Nursery Music: The Sacred Grove

posted in: Nursery | 13

Our nursery leader loves to have a song about the current week’s lesson to sing with the children after or during the lesson. When the Nursery children learn about Joseph Smith, I love to use the song “The Sacred Grove.” Because the melody in the Primary songbook is quite complicated, here is a simple melody that works well with Nursery children (and would work well in Primary also). Please get Priesthood approval to use this melody version of the song.

This song works best in Nursery if we use some manipulatives with it, …something that the children can touch and see. On page 91 of the Nursery manual are some paper finger puppets of Joseph Smith. I color these, cut them out, and cover them with clear packing tape for strength (the stronger the better because the children tend to explore them in ALL ways <grin>).


I also have made some simple trees out of green craft foam and tongue depressor sticks.


I give one of each of these to each child, saying their name as I pass them out. “Here is a tree for Carol, and one for Tim. Thank you for being so patient and staying on your carpet square, Susan. Here is one for Susan.” And I set it in front of her.

I start singing the song and move my tree and finger puppet up and down to the beat.  I will use a lot of space: sometimes above my head, sometimes on the ground, and sometimes on my legs. At the words, “Joseph saw the Father…,” I wave my hands with the manipulatives across my body from side to side in a wide sweep.  I return to different body placement location on the last two lines.

Moving the manipulative from place to place on the body helps the child to practice where his or her body in space (a huge skill for this age child).  Continuing in that manner, when the song is over, I ask the children to place their tree on their cheek. Now on their elbow. Now on their toe. Now hide your tree and puppet behind your back.  “Where did they go?”

“Here it is!” And we sing the song again, moving our manipulatives from place to place.

This age child does not really like to return the manipulative once the song is done. It has worked well for me when I say, “It’s time for the trees to go to sleep,” and motion for the children put the tree back in the bag.  Another method is to tell the children that the trees want to get back in the bag with their brothers and sisters. The children’s sweet sense of compassion usually helps them to put the “brothers and sisters” back together.

The children are introduced to words that are bigger than their present vocabulary in this song.  The interest and draw for the children is the simple melody and lively rhythm, combined with moving the manipulatives. I love the sweetness that comes into the room when we sing this song together.

13 Responses

  1. Tiffany

    I was wondering why I’d never sung this song, the melody IS extremely difficult! I am so excited to use your version (after permission of course 🙂

    I have a really difficult time with the primary book’s article of faith melodies as well (I’ve grown up with a different version). Do you have any specific suggestions for teaching article of faith songs?

    • Sharla Dance

      Dear Tiffany, Would you like me to do a series of posts on teaching the Article of Faith songs?

      • Kristina

        Yes, please! I’m not Tiffany, but I’d love to see what you’ve done with the Article of Faith songs. The ones in the middle are terrific, but I have a hard time with the first three and the last four.

        Your blog is absolute gold, by the way. Thank you so much for all your ideas!

        • Sharla Dance

          Dear Kristina,
          I am working on a series to teach the Article of Faith songs now that you have expressed interest. Thank you for asking! Take care, Sharla

  2. Valena


    Like Tiffany, I would love to see a series about teaching the Article of Faith Songs. But, I’d really love to know how you came up with the alternate melody line for The Sacred Grove. This song is one of my favorites (as far as words go), but it’s so slow and dark sounding that my primary kids don’t enjoy it. I honestly thought that you were singing a song I’d never heard before. Did you use a melody from a different song, or just make this up yourself?

    • Sharla Dance

      Dear Valena,
      A few years ago I was asked to do a Nursery Music Workshop. The Stake Primary President was very concerned that there were few songs young enough for the two and three year olds that testified of gospel truths, and she suggested to me that I write some. Originally I only intended to compose a new melody for The Sacred Grove. However, a floodgate opened and I ended up with the miracle of 12 or so songs within two weeks. When I looked at the Nursery manual, many of them went right along with the Nursery lessons. I was humbled, and realized it wasn’t me, but I was the receptacle. I wrote them down and communicated with the Church Music Committee. (There’s the long answer to your question!) I love seeing the children learn them because the seem to really like the songs. One of the songs even came at 2 or 3 in the morning, waking me up to write it down. The seem to really like that particular song about colors.

      • Valena

        Dear Sharla,
        Thank you for sharing that story! What an incredible privilege for you!! Is there any way you’d be willing to share some of those songs with me? I am currently blessed to teach music in the Nursery and most of our kids are under 24 months old. I have been praying for new ways to interact with them, and your posts about Nursery have been an answer to my prayers! Thank you so much for taking the time to create these posts and videos. I truly appreciate you!!

        • Valena

          Dear Sharla,
          I finally read through each of your nursery posts and discovered that the sheet music and mp3s are on your other website. I’ve downloaded them and am very anxious to listen to them over and over so that I can learn them well and teach them to the beautiful kids in my nursery. I’ve already sent my Bishop a link to your YouTube channel to get permission to use your songs. Thanks again for so freely sharing your amazing gift of music with the world!

  3. Lauren Wilde

    I’ve been using your Nursery Songs and the children and i love them! Did the music committee get back to you? I would love to see these published in the Friend or something!

  4. Marta Harr

    Sister Dance,
    I love this remake of The Sacred Grove. I would love love love the other songs you mentioned especially the “colors” one. I wonder if it is in your book that I ordered yesterday? I don’t see it on your “other blog” and wish I could find music and mp3 files that were mentioned in comments here.

    Can you please email me with more info? Do you have sheet music? Please share. Thank you for being a receptacle of the Holy Spirit! I attended your workshop in 2015 and loved it!

    Marta Harr
    St. George, Utah

    • Sharla Dance

      Dear Marta, I will try and put all of the songs on a blog post. Remember that you will need to get Bishopric approval. That is the reason that I put many of them on YouTube… so that the Bishopric member could just hear it (just in case they don’t read music).

  5. Lorraine

    Hi, I was just wondering, do you have sheet music for this version of the song? I love the simplicity and the hand movements. . . so great! Thanks!

    • Sharla Dance

      Yes, I have the sheet music for this. Would you like me to send it to you?

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