A Child’s Prayer: Word/Rhythm poster for Older Children

Tell the Children

“I love the composer of this song.  She used so many things to make her music great.  One of the things I notice is that she repeats some musical ideas in her song over and over again.” (Show the posters and sing some of the snips of melody on the orange poster.)













“I need your help to figure out where they go in the song.  I will tap someone on the shoulder and they come up to move one of these into the right place on our song poster.”  (The song posters below are up at the front of the room.)  I begin to sing the song and tap children on the shoulder.  They come up and figure out where each of the white word/rhythm pieces go in the song.



Sing the Song as the Children put on the word strips

I sing the song over and over again, tapping different children on the shoulder until the children have put the whole song in order.


Then I say “You sing all the white pieces of paper.  I sing all the rest.”  We sing together.  “Now switch and I will sing the white papers and you sing all the rest.”  We sing together.  (It is quite the challenge to sing like this!)


Bringing order to a song like this (in a discovery way) allows the brain to fully engage in learning the song.  The children don’t even notice they are hearing the song over and over again (allowing the brain to link all of the separate parts into a larger whole).  Singing only parts of the song while someone else sings the rest stimulates the brain to hear the song in their head, a really strong way to learn.

30 Responses

  1. Gail Browning

    I love this! I just love all your ideas. They really do solidify the words with a fun interactive experience. I did the eraser pass on “My Heavenly Father Loves Me” a while back. It was the first time with that activity and the children were so involved and tuned in. They loved it! It was really a fun new way also of getting the words down quickly with focused repetition. Thanks Sharla! You’re amazing and i love you!!!

  2. Jana

    I used this today – it was awesome and did the extender too. Thanks for your examples on how to do things – I love to use all your ideas!

  3. Lacey

    I love this. Is there a spot where you teach how to read these Rythmn markings? I’m not as good at music theory…

    • Sharla Dance

      I just point to the rhythm markings and sing them like they are in the song. I don’t really explain them. The children are there to put the song in order and unknowingly they get exposure to the rhythm markings.

  4. Mallory P Funkhouser

    Hi Sharla, when you sing the snips, are you singing the correct melody or singing them with the same “note” and just emphasizing the rthym?

    • Sharla Dance

      I try to sing them with the correct melody , but sometimes just the rhythm is correct! Thanks for asking.

  5. Holly

    What is your suggestion to teach a Child’s Prayer to the younger primary children?

    • Amy

      Hi Holly, I am nowhere near as good at this as Sharla, but I had to figure out something for my junior primary. I am doing “Primary Headbanz.” I have the words: Heavenly Father, Father, There, Prayer, Away, Pray, Now, Ago, Heaven, Close, Around, Jesus, Suffer the children, Coming on cards to put on a headband that wraps around their head. (I am using our headband from the game we have.) A child leaves the room. I will have a helper choose a card and we will put it on the headband. I will make sure the kids know which word it is. Then the child will re-enter. Then the children either leave out the word for the child to guess (for the older kids like 7 years old) or sing the word/phrase really loud for the younger ones. The child with the headband on has to guess which word/phrase is on their headband. Like I said, I’m no Sharla, but this is just something I saw and tweaked a little bit. Sometimes it is hard to come up with good ideas for Junior. 🙂

  6. Shantae Nicolaysen

    Yes, do you have any ideas for teaching this to junior primary?

  7. Kelly

    Did you make the rhythm papers by hand or is there something we can print off? I can’t trust my handiwork to be as uniform.

  8. Janae Cunningham

    My question is similar to Holly’s: Would you recommend modifying this activity for younger children? (We have a very young and large junior primary.) Thank you! Your ideas are always a big hit with my kids!

  9. Christine

    Do you happen to have the melody parts in a file that can be printed out?

  10. Christine

    I was able to bear testimony to our Primary children today about how Heavenly Father answered my prayers. I found this wonderful lesson plan late last night and really wanted to use it today. I went downstairs to see if I had enough posterboard and discovered I had exactly enough and the bonus was they were in the very same colors you used even!
    I was able to get everything made this morning and singing time went well. Thank you Sharla for sharing your talents. You bless Primary children all over the world.

  11. Kynda Farrell

    Thank you so much for sharing your talents! I used this activity today and senior primary was very engaged throughout. I had them clap the repeated rhythms as we sang. I made a pdf of your visuals (I’m faster at creating on a computer than drawing things out by hand) if you’d to make it available to others.

    • Sharla Dance

      Dear Kynda, Yes, I would love for you to share it! This is one of the songs for next year and I’m sure others would love it!!! Thank you, Sharla

  12. Lisa :)

    I hope I haven’t overlooked the answer, but do you teach the second verse the same way? The music pattern is so different that I wondered if you had a tip on making it work? Or do you have a different suggestion? (I try to teach all the verses to as many songs as possible.) And do you have anything fun you do when you sing both verses together? 🙂

    Thank you SOOOO much for all your suggestions and guidance! Sometimes I just feel ‘stuck’ and your website and ideas always help me to feel inspired for my own ward again! Thank you!! 🙂

  13. Angie

    This is such a wonderful idea! I actually made the pattern cards on the computer, but I don’t know how to attach them. If anyone out there can give me instructions how to do that, I’d love to share my feeble attempt at trying to make someone’s life easier, since there are so many who have helped me!

    • Jen

      Hi Annie! If you’d be willing to share your PDF it would be so helpful! My email is jenandtheboys3 @ gmail.com. Thank you!

    • Mary Gunnell

      I’d love to have a copy of your digital rhythm cards! If you save them as a .pdf or .jpg and email them then Sharla Dance should be able to add those images to this post. Or, you could save the digital files as a google doc and post the link so that others could access the files! I think you could even post the images or links yourself in another comment as well, but I’m not sure… Sharla Dance may have to be the one to post!

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