Saturday, April 30, 2016

May 2016 Singing Time Plans

Here are my Singing Time plans for May 2016 (subject to change). The links are listed after each Sunday's planner picture.

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

Rain Is Falling All Around - use simple motions
You've Had a Birthday - practicing as a round all month
I Want To Be a Missionary Now - use simple motions

Musical Review - use eggshakers, maracas, bells, etc., to practice rhythm/beat
Do As I'm Doing

The Prophet Said To Plant A Garden

Program Review - pick a pocket apron

"Hello, Hello" with International Flag Toothpicks

I wanted to do something different with the "Hello, Hello" song. We've sung it as it's written; we've sung it as one side of the room or one gender echoes the other. The prior Primary Music Leader used dollar store leis and had the kids sing "Aloha, Aloha." I thought it was a genius idea!

So, I bought these International toothpick flags from Amazon, figured out which country matched each flag, numbered them, and translated the word "Hello" into each country's primary or most widely used top two languages. In the end, we have 82 various flags (some flags were doubled or tripled in the package), and I wrote up a list of the translated hello's.

I'm going to let the new kid - or one of the new kids - pick a toothpick flag, and we'll sing the corresponding hello.

Here is the list. I hope they're accurate. Enjoy!

Let me know if you try it and how it works!

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Primary Puppets...wait, what?

Oh, what do you during Singing Time when kids won't hear the songs?

Do you beat on a gong?
Or try to stay strong
as you pray for the Holy Ghost?
Is that what you do?


In Primary.

It could be a sign of creativity, delusion, or...? :)

But, I'm trying an idea mentioned on the LDS Primary Choristers Group Facebook page: puppets who sing the wrong words to the Primary songs. They each have a name, too, to represent the kinds of kids in Primary:

Molly Mormon
Peter Priesthood
Too Cool Tony
Shy Sally
Loud Larry
Chatty Cathy
Debbie Downer
...and others...

At the same time that I'm teaching the songs, the puppets act as (1) examples of how to be friends with various kinds of people, (2) reminders of what not to do, and (3) how to work together to reach a common goal.

Here are the puppets I got for our Primary:

Multi-Ethnic puppets

Etsy puppets - 1

Etsy puppets - 2 finger puppets

Any thoughts of words of advice? :)

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Chorister Helper Batons

I don't know how many of you actually direct the songs during Primary versus using motions or flip charts for every single song. Maybe you direct the sings once the Primary children have learned it well enough, or maybe you do something else. For me, I LOVE directing the songs, whether 4/4 time, 3/4 time, 6/8 get the point. :)

The Primary kids LOVE to copy me when I direct the music. Many of them do it because they enjoy it, but a few started out mimicking me to get attention when I first was called as Music Leader. You know the kids: class clowns.

What could I do to level the playing field so that everyone had fun without going about it the wrong way? Well, when I found these music-topped pencils, I just had to get them. I knew I could use them to reward the well-behaved children and, simultaneously, entice the others to focus, participate, and get the correct kind of attention that they seek: eyes on them at the front of the Primary room. And they seem to really enjoy it, which makes me super excited!

For now, I keep the pencils in a small Easter/spring-themed metal bucket on a table at the front. During any song, I will choose a reverent child or two - or six, since there are six pencils from which to choose - to come up and help me lead. Boy, do they love that!

I think it's extremely important to teach children the basics of music. So many studies have been conducted and articles written - here, here, and here, for examples - of how good music is a positive influence on education, behavior, and even society. So, why not start in the Primary room? :)

What do you use to help your Primary kids learn how to lead music? Ho has music changed your life?

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Thoughts from General Conference - Sunday Sessions

Pres. Monson had the best quote of conference, in my opinion. It's one we can aptly apply to our Primary lessons and Singing Times: "May we ever choose the harder right instead of the easier wrong." Songs to consider that correlate to this quote: Stand For the Right, Choose the Right, Do What is Right, Keep the Commandments, Choose the Right Way, or I Want to Live the Gospel.

Sis. Bonnie L. Oscarson asked a question that I believe Primary kids can understand and ask themselves just as easily as we adults can ask ourselves: "I knew it, but did I believe it?" On the 24th of this month, I'm singing a solo in Sacrament meeting, accompanied on piano by a good friend. The song, I Have Not Seen, Yet I Believe by Sally DeFord, exactly fits Sis. Oscarson's song and relates to the bearing of testimonies, too. Do we bear our testimonies as things we "know" or "believe"? What do we actually know versus what do we believe, and why?

D. Todd Christofferson quoted 3 John 1:4: "I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth." This would definitely be a great joy in my life. We should often remind the Primary children to carry with them to home and through the week the happy, joyful feelings they get from attending and participating in Sharing Time, Singing Time, and Primary class.

Dallin H. Oaks' quote, "Some things can only be learned by faith," is emulated in the songs I Walk by Faith, Faith, When Faith Endures, Go Forth With Faith, I Pray in Faith, and I'll Follow Him in Faith. Also, it's an important principle to reinforce in our Primary conversations.

Jeffrey R. Holland had a great talk that began with a dinosaur meme from Facebook. In other news, he said, "Please remember tomorrow, and all the days after that, that the Lord blesses those who want to improve..." He promises that if we do our best to improve, and seek the Lord as we do so, "...soon enough, you will have the success you seek."

Thoughts from General Conference - Saturday Sessions

Pres. Henry B. Eyring mentioned D&C 25:12. This has always been my favorite music-related scripture.

Sis. Mary R. Durham asked, "How do we prepare the children?" She discussed the Holy Ghost and Articles of Faith 4 and 5. Also, she asked, "How do we teach our children to kick off worldly influences and trust the spirit?" She talked about Eli the priest and young Samuel's experiences with hearing the Lord's voice for the first time while in the Temple. Samuel was prepared at a young age by an immersive environment, the same thing we should do for our Primary children at church and home: help them prepare for and understand the Lord's voice for the first - and each succeeding - time that they'll hear Him via an immersive environment. The Spirit will adapt to the level of the child.

Elder Donald L. Hallstrom chose to speak on how we are created in God's image as His children. "When difficult things occur in our lives, what is our immediate response? Is it confusion or doubt or spiritual withdrawal? Is it a blow to our faith? Do we blame God or others for our circumstances? Or is our first response to remember who we are—that we are children of a loving God?" Of course, one of the most widely circulated memes on Facebook is when he quoted Elder Holland just a little later in his talk: "You can have what you want or you can have something better." Perhaps, we music leaders could combine this theme in a Singing Time and coordinated Sharing Time one-two punch. :) "The more distractions that surround us, the easier it is to treat casually, then ignore, and then forget our connection with god." What a powerful image for good we shine upon the Primary children when we put away the devices during Sharing Time to show respect for the sister giving the lesson.

Elder Steven E. Snow mentioned that "some of the greatest sermons are preached by the singing of hymns." This fits in well with Primary because there is usually (at least) one hymn we sing with the congregation during the Primary Program in the fall. The original hymnbook of the Pioneer Saints had about 90 hymns with only lyrics, no music. What did/do the Primary kids think about that? He reminded us that the Savior wants us to "humble [ourselves] as a little child." We are responsible for helping raise our children to stay humble into adulthood: "We do not do this by breaking their spirit through unkindness or by being too harsh in our discipline. While nurturing their self-confidence and self-esteem, we need to teach them the qualities of selflessness, kindness, obedience, lack of pride, civility, and unpretentiousness. We need them to learn to take joy in the successes of siblings and friends. Then, he quoted Pres. Howard W. Hunter, saying, "Our genuine concern should be for the success of others."

Elder Dale G. Renlund had a very emotional story about the South African woman during Sacrament meeting, and I think it's important for us to constantly emphasize to the Primary what she thought as how we should view the Atonement of Christ: "Oh, he, the Savior, did this just for me."

Elder Neil L. Andersen had a lot to say about children and their families. "God loves children. He loves all children. The Savior said, 'Suffer [the] little children … to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven'...These children and youth are blessed with believing hearts and spiritual gifts." Also, a very important thing that I'm trying to work on is this: "Knowing someone’s name can make a difference." It's hard for me to remember names. I still get mixed up with my own neighbors' kids, but maybe I'll make up a fun way to try to remember them/test myself...?

Elder M. Russell had the funniest and truest quote of the day's conferences: "The irony of being parents is that we tend to get really good at it after our children are grown." How does this apply to Primary? Same concept applies, but we get to keep "kids" for the length of our "parenthood." We need to be better "parents" as we grow closer to the Spirit and relay the promptings and teachings of the Spirit to the young souls of which we are in charge.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

"Heroes of the Scriptures" song - Friend, June 1998

Can we just take one minute to admire the SPECTACULAR bulletin board design idea in the picture above?? HUGE props to Kay Maynard and her blog post on!!! Check it out. NOW. :)

An extra song I'm choosing to teach this year is "Heroes of the Scriptures" from the June 1998 Friend magazine. So far, I've found some Pinterest pins and corresponding primary blogs (including Kay's) that have helped me decide on the following aids:

Scripture Hero pictures and info sheets
Verse 3: Mary, Samuel face, Moroni, Jesus (for "God's perfect Son" line at end of song)

I'll read/summarize all or some from the information sheet, whatever corresponds with the song information about each person, i.e. Noah and courage/courageous. After going over each person in the first verse, I'll let some kids hold up the pictures or wear the face cutouts. I'll repeat for each verse, but I'm only doing one verse per week, as I'm teaching other songs during Singing Time, too! :)

Are you teaching this song? How are you choosing to teach it?

Awesome, CHEAP Primary materials from...

FAIR WARNING: if you work on a primary OR personal budget, the following websites may create or increase a current unhealthy spending habit due to the awesome, CHEAP materials that can be found on these sites for Primary Singing Time. Or Sharing Time. Or your personal household.

You get the point. :) YOU'VE BEEN WARNED! Hehe...

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- and offer RIDICULOUSLY CHEAP products that I've found work for Primary Singing Time, especially if on a small or non-existent Primary budget, or if using personal money.

Here are some of the items I found for my Singing Time that were $1, $2, or $3 apiece, excluding the $8 xylophone--still a great deal!

1. Christmas/winter pens--I'm going to use these as Christmas chorister batons!

2. Musical rattle--great for background bells for Christmas, or possibly Easter, songs, too.

3. Large maracas/sand rattles--good for beat practices or songs with varied rhythms.

4. Xylophone--have a child or two play certain colored keys during a performance?

5. Piano key sticks--help children learn to play part of a song during Singing Time.

NOTE: Of the 20 or so items that I've ordered, they take approximately 4-6 weeks to arrive but haven't been damaged or arrived with lost pieces. I've seen a few reviews in which items are late, damaged, or missing pieces, or the conversion size is wrong. Pay particular attention to the DESCRIPTION section of each item in order to ensure order accuracy. Also, it's a site that sells a VARIETY of items, if you know what I mean, so please take care to search correctly. It's a https:// encrypted site, so it should be more safe than a typical http site. But, always take care.

Comment below with any questions you have about this site or its products. :)

Monday, April 4, 2016

Mother's Day Song: My Mother Dear + April Showers printables

For Mother's Day (May 8th), I'm teaching the Primary how to sing "My Mother Dear." I'm using the memory game technique to make learning more impactful.

The picture above shows the laminated printables for the first part of the game. I'm using 9 raindrops with half of each phrase from the song taped on the backs of them. One raindrop will be blank on the back unless you want to use the title of the song or the "Bonus Flip!" that I included on the downloadable page.

I'll tape them up on the board so everyone can see the phrases when we flip them over.

Follow the regular memory game rules (found here). You could have the Primary work together as one big team rather than splitting them up into teams of boys vs. girls, left side vs. right side, etc.

I'm using the umbrella and raindrops for our April Singing Times. For our May 1st Singing Time, I'm using the flowers (picture shown below). Same game, just different pictures: a sun instead of an umbrella, and flowers instead of raindrops. :)

Files available for download here:

This is a printable that can be used for various songs. Just print more raindrops and flowers. The raindrops are good for rainy days or in the middle of summer during a lack of rain. The flowers work for all of spring or in the middle of winter when you miss flowers growing out of the snow. :)

***Make sure to print AFTER you download the files and then open them. If you try to print from the Google Drive preview, it may not print correctly.***

Friday, April 1, 2016

Featured Chorister: Kori Johnston


Kori is a proud mom of 6 who loves couponing, traveling, singing time, and spending time with her family. She dreams of moving back west...someday.



I love using instruments during singing time to tap out the beat, play along with the rhythm, or just have fun. I’m especially excited when I can make or purchase instruments that don’t cost a lot. When my daughter came home from her music class this past week, she had these homemade clackers/castanets in hand. Immediately, I thought about primary and how those clackers would be perfect for singing time! They were easy and inexpensive to make. Perfect for my large primary and perfect for my pocketbook. 
Making the Clackers
Thankfully, I already had the buttons on hand. (I originally purchased my buttons from Oriental Trading years ago.) Any large button will work. The buttons on my daughter’s clacker are smaller than mine. I purchased 2mm foam sheets and cut each one into 1 x 4 inch strips. Then, I used a hot glue gun to glue a button on each end. So easy!

Demonstrate First
The children were mesmerized when I pulled out a clacker.  I began to click the beat of the song while we all sang. The clackers fit perfectly with the Easter song we were reviewing, “He Died That We Might Live Again” (Children's Songbook pg. 65), but they could be used with any song. The children were using their fingers to click the clacker. 
After singing the song through once, I called up five children who were following along to come up and help me out. I gave them each a clacker, and we sang through the song again. Once again, the others were following along with their pretend clackers. After singing the song with my helpers, I had them help pass out the clackers to everyone in the primary. I noticed that the teachers were eager to have a clacker as well.

Immediate Participation
As soon as they started to pass out the clackers, I started singing and tapping my clacker to the beat, so the children could follow me right away.

Repetition That's Fun
My sunbeams were able to do this activity as well. A few of them needed help from their teachers to get the clacker in the right spot. If a child is having a problem working the clacker, he/she could always tap the clackers together using both hands. I always try out activities at home with my sunbeam (a November birthday) before using them in junior primary to make sure a sunbeam is able to do them. We have a large sunbeam group so I need to make sure activities are going to interest them.

As soon as we finished clicking our clackers to the beat, we tried clicking to the rhythm. This was a bit of a challenge for this younger group. Then, we voted on which one the children preferred. Beat was the most favorite, so we sang one more time with the clackers clicking the beat. 

Our time was short, but in the future I think it would be fun to have the children click the clackers up high and then down low. 

For Senior Primary
The older kids were thrilled with the clackers. We sang with the clackers clicking to the beat and then the rhythm. We ran out of time, but I wanted to let them each have two clackers. I wanted to challenge them with one hand clicking the beat and the other the rhythm. 

The "Freeze!" add-on would also work with these. Periodically, say “Freeze!” and ask a row or child to say the next words in the song. Then, continue singing and clicking along.

I can’t wait to add these instruments to a band rotation!


Have you adopted Kori's idea? What were the results for your primary? :)