As a Child of God: Hand Bells for Older Children

Children love the handbells.  The colors on the bells make it amazingly accessible for success.  Lots of children are involved at once.  Here is an idea for “As a Child of God:”



If you are lucky enough to have a set of bells AND a set of sharps/flats (the bells with black handles), you will be able to do this activity.

You will need these bells:


Red with Black handle


Orange with Black handle


Light Blue

Light Blue with Black handle

Dark Blue

Dark Blue with Black handle


Make these charts with the correct colors.  (You can print these out, but you will need to enlarge them so that the children can see them.)  You will point to one column per downbeat.

Here is a zip of all the handbell charts – as-a-child-bell-charts-2017.

(Words listed are for each downbeat of the first verse, but this can be done with any verse.)

Chart #1   I, earth,  power,  choose


Chart  #2   choices, me,  family,  too


Chart #3   child,  God,   -ceive,  light


Chart #4   Holy, helps,  know,  *is, right



All of the bells in one column play at once.  You touch the top of the column on the first beat of every measure (the down beat) as you sing.  On the fourth chart you will touch the *in-between column on the word “is” and the last column on the word “right.”


Once you have played it through, ask the children to give their bell to a child who does not have a bell.



  1.  Hold the bell quiet to your body until it is your time to ring.
  2. Do NOT touch the white ball inside the bell.  It will damage the sound of the bell and make it go out of pitch.


23 Responses

  1. Lauren Wilde

    I’m excited to try this. Is the pink circle the purple bell and the yellow circles the orange bells?

  2. Jocelyn Meacham

    I’m a little confused about your chart. It seems that you have the red on there twice in several columns. Can you explain this to me?

    • admin

      There is a low C and a high C in the bells. If there are two reds, it is for both of them to be played. However, I just let the children play both of the C’s whenever there is a red so that more children can be involved.

      Thanks for asking.

      • Jocelyn Meacham

        OHHHHHH gotcha! I love it! The more the merrier!
        btw….THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!!! I love your help with teaching children. I’ve got my melody charts all ready to teach the first verse tomorrow!

  3. Cali

    Thank you for all of your work and for all that you share. I am learning so much from you! I purchased your book, and am so thankful for all your research and knowledge that you so freely share.

    I wondered how you would approach teaching all three verses of this song? I have set aside January and February to teach this song, but then I realized that are 3 verses! Do you think it would work to spend 3 weeks on each verse since they are short? Or would you recommend longer?

    Also, how do you tie the verses together if you teach them “as separate songs”?

    • admin

      I love the first verse and the third verse, so those are the two I would teach to the whole group. I would likely have a small group or a soloist do the 2nd verse. And yes, please teach them separately with different activities 3 weeks each. It lodges so much better in the children’s brains. Thank you for asking!

      • Cali

        Thank you so much for your quick reply, this helps my planning so much! I don’t know why I didn’t think of having a small group for the second verse, but that would work really nicely. I think that I will plan on four weeks in January for verse one, and four weeks in February for verse two. Thank you!

  4. Jeni

    I see your comment above about spending 3 weeks with 3 different activities on each verse. Can you tell me what a typical singing time would look like for you? Do you spend time learning more than one song in one singing time? I’d love to incorporate this, but I don’t know how to manage time and still be able to get to all the verses of all the songs before the program in fall (considering we also learn & perform songs for Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Easter, and sometimes Pioneer Day)
    P.S. I love your website and ideas… it’s my main inspiration!

    • Jeni

      Nm, I just saw the comment you made in your post about drawing the song, and I think that answered my questions! ?

    • Sharla Dance

      I teach 2 to 3 songs each Singing time for about 5 to 7 minutes each. I don’t teach the whole group every verse of every song, but save a verse for a small group to sing in the program.

      I don’t teach the same song with 3 different activities each week, I teach 2 or 3 different songs every week. By 3 weeks in, we know 2 different songs. If you teach (and review) 2 songs a month, you can teach about 18 songs before it’s time for the program. Thank you for asking! (P.S. are you close to any of the workshops coming up? I give 3 sample Primary singing times so that you see the transitions from song to song and sense how to do it. There are three workshops in the next two months:
      Payson Utah West Stake on Saturday January 28th 9 to 12pm.
      Bothell, Washington Stake on Saturday February 11th 9 to 12pm 18860 NE Woodinville Duvall Road, Woodinville, WA 98077.
      Portland Music Workshop in Beaverton, Oregon on Saturday February 25th. I don’t have the times for that but they have a website.

      • Gail Henricksen

        Will you be teaching the same ideas/concepts at both venues? (Bothel & Beaverton) I am trying to decide which one to attend, or both?

        • Sharla Dance

          Dear Gail, They will be slightly different, because of what the stakes are asking for. Thanks for asking!

      • Mariah

        Sharla, when you say you can teach 2-3 songs in a month, is that just one verse of each song? Do you typically choose to teach one verse of most songs to the whole primary? How do you go about teaching the other verse(s) to a separate group? I’ve been taking 3 weeks to teach each verse – I’m still in the middle of teaching as a child of God! my poor kids will never get the melody out of their little noggins. haha luckily your activities have helped to keep them involved!
        Thank you for all you do. Your efforts are so appreciated!!

        • Sharla Dance

          Dear Mariah,
          I’m smiling as I read your comment. Even though you’ve been teaching the same melody, you are teaching different things. If you are teaching other songs along with this one (perhaps As a Child of God, Choose the Right, and something else), your children are getting a wealth from singing time! They are having fun with all the variety, they know the songs well, and their brain needs are being met (which always helps us feel better about what we are doing).

          I usually only teach two verses of a song to the whole group, then have a small group or a soloist sing the other verses if needed. That way I can encourage those in the group that want to sing solos or sing in a small group. (My first performance at a harmony part came as the Primary music leader asked a small group of us to sing the Choose the Right in parts!)
          Thank you for asking!

  5. Marsha

    Thank you for your wonderful ideas! There are two versions of this song, one has one flat (the one you print from the website)and one version has 3 flats (the one in the back of the outline). Which version does this handbell chart go with? Thank you!

    • Sharla Dance

      I’m using the one from the back of the outline in Eb. It is in a better range for voices. I just posted a way you can also use only 3 sharps and flats in the key of C, but that one is low for the children’s voices. Thanks for asking!

  6. Tracey Parkiinson

    I would like to use this with the tone bells I have. I’m going to put a color dot on the tone bells that match. Could you tell me the names of the notes for each of the colors you have represented here?

    • Sharla Dance

      These are from the chords of the song in the key of Eb that are on the bell chart. I also include the chords using a different key, the key of C (it doesn’t have so many sharps and flats!) Those are after the /. (Although the key of C is a little low for the children to sing on the last line.) Either choose the key of Eb or the key of C. (They don’t sound good together)
      First line
      1. Eb G Bb / C E G
      2. F A C Eb / D F# A C
      3. Bb D F / G B D
      4. Eb G Bb / C E G

      Second line
      1. Ab C Eb / F A C
      2. Eb G Bb / C E G
      3. F A C Eb / D F# A C
      4. Bb D F / G B D

      Third line
      1. Eb G Bb / C E G
      2. Eb G Bb Db / C E G Bb
      3. Ab C Eb / F A C
      4. Ab B Eb / F Ab C

      Fourth Line
      1. Eb G Bb / C E G
      2. C Eb G / A C E
      3. F Ab C Eb / D F A C (know)
      4. Bb D F / G B D (is)
      5. Eb G Bb / C D G (right)

  7. Michelle Crawford

    Sharla, I truly appreciate your sharing with us. I was in the Payson workshop today and when we talked about managing behavior you mentioned taking away rhythm sticks from a misbehaving child and explaining that he could try again next time. Which made me wonder- how many times do you do a given activity in a year’s time? I remember reading somewhere you said that bells are special and retain their “magic” if we pull them out only once or twice a year, so I was thinking the frequency for the other activities should be about the same… but then the comment today made me wonder if the kids might like to do these things they like more frequently. So, in your experience when it comes to paper plates, cups, rhythm sticks, shakers, crack the code… roughly how many times a year are you using these activities? Thank you for your wisdom!!

    • Sharla Dance

      Michelle, this is a fabulous question. Thank you for asking it.

      I only use the bells two to three times a year. The paper plates I use about every 6 to 8 weeks. The paper cups about every three months. The rhythm sticks I use about once every month or so, the shakers for the more gentle songs about every 6 weeks or so. I use crack the code every three months. I use melody maps only once or twice a year. The Color Codes I use once or twice a year. The envelope games and eraser pass activities I use about twice a year. However, action word actions for the younger primary I use all the time. It is very much how they learn. I just have to vary it with visuals like 3 piece puzzle or silent video or other activities!

      Thank you for asking!

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