I Will Follow God’s Plan for Me: Monthly Plan

I Will Follow God's Plan For Me

“Knowledge is only a rumor until it lives in the muscle.”

This is a saying from the Asaro tribe of Indonesia and Papua New Guinea, quoted in the book “Rising Strong,” by Brene Brown.

How do we get the songs to “live in the muscles” of our children?  I think that means they need a variety of experiences with the songs to help the knowledge come alive in the very muscles of our children, and movement to the steady beat needs to be at least one or two of those experiences.

Here are a few ideas.  (These are only suggestions, hoping to spark your own ideas best suited for the children in your Primary.)

Younger Children

  1. Rhythm Stick pattern for Younger Children
  2. Action Word Actions
  3. Paper plates
  4. Shaker patterns for Younger Children

Older Children

  1. Word Tile Puzzle for the chorus
  2. Rhythms with sticks, bells, and egg cartons
  3. Paper Plates
  4. My Life, My Choice, and I Will.  Choosing Categories

 

The Friend magazine has put out a beautiful sing-a-long video that you could have the children watch once, then watch again and turn off the sound so that THEY are the sound for the video.  (It’s beautiful.)  Here is the link:

Here's a sing-along video to help with next month's Sharing Time song.

Posted by The Friend Magazine on Sunday, January 31, 2016

 

And aother idea.  There is a Simplified piano version of this song in the January 2014 Friend.  If there are any children that play the piano in your Primary, it might be fun to challenge them to learn this and play it for a special musical number later this month (or year) in Primary.

35 Responses

  1. I am super brand new to this calling and super not musically inclined! I have no rhythm in my bones at all! So, I’m scared to teach the kids this way BUT I know the importance of this way of learning. Anyway, is it best to pick one of the above mentioned ideas to use all month or is it best to use each of those ideas or a couple of those ideas along with a couple of other ideas for the month? Does that make any sense at all??
    I like the idea of having physical objects that match certain words of the song for the children to hold but I don’t know if it’s better to introduce the song that way or with a body movement way. As you can see I have no clue what I am doing and need a lot of help 🙂 Thank you so much for all of your help and the amazing ideas you share!

    • Sharla Dance

      Dear Morgan, What good questions! You keep asking and learning like this, and your music times will be engaging and wonderful for the children!
      First – I actually do all of these activities, one per week. That means I have to super know the song melody and beat (I sing it at home a lot ). I make sure the “fences” are in place for the movement. With younger children, that means calling out “Freeze!” and asking if their hands are following your hands. With older children, it means that you challenge them to do movements that are complicated. (A great way to engage the boys is to mention that athletes that can do the complicated rhythms often play better on the field. That’s a fact.) You also set fences for them. They know what they should and shouldn’t be doing…. I always move closer to those that are inclined to act up. A soft touch on the shoulder and a “mother” look goes a long way.

      I don’t do just one song. Brain research tells us that adults have really only a 10 minute attention span before they need to switch gears, and children have even less! I do the song of the month activity (5 to 7 minutes), a review song activity (4 to 5 minutes), and if there is time, I do an activity to teach Article of Faith songs or birthday songs or songs that are coming up as suggestions in Sharing Time. When the older children are engaged, moving to a challenge, and using contrasting activities (a visual puzzle, some challenging movement, and a word challenge for instance), they often don’t have discipline problems… although you do have to call out Freeze! occasionally or give a count down to have them get back in their seats as you start the new activity.

      Please keep asking! Take care, Sharla

  2. The rhythm sticks, bells link
    Isn’t working it’s going to the tile puzzle thanks!

  3. Laura Bickmore

    Sharla – you mentioned doing “If I Listen With My Heart” as an opening/review song for this month. I’m curious – do you do any sort of movement activities for the opening song or just sing it? Do you have any tips on encouraging children to sing out once they have a good hold in the song?

    • Sharla Dance

      Ooh that is a wonderful question! Yes. I do movement activities one week like body rhythm patterns (like paper plates only no paper plates), word activities (action word actions for younger, fill in the blank etc. for older), visual things (like showing pictures of the children in our Primary reading scriptures as we sing), and musical things (like me singing the harmony part while they sing the melody, challenging them not to get pulled off… with younger children I have a teacher sing the melody up front with me). I don’t use props except the pictures, and I try to bring a focused but reverential feeling into the room.

      Once children really know the song, I use conducting motions (like the most animated orchestra conductor you have seen) to get them to breath together, swell and intensify on the most important parts of the song, and get really quiet in other parts of the song. It seems to help them sing out.

      Thanks for asking!

      • Laura Bickmore

        Oooo! What is “fill in the blank?” Is it kind of like your “Take-it-in-take-it-out??”

        • Sharla Dance

          It’s the activity called Word Puzzle in the If I Listen with My Heart monthly plan. There are lots of ways to do it. thanks for asking!

  4. Camie Smith

    Sharla,
    I just wanted to say thank you for sharing all of your incredible ideas. I am just fascinated with the variety of activities you have for each song. I have used many of your ideas and they always reach the kids just perfectly. Thank you so much for being such an inspiration and for your generosity in sharing your talents!

    • Sharla Dance

      Dear Camie, Thank you. It has been a long journey to get to this point, but I’m hoping to offer some children tested, brain tested, spirit filled ideas that have worked for teaching the children. I’m just an instrument, but I my hope is that He can use me. Thank you.

  5. pamela friske

    I have signed up to get notices but I don’t get them. Ill try again.

    • Sharla Dance

      Dear Pamela, I sent this on to my tech guy (my son) to see if he can fix it! Take care, Sharla

  6. Zefa Schvaneveldt

    Dear Sharla, I also signed up to get notices and the newsletter, but I am not getting them. I am so intrigued with your teaching method(s) and have watched the video over and over as well as read and re-read your book. Thank you for your inspiration. You are blessing so many lives!

    • Sharla Dance

      Dear Zefa, I will talk to my computer guy (my son) about the emails to try to get them to you. Thank you for asking.

  7. Cameron Peterson

    Sharla,

    Your book and ideas rock. Thanks for doing all that work to help the children and us out. I taught the first verse to If I Listen with My Heart in January. Your yearly plan mentions that you review the January song in February too. Does this mean to do 4 more activities with the same first verse of If I Listen with My Heart? If I am teaching the second verse to this song this month too, it seems like it would be A LOT of the same song for February where 12+ minutes is dedicated to the same song (hence, not as much variety). This plan would look like:
    #1 I will Follow Gods Plan
    #2 verse 1 of If I listen with My Heart
    #3 verse 2 of If I Listen with My Heart

    Is this what you mean by review? Or do you strive to never teach a new verse in conjunction with reviewing an old verse in the same month? Just trying to plan my year out! Thanks!

    Cameron

    • Sharla Dance

      Dear Cameron, I think you are right on in your thinking. I Will Follow God’s Plan as the focus song, verse 2 of If I Listen With My Heart with varied activities, and a third song if there is time … one that contrasts with those two songs in feel and tempo. That would not be a review of the same song.

      So where do you review the song? If a child does not keep occasionally singing or interacting with a song they have learned, the brain will not keep it as clearly. Review is essential. In this case, I would use it as the Opening song or the reverence song. With younger children, you can use sway and freeze, magic crayon, waves of the sea or other movement activities that match the song very successfully as you sing an opening song. Senior can use waves of the sea, take it in-take it out, sing this color (a poster with the words and the important words are in a different color) or other activities like that. It only takes one time singing it through to review, but an activity like those mentioned doubles the impact.

      Great question! Thanks for asking.

    • Sharla Dance

      Dear Cameron, I think you are right on in your thinking. I Will Follow God’s Plan as the focus song, verse 2 of If I Listen With My Heart with varied activities, and a third song if there is time … one that contrasts with those two songs in feel and tempo. That would not be a review of the same song.

      So where do you review the song? If a child does not keep occasionally singing or interacting with a song they have learned, the brain will not keep it as clearly. Review is essential. In this case, I would use it as the Opening song or the reverence song. With younger children, you can use sway and freeze, magic crayon, waves of the sea or other movement activities that match the song very successfully as you sing an opening song. Senior can use waves of the sea, take it in-take it out, sing this color (a poster with the words and the important words are in a different color) or other activities like that. It only takes one time singing it through to review, but an activity like those mentioned doubles the impact.

      Great question! Thanks for asking.

  8. Alex Lubeck

    Thank you for all you do! My primary children certainly reap the benefits of your labors and expertise. I hope that you have a sense of the good you are doing in the church! I was just looking for the easier version and it’s actually in the February 2014 issue. Thanks again!

  9. What is “waves of the sea”?

    • Sharla Dance

      Dear Ally, Your hands are in front of you, hands down, and you push your arms and hands out and pull them in like the waves of the sea in time with the strong beat of the music. It works very well for more gentle songs. I can see I need to get a video of this! Thanks for asking.

  10. Michelle Crawford

    Sharla, Thank you for your book and this wonderful blog which are both amazing resources! You’ve mentioned article of faith songs a few times, and I’m just curious what you’re doing to “teach” those. There are so many words, the melodies are tricky, and there’s never a lot of time to focus on them. If you get a chance sometime, I’d love to know more about what you’re doing to help your primary learn these AF songs. (Not to be greedy, of course, you already share so much, but I thought it was worth asking 🙂

    • Sharla Dance

      Dear Michelle,
      I do them as the opening song. For the 1st article of Faith, I said “Jesus Christ,” then did the hand sign and ask them to follow it.(I repeated it twice.) I did the same with the word “believe,” “Father,” “eternal,” and “Holy Ghost.” Then I ask, “Can your hands follow my hands?” and I sang the song doing the hand signs. I repeated that exact same thing the next week. Because it is a concrete way to show words, the children picked it up very quickly. We will do it as a review in the coming weeks. After that we will review it without the hand signs.

      For the 2nd Article of Faith, I will mix up the method I’m using (The brain craves variety, but needs repetition) so that there is something new to intrigue them.

      I will be doing a gentle rhythm pattern to the beat.

      We – gentle swish with both hands on my left thigh
      Believe – swish of the hands high over my head on the right side
      man will be – pop hands on the left side
      punished for his – pop hands on the right side
      own sins – patsch, patsch
      And not for Adam’s transgression – left hand palm up, right hand as if turning a big crank out away and coming back, swishing over the left hand on “not,” “Adam,” “-gres-”

      I will ask the children to follow my hands, and sing the song twice through. Then I will repeat it the next week.

      I’ll get more ideas out on a post as soon as I get them done. Thanks for asking!

  11. I am trying to find the simplified piano version of this song that you mentioned was in the 2014 Friend. I looked on the church website under Music in the Friend, but it’s not listed. Could give the link where you found it? Thanks!

  12. Annette Anderson

    Thanks for sharing your ideas, they make this new calling not quit so overwhelming.

    • Sharla Dance

      Dear Annette,
      One principle for teaching the children is line upon line, whole to part, and back to whole again. I think that’s the way we learn as leaders, too. I’m still learning little parts to put into the whole, little precepts that help things go a little smoother! Hopefully I can communicate well enough to pass those along to you to try if you want to. Thanks for replying! Take care, Sharla

  13. Hi Sharla,
    My questions don’t necessarily correspond to just this post, but I didn’t know where to ask. Anyway, I was looking at your lesson plans for teaching different songs and I see that you have a different activity for every week with that song. But my question is, on the first week, when the song is brand new, do you just do the activity right away (for example, start using rhythm sticks while singing “I Will Follow God’s Plan for Me”), or do you somehow first introduce the song and teach them the words before you begin a certain activity? It seems like the kids would just be busy beating sticks or doing paper plates or whatever the activity was, and not know the words. Is it just that once they get comfortable with the movements they start singing the words without even realizing it?
    Thank you for all of your ideas! I really appreciate all the effort you’ve put into sharing them!

    • Sharla Dance

      Dear Camilla,
      Here’s what I hear as your question… in order to do an activity with a song (such as rhythm sticks), don’t the children first have to know the words to the song so that they can sing while they are doing the activity?

      What a great question! Thank you for asking.

      Often I find that we as Primary Music Leaders really want our children to know the words because they are important and so meaningful to the children’s lives. But I think we sometimes don’t recognize all the elements that the words are riding on!

      If the song and words were a car, I think the we need to see that the motor of the car (the thing that makes it go) is the beat and rhythm. Feeling the beat and hearing the rhythm don’t come naturally to some children. And in fact, all children will benefit from working on steady beat (and thus rhythm, too) with every song. There’s a huge amount of research about how much children gain by working on steady beat before the age of 9 or 10, and even after that. Most importantly, the words that teach of Christ, His love, and His gospel are powered by the steady beat (the motor).

      And here’s the point: Working on the steady beat BEFORE learning the words (but yet the words are still being sung) allow the words to slip into place and organize themselves in the brain. The child is actually MORE receptive to the words when they have done an activity using steady beat because of the patterns it sets in the brain.

      So the answer is – You don’t have to have the children singing the song and the words before you introduce a rhythm or beat activity. As long as you are singing and they are participating (a key part), the words will slip in the back door while the children are focused on the beat. Yes, just as you said, once they are comfortable, they will start singing the song without even realizing it.

      AND… please note that the focus for this activity is the beat and rhythm to get the children to participate. The next week, I might focus on a visual challenge or puzzle to get the children to participate (another part of their brain and a different way to learn). The week after that I might use a word puzzle for the older children and a action word actions (which is a concrete way to teach words to children) for the younger children to allow the the brain to work on a different part of the song (but allowing the melody, beat, rhythm, and feel of the song to enter the back door).

      We want to give the brain as many chances as possible to focus on one part of the song, maybe the beat, maybe the feel, maybe the words, maybe organizing the whole thing in the brain,…as many opportunities to focus on the parts, then sing and get the song back to a whole thing. It helps us retain the song longer, have a great experience with the song, and impacts the feeling the children have about the song. I have seen the attitude about the song changes for good as we have a variety of experiences with the song in sharing time.

  14. Kim Fielding

    Dear Sharla,
    Thank you for sharing your ideas for teaching music to children. I have used so many of your lesson plans with great success! I followed your Pinterest Primary Music board and noticed you pinned tutorials for fabric covered balloons. How do you use them in singing time?

    • Sharla Dance

      Dear Kim,
      I use them to pass on the steady beat around a circle. I have to use an instrument (like two rhythm sticks) to click the beat for the children, and they pass the balloon on the steady beat click. It also lets me see right away those children that can’t yet feel the steady beat and anticipate when it is coming. The covering on the balloon is to avoid the problems of the balloon popping, and it makes it more like a really light ball (yet it doesn’t throw very well… always a consideration when working with children who have impulses to throw). Thanks for asking!

    • After I initlaliy commented I clicked the -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox and now each time a comment is added I get four emails with the same comment. Is there any manner you can remove me from that service? Thanks!

      • Sharla Dance

        I will talk to my tech guy and get that done. Thanks for letting me know!

  15. I love everything you share, and in fact, I just love who you are. I also signed up for the notices and newsletter but haven’t been able to find them. I am a 60 year old, who is computer illiterate and I have probably done something wrong I have been asked to teach all the Articles of Faith songs this year, and would REALLY appreciate any tips you have.
    .I really appreciate the efforts of your son to supply so many of us with your amazing help and support. Thank You to all who help and assist you!

  16. I am making the maori sticks and was wondering how you got the manufacturing ink off of your PVC pipe

    • sue piotrowski

      I think I read once that acetone (the stronger type of fingernail polish remover ) will take it off. You could sand it off with a fine grit paper too, I would think!

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