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 – https://youtu.be/5LH–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!