Tuesday, March 10, 2009


A fun way to practice singing a song is to sing it in a variety of different ways. One way to do this is to incorporate the use of the different music terms in singing.

For example, after teaching the meaning of "staccato" and "legato" let the children practice singing the song "staccato", then "legato".

You may also try using the Music Meter that is found in "The Big Book of Super Singing Time Helpers" (www.creativeconnectionz.com). I have used this meter often and the children have loved it. I even let different children come up and help do the meter.

Explain "forte" and "piano" and sing the song accordingly, "andante" and "allegro" and sing accordingly. You may also want to add an explanation on what a "fermata" is and inspire them to listen to a song that has a fermata in it and see if they can find it by listening.

This not only makes practicing a song(s) more enjoyable, but it will also help increase the children's appreciation and understanding of music by teaching them about the different ways music is expressed. (See definitions of music terms and the MUSIC SIGNS found in "The Big Book of Super Singing Time Helpers" found at www.creativeconnectionz.com )

Use a fishing pole (or make a simple one by taking a dowel, tying a string to the end of the dowel, then gluing or tying a magnet to the end of the string) and have selected children come up and help you "fish". Cut out the desired number of fish out of colored paper or cardstock and label them. Attach a metal paperclip to each fish (so the magnet on the end of the fishing line can hook onto the fish). Spread the fish on the floor and let the children fish for.....

  • the song you will be singing next or

  • how- the type of activity or style you will be singing the practice song in (ie standing, marching, staccato, legato, clapping, etc.) or

  • who the next helper will be (a different child's name is written on each fish)- they might get to help lead the song, answer questions, participate in holding up visual aides etc. or

  • whatever other purpose you come up with !

Monday, March 9, 2009

I've only added a drop in the bucket of "VARIETY" ideas. There is much more to come.
By the way, I'm wondering what states the viewers of this blog are from. If you will, will you let me know in the comments section what state you are from? HAPPY SINGING!!


Sorry for the long delay in posting. I have been feverishly working on family history and finally got a large batch of names cleared. Now I can focus on a few other things for a while.

By the way, I sure appreciate any comments received. And would love to know how the postings are working...for instance, do you find them effective?

Well here goes....

This is not a new idea, but one that definitely has it's place when children need extra practicing on a song or just need a diversion with singing time.

The idea is simple: You select a child to go out of the room. After the child is outside the door, you can pick another volunteer to hide your preselected object somewhere in the room (or YOU can do it if time is short or reverence is a factor). After the object is hidden and all those in the primary room KNOW where it is, you open the door and invite the child in the hall to come in and see if he/she can find the hidden object. If the child is COLD or far away from the hidden object then the singing should be soft. If the child is getting HOT or close to the object, the singing should be loud. You may even get to repeat the verse or the song during this game.

To make it gospel centered, you might select appropriate props that have some application. For instance, years ago, I was given a Lehi and the Liahona set. It have a 10 inch tall Lehi that was colored and laminated and attached to a ribbon (to put around someone's neck). There is also a picture of a Liahona (also colored and laminated). The child finder represents Lehi and wears that picture necklace and we hide the Liahona somewhere around the room. You might make the point that we have to make the effort to search for the help and direction and guidance we need from our Heavenly Father. But that we have been promised help all along the way. You might quickly remind them of tools that our Heavenly Father has blessed us with to help lead us and qualify us to return to His presence. (This might lead to the singing of other songs that apply!)

Don't forget to take advantage of this easy but effective tool! Here are a few examples that are effective with children- especially younger children who have very short attention spans:

  • Use sign language (this can be made-up as you work through a song or you can access a book on American Sign Language that shows you how to do the recognized signs for the words to the song (or you can use signs for just the key words). I use a book that I bought off the internet called: "Signing Made Easy" by Rod R. Butterworth and Mickey Flodin. It has illustrations to help you.

  • Have the children stand and march to the rhythm of appropriate songs. "Called to Serve", "I Belong to the Church of Jesus Christ" and "Army of Helamen" are just a few good examples. Keep an eye on the eyes of the children. If they are starting to look glossy and yawning is occuring, it might be a good idea to incorporate movement into your singing. When I sing, "I Belong to the Church of Jesus Christ" I point to the direction I want the children to face when standing and marching. I change direction every few words or so (north, east, south, west, turn in a circle). This adds the element of them really needing to think and sing. To add a twist, go to the back of the room and have the children stand and sing to you in that direction.

  • Clap to the rhythm of the song. Teach them how to downbeat of each measure is emphasized by clapping louder on the downbeat. You might also beat the rhythm with a fist into the palm of the other hand or two fingers on the palm of the other hand (depending on the reverence needs in the primary). Try clapping up in the air when the notes are higher and then down in their laps when the notes of the song are lower so the children can visually see how the notes go up and down.

  • Clap, Snap and Tap to the rhythm of the song. Challenge the children to keep up with you!

  • When teaching a song, if the yawns start up, take a break and do an activity song to help stimulate them. At the end of the activity song, slow down the pace of the song and fold your arms to help tone them down to participate in the next phase of learning.

It adds a fun element of surprise to singing time when a music leader unexpectedly invites everyone to "look under your chairs" for such-and-such! (Or you can hide them around the room for the children to quickly spot with their eyes.) You might place objects in sealed envelopes so the children have to wait their turn to see what's inside or you might use colored papers that correlate with something they will come up and do. For example, someone might find a pink piece of paper under their chair that correlates with a pink easter egg in the basket. They get to come open the egg and see what's inside- what song they will be singing for example!

Pipe bells made out of electrical conduit are a favorite with the primary children.
(It's a tradition to pull out the bells for christmas songs. I think pattern for the bells can be googled or you might find vendors online for these. I have my own set that I also use for family activities/ reunions etc.)

Shakers are also easily made. I found that I can make cheap shakers out of the plastic easter eggs. I fill them up with a teaspoon or so of rice or wheat kernals or popcorn (each one of these creates a different sound when shaking). Then I seal them shut by stretching tape around the seams of the eggs. The children love to see my bucket of egg shakers come out!
It's interesting to see how many times the children will ask me if they can keep their shakers- they love them!

A friend of mine, Patti, filled old film containers with the rice. Those lids fit rather snuggly.

Dried sponges rubbed together make a fun sound.

I also made rhythm sticks out of dowling found at any hardware store. I used the 3/8" or larger diameter sticks and cut them down to about 9-10" each. Each child was given 2 sticks to beat with while practicing the new song we were learning.

Let me know if you have ideas for any other effective instruments!

BUILD A SONG (adapted from General Primary Openhouse)
To sing your selected song, divide the children up into four groups or rows. Instruct:

  • The first group to start singing on the first line of the song.
  • The second group joins in singing on the second line of the song.
  • The third group is to join in singing on the third line of the song.
  • The fourth group is to join in singing on the fourth line of the song.
  • If the song then has a chorus everyone will be singing for this.
The idea is that the song should gradually build in volume and strength as the different rows of voices are added. This can truly be beautiful!!!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


Watch for upcoming ideas on this topic!


(Primary Openhouse)
This visual aid is useful after telling the the story "To Catch a Butterfly" which is found in The Friend magazine, the May 2001 issue or by going to the following link: http://www.lds.org/churchmagazines/2001/May2001Friend.pdf

Using a butterfly wand, (you can make your own or you can find one in "The Big Book of Super Singing Time Helpers" found at www.creativeconnectionz.com) gently touch the children on the shoulder when they need an extra reminder to be reverent.

(Primary Openhouse)
This is an excellent song to use in opening exercises. It's message is simple, yet powerful.


Quietly stand up in front with your arms folded. Wait for the children to get quiet and fold their arms before starting...Remember your smile!

REVERENCE LEADER (Primary Openhouse)

Choose a child to be a reverence leader. Instruct the leader to walk slowly and quietly down the aisle, past the rows of children, keeping his/her arms folded along the way. With an encouraging look, he/she should show the others, by example, what they should be doing too. (As the children get used to this tool, have them think of other ways they might show their reverence in addition to folding their arms and being quiet....ie: thinking of our Savior, Heavenly Father.)


Invite the children to see if they can be like the mouse, and be very quiet. Hold up the QUIET visual.(This can be found at http://www.creativeconnectionz.com/)


Begin humming the reverence song as the pianist plays quietly. Hold up the "HUM" sign to signal the children to hum along with you. When you have everyone's attentions, then hold up the "SING" sign and lead the children in singing the reverence song.

Thursday, January 8, 2009


During Primary opening exercises each week, we sing a birthday song to at least one person. It sure makes the birthday person feel extra special when we jazz our singing up a bit.
Here's a few ideas to help:

(For birthday cake with removeable candles visuals go to http://www.creativeconnectionz.com/ for the Big Book of Super Singing Time Helpers.)

Sing "You've had a Birthday" (CS 285) in a round:
Divide up the room into 2, 3 or 4 groups. Assign a singing leader to each group. Following the breaks listed in the Children's Songbook, cue each group, in turn, to start singing the song (from the beginning).

Another variation: Prepare 4 different word strips (large enough for all to be able to read.) Break the children into 3 groups. Assign a leader to each group to hold up that groups' card for the group to see and follow. You hold up the last card for all to see (#4).

On card #1 write: You've had a birth-day shout Hoor-ay! (sing 3 times)
On card #2 write: We want to sing to you today! (sing 2 times)
On card #3 write: One year older and wiser too... (sing 1 time)
On card #4 write: Hap-py Birth-day to you! (everyone sings)

Start with group#1, they sing their line and repeat it 3 times. Group #2 comes in after Group #1 finishes singing their first line. They sing their line twice with Group #3 coming in after Group #2 sings their line through once. Then everyone joins in on singing the last line!
(idea adapted from Primary Music Workshop- General Primary Board)

While singing the Birthday song (songs on pages 283, 284 of CS work well for this), do the actions to whaddalyatchie; slap your lap with both hands twice, clap hands twice, then cross hands over each other twice. Repeat these actions through the song. When you reach the end where you sing, "Happy Birthday to You", change the motion to: slap thighs, clap hands then point to the birthday person(s) and SMILE and sing Happy Birthday to you! (idea adapted from Primary Music Workshop)

Select children to represent the number of years the birthday child is old. (For example, if the child is turning 8, select 8 children to stand up.) Instruct those children to put their palms together (like praying), raise them up above their heads and wiggle their fingers to make the actions of a flame. They are the candles on the primary cake and they are flickering (with their fingers). Invite the rest of the primary to stand. Instruct them to pay attention. When we get to the part of the song where we sing, "Happy Birthday", they are all to sit down, leaving the candle children standing, flickering. This will represent a birthday cake. At the end of the song, everyone repeats, "Happy Birthday!" and the Birthday child takes a deep breath in and "blows" his/her candles out. The children put their hands down to their side when they are "blown" out. (idea adapted from Primary Music Workshop)

Start out the birthday song by singing it in a whisper, clapping to the rhythm of the song. As you sing, increase the volume and melodic sound until at last you belt out with enthusiasm, "Happy Birthday to You!" (idea adapted from Primary Music Workshop)