Sunday, December 13, 2009

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.

1 comment:

Melissa Buecher said...

Wow. Thanks for this great idea. I will be teaching our primary kids this song in a couple weeks and was looking for ideas.