November 12, 2012

"The Voice" The Primary Way

I saw a primary chorister's blog post about the way her primary was working on their program songs. She came up with a Superstar Singers chart where the kids worked on specific things to earn stars for each program song.  I thought it was perfect for my primary!

About 6 weeks before our scheduled program date, I asked 3 people to come to singing time to be "The Voice" judges.  If you've watched the actual reality show (which is a huge hit at our house!) you'll understand where I'm going with this.  My husband snagged 3 swivel chairs from the clerks office for the judges to sit on.  The judges turned their backs to the kids before they began to sing.  The judges would then listen for the good and bad things about how the kids were singing the song.  The judges would only turn in their chairs to face the kids if they were singing well.  At the end of the song, each judge would give their advice to the kids about how they sang while I went to the chalk board & wrote it all down.  I took a picture with my iPad so that I could then come up with the categories needed to put on the Superstar Singers chart for the upcoming weeks before our program. 

When I first approached the judges to ask them for their help, I explained that I wanted both positive AND negative critiquing. I wanted to save time by working only on what was absolutely needed for each song in order to be ready for the program.  I also sprang this on my primary the week after stake conference.  They didn't get any warning or reviewing before being judged.  That way it was a more realistic result for each song.  I also only chose 6 songs to work on.
This is Junior Primary's results.

This is Sr. Primary's results.
I had explained to the kids what we were doing and why. I really drove home the need to know what exactly we needed to work on to be ready for the program, that in order to improve, we needed to know just WHAT we needed to fix. The judges were awesome with relaying their advice to the kids without any negativity, especially when it came to the negative critiques. By the end of singing time, the kids were so glad to have the visual list and see exactly where they stood. I then went home and over the week put together our own Superstar Singers chart.  

There were 4 categories that both the Jr. & Sr. primary needed to work on. I found pictures online (free clip art) and I laminated them.
We had a couple of kids that would try to out sing their neighbor. 
Not pretty! We want to blend as a choir.

EYES on the chorister at all times.

Wondering eyes!  The kids' heads turn to wherever they are looking.  So as their eyes wondered, their voices projected in that direction instead of concentrated toward the audience.  Not to mention how silly they look when they're not watching me:)

Over enunciating the sounds: T, D, S, & K
at the end of specific words. 
This one is a bit more tricky.  When singing Choose the Right, they didn't put any emphasis on the "t". So the judges would hear: "Choose the righ, when a choice is placed before you".  Same thing with Build an Ark.  They would hear: "I will bill an arrr before it starts to rain".  So we had A LOT of words in MANY songs to work on in this category. LOTS of tongue work!  I will do a separate post tomorrow on what I came up with to help with that.

Singing your TESTIMONY of the song.
It is important to convey to your audience that you believe in what you are singing about.  Music is such a powerful tool! In order for your audience to feel your testimony, YOU need to know all of the lyrics and have a testimony about the words and their meaning.  In a nutshell: Need to cause goosebumps!

This process has been absolutely amazing!  A bit more work on my part, but it has paid off for the kids, I think.  I can use the Superstar Singers chart again and again as I feel is needed by just switching out the songs and categories.  The kids never tired of earning stars, either!

Next week is our program & I am so excited for them to show our ward their love of the gospel!

Our Savior's Door Is Always Open

I just LOVE 5th Sunday's!!!  I get the entire 35 minutes with each primary.  As I pondered what He wanted me to do for these children, I felt that I needed to help the children understand that our Savior is always waiting for us to open our heart and feel His love.  To prepare for this, I made a poster with 5 different pictures that could depict different scenarios.  I got the pictures from the Friend Magazine.  I then made up stories to go with the pictures.  Two out of the 5 scenarios are open for the children to respond to (only because my brain was fried with trying to come up with anymore & I was running out of time).  I also put 7 pictures of music notes on the poster (4 black & white, 3 in fun colors for the fun songs).  I assigned a song to go with each one.  I glued the 12 different pictures on the poster and cut out hearts to place over them.  I only taped one side of the heart onto the poster board so that it could just be lifted open, like a door, to see what was inside.
Tilt your head to the left while looking:)
I woke up Saturday morning with the song "Our Door Is Always Open" from the Children's Songbook on page 254 in my head.  Weird?  Not for me:)  I wake up with various songs running through my brain more often than not.  And then I always try to figure out WHY they are in my head.  Sometimes I can come up with an answer, sometimes not.  But as I got moving for the morning, words started going through my mind.  THIS is NOT normal!  I'm not a poet by any means.  So I immediately started writing down everything that popped into my head for the next 10 minutes.  Within another 5 minutes, I had new lyrics for the song "Our Door Is Always Open".  Inspired? ABSOLUTELY!!

For our Singing/Sharing Time, I began the lesson by teaching them this "Scenario Song" with the new lyrics.  I made 2 changes with the melody so I re-wrote the music with the new lyrics for my pianist.  Once the kids knew the song, I explained to them that someone would come up to open a heart on the poster.  If the opened heart showed a music note, we would sing the assigned song before choosing another heart to open.  If the opened heart showed a scenario picture, I would then read the scenario to them.  We would then talk about how hearts were opened to feel the Savior's love and then sing the "Scenario Song" before choosing the next heart.

My primary kids LOVED this lesson.  They were sad that we ran out of time before getting to open all of the hearts.  But it is an activity I can pull out again, especially for an emergency:)  

If you'd like a copy of "Our Savior's Door Is Always Open", please email me a request & I'll get it to you in pdf form.  Feel free to copy and paste the scenarios below for your own use.  I wrote them on my iPad during Sacrament Meeting and then emailed them to myself to post on the blog:) 

Scenario Song- Our Savior's Door Is Always Open For me to feel His love. If I but humbly open my heart to Him, He will bless me to feel His love.

Song 1- Build an Ark
Song 2- Choose The Right
Song 3- Stand For the Right
Song 4- I Feel My Savior's Love
Fun Song 1- Popcorn Popping
Fun Song 2- Fun To Do
Fun Song 3- Head, Shoulders, Knees & Toes

Scenario Phone Girls- Amy went to school with a girl named Emily. They weren't particularly close friends, but they were in the same class. Amy noticed that Emily hadn't been to school all week. She had heard that Emily was sick, but she didn't know the details. Friday after school, Amy felt that she should give Emily a call to see how she was doing. But Amy questioned herself about this because she had never really talked with Emily before. But she was again impressed to call her. So Amy made a couple of phone calls to others in her class to find Emily's phone number. She then made the call. She introduced herself to Emily's mom on the phone. She then got to talk worth Emily. She was nervous, but she asked Emily if she was o.k. Emily explained that she wasn't yet, but her doctors and her parents told her that she would soon be able to return to school. Emily had just gotten home from the hospital the day before. She had just learned that she had diabetes. Emily was still upset and confused about her body's struggle to work right. So she was surprised when she told Amy about it. But Amy told her about her own cousin that had diabetes and how he lived with it. How he was able to play sports and be with his friends and do anything he wanted. This news made Emily feel so much better! She and Amy became good friends and were a great strength to one another.

Scenario Hugging Boy/Father- Jason breaks his father's lawn mower by hitting a large rock. He knows his family doesn't have the money to take the mower to a repair shop. Jason prays to H.F. For help on how he can repair the mower himself. He then went to the garage to search for the tools he might need. He felt the guidance of the H.G. In which tools to choose. Once he had the lawn mower taken apart and could see the damage, he wondered how he could fix it. He again prayed for guidance. A name of a neighbor popped into his head. He immediately went to this neighbor and explained his problem. The neighbor knew what Jason needed to fix the mower and offered to help him. The neighbor had an old lawn mower that he no longer used and was able to use a part from it to replace the damaged one of Jason's mower. Later that night, Jason told his father about this experience. His father was touched by his son's testimony in prayer. He told Jason how proud he was to have such a strong son and how privileged he felt to be his father.

Scenario School playground- Sarah started 5th grade in a new school. Her family had moved from California to Colorado for her dad's work. She was scared to start a new school. She was shy and didn't make friends easily. A group of girls in 6th grade were not known as being very friendly. They scared Sarah and she tried to be invisible so that they wouldn't notice her. But by the 3rd day, they noticed her! Sarah ate lunch by herself and these girls new it. They began to pester her. They'd walk by and just laugh at her. Then it progressed to saying mean things to her.  After a few weeks, they gathered around her at lunch and started talking mean. One girl took Sarah's lunchbox and threw it on the ground. She was being bullied by these girls. She hadn't told her parents about it because she didn't want them to know how miserable she was in her new school. What can she do to open her heart to feel her Savior's love?

Scenario Gossiping Girls- Brianna and M'chaela talking about a girl who doesn't dress as well as they think she should, smells, doesn't have any friends..... How can these two girls make their closed hearts open to feel their Savior's love?

Scenario Coffee- Alison goes to visit her grandmother, who is not a member of the church. Her grandmother fixes her breakfast and serves her a cup of coffee. How can Alison open her heart to her Savior's love & not be offensive to her grandmother?

Mother's Day

Yes, I know.  It's nowhere close to the holiday!  I found this post in my DRAFT folder and I figured that if I didn't post it now, it may never get posted:)

I found this song on Sally DeFord's website and thought it was perfect for Mother's Day.  We needed a new song to learn anyway:)  This song is called An Angel To Watch Over Me. We learned verses 1 & 3.

"She watched by my cradle through long sleepless nights."

Because this is a seasonal song, I wanted a flip chart with all the lyrics.  I also thought the kids would learn it faster/better if I got some of their mom's involved in it.  So I had several mom's get their pictures taken for various phrases throughout the song.  Then I used them to make the flip chart.  For the final phrase of each verse, I had a group picture taken at our ward Easter Brunch of all the moms & kids who were there.
"God sent an angel to watch over me."

The 2nd verse is beautiful, but I thought it more appropriate for teenagers to sing.  But our YW weren't willing to do it, so I just dropped it. The song sounds just fine going from verse 1 to verse 3.  I used the flip chart in Sacrament Meeting while they sang to their moms.  It was small enough, & yet they were familiar with the pictures and so the lyrics weren't critical to see.  Just enough to prompt:)

We sang just 2 songs:  Mother Dear (which I also made a flip chart for) and then An Angel To Watch Over Me.  The kids did a beautiful job and many of the mom's had tears in their eyes by the time the last song was finished.

Having the different families involved in the making of the flip chart REALLY helped the children learn the song.  They LOVED seeing their moms and anticipated when their picture would be shown.  Fun fun!!!

If you'd like me to send you a pdf flip chart for Mother Dear, please send me an email request.

Thomas E. Normous Returns

I cannot believe that it has been 7 months since I last posted.  SEVEN MONTHS!!!  Life got really busy and stayed busy all through the summer.  It's the life of a stay at home mom of 3 teenage girls too young to yet drive.  Now my oldest has her drivers license and her own vehicle.  My running around has dropped by 90%, at least!  So my goal is to do better at posting more often.  Shouldn't be too hard, should it?  I guess we'll find out soon enough!
Our program is this coming Sunday.  So for Singing Time, I am pulling out Thomas E. Normous.  It's been 2 years since I last used him and I remember one of the young boys complaining last year because I never brought him to primary.

I don't know if I'll be using songs to create Thomas's tail with the Jr. Primary or if I'll do a Choose the Right type of activity to earn those feathers.  I could even assign certain songs or questions to a color and put the feathers in a sack for the kids to pull out.  But, as long as the little ones get to make his tail and the Sr. Primary gets to do the "plucking", everyone will be satisfied, right?