Tuesday, September 15, 2015

How to Plan Your Singing Time

Today I'm sharing with you my blank agenda, which I use every week to plan my Sunday.  Here's the link to my downloadable and printable file, blank Primary music agenda, in case you'd like to use it in your own planning. Below, I'll show you my agenda and insert explanations for each item.



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 time, sing a wiggle song:  If I have my supplies ready with time to spare, then I'll sing a song or two with the children, just to let them stretch and move.

Opening Song:  I almost always choose a program song from the current year. I prefer not to teach by hammering lyrics, so instead, I have to use crazy amounts of repetition. :)
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 4 songs every week, each with a different activity, as children need a change of pace every 3 to 5 minutes, and they learn best in a variety of styles. (See my page here on different learning styles.)  In Singing Time, we never just sit there and sing. The children are always engaged in the song in some sort of purposeful way.

            Song with a high concentration activity:  Examples are a matching game while we sing or a simple pattern with an instrument.

            Song with movement:  I try to have the children standing for this activity.

            Song with interactive visuals:  Young children are especially keyed in to color, so I try to tap into that most weeks.

            Song with either movement or high concentration:  I like to give the children a change of pace several times.  I shy away from having any manipulatives to pass back in after this last song, to help with a smooth transition to Sharing Time.

Senior Primary

Prelude:  Same as for Junior.
            -Primary pianist:  We have several Primary children who are learning piano, and I have a rotation for them to play prelude. They normally finish before the time is up, so our adult pianist takes over.
Opening Song:  Same as for Junior.

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.

Birthday Song:  Same as for Junior.  I add in the round for the one applicable song.

Singing Time Songs:

            Song with movement:  The older children think they're too cool for traditional wiggle songs (though I still sing them occasionally, using methods described in my post "4 Ways to Boost Stale Wiggle Songs"), so I typically involve some sort of physical movement early on in Singing Time.  Instruments, hand rhythms, ribbon wands...my Senior Primary kids love them all, as long as they're being challenged.

            Song with a high concentration activity (often a logic or words activity):  My older children love thinking games.  I choose codes, word puzzles, etc. that they can do silently, so I can sing in the background.  I sing the song over and over, often 8 or 10 times, so I know the children are still learning it. :)

            Song with a low concentration activity (often with interactive visuals):  I change from the previous intense activity to a more relaxed one, where the children are still interested and involved.  I have a number of children who notice colors and visual patterns to the point of distraction, so I attempt to harness their interest by having visuals frequently.  In my ward, we have closing prayer immediately after my last Singing Time song, so I keep that in mind when choosing this final activity.

What other factors do you take into account when you plan your Singing Times?  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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