Thursday, March 8, 2018

"If the Savior Stood Beside Me"-Helping Children Connect with the Meaning Through Actions

I love the song, "If the Savior Stood Beside Me" (find it here). It has a pretty melody, and the words are peaceful and hopeful. I find it challenging, though, to help my Primary learn all the words. This activity helps the children take part in the memorization experience by coming up with actions to represent individual lines of the song. I would only do one verse in a given week, but if the kids show they really like the activity, you could review the following week and then add on the next verse.


Learn the song really, really well. Then, think about the size of your Primary. How could you best divide the verse, so that each row or class could be assigned a line or two of the song?


Ask the children, with their teachers' help, to come up with an action or two for a line of the song, which you will assign them. Start singing the song, walking by each row and pointing to them when you sing their line. When you finish the song, repeat--again walking by each row and emphasizing their line, so they can hear the words again.  

When each group has had enough time to create an action, ask them to show the whole Primary. Sing just one line, and then copy their action. Sing that one line again, asking the whole Primary to perform the action with you. Repeat for each group, and then put the whole thing together!


This activity taps into several different learning styles:

  Movement:  The obvious. They get to do each action.

  Visual:  The children get to see each group perform each action.

  Words:  The children have to listen carefully to the words in order to create their actions. Also, for younger children, having something concrete to represent the lyrics is especially helpful.

  Cooperation:  Each class/row has to work together to choose an action, and then the entire Primary has to work together to fit the actions to the entire song.

Happy singing!

Looking for more?      
The above activity would be great with lots of songs. See my post here, where I used it with "Did Jesus Really Live Again?" 

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

A Sensory Experience for "My Heavenly Father Loves Me"

Can we bring nature into Primary? This is a hard one for me to figure out. Nature is one of the 8 learning styles I describe in my post here. I believe that it's important to reach all of our children with varied learning styles, but this has been the hardest one for me to put into practice. When I learned that "My Heavenly Father Loves Me" was the Sharing Time song for February, I realized this song--which talks about nature and our senses--is the perfect one to use to tap into this learning style. You're probably already done teaching the song to your Primary, so this is a good activity to review it or help the truth of it sink in.

Bring nature in with a touch-and-feel guessing game

Getting Ready

The Main Idea

The gist of this activity is to help the children have sensory experiences that remind them of nature and tie into the major descriptions in verse 1 of this song. To make it fun and exciting, I turned it into a touch-and-feel guessing game.


  • Brown paper lunch bags
  • Loose feathers
  • Rose petals
  • Kleenex
  • Floral scent (perfume, body spray, or essential oil)
  • Folded paper fans
  • Several pairs of inexpensive sunglasses
  • Baby wipes
  • Plastic sandwich baggies


Make one set of the following bags for each class in your Singing Time, and label the brown paper bags with the following numbers. The quotes in parentheses are the words in the song that correspond to the items.

1. In bag #1, place a feather. ("song of a bird")
You can quickly make several folded paper fans.

2. In bag #2, place some rose petals. ("a velvet rose")

3. In bag #3, place a Kleenex with floral scent on it, and include a note on the bag, "Close your eyes and smell." ("a lilac tree")

4. In bag #4, place a folded paper fan. ("wind as it rushes by")

5. In bag #5, place a pair of sunglasses. ("look at the blue, blue sky")

6. In bag #6, place a baby wipe on top of a plastic sandwich baggie, so it won't soak through the paper. ("feel the rain")

Presenting the Activity

Before Singing Time, give one set of the bags to each teacher, with instructions to hold them back until the appropriate time. To intro the activity, have one different paper bag with a common item inside (matchbox car, spoon, pencil, etc.). Have two children come up front and take turns putting one hand in the bag, to feel what it is. Tell them not to say anything out loud yet, so their friend can have a turn to guess. After they've both had a turn to feel, ask them what they think the item is. 

Explain to the group that everyone will have a turn to play the guessing game, and they will have to listen to the words of the song to get clues. Set up some quick ground rules (no talking, passing the bags nicely down the row, etc.). Then ask your teachers to pass out bag 1, and you start singing!

Sing only the first verse (quite possibly by yourself) as the children take turns feeling the mystery object and passing the bag to their friends. The teachers can help their classes as needed. Depending on the size of your Primary, you might need to repeat the verse more than once in order for everyone to have a turn. When everyone has a guess, stop the music and ask them to compare with a neighbor. Did they guess the same thing? You can take one bag and reveal the item. Point out the line of the song to which it corresponds, and then immediately call for bag #2 and repeat! 

Junior vs. Senior Primary

Your junior Primary will likely not have patience for all 6 bags. That's okay! The bags are numbered to have harder items later in the lineup, so just stop when the children are too restless or when you think the clues are too difficult for them to guess, perhaps after bag 3 or 4.

Senior Primary kids will have both a longer attention span and a greater ability for abstract thought. Make use of that by continuing the activity through bag 6. Tell them that these last items are tricky on purpose, and the words in the song are only clues as to what the items are. Ask them if they can match up the items to the words in the song they represent. 

A Final Note

This activity calls for sitting still and waiting your turn. Since that is tricky for many of our cuties, I highly recommend you do this activity after you've given them a chance to get their wiggles out. ;) 

Happy singing!

Looking for more?    For another nature-focused activity, try this one.