What are actions that the children could do with their hands to help them remember the words?
Here are some suggestions (but you can do other actions as well).
Choose – pick something up with your hand
Right – either the ASL hand sign or hit your fist to the palm of your other hand
Choice – look back and forth between two things
Before – smooth something out in front of you
Right – (whatever you did above)
Holy Spirit – ASL hand sign for Holy Ghost
Light – fingers splayed with hands bursting outward
O’er – hands imitating rain falling over your head and down
Right – same as above
Heart – hand over heart
Confides – join hands together in as gesture of secure trust
Choose the right – same as above
Wisdom – point to your head at the temple
Way – both hands indicating which way to go
Light – same as above
Choose the right – same as above
God – point up to heaven
Bless – pull hands in, palms up and rest them over your heart
If the children help you figure out what actions you should do (but you have some ideas beforehand just in case), it is a strong way for them to learn. Because this song repeats the phrase “Choose the right” often, ask two or three of the children to come up and help you lead at least that part, more if they can.
Extension: I often have two or three helpers as we sing it through, then I ask each helper to choose a friend to come up with him or her. We sing it again with all of those children being the leaders for the actions. I have even had all of those children go find a friend and bring them up to the front to be the leaders!
The physical action of doing an action while singing a word is a strong way for the brain to remember the song in several different parts of the brain. And it is fun!
You have so many awesome ideas! Thank you!!
I’m just passing on things that have worked. Thank you for the compliment. I’m just an instrument hoping to help!
Thank you again for all that you share! I am really enjoying teaching Primary Music! I just wanted to ask you a question…I have your book (which I love!), and have been trying to implement your suggestions on planning singing times. You suggest doing 3 songs each month. I have been doing this through this month, and really enjoying it. But, the counselor over me is worried that the children aren’t having long enough exposure to “As A Child of God” since I spend only 5-7 minutes each week on it, then move on to the other two songs. I explained that I will continue with it through February, as a review song, but she is still concerned.
So, now I’m feeling a little worried, since I’m new and haven’t done this before. I honestly feel like it’s going really well. While I don’t have experience as a music teacher, I do have experience teaching creative dance and I feel that the methods overlap greatly; so it has come easily to me to incorporate your methods into music. Should I be concerned? Have I mis-interpreted and should I not be doing 3 songs each month? Do you change your songs each week? Thank you for any advice you have! I know you’re extremely busy!
Dear Cali, I suspect your gut feeling and your other teaching experiences are serving you well. There is a lot of brain research behind what I suggest, but more importantly 30 years of teaching Primary music in the trenches with hundreds of children. That said, I’m not perfect and I’m always learning, but I do know that the brain loves repeating to remember the best. Coming back to a song 4 weeks in a row cements the song in a way that goes deep and doesn’t show up at first. Like Gwenna mentioned, it is amazing how it all comes together without frantically having to reteach everything in August and September. Thank you for being willing to do things like this for your children!!!
Oh gosh, I didn’t realize we weren’t supposed to take up the whole time with these activities. Opps, So really? Just do them for 5-7 minutes and then go on to another song? I’m new with these methods. I need to read more in depth on your blog I guess.
Dear Jocelyn, Children do well when they have a change of pace about every 5 to 7 minutes (brain research and experience). That’s the reasoning behind doing at least 2 songs each Sunday. It also helps you do a different activity with the same song three weeks in a row, which is fantastic for long term memory (from the book “Brain Rules” by John Medina). I do at least two songs a week, and often they aren’t even the song for the month, but the children always seem to learn the songs well and keep high enthusiasm for singing time because of those change of pace types of learning experiences. Thanks for asking. (And these are just suggestions!)
That makes sense. Since I posted the above, I have been doing more than one song. It really works. I was wondering how you could do paper plates for 20 minutes before they are going nuts. Haha. Thanks.
Cali, I’m not Sharla, but I have followed her ideas when I was in this calling before (this is my third time) and I can tell you it works. By the time the program rolls around the kids won’t be sick of the songs and they will not have forgotten them because you only sang it for one month. Singing the songs multiple times in new ways just helps the song get into their brain better. Ask your counselor to be patient and watch it all come together. Be strong and have courage.
Wow, thank you both so much! I wish I could give you each a big hug; it is so touching to see that you care. I love how the gospel of Jesus Christ has brought us “together.”
I feel very reassured, thank you. I will continue to move forward, and watch it all come together. I’m just so grateful for your shared insight and talents. Thank you!
I will be attending your workshop in Payson, Sharla! I’m so grateful I heard about it, thank you for coming here! I’m inviting the primary presidency to come as well. So glad it’s only a week away!
Thank you, thank you, thank you again!
Thank you, Sharla! I just finished 4 weeks of working on “As a Child of God” using all your suggested methods and the kids loved each week. I’m so pleased with how engaged and reverent they are. I’ve received multiple comments from leaders about the kids’ enjoyment during music time, and from parents that their kids are talking about and practicing the music during the week. It is so rewarding and I’m so grateful to you for sharing what you know!
How can we get you out to Colorado for a workshop? 🙂
I would love to come to Colorado! Your stake has to find a date, then invite me formally so the process can begin. Your stake president talks to my stake president, we get it approved, then I find a way out there. Sometimes a businessman that travels a lot will be willing to donate some air miles. I don’t charge, so it’s just a matter of getting there. Thanks for asking!
Hmm, I’m going to start really thinking about this. Thanks so much for the info!
How does a person find out about workshops?
The ones I am doing this year are:
Payson Utah January 28th 9 to 12
Bothell Wa February 11 9 to 12
Portland OR February 25 various classes as part of a large music workshop
Thanks for asking!
Thanks for the fantastic ideas. I wish I could see a video of you swishing the paper plates for Choose The Right. Also, I would love to get you to California for a workshop. Thanks again, and I look forward to using many of your ideas in the future!
I just put up a video doing the actions. I hope that helps.
Also, I would love to come to California to do a workshop. Do you have a Primary Stake Presidency that might be able to invite me (meaning they get it approved through the Stake President, extend the invitation, etc.)? Thanks for asking!
Hi Sharla! I just finished watching your wonderful video from your Payson workshop and I absolutely loved it! There was a handout mentioned and I wondered if it was anywhere online. Also, somewhere I read how many times a month/year you use the different techniques (melody maps, wind wands, hand bells, scarves, etc.). I can’t remember where I read that. Could you share that info with me again? Thanks!
The hand out was a planning outline made by Courtney Ekman and was posted on the LDS primary music website a while back. She did a great job of capturing each of the multiple intelligence areas to plan how to teach each song.
Because the brain craves variety, but needs repetition (the principle), you can’t use a melody map, the hand bells, the wind wands, the scarves, or anything over and over again or the brain starts to lose interest. That is why I recommend so many different ways to teach a song. It’s more for the brain to keep interest in the different activities.
For instance, you can keep the steady beat of the song in a pattern with rhythm sticks, maori sticks, shakers, wind wands, body rhythm patterns, rhythm instruments, paper plates, or sand blocks. Because those things are all different, the brain sees each of the experiences as new (just what it needs!)
You can bring intriguing visuals with picture puzzles, concentration matching game, silent video, put the pictures in order, or swirled pictures, and the brain sees them all as new experiences. If you do pictures for every song, the brain begins to lose interest. Unfortunately, that includes flip charts.
Hopefully that makes sense. I try to do at least two different movement/steady beat patterns (in one of the ways mentioned above or with a scrambled beat poster), one visual experience (like those mentioned above), one musical experience (rhythm bands, tone bells, hand bells, companion songs, etc.), and for older one interactive experience with each song. The activities are only 5 to 7 minutes. If I can bring something that has to do with nature (smells, leaves, etc.), I try to fit that in. (Thus the beauty of Courtney’s planning handout… you brain storm once and have a couple of ideas for every song.)
Thank you for asking, Kasey!
Thanks so much for your quick reply!