Saturday, October 30, 2010
Thursday, October 28, 2010
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
Thursday, October 21, 2010
You can find variations of this method explained in the Sharing Time Ideas in the March 2002, June 2005, and March 2008 issues of the Friend magazine. Because this method is simple and straightforward, “Choosing Pictures” combines easily with another simple method to add variety and keep the kids engaged with the song.
Because choristers use so many pictures, I've kept up a picture file for many years now. I have pictures from the old, old manuals as well as the new ones. I have many pictures that I have simply cut out from discarded church magazines. I am always the first in line for discards from the library or someone's basement. I also very much appreciate the church giving us access to the digital issues that can be found online at lds.org. These digital issues are in a pdf format that I have downloaded onto my computer at home. When I need a picture to illustrate a certain principle or concept, I look through my picture file. If I don't find what I need there, I just page through the digital magazines until I see something that will work. Then I print that page and cut out the picture.
I laminate the pictures that I've printed and those that I've cut from the magazines so that they will hold up better. I keep the manual pictures in their original envelopes and GAK pictures in the original file box. I keep the cut pictures loose in a plastic box. When I want to find pictures, I simply scatter the loose ones on my bed and paw through them. ;o} It isn't a very organized method, but it works for me.
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
Rhythm activities are a wonderful way to add movement to singing time. For songs with interesting rhythms, teach the rhythm first by having the children clap the rhythm of each phrase with you as you sing the song. Change the action and then repeat. Slapping thighs, tapping toes, snapping fingers, stepping from left to right, or nodding their head are other rhythmic actions that the children could do.
Once you’ve been through the song a couple of times with the rhythm, use another simple method to help the children learn the words.
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
You can increase the difficulty by linking the actions. You could say “Raise one finger when you hear a question in the song and another finger when you hear the answer.” Two or even three actions are doable and fun for the older kids, but don’t try to string too many together at one time.
I like this method and think it works best in teaching songs that are medium to short in length. Longer songs should be broken up into shorter sections. If the song goes on for too long, the kids will forget what they are listening for! To keep things interesting, I usually combine this method with another simple method like choosing pictures for the phrases. “When You Hear...” doesn’t require any preparation and can easily add a little variety and movement to whatever else you might plan.
Some teaching methods, like this one, are really simple and work best in combination with something else. Because I like discovery questions so much I always use these "directed listening" kinds of activities when I teach a new song. Using more than one method gives the children some variety, especially if they just don't seem to respond to your primary method of teaching. Watch for two more of these simple teaching methods coming up in this week's posts.
Thursday, October 14, 2010
“Follow the Directions” is a classic way to review a song that you have recently taught or to review several songs on a week with Choose and Review. Simply write direction statements on separate slips of paper, cards, or seasonal shapes. Ask one of the children to choose a card and then have the primary follow the directions for singing the song.
Here are some examples of direction statements. I’m sure you can think of others.
- Everyone conduct the beat pattern.
- Clap the rhythm and hum.
- Clap the beat and sing.
- Girls sing while the boys clap the rhythm.
- Boys sing while the girls clap the rhythm.
- Oldest class and youngest class come to the front and sing.
- Stand back to back and sing.
- Everyone use pitch-level conducting.
If you keep a few slips handy in the closet or your bag, you won’t panic when you are asked to fill extra time. This easy activity also lends itself really well to an emergency situation or to give to a substitute.
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
Monkey - sing “ahh”
Owl - sing “ooh”
Turtle - sing slow
Rabbit - sing fast
Lion - sing louder
Lamb - sing softer
Bird - regular singing
Cowboy boot - boys sing
Princess crown - girls sing
Purse - teachers sing, or child's teacher leads
Team pennant - your class sings
Hand - choose a hand action like snapping fingers, clapping, etc.
Hammer - pound the rhythm or the beat
Parrot - echo singing with myself and the kids, or I divide the room in half or between boys and girls.
Octopus - child conducts with a sideways figure eight
Heart - sing your favorite song
Frog - everyone uses their hand to "hop" from note to note (pitch level conducting)
Snail - another shape for singing slow
Thursday, October 7, 2010
On our last Sunday practice before the program I decided to emphasize the importance of singing from their heart. I found an oversized pair of glasses at our local dollar store. The lenses were heart-shaped. As we sang our first song I had our Primary president choose the class that was watching me, and singing with their whole hearts. We then had their teacher come to the front, stand next to me, put the glasses on and watch to see which other class was paying attention and singing with their whole hearts, It worked well because they looked a little silly but the children were trying really hard to watch me as we practiced standing up together and singing.
I made the attached heart-shaped boxes, punched two tiny holes at the top and threaded some white yarn through them to make a necklace. I had them printed in black and white at our local printers. I think it only cost me about two to three dollars for fifty necklaces (25 copies). I could have printed them on my home printer but it isn't a laser printer and when the ink gets wet my copies smear. I also could have put some candy in them, but I opted to leave them empty. I thought of them more like a locket. I wanted them to represent the children giving their hearts through their voices. (The song of the heart is a prayer unto me.)
I found the pattern for the heart box on Martha Stewart's web site. I reduced it so I could get two boxes on one sheet of paper. Like I said, I wanted them to be more like an over-sized locket. If you go to her site she has a video you can watch to see how she folds it. Martha mounted her template on heavier paper and scored lines down the middle. I printed my pattern directly on to regular weight paper without scoring the paper. I cut them on the solid lines and folded on the dotted lines. I also added the picture from the front cover of our primary program for this year. The painting is by Dale Parsons. "
I'm probably going to make a simple red heart necklace out of construction paper. These wouldn't be as nice as Mary's boxes, but I'm hoping that the children will catch the point. I'll also make some red heart shapes to attach to my glasses to watch for beautiful singing. Maybe I could make cardboard heart-shapes to attach to a stick, kind of like opera glasses. I hope you can see the wonderful possibilities in this idea.
Tuesday, October 5, 2010
I invited two children to hold the ends of a length of blue fabric from the costume box and showed them how to move their arms to make a “rolling sea.” I found a small box for a boat to toss on the fabric during the tempest. I held up the picture of Jesus stilling the storm for the phrase about the “Master, ready and kind.” Then I used simple hand actions for the words “chided” and “hushed.” After we were set up, I simply sang the song and it worked great. We talked about the old-fashioned words and practiced the phrase with the hand actions and they were already singing with me after one more time through. I was thrilled to have it work so well with so little time spent teaching.
Last Christmas I used dramatization to teach “Once Within a Lowly Stable” and it worked just as well for this song. I took some simple props: a scarf for the loving mother, a doll for the baby, a shoe box lid and some yellow yarn for a manger, and two simple, hand drawn sheep and ox “masks”on sticks. I set up a simple tableau by inviting two children to stand and hold their arms in an arch to form a stable. Two other children knelt on either side of those children and held the sheep and ox masks in front of their faces. Mary knelt on the floor under the arch and placed the “baby” in the “manger” at the appropriate time during the song. Then I simply sang the song and pointed to the props as I sang. The children listened so well that they were singing with me the second time through. Dramatization is a really fun way to teach a song!