Jesus Once Was a Little Child: Down Up Down Pattern with freeze for Older Children

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Tell the children: Here’s the pattern. (video attached to this blog)

Start right in doing the pattern. Down up down (switch), down up down (switch), continue.

Stop and say: I can see that some of us might do best if I slow this down and take some pauses.

Slowly do the pattern and speak the words, “down, up, down, switch, etc. As the children (and teachers<grin>) start to get the pattern, start to sing.

Sing the song as you do the pattern. The words that you will sing in the first phrase as you tap your leg are: Jesus, once, little, child, little, child, me. After you do a down up down on the word “me,” call out “freeze!” Freeze your hands in the air. (The sudden stopping gives the children not only a chance to catch up if they have gotten behind, but also pulls those children who find this “too” easy back into focus.)

Begin singing and doing the pattern again on the next phrase. On the word “be” at the end of the phrase, again call out “freeze!” Start singing and doing the pattern on the words, “So little children, let’s…” I would sing to the end of the song, singing and doing the pattern.

Video ––GAVsRA

Ask the children (after you have sung through the song once doing the pattern): What are the words when I tap my left hand to my leg? Not my right hand, just my left hand. Let’s sing the song, doing the pattern, and find out. Sing the song. Receive the children’s answers.

Challenge the children to sing only the words of the song when the left hand taps on their leg. Tell them you will sing all the other words. Switch and have the children sing all of the other words, while you sing only the words as your left hand taps your left leg. Take turns singing the words of the song in this way as you do the pattern together.

The great things about this activity are: 1. it is challenging (even for adults <grin>), 2. It crosses the midline and engages both sides of the brain, 3. It helps the children feel a strong downbeat as they tap on their leg, 4. It lays down a musical feel in the children’s brains so that they can attach the words to it, even if the words are entering the back door at first. We bring the words “up to consciousness” as we call attention to “only the words when my left hand taps my leg.” And: 5. it is fun!

6 Responses

  1. Tiffany

    Soooo good! Thank you I love this exercise. Can’t wait to try it out with our seniors tomorrow.

  2. Jennifer Williams

    Do you recommend learning both verses this way, (up and down pattern) on the same Sunday, or teaching the second verse another day and with a different activity?

    • Sharla Dance

      I recommend learning the other verse in a different way. It is better for the brain and it is more variety for learning.

  3. Sierra

    Any way to modify this for a combined primary group? Could you have the younger kids doing something simpler, or would that just be too complicated?

    • Sharla Dance

      This is definitely a more complicated movement for older children, geared to their developmental level. If I had a mixed age group, I would start out a simple movement for the younger children (something like patsch, clap, clap repeated… perhaps turning to the side, the other side, the back, etc.), then have a teacher come up and lead the younger children in that movement while you challenge the older children with the down up down pattern. Younger children watching the other children, and the older children following you.

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