Don’t Teach the Words: Younger – I Belong to the Church of Jesus Christ

I don’t think I heard you right! Did you say don’t teach the words for this song to the younger children? What do you mean?

First of all, keep calm.<grin> Yes, I did say don’t teach the words to this song to the younger children, and here’s why:

This song has at least nine different abstract principles that a three and four year old does not have the development level to really understand.  Yet, the melody and rhythm of this song are catchy and fun to sing.  The message is one that eventually we really want the children to take deep into their souls.

So… instead of focusing on the words to the song at this point in their young lives, teach the feel of the song, the beat of the song, the melody of the song, the energy of the song… and let the song teach the child whenever they are ready for the concepts in the song. If the child loves the song because if his or her experiences with it, the song words will eventually come to teach them when they are at a point where they want to know what the concepts mean.

Translated that means I would teach the song in at least four to five different ways, none of which will really focus on the words.  The words will slip in the back door of the brain if the child is engaged and participating in the right kind of experiences with the song.  Here are some teaching ideas:

1. Special guests: Directional Marching placement movement to the beat

2. Tongue depressor stick patterns to the beat (crossing the midline)

3. Picture Concentration Matching game

4. Wind wand patterns to the beat

5. Paper Cup Pop

6. Seven Hops and Round the World Sways

7. Body Rhythm patterns

8. Story Song

(Some of those activities are explained here.)

Notice the 6 of the 8 activities are movement based.  This song is full of vigor and life. The experiences that will give that kind of feeling are movement based. This age of child learns best through purposeful movement, and the beat of this song makes it easy to move as we sing. Notice also that each of the learning experiences is different.  The brain craves variety, but needs repetition.  I repeat the song in at least four different ways, but the method of teaching the song is different every time.

10 Responses

  1. Emily

    i do hope you will explain those methods of teaching in detail! I would love to understand them better:-) your site is a fantastic resource for me! Thank you

    • Sharla Dance

      Dear Emily,
      I’m posting paper cup pop today. I will try to get the others soon. I’m teaching a workshop for Primary music this weekend so I’m not sure how many I will get posted before Sunday. Thanks for asking!

  2. Tondi

    I would like to know what 7 hops and around the world swaying is.
    Thank you

    • Sharla Dance

      I’m hoping to get it up soon. I’m giving a large workshop tomorrow, so my efforts are there for a bit! Thanks for asking.

    • Sharla Dance

      Here are three pieces of advice:
      1. Have the older help the younger accomplish a task that is a little hard for them.
      2. Move, Move, Move. Have the older children do an added challenge. If they are directional marching, have the older children also do a complex paper cup pop as they march. (Posts in March cover both those topics.)
      3. Give the older group a logic word puzzle while you are singing with the younger and doing something like put the pictures in order. If you were divided, you would be best to plan two different singing times (for developmental reasons), so use that same principle and do two different things at once that meet their developmental needs.
      I would love to do some example posts on that in the future.

  3. Holly

    This is fantastic – question! When you say: “I repeat the song in at least four different ways, but the method of teaching the song is different every time.” Am I correct in my assumption that you mean in a single Sunday sharing time? Or would you concentrate on one method per week if we are learning the song over a month? Thanks!!!

    • Sharla Dance

      That is a question that has a lot of research behind it. Thank you for asking! The brain (and I think the soul) does better when you are introduced to something through an activity, have time to sleep on it, then come back and revisit that same thing through a slightly different experience (in the case of Primary music, a different activity for the same song). So Yes, one method or activity per week with the same song. Just to let you know, though, I usually teach two or three songs every Sunday so I have several different activities per week.

  4. Natalie

    I’m very interested in the Story Song activity, but I’m having trouble conceptualizing how it would go (I’m more of a visual learner). I read your description in your book, but it would be awesome if you could do a video!

    Thanks 😉

    btw- So Many Thanks for everything you’ve done!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *