When He Comes Again

We’re doing “When He Comes Again” for April. Only the first verse. I really love the message and scriptural basis for the first verse. The second verse is not as strong doctrinally and we could really use a simple song this month after learning two 3-verse songs for the past 3 months!

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This week am going to practice self-restraint and only sing through it twice. We’ll work on it more over the month.

I’m going to have the kids hold props to represent the ideas in the song.

I wonder when He comes again: picture of second coming
Will herald angels sing: nativity puppet angel
(beach ball globe to hold over the snowflake and then the flower)
Will earth be white with drifted snow: snowflake
Or will the world know spring: toy flower
I wonder if one star will shine: flashlight with a star taped to the glass
Far brighter than the rest: paper stars
Will daylight stay the whole night through: sun cut-out
Will songbirds leave their nests: stuffed bird and nest with plastic Easter eggs.
I’m sure he’ll call His little ones: dollhouse children
Together round his knee: picture of Christ w/children
Because He said in days gone by: scriptures
“Suffer them to come to me”: child gesturing ‘come here’

The points I want to make over the course of the month are:
Jesus came once already and He will come again
We don’t know when
Star and angels and daylight whole night through were prophecies about Jesus’ birth.
When he does, He will still love and have time for the little children.
Jesus took time for children before His death and after His resurrection.

I also want a scripture reference look-up day for Sr primary.

I chose this song knowing I’d be teaching it starting Easter Sunday. It will tie in really nicely with the ideas I want to present for Easter:

What do bunnies, eggs, flowers, etc have to do with Jesus being resurrected?

I’m going to have a basket with these things in it:
A plastic Easter egg:  sing birds in a tree 241 (eggs represent new life, Christ gave us all a new life through the atonement and Resurrection)
A toy flower: My Heavenly Father loves me 228 (Jesus made it possible for us to come to this beautiful world, make mistakes, and return to heaven)
A packet of seeds: sing little seeds 243 (seeds look dead, but they will grow new life Christ was dead but cane back to life and we will too)
Dead branch: sing popcorn 242 (branches look dead but are only sleeping because of Christ we will also only sleep)
Bunny: we are a happy family 198–one of our Mother’s Day songs! (bunnies have big families, two bunnies can have 800 kids, grandkids, and great-grandkids in one year! This represents life winning over death like Christ.)
Stuffed bird: in the leafy tree-tops 240 (birds are some of the first animals to come out in spring, signaling that winter (or death) has been beaten again!)

List of songs we may sing:
In the leafy treetops 240
Birds in a tree 241
Popcorn 242
Little seeds lie fast asleep 243
Rain is falling 241
My Heavenly Father Loves me 228
We are a happy family 198

Items to bring are all in Bold Type.

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Lean on the Lord

I was not prepared for how strong the spirit would be in Primary today. I almost couldn’t sing the song that first time in Jr Primary. It was so powerful.

And when we sang the song with the Violinist…wow.

Some practical notes however:
I didn’t have quite enough time in Sr Primary. But if we hadn’t done the Books in the Book of Mormon there would have been enough time for the rest.
Jr primary got a little too enthusiastic about the loud/soft game and stopped singing the words for a while…so I stopped that game after only two times. I skipped it entirely in Sr, which was a mistake because I had a really hard time getting them to be louder with just my hands.
Next time I bring in a musician I am going to leave time for them to introduce their instrument and play their part alone one time. The kids were so distracted watching the violinist the first time that they didn’t sing :0P
All in all, it was a wonderful week. I am so grateful that my efforts are magnified by the Lord. With a little preparation on my part He will touch the hearts of the children. And we are all blessed.
I am ready for a nap for sure. Weeks like this wear me out.

Love One Another for Easter

First of all: We’re going to sing all three verses of Choose the Right for our opening song!! Wahoo! The kids did great last week! I’m going to give it a few months before I ask the teachers to stop singing though.

Second of all: The Primary has been asked to sing on Sacrament meeting on Easter Sunday. I love my ward! I am so glad the leadership appreciates that the kids are a very important part of the church! In other words, although I didn’t plan in singing during Easter because of conference the week before…how can I refuse a request?

However, it needs to be something simple and spiritual since it’s Easter Sunday and we only had two Sundays notice. So we’re going to sing “Love one Another.” It will incidentally go along very nicely with the talk I’m giving that Sunday…

I am hoping to get an instrumentalist to play the obbligato part. If we do, then we’ll sing the song like it suggests in A Children’s Songbook Companion: First verse kinds sing, second verse instrument plays and kids sign, Third verse kids sing and sign and the instrument plays the obbligato. I want to add a crescendo on the first time through so that the whole song builds up to the line “ye are my disciples” and then decrescendos to the end. 3rd time through I’m focusing on the ASL signs

 

All that is well and good (and will be beautiful by itself), but I want to take it one step further. I want the kids the understand what they are singing and recognize the Holy Ghost confirming the truth of the words as they sing it.

Goals for March 25:

  1. polish the words and signs for “Love One Another”
  2. gain a testimony of the words.
  3. Remind the kids to follow me as a conductor (at minimum volume-wise)
  4. Explain and testify that the Holy Ghost will use their singing to touch the hearts of the people in the congregation if they are singing with pure intent.

Things I will need to bring:

  1. White fuzzy gloves
  2. piano/forte staff
  3. word strips

How I will accomplish my goals Jr Primary:

First I’m going to show some pictures of Jesus. I’ll tell them Jesus loves us very much and we’ll talk about what he did for us. Next, I will show the picture of The Last Supper and explain it (Jesus wanted to have all his apostles together for the Passover feast before He had to leave them alone. He also wanted to tell them some very important things because they would not be able to see Him anymore. One of the important things Jesus said to his disciples was…) then I will sing the song for them acapella.

Then I will not ask them to sing it with me but I’m sure some will and while the intro is playing I’ll ask: “What did Jesus tell his disciples?” and we’ll talk about the answer when I’m done. Then I will teach them the signs we don’t know (explaining what the words mean as we go along) and we’ll practice with the piano/forte staff, singing the song in groups of three (once with words, once signs alone, once words and signs. I’ll have an adult helper changing out the kid who does p/f for the 1st and 3rd times.)

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When they’ve got it down pretty good I’ll put on my white fuzzy gloves. I’ll remind them that the gloves mean that we need to listen for the Holy Ghost inside of us. Time permitting we’ll sing the song here. Then I’ll pull out the p/f staff and explain that, “Just like the staff, my hands will tell you when to be loud or soft” (big gestures=loud and small gestures=soft plus I’ll use my left hand to shh and encourage them to be louder) then we’ll practice being loud and soft. “Being loud and soft can help the people in the congregation to hear the Holy Ghost better.”

If my instrumentalist is ready to go, we’ll practice with her for the closing song

Senior Primary:

First we’re going to learn the song, “The Books in the Book of Mormon.” Because the kids are learning from the Book of Mormon this year, I thought it would be good to have them able to find things in the scriptures quickly. The lesson is on “Following the Prophet,” so I’m going to mention how these books were written by the prophets and apostles in ancient times. Just like when we watch conference and listen to modern prophets. I’ll teach it by having the kids open their scriptures to the index. And I’ll have cheat sheets handy for those kids who can’t see any scriptures. The tune is “ten little (fill in the blank, angels, Indians, etc) so I’m confident they will remember it and be able to sing right away. This should take 5 minutes to get ready for and sing it two or three times. Then I will ask them to turn to John 13:34 in their (already open) scriptures.

Here is where the word strips come in. The text for Love one Another comes from John 13:34-35 almost verbatim. I’m going to print the words out. The words that are in common will be on colored paper and the words that aren’t in common will be on white paper. I will put the words up on the board in two columns–one labeled “Love one Another” and the other labeled “John 13:34-35″The words on white paper will stay where they are and the colored paper will be moved from one column to the other. I’ll start out with all the words on the “Love one another” side. As we sing the song I’ll have one or two helpers move a word group from the song side to the scripture side. (Sort of like when you put all the words on the board and then erase them one at a time). The Sr. kids already know the song, (we learned the signs for it last week when I had extra time) so this is mostly a distraction so I can get them to sing the song again and again while we work on the spiritual aspect.  Same as Jr primary for the rest.

Wow that was a lot of explaining. I hope it makes sense to you, because I feel much better about my plan having written it out and worked through it all. Thanks for helping me with my calling!

Again! Again!

We’re doing the same thing as last week. The kids had so much fun and Jr only got a few turns, so it’s bells on the chorus repeat week. I don’t even need to frame it with a game they loved it so much!

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Jr primary didn’t really get the concept of only ringing your bell on your note, but i didn’t explain it very well. We were pretty rushed. So, I need to give a better explanation of how to read the music in Jr Primary and encourage them to keep singing the verse even though they are so excited about the bells. If they can’t do it again this week then I’ll make a simplified bell accompaniment for Jr primary. But I want to give them one more chance first 🙂

Choose the Right Vs 3 with knobs! …I mean bells

We are ready to learn the Third and Final verse of Choose the Right! (yay!).  This has been quite the mountain to climb, and I will be very happy to see the view from the top.

On Sunday, when it is my turn, before I do anything else, I will lay out the handbells on the table and put the notes for the chorus of CTR up on the board. This will pique the kid’s interest and create anticipation for what we will be doing today. They will be paying close attention and their brains will be all fired up, ready to learn.

Now that I’ve got their attention, I’m going to teach the 3rd verse the same way as the others, with ASL signs for key words. Usually when we do this I teach them the sign, what it means, and then fit in into the verse. This week I’m going to do it backwards. I’ll show them the sign and then I’ll sing the verse and have them guess what word corresponds to the sign. I think this will work better in Sr Primary, so for Jr I will also have an animal puppet. I will draw a name or select a 3-4 year old to come up front and use the puppet to mark the beat of the song (to make sure we do it slow enough). However, since most kids that age won’t be able to keep a steady beat, we’ll really just enjoy seeing them play with the puppet.

Once we’ve been through the verse enough that they are comfortable with it I will break out the hand bells. We’re going to play the notes for the chorus this week. (Soon, very soon I hope, I’ll have Sr Primary play the notes to the tenor line…but not this week.) I’ll have eight randomly selected primary children come up and (after reminding them about proper bell etiquette) play the chorus while a musically knowledgeable teacher points to each note and I direct the rest of the primary to sing. We’ll practice the 3rd verse and sometimes the 2nd verse. And then, maybe, we’ll do the whole song. wow, that would be something.

I’ve though a lot about how to notate the music (to indicate which bell plays when). The simplest and most cost-effective way I came up with was to print a blank staff that fills the whole page and take it in to church to be copied many times. Then I take a set of markers with all the colors of my handbells and draw the music by hand. Then I’ll tape them together in strips that will fit on the chalkboard. You can download my blank staff template here and the cleff/time signature here. I know traditional kids handbell music is much simpler than this, but I believe our primary can handle the extra information. And if not, I’ll do something else :0)

If you want to print (in color) a copy of my handbell music for the chorus of CTR, here is a link to the file.

How can you know what is right?

We’re still working on CTR for the first two weeks in March. I want the kids to have a really solid start in this song, so we’re going slow and thorough. This week we’re practicing verse 1 and 2 together.

To go with the lesson (God speaks through living prophets) we’re going to be answering the question “how can I know what is right?”

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I’ll ask a volunteer a Right/Wrong (true/false) question (list of questions at the end) and their choice of how they know the right answer will determine how we practice CTR.

To summarize, you tell your helper a R/W statement, they say right or wrong, they choose how they know that answer (of the 4 choice pictures on the board), you confirm and testify, everyone sings the song. Repeat until time is up.

The game’s possible answers are:
Living prophets (sing a different song)
Prayer (hum/words signs)
Scriptures (piano/forte staff)
Listen to the Holy Ghost (only ASL signs, no singing)

I’ll have on the board a picture with a label to represent each answer. The kids will answer right choice or wrong choice (like true or false) and then point to one of the pictures indicating that they learned this answer from living prophets, prayer, scriptures, or listening to the Holy Ghost. There is no wrong answer to the second part–it just tells us how we are going to practice CTR. But it does give me an opportunity to bear testimony of yes, the prophet/scriptures/etc can teach us this principle.

For the living prophet option we will quickly review some stories President Monson shared in last year’s conference (yes, it will be a preview of week 3s lesson). The presidency member who is teaching will tell the kids these stories (time permitting since the Bishopric sometimes takes a long time to talk with the kids):
Dare to stand alone (story of navy boot camp or bus tour)
Prayer ($5 bill story)
Stand in holy places (story of family of 10 who all went to the temple in New Zealand)

The other songs for the living prophet option are: Stand for the Right, Dare to do right, follow the prophet, Sunbeam, etc

Right/Wrong statements:
Your friends are making fun of someone, and you laugh with them. (no! You should tell them to be nice.)
You get married in the Temple.
You loose a library book and pray for help finding it.
Your teacher tells the class that Mormons don’t believe in Jesus Christ. You just sit in your seat. (wrong! You tell her the truth.)
Your mom said you can’t wear those clothes to school, but you just put on your sweater and she doesn’t notice. (wrong! Be obedient! And dress nicely!)
You have a bad feeling about going to your friend’s house so you stay home instead.
You get lost and remember to stay where you are (hug a tree)!

Please comment if you have some other t/f statements or if I need to explain better, or if you tweak my ideas to use in your primary. I love seeing other people’s twists on ideas!