“A long time ago in a beautiful place children were gathered round Jesus”
Long, beautiful, gathered, round.
I listed one or two words from this phrase of the song. I continue to list one of two of the words from each of the phrases of the song, and type up the list in 42 font onto one page.
I print out 12 copies of the words (twelve because I want to divide into groups of three or four in my Primary, and I have 45 or so children). I take each page and cut the words apart, then put them into an envelope. I label the envelope with the name of the song, and continue until all the pages are cut apart and put into envelopes.
I ask the children to find two or three friends and get into groups of three or four.
I call out “Freeze!” and give them the rules of the “game.” 1. I will sing the song 6 times. 2. Put the words in the envelope in order before I sing the song through 6 times.. 3. Not all of the words are in the envelope – only some of the major words. “Ready? Go!” I begin to sing the song. Groups of children around the room are clustered around the words trying to get them in order as I sing the song. I finish the song and begin to sing it again. One of the older groups finishes putting their words in order triumphantly. I ask them to join me in singing to help all the other groups. Another group finishes and I ask them also to sing. We begin the song again. Yet a third group finishes and I ask them to sing. With the three groups singing the song for the others, I remain silent, but walk around the room giving help to the last groups.
As an extender, when all the groups have finished, I ask the children to sing ONLY the words that are printed before them. We sing the song, singing all the rest of the words in our head (a very strong way to learn both the melody and the words). If there is time, we switch and sing only the words that are NOT printed in front of us.
To finish, I ask that the children put the words carefully back in the envelope. Someone helps me collect the envelope while I move immediately on to another activity.
Success. It was challenging for the children, it peaked their logic and word intelligences, as well as their music and people interaction intelligences. The children heard the whole song at least 6 times, yet they were focused on parts of the song. They were engaged and participating in a hands on way.
Do you do both verses at the same time, or just one verse at a time?
Dear Heidi, Because each verse has a different feel and meaning, I do a new activity for each verse. If your children know the first verse well, you could do the second verse with this activity. On this particular song, the rhythm changes for at least four notes, so hearing it over and over again, yet being totally engaged in something (Whole to part to Whole) is essential. Thanks for asking!
I was unable to teach my SR’s in 3rd hour, so I prepped this for my sub. She said it was a hit!
I love it! Thank you sooo much for posting your ideas! It is really opening up whole new worlds to me. Hoping to one day get your book and start making up my own stuff. For now I will snag ideas from your blog and some other blogs and facebook groups. 🙂 <3
I THINK my kids prob know the first verse. Last week I did a game to introduce them to the second verse. I’m guessing your kiddos are getting to know the first verse, as well – when will you start them sining the second verse? (If you even decided to do the second verse, that is! 🙂 )
I start them on the second verse when they seem to have a good feel for the song. Sometimes that comes right away, and sometimes I need to continue doing different activities for just that verse. I always treat each verse as a “new” song with different activities. The verse will lodge in different pathways of the brain that way and not get mixed up. Thanks for asking.
Thank you so much for sharing your ideas. I love how you focus on truly teaching instead of just entertaining. I used the sway and freeze with the junior primary last week and it was very effective.
Where do they put the strips of paper together so they can see them in order? Just on their laps or on a chair? Just trying to work the logistics out in my head. Love your ideas! Thanks for taking the time to do a blog!
Dear Cara, I usually have them put them on a chair or on the ground. Laps aren’t big enough and the whole group is working on it together. Thanks for asking!
I did this today with our senior primary, and it was successful. They were engaged and heard the song several times. I became very discouraged, however, when it took a full five minutes to get them settled down and ready for the next instruction. They just seemed to tune me out. There were 53 of them in there today. What should I have done? I don’t like to stop every few minutes and demand absolute quiet because I feel it disrupts the flow, but am I creating a monster by trying to get them there naturally? Thanks so much! I’m ordering your book tomorrow and am so excited to gain from your knowledge and experience.
There is a full chapter in the book about setting the fence lines and boundaries in Primary. I think I know what you might have experienced… Heavenly Father teaches through opposition and that’s how I learned about setting boundaries ! (Yes, unfortunately I had the bad experiences so I could learn. You probably did better than I did.)
I often use “Freeze!” before I give my instructions about how to end the activity (put the word strips back in the envelope and pass it in to the teacher). I then give them a time limit as I count down (10, 9, 8, 7, etc.). When I reach number 1, I will often give them a kinesthetic pattern to immediately grab their attention (clap, clap, stamp, stamp, snap, snap, etc.) saying “Here’s the pattern.” I will try to remember to write a post on transitions (a HUGE part of maintaining control in Primary). Please remind me if you don’t see it fairly soon.
Thank you so much
My senior primary loved this activity. We had enough time to do the two extender activities and they were a challenge! Thank you so much!
I have enjoyed your website so much, and it has really helped me in my Primary chorister calling! Thanks so much for all the great information!
I have a totally unrelated question for you. 🙂 I am wondering if you could tell me in detail where you got your training about teaching children and helping them remember songs in such a variety of ways, which you have incorporated so well into teaching Primary music, and how you have used this training in other settings? I have a son who had a brain injury as a baby (from meningitis). He is now 26 but still struggles to learn in a classroom setting. He got through high school with a lot of help and work. Unfortunately, he had to withdraw from college. We are hoping he can go to a technical college and have success, but I would like to see him improve his ability to learn and remember. I have heard of Brain Gym and have one of the books but would love more information and details on how to incorporate this and any other resources.
Thanks in advance!
Mary, I will email you with some ideas.
Hello! This will be my second week as primary chorister and I have loved your ideas and book. Luckily a friend gave me your book right after I was called and I read it.
I have a question along the lines of the previous comments. I have a 5 year old with Downs syndrome and want him to develop as much as he can. As I was reading your book, I came across the places where you cross referenced your material and I have ordered a couple of the books that you quoted about brains and learning. But if you have more information, I would love to know what you know. My little son is very slowly learning sight words and starting to sound out CVC words, but counting is a struggle as well as getting him to sit down and focus for a few minutes. Thanks so much!!
Have you ever used a sensory bucket with sand and some plastic letters? The goal is to have them play with you and the bucket for 5 minutes, then put it away. Increase the time by one minute each time you play with the bucket. You are building the ability to attend, which is a huge thing in learning anything else. I applaud you for all you are doing!