Thursday, May 27, 2010

Still Small Voice - Choose and Review

The August 2005 issue of The Friend has a great Funstuf activity on page 23 that would work readily as a singing time Choose and Review. Since next month’s theme is about the Holy Ghost the content of this activity makes it perfect for June. I’ll need to choose appropriate review songs. I can usually get through six or eight, depending on the length of the song. Then I’ll choose that many of the sentences in the Funstuf activity. I’ll make word cards to post on the board with the review songs on the back. I’ll write the sentences on paper slips and put them into a can or basket to choose. The children can choose a sentence, match the correct word to fill in the blank, and then we will sing the song.

The content of this activity can be adapted to fit just about any theme so this idea lives on my master list under the title "Definitions” Choose and Review.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Fishing for Phrases - Song Review

Back in February when I read that month’s Friend magazine, I was struck (this post) by what a great story Elder Jose A. Teixeira told about learning to listen to the Holy Ghost.

After I teach “The Holy Ghost” I’ll use this brief story on a subsequent week as an attention getter to introduce a fishing activity to review the song. Following the story, I’ll dump out the fish onto a blue cloth or paper. Depending on how well they learn the song the first week, I can use the fish in one of three different ways.

If they still are unsure of the song, I’ll write half of a phrase on the fish. I’ll divide into 2 groups, perhaps boys and girls, and then invite a child from one of the groups to fish. I’ll sing the first half of the phrase to the group and they will need to sing the second half of the phrase back to me. If they can then sing the whole phrase with me they can “keep” the fish. If they don’t remember or can’t sing the phrase well, then the fish gets thrown back to be chosen again.

If they learned the song pretty well the first week, then I’ll number the fish and correlate that number to a phrase in the song. (Be sure to help the pianist mark the music.) As the fish are drawn, the pianist plays that phrase. If the children correctly guess the phrase and sing it well then they keep the fish. If not, then the fish gets thrown back to be chosen again.

If the kids learned the song really well the first week we won’t divide into groups. I’ll put directions on how to sing the song (such as boys/girls sing, stand to sing, etc.) on a few of the fish along with several other review songs on the rest of the fish for variety.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Monday Mornings

Monday mornings feel like a gift to me. On this day I truly feel the scripture in Lamentations “This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope. It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.” (3:21-23) I am always grateful on Monday mornings for another chance to do better, to be better. I look at the week ahead and try to judge the hot spots and convince myself that I am up to the task of dealing with them. I look even closer at the monotony of everyday tasks and resolve again to face them with a better attitude, to consecrate my everyday work. I want to remember not to be consumed in the everyday stuff, but to rely on the compassion the Lord offers me. On Monday morning I feel energized.

By about Friday I just feel consumed. I feel wilted. I sometimes feel like I have sunk into a mire of mediocrity and I am just slogging through life. But then along comes the Sabbath and the Sacrament and the Savior and by Monday morning I feel renewed again. This is my life cycle. I know that I should probably feel this energy on Sunday. I have studied and pondered and understand the concept of Sabbath. But, I am often exhausted on Sunday, especially by the time Primary is over. I can usually feel a kind of warm comfort that comes from having tried--from having made an acceptable offering. But, sometimes, I have to admit, I feel only a kind of cold comfort that the past week is finally over and I survived.

But, at some point through the night, the blessing of Sabbath finally seeps into me and there is Monday morning - a new week with a new chance and new mercies. I experience what David wrote in Psalm 40. “He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings. And he hath put a new song in my mouth.”

A new song in my mouth. Every week he does this for me -- over and over again. My life cycle. Thank you Jesus.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Song Presentation - "The Holy Ghost"

This is one of my favorite Primary Songs. Musically it is just so much fun. My childhood home had a long staircase and we used to play on the stairs, skipping up and jumping down. In my mind this song is a musical version of playing on the stairs.

The melody naturally breaks into two distinct musical patterns. This divides the song in half. So the two verses really become four verses in my mind. I think of them sort of like the stanzas in a poem. Especially so, because the words at the end of each pattern rhyme. So I plan on teaching the song as if it has four verses instead of two.

I’ll use discovery questions to teach each section, encouraging the kids to listen. As they answer the questions I’ll have them sing that phrase. Once they can attempt the whole song, I’ll introduce 4 pictures to help them remember the 4 sections.

These are the questions that I’m using: What did Christ promise he would send? What two words describe what kind of a friend the Holy Ghost is? Who will comfort us? Can you name two words that rhyme? What will the Holy Ghost do for us? Who whispers with a still, small voice? What does the Holy Spirit testify of? How will our hearts feel as we listen to the Holy Ghost? By what power are we confirmed? Why is the Holy Ghost given to us? What so I want to listen to? What will I do each time I make a choice?

Because of the up and down movement of the melody, I’ll probably use my wiggle worm puppet to do pitch-level conducting as we review the song. The little ones especially like to follow the puppet.

You can also find suggestions for teaching "The Holy Ghost" in the Sharing Time Ideas on page 16 of the August 2005 issue of The Friend magazine.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Making Connections to Gospel Principles

In the last several posts I’ve explained some activities that I use to help the children make connections to principles of the gospel during singing time. I also want to emphasize that this process doesn’t have to be formalized in an activity with a title such as “Pick My Pocket,” or “Man the Lifeboats” to be helpful to the children. Just spend some time studying the words and indentifying the principles taught in the songs you are planning to use in singing time. Then you’ll be in a great position to help the children make connections in an informal way also.

You can do this easily just by directing their listening. If you are teaching a song and singing it for the umpteenth time, just say something like “As we sing the song this time, see if you can hear the words that teach us what faith is.” Or, during closing exercises say, “While we sing the prayer song listen for the words in the song that remind us how much our Heavenly Father loves us.” You don’t have to invite responses, just let them think about it.

Whether we design a formal activity or informally direct attention, our efforts to strengthen children with the doctrines of the gospel will bring the spirit into singing time.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

"One Happy Girl"

Woops! While I was drafting "One Happy Girl", I accidently posted it. Arrrgh! So I removed it. Believe me, the post will be more useful when it is finished! I am sorry for that mistake. :o/

Friday, May 14, 2010

Just Shabby, No Chic?

Have you ever pondered the blessing in the concept of renewal? Something old can be made as new. Something stale can be refreshed. If you have been in this calling very long you have probably already discovered that the shine wears off after a while, maybe faster that you expected. Dings appear from unkind remarks about your methods or ability. Self-doubt scratches as a constant irritant. The physical effort of being warm, cheerful and, above all, perpetually creative can dull what once felt shiny and beautiful. We start to feel used instead of useful, shabby without any chic.

Where do you go to find the treatment that will restore the shine? How do you find the supplies to cleanse, repair, rebuild or renovate an attitude? When we think we can’t do this calling for even one more week, what can we do?

Because the outward appearance is so obvious we think at first that what we need are better, cuter ideas. Maybe a new dress would perk us up. But the fun ideas don’t fit us or work as well as we thought they would. The kids might even roll their eyes and mutter. The new dress makes us look great, but after a few weeks we’re back to that same unsettled, unsatisfied feeling. So we buy another book of ideas and a cute new Primary tote bag. We scour the Internet for even more ideas and try a new haircut. And then we finally decide that what we really need is a new calling. Then we could attend Relief Society where they give a beautiful, spiritual lesson complete with a lovely book mark and insightful adult comments instead of “our dog threw up this morning”. We just know that we would feel pampered and rejuvenated. We imagine Relief Society as a kind of spiritual spa for the overworked, under appreciated, slightly flabby Primary worker.

I have gone through several cycles of this experience. I finally recognize that when I am unsettled and unsatisfied the hunger I feel is for the bread of life and I need to locate the source of supply. When I am thirsty for the approval of others I remind myself that this kind of thirst can only be quenched with water from wells of everlasting life. I am sure that you know as well as I do that the ultimate “home improvement” treatment is furnished not by an outside decorator, but is a do-it-yourself project. We will never be happy in a calling until we fill the calling and not expect the calling to fill us. The satisfaction we crave in our service comes from within, not from without.

The stock is found in our covenants and in the renewing of them. There is true power in Israel and her people because of covenants. When I focus on the fact that I am in a relationship with a covenant God and that my humble efforts to serve him keeps me in this relationship, I find that thoughtless remarks from either children or adults don’t change this truth. The routine doesn't seem so monotonous. I find ample supply for my hunger in the gospel of Jesus Christ, the principles and doctrine that correct mistakes and guide my thought and behavior. I can make time for personal gospel study and when I ponder the principles of the gospel found in the music we sing each week, I am satisfied and renewed in my mind. I can find abundance when I sincerely pray for that which I need. I can exercise faith and truly rest in what I know about the character and promises of God. Doing these things makes it easier to offer myself to God as a Primary worker, as a visiting teacher, or as a mother. My offering becomes beautiful again.

When we find ourselves unhappy, frustrated, tired, and uninspired we have to take control of our situation and do something to bring back the sparkle. By all means, choose some new fabric and paint and pick out some new colors. Just remember that you have to supply the polish and elbow grease as well. You have to schedule the time to work, find the tools and finance the project with your own funds. And don’t just hope that your visiting teachers will bring by a casserole. God will bring you a feast.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

More Ideas for Principle Related Singing Time

The Friend magazine is full of great ideas for a principle-related singing time. Just consider the April 2010 issue. In the article “Helping Feed the Savior’s Lambs” on page 2, President Eyring states a principle when he explains our obligation to nourish each other spiritually. He offers examples of how children can do this. There are several primary songs that teach this principle also. “Lead me, guide me, walk beside me.” (I Am a Child of God CS-2) “To have a friend, you must be a friend, too.” (Friends are Fun CS-262) “He whose heart has joy and song gives joy to others too.” (Be Happy CS-265) “When your heart is filled with love, others will love you.” (Jesus Said Love Everyone CS-61) “I’ll be a sunbeam for him.” (Jesus Wants Me for a Sunbeam CS-60)

I could easily write the song titles on 1-inch wide strips of green paper and roll them up tightly to resemble alfalfa hay pellets. In case you’ve never seen alfalfa pellets, just trust me on this. Find a metal pie plate to use as a feed pan and put the “pellets” in the pan. After introducing the principle as taught by President Eyring, I would have a child choose a song. Challenge all the children to listen as they sing to discover which words teach us to nourish each other.

“Come to the Rescue” on page 10 is a maze activity that is easily overlooked as a singing time, but is actually a really great idea. The maze itself doesn't work well, but the content is great. The principle is still our obligation to strengthen others, but President Monson states it in terms of “manning the lifeboats” and rescuing those who have drifted away.

If I ponder the words of songs listed in the topical index in the Children’s Songbook under “service”, “missionary work” or “example”, I can find songs that will reinforce this principle. I can write questions or case studies for each of the songs as I explained in the last couple of posts. Or I could just list the song title and ask the children to discover the phrase that matches the principle. I’m thinking that posting these on paper life preservers or putting them in a seashell on a tray of sand (think deserted island) would be a cute way to deliver the songs.

“Find the Sheep” on page 34 is also full of possibilites and I’m going to challenge you to think of them. The principle is the same -I think there is a pattern in this issue! What could you do with this page?

Don't miss this fabulous idea from The Crazy Chorister. Melanie used the activity to teach the song "Choose the Right Way", but one could easily insert other primary songs that need to be reviewed. This activity perfectly illustrates how to help the children connect to the principles taught in the songs.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The "Everyone Can"

I call this the “Everyone Can”. It is a truly simple aid to use with another review activity that focuses on the gospel principles we learn from the Primary songs.

This activity centers on those principles that are related to the things we do. “Everyone Can” choose the right, make a happy home, keep the commandments, be kind, love their neighbor, etc. I choose a topic and then identify songs with phrases that help teach the principle I wish to teach. Then I write action statements for each of the songs on slips of paper or card strips, throwing in a few negative statements also. The papers go into the “Everyone Can” to be chosen one at a time. If the statement is something that everyone CAN do, I have the children stand up while we sing the song. If the statement is something they should not do, they remain seated.

For instance, if I wanted to teach about honesty I could choose songs from the gospel section of the songbook with phrases that teach this principle. Remember that there are several aspects of honesty, so any number of songs may apply. I might write a statement such as, “An honest child listens to the promptings of the Holy Ghost.” “And with his light I’ll do what’s right Each time I make a choice.” (The Holy Ghost CS-105) Another statement might read, “An honest child tries to make things right when they have made a mistake.” “I will try in all I do and say To live the gospel more each day.” (I Want to Live the Gospel CS-148) “An honest child always tells the truth.” “I’ll form good habits in my youth, to keep my word, to tell the truth.” (I Believe in Being Honest CS-149) “An honest child is courageous.” “Sometimes I am tempted to choose another way.” (Nephi’s Courage CS-120) “An honest child knows he can repent” “And I can be forgiven and improve myself each day.” (When I Am Baptized CS-103) Two or three negative statements add variety. “An honest child quickly blames someone else if an accident happens” “An honest child knows that mistakes don’t count if no one ever finds out.”

Sometimes it’s fun to put inexpensive smiley face stickers in the bottom of the can. I’ll give them out at the end of primary or give them to the teachers to put on the children. The sticker reminds them that everyone CAN be kind, smile, be reverent, choose the right, etc.

The Friend magazine has lately published several quizzes that easily adapt to this kind of singing time. Look at "What Kind of Friend Are You?" on page 28 of the May 2009 issue and you'll see what I mean. The statements in "Choose the Right Words" on page 9 of the January 2010 issue would also make a quick and easy singing time.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Children with Challenges - A Link

I just read a really great post on special needs kids. Go to and look for this post:Special Needs Kids. The little mouse "lap weight" is so cute and a truly great idea. We have three or four children in our primary who are sometimes a definite challenge to work with. I try to keep something for those who are really wiggly to hold, but the object itself sometimes becomes such a distraction that I almost hate to offer it. I didn't understand about the weight of the item being a factor for some kids. Anyway the ideas offered in the post are practical and helpful and come to me at an opportune time! I know most of you read this blog already, but don't miss this post.

Sofia also posted about children with different abilities back in March and that post was a good reminder to me as well. If you didn't see it check out the link. And, if you haven't read the information the church offers on Teaching All Children, Including Those with Disabilities, don't miss this either. These ways of interacting may take some practice, but it certainly is worth the time we might spend to ponder and learn ways of relating to our children in ways that are positive and uplifting rather than simply frustrating.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

"Pick My Pocket" Choose and Review

"Pick My Pocket" is another review activity designed to help the children make connections to the principles taught in the Primary songs.

Look at the words to the songs you want to review and identify the principles that you would like to emphasize. Design a situation (case study) that will help to illustrate this principle for each of the songs. For example, one of the principles taught in the song “I Know That My Savior Loves Me” is that Jesus loves and blesses children in all ages of history - His character is unchanging. A situation could be written thus. “Some kids at school laughed at the answer Kara gave to a question. As we sing this song, listen for something the song teaches us that would help Kara feel better.” I like the phrases "the love that he felt for his little ones, I know he feels for me." or "wrapped in the arms of my Savior's love, I feel his gentle touch." After singing the song invite the children to share their ideas. Don’t hesitate to share what you had in mind as well. Especially if they “don’t get it.” Briefly discuss and testify of the principle.

Write the situations on slips of paper and put them into the pockets of an apron or some other pocket. The pocket in the picture is simply laminated cardstock with a small paper pocket on the back to hold the slips of paper. I use it sometimes as an alternative to my apron. Invite the children to choose the situations and sing the songs.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

"Principle Questions" Choose and Review

This review activity is designed to help the children think about the principles of the gospel taught in our Primary songs.

Use the program songs and others that you wish to review. Look at the words to the song and identify the principle you would like to reinforce. There are probably several. Choose one or two for each song. Write a question about the principle that can be answered with the words of the song. Invite a child to choose a question and read it. Have all the children listen for the answer as you sing the song together. Invite their response and then briefly discuss and testify of the principle.

The following are questions and songs that I used a few weeks ago. The picture shows how I set it up. This time I designed the questions to ask why. I wrote them on paper question marks and posted them around the head of a child. I explained to the children that the boy has many questions that we could help him answer and asked them to listen for the words of the song that would give the answer. Emphasize that you aren’t just asking for an answer to the question, but to find how the song answers the question.

“Why should we love one another as Jesus asked?” (Love One Another CS-136) “Why will Jesus guide me when I pray?” (Jesus is our Loving Friend CS-58) “Why should I live worthy to go to the temple?” (I Love to See the Temple CS-95) “Why did Jesus come as a Messiah to conquer evil and death? (I Lived in Heaven CS-4) “Why should I listen to my parents and teachers?” (I Know That My Savior Loves Me) “Why should I follow the prophet?” (Follow the Prophet CS-110) “Why did Heavenly Father send Jesus to earth?” (He Sent His Son CS-34) “Why should I pray?” (Thanks to Our Father CS-20) “Why should I be reverent in Primary?” (Reverently, Quietly CS-26) If your primary is split, you would have the opportunity to create easier questions for the Juniors.

As I mentioned in this post, the children you are working with may not be used to thinking about the songs as they sing. You’ll need to be patient and help them understand what you want them to do. If one week doesn't go well, tweak the activity and give it another chance. Teaching our children to recognize these principles is an important skill. Even the young children can learn how to do this. If you do this kind of thing often enough, the kids will become well trained. Don't hesitate to share your own thoughts and testify.

The activity is very versatile. You can use questions in a sort of random way, singing whichever songs need to be reviewed, or you can design the questions to teach a specific topic such as prayer and then review prayer songs. Or, you could use a more general theme like the happiness we find as we serve others or make right choices and then find the phrases in songs to teach this larger theme.
Thank you for visiting The Children Sing. Check back soon for more LDS Primary Singing Time Ideas!