Thursday, February 24, 2011

Choose and Review - A Divine Destiny

Having taught and sung the song “I Will Follow God’s Plan for Me” this month, I want to re-emphasize to our children that they have a divine destiny. I’ll ask the children if they know what this means and discuss the words divine (from God) and destiny (a predetermined or appointed plan.) I want them to know that Heavenly Father has an important mission for each of us, including each of them.


I’ve prepared a musical guessing game to discover these divine aims for our lives. It is simply based on the “Name That Tune” idea. I’ve put each of the above principles on the back of a small colored poster. On the front of each poster is a different colored number from 2-5. These same colored numbers are written on small papers in a can or basket. I’ll invite a child to choose a paper with a colored number and show it to the pianist. She will play that many notes for the song that matches that color. If the children can’t guess, she keeps adding a note to the musical clue. After guessing the song, I’ll challenge the children to listen as we sing it to identify the principle that Heavenly Father wants us to live. Then we’ll turn over the poster for that color and reveal the principle on the back.

“Name That Tune” is such a standard for singing time. There are a number of ways to play it, all of them fun.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Choose and Review - The List Game

The List Game is a classic add-on concentration game that challenges the memory. You may have played it as an alphabet game, adding items beginning with alphabet letters to a growing list of things to take to Grandma’s house, or on vacation, etc.

To use the List Game for singing time, I create a phrase that matches the monthly theme and leave out the action. Then I think of words that complete the phrase and a review song that teaches this principle and write these on word strips. The word strips go into a can or basket to draw from. As each word strip is drawn, we say the phrase together, and add the action to the list. Then we sing the song. The point is to remember the list of actions and affirm them each time we repeat the list. I usually include two or three word strips that are blank. In this case, the children would be asked to think of a way to complete the phrase and a song that we know that teaches that action. If I had two groups, I would write only the title of the song on the word strip. The older children would be challenged to listen and discover the action taught in the song and then add it to the list.

As an example, this month I could have used the phrase, “I strengthen my family when I         .” (am kind - “Kindness Begins with Me”) The phrase could grow with actions such as smiling, praying, obeying, being thankful, helpful and saying I’m sorry. In the case of a blank word strip, the children would be asked to think of a way to strengthen their family and a song that the primary knows. It would have be fun to staple the word strips together to make a paper chain, testifying that these actions would, indeed, make the family strong.
This is also fun to play in July with pioneer songs. "I am going across the plains and I am taking          ."

I’m thinking that I’ll use this game in September with the phrase “I prepare to serve a mission when I .” (Keep commandments, gain a testimony, exercise, save money, am friendly, pray, read the Book of Mormon, pay tithing, serve others, and listen to the Holy Ghost.)

This game is an easy one to leave in the closet for emergencies or to prepare for a substitute if you know you'll be gone. Whatever the theme, the List Game is a classic activity for singing time.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Choose and Review - Pantomime

Pantomime is a fun activity to use for singing time. Children enjoy acting and having others guess what they are doing. If the viewers are having a hard time guessing, you can help them by asking questions of the actor, such as “are you at home?” The actor can nod yes or no. Sometimes it helps to demonstrate what you want the children to do. Say something like “I am going to act out a way to be helpful. See if you can guess what I’m doing.” After the children guess, you can whisper what you want a child to do, or write the pantomime suggestions on wordstrips and put into a can or basket to choose from.

Although I'm using the costume idea this week, an idea from the Sharing Time ideas in the October 2006 issue of the Friend works for a choose and review activity to support this week's theme of strengthening families and helps me explain how I use pantomime as an activity in singing time.

Words from the list of principles from this part of The Family: A Proclamation to The World, “...successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work and wholesome recreational activities,” are written on cards to post on the chalkboard. On the back of the card, write the title of an appropriate review song. The same principles are on wordstrips in a can or basket with suggestions for pantomime. Write this part of the Proclamation on the chalkboard. “Successful families are established and maintained on principles of ...”

When it is time to sing, read that sentence from the Proclamation and explain to the children that living these principles will help strengthen our families. Have a child draw a wordstrip from the can and pantomime living that principle. The rest of the children can guess which of the principles they are acting out. After the children guess, say the sentence together naming that principle. Then remove the word card from the board and sing the song.

Here are the wordstrips:
Please pantomime ---a way to demonstrate faith. (...perhaps paying your tithing)
Please pantomime ---saying your prayers.
Please pantomime ---a way to say I’m sorry to someone in your family.
Please pantomime ---a way to forgive someone in your family. ( may need another child to help you.)
Please pantomime ---one of the chores you do at home.
Please pantomime ---a way to show respect to someone in your family (...perhaps pick up toys).
Please pantomime ---a way to show love someone in your family.
Please pantomime --- a way to show compassion to someone in your family.
Please pantomime ---a fun recreational activity you enjoy with your family.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Using Costumes in Singing Time

Children love dramatization. If you are careful with time, costumes can add so much fun to singing time. You have to keep the costumes really simple and easy to put on and off. Otherwise, it takes too much time to dress and undress. This month I’m using simple costumes to dramatize people in the scriptures who followed God’s plan. I’ve written a “Who Am I?” riddle on eight cards and selected a review song that we’ll sing after guessing who the person is. I’ll put the costume and the riddle card into a small paper sack and choose children, to portray the scripture person. I’ll ask another adult to take the children out of the room to dress, then bring them back in, altogether, to sit on a row of chairs. While the children are dressing, we’ll review the song “I Will Follow God’s Plan.” One at a time, I’ll invite the children forward with their riddle. After their identity is guessed, the child can help me lead the song, in costume. ;o)  Here are more pics from my costume box, along with the riddles I’m using:

“I lived during the Old Testament time. I was very beautiful and lived in the king’s palace. I was forbidden to go to the king, but risked my life in order to ask the favor that would save the lives of all my people. Who am I?” (Esther) “Shine On” -144  (Esther's costume is the one above-just a head scarf/band)

“I was alive during the New Testament. As a young woman, an angel appeared to me and told me that I would have a very special baby. I humbly said that I was willing to do whatever was asked of me. Who am I?” (Mary) “Once Within a Lowly Stable” -41

“I lived during the time of the Book of Mormon. The Lord asked me to build a boat and take my family across the ocean to a promised land. I didn’t know how to build a boat, but I learned how. I was obedient to the Lord. Who Am I?” (Nephi) “Nephi’s Courage” -120 (This is built on the idea of an apron with velcro. Very quick to put on and off.)

“I lived in the early days of the Church. The prophet Joseph came to me for help to publish the Book of Mormon. I didn’t have enough money, but I signed an agreement to sell my farm, if necessary, so that the book could be printed. Who Am I?” (Martin Harris) “The Golden Plates”  (This vest is also based on an apron, with ties on the neck and side.)

“I lived at the end of the Book of Mormon. I was asked to take all of the records that had been kept by our prophets and copy them into one record. This record would be preserved by the Lord for a people far into the future. Who am I?” (Mormon) “Book of Mormon Stories” -118 (This belt can be used alone and tied either in the front or back. It can also be tied around a length of cloth draped over the shoulder.)

“I lived during the Book of Mormon time. I, along with other Lamanite mothers, faithfully taught my children the gospel. I taught them to have faith in God. I taught them that God would deliver them, if they did not doubt. Who am I?” (Mother of a young soldier in Helaman’s army) “We’ll Bring the World His Truth” -172 (This one goes on and off over the head. Very easy!)

“I lived during the time of the Old Testament. The Lord commanded me to go into a strange land and spy out the best way to conquer the people. Later, he commanded me to lead the armies of Israel and take the land of Canaan. He told me to be strong and to have courage and that he would see to our success. Who am I?” (Joshua) “Dare to do Right” -158 (This costume also goes on over the head. It is based on a tabard-style apron.)

“I was married to the prophet in the early days of this dispensation. I studied the scriptures and prepared the first hymnbook for the church. I was also the first president of the Relief Society. I tried to be a faithful wife and helper. Who am I?” (Emma Smith) “I Will Be Valiant” -162

Thanks to my sweet daughter, who modeled all the costumes.

Choose and Review - "What's Missing?"

Another fun way to use a display is to play “What’s Missing?” Gather a number of objects related to the theme and assign a review song to each. After an introduction and brief discussion of the topic, choose a child to go out of the room. Invite another child to remove an item from the display. When the first child returns to the room, challenge them to find which item is missing. Then sing the song. Think about assigning more than one song for each item, in case the objects are chosen more than once. It is natural to associate the objects with a particular spot and this aids the memory for the younger children. To increase the challenge for the older children, rearrange the items each time. Discuss and testify of the principles taught in the songs and how they relate to the theme. You could further discuss how things would be different is this were “missing” in our lives.

This month I could play this game with items representing the creation, items that illustrate ways of strengthening families, or objects we use to keep the commandments and follow God’s plan. The picture displays objects related to keeping the commandments

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Choose and Review - A Display

A display is an eye-catching arrangement that presents information about a topic in a visual way. I think of a display as a collection of items that, together, as well as individually, will help me teach a principle or reinforce the monthly theme. I assign an appropriate review song for each item in the display and the principles taught in the songs also reinforce the principle. I usually use objects in a display, but sometimes I include pictures, as well.

The simplest way to use a display for singing time is to briefly introduce and teach the principle and then have the children choose the items, one at a time. We sing the songs and consider how the concepts taught in each song relate to the principle.

To increase the challenge, I sometimes use a word strip with a phrase, a scripture, or a question that matches each item in the display. I put these word strips in a can or basket to draw from and, after the match is made, we sing the song.

The picture illustrates objects that represent ways we can follow God’s plan for us. Just in case you are wondering, the white shoe represents going to the temple- “I Love to See the Temple. The small gift has the word “kindness” inside-“A Special Gift is Kindness.” The apple represents keeping our bodies healthy- “For Health and Strength.” The scriptures remind us to read the scriptures- “Search, Ponder and Pray.” A compass reminds us that we need to “follow” the Savior’s example- “Come, Follow Me.” The little white suit represents being baptized- “When I am Baptized.” The tithing envelope represents keeping the commandments- “Keep the Commandments.” The heart depicts the commandment to love one another- “Love One Another.” The missionary name tag reminds us of the desire of our Heavenly Father to spread the gospel- “I Hope They Call Me on a Mission.” The baby doll represents the command to bear and rear children- “I Am a Child of God.” The sacrament cup was missing from my object bag, but a recognition of the atonement and the sacrament is also a critical part of following God’s plan.

In a really large group, where it might be difficult to see the items in the display, you would have to hold the items up and show them to the group, describing them, if necessary. It may also be possible to substitute larger items, such as a temple bag instead of a temple shoe, or borrow a sacrament tray instead of using the small cup.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Song Review - “Know It By Heart”

Prepare a small heart for each phrase of the song. Draw a large heart on the chalkboard and post the small hearts around it. Challenge the children to sing each phrase of the song correctly. If they can, place a small heart within the larger heart. Repeat with the other phrases. If you wish, you could include a couple of additional hearts with the terms “tone” and “dynamics.” Explain how to sing with expression and a good tone. Sitting up straight and watching the conductor is important. Sing the song again, and when they achieve a good tone with proper expression, add those small hearts to the larger heart as well.

This week I will add a “way to sing” on the back of a couple of small hearts, such as boys or girls sing, stand to sing, etc. After we fill the large heart, we’ll choose one or two of the small hearts and sing the song again, following the directions on the heart.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Song Review - Pass Along

Pass along is an entry on my master list that refers to the activity of passing something up and down the rows as we sing a song. It could be a picture or a bean bag or the grab bag or a can or basket. Anyway, we just pass this object along until the music stops, at which time I ask the child holding the object to do something. They could draw another song, name a way to be obedient, tell how to follow the prophet, tell how to show love to their family, etc. Then we begin singing again.

Sometimes we sing the song or a verse all the way through. Other times I ask the pianist to stop randomly. If possible, I’ll pass two or even three items in order to increase the participation. Be prepared to deal with the situation of children “manipulating” where the object lands. If this becomes an issue, I bring out a can with further instructions like “now pass the bag to the child sitting behind you.” This levels the playing field again. Asking the pianist to stop the music at random times also helps with this problem.

I think this could work with a larger group. Adding another object or two could help.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Song Review - Body Percussion

Children clearly enjoy moving to music both as an expression of their feelings and as a natural response to the rhythmic beat of the music. Body percussion is a fun way to allow children to move. Body percussion uses sound gestures like clapping, snapping fingers, stamping feet and slapping thighs. The regular beat of the music is usually the most highly accented part of the music. This is the easiest rhythm for the children to follow. Everyone likes to clap or tap their toes along with a lively, upbeat song. So using body percussion can increase the interest and involvement of children when we ask them to sing that same song, yet one more time!

Brittney recently had a great post about the possibilities of body percussion. Brittney’s idea was to create pattern cards with symbols to represent the sound actions, allowing the children to decide what the action would be. I was reminded by her post that I haven’t used this type of activity for a long time. So, I used body percussion to review our new song two weeks ago. I didn’t make charts, I simply drew the symbols on the chalkboard. The kids loved it and we all enjoyed ourselves very much. Thank you so much, Brittney! I was strongly reminded of two things.

1. This can be surprisingly difficult to do, especially for children whose coordination is still developing. Most of the children could do one action easily, like clapping on every other beat, and still sing. Most could do two, successfully, and everyone enjoyed it. However, things kind of fell apart when I agreed to try three actions in a pattern. Three just seemed too complicated for my group and I should have held it to two. Most of my children are obviously still developing their coordination. I should make a note to myself - “Be firm in the face of begging children!” LOL. There are still lots of possibilities with two. The older kids had a much easier time than the younger ones, of course.

2. I was also reminded that if the actions are too complicated, the children cannot sing at the same time. ;o) This could be okay if we were singing familiar songs, but it defeats the purpose of reviewing a new song. Simple patterns make it fun to sing again and again.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Song Review - "Slide the Spool" Game

“Slide the Spool” is a slight variation of the ring game. To use the game for singing time, thread a spool onto a long piece of string and tie the ends together. Have the children stand in a large circle, holding the string with both hands. As you sing, have the children slide the spool around the string. At the end of the song, the child who is nearest the spool names or tells something having to do with the song.

The Spool Game can easily be used to review one song. I’m using the activity this month for the song “I Will Follow God’s Plan.” I’ll have the pianist randomly stop the music and ask the children to name one way to follow God’s plan. Then we’ll pick up the song where we left off and repeat for as long as the children are interested. I won’t play the game for the whole time; it combines well with other short review activities. If this plan doesn’t come off for some reason, I could bring the game on the week we review “Stand for the Right” and ask the children to name one way they can be true and stand for the right. Our kids already know “I Love to See the Temple.” This activity could be a way for me to review this familiar song, asking the children to name one way to prepare to go to the temple.

The Spool Game is also a fun way to sing different songs on a choose and review week. In this case, each song may have a different question. For instance, tell one way you can “Keep the Commandments.” Name one thing your “Mother Dear” does to make home a lovely place. What is your favorite scripture story? (“Search, Ponder and Pray”) Tell one way we can feel “God Love.” Name one thing you can do to be ready for “When He Comes.” Or, you could choose similar songs that correspond to the monthly theme and ask the children to name or tell something about the theme like one way to obey parents, live the word of wisdom, prepare for a mission, follow the prophet, etc. As far as possible, help the children listen to discover what the song teaches.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Choose and Review - "Say What?" Again

I am really loving this “Say What?” feature in the Friend magazine. Like the feature in the July issue, the phrases on this clever list in the January, 2011 issue does not make sense until you say them fast, several times. "Say What?" this month includes ten things that we should do to be a faithful follower of Jesus Christ. This certainly works with our upcoming themes.

These nonsense phrases work so well for singing time. Just assign a review song for each phrase and put them in a can or basket to draw from. The kids love the absurdity! I love how it trains them to listen. I also like the flexibility. If I keep these phrases handy in my primary box, I can easily fill a few minutes of extra time. I wish I were as clever and Brother Phares. The names of primary songs, or phrases from the songs would be so fun.
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