January 31, 2011

Emergency Singing Time Plans

In my last post, I mentioned having Emergency Singing Time plans for the closet.  This is the first and second one.  I got this great idea from Kathleen from "The Children Sing".  Go to her website to get the run down on how to use the snowflakes.  She also gave out the riddles she used for hers in a second post.
Using her riddles as a guide, I came up with some riddles that would work for my Primary.  I decided to do 16 snowflakes.  What can I say?  I'm an over achiever:)  My girls helped me cut them out when we had a "Snow Day".  I glued them to construction paper and wrote numbers from 1-16 on the back of each one.  I did this so that I can use the snowflakes more than once by numbering my riddles/songs (hence the "first and second" emergency plans).  I ended up making 2 different lists of riddles & songs for each snowflake.  I put the Pianist Song lists on their own pages to be given to the pianist when needed.  The chorister will have the riddle list that also shows the song titles.   Instructions are included at the end of the lists.  I laminated the snowflakes & placed magnets on the back.  For now, I just have it in a gallon size zip lock bag in the closet.  Very visible:)  I let the Primary Presidency know about it & they gave a grateful of a sigh of relief.

Thanks Kathleen for this awesome idea!!

Song of the Heart

At the beginning of the month, I encouraged my Primary kids to learn all 3 verses of "If I Listen With My Heart" by the end of the 4th week.  If they did, we'd have a fun activity day on the 5th Sunday as a reward.  (The Primary President had given me the o.k. to take the full 35 minutes for Singing Time:)  I made this chart with the first picture of each verse from the flip chart I'd made.  As they mastered the verse, a heart was placed on the corresponding side of the picture.  They worked really hard!
For weeks, my plan was to have a "Game Day" as a reward.  However, as the time drew nearer, my thoughts were prompted in a different direction.  So, as the following scripture as the theme, I was led to come up with a "Song of the Heart" singing time.

"For my soul delighteth in the song of the heart; yea, the song of the righteous is a prayer unto me."  (D&C 25:12)

I found a short outline called "Singing Powers" online somewhere.  I think I found it through sugardoodle, but I can't find it again to be sure:(  But it comes from an Ensign article called, "Singing Hymns With New Power".  It talks about different levels of singing.  

Level 1: Sing the words & music correctly
Level 2: Thing about the meaning of the words.
Level 3: Bear your testimony as you sing.  Sing with your heart!
Level 4: If our hearts are right, the Holy Ghost will testify that what we're singing about is true.

As one who loves music, I have a testimony of the importance of sharing it through the power of music.  I have experienced it time, and time again.  So to begin Singing Time, I asked questions about this scripture.  Like, "What does it mean to have a song of  the heart?"  "What is the song of the righteous?"  "How do we feel the Holy Spirit?"  

Then I explained that we were going to learn what the meaning of this scripture is today through singing some of their teachers' favorite songs. 
On the 4th Sunday, I passed out the narrow strip of paper shown above to all Primary Teachers/Leaders before Sacrament Meeting.  It had instructions to write the title of a favorite Primary song & why they chose it.  Then they were to hand it back to me by the end of Primary.  During the week, I made cards on a half sheet of paper, as shown above as well.  I took the teachers' responses & transferred them onto the fliers, one song per card.  I chose a picture to represent the song as well.  Did I mention that I'm not an artist?  Thank heavens for clip art!!  Then I folded the card back in half & placed it in the mailbox shown below. 
I saw this foam mailbox at Target for $5.  I love it because it's not pink!  I found foam heart & music glitter stickers at Walmart.  Thus the decorations:)

I called on a child to come up & choose a piece of "mail" out of the mailbox.  The Jr. Primary would open it up & pan across the primary room for the other kids to see the picture.  Then they guessed what song would go with that picture.  They guessed right every time!  I then read to them what the teacher said about why they had chosen that song.  We then would sing it.  We sang it 2 or 3 times while I asked them what the words meant.  I also asked them how they would tell someone about something exciting that had happened with them.  You know, they get excited and talk about the details and just can't wait to spill it all!  Then I asked them to sing the song just like that and imagine them telling it all to Jesus.  This is Jr. Primary!!!  I can't tell you how powerful the Spirit was after they sang "I Am a Child of God".  It was amazing & I asked the kids how they felt.  I explained that they sang with all their hearts in a righteous way to our Heavenly Father and that it was so powerful and beautiful that it was just as important to Him as when we say our prayers.  I think they got it enough.  Sr. Primary definitely got it.  Only Sr. Primary ended up working on "Army of Helaman" to tie it all together.  It too, was awesome.  But that's another post.

About halfway through our time, I stopped the singing & passed out crayons & a card for each child.  They got to draw a picture of their Primary song of choice & with the help of the teachers/leaders write the song titles & the kids' names on them.  I explained to them that starting next week, their "Song of the Heart" would be in the mailbox and when we have extra time we can choose one to sing.  We would use it all year long.  They loved the idea!  I love it for another reason as well:  It can be used as an Emergency Singing Time if needed!  Now I have 3 Emergency Singing Times in the closet for the year.

We had time to do a couple more of the teachers' songs before concluding.  I bore testimony of the power of music and the Holy Spirit to testify of Christ.  It was a great experience!

I Will Follow God's Plan/Scripture Power-Week 1

New month=New song!  After a 5 week month in January, it's nice to move on to something new.  For our Primary, this month is a short one.  We have Stake Conference on February 27th, so we only have 3 weeks to concentrate on the monthly song(s).  To make it even more challenging, our Primary is also learning/reviewing "Scripture Power".  BRING IT ON!!!!

This month I want to use props to teach the song(s).

So without further adieu, I present my "I Will Follow God's Plan" prop list:

1st Half
gift wrapped box- My life is a gift,
plan of salvation diagram-  my life has a plan; My life has a purpose, 
large cloud-  in heav'n it began
picture of earth covered with a large home- My choice was to come to this lovely home on earth
eye glasses/flashlight- And seek for God's light to direct (have child use flashlight like the airport runway workers do to direct ground plane traffic)
baby doll- me from birth

2nd Half
plan of salvation diagram w/foot prints on it- I will follow God's plan for me
rope with "love" sign attached- Holding fast to His word and His love
construction hat- I will work and I will pray (have child wearing hat also fold arms for praying)
a shoe- I will always walk in His way
picture of earth covered with a big happy face- And I will be happy on earth
large cloud with a large home in it- And in my home above

The song is written as if there's a verse and a chorus.  So for me, it makes sense to teach the song by splitting it into 2 sections.  Besides, it's a long song & I know my Jr. Primary kids won't be able to take it all in one week anyway.  Sr. Primary, however, can handle it.

"Scripture Power" is a song that many of the Sr. Primary kids have learned in the past.  So for them, this will be a review.  For the majority of the Primary, it'll be a completely new song.  I'll teach the Jr. Primary kids the chorus first.  I will check out about 10 scriptures from the library for them to hold up every time they sing "Scripture Power".  I know it's been done before.  But I feel that they'll stay attentive & by only handing out those few scriptures, they'll need to take turns.  Thus, we can sing it multiple times without getting bored with it:)  I will also have the Sr. Primary use their scriptures in the same way.  I just won't use the libraries, as most of these kids bring their own sets.

So here's my prop list for "Scripture Power":

picture of Christ- Because I want to be like the Savior, and I can,
scriptures- I'm reading His instructions, 
plan of salvation diagram- I'm following His plan.
hero's cape- Because I want the power His word will give to me,
CTR shield- I'm changing how I live, I'm changing what I'll be.

an anti-sin sort of picture- keeps me safe from sin
ribbon or gold medal- is the power to win
sun picture/scriptures- ev'ry day I need the power that I get each time I read

VERSE 2 ( only 1 child needs to help by wearing the armor & raising sword, shield, etc.. as we sing)
foam sword with truth written on it- I'll find the sword of truth in each scripture that I learn.
foam shield with faith written on it- I'll take the shield of faith from these pages that I turn.
helmet, etc.- I'll wear each vital part of the armor of the Lord,
ribbon or gold medal- And fight my daily battles, and win a great reward.

I'm off to start making/gathering my props!!

January 22, 2011

January Review Week

Tomorrow is our review day.  I had told the primary kids on week 1 that if they learned all 3 verses of January's song by the end of the 4th week, we'd have a game day on week 5.  So tomorrow's a big, big day!  I have cut out the pictures of If I Listen Verse Pics Only.  No words.  I'll place the pictures on the table & have a child come up to choose the ones that go to verse 1.  We'll place them on the chalkboard & do a quick review run through.  Then we'll have do an activity to re-enforce that verse.  We'll repeat this process for each verse, allowing a total of 6 minutes per verse.

Below, I've listed the activities for each verse.  The Pitch Sticks & Paint a Melody are ideas I found on The Children Sing Blog. The concept is similar to what we did with the Lily Pads & Frogs when learning verse 2, so it won't take much time to explain it to them.  I found colorful sticks at the dollar store to use & a 30 pack of brushes at Joanne's for $1.99.

Verse 1:  Pitch Sticks
Verse 2:  Paint the Melody
Verse 3:  Crescendo the Crocodile

If I feel the Paint the Melody will be to "babyish" for the Sr. Primary, I'll just pull out the Lily Pads & Frogs.  They loved that!  If I do, it'll be for the 1st verse and then use the Pitch Sticks for the 2nd verse.

January 18, 2011

Crescendo the Crocodile

This is Crescendo the Crocodile.  My daughter, Brynn drew him for me.  I admire people who can draw more than just stick figures.  I just can not make what I see in my head come out on paper, or chalkboard, or dry erase board:)  Brynn knows I've tried!  She gets a great laugh out of my effort and takes pity on me.  He is drawn on green poster board & is about 20-22 inches in length.

I teach piano and I love it.  I love teaching the children & I try to make learning fun, yet a bit realistic as well.  When teaching about crescendo and diminuendo definitions, I have found that if I compare the symbols to the jaws of a crocodile, they never forget what they mean.  The picture below is Crescendo the Crocodile with his jaws open, showing the children that they need to progressively sing a short phrase louder.  They have 4-6 beats to go from the volume they're at to an increased volume, appropriate for that phrase.  That means they have to watch the conductor (me!) to know just how loud to increase.  

I taught them the 3rd verse of "If I Listen With My Heart" using this method.  I chose to teach them through teaching dynamics because this verse is the most beautiful & spiritually touching verse.  I want them to crescendo on the phrase, "He testifies of Christ".  The trick is to teach them how much volume is too much for that phrase.  No ugly yelling.  And then also help them understand & learn what "gradually or progressively" means.  Once they understood all of that, we learned diminuendo.  This is when Crescendo the Crocodile gradually closes his jaws, they gradually reduce their volume.  This concept was used with the next phrase, "He speaks to me in quiet ways that fill my soul with peace".  It is a bit of a quicker decrease in volume here because I want them quiet by the time they sing "me in quiet ways".  They then just continue to finish the phrase in a peaceful manner.  They did a FANTASTIC job!  I don't think I'll need to stress out in September to get them to add dynamics to the song.  Learn it the first time & save yourself the pains!  And the kids really, really love putting those affects into the music.  

So this is the back of Crescendo the Crocodile.  Normally I wouldn't have details drawn on the back.  But I didn't pay close enough attention to the direction Brynn drew him for me.  I even cut him out before I realized he was facing the wrong way.  So I flipped him over & retraced the teeth & outline.  Brynn drew me another eye.  I used one of those thingies that poke through the papers & allow papers to turn.  Hey, it's almost midnight right now & I'm out of brain power!  I'm sure you know what I'm trying to say:)  Then I place 2 dowels I had in my craft closet on each jaw & taped them in place with clear packing tape.  I held a dowel in each hand to open & close his jaws.  His jaws always pointed to my left.  The kids would take turns with him & practice crescendo-ing and diminuendo-ing at all sorts of parts in the song.  But they got the concept & then had fun with it!

Leaping Frog

I was looking at this wonderful blog and she mentioned something about Melody Maps and frogs and using pitch sticks.  This sparked an idea!  I've said it before, "I'm a great copy cat, not super creative".

This is the method I used to teach the kids the 2nd verse of "If I Listen with My Heart".  I found a lily pad clip art to down load for free.  I copied 18 lily pads on bright green cardstock, laminated them & placed a magnet strip on the back of each one.  Why 18?  That is how many notes are used for the first 2 phrases of the song.  I wanted to teach it phrase by phrase.  Note are exactly the same for both except for the last 3 notes of the phrases.  So for the 2nd phrase, I just moved those 3 lily pads to their correct position.

I found a free clip art frog & made 6 of them.  I laminated them & taped them to the end of little dowel sticks I found at Walmart in the craft section.  For the main part of this activity, you only need one frog.  I just made extras to hand to the sunbeams to wave as we sang so that they could be pacified:)

Before Singing Time, I set up the lily pads on the large chalkboard in a Melody Map.  This is just the position of the notes as they are sung.  When the notes go lower, your lily pad is placed lower.  When the note jumps higher, your lily pad should be placed accordingly.  As we sang the notes, I took my frog and had him hop from one lily pad to the next, simulating the pattern of the melody.  We sang really slow so that the kids could see that many of the words ended up being sung on more than one note.  This way they could sing the notes more clearly and pronounce the words correctly.  We did this for the first 2 phrases.  By then, they had the hang of it & I gave them turns to come up and do the frog.  They LOVED it!

For the 3rd phrase, I changed the lily pads by using only 8 of them.  I stacked them vertically and explained another way to conduct the pitches.  Still using the frog, we sang the 3rd phrase as I moved the frog down & up the vertical row of lily pads, showing the interval jumps clearly.  Then I had them take the frog while I just used my hand in front of me.  They had a great time!

Throughout all the teaching of the 2nd verse, I made sure to ask questions about the pictures and get their answers to flow into the song the way it is written.  Most of the time their answers were just off by a word or two than the actual song lyrics.  It keeps them engaged:)

I will be using this method again next week as we review all 3 verses.

Seek the Lord Early

Did I mention that I like flip charts?  I try to coordinate all the songs, including the opening & closing, to re-enforce the theme/topic of Sharing Time that day.  This song is found in the Children's Songbook on page 108.  Seek the Lord Early Flip Chart

Search, Ponder, & Pray

This song is a great reverence song that has been used this month in Jr. & Sr. Primary.  It is found in the Children's Songbook on page 109.  I made a flip chart to use.  Our primary kids didn't really know it.  And I just can't be allotted enough time each week to teach all the wonderful songs that are available!  So I resort to the flip chart aid.  The kids don't seem to mind & willingly sing it.  Search Ponder Pray Flip Chart

If I Listen With My Heart

January 2011 is here:)  That means the time has come to start teaching your primary children the first of many songs needed for the program in the 4th quarter.  Let me just start by saying I LOVE THIS SONG!  I also got a lot of teaching helps and ideas from Kathleen's blog.  Research her blog.  She's very thorough.

I found plenty of flip charts out there for this song.  But none of them felt just right for my primary.  I made one to add to your list of choices.   If I Listen With My Heart Flip Chart 

The first week I introduced the song to the children.  I asked them to listen to the song & tell me the 3 ways we can hear the Savior's voice.  My plan was to play the CD for them to listen to.  But of course that would be too easy!  My CD player went kaput right there in Primary.  So I sucked it up and sang it to them.  Yep, if I can do it.....you can too!  I'm a piano teacher, not a vocalist.  But I survived (obviously) and I haven't heard of any children that have been permanently traumatized.  The kids closed their eyes while I sang.  That helped me:)  They were able to answer the question: scriptures, living prophet, Holy Ghost.

Then we learned the first verse.  I simply asked them questions about the pictures & likened them to them.  I made it very personal to each of them, individually.  I used sticky notes to cover the words & uncovered the key words as we went along.  They did a great job & were anxious to learn the 2nd verse.  But that will be another post:)

Have a Very Happy Birthday

With Christmas over, I thought it would be fun to spend December 26th celebrating birthdays.  I wanted to teach the primary kids a new Birthday song.  I get kinda bored with the other ones:)  So a new flip chart was born!  Have a Very Happy Birthday flip chart   This song is found in the Children's Songbook on page 284b.  I chose verses 1 & 3.  It's a very upbeat song & goes quickly!  The Jr. Primary loves the 3rd verse the best.  They like to take a moment to "blow" out the candle.

I also took time to have some fun with the other Birthday songs.  For Jr. Primary, we worked on the "You've Had a Birthday" pg. 285.  They came up with other words to replace the "wiser" word.  Many of the words weren't quite what I was looking for.  But I had a list of words that another Primary had come up with to go off of.  I then wrote each of these words on yellow strips of paper & laminated them.  One birthday child gets to choose a paper & we sing the song to them all using the word that was chosen.
Dapper                        Happy
Sagacious                   Excellent
Sensible                        Greater
Brainier                         Sharper
Keener                         Brighter
Brilliant                          Intelligent
Astute                           Smarter

For the Sr. Primary, we worked on the "Your Happy Birthday" on page 283.  Again, I had a list from another Primary to help the kids come up with 3 & 4 silly syllable words to replace "zip-a-dee-ay" and "heigh-dee-ho".  I wrote the 4 syllable words on blue strips of paper & the 3 syllable ones on red &  laminated them.  I choose 2 of the birthday kids that day to draw a blue and a red strip of paper.  We then sing the song using those silly syllable words as substitutes.  Neither of these 2 Birthday Song ideas came from my less than creative mind.  I found them online at Sugardoodle while researching for ideas:)

HAP-A-REE  DAP                   FA-LIP-UH  DOE
SAP-O-RAM  PAM                KOK-A-LOW  UH
KISS-A-MOO  DOO              TIP-A-TEE  TIP
PEEP-A-SAL  MAL                  DOO-DA-DIPPA  DEE
BOP-E-TAP  LAP                    DOO-DA-DIPPITY  AY
MISS-TOE-KEET                WEE-ZOP-ZOO
DRAPE-A-MOT                BUR-EEE-TOE
BAR-KEY-TROT                 HIGH-TEE-OH
WHURR-A-LOO               ZEE-BA-DOO
VEEP-A-LEEP                    TIP-A-DEE
GOOT-A-ZUR                   WIZ-DA-DOO
YIPPY-KYE-AY                   YUCK-TOE-JAM
DOO-DA-DEE                 WEE-WEE-WEE

We had a great time that day!  It was nice to learn a new song that didn't have
anything to do with the upcoming Program for 2011.  But boy have we hit
the ground running since then!  Whew!

As I Search the Holy Scriptures

I have spent so much time trying to organize all of the Chorister material that I haven't taken the time to do much blogging since before Christmas.  This "Organizing" project is something I took on and began back in October.  Over the weeks since then, I would bring a pile of stuff home from the Primary Room closet.  I would go through it, decide if it was worth saving for future use or consider it history.  I had no idea that it would take me 3 months of non-stop attention to get it all finished!  There were a lot of flip charts that previous choristers had made.  I LOVE flip charts!  Especially for the opening and closing songs that the children don't know as well.  They can use the flip charts & bring the Spirit into the room.  Anyway, the flip charts were in folders & were kind of a mess.  I found that I like the flip charts in binders.  That way I can remove the one(s) I need and put them in my weekly binder without having to haul other song flip charts that I don't need at the time.  I always pull them out of the binder to use.

With January's theme, I wanted to sing opening and closing songs that re-enforce the value of studying the scriptures.  "As I Search the Holy Scriptures" is Hymn #277.  I uploaded it on my Scribd account & FINALLY figured out how to at least put it on this blog as well.  Just click on the link below!  Check out all the other flip charts I have available for you to download as well.  I'm a slow learner & there are quite a few charts that I don't have listed on this blog.

As I Search Holy Scriptures Flip Chart