February 29, 2012

Banana Split, YUM!

While I had Sr. Primary Singing Time ready for this last Sunday, I was struggling with what to do for Jr. Primary.  I came across an envelope in my Primary Box at home that was full of items I used a couple of months after I was first called as a chorister a year and a half ago.  I had made pieces of different food items out of construction paper and poster board.  I had a different food for each verse of a song the kids had yet to memorize for the program.  This was prior to me starting this blog, so there's not a post to refer you to.  But I distinctly remember taking pictures:) 

I decided to use the Banana Split for the 2nd verse of "Build An Ark".  Each part of the song (remember there are 4 distinct parts) was assigned to a portion of the Banana Split. As they learned & SANG convincingly each part, they would get to add specific items to the ice cream dish to build the Banana Split.  I used 1-2 pictures per part from a flip chart to help them along.  But other than that, they had to memorize each word!

We started with the red poster board with a VERY fancy ice cream dish drawn on it by me, obviously:)  I placed it as low as I could on the chalk board.  I had the balls of colorful ice cream and all the yummy toppings poster puttied to a wax paper covered piece of cardboard on the side.  This made it simple and quick to just pull them off & immediately have the kids place them on the dish.  I allowed 1 child per scoop, cherry, etc..  LOTS of little helpers! 
This is how I divided up the song and assigned the ice cream parts
Ice Cream Scoops: The first 2 lines of Part A- "I can be like Noah, YES! I can be prepared.  I can build my ark and I'll find safe shelter there."
Hot Fudge: Part B- "I can do the things I know are right.  I can learn and pray with all my might."
Banana: 3rd line of Part A- "And then when storm clouds come I'll be safe within my ark."
Whip Cream: Part C- "I will build my ark before it starts to rain. I will follow the prophet, for he speaks in God's name."
Cherries: Part D- "I'll prepare ev'ry needful thing. I will walk in righteous ways. When the rain starts to fall on me, I'll be ready for that day."

The Jr. Primary kids were so excited to build the Banana Split!  Several little girl Sunbeams "called" the pink ice cream:)  They earned those scoops really quick!  The Hot Fudge called for a bit more work & imagination before I let them add it.  We finally ended up ASL signing the words "do, right, learn, pray, might" before they passed.  The rest of the song went well and there were only a few kids that didn't get a chance to come up and add a piece to the Banana Split.  But it was a beautifully created Split with dripping hot fudge & melting whip cream.  Some of the Sunbeams claimed it looked good enough to eat!  I whole heartedly agreed:)  

Here are pictures of the other 2 food items I had made way back when.  Same idea: a phrase or part of the song assigned to each "topping".  Build your pizza & cheeseburgers (and Banana Split for dessert) while memorizing a program song!  Or maybe just a fun way to review a song later on down the road....
 Pizza with pepperoni, sausage, black olives, and green peppers.

Mini Cheeseburgers with bottom bun, 
meat, cheese, tomatoes, lettuce, top bun.

I think I'll go find something to eat now.  
This post has made me HUNGRY:)

Mix N' Match

For our last week of learning the 2nd verse of "Build An Ark", I came up with another way to use the Raindrops & Rainbows.  I wanted the Sr. Primary to match each word/syllable to the proper raindrop or rainbow for each part of the song (A, B, C, & D).  I had 4 separate manilla envelopes (one for each part) with the correct amount of raindrops & rainbows and the lyrics/syllables for that part.  I placed an envelope on each of the four tables I set up at the end of the room.  Each group of kids/teachers had 3 minutes to dump their pieces onto their table & match them up.  Thus Mix N' Match.  From the pictures below, I supplied a "Teacher's Guide" in each envelope to correspond with that part for the teacher to be able to see & help the kids as needed. Once everyone had finished their part, they then had to sing that part as we went through the song.  When we finished singing, they would gently mix back up the pieces on their table & then we'd shift over one table (which had all the pieces of another part of the song) and do it all again! We were able to sing the song through 4 times, allowing every group to put together & sing every part of the song one time.  Then we sang the entire 2nd verse together for the closing song.  They did a fantastic job & didn't need any pictures to prompt them through it!

This is a great activity for any song.  It really helps the kids to be able to process the words along with the melody & rhythm in their own minds.  After the first round where they all figured out what they were doing, we were able to rotate every 3 minutes (first round took about 5).  So out of the 20 minutes allotted for Singing Time, about 15 minutes of it was simply matching up the pieces to be ready to sing.  Then it takes just over a minute to sing the verse before re-mixing & rotating.  Doesn't leave much time for "singing"!  BUT even though we were only able to get through each part once, they had it totally memorized within that 20 minutes!  That is quality learning people!

Sing the first 2 lines of lyrics for the beginning of the song.  
Then go to the next part (B).

 Part B: 
Sing both lines, then return to Part A & sing line 3.  
Then go to Part C.

 PART C: Sing both lines, then go to Part D.

Sing the top lyrics of both lines and 
then repeat to sing the bottom lyric lines

I hope that makes sense.  There's more room on the tables in our primary room than I had using my portable white board:)

To get ready for this activity, I did the following: 

On strips of different colors of card stock, I randomly wrote the lyrics/syllables of the 2nd verse.  Why all the different colors?  Because I like COLOR, that's why!  :)  For the words that are more than one syllable, I tried to write each syllable on a different color.  Then I cut out each word/syllable.  Then by starting with Part A, I placed the raindrops & rainbows in the correct order.  I then matched up the words/syllables underneath the corresponding 'drop or 'bow.  Remember that all parts except C, repeats at least once and part A twice.  It took a bit of time to cut out the paper, but really when it was all said & done along with pictures for the Teacher's Guides included, it took about 45 minutes.  

Happy Teaching!

February 24, 2012

Build An Ark Helps

The first week, we were only able to learn the first half of the first verse. With the complexity of this song, it was to be expected. The kids all enjoyed learning about the raindrops and rainbows as they learned the melody. They especially liked the frozen raindrops!

On week 2 we reviewed what we had learned the previous week and learned the rest of verse 1. To make things a bit more visual for them, I printed out pictures to go with the song. I cut them out in the shape of a cloud, outlining them with a black marker. I placed the main picture cloud at the beginning of the line of each part (A, B, C, D). I also wrote in some key lyrics with chalk above or below the raindrops/rainbows as needed. And since we were past the "short-long" chanting, we were able to have kids come up to be the "pointer" of the 'drops & 'bows as we sang repetitively. The Sr. Primary kids were competitive! Each child wanted to point EXACTLY perfect to each raindrop & rainbow. They definitely understand the concept much better than the Jr. Primary. But each level did a great job and more importantly, they learned the whole 1st verse!

This is the only picture I have from week 2. I forgot my camera again! Luckily, our secretary has a cool phone AND the know how to use it. Thanks, Tina!

For week 3, our goal was to learn the 1st half of verse 2 for Jr. and the entire verse 2 for Sr. But I wanted to change it up a bit. So instead of placing the 'drops & 'bows on the board as I'd done previously, I wanted the kids to do it. In order to do this, I wanted more visuals (pictures) for them. I decided to make my own "flip chart". I know that I posted a link on my last post of a beautiful chart that Mary put together last year, but I needed MORE pictures. I'm such a literal thinker that I NEEDED more pictures for the abundant lyrics involved in this song. I'm also a visual learner. As I visualized each part of the song, I quickly realized that I would end up with A LOT of pictures to flip. There's no way I could flip them fast enough. That's when I thought about the TOTALLY AWESOME birthday present my hubby gave me the week before. My iPad 2! I am a MAC lover. I will never go back to a PC. NEVER. EVER. I can sync all my iPhotos from my MAC to my iPad. Then I have the "Doodle Buddy" app where I can create my own iPad flip chart. 

By sliding my finger across the screen, I can easily keep up my "flipping" with the pace of the song. SO COOL! The kids thought it was fabulous:) And now I can upload these pics onto my MAC, convert them to PDF form and have them available for anyone who wants them! 

For Sr. Primary, we went through each part, learning the lyrics. As we were singing, I had 2 kids come up to the board to work together on figuring out the pattern of the raindrops & rainbows. We would sing that part over and over again, checking if the pattern was correct. If it was, we went on to the next part, choosing 2 different kids to put up the next pattern. If the pattern wasn't quite right, we sang it again as needed until the correct changes were made. They would then add repeat signs and fermatas where needed. The kids would need to look at the pics I was sliding across my screen and learn them quickly & well enough that they could transfer that knowledge to the raindrop & rainbow method they had learned. They did great and learned the entire 2nd verse!

The Jr. Primary was a bit different:) Starting with part A, I pulled out those raindrops & rainbows. I called up enough kids to the front to each hold a raindrop or rainbow for the lyrics. I placed them in the correct order. As we sang, I would put my hand over the child, according to the rhythm. In other words, instead of the 'drops & 'bows being on the board and me pointing to them as we sang, the kids held their piece and I placed my hand over their heads as we sang. Whew! When we learned that part, I just let the kids put their pieces on the chalkboard wherever they wanted, as they went back to their seats. We did get the first half of the 2nd verse learned. We also sang the parts after the pieces were randomly on the board by watching my cool flip chart:)

I have 3 separate flip charts. They are all the same pictures, but they have varying amounts of the lyrics on each picture. One flip chart has every lyric on the pictures.

Another flip chart has only key words on the pictures.

The last one is pictures only, no lyrics at all.

Each flip chart has 29 pictures. I told you I NEEDED a lot of pictures! But you can eliminate any pictures you feel you don't need, OR you can cut them out and make a poster with them instead.

If you could use any of the pictures/flip charts, email me to make your request.

February 4, 2012

Raindrops & Rainbows

February is the month most of you are teaching "Choose the Right".  I'm saving that for March & focusing on the prophet Noah for February.  We are going to learn "Build An Ark".  And as I've pondered for WEEKS on just how to teach this song, I finally received the inspiration.  Granted, it was by "here a little, there a little"; but it is inspiration indeed!

I love the concept of melody maps.  They're not the quickest thing to produce, but the visual concept of them is remarkable.  Click on the link to find an utterly awesome blog (In the Leafy Tree Tops the "Birds Sing") that has 2 examples for January's & February's songs!  I just couldn't figure out how to make my own for "Build An Ark", so I'm doing it slightly different.

In the world of teaching music, you may be familiar with the method of teaching young children about the duration of short & long notes by using raindrops and rainbows.  For example, Beethoven's 5th Symphony's first four notes are: quarter, quarter, quarter, whole.  To put it into raindrops and rainbows would be: drop, drop, drop, rainbow.  In the story of Noah, there was plenty of raindrops & the promised blessing of rainbows!  I decided to turn this into a way to teach the primary kids the song, "Build An Ark".

Before I begin to explain, I need to tell you that I've divided up this song into 4 parts: part A, part B, part C, & part D.

I will begin with part A by asking the pianist to play middle C in 4 quarter notes & 1 whole note rhythm.  I'll explain to the kids that we just heard 5 notes being played: short, short, short, short, long.  I'll have the kids chant with me as the pianist plays the notes again.  Then I'll place 4 raindrops and 1 rainbow in a straight, horizontal line on the chalkboard.  I will then explain that each raindrop represents a short note and the rainbow represents a long note.  I'll again have the pianist play the note in this rhythm while I point to each raindrop & rainbow and we all chant along. Next I'll add another 6 raindrops & a rainbow to the same line.  We'll repeat the piano/point/chant exercise for the entire line: short, short, short, short, long, short, short, short, short, short, short, long.

The next step is to change the melody (plain middle C) to something more fun:)  The pianist will play the melody of the first phrase of the song, "Build An Ark".  We'll whisper-chant along with her as we learn the melody.  This will be repeated a few times until everyone is secure with the tune & we chant it loudly.

This is when I'll explain to the kids that this song is about a prophet who was an expert on raindrops & rainbows.  I'm sure they'll guess Noah.  So we are going to now add words to the raindrops & rainbows to tell the story of Noah.

This song has many portions of the melody that repeat throughout the song.  We'll use repeat signs as needed to shorten the amount of raindrops & rainbows.

So this is what part A looks like.  Notice the repeat sign I chalked in.  The lyrics for this are: Noah was a prophet, a man who did not fear. (Repeat sign) When he taught repentance the people would not hear.
How's that for clarity!  It all sounds so clear when it's in my head:)

Once the kids are comfy with the words in part A, I'll put up part B & repeat the process beginning with the "short-long" method.  This is where a couple of faster notes are added into the song.  It's the very first 2.  So what is like rain, but falls from the sky at a faster rate?  HAIL!  Hail is freezing raindrops.  So I add a winter hat & mittens to the first 2 raindrops.  The rhythm for these is "quick-ly", one syllable per freezing raindrop.
The chant for part B: quick-ly, short, short, short, short, short, short, short, (Repeat sign), quick-ly, short, short, short, short, short, short, short (2nd time only, they need to hold out that note).  Once the melody is learned by chanting, add the lyrics.  Then you add one raindrop after the repeat sign that leads right back into part A. Teach them the lyrics for the part A (3rd time singing it).  This time, ignore the repeat sign at the end of part A.  When you get to it, you'll immediately jump down to part C.  

Part C is longer, taking two lines of raindrops & rainbows. By now you should know the method drill: chant, whisper-chant with melody, add lyrics.

Part D has a repeat sign.  On the 2nd time through part D, hold out the note right before the 2nd set of freezing raindrops.  

You can also move the raindrops & rainbows to read as a melody map:
My attempt looks a bit squishy on parts C & D.  I would space it out better next time:)  Also notice on part D the last notes just before the last rainbow are at different levels.  That's because when we repeat to sing it through for a 2nd time, that note is written at a lower pitch than when we sang it the first time through.  

You can use this method with ANY song.  Can you think of other ways to use the Raindrops & Rainbows?  Please share!

February 2, 2012

Ping Pong Fun

Ping Pong Fun with "As a Child of God"
We memorized all 3 verses playing this game.  A child would bounce the ping pong ball once onto the table to get it to land in the container within the box.  However many balls made it into (and stayed in!) the container represented the verse we were to sing.  For example:
1 ball= Verse 1
2 balls= Verse 2
3 balls= Verse 3
3 balls IN A ROW= Child Chooses Song
4 balls (not in a row)= One of the following songs: BOM Stories, Nephi's Courage, I Belong to the Church of Jesus Christ, ...........

Before we start to sing the designated verse, another child would roll the dice to determine how many times the verse was to be sung BEFORE singing the chorus.  This dice was cut out by my husband.  I used a sharpie marker to write numbers 1, 2, & 3 TWICE on it.  (I also needed this kind of dice for the Choose the Right game we were going to play on the 5th Sunday.)

By the end of Singing Time, both Jr. & Sr. had all 3 verses & chorus totally memorized!  We no longer need to even use the flip chart.  WAHOO!!!

The ping pong container is just the lid to the apricots I bought at Costco months ago.  The box is merely to help contain the missed ping pong balls so that we didn't have to shag them from all over the Primary Room.  It help keep the chaos level to a minimum.  When I first explained what we were going to do, nearly all the kids exclaimed, "That's going to be SO EASY!"   Ha!  They quickly learned that those ping pong balls weren't as cooperative as they assumed they'd be:)  

It was a fun way to memorize the song!  AND this activity can be used for ANY song, which is even better:)

Wintertime Nursery Song List

If you go into Nursery to do Singing Time with them, a list of songs by your side is helpful.  If you DON'T go into Nursery, please consider it.  It is so worth it!  The new Sunbeams this year have had a great transition.  They know me and know what to expect with Singing Time.  Now I continue to build that relationship with next years kids in Nursery every week for 15 minutes. For the most part, I keep the Nursery Songs consistent.  However, I like to sing about the different seasons as they come.  I have learned that by rotating "action" songs with "props" songs is helpful, too.  That way we can be putting the props away at the beginning of the action song.  It runs smoother that way.  I can then dig out the props for the next song at the end of the action song we're singing.  It's all in the planning:)

This is my current (winter time) list of songs we sing every week:

Gathering Song:  Here We Are Together (in our nursery, sing kids' names).  I begin singing this song the second my foot enters the room.  That the signal for them to gather around me to begin Singing Time.

Singing Time 
If You're Happy - actions
It's Wintertime/Snow Is Falling all Around - sway the snowflake strings (see picture above) in time with the feel of the song
Once There Was a Snowman - actions
Sing a Song/Ring a Song - Bell bracelets
Jesus Wants Me for a Sunbeam - actions
5 Little Ducks - duck glove
I Am Like a Star - star sticks
Hinges - actions
Stand For the Right - "Bee" true crocheted bee
Follow the Prophet chorus - latter day prophet sticks & march in place
I'm Trying To Be Like Jesus - Jesus hearts to hug

Closing Song:  I Am a Child of God - continue to hug Jesus hearts

We always sing a'cappella. That's why I don't have page numbers on my list.  We move along quickly, so it's nice not to mess with a CD player.   The 2nd songs on the Singing Time list is the melody to "It's Autumntime" in the CS page 246 and "Rain Is Falling All Around" in the CS page 241.

I made up the lyrics for "It's Wintertime" to the tune of "It's Autumntime":
It's wintertime, it's wintertime, with snowflakes falling down.
It's wintertime, it's wintertime, with snow upon the ground.
It's wintertime, it's wintertime, enjoy the chilly air.
It's wintertime, it's wintertime, white snow is ev'rywhere!

We like to sway the snowflake strings while singing both songs.  We even let them tap our noses, hands & toes for the 2nd song.

Happy Winter Singing!

Jesus Hearts

Over the last couple of weeks, I've started singing "I'm Trying To Be Like Jesus" as one of the songs in Nursery Singing Time.  I have a consistent list of songs we do every week.  I wanted to add this song to sing just before the closing song, "I Am a Child of God".  But by then end of Singing Time, the little ones have a hard time sitting back down to fold their arms & become more reverent.  So to help with this, I was inspired to make little foamy hearts with a picture of Jesus in the center.  I felt that they needed to show their love for Jesus by giving Him a hug as they sing the 2 closing songs.  As I passed them out to the little ones, I showed them the picture, explaining that Jesus loves us so much!  We love Him too, and can show Him by giving His "heart" a beautiful hug while we sing about Him.  It was amazing to see how many of the little ones understood the concept & studiously hugged Him to the very end.  One girl wanted Jesus even closer to her that she opened the neck of her shirt & dropped him next to her heart!  Gotta love kids:)

At Joann's, I found a package of 18 valentine foamy hearts.  9 were glittered, 9 plain.  I removed the inner hearts to make the large ones into "frames".  I traced the frame heart onto another piece of foam to create a back.  I then cut a smaller heart to trace onto the picture of Jesus.  I laminated the pictures before gluing them to the front section of the foamy heart.  Some of the babes in Nursery put the song props in their mouths.  Ew, I know.  More than one prophet has bite marks:)  Need to make them slobber proof!  Once the glue was dry, I held the front & back pieces together & "sewed" them together with a craft needle & yarn.  This is to prevent the hearts from being pulled apart.  However, one little turkey pulled the stitches & ripped them out of the heart.  But, you still gotta love kids:)  I tied the two strings in a knot at the end.  I also tied a knot in each string left to prevent the yarn from splitting/unravelling.

I've used these for the last 3 weeks.  The kids love them (and Jesus, too)!