As a Child of God: Ideas for Younger and Older Children

December Primary Song Ideas - Girls with Snowman


It is helpful to the children to teach one verse in at least three different ways for at least three different weeks.  Here are some ideas.

Younger Children

  1. Melody Map –

What do you see? What do you notice? After receiving the children’s answers, tell them you will tap a child on the shoulder so that they can come up and put a picture of a child on the melody map as you sing. Sing as many times as needed and tap different children to put the pictures up on the map. Sing again and follow the melody line with your finger as you sing.

  1. Egg Shakers –

Ask the children to follow your hands. Sing the song and do this pattern with a shaker. (The children don’t have an egg shaker yet.)

Hand out the eggs and do the patterns again.


As an extender activity, ask the children to hold their eggs so they don’t make any sound. Do the new pattern as you sing.


  1. Draw the Song for the Children

As you sing, draw simple figures on a whiteboard or a chalkboard.  Here are some ideas.


  1. Action Word Actions

Figure out simple actions for the following words, then do them with the children as you sing.  An extender activity would be to do the actions without singing (very strong for helping the children hear the words inside their head).


Older Children

  1. Melody Map

What is the same? What is different? What do these posters have to do with this song? Sing the song and ask the children questions about the various symbols on the map. Have the children sing only the words with the symbols, then the next time, only the other words and NOT the symbol words.


  1. Egg Shakers

Show the pattern to the children.  The pass around the back is challenging, then they shake on these specific words.  After you have done the pattern, ask them to list those words on the board.  An extender activity is with a partner.


  1. Action Instead

Show (or make up) actions for each of these words. Sing the song, doing the actions. Tell the children that instead of singing these words, you will do an action instead and not sing the word. (You do sing all the other words.) (The ASL sign for Holy Ghost is what I use for that action.) An extender activity would be silent sing with those particular words, and sing all the rest.


  1. Hand bells – 

Make this chart to go with the song.  Explain the rules for the handbells, pass them out, and play the song.


28 Responses

  1. MelAnie

    I am so impressed with your talents, and the kindness that you give to each of us by sharing. I am not musical but love my calling and an enthusiastic for a 60 year old new be to primary christening. I wonder what bell set should I purchase so that I can give the kids a rich and valuable experience with bells. Thanks so much

    • Sharla Dance

      Dear MelAnie, Your love blesses the children!

      I use Kid’s Play Hand bells. When you google that, lots of places to buy them come up. There are other bell sets out there, but the ones from China aren’t pitched well, so they don’t sound good to our ears.

      Thanks for asking!

  2. Desiree Roberts

    I did the melody map last Sunday and it was very successful. I am so thankful to you for sharing your great ideas. Really, thank you so much!

  3. Brittany

    Thank you so much for sharing your insights and expertise with us! I honestly don’t know what I would do without you! I have purchased your book and am anxiously awaiting its arrival but in the meantime I am curious how you would structure lessons. And maybe you have this somewhere but I have not been able to find it. You stated that each verse should be taught three different ways so how do you get around to all of the verses? For example would you teach the first verse of As A Child of God and the first verse of Choose the Right one week? Do you ever work on multiple verses of one song in the same week using different methods? I am trying to figure out how to teach each verse multiple times while still being able to get through all of the songs without taking 9 weeks to learn one song hahaha. Anyway, thank you again!

    • Sharla Dance

      For memory’s sake, I only teach one verse per week as part of the singing time. Since the activity takes about 7 minutes, that leaves at least 7 minutes to do another activity with another song. I choose a song that has a contrasting feel. If you are teaching at least two songs a week, and reviewing one other one with a shorter activity, you can teach 8 songs in 12 weeks or so. Use one week to introduce the song, one week to cement the song, and one week to review it. (If it is a longer song, I take 4 or 5 weeks. Repetition with variety in the activities is the key for our brain’s memory.)

      I would probably teach As a Child of God and a new birthday song/movement song the first week, then the next week As a Child of God and any of the other songs for the program.The key is to choose two songs to teach that have a different feel. The contrast will help the children learn them better. You want each of the songs to go into long term memory so it doesn’t really matter what order you do them in. To support the Sharing Time theme, I often will do an activity with the song of the month even if the children already know it. (Does that make sense?) There is a whole section in the book To Teach a Child a Song that gives lots of suggestions on this.

      Thank you so much for asking! Your preparation will bless the children!

      • Celes

        So one week to learn a verse of the song, one week to cement that verse and a week to review that verse? I’ve been reading your book and love it! My main questions have revolved around teaching multiple verses. From your suggested outline on pages 228-230 I couldn’t figure out if the song for the month and reviewing that same song the next month included 2nd and 3rd verses or if you spend 4-8 weeks learning and reviewing just one verse of that song?

        • Sharla Dance

          Thank you for asking Celes. I actually make sure that each verse has at least 3 activities all to itself. That means in theory I could be teaching Choose the Right for 9 weeks! However, I often will decide to teach the children only two verses and have a small group or soloist sing the other verse.
          Because the children already know the melody, teaching a second verse is easier and could be done in only one or two weeks, but it has to have something unique in the activity or the words start to blur into each other.

          Thank you for asking!

  4. Jessica

    I’m a new primary chorister and I’m so grateful for your ideas. They are such a blessing as I try to figure out how to teach the music and share testimony!

  5. Amber

    I did the shaker eggs with my primary and they were interested and engaged the whole time! Thank you! I sent an email to you about how to schedule a workshop…I would love it if you would be able to come and teach us!

  6. Erin

    Thank you so much for sharing your talents with us! You have helped me so much in my calling. I was wondering if there is anywhere on your blog or on Facebook where I can find out where you are doing workshops. I would love to come to one!

    • Sharla Dance

      Three 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.

  7. Katherine

    Just wanted to say thank you for all your hard work and dedication. I appreciate it!

    • Sharla Dance

      Thank you! I’m really hoping to help the children learn these songs deeply with lots of variety. I appreciate you saying something.

      • Sue Smith

        Hi, I’m Sue
        I’m so bummed, I will be celebrating my sister’s 60th (a reschedule from Hurricane Matthew fromOctober) in February and will miss The Oregon visit from you. Will you be posting in a news letter at all? I would have loved to attended.
        You are a wonderful woman to take the time and post for the rest of us. My sincere gratitude.

        • Sharla Dance

          Dear Sue, We are going to make a video of at least one of the workshops this year. I will send out the info in a newsletter. Have a wonderful time with your sister. If you want to drive up the coast, there is one in Bothell WA on Feb. 11th. Take care, Sharla

  8. Nicole

    Thank you for sharing your talents with us!! Are you doing any workshops in Utah any time soon?

    • Sharla Dance

      I will be at the Payson West Stake Center across from Mt. Nebo Junior High on Saturday January 28th. It’s the only one I’m doing in Utah this year. I’ll be in Portland OR on February 25th, and Woodinville WA on February 11th. Hope you can come!

  9. Carolyn

    Sharla ~ My Senior Primary LOVED this today. Even more surprising was how much the TEACHERS loved it. I had six come up and express how awesome it was and “how did I think of it?” I gave you all the glory and credit! So grateful for your willingness to share your gift! It blesses so many Primaries.

    • Sharla Dance

      The melody map concept was shown to me by Susan Kenney from music education at BYU years and years ago. It’s not my credit! At the workshop I will be sharing a different kind of “map” for Choose the Right. Take care, Sharla

  10. Carolyn

    I am interested in the workshop in Payson. Can anyone attend? What time and where? How long does it generally last??

    • Sharla Dance

      I think anyone can come. We start at 9 am with a 3 different activities you could do in a singing time, then discuss the principles behind it, and then another sample singing time. There is a break at 10:15, and we go again until 12:00. How to plan, what is “flow,” how to use multiple intelligences as you present, more sample singing times, and lots of activities to try. It would be great to see you!

  11. Tiffany

    I found you and purchased your book shortly after getting called, and I am SO grateful! Our sweet primary kids were constantly being told they had a “reverence problem” and my 7 year-old son was even starting to ask if he could stay home because he didn’t want to go to primary! Your methods (and apparently me implementing them, *haha*) are an answer to my prayers. The sweet children in my ward are happy, engaged, and feeling the joy of the gospel again in Primary thanks to your activities.

    I love the ideas I can find on your blog tailored to each song, but I also understand how to pick my own, as mentioned in your book. One thing I am struggling with, however, is finding a different activity for the younger children that teaches in similar ways as the activity I am doing with the older children. Do you typically have activities that you “pair” together – where you do one for the older and one for the younger on the same week?

    Thank you so much for your efforts! They are much appreciated!

    • Sharla Dance

      Dear Tiffany,
      That’s such a great question! Younger children need more opportunities to move in different ways to a song than older children do because that’s where they are in their development. When the older children do a partner body rhythm pattern, do a simple body rhythm pattern with the younger children. When the older children are doing a word puzzle like envelope game or eraser pass, do a movement with the younger children. Magic Crayon, Waves of the Sea, Scarves, Sway and Freeze are all different kinds of movements, yet they will make the same song seem different. I’m trying to get a post up that lists different ways to “review” this week that talks about each of those activities with some videos to demonstrate. Really, they are great ways to teach a song, also!

      I’m so grateful for your efforts and getting those children to feel happy and engaged. There is joy in primary music when you follow the principles you are obviously following!!

      Thanks for asking!

  12. Amberly

    Thank you for sharing these great ideas Sharla! I used the draw the song, egg shakers, and hand bell activities. It went great!!

  13. Dantzel

    These all went over very well, Sharla! My friend let me use her chime set (quite a large set!) and I came up with different chords for the older children to use for the third verse.

    Just wanted to share an idea I’m using this week for anyone teaching the third verse to their Junior Primary:

    I asked several families for photos of their (younger) primary children helping out around the house. These I colorprinted onto 8 1/2 x 11 paper and will be doing the Concentration Memory Game while I sing the verse.

    This seemed quite appropriate for matching mood, theme, etc., as well as it being fun for the children to see people they recognize in the pictures.

    I’d love to have a few different ideas for presenting the third verse if anyone else has some!

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