Thursday, July 29, 2010

Choose and Review - Title Toss

Title Toss makes a fun singing time, however it takes a little work to prepare. But then it can live in the closet and be pulled out when you have extra time or when you've had one of those weeks and need to use something you've already prepared. I believe in being prepared for one of those weeks!

Just type the titles of MANY songs into the computer. Adjust the fonts and sizes and then print the titles out. Cut them out and randomly paste them onto a poster board. I say random, but you should mix the rest songs or wiggle songs in throughout the other titles. I also used appropriate stickers to enhance the poster a bit. When you're ready for singing time, put the poster on the floor and hand a child a beanbag. Invite them to toss the beanbag to choose a song to sing. You can adjust the tossing distance according to age or ability.

The only problem with this activity is that it might take the pianist some time to look up the page number of the song. This won't bother an experienced pianist because they often remember where the songs are and can find them quickly. But, to make it easier, you could copy the index in the songbook and have it available so that they don't have to keep flipping to the back of the book to look things up. Or, make an alphabetical list with the page numbers and keep it with the poster.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Choose and Review - "Say What"

By now you know that I love to use the Friend magazine for ideas for singing time. Sometimes the folks at the Friend just make it really easy. The "Say What!" funstuff activity on page 17 of the July, 2010 issue is absolutely perfect for singing time. I loved the graphic and thought immediately of putting it on a tall (read Pringles potato chips) can as a way to deliver the song titles. Here is an example of the mixed-up title for "I Hope They Call Me on a Mission" and "Families Can Be Together Forever." Cute! Wouldn't it be fun to think of titles for a program song review?

Thursday, July 22, 2010

"Rain" Puppet

This is my rain puppet. We're just going into what we call our "monsoon" season when we often get a rain storm in the afternoon. So, I am just in time to get this finished to use with the younger children in singing time. This puppet has been in my brain for some time now. I made it specifically to go with the song "Rain is Falling." BTW, I am having so much fun singing with the nursery kids. Sometimes they get so excited to see me and that feels pretty good ;o).

To make the puppet, I used an ordinary white cotton knitted work glove as the base. I used plain white thread and a long needle to tack bunches of polyester quilt batting down on top. I tried to keep as much of the thread as possible on top of the glove so that it wouldn't catch on my fingers when I put the glove on. Then I took some blue, gray and white acrylic paint and dabbed it on the batting and the bottom of the glove to create a rain cloud look. The paint actually helps stabilize the batting. I used nylon thread and blue crystal beads to make the raindrops. I threaded the beads on the nylon and then tied knots to suspend the beads in the air. I threaded the beads on to the bottom of the fingers so that the raindrops would dance. When I wiggle my fingers, the crystal beads catch the light and sparkle beautifully.

This puppet is somewhat fragile, in the respect that the littlest nursery kids could tear it apart fairly quickly. Because of that, and the fact that the beads are small in size, I'll restrict its use. (I'll try at least, perhaps I won't even be able to use it in the nursery, depending on the various factors at work there.) I'm hoping to make some smaller puppets (larger beads or drops dangling from a popsicle stick or maybe a child's white tube sock) for the kids to use as we sing the song.

Here are more pictures.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Choose and Review - Pioneer Fun and Games

I think it would be fun to use a simplified pioneer game (or a combination of games) to choose either review songs or ways to sing a review song. Any of these games are just fun summertime games too, if you wanted to use the ideas other than for pioneer day.

Pioneer children would have played marbles and you could mark each marble with a number and correlate the numbers to a list of songs or ways to sing. Use thin string to mark a circle on the floor and shoot a marble to scatter the marbles within the circle. Invite a child to select a marble and try to knock it out of the circle with a marble "shooter." Then sing the song associated with that number.

Jack-Straws is another pioneer game which we call pick-up-sticks today. You could write the name of a song or a way to sing a song on the sticks and scatter them on the table top. Invite the children to choose one and pull it out of the pile without shifting any of the other sticks.

Pioneer children may have played I Spy as they walked along the trail. I Spy makes a fun singing time by choosing pictures that correlate with either the theme or with the songs you wish to review. For instance, you could post several pictures including a prophet from the scriptures, Jesus blessing the children, a girl being confirmed, a picture of the church building, Jesus calling his disciples, etc. Choose a child as a helper and ask them to study the pictures and choose something to give clues about. The other children try to guess which picture the first child is looking at. For instance, if the child were looking at a picture of Noah, they might say "I Spy a boat" or "I Spy something large and brown. People are looking at it. They are laughing." When the children guess the object or the picture, sing "Follow the Prophet."

Follow the Leader is another game that pioneer children would have played. Invite a child to think of a rhythmic action that could accompany a review song. Let them demonstrate and have the rest of the children follow while singing the song.

Dancing was a common activity in pioneer times. If you have extra time, it might be fun to do a simple line dance pattern with the kids. Choose one of the songs with 4/4 timing. Have the children spread out just a little. Play the music and review the 4/4 timing by clapping the beat for a few minutes. Then show them a simple pattern like: Right foot-heel, toe, heel, toe. Left foot -heel, toe, heel, toe. Grapevine to the left (step left foot out and step on the first beat, bring the right foot behind the left and shift the weight to it on the second beat, bring the left foot back across the front of the right foot and shift the weight to it on the third beat, then bring the right foot together with the left foot on the 4th beat.) Then do the heel-toe pattern again and grapevine to the right. Repeat for the length of the song. The younger children could just do the heel-toe pattern and clap their hands occasionally. "Follow the Prophet" or "The Church of Jesus Christ" would be fun songs to dance to.

Another fun movement idea comes from the Sharing Time ideas in the July 1998 issue of the Friend magazine. The suggestion is to have the children form a wagon wheel with four children in the middle holding their arms out to make "spokes" and other children in a circle around those four forming the "rim". The children would march as they sing, making the wagon wheel turn. Larger primaries would need to form several wheels.

One more pioneer game that I thought of is Chain Tag. To adapt it to singing time I would start singing and tag a child who would then stand up and sing with me. They would then tag another who stands and joins the singing and tags another, and so on until all the children are singing together.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Choose and Review - Pioneer Pictionary

These are simple cards that I drew to make it easier to play pictionary. If your older kids are really sophisticated, they may do alright with a title on a slip of paper, but I've found that if the kids can see a picture, the drawing part is easier for them. It also saves a LOT of time because they don't have to stand there thinking of an idea. Before you all have a heart attack and complain that you can't draw anything, just remember that the point is to make a really simple picture. The kids can't draw anything either and they don't care! They just like to play this game. So you need to model a really simple picture, something that the kids could realistically copy.

The cards can be laid face-down on the table. Ask a child to choose a card and, being careful not to show the card, draw the picture on the chalkboard. Invite the rest of the children to guess what the picture is. Sing a pioneer song (or a program review song) or a fun song with each card.

Just in case you don't recognize what these pictures are, I'll list the card with the song I sing with it. ;o) The children I'm working with right now don't know all of these pioneer songs, so I'll have to substitute a few songs about faith or obedience.

campfire =217=Westward Ho

berry bush =216=Little Pioneer Children

shoe =214=Pioneer Children Sang as They Walked

ox =219=The Oxcart

handcart =220=The Handcart Song

bonnet =222=Whenever I Think About Pioneers

stream =236=Give Said the Little Stream

rain = 247=Rain is Falling

wagon =221=Covered Wagons

Friday, July 16, 2010

Visual Aids Cut-outs

I should have thought to include a link for the Primary Visual Aids Cut-Outs in the last post. Thank you, Jean, for reminding me. You should probably check the meetinghouse library first, because the cut-outs should be there. Or, they might be in the primary closet. There are 10 sets altogether and they are in large white envelopes. I love to own these because I use them a lot for singing time. There are just a bunch of pictures of nature, people, toys, food, body parts ;o). For this activity I used pictures from the Nature set, Domestic Animals, and Wild Animals and Pioneers, I think.

If you are near a distribution center, they should be available or here is the link to the online catalog where you can also see what is available. I think I'll try to write a post about how I use these.

Choose and Review - Cut-Out - Pioneer Adventures

This is an easier alternative to the roller-box activity I posted about yesterday. These pictures are from the Primary Visual Aids Cut-Outs. Just put them in a bag and randomly draw a pioneer "adventure". Choose a review song to sing with each picture.
  • Bear = sing the song softly so that you don't scare it.
  • Hill = sing the song slowly as you go up the steep hill.
  • Rain = stop and sing "Rain is Falling."
  • Ants = stomp the rhythm of the song as you sing.
  • Rabbit = sing the song fast.
  • Bee = use the cut-out as a puppet and sing/hum the song.
  • Lost Cow = have a child leave the room and hide the cow for the "hotter/colder" game.
  • Campfire = invite all the children to help you lead the song.
  • Owl = use the cut-out as a puppet and alternate singing and "oooooo-ing".
  • Stars = sing with the lights turned out.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Choose and Review -Roller Box -Pioneer Adventures

These pictures are on paper for a roller-box activity I'm calling "Pioneer Adventures." I have twelve pictures on the roll and there is an action and a review song associated with each picture. Twelve would be too many songs to get through, realistically, but I can skip some of them if my time is running out. It is nice, however, to have the flexibility of more songs in case I have extra time. The first picture is just scenery and begins the activity with the song "Pioneer Children Sang As They Walked." Tell the children that the pioneers ran into many interesting things along the way. After singing the song, roll the paper until the next picture appears.

I have a butterfly baton fancy and I'll divide the children into two or three groups. We'll sing the song and have a child point the butterfly to each group, during the song, to indicate who should sing.

We'll pantomime fishing as we sing the review song.

The hill indicates that we should sing the song very slowly as we go up this steep hill.

I have a bee puppet that I will give to a child. When the bee appears we should hum and when it disappears we should sing the review song.

We'll stop and sing "Rain is Falling". I have a great puppet for this song. A picture is coming up in a later post.

The skunk indicates that we should hold our nose while we sing the song. I'll pick a fun song for this picture.

This is a river crossing and I'll show the children how to hold their arms above their head and march as we sing the song.

This is an "echo canyon" and indicates that we sing using an echo. Divide the group into two and have one group sing the first phrase and the other group echo it. Repeat for each phrase in the song.

The picture of ants on an anthill wouldn't load for some reason. The activity is to stomp the rhythm of the song as we sing so that the ants will fall off of our legs. My 11-yr-old daughter reminds me that we don't want to kill the ants, of course. Hmmm. Maybe you should have a response ready for when that comes up. Or, just stomp and shake the ants off and move on without singing. :o)

This is a rattlesnake. We should sing very softly so that we don't scare it.

At the campfire all the children are invited to help me direct the song, using the side way's figure eight pattern.

Finally, we'll turn out the lights and sing the last song in the dark. That's it. The kids love the roller-box and we'll have lots of fun with this.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Choose and Review - Fun Facts

Fun Facts is a very versatile activity for singing time. Write several brief paragraphs describing facts about the monthly or weekly theme, or even a general gospel theme or holiday. Write each fact on a slip of paper or a seasonal shape. Choose an appropriate review song to match each fact and include the title on the paper. Invite a child to choose a fact, read it and then sing the song together. This describes the facts. The fun part comes in creatively delivering the facts to the children. The following examples show how adaptable "Fun Facts" can be.

Pioneer Fun Facts: Write several short paragraphs about the pioneers on a thematic shape such as a wagon wheel. Or, write them on pieces of red paper and crumple the paper to resemble berries. Lightly glue the "berries" to a bush drawn on a poster. Put just a dab of glue, use just enough to hold the berry on the poster but not enough that the paper rips when the child picks it off. Invite the children to pick a berry, read the fact and then sing the song together. I used the following facts from the pioneer game on page 24 in the July 2004 issue of the Friend magazine.

  • Pioneers rested and worshiped on the Sabbath. Name one thing you can do to keep the Sabbath day holy. “The Chapel Doors”(156)

    Pioneers were strong. What can you do to keep your body strong and healthy? “For Health and Strength”(21)

    Pioneers loved their families. Tell what you love about someone in your family. “Families Can Be Together Forever”(188)

    Pioneers worked hard. Tell about one of your responsibilities and how you work to fulfill it. “A Happy Helper”(197)

    Pioneers followed the prophet westward to the valley. Name one way you can follow our prophet today. “Follow The Prophet”(110)

    Pioneers had a testimony that helped them sacrifice for the gospel. Can you tell one way you can strengthen your own testimony? “I Know That My Savior Loves Me”

    Pioneers reported many experiences of being led by the Holy Ghost. Can you tell one way to be worthy of guidance by the Holy Ghost? “The Holy Ghost” (105)

    Pioneers were brave. They faced many challenges with courage and hope. Can you tell one way that you can also be courageous? “I’m Trying to Be Like Jesus” (78)

    When pioneers became discouraged they liked to sing to help lift their spirits. What is your favorite primary song? Favorite

    Pioneers were cheerful despite their challenges. How can you show a cheerful attitude? “If You’re Happy”(266)

Here are a few other examples:

Temple Fun Facts: Write facts about temples and how to prepare to go to the temple on flowers that you "plant" around a picture of the temple.

Service Fun Facts: Write facts about people serving around the world (see the Ensign and Church News) and attach them to an object one might use to serve others. Make a display with the objects.

Fathers Fun Facts: Write facts about fathers on fish shapes and use a magnet on a pole to fish for the facts. Ask the child to tell a fact about her own father and then sing the review song.

Missionary Fun Facts: Write facts about missionaries or missionary work on papers and attach them to items or objects missionaries need or use. After reading the fact, have the children identify how they could be a missionary and then sing an appropriate review song.

My post called "One Happy Girl" is another adaptation of the Fun Facts activity.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Song Review - Yoke the Ox to the Wagon

This is a cut-out ox to use in a variation of "Pin the Tail on the Donkey." Draw a wagon on the chalkboard (so that the children can't feel where to put the ox). Don't worry about how good you are at drawing, all you really need is a box with two wheels and a yoke sticking out the front. A cover on the wagon is optional. Making the ox is a little harder! This one is on poster paper and simply colored with crayons. If you can't face drawing, have one of the children do it. Or, here is a link to a nice clipart image. Put a magnet on the back of the ox so that he'll stick to the chalkboard. When you are ready to review the song, blindfold one of the children. Tell the rest of the primary to sing the song louder and softer as a musical cue to guide the blindfolded child in placing the oxen at the front of the wagon. They should sing softly until the child has the ox in the right spot (or close enough) and then they should sing stronger. Spin the child a couple of times, point him in the right direction and begin singing. If the blindfolded child is smart, he will pay attention to the music as he tries to get the ox in the right place. It is fun to help the rest of the children learn how to give the cue as they sing.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Rest Activity - Pioneer "Fun to Do"

I've put this activity in my Sunday box and I'll carry it throughout this month. I can pull it out if I have extra time or if the kids need a rest or a change of pace. The slips go with the song "Fun to Do" (CS-253). Have a child choose a strip and then pantomime the action. See if the other children can guess what it is. Be prepared to give some clues. Sing the song and do the action together.

This week is going to be pioneer week on this blog. I have so many pioneer things that I'll post several times. I hope you enjoy them.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Lyrical Misunderstanding

Recently one of the moms in our branch reported to me that the favorite song of her two daughters is "In the Leafy Treetops." "Oh", I said, "I have puppets for that song. I'll bring them and they can help me use the puppets to sing their favorite song." She then went on to tell me that her youngest daughter had finally admitted that she couldn't understand why all the flowers in the pretty garden were naughty. She was really bothered by that. If she, indeed, had a pretty garden, she was certain that her flowers would not be naughty. She was relieved by the explanation from her mom that the flowers were merely nodding in the wind.

There are so many funny stories like this of children misunderstanding the lyrics of the song. While it gives us adults a good laugh, as the chorister responsible for teaching the songs, we should really give some thought to ways that we can help the children really understand what they are singing.

Naughty flowers indeed! That's the best one I've ever heard. :O)

Friday, July 9, 2010

Song Review - "Hotter/Colder" - Find the Ox

Do you remember the pioneer story of Mary Fielding Smith and her lost (cows) ox? She is such an inspiration to me. Mary certainly did her best to follow the Savior and to follow the prophet. I thought that hiding and finding an ox would fit well with the pioneer-ish motif this month. I had the great idea to take the ox from our Christmas nativity set and use it for the “Hotter/Colder” song review activity after I teach “Come Follow Me.” So, I dug the box out of the cupboard and unwrapped every piece looking for the oxen. There were no oxen, only a donkey, a camel and a couple of sheep attached to shepherds. Hmmm, I guess the oxen are in the other, beautiful, white porcelain nativity set. Aaack! I’m not taking that.

I thought about making an ox out of clay, but I really didn’t want to spend that much time. I thought about using one of our many small plastic farm animal figures, but wanted something a little bigger. I thought about driving 45 miles to town to check out the larger plastic animals at Michael’s craft store or to look for something at the dollar store. Instead, I got out my trusty Teaching, No Greater Call manual and read again in the Methods section the directions for making paper stand-up figures. Now I have an ox to hide.

It was pretty simple to make. I didn’t have any heavy brown paper so I glued some thin brown paper to card stock and that worked pretty well. After I got it finished I realized that I could have used a brown paper grocery sack, but would probably still have glued it to cardstock. After I studied the illustration in the book, I sketched a pattern because I didn’t want to make a mistake on my brown paper. Then I traced and cut out the body of the ox. Because it seemed easier, I traced and cut out the head separately and then glued it on. Finally, I touched up the whole thing with simple crayon details.

When I’m ready to review the song, I’ll have a child leave the room and invite another child to hide the ox. Then we’ll have the first child come back in and look for the ox. The rest of the children will give clues to the hiding place by singing the song louder (hotter) as the child gets closer to the ox and softer (colder) if she moves away.

The ox from the nativity would have been perfect. This paper one is not as sturdy, but it will work.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Song Spinners

This is a picture of three song spinners that I've had for many years. I just put the spinner flat on a table and ask one of the children to spin to choose which song to sing next. This is another useful aid to pull out when the kids are tired or if I am given extra time to sing. The material is poster board and laminated with contact paper. I got the spinners at a teacher's store. They spin MUCH better than a brad.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Choose and Review - Song / Scripture Match

Most of our primary songs have scriptures listed at the bottom of the page that correspond to the message of the song. It can be a fun singing time to make the children aware of this.

On a slip of paper, write out one of the scriptures for each song you wish to review. Place the papers in a set of scriptures with the ends poking out. Have a child choose a paper to read and ask the children to guess which song it matches. It might help to have a list of songs on the board. Or, you may prefer to challenge the children to come up with a song from their memory. Pictures, along with the written scriptures, are helpful if you have mostly non-readers.

Monday, July 5, 2010

The Tyranny of Acceptable

One thing that may cause us to feel discouraged in our calling is a fear that what we do will be acceptable. I say things to myself like "I hope this will be alright." Or, I ask my husband, "Do you think the kids will like this?" He absolutely hates that question, by the way. This fear is minor and it may be kind of vague, but over time it takes a toll. The problem is that we can’t really define what acceptable is. We may not have a clear idea of what acceptable looks like. But we are sure we’ll know it when we see it! Unfortunately, we often rely on someone else to tell us one way or the other. If someone says “That was a great singing time!” or “The kids really enjoyed that” we feel relieved and validated. If we can see that the kids are involved in singing time and want to participate then we feel relieved and validated. These feelings of relief and validation control the fear for a couple of days until we start the process again the next week. If no one happens to say anything, or worse, if the kids and adults seem restless or bored, then this vague fear blossoms into a stronger feeling that we have disappointed, that we are somehow inadequate, that we have failed.

I take great comfort in this quote and read it often to remember that I can feel calm and confident.

“There can be no failure in the work of the Lord when [we] do [our] best. We are but instruments; this is the Lord’s work. This is His church, His gospel plan. These are His children we are working with. He will not permit us to fail if we do our part. He will magnify us even beyond our own talents and abilities when necessary. This I know. I am sure many of you have experienced it as I have. It is one of the sweetest experiences that can come to a human being” (Ezra Taft Benson, Teaching No Great Call, 20).

I have experienced this magnification. I know what it is like to have the Spirit amplify what I did. In fact, this happens all the time! So, within this context, I really don't need to feel anxiety about performing up to acceptable standards. What I can do doesn't have to be acceptable. It simply has to be the best I can do. It has taken me many years to be able to understand this on a level where it makes a difference. The relief I feel in this knowledge lasts more than a day or two. I am thankful that I am made perfectly adequate in my Savior Jesus Christ. This doesn't mean that I don't continue to try to be the best that I can be, but I am glad to know that He will take my efforts and magnify them. Focusing on that relieves my fear and frees me from the tyranny of being acceptable. Thank you Jesus.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

4th of July Singing Time

Here are the completed aids for my 4th of July singing time. I'll get home from traveling with minutes to spare, practically speaking, so I'm happy to have this ready to go. I'm planning to lead the kids outside in a short parade around the building. We'll march with kazoos and hum or sing the patriotic songs they might know. Then we'll come inside and use the "firecrackers" to choose other review songs, perhaps using the case studies I posted about earlier.

The firecrackers are spring-loaded party poppers that I got in the party aisle at Walmart. I just covered them with patriotic paper and added the silver "fuse." These poppers have a strong spring inside. When you twist the bottom, it makes a loud (but not too loud) popping noise and bursts with confetti and streamers inside --no smoke or smell. I slit open the top cardboard piece and carefully emptied all the small stuff out. Then I numbered each popper, repacked it with only the long streamers and taped the little cardboard piece down again. I did this so that I won't have quite such a mess of little confetti to clean up. The idea for these came from the discussions on the Primusic group on Yahoo.

After creating the pattern from the directions in the Friend, the hat went together easily. I thought it was too tall and trimmed 2 inches or so off the front height. It fits me pretty well, but was too big for my daughter and nephew. They were not around when I was making it! Ahhh well.

I hope you haven't missed the recent cute ideas for the 4th on Kristen's blog and Tara's new blog. You'll be glad you checked. Tara's sparklers are definitely going on my list for next year and I can adapt Kristen's lei idea sooner than that I think.

With two holidays and teaching "Come Follow Me" this month, there is a lot to try to do in July. It feels busy already! :O)
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