Thanks and Giving Singing Time

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November can be a strangely in-between time for planning singing times. You’re done with your program, (yay!) but it’s not quite time for Christmas songs yet. It’s a great time to teach a few new fun songs, or one of your old favorites that you haven’t gotten around to yet. But sometimes, thanksgiving can get lost in the mix. There’s not that many Thanksgiving songs playing on the radio, but there are A LOT of excellent Thanksgiving songs in the Children’s Songbook! (And in the hymnal too if you were curious!) There are 24 songs under the topic of Gratitude! A few of my favorites are Father We Thank Thee for the Night p.8, Thanks To Our Father p.20 and if you’re thinking about doing a round for Christmas, give your kids a head start by learning For Health and Strength p.21, which is only one line and will give your kids some practice with the concept! But, whether you’re learning a song about gratitude or an old standard, this activity can help you give Thanksgiving the attention it deserves!

First, you’ll want to print these leaves. There’s one for each letter in Thanksgiving.

Thanks and Giving PDF

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Junior Primary

Start by asking what holiday is coming up this month! Explain that Thanksgiving is made up of 2 words, “thanks” and “giving”. Have one child come up and pick one of the leaves out of a bag. Ask them to think of either something they are thankful for or a way that they could give (think service) during this month that starts with the letter on the leaf. If younger child is picking the leaf, really emphasize the sound that each letter makes to help them think of a word that fits, or let their teacher help them. If they get the letter anywhere in the word, I’m good with that. Put the letters up on the board as you go, to spell out “Thanksgiving”, and write the “thanks” or “giving” word coming down from it, like a crossword puzzle. I like to try to think of a song that goes with whichever word was chosen to sing once the leaf is up. For example, if someone says they are thankful for trees, we could sing Popcorn Popping, My Heavenly Father Loves Me or Autumn Day. But, if you’d rather not be on the spot like that, come up with a list of songs you’d like to sing. If you’re learning a new song with this activity, learn a new section of the song with each leaf that goes up. If you’re running out of time (because Thanksgiving has 12 letters) have 2 kids come pick leaves at one time. That will cut down on all the thinking time too! At the end, you’ll have “Thanksgiving” spelled out on the board and lots of things to be thankful for and give this season!

Senior Primary

In senior primary, start with all the letters scrambled up on the board, and see if they can guess what word they spell. Again, go over how both “thanks” and “giving” are in the word. Pick someone to go first and ask them to think of either something they are thankful for or a way that they could give that starts with the first letter, ‘T’. (They might have some trouble when it gets to ‘V’ so let them think of a word with a v in it anywhere!) Write it on the board, then give everyone 10 seconds to think of a song that goes with that word. I like to count it down silently on my fingers. If they can’t come up with one and none of the adults, including yourself, can think of one either, pick a song about being grateful or let their teacher pick their favorite one to sing! At the end, talk about all of the things that we have to be thankful for and ways that we can give in the month of November!

HAPPY SINGING!

P.S. Look out for some exciting news about the future of Sunbeam Singing coming soon! Like Sunbeam Singing on Facebook for all the latest!

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Silent Simon Says

This is a really great activity to get your kids to watch you closely! It is so important, especially on the day of your primary program, for them to watch you so they know when to stand, sit, sing louder and softer, etc.

Start by telling them that you will be playing Simon Says. If they don’t know how to play, then give them an overview with a few examples. In this version of Simon says, only the silent actions you do should be followed, while the direction you say out loud should be ignored. For example, if you raise your hands to indicate that they should stand then they should follow you, and stand up. If you then tell them out loud to sit down, they should stay standing, because only your silent actions should be followed. Encourage your primary teachers to play too, because the kids love it when they do the right thing and the teachers make little mistakes!

This is a really great no-prep activity that will keep all of your primary involved, and give you a great opportunity to be really clear about what your actions mean! Make sure to be extra clear on what each signal means before you start, especially with junior primary, and the longer you keep playing, the more familiar your actions will be to them. You will definitely want to include one for standing and one for sitting, and you may want to consider one action that tells them to get on the edge of their seats so they are all ready to stand together. You can also include some actions for singing louder or softer, faster or slower. Once you’ve played a few times without them singing to make sure they understand the actions you’re communicating, play with them singing a song too, and continue to shout out directions. I have found that it’s much harder for them to remember not to follow your speech when they are singing! And be sure to be really insistent with what you say too, and keep repeating it a couple times if your kids are really getting the hang of it. I would probably play more rounds of Silent Simon Says without singing with Junior primary, and more while they’re singing with Senior.

 

HAPPY SINGING!

{ Teaching } Families Can Be Together Forever

Accra Ghana Temple

For this lesson you’ll need:

  • Pictures of Temples from Around the World (Chances are you already have some! First check your own collection of visuals, the Friend or your Building’s Library, but if you need them, go here.)
  • Pictures to go with each phrase of the song (Check your own collection, the Friend, etc. first, but if you just want to print some, this blog post has some great ones. Think a picture of the earth for “I have a family here on earth”, a parent helping a child with homework or a family working together for “They are so good to me” etc.)

Have the pictures of the temples from around the world posted in the front of the room where everyone can see them. On the back, (or posted behind if you want to be sure not to damage your temple pictures) have your phrase pictures attached.

Senior Primary

Tell them the title of the song you’ll be learning this month. Chances are they’ll even know it, or at least the chorus. Ask them a few questions to get them started. How can families be together forever? When can you be sealed to your family? How big is your family? Why should we do family history work?

Point out the first temple and see if they can guess which country it’s in. (You’ll probably want to have a few more recognizable ones!) Then turn it around and show the picture that goes with that phrase. Keep going until all of the phrases have been learned, making sure that you sing the whole song at least a couple of times. Then you can go back and turn around some of the pictures so that you can only see the temples and see how much they remember.

Junior Primary

Set up your pictures the same way as for the Senior Primary. Have them look at all the pictures for a few seconds. Ask them what kind of buildings these are. What do they have in common? What can happen inside them? Tell them that you’ll be learning Families Can Be Together Forever this month. Show them the picture for the first phrase and spend a little extra time talking about it. Sing it together several times before moving on. Depending on how familiar your junior primary is with this song, you may want to only teach the chorus the first week, and then spend a full week on each verse.

HAPPY SINGING!

New in the Etsy Shop this week!

 

 

Teaching “When I Am Baptized” { The Chorus }

Last year I taught this song to just our 6&7 year old class since they were preparing for baptism soon. For some reason it was a struggle to get them to remember this one! It was a combination of things I think. First, I taught it to them in a group with just them during their class time and I think changing up their routine was a hindrance. Also, it seemed like the same group of kids were never there two weeks in a row, so getting everyone on the same page was very difficult. My group learned that first verse about rainbows in no time and then struggled with the chorus and the second verse. This time around, I’m taking it slow with the whole group. I’m starting with the chorus and we’ll move on to the verses once that’s firmly ingrained.

As you may know from following my blog, sometimes I like to throw a little basic music theory into the mix. And, as you have probably seen pointed out on many other websites, this song has some lovely ‘rainbow’ and ‘raindrop’ musical motifs that make this song especially suited for visual learning. The chorus is the rain because of the way the melody moves and really, the rain should come before the rainbow right? I’m just restoring the natural order of things. You’ll want to print and cut out these rain drops with the words to the chorus on them:

When I Am Baptized Chorus Raindrops {PDF}

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You’ll want to draw a staff on the chalkboard to put the raindrops on. (One of these to hold your chalk in just the right spacing makes it so much easier!)


Or you may want to consider one of these really cool roll-up dry erase staffs! They have reusable adhesive on the back that doesn’t leave residue on your chalkboard or wall, and it erases really cleanly. This would be an awesome addition to your primary music closet and since it rolls up it’s really easy to store without taking up a lot of valuable space.

Eventually, you want your board to look like this:

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With each raindrop on it’s corresponding staff line or space. How you get there will be different in Senior and Junior Primary. ***WARNING: this is a long paragraph and you may fall asleep somewhere in the middle. If you already guessed where I was going based on the images above then feel free to skip to the Junior Primary Section!

 

SENIOR PRIMARY

In Senior Primary, start with a blank staff. Have your pianist play just the melody of the chorus. Talk about how it sounds like raindrops. Put the first raindrop where it goes, at C, on the staff. {If you don’t read music, just copy the top line in the Children’s Songbook. Ask your pianist if you get confused 🙂 } Sing the first note together. (I’ll be skipping the words until later when we’re familiar with the melody, but if your kids are more familiar with this song, then sing the words as you go.) Have the pianist play the next note and sing it together. Decide if this note is higher, lower, or the same. (As you can see it’s the same.) Put that raindrop where it goes, in the same space as the last. Have the pianist play the next note, sing all 3 together and decide if this note is higher, lower or the same as the last two. Once you decide that it’s lower, decide how much lower, and have a child come up and put the raindrop where they think it should go. You may want to have your pianist play all the notes in between so they can hear how many there are. Once the raindrop has been placed, have your pianist play the line as it is written on the chalkboard and decide as a group if that’s right, comparing the sound of the correct melody to the one the child has chosen. Move the raindrop until you get it in the right place, on F. Continue until the first 8 notes are placed. At this point it should be much easier for your kids to be putting the drops in the right places. It’s a good stopping point to stop and take a look at the pattern you’re forming if they haven’t already pointed it out. It’s here that I would also introduce the words that go with these notes. Ask them where the next 2 notes should go based on the pattern and put them there. Have the pianist play the whole line. Ask them how boring it would be if it was just this same pattern over and over again, and tell them that it’s about to change. Have your pianist play the next 4 notes (that go with ‘right after rain’) and talk about how it sounds different. Have someone come up and put all 4 drops where they think they should go. Once you’ve got them in the right places, it’s on to the next line. You can go through this one much more quickly now that they’ve got the hang of it. Have your pianist play the first 4 notes, and ask them if that sounds familiar. You should be able to quickly decide to put those 4 in the very same places as you did on the first line. Tell them that the next 4 notes will be really close to the same but a little bit different and to listen closely for just ONE note that’s in a different place. Listen and decide which one it was, then have someone come up and put all 4 where they should go. You’ll see that over the word ‘can’ there is a fermata. Now’s a great time to teach or review what that symbol means and what it looks like when you conduct it. Place the raindrop with the fermata on it above the word ‘can’. Then tell them it’s time for their hardest challenge yet, and that they have 6 notes to put in the right place. Let them place all 6 and have your pianist play it to decide if they’re right or what they need to change. Once the whole chorus is placed correctly on the board, you can play any of the games that you’ll read about below in the Junior Primary Section. (If you read all of that pat yourself on the back, stretch, grab a snack and settle in for the Junior Primary portion of our program.)

JUNIOR PRIMARY

In Junior Primary, I will start with all the raindrops in their correct places on the board. First, I’ll ask everyone to think about the last time it rained. What did it sound like? Did it smell differently? How did it feel? Then ask what happens to things that get left outside in the rain. What if you got one of your toys dirty and then left it outside in the rain? Wouldn’t it be clean when you went back to get it? You can even talk about how rain can clean the air, especially if there is a forest fire nearby or a lot of dust or pollution. This song is about how the earth is very clean right after a rain storm and how we can become clean too by getting baptized. Have your pianist play while you sing the first line of the chorus to them. Sing again and point to the raindrops as you go, explaining that when you read music, you can tell whether to sing high notes or low notes by looking at how high or low the notes are on the staff. Move one of the notes in the first line to a different place and have your pianist play how it would sound if you changed the place of that note. You can even hold a raindrop and move it up and down on the staff with your pianist playing along to demonstrate how the staff works. If your piano is placed in a good spot, you may even want to let one of the children come up and move the raindrop around on the staff while the piano follows them. Move on to the next line, again pointing to where the raindrop is that you’re singing. Have a child come up and pick one word to move and sing it that way. Then move it back and sing it the right way. Continue through the rest of the chorus this way. On the last line take a moment again to talk about the fermata and what that means. Once you have learned all of the chorus, you can play a couple of different games. You can give one child a pointer (I have a sparkly star wand they love to use) and have them point to the raindrops as you sing. You can let one child come up and pick one raindrop to move to a different place on the staff and sing with the pianist playing the incorrect note. Have everyone raise their hand when they hear the ‘wrong’ note.

If you feel like your kids need a break at any point, stop and sing “Rain is Falling All Around” (#241) or teach it if it’s new to you or your primary. They’ll learn this one super fast and it’s so perfect with this lesson. Try a couple of the suggested alternate phrases, especially ones fitting the weather that day. Here’s hoping for sunshine.

HAPPY SINGING!

Teaching We Thank Thee O God for a Prophet

There are some really great ideas for teaching this song in the Sharing Time Outline! I liked a lot of them but I wanted to put my own twist on things, so I made my own word strips. Each line of the song is cut in half and matched with color and a little picture to make it easy to put together. I think that makes it more usable for both junior and senior primary groups!

We Thank Thee O God For a Prophet Word Strips {PDF}

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You can use these to teach this song for the first time, or to review it in a lot of different ways. In Senior Primary, I started with just the first halves of each line up on the board. I had our pianist play through it once while they listened, and while a lot of them said they had heard it before, only one of them knew the name. But, once we started singing it, just having the first line up was enough for them to be able to remember it well enough to sing through it pretty completely. As I went over each line, I put up the second half until all the word strips were up. This went really fast since the song was somewhat familiar. We did talk for a minute about the meaning of the line “Bestowed by thy bounteous hand” and we also talked about why we say words like “Thee” and “Thy”. Once all the strips were up, I had a child who was singing well come up and pick two strips to hide somewhere in the room. I told them we were hiding them for Junior Primary so to think about how high and how difficult to hide them for the younger children. Once all the strips were hidden again, I picked three children to walk around the room while we sang and see if they could find just the first halves of each line. This turned out to be trickier than I thought it would be! I thought they would have figured out that the picture was always on the left side for the first part of the line but they didn’t. It was still very effective though, because they would bring up the wrong half of the line and then I would ask the rest of the primary if it was a first half or not. Then the child that had brought it up had to say what the whole line was and then go and find the actual first half and re-hide the second.

When Junior primary came in right after Senior, all the second halves of the lyrics were hidden. I told them we were learning a song called “We Thank Thee O God, for a Prophet” and we talked about who our prophet is today (we have a picture of President Monson above the chalkboard) and who some other prophets have been in the past. Then we learned the first half of the first line (“We Thank Thee”) and I held up the word strip and showed it to each row up close. I asked them what picture was on it (a person behind a podium talking into a microphone) and I had them guess what they thought could be in the second part of the line. I explained that the rest of the line would be on the exact same color and have the exact same picture on it as the first half. Then, I sent one child to find the second half. When they did, we reviewed the words and made sure that each picture and color matched. We went through each line this way. We took a break in the middle for  a couple of wiggle songs and then finished the rest of the song.

There are a lot of ways to review with these strips as well. You could start with all the strips on the board in the wrong order and have a child put them in order as you sing, or you could have all the first or second halves in the right place and then scramble the other half. You could hide all or half of the strips taped underneath chairs in the room and have the person with the right strip come up when you sing their line. You could do a call and response where one half of the room only sings the first half of the line and the other half only sings the second. You could print several copies and have a race to see which class or other group could put the words in order the fastest. There’s a lot of possibilities here! If you have other ideas on how to use these strips, post them in the comments!

HAPPY SINGING!