Monday, February 22, 2016

Singing Time: Unbirthday Party!

7:55 PM 0 Comments
Our Primary only knows a couple of birthday songs really well. We could certainly improve. I've decided we are going to practice them (and perhaps learn one) and have an unbirthday party in Primary. I'm excited! 

Prep: I'm giving each child a birthday sticker to begin with. I decided that I won't do birthday hats because I can already imagine them snapping the elastic and either getting hurt and crying or breaking it and crying that it's broken. I'm going to avoid the tears. I'm also going to wrap up a present that is addressed to the Junior Primary, and another for Senior Primary. At the end of Singing Time we'll open the present. Inside will be individually wrapped cookies or small party favors for each child. I thought about cupcakes but we really don't need frosting or cake crumbs all over the church. I'll put some streamers up and a couple of balloons just so it looks like a party. We are the first ward in the building so it would be easy to get the decorations up before church begins.

We will pretend it's all our birthdays in Primary. We will take turns singing birthday songs to a group of kids for each song we review or each time we run through the song as if it is their "birthday". We will make sure everyone has a chance to get sung to.

Here are the songs that I'd like to review:

Feliz Cumpleanos CS #282 (this one needs some teaching)
Your Happy Birthday CS #283
Happy, Happy Birthday CS #284a
You've Had a Birthday #285

If you don't already follow LDS Primary Choristers Facebook page, join! So many great ideas out there. Since I've been planning this "unbirthday party" I have found some really great ideas to make these birthday songs more fun.

One chorister posted an idea for "Your Happy Birthday" (CS #283) that I love!! For "zip-a-dee-ay" and "heigh-dee-ho" she substitutes nonsensical funny words. She has a cute jar with 2 sets of different words- one set to substitute "zip-a-dee-ay" and the other set to substitute "heigh-dee-ho". She has come up with some pretty awesome words. Click HERE to see her original post. She was so kind to write up all her fun words for others to print and use. Click HERE to access her post with the document of fun words. This will be a hit for sure!

For "You've Had a Birthday" the same talented chorister posted another idea. Click HERE to see her post. She created different "personalities" for singing the song. When the song says, "You've had a birthday, shout hooray" she substitutes "hooray" for a word that one of the "personalities" might say. For example, if the personality is a cowboy, he shouts "yee-haw!" I just love this idea! The children will have so much fun choosing the different personalities.

For "Happy, Happy Birthday" all the primary kids that are singing to the children in the front will act as "birthday candle flames" where they sway and move. At the end of the song, the children being sung to get to blow out the "candles" and all the "candles" fall into their seats.

"Feliz Cumpleanos" needs some real teaching. The pronunciation of the foreign words deters the Primary from really learning it, I think. So we will practice the pronunciation really well so they will feel comfortable with it.

This would be a great Singing Time to hold in August when the first Primary was held on August 25, 1878. Then it would be a real Primary birthday party.

I hope this goes well because I really want to do a "Visitors Day" too where we practice welcome songs.

Friday, February 19, 2016

How to Conduct a Heart-to-Heart with "The One"

11:15 AM 0 Comments
In my last blog post I discussed how to deal with a difficult child in Primary. I called this child "the one". Sometimes "the one" needs a little timeout in the hallway with a leader. This timeout should be productive. So, we will conduct a "heart-to-heart". The "heart-to-heart" is a conversation between the child and the leader meant to resolve any issues. This is also very much applicable to your children on any given day.

Here is my outline of how to conduct a "heart-to-heart".

1) Remember that you're talking to a precious son or daughter of God.

2) Use a soft voice, and look at the child with soft eyes when you speak. 

3) AVOID ASKING "WHY?" !  If you ever ask a child "why" he or she did something, you're most likely going to get the answer, "I don't know." A child will not respond well to "why". The key is to ask a “curious” question (ex. I’m curious to know…) or a “what” question (ex. What is it about Primary that you don’t like today?) See the following examples of what NOT to do and what TO DO.

NO: Why are you talking?
YES: I noticed you have lots to say today. What’s on your mind?

NO: Why aren’t you sitting in your chair?
YES: I’m curious to know if your chair is bothering you today. What is it about your chair that makes you not want to sit in it? If it’s not the chair that’s bothering you, is there something else?

4) Listen. Let the child speak without interrupting. Look at him/her while he/she speaks. Give him/her all your attention.

5) Validation & Empathy. I child needs validation to let them know that what they are saying is important. “I can see why that would bother you.” Or “That sounds like it would be very difficult.”
Show that you care with some verbal feedback like, “I’m sorry you’re feeling that way.”

6) Lead child to solve his/her own problem. “What could you do fix that problem?” Or "how could you change that?" 

7) Give feedback on the plan that that child comes up with. If it's a good plan say something like, “That sounds like a great idea. Try that.” If you know that the plan isn't going to work say, “Let’s think about that. If we did that, what do you think would happen?” The child may come up with a new plan. Repeat until the plan is a promising one.

8) Offer help. “Is there something I can do to help?” 

9) Offer encouragement. “You’re a good kid. I know that you can do this. Let’s go back in and try it out.” 

10) Ask, "Would you like me to sit by you?" This gives the child an ally if he/she wants it. 

At this point you can take the child by the hand or give them a side hug and lead them back into Primary. Hopefully the child will feel better and will begin putting the plan into practice.

I've used this plan before with my own children at home and it is great. (Sometimes it pays off to have a mother who is a Marriage & Family Therapist.) This outline keeps us calm and gets us to where we need to be. I hope you find this helpful.

Let me know how it goes!

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

How to Deal with a Difficult Child in Primary

9:33 PM 0 Comments
We’ve had THOSE Sundays when there’s a child or two (or three or four) in Primary that just make everything a little more difficult. Johnny is asking random questions without raising his hand; Susie is saying the opposite of what you’re saying; Daisy isn’t sitting in her chair; and Charlie and Tommy can’t stop bugging each other. So, how to you get them to stop? They’re most likely bored, want attention, or just woke up on the wrong side of the bed. So, how can you reach THE ONE? Or two? Here are some do’s and don’ts that might help:

  • Don’t ignore the problem if it is reoccurring. It will let others know that it’s okay to join in.
  • Don’t use sarcasm or humor to embarrass the child or control the child. (Ex. “Laman and Lemuel murmured a lot, just like Johnny does to me.”)
  • Don’t compare the child to another. (Ex. “Charlie isn’t being reverent.” Or “Amanda is sitting so nicely, unlike Susie.”) 

  • Talk to the child privately (after church, on another day). Talk to the parents. This will let the child know that you respect them and won’t call them out in front of their peers. It will also let them know that you notice their behavior. Be kind. Talk with a soft voice and look at the child with soft eyes.
  • Praise the child when they behave well. Point out talents and strengths the child has. (“I see Daisy sitting so nicely with her arms folded and ready for our activity. Thank you, Daisy.” Or, “I love this painting of the Savior. Do you know who else is a really good artist in our Primary? That’s right! It’s Johnny.”)
  • Be inclusive or generalize when giving instructions. (Ex. Are we ready to begin? It looks like there’s still a bit of chatter. Let’s see if we can all get in our ‘reverent position’. There are a few that still aren’t quite ready. Let’s review the reverent position. Arms folded, feet together, sitting up, eyes on me, and mouth is closed. Good. Looks like we’re all ready.”)
  • Look inward. Is MY lesson boring? Is MY lesson too roudy? Am I talking too much? (see below “Change your plans”)
  • Get help from others. Ask the Primary Presidency or teachers to help you. You’re in the middle of Singing Time and you can’t pull Susie out to the hallway for a heart-to-heart. Ask the other leaders to help you. (Ex. Sister Markham, could Charlie get a heart-to-heart with you for a minute?)

  • Move closer to the child. (This will be easier if you have the room set up where you can reach the children better. I have noticed that long rows are hard to walk around. If you have an aisle down the middle, it makes it a little easier but I know it’s not always possible.)
  • Use a gentle touch on the shoulder. You don’t have to say anything, just keep going with what you’re saying/singing but a touch will let the child know that you notice him/her.
  • Invite the child to participate. Ask him/her to help you hold something. Ask him/her to act something out for you. Role play. Ask him/her to draw names for the activity.
  • Ask him/her to help you clean up afterward. (“Rosie, could be my helper and erase the board for me? I know you would do a really good job.”) Kids love to feel important and love responsibility.
  • Get out your “magic quiet bubbles” or “silent spray”. Bring in an empty bubbles bottle or spray bottle. Label it “Quiet Bubbles” or “Silent Spray” or whatever you want. When it gets too noisy and “the one” won’t stop, use a little humor and blow “bubbles” or spray your “spray” on the child. It’s not the kind of humor that is meant to hurt or make fun of a child. It’s humor that is done with love. (Ex. I hear some chatter. I think I need to get my magic Silent Spray out. Let’s see if that works. (spray, spray) I think that does it. Oh, I hear something in this corner. (spray, spray) Awesome. We’re ready to begin.”)
  • Listen. Most times, the child wants to be heard and validated. If the comment or question that the child asks is off-topic, try something like “That’s an interesting thought but that might take us away from our lesson today.” Or “Hmm…I haven’t thought about that. If you’d like to talk more about it, let’s talk after Primary.”
  • Change your plans. Think on your toes and switch up your activity to provide a different type of engagement.
  • Serve the child. True story: One week “Jason” was just grumpy and was talking out of turn and got in trouble during Sharing Time. He was not happy and it made me sad that he was going to sit through Singing Time upset and quiet. He looked like he wanted to cry. I noticed his shoe was untied. I bent down and quietly said, “Hey Jason. I’m so glad you’re here today. I noticed your shoe was untied. Let me tie that for you. I want you to know that you’re a great kid.” He was a little shocked but didn’t say anything. He didn’t sing but next week he was happy and wanted to help ME! I was so happy. We’re pretty good buds now.  Write an encouraging note to the child. Drop off a treat. Tell the child that you love him/her.
  • Gold Coins. I have a bag of plastic gold coins that say “Token of Appreciation” and “You were caught being good”. There are others available from Oriental Trading that say “You really shine”. I love these. My kids love these. I use these for those that make an extra effort in Singing Time or those who help me clean up after Primary. I have 2 girls that help me every week. The boy in the story above received a gold coin one Sunday and it made his day! This is a simple gesture to encourage the children and let them know that I notice them and the good things they do. I hand them out at the end of Primary when I can tell them one-on-one how much they are appreciated. Sometimes I have to send the coin in a note if I can’t pull them aside.
I hope this is helpful. If you have other ideas or advice I'd love to hear them! Let's continue to share the love and help each other become better.

Next time I'll discuss HOW to have a heart-to-heart with "the one".

Monday, February 15, 2016

How to End Singing Time Each Week

7:01 PM 2 Comments

This blog post came as a request by a sweet Primary chorister who wanted some ideas of how to end Singing Time each week. The chorister before her would do a cheer but she wanted to do something different. I loved her idea of doing something special/routine to end Singing Time. Here are a few ideas that I gathered from other teachers. I hope you find something useful here.
  • Puppets: Create a "Singing Time" puppet that opens and closes Singing Time. Ask it questions and let it whisper in your ear. Relay the responses and messages to the Primary. 
  • Questions: Ask the children questions at the end. They can be anything from "How does this song make you feel?" to "What did you learn from this song today?"
  • 60 Seconds: Ask a question that requires a one-word answer. Receive as many one-word answers from the children as fast as you can in 1 minute. You can make this as fun or spiritual or serious as you want. For example, "What's your favorite ice cream flavor?" or "How do you feel right now?" This would be a great way to get to know your primary kids real quickly too. 
  • Call and Response: This is slightly different from the call-and-response for getting a noisy class under control again. Same idea but with a more positive vibe. For example, you can ask, "Do you know how much I love you?" and they can respond "THIS MUCH!" with arms stretched out as wide as they can. Or blow them a kiss and have them "catch it". Let them know they are loved. This is why we do what we do, right?
  • Goodbye song: create your own or maybe sing the "Hello Song" but instead of "hello" sing "goodbye". Here's an example:
           Goodbye, goodbye,
           Goodbye, goodbye,
           We had some fun today, goodbye
           Goodbye, goodbye,
           Goodbye, goodbye,
           We sure enjoyed Sunday
           Because we're friends in our Primary (stress on EE)
           And we can't wait to gather again next week.
           Goodbye, goodbye, 
           Goodbye, goodbye,
           We had some fun today! Hey!

           I'd love to see some really good variations on the "Hello Song".
  • Testimony. Yours. Share it! Nothing is better than being able to share your own testimony with the children. It can be super simple and informal. "I know that Jesus lives and that he loves you."
I hope one of these is useful for you. If you have other ideas or implement one of these, let me know how it goes. I'd love to hear your experiences.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Singing Time: When Things Get Out of Control

2:44 PM 3 Comments
It's not very often that Singing Time gets out of control but when it gets to loud or crazy, how do you bring the children back to a reverent mode? Here are a few ideas that might help get their attention and get them back on track:

1) Prepare yourself. Plan your activities so that they run smoothly. Pray and know your songs. Think like a primary child. Is the activity engaging? Is the activity too complicated? It the activity simple to follow? Is there a lot of talking and not much singing?

2) Prepare the children. Get some wiggles out if necessary. Sing a couple of wiggle songs BEFORE you begin explaining the Singing Time activity. Then you can explain the activity and remind them to be reverent. For example, "We can still have fun but we must remember that we are at church, in Heavenly Father's house. We need to be respectful. Remember that there are also others around us who are also trying to learn and focus. If it gets out of control and too noisy, we will have to stop the activity." Follow through!

Once you're in the activity, you can use these suggestions:

1) Quietly say, "if you can hear me, touch your __________ (nose, head, elbow, knees, ear, etc.)" When you say this, touch something that is NOT what you said. For example, say, "if you can hear me, touch your nose." You touch your shoulders. This way those who are actually listening will be touching their noses while those you are just watching are touching their shoulders. 

2) Go quiet and start a rhythm the children can follow. Pat, clap, pat, clap. See how many follow. Change it up after most of the children are listening. Pat, clap, snap. Pat, clap, snap. Children should quiet down quickly because now they are concentrating on keeping up with the rhythm. (You can make it more difficult for Senior Primary.) Once you have their attention, fold your arms and say what you need to say to continue Singing Time with reverence.

3) Use a noisemaker. Children quickly tune out familiar sounds. Do you ever catch yourself calling your own child's name 5 or 6 times before they acknowledge you? Or maybe it works the reverse with your child calling you? ;) Use a noise that is less used. Bring a bell or a triangle or an egg shaker or something that will get their attention rather than just "Shhhh!" Make sure the item isn't too loud. You want it kind of soft so they stop to hear where the sound is coming from. 

5) Call-and-Response. Use catchy sayings as a cue to be quiet. For example, you can say, "1, 2, 3, eyes on me," and they respond, "1, 2, eyes on you." You will need to introduce this concept and practice a couple of times. This is a fun way to get the children's attention.

Here are some other examples:

Teacher: Ready set...
Children: You bet!

Teacher: Zip it, lock it... (use action as if you are zipping your lips)
Children: Put it in your pocket (use action as if they are putting it in their pocket)

Here are some church song ideas:

Teacher: I'm reverent...
Children: For reverence is love.

Teacher: Jesus wants me for a...
Children: Sunbeam! (children hop up and then sit down with arms folded)

Teacher: I looked out the window and what did I see?
Children: Reverent children in Pri-ma-ry! (whisper)

Teacher: The chapel doors seem to say to me...
Children: SHHHH!

I hope these help. If you have other ideas to share, please comment below. If you use one of these ideas, please share and let us know how it went. 

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Gumball Necklace Tutorial

9:23 AM 4 Comments
A couple of days ago I posted my birthday gift idea for my Primary kids who will be turning eight. You can make an "all white" necklace or adapt any way you'd like.

Here is a quick tutorial on how to make these cute necklaces.

Here's the list of supplies you will need to gather:

  • 24- 1" Gumballs (I ordered these on Amazon.)
  • 6 feet of 2" Poly tubing (You can order this on Amazon as well and you will NEVER run out. The roll is gigantic. I split the roll with my sister and it will last me forever. You can purchase it HERE.)
  • Ribbon, colored elastics, or loom bands

NOTE: I have used curling ribbon, colored mini hair tie elastics and loom bands. My favorite is loom bands, which I have used in the picture above. The hair elastics are too little and hurt my fingers. The curling ribbon takes more time than I wanted. The loom bands are awesome because they are stretchy and don't hurt my fingers. I also LOVE the look of them.

I hope this was helpful. These are cute for graduations and other celebrations as well.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Singing Time: Valentine's Day Conversation Hearts

9:17 AM 0 Comments
Valentine's Day is one of my very favorite holidays. Last year I posted this activity to another blog (and ended up shutting it down due to traffic control).  So, I'm posting it here again for this year.

I really liked THIS idea by Crafts By Friends. I wanted to copy this but didn't have a lot of time to make the hearts and paint them. I had Peter Priesthood (aka my hot husband) work his Photoshop and Illustrator skills and whip me up some "conversation hearts" that I could just print out, cut, and laminate. He delivered. 

Feel free to download and print the PDF for all images HERE.

Last year I got to the Primary room about 10 minutes early and posted hearts all over the room. When it was time for Singing Time I expressed how excited I was for Valentine's Day. I explained to the children what conversation hearts were to jog their memory and for my Sunbeams who didn't know what they were. You can even bring in a bag of hearts to show the children and reward  them at the end for good singing. 

I chose one child to pick a heart and read the message. It was easier for Senior Primary to try to guess which song we were going to sing based on the message. I also put a post-it note on the back that indicated HOW were were going to sing the song (hum, every other word, boys/girls, teachers/children, with actions, etc.) to mix it up a bit. 

Here are the possible songs for each heart. I wrote these songs on the back with the song number so it would be easy for me to tell the pianist which song we were going to sing. 

Scripture Power (Friend)
Chapel Doors (CS #156)
If You're Happy (CS #266)
A Happy Family (CS #198)
The Wise Man and the Foolish Man (CS #281)
Listen, Listen (#107)
Search, Ponder, and Pray (CS #109)
Jesus Said Love Everyone (CS #61)
Nephi's Courage (CS #120)
Families Can Be Together Forever (CS #188)
Do As I'm Doing (CS #276)
I Am a Child of God (CS #2)
Teach Me to Walk in the Light (CS #177)
We Are Different (CS #263)
I'm Trying to Be Like Jesus (CS #78)
Follow the Prophet
I Will Follow God's Plan (CS #164)
When We're Helping (CS #198)
Love One Another (CS #136)
Friends Are Fun (CS #262)
The Family Is of God (Friend)
Daddy's Homecoming (CS #210)
Children All Over the World (CS #16)
Help Me, Dear Father (CS #99)
I Hope They Call Me on a Mission (CS #169)
Quickly I'll Obey (CS #197)
Stand For the Right (CS #159)
Our Primary Colors (CS #258)
Snow Is Falling (CS #241)
Once There Was a Snowman (CS #249)
Sing, Sing, Sing (CS #253)
Smiles (CS #267)
I Am Like a Star (CS #163)
In the Leafy Treetops (CS #240)

If you have any comments or suggestions on how to improve this activity, or even variations of this activity, I'd love to hear. I always want to improve Singing Time. 

Friday, February 5, 2016

Indoor Date Idea: Chocolate Milk Tasting

10:39 AM 0 Comments
When you've got kids and it's hard to get out and go on a date, check out my indoor date ideas.
You don't have to leave your house, spend lots of money, or do a ton of planning to date your spouse. 

 Last night, on a school night, my husband and I reconnected through chocolate milk. We had a CHOCOLATE MILK TASTING night and it was delicious! We probably drank our weight in chocolate milk but it was worth it. 

We put together a simple scoring chart and rated our local chocolate milks. Based on price, packaging, smell, consistency, texture, color and taste, we decided who was clearly the winner and the loser. 

We had fun being together and enjoyed our 4 servings of chocolate milk each. YIKES!

Baptism Birthday Bubble Gum Necklace

9:55 AM 0 Comments
This year I want to give my Primary kids a birthday gift from me. I just love these kids and want them to know that I am thinking about them. I came up with this bubble gum necklace for my eight year-olds. The song lyrics printable for "When I Am Baptized" came from Larcie Bird's blog. It is just darling! Visit her blog for a free printable.

I love these bubble gum necklaces. I will post a tutorial on how to put them together in the the next couple of days, if you're interested in making them at home.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Adapting Singing Time to Multiple Intelligences

8:27 PM 1 Comments
Children learn different ways. Some children can learn a new song by just reading words. Others need some pictures or perform actions to really learn a song. And, still for others, these ideas may not be very effective. So, we are going to explore the different ways people learn. You may even find out the best way YOU learn.

Multiple Intelligences is a theory proposed by Howard Gardner, an American developmental psychologist. His theory suggests that our intelligence is contingent upon different abilities. We learn best through different means and not all by the same mean. 

The theory outlines eight abilities: 

Verbal- linguistic
Visual- spatialLogical- mathematical
Musical- rhythmic and harmonic
Bodily- kinesthetic

Let's go more into depth with each ability. The following diagram is a good summary.

You may already know what type of learner you are by looking at the chart. You may be a combination of these abilities. Primary is made up of many different types of learners. So, how do we adapt Singing Time to these different types of learners? 

Here is a chart I created with some popular Singing Time teaching methods or ideas that coincide with the different abilities. I hope this is helpful when planning your next Singing Time lesson.
If you have any comments or ideas to add to the list please feel free to share. 

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