Body Placement. Object Permanence. Big words for something that comes so naturally for us as adults. Not so for children. We can help children actually create new pathways in their brains to strengthen these skills. It starts by the activities we choose to teach a song.
That’s only one of the reasons for this next activity for younger children (ages 3 to 7). Last post I reported on Body Rhythm Patterns for older children as a contrast to the Silent Video activity. But what contrasting activity works for younger children? (The activity I suggested, Body Rhythm Patterns, work best with children 8 and up.)
Ready for another big word? Directional Body Placement Taps! (It’s so much easier to just see this one!)
I ask the children, “Can you hands follow my hands?” Tapping to a steady beat, I tap four times on my lap (patsches), four times on my right shoulder, four times on my left shoulder, then I stretch first my right arm out in front of me, followed by my left (1, 2, 3, 4).
I repeat that pattern and encourage the children to follow me. After we have done it twice together, I begin to sing the song while we move. Halfway through the song, I call out “Freeze!” I then ask the children if their feet are exactly like mine, if their hands are exactly like mine and if they are looking the same way as I am. We start in moving again right where we left off and I continue to sing.
Why do I freeze? To give the children a chance to bring their own little body under control. Moving in pattern to a steady beat is a learned skill, and this gives them a chance to readjust and start “anew” if needed.
Why do I tap in one place for four beats? It takes the youngest children in the room about that long to figure out how to get their hands to follow yours! I stay in one place long enough to give them a chance. (Sometimes I even stay in one place for eight beats, but it is too easy for the seven year olds.)
We finished the verse, but I want them to hear the song again. “Watch my hands!” I call out. I give a new body pattern that highlights different parts of my body and different directions. (Ah! That’s why it is called directional body placement taps.) This time I touch my head four times, reach out to the side four times (R, L, R, L), roll my hands in front of me for four counts, and stomp four times. Again I use the command “Freeze!” in order to help the children.
Did you notice how the first pattern reached across the body for one shoulder, then across the body the other way for the other shoulder? A big plus for the children! Crossing the midline (the imaginary line down the middle of the body) helps their reading skills, their ability to communicate with both sides of their brain, and so much more! You are helping them grow in huge ways just by doing Primary music with them.
I have just sung the same verse through two different times, and the children were totally engaged, participating, and focused. The songs slips through their Back Door.
To move them to the next activity (which I suggested as the Silent Video), I once again ask their hands to follow my hands. I move my hands up and down and across in slowly different ways and whisper, “I have a video to show you. Sit so still in your seats.” I immediately turn on the video without sound.
Next post: Two completely different activities for “I Know That My Savior Loves Me” and “Follow the Prophet.” Variety, yet repetition!