May 30, 2011

Dennis's Dilemma

Being a 5th Sunday yesterday, I had been given the ENTIRE time for Singing Time.  (I love my Primary Presidency!) I'd been planning this one for weeks!  

A couple of months ago I was re-organizing all of my piano music.  I love to play as well as teach & have quite a collection.  I found an OLD story that has piano music to play along with it to sound like each kind of animal.  I was the primary pianist when I was 14 years old.  The chorister at that time found this story called, "Dennis's Dilemma" from somewhere.  I don't know where, sorry.  It's about a boy who doesn't sing very well, but wants to try out for the special choir to sing in ward conference.  As he's worrying about it, various forest animals talk with him & give him advice on how to be a better musician.  The 5 things mentioned were: imitate, sing loud, repetition, have fun, & believe in yourself.  Dennis then uses their advice, tries out for the choir, and makes it.  Lesson:  You can be a better musician by following the forest animals' advice.  Perfect for a Jr. Primary!  

After the "show", I asked the children to share who their favorite animal was & why.  The #1 pick was the Bullfrog (because he advised to sing LOUD)!   We then talked about each animal in the order they visited Dennis.  I assigned certain songs to go with each animal.  We sang the assigned song to practice the advice given.  The kids LOVED IT!!!  By the time we finished, we had 5 minutes to fill.  I chose the reverent kids to choose their favorite song for us to sing.  Before we'd sing it, I'd ask them to tell me HOW they were to sing it (reverently, fun, loud).  I then praised them for truly sounding like a beautiful choir.  I asked them if they felt that they learned from the animals and if they felt like they were better singers than they were just last week.  Oh YES!!!  It was unanimous:) 

I posted the story below.  Hopefully you can just click on it just like a photograph & be able to make your own copy.  I did change a few words for my own purposes (like Dennis sitting on a bale of hay near the forest instead of on the dock of a pond).  But the original is what you get.  This whole "show" took only about 6 or 7 minutes.  The remainder of the time was spent talking & singing about each animal to reinforce the "advice".

For each forest animal, there is a short phrase of music the pianist is to play.  I re-typed them from my newly found old copy.  Each phrase is to be played twice, hence the repeat signs:)

A boy doll on a bale of hay, bird hand puppet, small bird from the dollar store, garden decor cricket & owl, a stuffed frog, 2 baskets with greenery in them to represent the forest (dollar store is great!), & a table cloth.

Animals & their songs/advice
Mockingbird:  Do As I'm Doing-pg. 276  (imitate others)  We sang this one twice.
Bullfrog:  Book of Mormon Stories-pg. 118 (sing LOUD)  FAVORITE of the kids!  They sang both verses really loud, but not yelling.  I'm sure their parents could hear them down in their Sunday School class!  We sang it just once.
Meadowlark:  If I Listen With My Heart-outline (repetition)  We used the little bird to play Hot/Cold.  We sang through all 3 verses twice!  
Cricket:  If You're Happy-pg. 266 (have fun!)  Oh my gosh!  This was super fun!  I haven't had the kids sing this song in FOREVER and they had a blast!  We sang all 4 verses one time.
Owl:  I Am a Child of God-pg. 2 (Believe in yourself)  We sang just the 1st verse.  I had some Sunbeams come up to help me conduct because they were a bit antsy still & it calmed them right down. It brought in the spirit perfectly to end with my testimony about the gift of music.  

I would do this Singing Time again in a heart beat.  It was fun for me and more importantly, fun and engaging the whole time for the kids. 

May 22, 2011

Priesthood Medley

For the month of May, I am teaching the Sr. Primary 2 songs.  I LOVE these two particular songs from the Children's Songbook.  The first one is "The Priesthood Is Restored" on page 89, the second one is "A Young Man Prepared" on page 166.  I wanted to make a medley with them and so using my new Finale PrintMusic 2011 program, I did just that!

You may make copies of this music.  I just ask that you not sell it to anyone, as I am offering it to you free of charge.  Please use it for personal or teaching purposes only.  Thanks:)

The Sr. Primary love this piece!  Well, except for one boy, but you can't please 'em all!  It's a lot of fun to watch them all tap, bob heads or move their bodies to the beat.  None of them were familiar with the songs at all.  I had the pianist play through the piece while they just listened.  As they listened, I asked them to make a picture in their mind, whatever the song made them think about.  Some of the responses were: Army of Helaman, marching, superman or super hero's, & courage.  I just explained that the power of all of their thoughts were wonderful and that the song is about a super power that is given by God: the priesthood.  

It worked for them.  I made a poster for the medley as well.  If you'd like a copy of the pictures, email me the request & I'll send them your way!

I know many of you are teaching "Praise To the Man" for this month.  I chose to only teach it to the Sr. Primary back in March to go with the Prophet Theme (Jr. Primary learned "Stand For the Right").  And to make things even easier on myself, I only taught them by teaching them HOW to read out of the hymn book.  How's that for lazy?   We are going to have the congregation join us in singing it as part of the program:)  I just couldn't stand the thought of teaching it to the young kids.  I'm impressed with all of you who are working so hard to teach your own primary children the song.  It sounds like you're all doing a fantastic job!  You all give me hope that I can do a better job myself the next time:)

May 21, 2011

Song Visuals Reference Guide

I am an organization guru.  I'm a firm believer that if you're organized, you can actually be more lazy:)  

While going through our Primary Closet & taking inventory on what was there from past choristers, I decided that I needed ONE list to refer to at any given moment that would tell me if there is a visual (flip chart or poster) already made.  Who likes making visuals for the same song more than once?  If somebody else has already done the work (and you like it), why not put it to use?  

Back in October of 2010, I had tackled the flip charts.   I placed the flip charts in 3 ring binders.  I categorized them in 4 groups: Reverence, Seasonal, Miscellaneous, and 2011.  Pretty obvious, huh?!  And they are in alphabetical order in the binder:)  The 2011 Binder is small and only for the years' program songs.  Sometimes I'll take other songs from another binder, & if we're singing it often in a month (like Search, Ponder and Pray in February), I temporarily keep it in the 2011 Binder.  When we're finished with it, I return it to its proper binder.  
Below is a picture of how the binders look.  I can easily find the song I'm looking for!
On the very first page of each binder I made an alphabetized list of what songs were in there.  
Then I made a MASTER LIST to place in my weekly chorister binder.  I can refer to this at any time & it'll tell me exactly which binder the wanted song is in.  I keep all of the binders in the closet and right in front for quick & easy access.  This system has saved me more than a few times already!  You never know when he spirit will tell you what song needs to be changed from your schedule that day:)

So now that I have the flip charts under control, I needed to tackle the poster shelf.  This had TONS of posters piled on it!  I spent a couple of weeks quietly sitting at the closet & writing down what was in there.  There were plenty of songs in there that I hadn't known were there!  There were also a lot of "game boards" and wiggle song charts.  Whatever I couldn't figure out, I pulled out & took it home with me to try to piece it together.  I put labels on each poster like this.  I place them on each long edge of the poster for quick reference.  

Time to make a new Master List!  I included Poster Shelf to it and added extra spacing between each song.  This way I can hand write in any additions as I go along.  Then I can update it every 6 months on my computer & replace it in my weekly chorister binder.  My first to hand written additions will be Hosanna & Jesus Has Risen found on the Poster Shelf:)

How do you keep yourself organized?  

Jesus' Tomb Singing Help

For Jr. Primary's Singing Time on Easter, I made Jesus' Tomb.  I wanted a stone to roll open and closed over the tomb's entrance (pictures are at the bottom of the post).  The children's voices will be "the power of the angel" that will open the tomb.  And of course, my iPhoto has decided to mess with me once again!  I cannot post the pictures of the tomb:(  I will try again tomorrow.  O.k, how about a MONTH later!!  Frustrating!

I will explain the tomb and the resurrection, the reason we celebrate Easter.  I'll make a point to explain who rolled the stone open from the tomb on the 3rd day, then liken it to their voices and the power they have to open this tomb's stone.  Inside of the tomb will be 6 paper heart with a song title on each one.  The stone will be rolled closed.  We will sing 'I Am a Child of God' to start with.  If the kids aren't singing well or paying attention, the tomb stone will remain closed.  When they sing well and are paying attention, the stone will slowly roll open.  I will have a leader open & close it.  When the stone is completely open at the end of the song, a child will be chosen to come up & choose a heart out of the tomb.  I will make a point to explain that they represent the love that Jesus had for us to willingly die & then be resurrected again.  We will repeat as long as time allows.

The songs will be:
  • Jesus Has Risen pg. 70
  • If I Listen With My Heart pg. outline
  • Book of Mormon Stories pg. 118
  • I Hope They Call Me On a Mission pg. 169
  • Stand For the Right pg. 159
  • I Love To See the Temple pg. 95



Because this post is LONG OVERDUE on account of my iPhoto woes, I'm not going to go into detail about how I put the tomb together.  It's pretty self explanatory by the pictures themselves.  However, if you do have questions for the 2012 Easter, just shoot me an email:)   Sheesh, stupid iPhoto.

When I Hear My Father Pray

For Father's Day this year, our primary will sing just 2 songs, I think.  We did 3 for Mother's Day & it seemed a bit much.  So the first Father's Day song is "Daddy's Homecoming" on pg. 210 of the C.S.  Every kid knows that one, right?  So I'm going to teach (or remind) them "When I Hear My Father Pray" which is found here on the LDS website.  It was printed in the March, 1983 Ensign.  I will be using the frogs, lily pads, & pitch sticks activities to work with the children.

I made a simple flip chart for the song.  If they can get it learned in time & not have to rely on the aid, that'd be great!  But it makes it easy to use them during their Sacrament Meeting Performance, if necessary.  Sometimes you just have to swallow the pride of trying to get the kids to memorize in order for them to feel successful in sounding great for their parents:)  Learned this the hard way with Mother's Day:(  

I left out all of the "hear" words on the flip chart (pages 1, 2, & 5).  On the last page I have 3 ears with the word "hear" on them.  I cut them out & glued them in place.  It didn't turn out perfect, but good enough for me!  I also couldn't get the words "and care" to go on the page (page 2) where I wanted it.  So as a last resort, I did the same thing with them as I did the ears- cut it out & glued it!  Page 2's lyrics should say: "I hear him say a prayer for me that God will love and care for me."  

And as usual, anything you find on my blog is yours for the copying!  

I Will Follow God's Plan Flip Chart

This is a program song that we were to teach the primary children months ago.  Don't worry, I did teach them!  But when I taught them, I used props.  It worked great.  But my Jr. Primary kids have a hard time remembering the songs when we don't sing them every single week.   And you know what?  I don't like the idea of hauling props to church every time I plan to sing the song:)  So I made a flip chart.  Feel free to make copies for your own collection!