I peeked into nursery recently to make sure my twin toddlers weren’t still sobbing with separation anxiety. And to my great surprise they weren’t sobbing. In fact, they weren’t even whimpering. Instead, they were mesmerized by the Primary music leaders who visit nursery each week. The music leaders had gathered the children to sit on a cozy blanket laid out on the floor and were singing Jesus Wants Me for a Sunbeam with great animation. They had given each child a bracelet tied with ribbons (called wrist ribbons or a rhythm ring) so the kids could punctuate their “sun-BEAM” with ribbon flourishes. The children were enthralled. They were happy. They were learning the gospel!
I teach music classes outside of church for young children ages 0-3 years. I love music and know what an amazing teaching tool it is. But in my professional classes I don’t get to teach about Jesus or the plan of salvation. The songs I sing and the ASL (American Sign Language) I teach are about animals, colors, feelings, actions, vehicles, balls, and more. All super fun and enriching stuff. But not the best stuff, not the gospel.
Nursery is the perfect place to teach about Jesus, the plan of salvation and other basic gospel principles through music. And toddlers are definitely not too young to understand. If they can do actions and sign language to “Wheels on the Bus,” they can do the actions and signs for “I am Like a Star Shining Brightly“ (Children’s Songbook, 163). Music is the ideal way to teach this age group! Want something to sink in and grab their attention? Sing about it. Take advantage of this perfect opportunity to teach the gospel to these young children through music. It’s 1) memorable 2) fun and 3) teaches the gospel. Boom! That’s Triple Threat Teaching!
So what made music time so successful for my twin toddlers this particular Sunday? Here’s a few of the ideas our Primary music leaders are implementing now with great success when they visit nursery each week:
- Plan a set of songs and sing them for 6-8 weeks to provide repetition and familiarity. If the nursery kids transition to Primary knowing 10 songs that would be amazing!
- Create some physical structure and boundaries by laying out a blanket for the kids to sit on during music time. That way they know where you want them.
- Incorporate movement and visual interest by using inexpensive props such as shakers, scarves, rhythm rings, song sticks or others.