Category Archives: Music

Instant Lesson 2.0

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This also makes a great instant family night lesson — just add refreshments!

See also Instant Lesson 1.0

Here’s another instant lesson idea to add to your bag of tricks. In a perfect world you will never be in the situation where a teacher cancels, or someone asks you to substitute at the last minute.  But we all know how it is to get a stomach bug in the middle of Saturday night and be laid up in bed.  Or how miserable it is to wake up Sunday morning with your child running a high fever.  When you get asked to fill in for a teacher who’s had to cancel last minute remember these instant lesson ideas! You may have no time to even pull up the lesson on your phone, much less read and prepare it, before you’re thrown into a classroom of children.  We’ve got you covered!

Grab the Gospel Art Book from your bookshelf. Or send a deputy to the library to grab several pictures of scripture stories from various books of scripture. Then ask each child to choose a picture and tell the story depicted. If you have time, turn to the actual scriptures and read at least one verse, to hear it in God’s words.

Then, ask the child to personalize the story: Have you ever felt like this scripture character? How did you face that situation in your own life? How might we show the same good qualities today? Can you think of a song that goes with this scripture story?

Now you’re ready for the unexpected!  (And the one thing you can expect with children is the unexpected!)

-Marci

Thanks to Sister Brown for this great idea.

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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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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

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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!

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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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I Choose the Right When I am Baptized and Confirmed a Member of the Church–May Sharing Time ideas!

In the month of May we will be teaching the Primary children about the first principles and ordinances of the gospel: 1) Faith to follow Jesus Christ 2) Forgiveness through repentance 3) Baptism by immersion like Jesus showed us 4) The gift of the Holy Ghost and 5) Renewing our baptismal covenants by taking the Sacrament each week.

I still love this Baptismal Promises sharing time lesson I posted a few years ago.  This is a simple lesson with printables to teach about the promises we make at Baptism and each week when we take the Sacrament.  I think we often use words that are very familiar to the adults at church and forget that the kids really don’t have a clue what we mean when we say “covenants” “ordinances” “principles” “Atonement”.  This lesson is a great way to break down the concept of covenants.  When I teach it I introduce the word covenant so they can become familiar with it but I mostly use the words “big promise” to describe what a covenant is.

On week 2 of the month you could teach about these Baptismal promises and then on week 4 teach the same promises, review the idea that a covenant is a “big promise” and review all the things we promise at baptism and then renew each week when we take the Sacrament.  The schedule of this month’s theme is so perfect for repetition and giving the children a chance to absorb these important principles.  If we’re going to make a “big promise” with out Heavenly Father I think we better understand what we’re promising.

And as always, since I am a huge believer in the power of music and how much better we remember concepts when taught through music, there are so many fantastic Primary songs about these topics.  Songs always teach better than too much talking!

I’m Trying to Be Like Jesus (CS 78)

Faith (CS 96)

Baptism (CS 100)

When Jesus Christ Was Baptized (CS 102)

When I am Baptized (CS 103)

The Holy Ghost (CS 105)

The Still Small Voice (CS 106)

Listen, Listen (CS 107)

The Sacrament (CS 72)

I Feel My Savior’s Love (CS 74)

~Michelle

 

 

 

 

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14 Bean Bag Ideas – Easy Kid Involvers!

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In previous months we posted just a few ideas at a time so you had a chance to try these. Here’s the complete list of 14 bean bag ideas for easy kid involvement in your lesson! Click here for the pdf: 14 Bean Bag Ideas

Michelle writes: When my husband and I were newly married we moved into our first family ward.  On week two we were called to c0-teach the Sunbeams class in Primary.  Our Primary Presidency held a training for all the teachers shortly thereafter and gave each of us a homemade bean bag.  That was more than 12 years ago and I still have that bean bag that was simply made with a scrap of material and some beans and stitched up by hand.  I like to keep this bean bag in my church bag for emergencies in Primary!  Making a bean bag for each of the teachers in your ward would be a great resource for their teaching arsenal.  You could also print off this page of ideas on how they could put it to use!

Today’s guest author is Marti, mother of five and grandmother of nine.  She is a former Primary President, now in the Stake Primary Presidency.  She is retired from dental hygiene and is now working as a real estate agent. Marti has compiled this list of bean bag ideas she has collected over the years.

A simple bean bag has many uses! Here’s a few favorite ideas of how to use one to add interest and kid-involvement to your lesson, Sharing Time or family night. To make a bean bag, simply sew 3 sides of a small square of fabric, fill with dried beans, rice or popcorn, then stitch closed. 

1. TAKE TURNS for the prayer, reading a scripture, holding a picture, etc. Tape a number on the bottom of the bag. Everyone says a number. The one closest to the number takes first turn.

2. REVIEW.  At the end of the lesson, ask each child to think of something related to the lesson. “Today we learned about. . . ” For example, if the lesson is about the Word of Wisdom, ask each child to say something against the Word of Wisdom. Repeat and have each child say something that is healthy. Or you can ask specific review questions, throwing the bean bag to each child in turn.

3. CHOOSE WORD STRIPS, PICTURES, or QUESTIONS: Lay out wordstrips, questions, or pictures (in page protectors!) on the floor face down. Children take turns tossing the bag. Whatever it lands on, the child reads the word strip, tells what the picture is about, or answers the question.

4. MUFFIN TIN: Prepare a muffin tin with numbers in the bottom of each cup. Prepare a list with the same number of questions. Have the children stand back and throw the bean bag into one of the cups. The child answers the corresponding question from the list. The same technique can be used for Articles of Faith, in which the child recites corresponding Article of Faith. Younger children can repeat the Articles of Faith with you.

5.  FINISH THE SENTENCE: Start a sentence, then toss the beanbag to a child to finish the sentence.

6. CHILD TO CHILD: Ask a question, then while your back is turned, have the children pass the bean bag from one child to another. When you turn around, ask the child holding the bean bag to answer the question. Or, instead of turning your back, you can use the same technique with music playing, then stop the music and the child holding the bean bag answers.

7. GETTING ACQUAINTED: Toss the bean bag to a child. Say something you like about that child. Then that child tosses it to someone else and says something nice about them. Be sure you complement their character, effort, obedience, kindness or contribution to Primary, not just their clothes or physical appearance (every child is handsome or beautiful in their own way!).

8. GRATITUDE: Have each child say something they are thankful for when you toss them the bean bag, in preparation for thanking God for those things in prayer.

9. CATEGORIES: Start the bean bag moving by naming one thing in a category, then pass the bean bag. Categories could be reasons why we’re grateful for our families, stories about Jesus, books in the Book of Mormon, latter-day prophets, names of children in our Primary, etc.

10. PROGRESSIVE STORY: Start a story about good choices, then pass the bean bag to a child, who advances the story until you say “And then. . . ” The passes the bean bag to another child to continue the story.

11. REVERENCE – ONE PERSON SPEAKING AT A TIME: Tell the children that only the person holding the bean bag may talk. “Right now I am giving the lesson so I am the one holding the bean bag. If you have something to share or know the answer to a question, raise your hand. When I toss you the bean bag you may talk.”

MUSIC GAMES with BEAN BAGS:

12. HAVE A SEAT: While you sing, pass the bean bag. When the music stops, the person holding the bean bag sits down. Resume the song until everyone is sitting.

13. HOT AND COLD: While one child is out of the room with a teacher, ask another child to hide the bag. When the child returns, sing louder as the child gets closer to the bag, softer as they get farther, until they find the hidden bag.

14. NEXT LINE of the SONG: While you sing, pass the bean bag. When the pianist stops playing, the person holding the bean bag says the next line. If they don’t know it, they pass the bean bag to the next person who does.

I hope you and your children enjoy this timeless Primary bean bag kid-involver!

-Marti

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Introduction of New Primary Leaders: Show and Tell Music Time Idea!

I just got called as the Primary chorister in our new ward!  I’ve served in ward and stake Primary presidencies, taught Sunbeams and CTR 4 and subbed in Primary in various capacities but this is the first time I’ve been the Primary chorister and I’m so excited!  I have secretly wanted to have this calling for years!

I’m new to our ward already so I don’t know a lot of the kids in Primary yet.  I am excited to get to know them.  I also thought it might be fun for them to learn a little about me.  So, for my first Singing Time I decided to bring a few different items as show and tell and use them to tell the kids something about myself and then sing a Primary song that I chose to go with each particular item.  While music was playing, I had the kids play “Hot Potato,” passing an object around until the music stopped. Whoever was holding it got to choose an item from my show and tell display.  I would tell the pianist what song it was so she had a minute to find the page number I had written down on the list I made for her  And then I would tell the kids a little something about that item.  Below are the items I chose:

primary-music-picHere’s the song list for you and the pianist:

  1. “Samuel the Lamanite” (original song, download it here for free!)
  2. “Heavenly Father Loves Me”  (CS 228)
  3. “The Family is of God” (sheet music from the 2014 Primary outline or in the Friend magazine, Oct 2008)
  4. “I’m Trying to Be Like Jesus” (CS 78)
  5. “We’ll Bring the World His Truth” (CS 173)
  6. “I Love to See the Temple” (CS 95)
  7. “I Hope They Call Me on a Mission” (CS 169)

Here’s the object and explanation to go with each song:

  1. A Book of Mormon–I showed the picture in the front of the book of Samuel the Lamanite to go with “Samuel the Lamanite” (original song, download it here for free!) When this was chosen I said, “One of my favorite scripture stories is in the Book of Mormon about Samuel the Lamanite.  I love Samuel the Lamanite because when he was scared he trusted in the Lord and the Lord helped him do hard things.  I get scared too, a lot, but I know the Lord can help me do hard things.  We are going to sing a song called Samuel the Lamanite.  It’s a new song to you because my husband and his father wrote and arranged it.  I think you’re going to love it!”
  2. A real leaf from my favorite plant to go with “Heavenly Father Loves Me”  (CS 228). I said, “I love nature.  I love camping and hiking and being outside.  How about you?  Do any of you like hiking or camping?”  (Suddenly we had something in common.) “My favorite Primary song is called ‘Heavenly Father Loves Me’ but I always call it ‘Beautiful World’ because it’s all about all the beautiful things that Heavenly Father created for us.”
  3. A picture of my family to go with “The Family is of God” (sheet music from the 2014 Primary outline or in the Friend magazine, Oct 2008). I told them about my family. Only 2 of my 4 kids are in Primary (my twins are in Nursery) so they were surprised to learn that my Senior Primary-aged son has 2-year-old twin siblings.
  4. A picture of Jesus to go with “I’m Trying to Be Like Jesus” (CS 78) I said, “I love Jesus.  And my most important goal in life is trying to be like Jesus.  But guess what?  I’m not always very good at it and in fact, I make a lot of mistakes and have to repent and try again. I hope you will always try to be like Jesus and know that when you make a mistake you can repent and try again.”
  5. My baby book–I showed a picture of my baptism to go with “We’ll Bring the World His Truth” (CS 173).  Of course, I might have chosen one of the songs specifically about baptism, but getting baptized is like joining God’s Army so I thought it was appropriate.
  6. My wedding album to go with “I Love to See the Temple” (CS 95). I showed them a picture of my wedding day at the temple and told them how special it was to be married there.
  7. My missionary name tag to go with “I Hope They Call Me on a Mission” (CS 169) I told them that I served my mission in Spain and it was the best and hardest thing I did as a young adult.

Next week I am going to sing a few of these same songs and see if anyone can remember any of the details I told them such as where I served my mission or what my favorite plant looks like.  I’d like to also do something similar when I ask for a child helper; I’ll ask the child to share one thing about themselves so I can get to know them better.

It would also be fun and simple to do a show and tell like this to introduce a new Primary Presidency or new teachers or new pianist.  You could potentially bring in one item for each person if you wanted to do several people at once.  I think the kids would really enjoy seeing into the real lives of their leaders who they often only see in church clothes on Sunday and never out hiking or camping.

~Michelle

 

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Original song: “Repent and Forgive” audio, sheet music and backstory

Download the sheet music  and listen to a recording (with vocals or accompaniment only) of Catherine’s original song: “Repent and Forgive.” (Copyright © 2017 Catherine Doxey White. This song may be copied for incidental, noncommercial church or home use.)

Janie

Janie

 

Our remarkable guest author Catherine is back! Mother of five children ages 7-22, Catherine loves to sing (very loudly and occasionally off-tune), scrapbook, read, and write. She is the author of the LDS young adult novel, Cupcake Girl (Walnut Springs Press). She has written a few songs, from the silly to the sacred. Catherine writes:

Ever since she was a very young child, my daughter Janie has been very hard on herself when she makes mistakes.  If she accidentally hurts someone, Janie feels so bad that that she cries harder and longer than the person she hurt.  Though Janie is only seven years old, she already has a repertoire of self-criticism to beat herself up with when she makes mistakes.

One Sunday morning I was in the car and was thinking about how to help Janie better understand the repentance process, and more importantly, the deep love that our Father in Heaven and Savior Jesus Christ have for her. I was blessed with a gift of inspiration as this song began to take shape in my mind:  “When I make a mistake, I know just what to do—I will turn to the Lord to repent.”

I tried to include in the lyrics each step of the repentance process, from the ABCD’s (A—Admit; B—Be sorry; C—Confess; D—Don’t do it again) to the Repentance R’s (Recognize, Remorse, Repent, Right the Wrong, and Repeat the sin no more). When I shared the lyrics with my brother-in-law, he noted the irony that I’d written a song about repentance that was not about the Savior.  The original lyrics were too much about what WE do to repent and very little about the miracle of what actually happens:  the Savior extends His grace to change us and make us clean.

I stopped trying to cram each step of the repentance process into the song, and changed the lyrics to hopefully capture the humility and awe we feel when we repent.  I changed the last few lines of the song to a testimony of the Savior: “I know Jesus will help change my heart.  Through His mercy and grace, Christ will make my soul clean, when I turn to the Lord to repent.”

I was blessed with another gift when I started singing the words to the second verse:  “And when someone wrongs me, I know just what to do—I will turn to the Lord to forgive.”  This verse required additional thought and prayer, since to my knowledge, there isn’t a recognized process or series of steps for forgiveness like there is for repentance.  The strength to forgive and ability to find peace after pain always comes from the Savior.  His atonement helps us to heal as we exercise faith to forgive.

My inspired friend and co-author, Andrea Landaker, suggested that we repeat the phrase “I know Jesus will help change my heart” in both verses.  A change of heart is the essence of both repentance and forgiveness as we humble ourselves and turn to the Lord.

Though I originally thought that I was writing this song to help Janie, I quickly realized how much I need its inspiration and hope to both repent and forgive.  I pray that this song will help Janie and children everywhere to “know just what to do” as they humbly turn to the Lord in faith to both repent and forgive.

 

For sheet music, a recording of the song, acknowledgments, more resources, and more information about Catherine (author of the lyrics and melody) and Andrea (arranger of the music), click here.

See another powerful, relevant song by Catherine published on this blog: My Mind’s a Sacred Place: Arm Your Children with the Power of Music to Fend Off the Evils of Pornography!

For another memorable original song published first on this blog, see The Power of Music: NEW Samuel the Lamanite song (with sheet music)!

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Nov. Sharing Time and every day: Add some “scripture power” to your Primary music!

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Want to keep children’s interest by keeping them challenged and engaged? One of my favorite resources is right in front of you, and you may not have known it!

Open your Children’s Songbook (CS) and check out the bottom right corner of the page for one or two scriptures that relate to the song topic. Then weave those scriptures into your lesson or singing/sharing time. For example, the November 2016 Sharing Time theme is “Reverence is Love and Respect for God.” Week 4 is “Reverence for God helps me respect and love others.” The Sharing Time manual suggests that you sing a few songs such as the ones below. After each song, discuss the accompanying questions.

  • “Kindness Begins with Me” (CS, 145). Ask: What are some ways we can show kindness to our friends? The scriptures at the bottom of the page are: Luke 6:31 (“The Golden Rule”), Luke 10:30-37 (the parable of the Good Samaritan), and Ephesians 4:32 Choose one or more of these scriptures to deepen the children’s understanding. Senior Primary children can look up the scriptures and read them aloud; Junior or Senior Primary children might enjoy acting out the Good Samaritan story as a child or teacher reads it aloud from the scriptures.
  • “I’ll Walk with You” (CS, 140–41). Ask: Who are some of the people who need our kindness? How can we show kindness to them? The scripture at the bottom of the page is: John 13:15: “For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.” And how did Jesus “do unto us?” How would He like us to follow His example?

In short:

  • Sing
  • Read the corresponding scriptures
  • Discuss
  • Testify

(By the way, are you looking for that catchy tune? Find it here: “Scripture Power“)

-Marci

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