I firmly believe and have learned by experience that repeating the same song over and over and over again is the absolute best way to make sure that everyone knows a new song, especially the words, and to make kids (and adults) remember the words later. But repetition is BORING. For all of us. So here’s some tried and true ways to make it more interesting:
- Don’t Sing the Word: Pick a few key words in the song you’re reviewing, especially ones that are sung more than once. I have a link to a sheet of words for Keep the Commandments here: Don’t Sing the Word – Keep the Commandments. I have one child come up and choose one of the words that we will skip and I post it at the front of the room. In junior primary I just use one word at a time and I make sure to say it since they are mostly non-readers. I also cue them by putting my finger to my lips on the words that should be silent and they love to do that action in the middle of the song for some reason! In senior primary I usually stack the words until all of them are posted. So whenever we come to any of the words on the board we skip it (they are EXTREMELY good at this, way better than me or the other leaders and the love when they get it right and we mess up!) Here’s another sheet of words for Nephi’s Courage: Nephi’s Courage Silent Words.
- Ways to Sing Cards: These are my go to time filler activity and sub plans and the kids get so excited when they see them! There’s a lot of versions of these out there, but make sure to use good judgment about choosing activities that are appropriately reverent both for a Sunday activity and make sure you’re not pairing songs about reverent gospel activities with irreverent actions. You can find some here: http://divinesecretsofaprimarychorister.blogspot.com/2008/11/sing-like.html AND here: http://afprimarysingingtime.blogspot.com/2011/06/all-new-fun-ways-to-sing-cards.html
Or, you could make your own. Some of my kids’ favorites are sing with the lights off, sing with no piano, and sing with your nose plugged. Be creative, but be smart.
**Update: You can download my “Ways to Sing” Cards right here: Ways to Sing Cards
- The Hat Game/Headband Hero: Get a knit hat or a sweatband (NBA player style) and a few keywords from the song you’re reviewing (the words from “Don’t Sing the Word” do double duty!). Have one child come up to the front and wear the hat you’ve chosen. Choose one of your key words and stick it to the hat/headband. (I use a knit ski hat because I can flip up the bottom of it and it will hold the word strip). Make sure they don’t get to see it! Show the word to everyone else and tell them not to sing that word when they come to it. (Again in Junior primary I use the finger to lips cue.) Once the song is over, the child wearing the hat has to guess which word we skipped. If they don’t get it we sing the line that has the word again, and then they can choose someone to help them if they still don’t know.
- ______ when you hear _______: Vague, I know, which makes it so versatile. Fill in the first blank with an action of your choice, like standing, putting your arms in the air, touching your nose, etc. Then, pick a word in the song you’re reviewing to fill in the second blank. I’ll use Keep the Commandments again for an example: touch your nose when we sing “commandments”. In junior primary I’d leave it at that and pick a new action and word for the next time through. For Senior primary, I’d probably stack them since they are so good at it! So by the end of the song we’ll be touching our nose on “commandments”, standing up on “safety”, sitting down on “peace”, waving our arms in the air on “keep” and touching our toes on “blessings”. This is also a great activity for introducing a new song to get everyone listening closely! Sing the new song for them and have them listen for key words and do the corresponding actions when they hear them.
- And The Next Word Is… Have your pianist play your review song and tell the kids to sing the song in their heads. This will be easier for junior primary to do if they mouth the words silently. If they really struggle, mouth the words with them. When the pianist stops, they have to name the next word. You may want to warn your pianist about this a few minutes in advance so she can mark some good spots to stop. This is a short and sweet activity that will hold their attention for about 10 minutes. I like to do this activity then a wiggle song and then another review activity. It’s a great time filler too, if you’re left with 5 minutes at the end of a lesson.
And there you have it! 5 review activities to get your kids focused on the words of the songs you’re learning to really solidify them in their minds. I hope they work as well for you as they have for me!