Rhythm Stick Patterns: Older, I Belong to the Church of Jesus Christ

I stand up at the front of the room holding two rhythm sticks (dowels cut to a 12″ length).  As I hold them up, I state: “Here is the pattern.”


I begin to do the pattern.  Patsch, tap foot, (switch sides to the other foot) Patsch, tap foot.  (A Patsch means to tap something on your lap or thighs.) Click, click, click, click.

I ask the children, “Pretend you have imaginary rhythm sticks.  Can you follow this pattern?”

I repeat the movement: patsch, tap, patch, tap, click, click, click click.  As soon as the children have followed me once, I begin to sing and move at the same time.  (The children don’t have to have the pattern down for you to start singing.  They will practice it as you continue to sing and do the pattern over and over.) (Video coming next week!)

When you come to the words, “I’ll follow Him in faith,” call out “Freeze!”  Tell the children they are so good, you know can add another pattern.  (This keeps those children who can do the pattern challenged and involved.)

Demonstrate:  Click four times in a rainbow motion to the right.  Click four times in a rainbow motion to the left.  Quick patches (like a drum roll) for four beats. Tap your left shoulder with the opposite stick, tap your right shoulder with the opposite stick, repeat (tapping shoulders four times as you alternately cross your body with your arms.)

Ask the children to follow the pattern and lead them once in the pattern. Immediately start singing where you left off, “I believe in the Savior…” as you do the pattern.  Repeat the pattern as you continue to sing.  When you come to the fermata hold on the word “light,” you will stop and hold the 3rd click of the rainbow motion.  On the word “truth” you will click the last of the four clicks and head to the quick patsches, then alternate crossings to finish the song.

All the while the children are NOT holding the rhythm sticks yet! (Way better for behavior management.)  Now is the time to pass them out, 2 sticks to each child.  (Please have two other adults in the room do this so that you can keep the children’s attention up with you).  You explain the rules:

1.  If you use these inappropriately, I take them.  No questions asked.

2.  Use the sticks to do the patterns.

(Short. Precise. To the point so that you don’t lose the children’s attention.)

Immediately start moving to the first pattern, even though all of the children don’t have the sticks yet.  After repeating it once, start singing the song.  (You will probably be singing it alone because the children will be concentrating on moving the sticks to the pattern.  That’s great!  They need to hear the song over and over before they can really sing it well.  Because they are moving, they are participating as they listen.)

Sing the song and do both patterns.  When you finish, call out “Freeze!”  If there is time, tell the children they were too good, so here is an added challenge.

Do the first pattern twice.

Do the second pattern once.

Do the first pattern twice.

Do the second pattern once to finish the song.

You again sing and do the patterns in the NEW order.

Have the children quickly pass the rhythm sticks to the ends of the row while your adult helpers gather them up.  You immediately go onto another activity as they are being collected so that you don’t lose the children’s attention.

This activity helps the children practice steady beat (a skill so needed for reading, riding an escalator, playing a sport well, and cutting with scissors).  The children have heard the song at least three times all the way through so that their brain hears the entire song (a principle called Whole to Part to Whole).  The children are moving and participating, and the words of the song slip in the back door of their brains.  And… it is fun!

14 Responses

    • Sharla Dance

      Dear Genene, I’m working on it. I will try to get it up soon. (I’m actually far away from home and need to get back to get to work on it)

  1. Laura Bickmore

    I’m excited to try this! My Sr. primary already knows the song fairly well, but this will reinforce it even more. Question – when tapping your foot, are you crossing mid-line? Also are you having the kids sit down and tap their foot, or having everyone stand up and then bend down to tap their foot?

  2. Stephanie Wray

    Sharla, you are my hero! I have learned so much from you already. Thank you so much for sharing your wisdom and experience. I just wanted to share something I just started doing and it has worked beautifully. Whenever I will be using any rhythm items (wind wands, maori sticks etc.) in singing time, I put enough for each child in each class in a small plastic tote and place it under each teacher’s chair. When it is time to use that item, I ask the teachers to pass them out. Then they gather them when we are done and place them back in the tote. It gets them handed out quickly so we can continue with our activity!

  3. April

    I see that a video is in works, which I’m excited to see. On a another video for I Will Follow God’s Plan you have rhythm posters on the board. Can you show us how you’d do those for this? I think that may help me to visualize the whole thing. And if it helps me, it’ll help kids like me. 🙂 Thanks for all you do!

    • Sharla Dance

      There is a video that is being edited with that sequence in it. I will have to check with the editor of that to see what is happening with that!

    • Sharla Dance

      Dear Jacinda,
      I will do the recording today. I always get a little shy of seeing myself in video, so it takes me a bit to get courage. It’s coming. Take care, Sharla

  4. Michelle

    Did you ever do a video of this song? If so, I’d love to see it to understand the second rhythm.

  5. Julia

    Was there a video doing The Church of Jesus Christ with rhythm sticks ever made? I have searched but can’t seem to find it. I can find the instructions here but it is so much easier to follow a video.

    Thank you.

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