Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Finch Family Games CLEARANCE!!!

I'm a fan of anyone who can draw--I'm lucky if I can make a stick figure without messing it up. It almost automatically makes me a fan of Finch Family Games, and if you are a huge fan of the wonderful Finch Family, their Games, or their downloadable File Folders, then you need to visit their CLEARANCE page immediately!!! 

Instead of $8.00, lots of books and file folders are selling for just $2.00, making this budget Music Leader HAPPY!!!

Also, don't forget to give the 2016 Primary Theme page a glance. Or two. ;)

And did I mention the site has a FREEBIES page?? And a blog!

Did you grow up with a Music Leader who used Finch Family products? 

Monday, March 28, 2016

April 2016 Singing Time Plans

Here are my Singing Time plans for April 2016 (subject to change). Remember, April 3rd (and 2nd) are General Conference days! :) The links are listed after each Sunday's planner picture.

And if you like these planner pages, you can get them in this planner by MyComputerIsMyCanvas! They're an absolute lifesaver!

Egg shakers by Sharon Wilson Kartchner

Praise to the Man flipchart by me (no longer using this, plans changed) :)

Sunday, March 27, 2016

UPDATE: Beautiful Savior Performance


I received soooooo many compliments about the children's performance today in Sacrament Meeting! The credit goes to the children: they listened so well, followed along, and were so reverent, and the sign language was clear and beautiful. One of the brethren came up to me and told me he was in tears when the children were signing. He - and several others - said they can tell I was meant to have this calling.

It's always wonderful to hear things like that, especially when I worry that I haven't had enough time to teach the songs because of conference Sundays, personal illness, or my children's illnesses.

I work extremely hard to prepare the songs, activities, materials, or anything else I might need. I email the songs in advance by at least 1-2 weeks to my accompanists so they will feel comfortable playing in Primary and Sacrament meeting. I plan out about a month in advance, if I can, in case I don't have time later or the off chance I need a substitute.

It was a beautiful Easter Sunday with perfect weather and such adorable Primary children in their Easter Sunday best. I'm so grateful... <3

2016 Primary Program: Praise to the Man

"Praise to the Man" is a hard song to sing if you can't read the words in the hymnbook, let alone to teach to 3-year old Sunbeams. I needed to come up with something for the Primary kids that would introduce the song to them without a lot of stress. Well, what do kids love to do more than sing? COLOR. :)

Initially, I created this printable booklet for "Praise to the Man" with the intention to have the kids color it while listening to the mp3 version of the song in the background. Then, I realized it's only Junior Primary that will struggle with the song because Senior Primary can read the words in the hymnbook. So, only Junior Primary gets to color. And that means less printing and stapling. Yay!

I used Microsoft Office Power Point to make the booklet. For minimal printing, cutting, and stapling, I chose the following printer settings: 4 slides horizontal, horizontal landscape, and print one-sided. Difficult, special, or long words are emphasized in bold for a visual effect. The kids will remember these words easier because they look different than the other words.

Here is what it looks like printed out (if you don't want borders around each slide):

Print out all the pages and cut into long strips, straight across the middle. I chose to include borders for the individual slides because it helped me cut straighter lines around the strips. DO NOT cut off the left and right sides: only the top and the bottom. The left and right sides need the extra space for when it gets taped shut and stapled together.

Fold the strip in half, marking a slightly heavy crease in the fold. If you open and stand it up, it should look like the picture below.

Tape the open sides together. You're first piece is done! Repeat for all the other pages. Chorus may be printed once after each verse or only once total; it could be taped and stapled separately from the verses or not. It's up to you!

I chose to place the chorus pages in the same booklet and between verse 1 and 4. I'm not teaching verses 2 and 3, but I included them in the Power Point attachment. Final product shown below:

I have about 30 kids in junior primary, so I'll only need 30 copies x 3 pages = 90 copies. It will be more depending on which verses you include.

Here is the link: Praise to the Man booklet

Happy Singing! How did you choose to teach this hymn?

Monday, March 21, 2016

UPDATE: Beautiful Savior

Sunday the 13th: Using the printable words and pictures that I put together, I hid them by taping them under random Primary chairs. Some kids got one, and some didn't, but we all worked together to figure out the next word in the song and tape them in order up on the rolling white board. We sang the song after a phrase or two. For example, once we put together "Fair is the sunshine," we'd sing that much. Once we added "Fairer the moonlight," we'd sing the new phrase by itself and then sing from the beginning up to that point.

Sunday the 20th: I mixed up all the words and pictures and handed them out to the kids. All but 3 kids had one in Junior Primary, and all but 5 had one in Senior Primary. The kids who didn't have one had to help me put all the pieces together by lining up the kid in order around the room. Then, we sang the first and second verses, and the third once we got back to our chairs. Also, we practice listening to the piano so we could remember the very few notes between verse 1 and 2, and the several more notes between verse 2 and 3.

***EXTRA UPDATE: We are not doing the descant for this Sunday, but the song is part of our Primary Program, so we will include it then, and perhaps some hand bells, too? :D

Sunday, March 20, 2016

From My Mom: Pick A Pocket Apron

When I was in primary 20 years ago, my mom was my chorister. One of my favorite activities that she came up with was the Pick a Pocket Music Apron. Some choristers have altered the idea for Nursery children instead of Primary children, and it works GREAT, but junior and senior primary will enjoy it just as much!

Here's an example of a Nursery Apron:

You start with a plain white apron, usually without pockets. I bought mine for less than $10 off Amazon. Then, you can sew on or hot glue on pockets made of felt, material, etc. Each pocket is different. Some pockets may have strips of paper with song titles or "your choice" written on them. Some pockets may have a pencil, eraser, or bookmark (all church related). Yet other pockets may have a small piece of candy (it's best if the candy is given to the teacher to keep until after primary/class is over).

Nursery apron pocket ideas:
  • Tiny animals for singing with different noises or acting a certain way, like in the song "Do As I'm Doing."
  • A picture/clipart of a Sun for "Jesus Wants Me For a Sunbeam."
  • A picture of Jesus for any number of Jesus-themed songs, like "I'm Trying to Be Like Jesus."
  • A mirror for the song "I Am a Child of God."
  • A snowglobe or cutout of a snowman for "Once There Was a Snowman."
  • Plastic spider rings for "Itsy, Bitsy Spider."
  • Aluminum foil star cutouts for "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star."
Primary ideas:
  • Use the apron as a primary program music review with some of the pockets having song titles for the primary to sing.
  • If you choose candy for some of the pockets, please be aware of dietary restrictions and allergies. Stick with "safe" candies, like DumDum lollipops, Starburst, Skittles, and plain M&Ms.
  • It's easy to find pencils, erasers, bookmarks, rubber bracelets, CTR rings, etc., on LDS shopping sites. Even Amazon or party stores sometimes offer LDS-related items for sale.
  • Don't let the kids dig into your pockets. YOU the Chorister retrieve whatever is in the pocket that they get to pick from/point to.
  • Offer something small, like a smiley hand sticker, to each child that participates in Singing Time but didn't get a chance to pick a pocket.
I'm going to make mine before March is over. I'm so excited, and I hope the kids will be, too!

Do you have a Pick A Pocket Music Apron? What are the suggestions or guidelines you would add? I'd love to hear from you! <3

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Ten Tips for Terrific Talks (Sharing/Singing Times)

This post may not sound like it's geared toward Primary Choristers, but read on and you'll be pleasantly surprised how preparing a talk uses similar steps to preparing a Sharing Time lesson--or even Singing Time!

1. Prepare. The most important preparation comes from the Spirit, and prayer especially should have a high priority. Remember that Sharing/Singing Time should center on Christ and gospel-related topics. In regular, daily prayers you can ask for help.

2. Brainstorm. Review all the ideas that have surfaced during your few days of carrying the subject around in your head. You might have jotted down story titles or descriptions, bits of quotes or scriptures you have remembered, personal experiences, examples, key questions, articles, poems, or hymns.

3. Let ideas incubate. If you have several weeks to prepare, ponder the subject for a few days. As you drive, jog, or walk, consider how your topic can be made relevant to the primary. Sift through your memory for ideas and record them, even if briefly, when they come to mind.

4. Research. Continue gathering material for your subject by going to LDS.org and other internet sites. (Not all ideas online are appropriate or correct. Check with Primary President or Bishop if you're not sure.)

5. Expand research. Now is a good time to ask family and friends if they have any good ideas to share.

6. Sift and order. Concentrate on refining. You may have far more material than you can use, but you have probably already started to mentally sift through the ideas that appeal to you most.

List broad headings that summarize the various groups of ideas. Don't worry about scratching out and moving ideas at this stage.

Now rearrange these headings in a logical sequence. Decide which material you won't have time to include. Prioritize so that you don't spend 90% of your allotted time approaching the subject, leaving only a few minutes to present the heart of the topic.

7. Prepare an outline. List a heading followed by the items or ideas that come under it.

8. Plan a creative beginning and end. Decide how best to interest the primary from the start. Create readiness to listen by starting with a story, an interesting quote, or a question that will arouse curiosity.

Now look at your ending. Plan a summary of your message, perhaps linking back to your opening thought.

9. The final stage. Time yourself in a practice run. You may be inspired with new ideas or be prompted to use quotes or ideas you previously discarded.

10. Practice makes perfect. The more times you prepare in this way, the easier it becomes. You will probably personalize the method suggested here. You'll do a wonderful job!

Avoid trying to "finish" anything during Singing Time or Sharing Time. STOP to teach, to share a story, or to ask a question. Elder Call taught our stake that "Planning the details of your meeting carefully in advance actually frees us to "feel" and let inspiration guide the meeting--not your outline.

--John F. Cary, "Ten Tips for Terrific Talks," Ensign, December 1993

Sunday, March 6, 2016

2016 Primary Program: Beautiful Savior

I love this song! I loved it as a child, and I still love to sing it. But, the descant was always my favorite part. Almost 20 years ago, my hometown ward choir sang the song, and I got to sing the descant at the pulpit. To say the least, I was excited--and super nervous. It has a large range, and I didn't want to go off key and mess it up.

Now that I'm the chorister, I have a chance to teach the Primary this song, and I have two ladies in Valiant 11 that are willing to sing the descant. I don't know if they're nervous, but I'm sure I'm nervous enough for all of us! ;)

I decided to teach this song using printed, laminated words and pictures. Any time I want fancy colors or font for the words, I simply use Microsoft Office WordArt, and I use pictures or clipart from Microsoft Office Online Pictures, public domain image sites, or LDS.org Media page. Here are words I created and pictures/clipart I used:


I only did this method with the first two verses. The third verse will be sung with ASL, and the descant will be sung by two Valiant 11 girls.

These primary children are amazing singers, but since we missed 2 Sundays because of back-to-back conferences, and I was sick the Sundays before and after Conference Sundays, I'll still use the words when we sing...just in case. :)

Does your primary know this song? How did you teach/review it?