Category Archives: Activity

Whose Turn to Sing? Check Your Outfit!

Today’s idea comes from guest contributor Shellie, who describes herself like this: “I’m a Primary music leader with little musical talent, but I believe strongly that we can strengthen and bear our testimonies through the songs of the gospel.”

When it comes to learning and remembering new songs, repetition is key. But if the kids keep singing the song over and over again, they’ll be bored stiff — and so will you. Try different activities to mix it up and keep the children’s interest, to make Primary songs memorable and fun.

Shellie has the children sing based on what color they are wearing. She holds up one of these color swatches. Children wearing that color stand and sing while the other children hum. Every few lines she changes it up and holds up a different color. Occasionally she holds up all the colors and everyone sings.

You can use the same idea for taking turns reading scriptures aloud together, or answering questions, or selecting teams for reverent Primary games. You can get a lot of mileage out of a set of colored cards on a ring!

Looking for more ideas to liven up singing time? Look for “music” in the search box to the right.

Also see Shellie’s previous post Fizzing, Bubbling Chemistry Experiments in Primary!

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Chorister Training for Kids

lds.org

lds.org

Who says kids can’t get in on the action? Learning to conduct music is a skill that will benefit them throughout their lives. Why not learn how to conduct while they’re young?

It starts with hearing the beat and identifying rhythms. You can teach children — even very young children — how to follow the rhythm by simply clapping their hands together or patting their legs in rhythm to the music.

Then you can demonstrate how the rhythm translates to conducting, which is nothing more than drawing the rhythm with your hands. Have them watch you and imitate you as you clap out the rhythm with your hands. Children can all lead the music together, or you can ask a certain child or a whole class to come up and lead a song with you. (Remember that when children watch you lead, it’s like looking in the mirror.)

If your children are ready for more, you can teach them how to tell which diagram above you should use — whether 3 beats or 4 beats. Show them the sheet music. Ask them to identify the top number of the time signature. That tells them whether to beat in 3’s or 4’s, pictured above. Those two patterns will get you through most of the songs sung in Primary. (See “Explanation of Symbols and Terms” and “How to conduct a song” from the music resources at lds.org.)

Try this activity in Singing Time or in Activity Days for extra practice in a smaller group.

Learning to conduct gives children another way to enjoy uplifting Primary music. Have fun with it!

-Marci

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Happy Birthday, Primary!

azbirthdaycollections.com

Primary began in 1878 to address the rowdiness of the boys, with lessons on not taking fruit from orchards or melon patches. Girls were included in that first Primary because their voices were needed to make the singing sound good, although girls too were admonished not to hang on wagons.

Obedience is still taught today in Primary, although children need fewer reminders about melon swiping and wagon hanging. Today’s lessons on obedience are more likely to focus on such topics as honesty and being kind to those who are different from you, such as refugees. Lessons for children in the home may include pornography prevention, including an original song “My Mind’s a Sacred Place” to protect children from today’s dangers.

Check out these ideas on how to celebrate both Primary’s birthday AND President Monson’s birthday, both in August!

Happy birthday, Primary! 139 years old looks good on you.

-Marci

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Filed under Activity, Sharing Time

“Passing Kindness” game for Sharing Time or family night

lds.org, colored by Alexavier, age 6

Whenever we teach about keeping the commandments, being kind to others often comes to mind. In addition, this activity also talks about what to do when others are unkind to you, even bullies.

This fun activity from the Friend uses paper and a small treat (enough for everyone) with different situations about ways to show kindness to others, and how to defend themselves when others are unkind. Write each question from the Friend on a separate piece of paper (using a full-sized sheet of paper per question works best), wrap each paper around a small shareable treat, and keep going until you have a medium-sized ball. When it’s time for the activity, unwrap the ball and answer the question, until you get down to the treat!

For step-by-step instructions and a list of questions, see “Passing Kindness” in the August 2015 Friend.

~Marci

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Pioneer Experience – Frozen Feet and All

Give your children a pioneer experience they’ll never forget. You can do this in Primary or for family night.

Today’s guest contributors Emily, Shanda and Ashna brought a picnic cooler full of ice and water to Primary to help teach this lesson. Emily invited two children to remove their socks and shoes and stick their feet in the freezing water. They kept their feet in as long as they could (with no hard feelings when they’d had enough). Meanwhile, all the children watched the 4-minute video “Mormon Pioneers: Act of Courage,” President Gordon B. Hinckley’s touching account of the three 18-year-old boys who carried members of the pioneer company across the icy Sweetwater River, then died from the effects of that ordeal.

Pairs of children volunteered to be oxen, yoked together with a hula hoop.Other children were divided into “families,” where pairs of children packed a laundry basket full of supplies. All the children watched while the trekkers packed the laundry basket with flour, dried beans, crackers, a frying pan, a gallon of water, extra clothes, rope — whatever pioneer essentials you have on hand. Then the children carried the basket, one on each handle, on a trek around the edges of the room, while everyone sang (you guessed it), “Pioneer Children Sang as they Walked” (Children’s Songbook, 214), “Little Pioneer Children” (CS, 216) or “To Be a Pioneer” (CS, 218). Simple costumes are fun if you have time — cowboy hats, sunbonnets, bandannas as neckerchiefs or head scarves.

For an extra touch (optional), Emily brought small glass jars for each child, filled halfway with heavy cream and a dash of salt. The children shook the cream into butter while watching the video and singing. Baby food jars or small jelly jars work nicely for this. Then, as the cream turned into butter, each child brought their jar to the back of the room, where Emily spread the homemade butter onto saltine crackers for a pioneer snack for the journey.

You could do the trek with just one or two groups of children pioneers. You could also just have 1-2 children shake cream into butter, perhaps passing along the jar to other children.

Emily writes, “The Sweetwater River crossing was a story that I wanted to include because it is personal to me. According to her biography, my great-great grandmother was a 13-year-old girl in the Martin Handcart company. Her father had died on the plains in Nebraska, but she continued on to Salt Lake City with her mother and sister. My purpose in sharing these stories was to help the children understand that living the gospel brings its challenges, but choices we make today affect not only us, but our posterity. After our Sharing Time, one of the brothers who teaches Primary came to me and told me his ancestor was one of the young men who carried the people across the river.”

Materials needed:

  • cooler with ice (add water at the church building)
  • towels for drying off feet
  • hula hoops for yoking oxen
  • laundry baskets
  • pioneer supplies such as flour, dried beans, crackers, a frying pan, a gallon of water, extra clothes, rope — whatever pioneer essentials you have on hand
  • simple costumes (optional) – cowboy hats, sunbonnets, or bandannas as neckerchiefs or head scarves.

If desired:

  • small glass jars
  • heavy whipping cream
  • crackers
  • knife for spreading
  • napkins

For another idea, click here for a simple “how-to” for a 10-minute pioneer trek for families, nursery, Junior or Senior Primary. You can trek on July 24 (Pioneer Day) or any day. This is a free chapter from the book that was born on this blog, “Sunday Lessons and Activities for Kids.

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Spring means Popcorn Popping – Even in Israel!

Date farm in Jerusalem

BYU Jerusalem Center

I just got back from the Holy Land with my 92-year-old mom. What a sacred privilege to visit the land of the Bible, the land Jesus loved.

Seeing date trees everywhere made me think of this post about the way children in Israel sing the beloved activity song “Popcorn Popping.” Try teaching your children this fun new spin on the beloved favorite song!

By the way, this very blog has visitors from Israel AND the Palestinian Territories. This region of the world, beloved of the Lord Jesus Christ as His earthly homeland, is revered as holy by many. But even today’s heart-wrenching, devastating conflict doesn’t stop Latter-day Saint Primary leaders coming together in this troubled region, at least on this blog, on behalf of children. My personal wish is that this tiny moment of virtual connection might expand to engulf the region — and the world — in God’s love.

All over the world, we share a common desire for strong, faithful children who know and love the Lord, and a desire to build a better world for them. I wish that these common desires might bring us all just a little closer to Zion — through Primary. It wouldn’t be the first time that “a little child shall lead them.”  (Isaiah 11:6) See “What’s Primary Like in Nepal or Bahrain?

-Marci

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Filed under Activity, Music

Year-Round Snowball Fight! (with variations)

Today’s idea comes from Heather D, who says, “I love singing, my family, and puppies (but who doesn’t).”

This simple game is for any season. You can use it for Sharing Time, singing time, or a lesson. Here’s how it works: Ask the children a question, then have them write or draw their answer on a piece of paper. Use white paper for snowballs or baseballs; use orange paper for basketballs. When everyone is finished, each child crumples their paper into a ball and throws!

Children can throw their balls all at once (try having them throw their snowballs at YOU, with or without a cardboard CTR shield, as Heather D. did here!). Or each child can take turns throwing their ball into a bucket or basket.  There are lots of variations!

How to use this idea? Choristers can ask children to write their favorite song (with help for younger children). Those songs can be sung that week or next week, as time permits.

For a lesson or Sharing Time, ask the children a review question such as “What is one thing you want to always remember about _____?” Or ask an application question such as “What is one way you can (follow Jesus, be a good friend, show love to your family)?

Have fun with this activity!

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Counting Words in a Song or Scripture: Fun Activity

behold-little-ones-nursery-manual-338831-thumbnail

lds.org

lds.org

lds.org

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s a fun way to shake up Singing Time or Sharing Time. You can even adapt it for family scripture study occasionally for variety! Ask the children to count the number of times a familiar word appears in a song or scripture; i.e. count the number of times the word “try” or “trying” appears in “I’m Trying to be like Jesus” (Children’s Songbook, 78). Or count the number of times the word “choose” or “choice” appears in “Choose The Right” (Hymns, 239).

Variations:

  • Select a class to be the counting class. With each instance of the chosen word, one child stands, followed by the next child in the row, etc. Count the number of standing children.
  • Choose helpers to be counters. Have a few more children than there are words in the song or scripture come to the front. When their word is sung, they raise their hand and keep it raised until the end of the song. Then count the number of raised hands.
  • After counting the words, ask the children if they think they can sing it without that key word. Each time they come to that word, hum instead.
  • Try counting words that repeat in a scripture, especially one that you’re trying to memorize. Then recite it without the key word, saying “mmm” when they get to that word.

For more fun music ideas, see “Making Music Time Fun and Interactive” and “Sing like a robot? a snake? an opera singer?

-Marci

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Curing fidgety fingers and uniting the children: Sign Language and music!

sign-language-love-one-another-1416354-gallery

lds.org

Learning sign language to songs is a sure-fire way to keep older children challenged as they learn an actual new language, and engage younger children’s busy fingers as they learn signs that teach gospel concepts. For example, it’s very hard for me to make the sign for Jesus Christ (4 second video) without humbly thinking of “His hands pierced and bleeding to pay the debt” (verse 3, “I Stand All Amazed,” Hymns, 193). Learning sign language is particularly valuable for kinesthetic learners – children who learn best by using their bodies (see “Teaching to a Child’s Whole Body“).

But recently, children in the Cardenas Ward, Panama City, Panama shared another benefit of learning sign language. Their ward is truly bilingual, with sacrament meeting conducted in English, the opening hymn in Spanish, the opening prayer in English, Sunday School in Spanish, Relief Society/Priesthood meeting in English — then next week the reverse. Headphones abound.

But in Primary, with some Spanish-speaking children and some English-speaking children, the language that they have in common is the language of images and pictures. ALL children, regardless of their native language, can learn a sign that spans language. Even though it’s called American Sign Language (ASL), the images are relevant. In fact, learning a sign with a familiar image can help them learn a new word.

When the Cardenas Ward children sang in sacrament meeting and did the signs to the song, all the children participated, regardless of their fluency in the language of the song (whether English or Spanish).

Besides, one day your children may meet a deaf person, and they will be surprised to already know the beginnings of phrases and words to communicate. It will mean a great deal to that deaf person to see them try to be their friend. See “Hands That Talk,” March 2012 Friend magazine.

Check out these useful resources to help you on your way:

-Marci

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Conquering the Big Podium: Sacrament Gem

http://melonheadsldsillustrating.blogspot.com

melonheadsldsillustrating.blogspot.com

Carlan is a California native living in beautiful Boston and mother to three darling blondes. She’s a singer and lover of the arts who is passionate about reading and learning; Boston sports, history and culture; British period films; Mexican food; lime bars and most of all music.

In this post she is magnifying her calling as Primary president. She saw the need for the children to learn how to conquer the big podium in sacrament meeting as they get older, to prepare them for giving talks and prayers after they turn twelve. And she’s doing something about it. Carlan writes:

Recently my mother told me how sacrament meeting used to function when she was a youth. Among the many differences, one aspect she mentioned was something they called the “Sacrament Gem.” After hearing about it I was really interested in implementing it into my ward and with my Primary. Here’s how it works:
After the sacrament is passed and before we hear from any speakers, a Senior Primary child comes to the pulpit, announces the sacrament meeting theme or topic of focus, and reads a correlating scripture. Our Primary secretary schedules the children and gives the list to the bishopric. That’s it!!
It’s simple and not too scary for the kids, yet it gives them crucial experience standing and speaking in front of a group of people. Not only are these useful life skills but they are vital Mormon skills!
-Carlan

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