As a Child of God: Melody Map Ideas

Melody Maps are powerful tools! I recently taught this song in only 6 minutes using this colorful map.  Here is the map, a video of how to use it, and a printable version which you will have to enlarge so the children can see it.





Older Children:

These maps are posted out of order at the front of the room.

Ask the children:  “What is the same? What is different?”  Receive their answers.

Ask:  “What do these posters have to do with this song?”

Sing the song and ask the children again “What do these posters have to do with this song?  Sing again.

Ask:  “Are these posters in order?  Which one comes first?”  Sing the song again to help them figure it out.

Ask questions about the various symbols on the map.

When the children have put the posters in order and have figured out what the different symbols stand for, have the children sing only the words with the symbols, and you sing the other words.  Then the next time, have the children sing only the other words (NOT the symbol words) while you sing only the symbol words.

Younger Children:

These maps are posted IN ORDER at the front of the room.  Post also about 14 or 15 pictures of children.  (It is a nice touch if the pictures are of the children in your Primary, but isn’t necessary of this to work.)

Ask the children:  What do you see? What do you notice?

Receive the children’s answers.

Sing the song and follow the melody line with your finger as you sing.

Tell the children  you will tap a child on the shoulder so that they can come up and put a picture of a child on the melody map as you sing.

Sing (as many times as needed) while tapping different children to put the pictures up on the map. (It doesn’t matter where they put the pictures.) Sing again and follow the melody line with your finger as you sing.  Point out that when I sing about myself, the map has a smiley face.  Point out that when I sing about choices, the map has an arrow.  Point out that when I sing about a special light like the Holy Ghost, the map has yellow marks.

Ask the children to sing with you and point to the map as you sing.

Here is a youtube video of the teaching technique for older children:

Here is a printable version of the 4 parts of the map.  (You will need to enlarge it so that all the children can see it.)





And here’s a zip file of all of them together:


Some have asked for directions to make their own melody maps with other songs.  Here they are:

105 Responses

  1. Fina Allred

    I’ve seen these melody maps before but I never really understood how to use them. This video explained it all very well. I’m so excited to try this out next month. Thank you SO much for posting this!!!

  2. Kristina Chamberlain

    I love this, thank you! And I love seeing you in action, it helps so much to watch you teach!


        Thank you for the link, that’s a GREAT idea! Thank you for sharing that. However, the post link are jpeg images and cannot be opened in the adobe pdf reader. Is there anyway to repost the link as pdf? I don’t have the technology to convert them. Thanks!

          • TIFFANY TUCKER

            Thanks so much! The link you posted above for the Adobe PDF reader lets you tile print the posters, so you can print them at home and then tape together to make a larger poster (like the size in your video). I went to the UPS store to try to print them out the size you have them in your video and it would have been $127 just for one poster! Soooo the Adobe PDF reader lets you tile tile them across multiple pages. But I needed them in PDF to used the reader. When I used them in primary, everyone loved them! Both older and younger, and we have 71 3-5 year olds in our primary! Thank you so much for sharing again! They worked great! I’m excited to try a lot of your techniques:)

    • Gail Henricksen

      Here is a fantastic website where you can upload a photo and it creates a poster sized document for you… you then print the 6 sheets of paper, tape them together, and you have a poster board sized image.

    • Sharla Dance

      Hi, tech guy here. I’m sorry, it is not possible to get them larger. I used the Google Photo scanner app to scan these posters and that is the biggest the app puts them out. They are about 4ft by 3ft which doesn’t fit in our scanner. Taking pictures with a camera has lots of glare since they are laminated. If anyone knows of a way to scan a large poster, let me know, and I can do it and put up bigger files. Since these are simple shapes, you can increase the size and they won’t look too bad.

  3. amy

    you just helped me to get excited about this song. It hasn’t been a favorite but now I can’t wait to teach it!

    • Sharla Dance

      Dear Amy,
      Yes, I can agree. The concept of agency is really the exciting part. Hopefully the song can just be a vehicle to teach it! Good luck with this!

  4. Megan Stafforf

    I love this, Sharla. Thank you for posting the files and your video, it’s wonderful to see you in action!
    What do the teal arrows at the bottom of the posters represent? I tried figuring it out but don’t think I’ve got it yet.
    Also, for the older kids, who may be able to learn more than one verse in a week, would you recommend moving to the next verse with the same teaching method, or sticking with the same verse and switching activities?

    • Sharla Dance

      The teal arrows at the bottom are just a subliminal way of letting the children know this song is about choice.

      I would do an activity with another song instead of trying to teach more than one verse at a time. It gets all mixed up in their memory if the verses are taught together.

      Thanks for asking!

  5. Kari Christiansen

    Thank you so much Sharla for taking the time to put this together and share it with all of us! I’ve used Melody Maps before and the kids seemed to love them. 🙂

  6. Melinda Harr

    What do you do with all the green arrows on the bottom of the page? I didn’t see you do anything with them and I wonder what they represent? This is a great way to teach the song. I will probably try it!

    • admin

      I am using the arrows up in the melody map to teach choice. The arrows at the bottom are just an unconscious way to reiterate this song is about choosing the right.

      Thanks for asking! Sharla

      • Greg Langford

        I think it is also a great way to show the kids there is a consistent beat to the song. I am not sure Sharla if you did it to represent that or not but I used it to help with a couple of tricky rhythms in the song.

  7. Desiree Roberts

    Would you suggest using the melody map one week and then using the egg shakers the next week as a review or to introduce the second verse?

    • admin

      I would review the first verse with the egg shakers. The brain needs about 3 repetitions with time in between (perfect for 3 weeks of Primary) in order to lodge into long term memory. Yet, the brain craves variety, so teaching the same verse in 3 different ways on 3 different Sundays is great for learning.

      • Jen

        Thank you, thank you for all of your ideas, they are awesome and so helpful! I’m wondering, then, how you teach 3 different verses? Do you take longer than a month to introduce new verses while also reviewing the previous verses, and is it important to use a different method for each different verse? I’m very new to this calling, with very little musical training, so I appreciate you sharing your gifts and advice!

        • Sharla Dance

          Dear Jen, these are great questions! Thank you for asking because you will get so much more skilled faster!
          1. Do I take longer than a month to introduce the new verses while reviewing the previous verses?
          And here’s the reason why.
          Brain research shows that repetition with time to sleep in-between is absolutely necessary to remember something long term. We ask our children to remember these songs clear until September. I usually teach each verse 3 different Sundays in a row. I never teach 2 verses on the same day. It will muddle the memory process for the individual verse.

          I take longer than a month if there is more than one verse. This works out well because I teach 2 or 3 different songs each Sunday with short activities. I might do an egg shaker activity, a crack the code activity, and a silent video activity one Sunday (all different songs). The next Sunday I might do a draw the song activity, a body rhythm activity, and an envelope game activity (the same songs as last Sunday, just different activities). The different activities give the children variety and the same songs give them the repetition they so desperately need. Doing it a week away gives them the sleep in-between. After I have finished 3 different Sunday activities with the same verse, I will switch to the next verse and use the 1st verse we learned as an opening song.

          Hopefully that helps! Take care, Sharla

          • Kalli

            I am new to the calling too and am LOVING everything you explain. THANK YOU!

            As a follow up to what you just explained, do you take an additional Sunday to put all the verses together? If I just teach one verse at a time each week, what is the best way to put it all together once each verse is learned? Thanks in advance!

          • Sharla Dance

            I begin to use the song as the opening song in Primary with at least two of the verses. Because it is the same melody, the children automatically sense that it belongs together so you don’t have to say much. Thank for asking!

  8. Nancy Oakes

    How would you teach the additional verses? The same way or would you choose another technique?
    I used my bells during November and December to “Could I hold the baby?” Should I wait awhile before using bells again—like on As a Child of God or is it too soon?

    I am signed up for emails and I never receive them. Are you sending them out?
    Nancy Oakes
    PS THANKS so much for your teaching. I’ve been a music teacher for years (also piano) and You’ve taught me sooo much.

    • admin

      I would use other techniques to teach a second verse because of the way it catalogs in the brain. It is easier for the children to retrieve the different verses if they are taught in a different way.

      I only use the bells about twice a year in order to preserve their “fun” potion. I would use the bells to review it later on in the year.

      I only send out emails about once a quarter, especially when I am teaching a lot of workshops. This fall I have traveled quite a bit and it took all my extra time. Thank you for asking.

      P.S. I am publishing a book that helps piano students read the bass clef SO much better. is the URL. Book to come out mid-January.

  9. Jennifer Foote

    I’m inspired! Is there significance to the arrows along the bottom other than the obvious forward movement?

    • admin

      Every time the song talks about choices there is an arrow. Thanks for asking!

  10. Desiree Roberts

    Will you let us know when you are doing another workshop? I would love to come.

    • Sharla Dance

      I’m doing three in the next 2 months… one in the Payson Utah area, one in the Portland area, and one in the Bothell Washington area.

      • Cheri Battrick


        How do I get more information about the Payson workshop and how do I register for it?

        • Sharla Dance

          Dear Cheri, I am teaching in Payson on January 28th from 9 to 12 at the Payson West Stake Center across from the Junior High. Bonnie Peterson is the Stake Primary president I am working with. I don’t have the details of how to register (it’s free), but I’m sure Bonnie would. Thanks for asking!

      • Michelle Crawford

        I would love to attend a workshop in Payson- where can I find out more details about this? (Thank you for all you do, Sharla!)

        • Sharla Dance

          I am teaching in Payson on January 28th from 9 to 12 at the Payson West Stake Center. Bonnie Peterson is the Stake Primary president I am working with. I don’t have the details of how to register (it’s free), but I’m sure Bonnie would.

        • Sharla Dance

          Dear Michelle, I am teaching in Payson on January 28th from 9 to 12 at the Payson West Stake Center. Bonnie Peterson is the Stake Primary president.

  11. Kathryn

    I love this idea, but I am not able to upload the zip file to have it printed. Is there a way to open them individually?
    Thank you!

    • Sharla Dance

      If you click each individual picture at the bottom, it should open up the file individually. You can enlarge them at a print shop that does architectural drawings. Or cut the shapes and make them on a poster…(that’s how they were done originally).

  12. Deanna

    This is AMAZING! Thank you so much!! Our ward has Jr. and Sr. Combined, and i feel like this will really reach ALL of the ages of children AND THE TEACHERS!!

  13. Christine Nelson

    I have enjoyed this valuable website! Your ability to make the music come alive using different methods makes it fun to teach!
    Thank you for sharing your wonderful talents to bless others!
    It is invaluable to me!

  14. Lauren Wilde

    I love your ideas so much. I feel inspired when I read them. It must mean the Spirit is guiding you!

    About using the melody maps with younger children, what is the purpose of having pictures of children up? Does it help them understand the melody map better somehow?

    • Sharla Dance

      The action of putting the pictures of the children up on the map as I sing is to focus the children on the map, and to be actively involved as I sing the whole song for them again and again.

  15. Lauren Wilde

    I have been watching this and your other videos, and I really appreciate how you can teach with just you singing without accompaniment. It gives me confidence and motivation to do the same. Our piano accompanist tries hard but is just learning how to play, and I often feel I’m waiting for them, to find the page or to plug through the intro, and quite often it stops the momentum I’ve built up or we have to sing the songs much slower than normal. Your video examples will help me as I teach the songs initially. Do you have other tips for working with novice pianists? I don’t want them to feel like I’m frustrated or leaving them behind or like I don’t need them. I know they need practice to gain confidence, but I almost feel sometimes like I need to choose between them and the kids. Any tips you have would be much appreciated.

    • Sharla Dance

      Dear Lauren,
      I often use my accompanist as my partner to help pass things out, gather things in, give me only the starting note (I tell him or her beforehand about which note to give me), or correct a word I may have gotten wrong. The brain hears the sound waves of the voice and can match the pitch better than the sound waves of the piano. I purposely sing without the piano at first for the children’s sake. When I do ask the pianist to join, I often tell the children it is like the frosting on the cake because it has so many more sounds than the human voice.

      Playing the melody with us as we sing is okay, too, instead of all the accompaniment. I do ask the pianist to introduce new songs as he or she plays the prelude.

      Thanks for asking!

  16. Pamela Friske

    Sharla. Thank you so much for sharing your creative teaching ideas. I love them and use them constantly. I teach piano and voice professially so I am excited about your new book on bass clef reading. Thanks. Pamela Friske

  17. Julie D.

    I used your Melody Maps today in Primary and the kids loved it. Thank you!

  18. Natalie Grange

    Sharla- these ideas are so wonderful ! How do I find out about and sign up to attend your workshop?

    • Sharla Dance

      Dear Natalie,
      I am teaching in 3 different areas in the next few months: Bothell, WA, Payson, Ut, and Portland, OR. Which one are you interested in? The workshops are sponsored by a stake and they do all of the registering. Thanks for asking!

      • Abbey Clark

        I am cutting in here because I would love to attend the Portland one. Can you tell me the info about it? Thank you very much!

  19. Bonnie Caldwell

    I love your methods and use them as much as I can. Stars were gleaming (Sterren stralen) was a huge hit for our kids here. Transforming this one into Dutch is a bit challenging, but I want to try to do it because I can see the benefits for our little Primary in Leeuwarden, Netherlands. I can’t just use your maps as is because the words, of course, don’t always fit. For example, power to choose is translated to “freedom of choice”. I hope I can come up with symbols that work in Dutch.

    • Sharla Dance

      Good for you Bonnie! I am posting more ideas today for that song. Great idea to modify things to fit your children!

  20. Ally

    Hi Sharla! Thanks so much! I love using your ideas! Did I miss where you explain why the arrow at the very end is pointing up?

    Also, I was reading through your comments and saw that you are teaching a workshop in payson, Utah! That is where I live!! How do I sign up?

    • Sharla Dance

      Dear Ally, The arrow at the very end is pointing up because instead of saying a word about choices, it talks about what is right. That also is a choice but one that points to heaven. That’s my reasoning for the arrow, but you can do something else there.

      The Payson workshop is January 28th from 9 to 12 at the Payson West Stake center across the street from the Jr. High. Thanks for asking!

  21. Katie

    I just can’t tell you how much I appreciate you. This calling would be so overwhelming and so time consuming without your help. I will be using your ideas for As A Child of God. I used so many of your techniques last year and they were such big help. My Primary presidency thinks I’m awesome, but it’s all you! I wish I could do something for you! Thank you so much.

    • Sharla Dance

      Katie, thank you for your kind words and thank you for being a great instrument to teach the children. I’m only an instrument, too, to pass on things that have helped the children in the past. I’m grateful for your words. Take care, Sharla

  22. Melissa Stokes

    I am ready to go with the melody charts for Sunday but I am trying to visualize teaching Jr. Primary. When the children come and put up the faces on the melody map, do they put them on the blue dots or just random places on the map (not on any dots at all?) What reference do I make to the faces before and after they have done this? Do I have them sing only on the ‘faces’ (like with Sr. Primary) or is it just an activity to keep them engaged while hearing the song repeated? Thanks so much.

    • Sharla Dance

      Depending on the median age of your children, you can do the singing only on the faces just like the senior.

      The action of sticking the faces of children on the chart is to help the three and four year olds focus on the chart because there is action going on.

      Yes, you can comment how these children all have power to choice the right and so do all of you (or something like that). It is a chance to bear a quick testimony of the principle and gift of agency!

      Thank you for asking!

  23. Crystal Hunt

    I am not a music person. I took choir my senior year of high school because I needed a fine art to graduate, so I HAD NO IDEA what this was let alone how to use it! I am the 2nd Counselor in our Branch Primary and also the Primary Chorister. I cannot tell you how happy and grateful I am for this video. I learned SO MUCH in just those few minutes! Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU!

    • Sharla Dance

      Dear Crystal, You are welcome, and I hope some of these other ideas will help you, also. You are blessing the children!

  24. Jeni Allen

    Sharla, when are you coming to Portland!!?? I read in a comment it will be soon?:) Can’t wait!!!!

    • Sharla Dance

      The organizers of the Portland Music Workshop on February 25th asked me to teach some sessions. It would be great to see you!

  25. Brittany Chase

    I love your melody map. It seems like you’ve created it with a lot of consideration of pitch and rhythm. Do you have instructions on how you made it? I’d love to make my own for other songs later.

    • Sharla Dance

      I will put the instructions on this post. Thank you for asking!

      (P.S. There will be another kind of melody map for Choose the Right under that post. I’m hoping to get it up in about 2 weeks.)

  26. Melanie Brower

    Miss Amazing, 😉
    Do we need to sign up for the class in Payson or just show up with a smile ready to learn? Pretty excited about you are coming to Utah this month

    • Sharla Dance

      Just show up with a smile! I’m just an instrument, not amazing, but I do receive amazing help from the Lord!

    • Sharla Dance

      The Bothell stake is hosting a workshop on Saturday, February 11th, at the Cottage Lake building in Woodinville from 9 am to 12. Here is the address: 18860 NE Woodinville Duvall Road, Woodinville, WA 98077

      Hope to see you there!

  27. Kristi

    I used the melody map yesterday in Jr. and Sr. and it was fantastic. The kids were engaged and learned the verse so quickly! It was my first Sunday “choristing” (as my son called it) and this was such a great help. Thank you!

  28. Amber

    Love love love!! Thank you so much for sharing! You make it fun, exciting, and engaging! I love your fresh, engaging, and new (to me) perspectives to teach and learn the songs. I also appreciate the educational insights on how the brain learns and retains. Do you have melody maps for the 2nd and 3rd verses or suggest something else? I tried to make my own for them but the wording and symbols didn’t seem to flow like yours did with the 1st verse and chorus. I didn’t know if it was me or the very different wording of the other two verses.
    Thank you so much!!

    • Sharla Dance

      Dear Amber, Heidi has posted some melody maps that she made for those verses. She posted them on the LDS Chorister’s Facebook page. Thanks for asking!

  29. Rhonda

    Thank you so much for sharing this melody map. I just found your site tonight and love the idea of the melody map, so I tried to use adobe reader to print out in a tile format like you mentioned, but I keep getting this error. “Adobe Acrobat Reader DC could not open ‘As A Child of God #1.JPG’ because it is either not a supported file type or because the file has been damaged (for example, it was sent as an email attachment and wasn’t correctly decoded)”. I am doing this on a Mac, not sure if that makes a difference. It’s too late for me to make this work for tomorrow, so I will try and make one up by hand quickly.
    Thank you so much for all this wonderful information. I just ordered your book and am excited to learn new ways to teach the children in primary!

  30. amy

    I would love the instructions on how to make melody maps for other songs. I can’t open the pictures posted to make them big enough to read. They’re tiny and super pixelated when I try to enlarge them just a bit in order to read them.

      • Jennie

        I got the melody maps for As a Child of God, but I couldn’t get the pictures for the directions to make my own melody maps with other songs to enlarge/open either. It wasn’t in the zip file download right above them. Am I not looking in the right place?

        • Sharla Dance

          Hi Jennie. You can right click on the image and open then in a new tab. And then you can zoom in by clicking on the View menu and choosing ‘Zoom In’. Let me know if that works for you.

        • Sharla Dance

          The directions are down at the bottom of the post. Basically the steps are:
          1. Find the lowest and highest notes of the song. Count how many notes from lowest to highest.
          2. Divide your paper (I do it on plain old notebook paper at first) and make each line a name of the note from the lowest to highest.
          3. Make little dots on the lines of the pitches of the song for each phrase.
          4. Decide what symbol you want for each note (dot, triangle, etc.) Assign different colors for certain words, or the highest notes, or the lowest notes… whatever you would like.
          5. Put all of that onto a bigger poster or something so all the children can see.

          Take care, Sharla

          • Jennie

            It didn’t work to right click on the image to open in a new tab, so thank you so much for typing up these steps for me! As a side note, thank you so much for coming to Payson, loved seeing you!

          • Sharla Dance

            You are welcome. I wish we could have talked together more. It was an amazing experience for me because of all of you. Take care!

  31. Leslie Simmons

    Hi, do you ever do workshops is the Boise area? We would LOVE to have you!!!

    • Sharla Dance

      I did a workshop there years ago, but would love to come again. Ask your stake Primary presidency to contact me. Thanks for asking!

  32. Mallory

    I printed your pictures on poster paper and laminated them last night. I used them today even though we’ve worked on the song already for the past two weeks. This was SUCH a big hit. The senior primary was so attentive and actively learning the words. It made primary so fun. I know others have thanked you, but I want to add my voice and thank you for all the children you are helping in the world. I’m so grateful that you’d share your talents with us in this way.

    • Sharla Dance

      Thank you for your kind words, Mallory. I’m just an instrument hoping to help. Thank you!

  33. Nelladet Stettler

    Love your Melody Maps; however, I can’t see the Melody Map Directions well enough to read them. Could you please post them as a pdf or email them to me. I have tried enlarging them, etc. but still they are not clear enough to read them. Thanks!

  34. K-onna

    Sharla, I have the same problem as Sister Stettler – can’t see the directions well enough to know how to create my own. Could you please email them to me, also?

    Thanks for all you do. Love your helpful teaching tools!

    • Sharla Dance

      Dear K-onna, I am writing a post right now about making a melody map with directions for If the Savior Stood Beside Me. It will be a few weeks out before I get it posted, but I will put it on the Facebook page and here in this blog. Thanks for asking!

  35. Tara

    You are amazing! Thank you for sharing your talents in such a wonderful way. I have a question. If I am making a melody map for the new song, “I Will Walk With Jesus”, should I make the map just for the first verse (which would be four posters), or should I also do the chorus? I haven’t been able to find examples of melody maps that include the verse and the chorus, so I’m not sure if I should plan on teaching the chorus in a different way? THANK YOU!

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