Sunday, January 31, 2016

Stake meeting for Primary Chorister & notes

As spring is nearing closer every day, it's time to take inventory: of our Primary. We recently had a stake meeting for all the Primary Choristers in the Puyallup Stake to attend. It was really nice to meet the other choristers and hear their ideas! We obtained a lot of very helpful information, and I'd like to share it with you. Some of the information is geared toward Primary as a whole.

  • If you see a reverence/respect problem, things to try:
    • Remember to praise in public and reprove in private. Take them out for a walk in the hall.
    • A teacher or leader can sit close to them.
    • Separate disruptive children from each other.
  • 15 minute Sharing Time, 20 minute Singing Time. Either one can go first, just leave time for the other. Experiment with 5 minute segments of time alternating between Sharing and Singing Time. This "combined" method can really hold their attention well.
  • Hold Junior Sharing Time first to avoid 12 year olds come to any part of Primary.
  • The Handbook explains that Prayer, Scripture, and Talks are part of Sharing Time. Have your Prayer, Scripture, and Talks in Junior Primary AND in Senior Primary.
  • Avoid games that have competition between groups.
  • When teaching the entire Primary, try to avoid calling them "You guys."
  • If people are available in your ward, consider separate Senior/Junior/Nursery assistant choristers.
  • Try to eliminate announcements that don't involve the children. There are other ways to communicate to the teachers. Primary should be about the children from the beginning. Greet them as they come in. Carry the reverence of Sacrament Meeting over into Primary.
  • Choristers - as you're teaching and singing with the children, watch and listen to see if they are actually singing. With all of the fun activities to use, make sure focus is on the music and the doctrine they are learning.
  • Some wards are having problems with staffing Primary and with teachers not showing up on Sundays. Personal phone calls may feel uncomfortable, but I don't know of any other way to check in with them if they aren't coming.
Some other things we discussed include:
  • KEEP ALL RECEIPTS, AND TURN THEM IN! This is especially important in wards that are newly formed or have been split up into 2 or more wards. It helps the Bishopric to establish a more reasonable budget.
  • ATTEND PRESIDENCY MEETINGS. I've never been invited to attend the primary presidency meetings, but I also figured I simply wasn't a part of them. Not true. Coordinating the music with the Sharing Time lesson, discussing Primary Program planning and details, and brainstorming on ideas for fun reverence and learning Gospel topics is essential to a successful, spiritual Sunday, and it's about ALL of the leaders working together. Sometimes that may include all the Primary and Nursery teachers, too.
  • LOCAL LIBRARY CARDS. Our next-door-county library system offers 75 free black & white print copies and 25 color print copies PER WEEK. This is something I'll take advantage of when I teach "Praise to the Man" using homemade coloring booklets with the words to the verses we're learning.
  • REACH OUT. Whether you are finding substitutes or need an issue resolved, reach out to the stake auxiliaries. They can help you make stuff, hear and help resolve your complaints, find last-minute and planned-out substitutes, etc. Use the "chain of command." It's there to help!
  • Two sites that were mentioned at the meeting for Primary help included and I've also found Camille's Primary Ideas and Lesson Plans of an OCD Primary Chorister to be especially helpful!

Have you had a stake primary choristers meeting? What would you add to this list? 

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Hot/Cold game using music note laminated printable

One of the most popular games to play with the primary children is the hot/cold activity. Choristers use various items or pictures to hide - sometimes with direct correlation to the song being taught - but you can never go wrong with a music note!

Any note clipart would work. I suggest one with a thicker stem, like a quarter note, or perhaps even use two 16th notes, like this one.

Also, it doesn't have to be black. Think of the colors in your primary room. Pick a color that isn't there or doesn't appear very often. Coloring the note a lesser-used color helps the kids to find the note easier.

What do you use for your hot/cold game? I'd love to hear your feedback! <3

Sunday, January 17, 2016

2016 Primary Program: If I Listen With My Heart

I love this song. The music is simple and beautiful. But, how did I choose to teach this song to Primary?

On the Facebook page for LDS Primary Choristers, one of the most popular ways to teach a song is via flipbook. I decided to do something a little different with the PDF flipbook that I found.

As you can see, I taped the flipbook pages onto a posterboard - albeit, a flimsy one - and used only the colored pages (PDF file came with black and white pages, too). The third verse is on the back.

Since I'm a piano teacher, too, I use my experience teaching piano music to teach Primary, and one of the things I try to get my students to do are find patterns. For this song, each verse ends with the same chorus comprised of the same words, same notes, and same rhythm, aside for a slight variation at the end of the third chorus repeat.

Once they learned the song well enough, I don't sing all the words with them; perhaps, I'll only sing the difficult words or all-caps words. Maybe I sing only verses or only the chorus. We've even tried every other word--believe me, that's tricky!

However you choose to sing this song, let me know in the comments. :)

Pinterest link: If I Listen With My Heart
Website link: Etsy: LivingOurDreamLife

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Sunday Singing Outline

"Organizing is what you do before you do something, so that when you do it, it is not all mixed up."

My grandmother once told me, "Marry someone who chooses to show up to church on time because that's a sign of a respectful person." Her words - and my choice to do better - have since changed me from a procrastinator enjoying (and also hating) those last-minute, race-against-the-clock adrenaline rushes to an organized planner who relishes in calm and understands that my planning helps others to find peace and calm during the sometimes Dark-Ages-like-moments of Singing Time on Sundays. :)

If you're struggling with planning, I'm sure you've tried a dozen ways to plan and organize, but let me try to help. Maybe you'll read this post as just another failed attempt, or perhaps (hopefully) you'll find the Sunday calm you seek.

I bought a $5.00 Primary Chorister Planner by MyComputerIsMyCanvas off Etsy, and one of the pages included is a Weekly Singing Time page. Here it is pictured below, filled out for one of my Sundays:

I can text or email a picture of the filled-out sheet to my accompanists so they can have all week to practice. I can plan one version of an activity for junior primary and another version for senior primary. I can plan what I'm doing for Nursery, and I have room to write down the "Learning Activity or Game" for Singing Time. This is all aside from the awesome top section where I can write down the titles and page numbers for opening and closing exercises.

Seriously, every chorister needs a planner, whether you buy this or use one that I've pinned, GET A PLANNER. Use it. Every Sunday, I plan out the next week's page, which is made much easier by planning at least month by month, if not the whole year.

Do you have a planner? If so, let me know. If not, how do you stay organized?

Sunday, January 3, 2016

2016 Singing Time Outline

During the 2015 Christmas break, I focused hard on planning the entire year's worth of Sunday Singing Times. I'm a big planner - maybe even a little (a lot) OCD about it - but I knew that with three kids and a traveling husband, it's better to prepare and have to change last-minute than show up empty-handed. I used to procrastinate. No more. :)

Here is my schedule (includes song links):

JANUARY - Article of Faith #8
3 - If I Listen With My Heart vs. 1
10 - If I Listen With My Heart vs. 2
17 - If I Listen With My Heart vs. 3
24 - If I Listen With My Heart vs. 1-3
31 - I Will Follow God's Plan

FEBRUARY - Article of Faith #1-2
7 - I Will Follow God's Plan
14 - Stand for the Right
21 - Stand for the Right
28 - Beautiful Savior vs. 1

MARCH - Article of Faith #5
6 - Beautiful Savior vs. 2
13 - Beautiful Savior vs. 3
20 - Beautiful Savior vs. 1-3
27 - PERFORM Beautiful Savior, Praise to the Man vs. 1-4

APRIL - Article of Faith #3
3 - General Conference
10 - Praise to the Man vs. 1, Scripture Heroes
17 - Praise to the Man vs. 1, Scripture Heroes
24 - My Mother Dear, Praise to the Man vs. 2

MAY - Article of Faith #6
1 - My Mother Dear, Praise to the Man vs. 1-2
8 - PERFORM My Mother Dear, Praise to the Man vs. 3
15 - Praise to the Man vs. 1-3
22 - Praise to the Man vs. 4
29 - Praise to the Man vs. 1-4

JUNE - Article of Faith #4
5 - Fathers vs. 1-3
12 - Fathers vs. 1-3
19 - PERFORM Fathers, Faith vs. 1
27 - Faith vs. 2

JULY - Article of Faith #12
3 - I Love to See the Temple vs. 1, Pioneer vs. 1
10 - I Love to See the Temple vs. 2, Pioneer vs. 2
17 - I Love to See the Temple vs. 1-2, Pioneer vs. 1-2
24 - PERFORM Pioneer, The Lord Gave Me a Temple vs. 1-2
31 - The Lord Gave Me a Temple vs. 1-2

AUGUST - Article of Faith #13
7 - We'll Bring the World His Truth vs. 1
14 - We'll Bring the World His Truth vs. 1-2
21 - We'll Bring the World His Truth vs. 1-2, Grandmother
28 - We'll Bring the World His Truth vs. 1-2, Grandmother

SEPTEMBER - Article of Faith #10
4 - REVIEW If I Listen With My Heart & I Will Follow God's Plan
11 - Stake Conference
18 - REVIEW Stand for the Right & Beautiful Savior
25 - REVIEW Praise to the Man & Faith

OCTOBER - Article of Faith #9
2 - General Conference
9 - REVIEW I Love to See the Temple & The Lord Gave Me a Temple
16 - REVIEW We'll Bring the World His Truth, Program Rehearsal
23 - Program Rehearsal

NOVEMBER - Article of Faith #11
6 - Nativity vs. 1
13 - Nativity vs. 2
20 - Christmas Day
27 - Christmas Day

DECEMBER - Article of Faith #7
4 - Sacred Names of Jesus
11 - Sacred Names of Jesus
18 - REVIEW Nativity, Christmas Day, Sacred Names of Jesus
25 - PERFORM Nativity, Christmas Day, Sacred Names of Jesus

Extra songs to include: Heroes of the Scriptures, Books in the Old Testament, Books in the New Testament, Book of Mormon Stories, Books in the Book of Mormon