I’m standing in front of the children. “I have a story to tell you,” I tell them.
The story (I speak)
“Tyler was troubled. Mom,” he asked, “how do you know if something really exists if you can’t see it?”
His mom looked at him. “So what is it you are wondering about?” Tyler shifted from one foot to the other. “Well,” he said, “people in the church always talk about the Holy Ghost, but I’ve never seen it.”
(Then I sing –)
When Christ was on the earth
He promised He would send
The Holy Ghost to comfort us
Our true, eternal friend.
(And I continue the story…)
“Tyler,” his mom asked, “have you ever seen wind as it blows?” “No,” he answered. “Hmmm,” she said. “Have you ever seen the waves of sound that go between us as we talk?” “No,” Tyler looked thoughtful. His mom cocked her head to the side. “I can’t see them either. I only hear the sound waves. I only feel the air as the wind blows.”
(I sing –)
The Holy Spirit whispers
With a still, small voice.
He testifies of God and Christ
And makes our heart rejoince.
(And I continue the story…)
Tyler’s mom stepped up onto the curb. “Just like the wind, I can feel a sweet peace inside me when the Holy Ghost is there. Sometimes I hear a little voice in my head encouraging me to do good, or to believe in Jesus.”
“So how will I know when the Holy Ghost is there for me?” Tyler asked. “You will have to feel it and hear it,” his mom said. “Can you feel how gentle the feeling is between us right now?” She touched his shoulder. “I’ll bet the Holy Ghost is helping both of us to feel that way so we will know more about how he works.” Tyler smiled. “Thanks, mom!” Tyler jumped down off of the curb.
I ask: “Can you feel the sweet feeling in the room right now? That’s the Holy Ghost.
Immediately I go to the second part of this activity. First I will describe it for the younger children. Scroll down for the older children
Beat Versus Rhythm for Younger Children
“Can your hands follow my hands? Beat, beat, beat, beat.”
We tap on our thighs, as I start to sing the song. After a phrase or two, we switch to tap on our shoulders. As I continue to sing, we switch the location of the tap to different places on the body to the beat of the song.
I speak: Now we are going to capture the rhythm of the words of the song. Will you clap the words with me?
I sing and we clap the rhythm of the song. I clap in front of me for a few phrases, then switch to the side to clap. If the children are following well, switch to above your head to clap the rhythm.
(I still have not asked the children to sing with me, but they have now heard the song all the way through while being engaged in the story, tapping the beat, and then clapping the rhythm.)
I ask: What if we do the Beat and the Rhythm at the same time? Who can come up and help (ask a teacher to be the lead and a child to help) tap the beat? Who can come up and help me clap the rhythm? Split the group into two.
One half of the room taps the beat following the other teacher and child, while my half of the room claps the rhythm while I sing. When we finish the song, we switch and I and my helper do the beat while the other half of the room does the rhythm following the other teacher and child.
The children enjoy the challenge and will watch me like a hawk to make sure they are tapping or clapping at the right time.
The great part of these two activities combined together to teach the song is how it appeals to different parts of the brain. Storytelling is powerful and engages parts of the brain. Moving to the beat is powerful and engages both the brain and the body in another part of the brain. Moving to the rhythm is powerful and engages the language center of the brain as well as the music center. On top of that, it engages the body. Children learn best when they are engaged in many ways!
This is a great activity to learn a song, but it is only one of the four I will do this month in order to teach this song. The brain needs variety AND repetition.
Beat Versus Rhythm for Older Children
Can you tap the beat of this song and not get mixed up while I tap the rhythm?
We start tapping the beat on our legs. I warn them not to get pulled off by what I am going to do. They beat by tapping on their leg, while I sing and clap the rhythm.
Now can you clap the rhythm and not get pulled off by me tapping the beat?
I sing and tap the beat while they clap the rhythm.
I speak: You are too good! Here comes the real challenge…one hand taps the beat on one leg, and one hand taps the rhythm on the other leg! Let’s get the beat started first. Beat, beat, beat, beat. I start to sing and tap the rhythm on my other leg. It is quite the challenge! I have to practice before I do it in front of the children, but the older children love to try this skill, especially when I tell the older boys that people that can do this have a better chance on the ball field because of their ability to keep a steady beat while doing a rhythm at the same time.
The strength of this activity is giving the children a chance to hear the song in entirety over and over again, while they are engaged in something else. They don’t even notice they are hearing the song and the brain is processing all of it. The children are engaged and challenged, and the words of the song slip in the back door of the brain.