece (about 8 inches) of 3/4-inch dowel. I painted mine with gray acrylic craft paint and then sealed it with a matte spray varnish. Push a 2 1/2-in Styrofoam ball on to one end of the dowel to first make a deep impression in the ball. Drip glue into the hole and push the stick in. Let it dry and then paint the ball black. Twist a short length of a silver chenille stem into an "antennae" and attach to the bottom with a thumb tack. I've seen plastic microphones at the dollar stores also.

I use the microphone mainly when I have a bit of extra time. I'll ask a child (or a teacher or leader) to come forward and will ask them a short series of questions in a "V-I-P Interview". I'll ask about their full name, chores at home, a favorite food, pets, favorite school subject, etc. Just one or two questions and then I ask what song they would like to sing.

There are lots of other ideas for a microphone, does anyone else use one?

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Music Aid - Slinky

A slinky is a handy aid to explore dynamics when teaching or reviewing a song. I direct the children to start singing and to watch the slinky. As I slowly pull it apart, they should gradually sing louder. Then as I slowly push it back together they should sing softer. The kids like to have a turn to use it and this gives us the chance to sing the song several times. I think the small party-favor size works the best. The kids like to stretch the slinky out wide and a bigger one just sags in the middle. This makes it more difficult to gather back in. These small plastic ones work really well. They are cheap and easily replaced. They also don't tangle as readily. This is a real plus!

I got this new one in a different color on my singing time shopping trip. That was a pretty profitable trip. Four new things for my singing aids box.

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