Saturday, November 13, 2010

Boring Questions?

This is the second suggestion in reponse to the comment that using listening type questions has been a “bit boring.” I understand this problem. We seem to run the risk of being boring everytime we stand up in front of children. Maybe it's my gray hair speaking, but I sometimes think the kids just need to "deal with it." :o}

Using discovery questions doesn’t need to happen in isolation of other activities. It shouldn’t be an “all or nothing” method. I often try to enhance the questions with visual aids like pictures or wordstrips, if possible, to reinforce the answers. I can have the children hold the pictures while we sing the phrase or post the wordstrips and then put them in order. The song presentation suggestion in the Sharing Time Ideas in the Feb 2002 issue (pg. 32) of the Friend magazine illustrates how using pictures can enhance these discovery questions.

Instead of visual aids, I might use other activities that follow up on the question. For instance, if I were teaching the song “I Believe in Being Honest” I might ask the question “What do I believe in?” After hearing the answer, I might pass a beanbag while we sing the phrase once or twice again, asking the child left holding the beanbag to name one way to be honest. Or, I might point out how the eighth note in the rhythm perfectly matches the word “believe” and have them clap the rhythm while we sing the phrase again. Or, I could teach the ASL signs for the words “believe,” “honest” and “true” and sing that much again, using the signs. Then I would move on to another question.

Sometimes I do use questions one after another. In this case, I want to find an engaging way to deliver the questions. For instance, if I wanted to teach “I Often Go Walking,” I would put questions on blue silk flowers and scatter them around the room. The children would gather the “blossoms” one at a time, listening and answering the question on each flower as I sing the song. After making a bouquet and answering the series of questions, I would introduce other activities to review the song and explore other aspects of the music.

So the questions work really well as a kind of foundation to my overall teaching plan. Tying the questions to visual aids and activities keeps things from being too boring.


Jeff and Lori said...

I have been a primary chorister for just over 3 years. While I still am constantly looking for new ideas and need variation in the way I do things, I'm finding more and more that the simple things are just as effective (more captivating to the children and able to focus them on the music itself) or more so then the elaborate visual aids or games I used to feel I needed to produce each week.

For example, I had to chuckle when I borrowed your idea of the "I spy" game. I grabbed about 15 of my favorite miracle-themed Gospel Art Kit pictures and hid review songs behind them. I arranged them before primary to cover half the white board, then slid another white board to hide them so the kids wouldn't be distracted during opening exercises. When it was time for music time, I said we're going to play a game today and revealed the pictures. The response was a collective "Oooooh!" from the kids as all colorful pictures were displayed. They were enthralled by looking at all of them together, and were SO eager to be my "reverent volunteer" to spy something from one of the pictures. Then we'd see if they remembered the miracle it portrayed, and sing the song. So easy and NOT boring the kids in any way.

Simple and varied approaches with focus on gospel principles are the best! The kids love to share what they know about the gospel and to participate. Thanks for sharing your excellent ideas and experience!

Arizona Girl said...

Thanks for sharing this. On the subject of 'risk of being boring' I try to remind myself that my job is not to entertain them. That is what TV and movies for. My job is to teach them. If we can have fun and enjoy ourselves then they learn that music can be fun. But sometimes its just not going to be fun and they do "just have to deal with it."
Thanks for your blog.

Jenny in NC said...

We are going to sing "The First Noel" as one of our Christmas songs. As I was making a list of discovery questions, it occurred to me that I could let the children pretend to be the shepherds, I could pretend to be a citizen of Bethlehem, and I could ask the "shepherds" what happened on that first Christmas night (according to the song.) Thanks for your suggestions. I'm going to keep working on these discovery questions until the children and I get the hang of it.!

The Children Sing said...

Lori, I've found that simple things just work best for me most of the time. I'm so glad that your primary kids responded to the "I Spy" game. It is such an easy activity and it lends itself so well to a brief discussion of principles and gives me a chance to testify a lot. My kids always like it. Three years is quite a long stretch and you still sound enthusiastic! ;o)

Arizona Girl, thanks for saying so. I soooooo agree that it is not our job to entertain. It is sometimes hard to take the knocks that come from expecting them to work, though. The sooner we all how to shrug, the easier the job gets.

Jenny, I really like your idea of the shepherds. The younger children especially love to imagine things and pretend. You could also do a brief attention getter along the lines of the old nursery "lion hunt" (we're walking around this big rock and up the let's arrange the blanket...)to sort of set the scene and get the shepherds settled out in the field for the night. Don't you just feel excited when things "occur" to you. I love it!

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