Sunday, March 15, 2015

Explanation of My Weekly Outline

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The Children's Songbook
Have you ever taught a lesson when you were not well prepared? I have. I'd prefer never to repeat that! Teaching Singing Time without adequate preparation is torture.  You just stand there and sing through a list of songs, the children don't care to participate, and the clock seems to stand still. Happily, it doesn't ever have to be that way. With some effort, you can make Singing Time a treat for both you and the children.

Here is the outline I use to plan my Primary music every week, both opening exercises and Singing Time.  Included is an explanation of each segment and how I purposefully choose songs. On a weekly basis, I'll only post my plan for Sharing Time.  Unless otherwise noted, all songs are from The Children's Songbook

Junior Primary

Prelude:  I give specific requests to my pianist each week. They are always songs we're either learning or getting ready to learn, so that the children can become familiar with the melody.
            -if there's time, sing: If I have my supplies ready with time to spare, then I'll sing a song or two with the children. I pick a song that they already know, but not one that's in this year's Outline for Sharing Time. I use this time for old favorites and to review program songs from last year, in the hope that they won't forget these other songs.

2015 Outline for Sharing Time
Opening Song:  I almost always choose a program song from the current year.
Birthday Song: My Primary knows four birthday songs from The Children's Songbook. I just rotate through them.

Wiggle Songs: I always start with a high energy song that has the children stand up. I repeat a few times, with variations. My second wiggle song is a calmer one, which ends with the children sitting. 

Singing Time Songs: I select songs from the current year's program, as well as from topics that support the Sharing Time theme for that week.  I choose 3 or 4 songs every week, each with a different activity, as children need a change of pace every 3 to 5 minutes. In Singing Time, we never just sit there and sing. The children are always engaged in the song in some sort of meaningful way. Since I opened with a high energy, active wiggle song, my first singing time song is normally one that requires more concentration, such as a matching game or a pattern with an instrument. Song #2 will bring the activity level back up again, with more physical movement, often bringing Jr. children back to a stand. My last song of the day usually has a calmer activity, with the children sitting and no manipulatives to pass back in, so as to prepare them to be reverent for Sharing Time, which we have right after Singing Time. 

Senior Primary

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Faith in God for Girls
Prelude:  In our ward, we are blessed to have several children who are learning to play piano.  I schedule one child per week to play prelude.  They can choose any hymns or Primary songs that they like.  More on how this works in this post.
            -if there's time: If our child pianist finishes his repertoire before it's time to begin, I typically treat this time the same way I do in Jr. Primary.  Right now, though, I have the entire prelude time set aside for our Activity Days girls.  I was invited to teach them how to conduct songs a couple weeks ago, and to complete the requirement for their Faith in God award, they need to either teach or conduct a song at home or in Primary. I'm having them take turns conducting their favorite Primary song.

Opening Song:  See note for Jr.

Article of Faith: We cover one each month. As part of opening exercises, one child holds the poster of that Article of Faith and reads it aloud. Then she asks everyone to stand, and I lead them in singing. I lead using my hand to show the rise and fall in pitch along with the rhythm, since we don't spend any other time learning these songs. This is the only time I have the children sing while they read the lyrics to the song.

Birthday Song:  See note for Jr.  I add in the round for the one applicable song.

Wiggle Songs: This is tricky with Sr. Primary. They are still young enough to need to stand and move their whole bodies, but they are old enough to think they're "too cool" for wiggle songs. I approach this in one of two ways. First, I choose a traditional wiggle song, but I give it a twist. For example, last week we sang, "Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes," but with one eye closed, and then with both eyes closed. It was silly, but it was challenging, and so they liked it. The other way I approach their need to stand up and stretch is to plan that into my first Singing Time song.

Singing Time Songs:  See note for Jr. Primary.  Here, though, I include more challenging rhythms for instruments, logic puzzles, word scrambles, and other activities that are not feasible in Jr. Primary. 

So, this is the agenda that I use each week. I email a copy to my pianist (so she knows what to practice), my Primary secretary (so she can prepare the agenda for opening exercises) and the member of the Primary presidency who is presenting Sharing Time that week (so she can see what activities I've planned, and we don't both plan to have the children color, for example). Obviously, this works better if I get it out early in the week. I try to plan each Sunday evening for the following week.  Then, each Sunday I bring two printed copies of my agenda: one for me, and one for my pianist.  I find that when I take the time to purposefully plan my Singing Time, the 20 minutes fly by, and the children, teachers, and I are all having fun as we learn. :)

Happy Singing!

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