Thursday, December 15, 2011

Hershey kisses because WE LOVE TO SING!!

This sunday is our last primary before Christmas since we only have Sacrament meeting on Christmas day. I just want to SING! SING! SING! and get in as many Christmas songs as possible but i know that having an activity of some sort will help keep their attention...especially because we'll be all combined for primary on sunday so i'll have nearly 100 children.

Here's my idea: (taken from a popular FHE game using big candy bars) In order to accommodate my desire to sing, sing, sing, AND keep the children interested, i decided that i am going to have one class at a time come to the front where i'll have a long table set up with utensils and gloves for each child. They'll also have a bowl of hershey kisses in front of them. The rest of the primary will act as the "timer" and sing a christmas song. Those up front will have the duration of the song to unwrap as many kisses as they can with gloves on and using the utensils. (i plan on making this harder for the older kids with big gloves and allowing the sunbeams to do it without gloves). They have to unwrap the kiss, and throw the trash away with their utensils before they can get another kiss. Of course, they can keep whatever they open. Even if they don't open one, they'll get a chocolate kiss for participating.

I'll rotate through, having each class get a turn (as long as they are reverent and are singing when it's not their turn to unwrap). I think this will allow us to sing lots of songs and keep the primary involved. I'm hoping anyway!!! :)

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Baking cookies is fun to do!

I can't remember where i saw this idea, but it's a great one and the kids love it! Sing "Fun to Do" using these words/actions:
Making some cookies is fun to do...
Mixing the dough....
rolling the dough...
Cutting the shapes...
Sprinkling the sugar...
Waiting for baking is hard to do. (fold arms, tap foot like waiting)
Eating our cookies...
The younger kids, sunbeams especially, love this!

Pin the bow on the present

I did this last year and pulled it out for an encore today. It is a simple way to sing lots of Christmas songs and keep the children engaged at the same time. Blindfold one child (or a teacher)-I just use one of those beauty sleeping shades that i bought at the dollar store. Once the person can't see, point to the present they are going to pin the bow on so that all the children know which one is the goal. Give them a bow with that fun tac stuff on the back. Then, play just like hot/cold. Start singing softly and continue softly while they are far away then sing louder when they get closer to the "mark". I put ribbon on the presents and showed the primary that our goal was to pin the bow at the intersection of the 2 ribbons. They loved it. This year i placed all the presents together on the board, but if you want to make it more challenging, put the presents all around the primary room and the blindfolded person will have to walk all over searching for the "chosen" present by listening to the volume of the singers. Be aware of where they are going though so that they don't trip on something....Have fun!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Singing with Christmas trees!

For SR. primary: I am teaching 2 different Christmas songs tomorrow for performances coming up. We are learning "Silent Night" in German and "If i had been in Bethlehem". I know i won't have time for much of an activity so i printed several of these Christmas trees-each with a different number in the center. Before primary, I will tape them under chairs randomly. I plan on having the children look under their chairs to see who has the trees. I will have all those with trees come up front. Whoever has #1 will sing phrase 1 with their class (I will have the words to the song written on a poster and each phrase will have a number in front of it), the person with #2 will sing phrase 2 with their class and so forth. I'll probably have the children with trees swap with each other so that their classes get a turn singing other phrases too. I'm hoping this will be an organized way to help them learn these songs.

For JR. primary, I printed these Christmas singing cards posted by Brittney that she found on pinterest. I'll tell them what song we're singing, then they will pick a card to determine how we'll sing. For example:
elf-tiptoe in place like we're sneaking
Christmas tree-spread our arms like branches
angel-fly like an angel
santa claus-put our hands on our bellies and pretend we're laughing while we sing
ornament-roll our hands
reindeer-prance in place
snowflake-twirl and spin in place
gingerbread-run in place
candy cane-twist
snowman-melt to the floor

Thursday, December 1, 2011

If I had been in Bethlehem

One of the counselors in primary asked me to teach this song. I'd never heard it so i was definitely curious. I immediately looked it up is a beautiful song. It is by Sally DeFord and was published in the Friend in December 1989 which i think means it is approved for use in primary. :) Anyway, if you're looking for a new Christmas song this year, check out this one here. I plan on making visuals for this song. I'll try to post them when i'm done if you're interested.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Mr. Potato Head-2nd idea

Awhile back i posted an idea using Mr. Potato Head. JR. primary loved it so much, i decided to bring him back last week for an encore visit. At the last minute, i changed the plan slightly. Rather than assigning a song to go with each body part (i.e. eyes-"I love to see the temple", mouth-"Smiles", ear-"If i Listen with my Heart", etc.) I decided that when a child picked a piece to put on Mr. Potato head, we would use that body part to do something with while singing a song. For example, eyes-we sang with our eyes closed; ear-each side of the room took turns singing phrases, one side sang while the other listened. We did this back and forth for the duration of the song. Other ear-we covered our ears with our hands while we sang; nose-we wiggled our noses while singing. The primary children suggested we snort while singing but we ended up wiggling it instead (although i did hear a few snorts) :) Mouth-we did the wide mouth whisper i mentioned in a previous post. With their mouths open as wide as possible they had to whisper sing. It's great-they love this. Anyway, it was a fun activity for JR. primary and ended up being a fun way to redo a previous activity with a few minor changes. They love Mr. Potato Head. Last time they built him silly with his ear where his eyes go, etc. but this time they built him normal. Either way, they seemed to have fun.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Name that holiday tune

Many of us probably put up our Christmas trees this weekend so i decided that in primary we'll do the same thing. We are going to play "name that tune" (at least in SR. primary) Each side of the primary room will "bid" for how many notes they think they need in order to guess the song and then the person who actually guesses the correct song after hearing the notes will get to pick an ornament and help me decorate my tree. Simple. Effective. Ready to go.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Musical sticks

In my ward, the presidency has the incoming sunbeams come in for singing time beginning in November. That means not only do i have 15 sunbeams right now but i will get 7-8 "almost" sunbeams starting on sunday. Needless to say, we have a very young junior primary.

While at story time with my youngest last week, i watched the teacher do an activity with sticks. She gave each child 2 short sticks (about 6-8 inches long). She had them beat out a rhythm as she chanted a poem, read a book and then said their names. Initially i thought the kids were too young to understand her beating out the syllables in their names but they weren't! They loved it and all wanted their names to be done. The teacher would call on someone-ask them their name-then show them how many syllables. She'd beat it out first then have them all say that child's name and beat it out together. For example, "Britt-ney", "Em-ma", "Jack". On the one syllable names, she had them beat that one syllable really loudly. They loved it.

I'm sure you see where i'm going with choristers, we rarely see things without wondering how it can relate to singing time, right? Anyway, since i will have "new" sunbeams on sunday, i thought this would work well to help us learn their names. I found short sticks at a craft store used for making suckers and i'll give everyone 2 sticks. I'll have the new sunbeams come up and we'll "beat out" their names so that we can all get to know them. We'll probably throw in some teacher and older kids names too. Maybe we'll even sing their names to a familiar song tune. Or sing, "here we are together" while tapping out the rhythm and adding their names.

I'll bring my toy musical instruments to add pizazz and keep them interested. We'll take turns using those as well as our sticks and have them work on beating out rhythm for different songs like "Book of Mormon Stories", "I am Like a Star", etc. Hopefully this will not only allow us to learn the new names but will keep all the children engaged.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Singing with CANDY!

So...i had this idea today. I'm not sure yet exactly how to use it but here it is:
I thought it'd be fun to do something with the candy the kids all got while trick or treating this week. I picked some candies and wrote little rhymes for each of them with ways to sing. I plan on using these as some type of "sing like a..." game.

I think i'll start by saying something like, "how many of you still have candy leftover from Halloween? I bet our candy can help us sing!" I'll display either real candy bars or pictures with the rhymes on back.

Here's the rhymes: (some of them are rough, i know-i'm still working on them)
Skittles: These colors are red, yellow, green and blue. Check the color you are wearing, we'll sing with just a few. (call out colors, whoever is wearing that color sings)
Lemon drops: Ew, it's sour! Better scrunch up your face to sing this song at a super brisk pace! (sing with a sour face and do it quick)
3 Musketeers: Pick 1 friend and a teacher and you 3 will be our starring feature. (the 3 sing either a phrase or the whole song)
Snickers:When you laugh, you sometimes wiggle, lets sing this song while we giggle!
Baby Ruth: Who has a baby in their house? Lets sing this as quiet as a mouse.
Butterfinger: Grab your friends hand and we'll sing while we stand.
Twix: Betwixt you and me, our classes will sing the best as can be! (2 classes sing at a time)
Milk duds: Chew it slow or else it'll stick. We'll sing this song anything but quick. (sing slowly)
Almond joy-What shows joy for all to see? It's a smile from you and me! (sing while smiling)

Can you think of rhymes for a Crunch bar? M&M's? Kit kat? Reeses? Licorice? I'd love to hear your creativity!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Wide Mouth Whisper

One of our primary teachers told me something she'd seen in another ward she attended. I tried it last week in junior primary-it was great.

Tell them to open their mouths as big as possible and while doing that they have to whisper. It was hard to sing in a whisper while mouths are open wide but they loved it. So fun to see their faces too...i'm sure mine looked just as comical! :) This is a great one to add to your "sing like a..." list. You could pretend you're all wide mouth frogs who can only whisper. Start by "croaking" the song, then sing (wide mouth whisper) the words.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

"Primary Colors" and more.....

Today, we learned "Primary Colors". I saw an idea somewhere on the internet (sorry-i can't remember where...) and it led me to make these...

Simple, but they worked great. I had 3 children hold the circles with the numbers facing outward, then turn them around when it was time. It was fun to learn a song from the "olden days". We also sang "This is God's House", "Dare to do Right", "Give, Said the Little Stream" and "Called to Serve".

They didn't do very well on "Called to Serve" because they were too busy being silly so i took a minute to tell them about the song and asked the teachers about singing that song on their missions and how they felt about it. Then, I put my husband on the spot and asked him to come up and sing "Called to Serve" in German while we sang it in English. The kids were so enthralled, they all stopped singing about halfway through just to hear him sing it in German. It was fun and i'm so grateful for my sweet husband who was a good sport, although now i think I'm in his debt.... :)

I also made flipcharts on Word for "This is God's House" and "Dare to do Right", but i don't know how to upload them to this site. Any tips??

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Face Off! (a.k.a. Red Rover)

This is one of those simple ideas that comes while trying to sleep at night. I was grateful for the idea, but sleep would be nice too. :) This can be used to review old songs or teach a new song.

Have the teachers come stand in a line at the front of the primary, facing the children. Have them sing either one line or the whole song. The primary children then sing the same thing. Have the pianist, secretary, or other adult be the "judge". Whichever group sings the best gets to pick one person from the other team to come join "their side". (however, there's obviously no running-the chosen person is automatically on the team when they are chosen). You can make it more challenging by saying, "you can bring someone with you to the new team if you tell me what the last line in the song is, or tell me what comes after __, etc." I"m sure there are a billion ways to use this game.

The purpose is to have fun while singing any given song as many times as possible while learning the words and tune.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

I Kneel to Pray

I want to teach the song, "I Pray in Faith" to Junior primary (senior already knows it). I found this idea here, which i liked. I'm just going to include a poster as a visual for my young ones. I'm going to have them "make the poster" as they build the song. I wrote the first word of each line on the poster as seen above.I'm going to tell them that i didn't have time to glue on my pictures so i need their help. The 8 clipart pictures will be jumbled up on the chalkboard for them to choose from as we learn/build each phrase.
I'm going to ask these questions for each phrase:
*What position are we in when we pray?" KNEEL
*how often do we pray? EVERYDAY
*who do you talk to when you pray? HEAVENLY FATHER
*Why do we pray? HE HEARS AND ANSWERS ME
*How do we know this is true? FAITH
As they guess the right answers for each line, i will sing it several times while a few children choose the correct pictures to put on my poster. Then we'll all sing that line together. We'll continue until all 4 lines are complete and our poster will look like this:

*I feel like i need to explain a couple of my pictures: I couldn't think of anything for "answers" so my 14 year old son suggested i use 2+2=4. It may be too abstract for the little ones but it's the best i (he) could come up with. My FAITH is in a shield because when i taught the 2nd verse of scripture power i did it this way and i like to be consistent with words that are in different songs. Hopefully the rest are self explanatory-happy singing!

Monday, September 26, 2011


Yes, that's right. The song i'm singing this week is, HIP HIP HOORAY! OUR PROGRAM WENT WELL TODAY! I was so glad when it was over-i wanted to do this:

But, as it turns out, I was so tired i could hardly eat lunch before collapsing on my bed. But what a great feeling! 9 months of teaching songs, trying to ward off boredom and complacency by being creative and finally it all paid off. Yippee!

Was it perfect? No way. Are there things i'd do differently next time? Absolutely. Was the spirit present? Without a doubt!

I love being chorister. I love the things i am learning, i love trying new ideas and i love the testimonies of the children as they sing. Watching those sweet faces singing the songs with all their heart just endeared them to me even more.

Good luck with all of your final preparations! Remember, your primary will be fantastic just because of who they are and the spirit they bring.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Will your teacher STAND for you?

My presidency gave me an idea that they've seen done in the past. I thought it was great and I'm going to use it this sunday when we have our entire primary combined to practice for the program that is the following week.

As we sing each song, the teachers should stand according to how well their class is singing. If they're loud-the teacher stands up tall; singing just ok-the teacher will 1/2 stand; not singing too great-teacher crouches even lower. The teacher should stand if even one child is singing but stand taller the more of their kids that sing. He/she can play with it and go up and down during the song if their class doesn't sing as loud in some parts. The kids will have a blast watching their teacher go up and down and hopefully they'll aim to have them stand tall! Our teachers will get quite a workout-you may want to prep them before hand. :)

Monday, September 12, 2011

Freeze Frame

I'm always looking for new twists to the standard wiggle songs. This morning, while watching a cartoon with my daughter, i thought of this: while singing "Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes" i'm going to shout "Freeze!" at which point everyone holds their current pose but the pianist keeps playing. Then i'll shout "go!" and we'll pick up singing from wherever the pianist is at in the song. I plan on having the pianist play the song through 2 times so we can stop and go several times. This activity would work with any song really, as long as you assign an action to be done during the song. I love how it requires us to pay attention and follow along in our heads with the pianist so we'll know where to start singing again when i say "go".

*i had another chorister send me a cute idea for popcorn popping. In portuguese, popcorn is pipoca (pronounced pee poka). When you use that word instead of the English translation-popcorn-it becomes quite a tongue twister! Try it!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Cantare Con Me...stile italiano!

Translation: Sing with me...Italian style!
Write the following words on the board: (the italics indicate how to lead)
Forte-very large movements
Piano-very small movements
Allegro-very fast
Largo-very slow
Staccato-sharp, robot like leading
Legato-very wavy and flowy leading
A capella-cut off motion to pianist, then lead normally.
Choose a different way to lead for each song (or several diff. ways for one song). See if the primary children can guess how they are supposed to sing simply by watching you lead. Using multiple dynamics for one song takes lots of practice and good eye contact and that's just what we want, right?? :)

Monday, August 29, 2011

Picture Taboo

Sometimes, it's fun to have a cute way to pick the songs you want to sing for the day.

materials needed: a picture to represent each song (i.e. Scripture power=scriptures; praise to the man=Joseph Smith; Search, Ponder and Pray=magnifying glass

Call a child up to the front and then hang a picture up behind them so that only the children sitting down can see it. Call on 6 kids to give clues about the picture and then let the child up front guess what it is. To go the extra mile, they can try to guess what song it represents. (for senior primary, write "Taboo" words on the chalkboard-these words cannot be used by the children giving clues) I was impressed by what good clue givers the children were! Especially junior primary!

You be the judge poster

So yesterday we began with our "judging". We sang each song while i recorded it then I played it back for them. They got to rate themselves on most categories. I rated them on eye contact and smiling. They seemed to like it and it's a good way for me keep track of what we need to work on in the next couple weeks. (notice we have a few half stars....we have a little work to do there) We actually sang 2 more songs but didn't have time to put the stars on so we'll add those next week. We'll also finish up next week using opening and closing songs in order get them all sung and rated next week.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Be your own judge!

Our program is in about 5 weeks. I decided today that i am going to record them singing all the program songs and then I'll play it back and have them rate themselves on how they did and what we need to work on. Here's some rating categories i'm thinking of: volume, enunciation, in tune, song familiarity, and blending. I'll chart this on a posterboard, and after they rate themselves, we'll spend the following couple weeks perfecting the songs according to their own ratings. I'm hoping that having them hear themselves sing will help them know if each song is program ready or not and will empower them with more of a desire to perfect the songs. I'll let you know how it goes....

Fill in the Blank

Today i just wanted to review "Search, Ponder and Pray". Our primary only sort of knows the song. I wrote the words on the board and left several blanks. We sang it through once and i told them to pay attention to words that would go in the blanks. Then, I had 4-5 children come and write in the right words. We sang it again and i had 4-5 children come up to either erase and correct a word (there were a few mistakes from the 1st round) or fill in a blank. Then we sang the song again. What i liked about this is 1)the simplicity, 2)it involved several children and 3)they learned the song great!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

i know the words, do U-NO them?

Our ward knows Scripture Power but mumbles their way through the 2nd verse so i decided to spend most of our time working on that song. I decided to play UNO. I saw the idea somewhere several months ago but couldn't remember where i saw it so i just came up with my own version. This works GREAT for learning (or refreshing) a verse or new song. Basically, the idea is you sing whatever phrase is on the poster color that matches the card played. I laminated the colored squares on the poster so that i could easily interchange song phrases without ripping the poster. In senior primary, i gave each row (whether there was a teacher on that row or not) 7 cards. We played just like the game. Each row took a turn placing a card on the board. If red was played, we sang the phrase on red. If a green was played, we sang the phrase on the green. I had them sing fast, slow, just boys, just girls, etc. just to shake it up. When the "specialty" cards were played, this is what we did: DRAW TWO: the class that played this card chooses 2 classes to sing that phrase with the matching color. SKIP: Sing the phrase skipping every other word (this was HARD!!) WILD: the class that plays this card gets to pick what color to sing and also chooses a "sing like A..." card to determine how we sing it. (eyes closes, holding tongue, etc) DRAW FOUR: Choose the color and begin singing the song (from any point in the song) and when you cut off in the middle of the song, the next class has to sing the following 4 words. REVERSE: Sing the line previous to the one that matches the color played OR start singing and cut them off and the next class sings the previous phrase from where you cut them off.
I prepared several word strips for different songs so that we could switch up the songs we were working on. You can just use words but i used pictures since i already had the pics for junior primary.
For junior primary, i had taped colored squares of paper under each chair. They found their papers and we did diff. activities for each color. Ex. those with blue papers sing the words on the blue line, while those with red papers hum. Or those with yellow papers sing words on yellow line while those with green papers clap. I tried to involve all the children so they wouldn't get bored. We have a VERY young junior primary and keeping their attention is difficult. You could even have them swap colors with their neighbor. We also sang songs like head shoulders knees and toes and they could only use their hand that was holding the paper to touch the diff. body parts. Anyway, there's so much you could do with this for junior primary!
I was impressed with how quickly they learned the 2nd verse of scripture power using this method. And they seemed to have fun. I will use this method again to teach other less known verses. Although, next time i'll probably "stack the deck" better for senior primary and put all the specialty cards in the stacks i give each row. It made it more fun to have those cards played yet we never seemed to have enough of them played. Anyway, have fun!!!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Pioneer Day!

Since i'll be gone on pioneer day, i decided to start our pioneer singing time next sunday the 17th and have it be something the substitute can continue to do on the 24th if she chooses. I saw this idea here and thought it'd work great for a 2 week pioneer singing time. I am making a wagon wheel spinner (as seen on various chorister blogs-if i remember when i'm done-i'll post a picture) Anyway, have different pioneer graphics on each wheel space that will indicate how the song is to be sung. (if you use the blue tack you can change the pictures without ruining your wheel) Here's the graphics i'll use(thank you ordinary adventures of a primary chorister!):

Ox-sing very slowly-pioneers used teams of oxen to pull their wagons and they went slowly since they were so heavy.
Rabbit-sing very fast-Pioneers saw lots of rabbits on the trail and they were fast!
Pioneer girl-girls only. (have a girl come up and wear a bonnet/apron etc.)
Pioneer boy-boys only sing. (have a boy come up and put on a vest, hat, etc.)
Snake-sing quietly. They encountered many snakes along the trail. sing quietly so you don't disturb the snakes!
Native American child-children trade seats during one phrase of the song. The pioneers saw many many indians on the trail and would often "trade" items for food or other things they needed.
Ax and chopped wood-sing "choppy" (staccato). Pioneer children often had the job of collecting firewood for campfires.
Beehive and bee-have a child hold a picture of a beehive in the air and everyone hums. when the child hides the picture, sing the words. The bee symbolized how busy the pioneers were, just like bees! Ant-children stomp to the beat. When their camps were invaded by insects, they'd have to stomp them off!
Cow-a child leave the room. Someone hides the cow. The child returns and the rest of the children sing loud/soft to indicate when he's close/far. If a cow wandered away from the camp, sometimes the children would help search for them and bring them back.
Mountains-echo sing. Divide the children in two and have the first group sing a phrase of the song, while the second group echoes them. (have the pianist play each phrase twice throughout the entire song) When the pioneers finally reached the mountains they discovered places in the canyon, between 2 mountains, that would echo what they said.

After each picture has been landed on with the spinner and used in a song, replace it with a new picture. (this is why i thought it'd work great for 2 weeks-there's enough pictures to use to keep us busy!) You can choose to sing pioneer songs or program review songs and you can even sing a song multiple times for different spins.

I also liked the idea of using "Fun to Do" by using pioneer phrases. For example, crossing the plains (pretend they are riding a horse), riding a wagon (hold on and bounce up and down or drive the wagon), forging a river (make swimming motions), milking a cow (hold hands in fists and move up and down), walking to zion (swing arms and pretend you are walking). Another fun song change i read about was, singing p. 261 Here we are together and change the words to "we're crossing the plains". I plan on using a combination of program songs and pioneer songs. Happy pioneer day!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Primary Fireworks!

I saw this idea on and knew i had to try it. It's a great idea for revealing what songs will be sung that day. I'll "light the firework" which will pop the balloon and reveal the song title inside. Here's how i made it: First, i bought a box of push-pops and told my kids to eat up but save the sticks. Then, i covered toilet paper rolls with shiny paper and attached 4th of july decorations on the ends. I put a push pin through the bottom of the push pop stick as shown here:
I attached a balloon to the top end of the roll, tied a string on the end of the balloon and pulled it through the toilet paper roll, stapling it at the end to hold the balloon in place. I'll push the stick up through the toilet paper roll until the pin punctures the balloon and it pops. I'm sure it'll keep the primary on the edge of their seat, not knowing exactly when it'll pop. I plan to sing the patriotic songs in the primary book as well as 1 or 2 from the hymn book. I made mini songbooks with the words since i don't expect the kids to know all these songs and there's not enough time to teach them. For junior primary, i am only doing 1 patriotic song and the rest are songs they know. Happy 4th of July!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

"Give", Said the Little Stream

Today we took a break from program songs and sang songs that remind us of spring/summer. For example, "The prophet said to plant a garden", "Birds in a tree", "In the Leafy Treetops", "Oh what do you do in the summertime", "My Heavenly Father Loves Me", and "Give said the Little Stream". It was fun to sing different songs. For, "oh what do you do in the summertime", I had several children come up and imitate the different parts of the song. I had them decide how to portray the summer activity i assigned them like fishing, gazing at the clouds, swimming, etc. It was a quick and easy way for them to learn the song. After we sang it i asked who had heard the song before and NO ONE had ever heard it. I was shocked. It was a staple when i was younger. So strange to me that that song isn't so widely known anymore-but it was fun to sing. Anyway, I digress. My topic wasn't "oh what do you do in the summertime", but i couldn't resist putting in a plug for that song.
A previous chorister in our ward used to sing, "Give", Said the little stream as a wiggle song so i thought i'd try it with senior primary. Every time you sing a word that starts with a "G", you stand up (then sit down quickly). Every time you sing a word that starts with a "S" you clap your hands. What a workout! It was lots of fun and a nice change to sing a different wiggle song that was a challenge for senior primary. (and for me! The ups and downs made me feel old!)
Try it in your primary and see if it wears them out! :)

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Songs from dads

Since this sunday is Father's Day, i decided to include some dad's in singing time. (without them actually having to be there) Using my smartphone, i recorded several dads singing primary songs. A couple dads chose to sing in different voices to try and throw the children off. (we'll see if it worked!) Anyway, i told the dads they could pick any song to sing (provided the primary knows it) or i would assign them a song to sing if they preferred. Each dad sang for about 20 seconds. I will play each recording on sunday and have the children guess who is singing and what song it is. In order to limit the pool of dads the children choose from, I will have a paper "bust" of each dad for them to choose from and a bunch of paper ties with the songs written on them. I will choose a reverent child to try and place the correct tie on the bust of the dad who sang the song. (I think i'll give them 3 chances to get it right-if they need it) When they get it correct, we will sing that song all together. Anyway, that's it. Pretty simple. It just takes some time getting the dad's recordings but i think the primary will enjoy guessing. I used dad's who have children in primary, male teachers, and i had the bishopric sing together for one song (challenge question) Have fun!
Update: This was sooo much fun today! I ended up not listing the names of the singing dads like i thought i would. I just played the recording and let the kids guess who it was. They did great and only had trouble guessing one dad. (I gave them some clues to help and then they got it) Lots of fun. Rather than making paper ties, I pre-tied several of my husbands ties and had those hanging on the board. When they guessed the singing dad correctly, they got to put a tie on our "dad". (I used a bust from a game I found in our game closet). Most the dads sang in their normal voices but one dad sang "In the Leafy Treetops" with a very heavy Texas twang and the kids couldn't stop laughing. Very fun day!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Pass the Buck

Have 4-5 children come up to the front. Give them a dollar bill to pass back and forth between them. The entire primary sings the song, watching you carefully for cut off. When you cut them off, whoever is left holding the dollar bill sings the next word. (or phrase) You can do it like the singing bee game and put the dashes on the chalkboard representing how many words they have to sing. I let them use their class for help if they want. Simple, fun. Good way to review and sing a song repeatedly.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes

My pianist pointed out today that at the end of this song in the songbook, there is a suggestion on how to sing it. I don't know how i've missed that but it says, "...sing slowly and move parts of the body as they are mentioned. For example, nod head, shrug shoulders, bend knees, stand tiptoe, and so forth." So, instead of pointing to our body parts, we sang it this way today and the kids really loved it-especially because i messed up a few times-it takes concentration! I love my pianist, she points out many useful things and has great ideas!

Praise to the Man posters

Ok, so i have taught this song the past couple weeks without a poster but junior primary was struggling a bit so I finally decided to make one. Besides, the president told me she liked posters because then we can just pull them out anytime to sing, either with a substitute or a couple years down the road. So...i made a simple poster. I like to be able to cover up different portions as we learn the song and it helps the young ones have a solid visual to stick in their heads. I used these today and i was amazed at how much it helped junior-especially with the big words! (i put "ascended" going up to remind them that it means "going up" and "vain" is in stair steps down to remind them to sing 4 steps on that word-i'm going to go back and put a fermata on "tyrants" too)

Minute to Win It!

I saw this idea here a few months ago and couldn't wait to use it the next time we had a 5th sunday. (on the 5th sunday, we spend the whole time for singing time. I love it-it gives me a chance to sing a lot of songs and i have time to play games and be silly too). The idea is, if the child completes the task in the allotted time (30 sec.), they get to choose a song from my prepared list. If they don't finish, i get to choose the song we sing. Anyway, I chose 7 games to play.
Here they are: Back Flip-place 2 pencils on the back of your hand and flip them off and catch them. Add 2 at a time, up to 12 pencils.
Over Bite-pick up paper lunch bags (or grocery bags) using only their mouth. (cut the bags to varying heights to make it more challenging).
Drop Off-drop 20 clothespins into a jar.
Chocolate Unicorn-stack 3-4 ding dongs on your forehead while standing and leaning back. (this is very tricky and especially hard for junior primary-their foreheads aren't big enough). Don't Blow It-Using one hand, remove all tissues one at a time from a box of tissues. Separation Anxiety-the player separates a pile of starbursts into multiple cups of coordinating colors. (use at least 2 bags of starbursts).
Stack Attack-stack 15 cups into a perfect triangle. Then get the cups back into a single stack.
I didn't use stack attack or back flip for jr. primary and for separation anxiety, i had Jr. primary put 5 candies of each color into the correct cup. This website lists more minute to win it games if you want more ideas. It was so much fun and the kids loved it. What surprised me was how many children were familiar with the game show and knew most of the games. Next time you have a full sunday for singing time, consider minute to win it-it was lots of fun and we got to sing lots of songs! The kids were all trying their best to sing well so that they'd be picked for the next game. You can use 2 children at a time or even a whole class. Be sure to tell them to be quiet during the games to give the contestant concentration. Have fun!!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Praise to the Man

Ok, so i am behind. Really behind. We've had general conference, stake conference, I was gone on vacation last week, and today our ward had all the women attend R.S. I feel like i haven't been in primary in a long time and I MISS IT!!! Anyway, with all of this and learning our mothers day songs, I haven't had a chance to teach Praise to the Man yet. But i am ready now. And excited.
I attended a stake leadership meeting last month and decided then to start by teaching the chorus. At least to junior primary. Which i'll do next week. I will bring rhythm instruments to learn the rhythm first and then hopefully add the words. I don't plan on even making it through the whole chorus this first sunday teaching it. I don't want to overwhelm them and we have a VERY young jr. primary so i plan on easing them into it. I will eventually teach the verses to junior primary too but, in the end, if all they know is the chorus, i'll be happy.
For senior primary. I want them to use hymn books the first time we sing it. I want them to feel the power of this song from the very first time they hear it and sing it with their own voices. I'm going to have them stand and sing. Then i'll briefly tell them the history of the song and have them play this matching game to help them understand the meaning of the harder words/phrases. I think the 2nd week i teach this i will use this idea from Brittney. (i love having so many great resources out there-thanks everyone!) I am excited to finally be able to teach this song! It is so powerful and what a great song to allow us to testify of Joseph Smith and the cause he died for. I love it!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Father's Day songs-help!

Last week our ward choir director asked me what the primary would be singing for Father's day. (what? already?? it's not even mother's day yet...i'm feeling so unorganized about now....) Anyway, obviously she is being proactive and is wanting to choose her songs so that she has ample practice time which is great. Also, because she asked what the primary is singing, i'm guessing that she is considering a primary song but is giving me first choice. So, i need to choose quickly. I looked through the songbook and really, none of the father's day songs jumped out at me. Are you singing for fathers day? What are you singing? Any non traditional songs? Any medleys? I'm open to any suggestions! Thanks for your help!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Mother's Day

Since April is general conference and also stake conference for us, I knew i needed to start teaching our Mother's day songs that we will be singing in sacrament meeting. We're singing the 1st verse of Love is Spoken Here (p. 190) followed by verses 1 and 3 of Mother Dear (p. 206a) I thought of several different ways to teach the songs but ended up choosing the poster method. I REALLY want the children to learn the songs well and posters seem to do the trick for our primary. The good thing about posters is that it helps junior primary learn the words while visualizing and we can use the blobs to cover up different portions of the poster as we practice. Most of all, this way of teaching a song is easiest for me. :) Are you singing in sacrament meeting? I'd love to hear what songs you chose to sing......

Monday, April 4, 2011

Headband Hero

This activity is a great way to review a song. I saw it here and just changed it a bit. I bought a few headbands at the dollar store and printed out some key words from the song we're working on. I attached a paper clip to each word so that it would be easy to attach it to the headband. (you could use adhesive velcro too) Invite a child to wear the headband "nephite" style. Then attach a word to the headband without showing them what the word is. Then the primary sings the song and while singing, we omit the word that is on the headband. After we finish singing the song, the child wearing the headband has to guess what word is on his forehead. To make it more challenging, use several children at a time. This is a little trickier for the chorister but i found it helpful to arrange the children according to the order their word came up in the song and then I would just touch them on the shoulders when their word was coming so they would know when to listen for their word (or their omitted word actually). Make sense? We had fun with it-i hope you will too!

Stop and Go!

This is another simple way to involve the primary children and make singing time fun. I like to have different things to do while singing so that we can sing a song multiple times without the children getting bored of the song. I think i read this idea on the internet somewhere but i'm not sure where (so sorry!) Anyway, make a stoplight with colored cellophane in between. Give a child a flashlight. When they shine it through green, the primary sings normal; red, stop singing (and hum if you want), and for yellow, choose before hand what yellow will mean. For example, yellow could mean stand and sing, or twirl while singing, or sing slooowwllyy (of course this will be hard for the pianist to see so you'll have to tell her when it's yellow), or snap fingers or anything you choose! It'd be fun to turn some of the lights off in the primary room while you use this stoplight. That'll definitely catch their attention! You could even test their "watching" abilities and assign a different action to each color. Red=snap and sing; green=sing fast while clapping; yellow=stand and sing. If you do this, for reference purposes, you might want to write a code on the chalkboard indicating what each color means. I'm sure there are hundreds of ways to use this stoplight. If you find a method that works in your primary, i'd love to hear it! (don't you love how the stoplight is upside down? sorry about that, i wasn't thinking)

Monday, March 28, 2011

Potato Head Play

So, i can't even begin to give credit for this idea since I've seen it on numerous websites, but just know that the idea isn't my own, just the adaptation. Anyway, i used this for junior primary. I wanted to do something light and fun, thus the potato head. I took off the face pieces and had a child pick one. He then got to place the piece anywhere on the potato head and we sang the corresponding song. I figured that junior primary would like this but i didn't count on how much! They laughed and giggled so hard when the pieces were placed and already want it back. It was so fun to listen to their giggles. Here are the songs I used:
EYES: Popcorn Popping (i looked out the window...) or I love so see the temple.
NOSE: Head, shoulders, knees and toes (sing it several times, omitting the nose, touching the nose without saying the word, backwards, etc.)
MOUTH: Smiles
EAR: Listen, Listen
EAR: If I listen with my Heart
Another way to use the potato head would be for "head, shoulders, knees and toes". Just arrange the pieces on the face in the order that you'll sing the last 4 body parts of the song. (starting top to bottom) Very silly and sure to bring giggles.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Sing like a Bird

I got this idea from a comment by "walking on sunshine" posted on Brittney's blog. I printed and laminated pictures of a hummingbird, canary, owl, and parrot. Tell your primary children you are bird watching today. Then, depending on which bird you hold up, the children either hum, sing, oohh, or speak the words. I think this is a great idea to use when teaching a new song. It will help everyone become familiar with the music and learn the words. You could have 1/2 the primary sing the words while the other side bird watches and visa versa. Thanks for all the great ideas out there!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Quick Draw!

I asked my sister for ideas on how to let the kids choose what songs to sing on a given sunday. I wanted something quick and easy that wouldn't require much preparation because lets face it, some weeks, we just don't have time. Also, some weeks we plan something that doesn't work quite how we envisioned so we need a plan B. Anyway, her idea is super simple so of course it will go on my favorites list. Here is her idea:

Everyone puts their hands on their knees. You say, "one, two, three!, then everyone raises their hands really fast. You will probably need a member of the presidency or your pianist to help you judge who's hand goes up first (especially if you have a large primary). The first hand up gets to pick their favorite song to sing. (see?? simple, but fun) Before you start, tell them they have a minute to think of their favorite primary song (or have them choose one from a list you've prepared). This way they will be ready with one in their head. (besides, can't you just hear the peaceful stillness of that moment while they are thinking of a song and waiting for you to begin counting??) Anticipation is everything!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


Do you remember me saying in my "all about me" section that i am a relatively new chorister? Well, let me clarify...I am a brand new chorister. I've only had this calling since November which means i barely know what's going on most days. (i guess maybe i'm a slow learner??) It's been almost 16 years since i last served in primary and while I LOVE being back in primary, i am at a loss most sundays concerning the order and functionality of things. I am in awe at all of you who enter the primary room with confidence on sundays (or at least look like you are confident). So you're wondering what's my point? Well, this is my much time do i spend teaching doctrine versus singing with the children on sundays? I have pored over other chorister blogs,, Pat Graham's songbook companion and anything else i can find and this is what i've found: everyone does it different. Maybe that's my answer then?? I guess I just need to find my way and go with it, right? I just want to sing sing sing each week but then i wonder if i should be teaching more?? But isn't that what sharing time's for?? i'm not sure but i do know that my 20 min. (which more often that not is 10 or 15 min.) disappears so quickly and i barely have time for singing much less teaching. With that in mind, i wanted input from all of you seasoned or otherwise experienced choristers. How do you find the balance? Do you have any advice for me?

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

St. Patricks Day Fun!

I bought a few of these hats from the $1 section at Target. There are so many ways to use them year after year. Here are a few ideas:
1.velcro (or tape) phrases from a song on each hat. Have one child from each class wear a hat and their corresponding class sings that phrase, then rotate hats so every class has a chance to sing each phrase of the song.
2. Attach phrases from several different songs. (one on each hat) and have the children guess which song it is from. The child that guesses correctly gets to wear the hat and help lead the song.
3. Each hat can represent a way in which to sing the song. The child chooses a hat and wears it while he/she leads that movement.
4. Attach a song to each hat and have a child choose a hat. They get to wear the hat and help lead.
5. Have a class sing off. Whichever class sings a song (or phrase) best, their teacher gets to wear a hat. Continue until all the teachers are wearing the hats.
6. Invite several children to come up (the same # as hats you have). Have them play "musical chairs" walking around the hats on the floor or you can put the hats on chairs. (the rest of primary sings to provide the music). When you cut off the singing, the children up front stop in front of a hat, pick it up, put it on. Have a preselected hat that has special instructions or a question. Before you start each round, whisper which hat is the "chosen" one to your pianist and keep a list of questions to use. (for example, what is your favorite thing to do in the spring? Shake hands with all the teachers, Tell us one of your favorite talents, name all the children in your class, etc.) This is fun because it allows you to practice having the primary stop singing when you cut them off and it gives everyone a chance to learn something about a few primary children.
7. Attach a St. Patty's day riddle to each hat. Look here or here to get some riddle ideas to get you started. (it'd be fun to add a fun way to sing the song to the riddle too) Invite a child to choose a hat, answer the riddle and wear the hat while the primary sings the song!
8. There are no doubt many many more ways to use these hats, i'd love to hear your ideas!
How would YOU use the hats??

Monday, March 7, 2011

Hello song

Since my blog is new and lacking in the number of posts, i thought i'd occasionally post a few ideas i've used over the past few months. Each sunday we sing a hello song to new and visiting children. I like the "Hello" song and when i was called, it was the only one our primary knew, but singing it each week was getting stale. Then i came across an idea on several chorister blogs to try singing hello in different languages. So I made these language signs with flags on them. The visitor or new child picks 2 languages. (or if there's 2 visitors, they can each pick one. For multiple visitors, we usually sing "here we are together") Anyway, 1/2 the primary sings 1 language, the other 1/2 sings the other language instead of "hello". The kids seems to like it and it gives variety. Of course, true to form, i botch several of the languages, but thankfully, many teachers and even primary children know the correct pronunciation!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Chalkboard erase addition....Stand for the Right

Like I said in my earlier post, today in senior primary we did the chalkboard erase game to learn Stand for the Right. They did great but the fun part was when a few girls suggested an idea for a way to make the game more challenging. After we had erased 10 or so words, one side of the primary sang all the words that were remaining on the board. Then we sang it again with the other 1/2 of primary singing only the words that had been erased. Then, the third time through, we combined the two groups. Not only did they have to pay attention to when it was their word(s) to sing, but I had to really pay attention on who was supposed to sing so i could point to the right side when it was their turn. They did great and it was lots of fun!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Latter-day Prophets

This sunday's "focus" song is short, and I don't think it will take the entire time. (which i love by the way because the more songs we can sing each week the better!) Anyway, since the theme is centered around prophets i thought it'd be fun to re-visit "Latter-day Prophets". This idea came to me based on a Price is Right game. (hey, inspiration is all around us, right?) I have a 81/2 X 11 picture of each prophet from Joseph Smith to Pres. Monson. I will place them randomly on the board and while the rest of the primary sings the song through, one child will come up front and attempt to put them in order before we finish singing. I am anticipating that they will not recognize all the prophets and will have a difficult time completing this the first time around. If they have some wrong at the end of the song, (which i'm sure they will), i will pick another child to come and build on what's already been done. (I'm thinking i'll have a button like from the taboo game for the child to press when they are done and then i'll reveal to them how many they have right, but not which ones are right) The child up front can only use their class for help since the rest of the primary will be singing the song repeatedly. I am excited to learn this song since the last time i sang it the prophet was Pres. Kimball. I guess it's about time i learned the updated version!

Stand for the Right-SR.

I've been thinking about this all week and finally decided that I would take the simple road. The song is short and i think it will be easily learned. So, i'm going to use an oldie but goodie teaching idea. I will write the words on the chalkboard/whiteboard and then have a few children erase a few words at a time each time we sing it until we are comfortable with the song. After we've done this a few times, i will ask the WHO, WHAT, WHERE, WHEN questions from the Children's Songbook Companion to help them internalize the meaning of the song. WHO has some words for us? (Our prophet) WHAT are the words? (Be true) WHERE shall we be true? (At work or at play) WHEN should we be true? (In darkness or light)

Primary Tag

Scatter your song visuals on the board. Explain the rules to tag, i.e. no running, only soft "tagging", etc. Invite a child to go first. Their task is to find the first picture in the song and put it in the 1st position, then tag another child to find the 2nd picture and so on until all the pictures are in order. The rest of the primary sings the song over and over until all the pictures are in place.

Got an extra minute?

Occasionally I have a few additional minutes of singing time near the end of primary. I found this idea here and am excited to use it one sunday when we have extra time. I love the simplicity of it. You will need three
identical plastic cups (not see-through) and one pom pom. (or other object) Put the cups upside down on the table with the pom pom under one of the cups. Move the cups around like a magician, trying to make it so the kids don't know where the pom pom is. When you stop moving the cups, call on one of the kids to guess which cup is hiding the pom pom. If they guess correctly, the child gets to choose the next song to sing. If they don't get it, the chorister gets to choose the song to sing. What a fun and simple way to fill a few extra minutes!

Stand for the Right-JR.

So, i have to admit, teaching a new song isn't my strong point so when i saw this idea i was glad to adopt it for junior primary. Since this month's song is short, i knew it wouldn't take much more than a ton of repetition for junior to learn it. But how to sing it a million times without them getting bored? Taking the idea from here, I made a leg dice with 6 different ways to stand while we sing the new song. I found different clipart to represent standing. (i chose standing with hands on hips, holding hands, sway hips while standing, standing back to back, stand on one leg, stand on tip toe) I made the dice using a box as close to cube shape as i could find. Now, after i introduce the song and talk to them a bit about what it means to stand for the right, we'll just roll the dice to see how to stand while singing "Stand for the Right".

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Lets Play Jacks!

Here's an idea that works best for senior primary when you are trying to teach a new song. Rather than telling the primary how many times you want them to sing a particular phrase you are working on, invite a child to "play jacks". (they throw the ball up and see how many jacks he/she can pick up, then they catch the ball before it bounces) However many of the jacks they picked up is how many times to sing that phrase. Have another child play jacks for the next phrase and so on. Sr. primary is pretty on top of it and they will figure out really quick to not pick up any jacks so you can tell them if they don't get any, then the primary sings that phrase 3 times or they sing a duet with a friend or their class sings alone or whatever you choose. You can also use the number of jacks they pick up to be how many children sing that phrase, how many teachers, how many boys, how many girls, etc. Simple but fun. Keeps them engaged and wanting to participate.

Just laugh!

So, the other day my 10 year old daughter said to me, "mom, do you know what i love about you being in primary? I love that you LAUGH at yourself when you make mistakes." She proceeded to tell me how she gets so embarrassed when she makes mistakes and that she is amazed i can laugh off my own blunders in front of primary. She said her new goal was going to be to take herself less seriously and laugh at her "embarrassments". Who knew that that would be the lesson she took to heart? So i guess what i'm saying is, LAUGH! We have to! We essentially "perform" each week and we will undoubtedly make mistakes. (or at least i do!!) What better way to overcome our missed words, wrong words, or even being out of tune!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Book of Mormon color sing

I taught the song, "The Books in the Book of Mormon" on sunday and used 2 methods. First, i had them open their BofM to the table of contents and we sang the song with everyone following along in their scriptures. (i wanted them to get familiar with the table of contents)After a few rounds of that, we put the scriptures away and sang to my second method. I saw this idea on It was such a hit-who knew the kids would have so much fun with it! I wrote the books in the book of mormon on a posterboard rotating color every couple words. (i used red and blue) I assigned 1/2 the primary to be red, the other 1/2 was blue. When it was their color, they had to stand and sing. Everyone sang the parts that were written in both red and blue. They got a great workout standing up/down and learned a new song at the same time.

Singing Jumble

I read about this idea on another site but have since been unable to locate it again. (please forgive me for not giving the author due credit) Anyway, i love this idea and i've used it a few times. It works for either a new song or an already learned song. Here's the idea: Assign each class a line or phrase from the song. When it is their turn to sing, that class stands and sings their line. (if there is a chorus, i have all the children stand and sing that part all together) After singing it once this way, tell the children they have 10 seconds to sit with a new teacher. (be sure to clarify rules for this, i.e. no climbing over chairs, NO TALKING, no running, etc.) The pianist plays while they are "shuffling". After the 10 seconds is up, give the teachers a few seconds to tell their "new class" the line they are singing (hopefully the teachers remember the line you assigned them earlier, if not, be prepared to remind them) Then, sing the song again with each class standing when it's their turn. You can do this as many times as you want but be sure to give them 10 seconds to return to their original class when you are done with the activity. It's a great way to get them to remember the words to a song they haven't sung in awhile or learn the words to a new song. Have fun with it!