Choose the Right: Activities for both Younger and Older Children

 Children love variety.  Teach the song in three or four different ways to help the children remember the songs long term.  Here are some ideas.

Younger Children

  1.  Draw a simple melody map – the children do specific movements on certain symbols
  2. Paper Plates – Swish, tap, and flip flop cymbal taps in a pattern
  3. Rhythm Stick pattern – clicking and behind the back as you sing
  4. Action Word Actions – actions that show the word with our hands and actions

Older Children

  1.  Draw a simple melody map – the children figure out what the symbols mean as you sing the song
  2. Eraser Pass – the children one by one erase a word that is not in the song and hand it off to another child before I finish singing the song 7 times.
  3. Rhythm Stick Exchange – tap, tap, hold exchange as I sing.
  4. Paper Plates – Swish, tap, and flip flop cymbal taps in a complicated pattern.

24 Responses

  1. Viviana Uccello

    Era molto utile per me che non capisco bene l’inglese vedere i video di queste attività come hai fatto nel mese di gennaio. Le tue idee sono state magnifiche ma le ho capite meglio con i video e poi adattate alla lingua italiana. Grazie mille i miei bambini hanno imparato “Come figlio di Dio” in 10 minuti è stato un miracolo.

    • Sharla Dance

      I will try to put up more videos for you Viviana. Look on the Youtube channel Dancecroo. I have lots of Primary videos up there.

  2. Kristina Chamberlain

    It was so fun to meet you today, Sister Dance! Thank you for the fantastic training, I learned so much seeing you teach in person. I did have two questions that I didn’t get a chance to ask, though.

    1. Do you have any suggestions for teaching the older kids to sing in harmony? I’d like to try it on Choose the Right, since the harmonies are so simple in that song, but I’m struggling with figuring out how to do it.
    2. How often do you repeat things like Color Code with the older kids? They love it when I do it, but I worry that if I do it too often they’ll feel like they’re too smart for it. I also worry about this with the bells, windwands, etc. How much time should I allow between repeating these activities for the older kids?

    Thank you again!

    • Sharla Dance

      Dear Kristina,
      I’m so glad you came.
      Question #1
      There is a 3 step process… rounds, partner songs and descants, then all and all out harmony with the same rhythm and the same words, yet different notes. There are a couple of rounds (Thanks to Our Father, O Come With Me to Primary, etc.) and partner songs in the songbook (I see my mother kneeling…,etc.) and a couple of descants written out.

      After you have sung a couple of those to prep the children, I would choose a very confident singer to learn the harmony part with you before you teach the whole Primary. (They will be your “plant.”) Then teach it with an activity that has them working out a puzzle or a code so that they can concentrate on something else that engages their brain while they hear the harmony part alone over and over without the melody.

      Next step, challenge them to hold to their part while you sing the melody against them. (Have your plant and a teacher come up to lead the Primary, while you step a little away from them.)

      The next step would be to have three people come up and sing the melody with you while everyone else sings the harmony. Do not choose the best singers. Leave them with the harmony part.

      Let me know how it goes!
      P.S. I’m hoping to get a partner song up on this blog for Choose the Right this week which has them singing full on harmony for the chorus, but different words and melody for the verse.

      Question #2
      How often do I use the different activities? I only use the bells two to three times a year. The paper plates I use about every 6 to 8 weeks. The paper cups about every three months. The rhythm sticks I use about once every month or so, the shakers for the more gentle songs about every 6 weeks or so. I use crack the code every three months. I use melody maps only once or twice a year. The Color Codes I use once or twice a year. The envelope games and eraser pass activities I use about twice a year. However, action word actions for the younger primary I use all the time. It is very much how they learn. I just have to vary it with visuals like 3 piece puzzle or silent video or other activities!

      Thanks for asking!

      • Kristina Chamberlain

        That makes so much sense, thank you! I’ve printed out what you wrote, and I’ll definitely let you know how it goes! By the way, the melody map for CTR and the silent video clip for I’m Trying to Be Like Jesus were awesome this past Sunday, thank you again!

  3. Reva Brooks

    Thank you Sharla for the fantastic workshop today. You are so inspiring and I loved the whole thing. Truly a wonderful heap of ideas and instructions. Everyone had a favorite part but mine was the melody lines and simple things on that line that engages everyone.
    It was worth all the miles and hours driving.

    • Sharla Dance

      Dear Reva, Thank you for saying something. (It makes my miles of travel and work to prepare the workshop worth it!)

  4. Cherice Montgomery

    I would also like to hear more re: any ideas you have for teaching the children to sing harmony. My Senior Primary wants to learn, and they do well with rounds, but I’m not really sure how to start them with harmony.

    • Sharla Dance

      Dear Cherice,
      There is a 3 step process… rounds, partner songs and descants, then all and all out harmony with the same rhythm and the same words, yet different notes. There are a couple of partner songs in the songbook (I see my mother kneeling…,etc.) and a couple of descants written out.

      After you have sung a couple of those to prep the children, I would choose a very confident singer to learn the harmony part with you before you teach the whole Primary. (They will be your “plant.”) Then teach it with an activity that has them working out a puzzle or a code so that they can concentrate on something else that engages their brain while they hear the harmony part alone over and over without the melody.

      Next step, challenge them to hold to their part while you sing the melody against them. (Have you plant and a teacher come up to lead the Primary, while you step a little away from them.)

      The next step would be to have three people come up and sing the melody with you while everyone else sings the harmony. Do not choose the best singers. Leave them with the harmony part.

      Let me know how it goes!
      P.S. I’m hoping to get a partner song up on this blog for Choose the Right this week which has them singing full on harmony for the chorus, but different words and melody for the verse.

  5. Melanie Brower

    I attended the workshop on Saturday and it was inspiring and edifying! Thank you to you and your family for taking time to share your love of the gospel through music!
    When the bells started playing I was so moved!!! I want to purchase a set but I want to get a nice set. Can you suggest a good brand to purchase?
    Thanks again for the incredible and uplifting ideas on how to teach music.

    • Sharla Dance

      Dear Melanie,
      Kids Play makes great colored hand bells that are well pitched (some are not!) There are some sets on eBay that have a white bell in them so I know they are not by Kids Play, but they seem to be good. My Healthy church sells them for 25 dollars for 8 (the cheapest I’ve found) and Groth music sells them for $37. Other places list them for $40 or even $50. It has taken me years to collect my bell sets, but the children love them. I do not, however, use them more than twice or three times a year.

      Thank you for your comments! Saturday was very fun!

  6. Pamela Friske

    I am excited for your ideas on harmony teaching of Choose the Right. My senior Primary loves to sing different parts. Favorite song is Sisters in Zion/We’ll Bring the World His Truth. My husband said he could hear them singing it in the opposite side of the building. They just learned the descant to 3rd v of IILWMY. Thank you so much for your help and ideas.

    • Pamela Friske, do you put Sisters in Zion TOGETHER with We’ll Bring the World His Truth? I’d love to see how you’ve arranged it, if so!

      • Kristina Chamberlain

        Dantzel, Pamela may be referring to an arrangement of these two songs that was done by Michael Hicks for EFY, and which has been widely circulated. Your ward or stake building may have a copy. I looked it up a bit, and you can purchase the sheet music at Brother Hick’s website: http://michaelrhicks.com/music/efy-medley/. You can hear the song there as well, it’s awesome and so powerful! I love it best sung by youth choirs.

  7. Lara Slade

    I also was at the training in Payson. It was amazing how quickly the three hours went. Thank you for all of your helps, ideas and inspiration. I am curious about how much of each song you teach the children. Do you teach all of the verses of each song or just the first verse? If you teach all of the verses, do you do a different verse each week? Or do you do one verse a month and teach multiple songs each month. Does that make sense?

    • Sharla Dance

      Dear Lara,
      Thank you for asking. I teach each verse as a separate entity. That way the brain catalogs it as a whole, and the verses don’t get mixed up in your head.
      How to do that? Teach one verse of the song in short, five minute activities over three weeks. Yes, teach other songs (not the same song different verse) also for those three weeks. Then start in with different activities for the next verse for the next two or three weeks. Because the melody is already familiar, the children catch on more quickly, but fitting the different sounds of the words to the pitches takes at least two weeks or more for the children to keep the verses straight in long term memory.

      As personal preference, I do not usually teach all 3 or 4 verses of a song to children. I choose usually the first and the last verse and teach those to the big group, then I ask a small group to learn the other verse(s) and sing it. It gives variety to the program and allows some of the children who would love to sing in a small group to have that opportunity. Just an idea.

      Thanks for asking!

  8. Rebecca Larsen

    I got to attend your Payson workshop! I absolutely loved it–I am ecstatic to begin teaching using your techniques. About two years ago I watched my sister, a primary chorister in Oregon teach a singing time and I thought, “I really want to be just like her when I grow up!” (I already am grown up, Ha!) She did “I belong to the Church of Jesus Christ” using the actions she learned from you. The kids had such energy and conviction and it was FUN to them to be a member of the church. The whole singing time was fascinating.

    I love how you taught us to serve the gospel message to children in a beautiful and fun way. It is enticing to them, and you can testify at just the right moment and let the Holy Ghost really drive the message to their hearts. I am really grateful for your talents and gifts, please continue to share them and bless the lives of these primary children. Thank you SO much for coming to Utah!

    • Sharla Dance

      Dear Rebecca,
      Thank you. You noticed so much from the workshop! I can tell even by just reading your comments. You are welcome. And thank you for noticing it is for the children, and then for all of us to be blessed in the serving of them!

      Take care, Sharla

  9. Your Payson workshop was wonderful, and I am so glad I attended! You mentioned that you would upload the workshop video to the web. Is it available? If so, how can I find it? I am somewhat kinesthetically challenged and would sure benefit by seeing and practicing all the movement activities again!

  10. I saw in the comments that you might post a partner song for Choose the Right!! That would be so awesome! I’m really looking forward to it if you are still planning to do that. i taught the Older kids your descant on the 3rd verse of If I Listen With My Heart last year and it was SO beautiful!!! And I can tell the older kids like the challenge of learning a different part and I think it helps them feel the message of the music in a more powerful way because it engages them so much. THANK YOU for all the you do!!!

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