I stand in front of the children. On the chalkboard (or whiteboard) is a list of words grouped into threes. I hold the eraser in my hand.
“Here are the rules,” I say.
“1. Eraser one word that is NOT in the song.
2. Give the eraser to someone who has NOT had the eraser before.
3. No talking.
See if you can get all the words that are NOT in the song erased before I sing the song three times.”
I walk over to a child and hand him the eraser. I begin to sing. The child goes to the board and tries to figure out which word he can erase that is not in the song, he erases the word, then he hands the eraser to someone else. I am singing and encouraging the children with my actions.
There is intense concentration on the children’s part. As I come to the end of the song, I say, “That was the first time through the song. Only two left.” I start singing the song again. The children are handing the eraser to their friends and then erasing words. I stand with chalk (or markers) to rewrite a word mistakenly erased that IS in the song, and nonchalantly write it up as I’m still singing (not calling attention to that child).
It is very hard for the children not to talk (grin). You will hear comments like, “Not that one!” Or, “One down, one down.” The children will wave their hand and say, “Pick me!” I am walking through the children smiling, putting my finger to my lip to show them to be quiet (but letting my eyes sparkle so that they know that is part of the fun of the game). I am constantly singing.
Here is a picture of the eraser pass game I did today for the song “I Wonder When He Comes Again.”
How to set it up
How do I choose the words? Why are they in groups of three? Where do you get the words that are not in the song?
1. I choose about 12 words from the song, one from each phrase or so. I choose words that might be hard to understand or capture a main idea.
3. After I have the 12 words, I choose two companion words for each of the words of the song. These words can either be synonyms or opposites of the song word. (It helps the children unknowingly to understand the meaning of the word better.) I use dictionary.com to help me out, or a thesaurus.
4. I list the set of three words in the order they come in the song, although in that set of three, I list the word from the song first, sometimes second, and sometimes third (so that the children don’t really know where the song word is in the order on the board. Look at the above example of the words from I Wonder When He Comes Again.)
This is a great activity to help the children bring order to the words of the song in their own heads. They have to compare and contrast which words are really in the song. They see words that are similar, but not the same. This challenge is well suited for the 8 to 11 year old because of the challenges it poses for them. They often enjoy word searches and puzzles. This is both, with music thrown on top!
An extender activity to the eraser pass game:
After we have erased all the words that are not in the songs, we look at the 12 or so words that ARE in the song which are left on the board. I challenge the children to only sing the words on the board. (Notice this is the first time I have asked the children to sing. They have heard the whole song at least three times through as I have sung it to them, but their minds have been engaged in the challenge of erasing. Because of that, the words slip into the back door of the mind and coordinate with the melody magically.)
Now switch, and sing only the words that are NOT on the board. It is a fun mind puzzle and challenge for the children! They like this activity!
This activity would also be great to use in a classroom while presenting the main idea of the lesson. I think it is a great way to learn the songs.
This is perfect for my Senior Primary! Thanks for the idea. Question: do you color code the words for the activity, or was that just for the blog?
I didn’t used to color code them, but I found that it helps the children, especially the 8 and 9 year olds. That does mean, though, that I have to have every color of marker there ready to fill in a mistakenly erased word (which happened again on Sunday).
This is such an AWESOME idea! Thank you!
Why not have the children sing the song each time instead of just listening to you sing it 5-6 times? They will learn it MUCH faster that way. Just wondering.
The amazing thing is that when they are engaged with their minds churning to figure out what words are not in the song, the brain is taking the melody, rhythm, harmony, and beat of the song and lodging in their brains through the back door. Because singing is RE-producing, it is super helpful to hear it over and over again IF you are engaged in a challenge with that song. When they finally sing the song, they seem to know everything! because the brain has been connecting and gathering all those different parts of the song while they were doing the eraser pass. Thanks for asking!
please sign me up for the newsletter, great site!
I forwarded this on to my tech son who does all the sign ups. Thank you for asking!
Love it! Thanks.
Does it work just as well using a recording of the song? I don’t sing well alone!
Yes, but you will have to be able to start and stop the recording.
Do you slow your singing down according to where the kids are erasing in the song?
Yes, I will often emphasize different words, slow down a little, or slyly point to a word if a child is struggling or needs help. You are exactly right!
Do you write this on a whiteboard that you bring to Primary with you? Or when do you get it ready?
Depending on your situation, you can go in before. If that isn’t possible, yes, I bring my own whiteboard (it’s just hard to not rub some of it off as I transport it
). Thanks for asking!
As the extender activity, how do you challenge the children to only sing the words on the board? So as the piano plays, they don’t sing any other words? They are silent until each of those 12 words appear in the song and sing only those words?
Then for the switch, how do they sing only the words that are NOT on the board. Do they remember the words that they erased? You have them sing just 12 wrong words (in place of the correct words) as the piano plays? But during all the other words of the song they are once again silent?
Sorry I wasn’t more clear. You can sing the other words (my words, your words) then they come in when it is their turn. It really asks the mind to hear the whole thing and stay engaged so that they can come in at the right time.
I love this idea! We are a combined primary. I was thinking for the younger children, would it work to use pictures? Or how could I incorporate them in the activity?
Thank you for being willing to share the talents God has given you with us.
Pictures are a good idea. Sometimes you have to use an idea and just add an extension for the older or for the younger. I’d love to hear what has worked for you.
We are combined as well… But sometimes I don’t want to limit my lessons for older kids because of younger. I am planning to do this as written, but ask the presidency to be a helper for the younger kids who can’t read if they get the eraser passed to them. I will also tell the primary that ahead of time because I don’t want the older kids to subconsciously not give it to a sunbeams because they know they can’t read. Hopefully this will allow me to do the activity ‘as is’
I have done this in a Jr/Sr combined Primary. I ask teachers to choose children from their classes, then I’ll point to the teachers when it’s their turn to send a child up. I start with the youngest classes, who can’t read, but just think it’s fun to participate. A Presidency member stands at the board and points to a word for our juniors to erase. Seniors are on their own. ?
Love your ideas!
Oh my! I love this and can hardly wait to try it. Thanks for all the details.
I spend a lot of time watching your youtube videos and wish I could be in
one of your classes. One question: Do you have printed information for
any of your ideas or do we just have to keep watching and trying to make
our own notes until we finally get it. Really appreciate how willing you are to
share and help us who are not so talented.
Sharla has a book available with lots written down! It is called ‘To Teach A Child A Song’.