Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Goin Fishin

I got these fish from a book called "Singing Partners". The kids love it! I get a little pool (bought at the dollar store) and toss the fishies in. I pick children who are being reverent or singing well to come and catch a fish. The pole is made out of a stick, some string, a real lead weight, and a super strong magnet. I have paper clips on each fish, so catching one isn't difficult. The back of each fish has instructions: sing with eyes closed, sing like an opera star, pick your favorite song, sing verse 3 of The Family is of God, etc... We can take up all of singing time and then some with this fun activity!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Fun Review Game

This week to review My Eternal Family, I'm going to have my kiddos sit in a circle on the floor (chairs would work fine if you don't want to get on the floor) and give each one of them an envelope with an instruction slip inside. Then I'll choose one child to be blindfolded who will stand in the middle of the circle and spin around, pointing a wand. When the child comes to a stop, whomever he/she is pointing at with the wand will open their envelope and read the instructions. Then we'll all sing the song according to the instructions.

The instructions slips are as follows:
  • loud
  • fast
  • staccato
  • whisper
  • mouth wide open (my kids love this one)
  • tongue sticking out (they love this one too. it's hard to sing with your tongue sticking out)
  • sad face
  • standing on one foot
  • rocking to the beat
  • pounding the floor to the beat
  • stamping your feet to the beat
  • standing up, holding hands, and walking in a circle (you could fall down like "Ring Around the Rosies" at the end if you want to)
  • etc.

I'll also have a bunch of slips that say "pick your favourite primary song to sing" for any extra kids we have.I'm decorating the envelopes with shamrocks and printing the instructions in green, since St. Patrick's day is coming up, or you could adapt it to whatever holiday/season that you wish.

Friday, February 27, 2009

My Eternal Family

I am going to start My Eternal Family this Sunday and am going to use hand gestures with the song. My kids love using hand signs and I love to throw in an actual American Sign Language sign every so often. Anyway here is the plan:

Verse 1

I (point to self)
am a builder (one fist on top of the other to the beat of the music) working each day
To build my family (ASL sign for family)
And I (point to self)
will do the best (hand in fist move across front of body) I can
To serve (put hands out in front)
them lovingly (hands over hearts)
I (point to self)
am a builder (one fist on top of the other to the beat of the music)
growing so tall (right hand moves from waist height upwards)
And learning every day (right hand pointer finger to head tapping to beat)
To speak (right hand pointer finger touches lips then moves outward)
with kindness (left hand over heart)
in my home (finger tips together like the point of a roof)
To help (hands out in front of you together)
at work (move right hand out)
and play (move left hand out)

My Heav’nly Father (ASL sign)
sent me here (pointer finger moves down)
And He knows (point to head and nod to beat) I can be
Strong (like flexing your arm muscle)
and righteous (point to ring finger (if you're righteous you choose the right and
your CTR ring reminds you to choose the right))
as I build (one fist on top of the other to the beat of the music)
my eternal family (ASL sign for family)

Verse 2

I (point to self)
am a builder (one fist on top of the other to the beat of the music) building
a home (finger tips together like the point of a roof)
I seek (hand above eyes)
the Lord in prayer (hands together in praying position)
And as I try (ASL sign – hands in fist with thumbs out each thumb start above chest and move out in front of you)
to live God’s word (hands like a book for scriptures)
I feel the Spirit (Hands palms toward body move up from waist as fingers "twinkle") there
I (point to self)
am a builder (one fist on top of the other to the beat of the music)
serving (hands together palms up move forward as if offering someone something ) the Lord
And following (hands together moving forward in front of you) His plan
To help my family (ASL sign)
come back home (finger tips together like the point of a roof)
And live with Him again (Right hand raises up above head, gesturing to heaven)

I watched the ASL video for the song on LDS.org here is the link:

I would love any suggestions.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Transition Time & Attention Grabbers

I don't know how your primary is structured, but I hate the wasted transition minutes between activities, especially when it's going to take me a minute to gather everything and set up. I invariably have to make some alteration from how the previous leader had things (take their pictures down so I can put mine up, turn the blackboard around, help kids move closer, etc.) and it distracts the kids and wastes precious minutes.

I think it's important for the kids to move quickly from one activity to the next (especially the Junior Primary) so they don't lose focus. I also like to change things up when they've been sitting a long time.

Today in Jr. Primary we had sharing time first. Sister Friendly came in and told a story. It was a LONG story with no pictures or activity to go along with it. The kids had been sitting for a long time without any chance to wiggle about. They kept being shushed by their teachers. It was agonizing for them!

The activity I had planned required a little bit of sitting at first, though there was plenty of movement included later. I knew I needed them to move and also have their attention on me if I was going to get everything done in the shortened time I had. So while I was setting things up I started giving them instructions. I always prefaced each instruction with "if you can hear me" to make sure they weren't talking and were paying attention. Here's some of what I said:

"If you can here me":
  • touch your head
  • touch your toes
  • touch your head, touch your toes, touch your nose, touch your head (in rapid succession)
  • stand up
  • jump up and down
  • sit down
  • stand up
  • face the piano
  • wave to Sister Black (our pianist)
  • twirl in a circle
  • jump up and down
  • zip your lip
  • fold your arms
  • sit down
It worked great! They got their wiggles out. It grabbed their attention and focused it on me. It prepared them to quickly move into whatever I had planned next.

Do any of you have tips or tricks for quickly achieving reverence or focus, or for handling your transition time?

Thursday, January 29, 2009

How Firm a Foundation

These aren't totally original ideas on how to teach the song this month, but I thought I'd share my lesson outline in case some of you could use some last-minute help this week.

First we'll sing The Wise Man and the Foolish Man. Afterwards I'll ask the children some basic questions about why one house fell down and one stayed strong. I'll explain to them what a foundation is.

Then I'm going to show them a picture of the leaning tower of Pisa and explain how it was built on weak soil and with a weak foundation. In fact, it started leaning before they even finished building it.

I'll contrast that with a picture of the bell tower from St. Mark's Cathedral in Venice. It was also built on weak soil, but it was built with such a strong foundation that it continues to stand strong and straight today.

Then we'll talk about just as buildings need to be built on strong foundations to not fall, we need to build our lives on a strong foundation as well. I'll ask the children if they can figure out what foundation we need to build our lives on.

Then I'll introduce the hymn using the visuals made by Rebecca Jack, a participating member of the Primusic Yahoo group. You should be able to find the visuals here:

In Junior Primary I'll just repeat as necessary, using the visuals to reinforce the words. In Senior Primary, as soon as I think they know it well enough (after a couple of repetitions), I'll start taking pictures away and see if they can still sing it. We'll continue taking pictures away until we have no more time.

The following week we'll talk more about foundations. I'll tell them the story of the Salt Lake Temple foundation and we'll read Helaman 5:12. I'm also going to use my Jenga game and do a little object lesson.

Anyone else have ideas on how to teach this hymn? It has a lot of difficult vocabulary that isn't the easiest to remember, and I'd love someone else's input.

It is a rather adult hymn, but it teaches such beautiful truths that I'm excited to teach it. If we have time I'm going to teach them the seventh verse in addition to the first and third.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Over and Over

We all know that children learn best through repetition. It is boring, however, to just sing the same song over and over. A lot of the ideas out there for review games are often for multiple songs, like when you're reviewing for your SMP. It is just as important to have fun review games when you are learning a new song. Using the same poster or visuals week after week in the same month can become tedious, so I'm always looking for new ideas to mix it up.

One of my favorite ways to do this (which takes no preparation, only some creativity) is also one of my kids' favorites. When we are repeating a song, I'll shout out impromptu instructions for who/how to sing. Here are some examples, off the top of my head:

Sing if you:
  • are a boy
  • are a girl
  • are a teacher
  • have blonde hair
  • are wearing red
  • have lost a tooth recently or have a loose tooth (they love this one, for some reason)
  • have shoes that tie
  • have shoes that buckle
  • have shoes that slip on
  • have a summer birthday
  • have brown eyes
  • have curly hair
  • are wearing buttons
Sing in this way:
  • opera style (my senior boys' favorite way to sing)
  • western twang
  • eyes closed
  • standing on one foot (always a hit)
  • lights off
  • facing backwards
  • humming (this works well if you have melody corrections to make)
  • snap or clap with the beat (use more complex rhythms for senior primary)
  • stand up/sit down on key words

Usually I just shout out the instructions before we sing. You could write the instructions down on cards, popsicle sticks, whatever. I'm going to be doing this activity in February, and I'm going to write the instructions on the back of construction paper hearts that I'll post around the room. That always gives the kids (especially the little ones) a fun way to be involved, when they get to go pick the next one.

Any other ideas of who/how to sing when repeating?

Sunday, December 21, 2008

A Favorite Repeat Activity

My primary LOVES this activity, and I thought I'd share it with all of you. It's just a really easy way of repeating a song in a fun way. That way the kids get plenty of practice in, but don't get bored. In fact, they love it so much that I have a hard time keeping them reigned in, and I can only use it sparingly.

I have two posters numbered 1-6. The first poster is titled "Who" and says
1. All
2. Girls only
3. Boys only
4. Light hair
5. Dark hair
6. All

The second poster is titled "How" and says
1. Loud
2. Soft
3. On one foot
4. Facing backwards
5. Fast
6. Slow

Each poster also has a laminated yellow star that can move around to indicate which selection we'll be doing.

I have a child roll an oversized, soft die. Whatever number it lands on tells us who will sing. Then another child rolls it again to determine how they are going to sing. Then we repeat certain verses or whatever section of a song needs working on over and over.

The children LOVE rolling the die and fight over it. So it is helpful to use choosing sticks or tell them you're picking by whomever is singing the best or being the most reverent. They also like to throw it around, against walls, up in the air, etc. So if you're not okay with the rowdy factor, you will need to set up some ground rules for appropriate behavior.

I'm not sure why they love this game so much, but it is really motivating to them. It even gets my boys in senior primary singing loud and participating.

Please post one of your effective strategies for repeating a song without lulling the children into a stupor of boredom. I know I could use new ideas.