Sunday, May 30, 2010

Super Fun Review Activity

I had such a great day in primary today, I had to blog about it. I'm not good at posting my ideas ahead of time. They are usually evolving in my head throughout the week and then Saturdays tend to be so busy I am just lucky to get everything prepared, clothes washed, children bathed, and get to bed early enough to drag myself out of bed for 8:30 church. was one of those days that all came together nicely. It was easy to prepare and the children had as much fun as I did. Being the last Sunday of the month, it was pass off day. The children earn an icecream scoop each month as an incentive to master each song for the program. But they know the May song so well I figured we might as well just do a review of all the program songs and of course, have some fun doing it!

Here's what I did:
*I had 5 envelopes numbered 1-5 taped to the piano. Inside each one had a piece of paper that listed the song and a fun way to sing it.
*I had the children sit in a circle on the floor, just for something fun and different.
*As each child came in I handed them a piece of paper with their name on it (8.5 x 11 computer paper cut in half length-wise)
*Once every child had a paper and was sitting quietly, I chose a child to go pick #1 and read it to the group. Then we sang the song, did the activity, and went on to the next envelope. Here's how we did each song:

#1: I Know that My Savior Loves Me. Wave your paper in the air when you sing the word, "Jesus." (happens 3 times if you sing both verses)

#2: Follow the Prophet. Snap your paper whenever you sing the word, "Prophet." (hold each end of the paper in your hands with some slack in the paper. when they sing "prophet" move your hands apart so the paper is taught and makes a snapping sound. happens 8 times for us because we sing 2 verses + the chorus at the end)

#3: Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Tap a rhythm with your rhythm sticks. (I hand out 2 unsharpened pencils to each child for rhythm sticks. They are a cheap alternative to wooden dowels! I had them tap the ground twice, then the sticks together twice. We repeated that pattern throughout the whole song. I made it a little more complicated for senior primary.)

#4. He Sent His Son. Help Sister Walker lead the music. (I handed out glow sticks, purchased 5/$1 from the dollar store. I turned out the lights, although our primary room has skylights and so many windows it wasn't really dark, but the kids still loved the glow sticks! I showed them how to conduct 3/4 time and we all conducted the song together. Then we converted the sticks into bracelets and they got to keep them.)

#5. Choose the Right Way. Stand up and sing word-perfect to earn a Singing Time Scoop. (Like I said before, I have a poster that started out with just an icecream cone. Each month as they master the song, meaning they can sing it with no picture helps, everyone standing reverently and singing all the words, they get a blank icecream scoop. I choose a child to color it according to their favorite flavor of icecream and then glue it to the poster.)

Overall it was awesome. We had just enough time to sing all 5 songs and all the activities kept the kids motivated and involved and SINGING, so I was happy. And every child got to participate and take something home so they were happy, too.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Focusing on Gospel Principles

I don't know if it's just the time of year, or what. But I have been feeling so burnt out lately. I have so much going on and preparing each week for singing time can easily become just another thing on my to-do list that, unfortunately, usually gets left for Saturday.

I LOVE my primary kids and I LOVE those moments when you feel the spirit in singing time and you know the kids feel it too. They make all the hard work worth it.

I am in need of a serious over-haul in my calling. Not in visual aids or ideas or anything, just in personal motivation and dedication to serving the Lord through this calling. I have made some short term and long term goals and hope that they will make a difference in my approach to teaching.

First things first: tomorrow I have a very simple activity planned that I hope will help reinforce the gospel principles taught in the songs, not just memorization of the words. I usually like to plan a game or project--something to help them be motivated to participate. I never do competitive games (like one team against another) but try to have the whole primary work together toward a common goal.

But I noticed in the sharing time outline for tomorrow it specifically says to try to create a reverent atmosphere so the children can focus on feeling the Holy Ghost and discussing how it helps them. I don't want to do a rowdy game and then turn them over to the Primary Presidency all wired, which can definitely happen when I have a fun game for singing time.

For tomorrow, I have simply printed out in big letters HO-L-Y-G-H-O-ST. On the back of each letter (or group of letters) is a question that reinforces a gospel principle from one of our 5 program songs we've learned so far. The songs with multiple verses I've split up into one question per verse. Senior primary will also have a scripture to look up that goes with the song. The 7 pieces will be scattered around the room. I'll invite a child to go pick one and read the question on the back. We'll sing the corresponding song, then discuss the gospel principle taught in the song. Once all the pieces have been collected and put up on the board, we'll unscramble it to spell out HOLY GHOST. I'll end by talking about the Holy Ghost is a gift Heavenly Father gives us to help feel his love and help us know what to do to return to live with Heavenly Father and Jesus. I'll bear my testimony ( I always do) and hopefully this will be a good segway into sharing time.

These are the questions I have planned:

1.What did the Nephite children feel while Jesus was blessing and teaching them? (I know that my Savior Loves Me 1st verse)

2. Even though Jesus isn’t here with us like he was in the Book of Mormon story, he gives us special people to help guide us. Who are they? (I know that my Savior Loves me, 2nd verse)

3.How did Heavenly Father show us what we are supposed to do on earth so that we can return and live with Him? (He Sent His Son

4. JR:How did the prophet Adam serve the Lord? (Follow the Prophet, vs 1)

4. SR: Where did the prophet Daniel get his power? (Follow the Prophet, vs 8)

5. Why does Heavenly Father give us prophets on the earth today? (Follow the Prophet, Pres Monson verse)

6. Whose church do we belong to? (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints)

7. What blessing will we get if we live by the teachings of Jesus Christ? (Choose the Right Way)

Friday, April 16, 2010

Involving everyone

One of the things I struggle with my kiddos is trying to keep everyone involved and happy. Some of them get their little feelings hurt when they don't get to be my helper. Even though I use helper sticks to choose helpers fairly, they still get disappointed if they wanted to be chosen but weren't. Sometimes they will come up to me and say, "Sister Walker, I was sitting reverently and you didn't pick me!" I always try to praise them for their effort and tell them I DID notice, but I just can't choose everyone every week. But I am a MAJOR people-pleaser! I can't help it! It still makes me sad when they are disappointed!

So every now and then I try to come up with activities where every child can participate in someway, even if it's just holding something. I did this for teaching the President Monson verse of Follow the Prophet and it worked great. Here's what I did:

"Heavenly Father loves us and wants us to return"-each of the Sunbeams held a stuffed felt heart (I made these for the nursery a while ago, and I use them ALL the time. Anytime you need a visual aid for love)
"He blesses us with Prophets who help us all to learn"-each member of the CTR 4 class held a picture of a modern day prophet from my gospel art kit
"President Monson humbly leads God's church today"-each member of the CTR 5 class held a popsicle stick with a thumbnail size pic of President Monson on it (I also made these for my nursery babies to hold while singing the chorus of Follow The Prophet, and they come in handy in primary too)
" If we heed his words, we'll walk a righteous way."-each member of the CTR 6 & CTR 7 held a shoe (i just raided my little boy's closet)

I just taught them one line at a time and gave each kid their visual aid. Then when we put it all together, they would hold up their prop as we sang their line. It really kept their attention well because they got to hold something and feel involved, plus they had to pay attention to what we were singing so they knew when to hold it up!

This week, I am going to review The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, but I also have to teach a Mother's Day song to Jr. (and review it with Sr, who already knows it pretty well). I am going to draw our chapel building on a poster board. I'll make sure the name of the church is clearly visible. (Hopefully I can get my artsy husband to help with this, because my drawing skilss are limited!) I will give each child a little simple drawing of a child (a boy for the boys and a girl for the girls). I'll give them a few minutes to color the child to look like themselves. While they're coloring I'm going to give each teacher a slip of paper with a question on it to reinforce the principles in the song. They will discuss with their class while they're coloring and come up with the answer. Then we'll come back together and start the review.

I'll ask each class to share their question and the answer. (For Junior it will be simple things like, "What church to we belong to?" or a fill in the blank question. Senior will be a little harder, like a line from the song with the words scrambled that they have to put in order). Then we will sing the song in a fun way (clap the beat, stand on one foot, march in place, etc) or just the line of the song that applies to their question. Then each child in the class will come up and put their replica of themself up on the posterboard by the picture of the chapel. When we're done I'll reinfoce how we all belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints , what we know, and what we will do with the truth that we know.

My objective is, of course, to repeat the song lots of times so they learn the words and the principles in the song. I think the children will enjoy that each and every person will get to participate and have fun.

Long time, no ideas!

I haven't posted on this blog in forever! Honestly because I have gotten in the habit of searching other blogs with great ideas and adapting them for use in my own primary. I am so grateful there are so many wonderful, creative women out there willing to share their ideas! I have started to feel a little "burnt out" lately with this calling; I've had it for a year. But after searching some new blogs I've found and getting some new ideas, I have a new perspective on the importance of this calling and a renewed determination to put everything I've got into it! I do love this calling. It is hard work, but I LOVE the children in my primary, and I think that's what matters most. I love them, and I want to help them feel the spirit and learn gospel principles through music!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Reverence is Love

Today I am teaching my junior primary kids the song, Reverence is Love. I found a flipchart for the song already made (on sugardoodle of course) and printed out 2 copies of each page. I'm going to have them up on the board, face down, and have the kids play the memory game. I am just going to start singing the song quietly and choose 1 child to start. I am not going to give any directions, just sing reverently throughout. I think the kids will catch on and hopefully be reverent also since I won't be talking. As they find each match, i'm going to put them on the edge of the chalkboard, out of order. After they find all the matches, I'll have them put the visual aids in order, then sing it with me with my ooh/ahh, lion/lamb, stand/sit signs.

For Senior primary, I'm also teaching them Reverence is Love in the same way as junior primary. But since there are only 8 pages (4 matches) they will be able to do it faster. Plus I bet many of them already know it. (But I am going to teach it anyway because our primary pres wants us to focus on reverence in primary this month). After we do the memory game and practice it, I am going to transition to teaching "The Sacrament" since that's the weekly gospel principle. I have printed out 4 pictures that illustrate the 4 lines of the song. I cut them into puzzles and am going to have each class put together a picture, glue it on cardstock, then bring it to the front. I have never heard this song before so I'm guessing many of the children have not either. I'll sing them 1 line of the song and have them guess which picture goes first, then we'll sing it. We'll continue through the whole song that way.

If I Had Been in Bethlehem

For Christmas I taught our primary the song If I Had Been in Bethlehem, by Sally Deford. It is a beautiful song and it's nice to learn a new song rather than singing one of the same songs they sing every year. Here's how I introduced the song:

I told the children we were going on a long trip. I asked them to stand up, pick up their suitcases and walk (in place) with me to the plane. Then I looked at my watch and realized we were running late so we had to run in place. Then we dropped our suitcases and sang "Hinges" to bend down and pick them up. When we finally got to the plane, we sat down and buckled our seatbelts. Then I pulled out my globe and showed them that we were flying alllllllllll the way from Texas, over the whole US, over the Atlantic ocean, over Europe, and landing right here (I put a star over Bethlehem, but didn't tell them where we were). While we were pretend flying, I had them look out their window and look at the ocean, etc. (You know, just make it fun. They were really paying attention by this point!). Then I turned off the lights and told them that we had landed and it's night time now. I asked them to listen to me sing the first line of the song and see if they could tell me where we were.

Then I sang, "If I had been in Bethlehem the night of Jesus birth" I called on a child to tell me the answer, that we were in Bethlehem. Then they sang that line with me.

I went through the whole song that way, asking them a question and then singing the next line of the song and having them listen for the answer, then sing it together.

I tried to keep it reverent and really have them focus on what it would have been like if they had been in Bethlehem the night Jesus was born. I asked them what they might have heard ("And heard afar the angels' joyful song of peace on earth"), seen ("If I had seen the shepherds come to seek the baby fair") and done ("I think I would have followed them and knelt beside them there.") Even the little ones were really into it. I had my nativity from home and as we learned each line of the song, we added another piece to the nativity. Having the lights out and really pretending like we were actually there really helped invite the spirit and the children learned the song really fast!

*To review the song, we played games the following weeks. For Junior primary, I cut out all the pieces to a snowman and laid them out on the floor. I cut enough pieces so each child could put a piece on the board (since there are so many kids that get super disappointed when they don't get to help me. This way I didn't have to listen to any complaining that they didn't get a chance to help!) I had made up several questions/fill in the blank/what word doesn't belong slips of paper and put them in a can. One child from each class had to draw out a paper and answer it, then each child in the class got to put a piece of the snowman up on the board. By the end we had the snowman all put together and had sung through the song several times!

*To review for Senior primary, we played tic-tac-toe. They had to answer a questions/fill in the blank/whatever to earn their X or O.

My Heavenly Father Loves Me

For Thanksgiving I taught them "My Heavenly Father Loves Me." To introduce it, I put all the pictures for the song up on the board in order. Then I cut the words of the song into strips, put them in envelopes, and taped them to chairs placed in a circle. Each envelope had a number on it. I had the kids walk around in a circle while the music was playing. When the music stopped, I called out a number and they had to match the words to the picture on the board. Then we'd sing that line of the song, then continue.

To review the next week, I printed a bunch of keys and cut them out. Then I wrote the key words to the song on the keys. I had a child go out in the hall while another child picked a key and all the children got a chance to read or hear what they key word was. When the first child came back in from the hall, he put on a hat with the key word taped to the front so all the children could see. We sang that line of the song, but left out the key word. Then the child with the hat on had to guess what the key word was. I made the key words harder for senior primary than for junior.