Tuesday, June 30, 2009


I made these instruments for nursery. I sewed 3 bells in a row on a strip of scrap fabric. Then I wrapped the fabric around a piece of card stock and hot glued it in place, then hot glued the ends together. I pass them out for the kids to shake when we're singing songs that don't have visual aids or actions, like ABCs. I considered hot gluing the bells on, since I don't sew well and it took me hours just to do 10 of these. But I didn't know if they'd jingle as well, and I'm glad I sewed them instead. There are kiddos every week that try to pull them off!

Those tubes standing up in the back of the picture are just toilet paper rolls with beans in the middle and wax paper over the ends. But my 2 year old poked his finger through the wax paper and destroyed them as soon as he got a hold of them. That was my Litmus test I guess. If they can't survive him, they're not going to survive the other nursery kids! So for now I just use the bells.

When I had this calling in Provo a few years ago, the previous music leader passed along to me a box full of "instruments" that she used in junior and senior primary all the time. There were bells much like these and wooden dowels (2 per person so they can hit them together). I have also been saving up formula cans and other containers to contribute to my own instrument box to use as drums. The only thing is, you have to make sure they know that the instruments are ONLY to be used for beating out the rhythm of the song. If they get wild or disruptive, they don't get to have an instrument. I'm a little hesitant to start this in my primary because I'm sure it will be so exciting and, more than likely, a little chaotic at first. But what I saw in my last ward was that once the kids knew the drill, they were really good about only using their instruments for doing the rhythm.

Follow The Prophet for Nursery

One of the things I have been doing every week in Nursery for a while is Follow the Prophet. I start by showing them a picture of the prophet and ask them who is in the picture. Most of them by now will say Prophet and then I make sure and have them say his name, President Monson. We talk about why he is special. (Keep it simple, of course: He tells us what to do be happy, He tells us what Jesus wants us to do, etc.) I cut several of the thumbnail size pictures of President Monson out of old Ensigns, put them on cardstock, laminated them, and glued them to popsicle sticks. Each child gets to hold their own picture of the prophet while we sing. I just taught them the chorus only. They usually bounce it up and down while we sing "Follow the Prophet" then shake their finger when we sing "don't go astray" and point to their head when we sing "He knows the way." Then we usually stand and march in place while we sing it a second time.

Everything I do in nursery involves them holding something or doing something with their hands. Little hands need to stay busy or they will lose focus really fast!

I also did this same type thing for the song 3 Little Ducks. I found a clipart picture of a duck, cut out several of them and put them on cardstock, laminated them and glued them on popsicle sticks. That way when we sing 3 Little Ducks, they move their own little duckies around, behind their backs, etc.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Different Ways to Sing

The key to helping children learn is repetition, repetition, repetition. But of course they lose interest real quick if you don't change things up and keep it interesting. I am always trying to come up with different ways to sing the same song over and over without it getting boring. These are some signs I've made up to use for reviewing/repeating songs or just to get the attention back if it's lost.

Boys Sing/Girls Sing

Lion/Lamb (Sing loud/soft)

Stand up/Sit down

Buzz/Sing the words


(You can either have the piano stop or keep going and just the kids stop singing)

Children Illustrate

For certain songs which are easy to illustrate, it's fun to have the kids help with the illustrations. I did this with Beautiful Savior. I wrote the first 3 lines of the song on pieces of construction paper and handed them out to each class. I gave them some crayons and a few minutes to illustrate the words. For the younger classes, I had the teachers draw what the kids told them to so it wouldn't be chaotic. The older kids were able to take turns and all contribute to the picture. Then I used their pictures as my visual aids in teaching the song. Here's an example, the first line of the song "fair is the sunshine."

You could also have a child come up and whisper in his ear the words to the song and have him draw it with chalk on the chalk board and have everybody else guess the words.


Memory is a classic game that's easy to adapt to different situations. For this particular Sunday, I felt like the kids needed to review I Lived in Heaven (3 verses) and Beautiful Savior (3 verses) plus we had just learned 1 verse of Baptism. I put the first line of the verse plus a picture that went along with the words (particularly for junior primary, who can't read as well) on pieces of cardstock. I put them all up on the board face down and the kids took turns flipping cards over trying to make a match. When they found 2 that matched we would sing that verse. Simple and effective for a review activity!

Cover Up

This is a verse of scripture, 2 Nephi 31:20, which is our Stake's focus for the year. They want all the primary kids to memorize it, so I put it to the tune of Redeemer of Israel to help the kids learn it. This was a simple little poster I made with each line of the scripture written in a different color. We sang it through all the way once. Then I had cut strips of construction paper the same colors as the lines of the song. I had a child come up and pick a color and cover up that line of the song, then we sang it again. Each time you sing, you cover up more and more of the words to test their knowledge.

Choosing Helpers

I have seen several different ideas out there for how to choose helpers for singing/sharing time. I don't like to choose myself because I don't want kids to think I have favorites. Plus you get the same kids volunteering all the time and others don't raise their hands but they will participate if I call on them. I found this idea on SugarDoodle and made it for my primary.

I printed out 15 clipart flowers, mounted them on cardstock, and laminated them with contact paper (I use contact paper on EVERYTHING!). Then I bought a package of lollipop sticks and painted them green. I hot glued the flowers on the sticks and stuck them in a pot with beans (it looks like dirt/rocks and it holds the sticks up). On the back of each flower I have different things written, like:

*brought scriptures (this is a great motivator-some kids have started bringing their scriptures because they know this might help them get picked!)
*wearing red
*wearing yellow
*wearing black shoes
*brown eyes
*brown hair
*not wearing socks
*wearing glasses

I wrote the words on sticky notes and cut them down to size so that I could change them out. After using those for several months I changed some of them to say Birthday in Jan, Birthday in Feb, etc.

I really like using my flower pot so the kids don't get to rowdy when it's time to pick helpers. They know I'm just going to pick a flower and if they're sitting reverently and it applies to them, they'll get to participate!

Fill In The Blank

This was a quick and easy review activity:

I wrote out the first two verses of Baptism, but put blanks where the main words would have been.

Then I wrote the words on strips of construction paper and taped them to the bottom of several chairs before the kids came in. I told everybody to look under their chairs. Once all the word strips were found, we went through the song filling in the blanks and singing each phrase as we went along. Junior primary even enjoyed this, although many of them cannot read. Maybe next time I'll use pictures instead of just words for the little ones. Here's what it looked like when it was all done:

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Sing or Dare

I found this idea online somewhere, but can't find it again now. But here's my version:

I made this poster the week we were reviewing Baptism that said "Sing or Dare." The "Sing" cards had a fun way to sing a certain verse of the song we were reviewing. The "Dare" cards had a question or just something silly for the child to do. We ended up singing each verse of the song twice, with lots of fun mixed in! Here's what the cards said:

For Junior Primary
Stand on your chair and shout "I love primary!"
Name your favorite thing about Primary**
Name 2 latter day prophets
Switch seats with someone else
Give your teacher a hug
Give the primary presidency a high five

Clap the rhythm while you sing the 3rd verse of Baptism
March in place while you sing the 1st verse of Baptism
Play Stop/Go while you sing the 3rd verse of Baptism
Stand on one foot and sing the 1st verse of Baptism
Tiptoe in a circle while you sing the 2nd verse of Baptism
Whisper sing the 2nd verse of Baptism

For Senior Primary
Tell the names of everyone in your class
Stand on your chair and shout "I love Primary!"
Give everyone a high-five
Name 3 latter day prophets
Hop on one foot around the podium 3 times
Draw a picture of your favorite food

Stand on 1 foot while you sing the 3rd verse. If the other foot touches the ground, sit down.
Rub your belly and pat your head while you sing the 2nd verse.
Play stop/go while you sing the 1st verse.
Leave out the names of people and places in the 1st verse.
Girls face left, boys face right as you sing the 3rd verse.
"Buzz" instead of singing the word "the"

**On a side note, the 4-year-old little boy who got this dare, name your favorite thing about primary, thought about it long and hard and then said..."leaving!" We all got a chuckle out of that!

Shirts & Ties

For teaching the Father's day song, I made these shirts by folding a piece of 8.5 x 11 paper and the ties out of construction paper. Click here to find the directions.

On the back of each shirt was written a phrase of the song. The shirts were taped on the walls/chairs/piano/podium all around the room. I called on a child to choose a shirt (we went in the order of the rainbow) and read the line of the song. I had the visual aids for the song up on the board, all mixed up. Then another child would take a fly swatter and swat the picture that matched that line of the song. After we matched the words and the picture, we sang that line. We went through all the shirts in the same manner until we had all the pictures put in order and had sung the song through!

Primary Punch

Another super successful activity I did a few weeks ago (and again, I have seen it on several different websites) was called Primary Punch.

I bought a science fair project board and cut out 9 circles just barely smaller in circumference than my plastic cups. I spray painted the board black (you should have seen the black circles on my grass because I didn't lay anything down while I was spray painting!). I wrote the words to the song Seek the Lord Early on 9 strips of paper and placed them in the plastic cups. Then I covered the cups with different colors of tissue paper and secured the paper with rubber bands. If you cut the circles just smaller than the lip of the cup, it will fit snugly in the hole.

When the kids came in I had put the picture prompts for the song up on the board in order. I chose a child to come up and choose a circle to punch. They LOVED punching through the tissue paper to get the word strip out and then match it to the picture on the board. Then we sang that phrase. It was a little hard for junior primary to put it all together after singing the phrases out of order, but the older kids picked up on it much faster.

This was a big hit, and one I'll definitely use again!

Simple Review/Repeat Activity

This was a simple activity I made up for a sub to use while I was in Utah, but I don't think she actually used it. But it could easily be adapted for any song.

I wrote each word to the song (in this case it was Beautiful Savior) on different colors of construction paper and taped them to a poster board. Show the poster and sing all the way through. Then have a child draw an object out of a grab bag (I used 5 different colored toy blocks). When you draw the yellow block, remove all the words that are on yellow paper and sing the song again. Depending on how many different colors of construction paper you choose to use, you will sing the song several times through, which is the whole point!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Singing Time Science

One of my most successful activities (if you are measuring success by the kids' reactions) was one I called Singing Time Science. I have seen variations of it on several different blogs. I was originally going to call it Singing Time Magic, but I happened to find a pair of safety goggles in the primary room as I was setting up so I just changed the name and had the child doing the "experiment" wear the safety goggles.

I had 5 large clear plastic cups filled with equal parts water and vinegar. Then I had 5 white plastic spoons and put a drop of food coloring in each spoon and covered it with a big pile of baking soda. When the child took the spoon and mixed it in the cup, it fizzed like crazy and turned the liquid to whatever color was in the spoon. I had 5 pieces of construction paper up on the board that corresponded to the different colors of food coloring. As each cup was mixed, we would turn over that color of paper and sing the song. It was a BIG hit.

**A variation of this that I have seen and that I may use again sometime would be to have all the cups contain just water except for one. That way the water still turns colors, but only 1 fizzes up and the kids will be excited to find out which one it is.

You can see pictures of all this here: http://primarysingingtimeideas.blogspot.com/2009/02/magic-potion.html

Starting Out

As I was trying to come up with an idea for singing time this week, I decided I need to keep a record of my singing time activities each week, even if only for my own sake. This is the second time I have had this calling {I guess Heavenly Father figured I needed a second chance to get it right!} and I wish I had a record of all the things I did the first time around in Provo. Also, I find so many great ideas on blogs and other forums that I use for my own Primary kiddos, I feel like I should get my ideas out there in case they might be of value to someone else.

So here it is...just a simple blog about my singing time successes (and occassional failures!)

I have really come to love serving in Primary. There have been several times over the last few months of having this calling that I have felt the Spirit very strongly as I've taught the little ones in Primary. I am humbled, challenged, inspired, sometimes frustrated, often amused, and greatly blessed by this calling to teach music to some of Heavenly Father's choice spirits.