Nursery Music: Fast and Slow and Using Scarves

posted in: Nursery | 9

One of the skills that this age child is learning is Fast and Slow.  Because their little heartbeats are so much faster than ours, their movements are fast compared to ours.  In order to teach them slow, flowing movements (essential for their later flow in reading and speaking) we can introduce fast and slow in Nursery.

Here is a youtube video showing a slower song using a scarf. (The sheet music for this song about the Holy Ghost is available on  These songs were reviewed by a member of the General Church Music Committee.  She asks that we first get local Priesthood approval to use these songs in Nursery since they have not been published church wide.)

Children need manipulatives to extend their body and increase their interest.  Scarves are a great tool.  Because they are gentle and quiet, I often use them with more gentle songs. We swish them across the body (crossing the midline).


Children are making places in their brain for each of their body parts (body placement), so that is another great use of scarves. “Can you put the scarf on your shoulder?” “Put the scarf on toes!”   When I call out, “Hide the scarf behind your back,” the youngest 18 month old children often look at me, then look at others.  They are still learning object permanence, which means that when an object is hidden from view, the brain still knows the object exists.  The three year olds will wad the scarf up in their hands behind their backs.  I ask, “Where is the scarf?” and invariably one of the children will grin and pull out their scarf saying, “Here it is!”  That always brings a smile to my face.  We then sing the song again, waving our scarves to the beat.  The break in the flow of the song by putting the scarves different places on the body challenges this age of child, and renews their interest in the activity.  Singing the song again is exactly what I know they need, and this gives them a renewed interest in waving the scarves and doing the song again.

Here are some songs that work well with the scarves (I’m sure you will find others.):  I Lived in Heaven (especially effective if used with freeze and start), Tell Me the Stories of Jesus, Heavenly Father Gives Colors to Us, and the Holy Ghost (as seen above).

9 Responses

  1. Heidi Dial

    I am doing Tell Me the Stories of Jesus in August with my Primary and think that the scarves would be great with Jr Primary. Would you just use the same movements as you did with the Holy Ghost?

  2. Sharla Dance

    The pattern you make in the air with the scarves needs to be more complicated for Junior Primary. I would suggest swish to one side (Tell me the), swish to the other (stories of), wiggle on the floor for 2 beats (Jesus), then repeat. When you reach the high point of the song at “Scenes by the wayside,” I would change the pattern again… maybe holding it with two hands and scarf to the ceiling, scarf to the floor again and again to the end of the song. To extend the activity, I might ask the children, “Can your hands follow my hands?” I would then bunch the scarf up in a wad in one hand (Tell me…), then put my hand around to my back and grab it with the other hand (the stories of). Bring the scarf out to the front again and grab it with the other hand (Jesus). Repeat that pattern until the high point of the song and change the pattern again. The children love the challenge of following your hands and your scarf.

    • Tiffany

      Awesome! I’m thinking of scarves next week for second verse of I know that my savior loves me. I think it will take the rest of this month and then maybe more to get the second verse (junior primary).

  3. Tiffany

    Maybe it isn’t a good song for scarves? I’m trying to figure out movements and wonder if it’s too much.

    • Sharla Dance

      It’s a great song for scarves. One movement might be: Now I am (swish to the left), here in a (swish to the right), beautiful (swish to the left), place (freeze your scarf on the floor). Continue the pattern (swish, swish, swish, freeze). Change the pattern for the chorus, maybe: wave the scarf over your head twice, wave it down on the floor twice. In order to sing the song more than once for them, I would have them practice the movements with a pretend scarf while you sing and demonstrate with a real scarf.

  4. Jennifer Berry

    What material would you recommend for the scarves? There is such a range in prices. I don’t want to overspend, but also don’t want to end up with something that won’t work well. Also, what are your favorite sizes? Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge! Your service is blessing our primary children!

    • Sharla Dance

      Dear Jennifer, It is costume chiffon (not regular chiffon which is heavier and silkier). I called our local fabric store, and they have it only in one of their stores an hour from me. My online source has closed (sigh). You can buy already cut scarves online from places like Lakeshore Learning center, West Music, or other Music catalogs that deal with children’s music.

      Thanks for asking! Sharla

      • Sharla Dance

        Oh, and for younger children, I use at least 25″ by 25″. For partner scarves I use four feet by 25 inches.

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