Showing posts with label Activity Days. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Activity Days. Show all posts

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Adventures with Activity Days: Part 2 of 2

This post is the second of a 2-part series describing ways to bring Primary music into a weekday Activity Days meeting. Read part 1 here, about memorizing the Articles of Faith.

Tracing conducting patterns
I love that Activity Days gives our girls the chance to learn how to conduct music.  If you think about it, women and girls in our church have a ton of opportunities to lead music, so it makes sense to help our girls learn this skill.  I've been invited into Activity Days a couple different times over the years to teach basic conducting patterns.  Here are four techniques I've used.

1.  Finding the Down Beat

This is a most over-looked skill. :)  Let's face it, the piano will keep playing, and the congregation will keep singing, even if you don't have a clue what a down beat is.  But we're talking about teaching these kids correct technique, right? So let's start them off right. 

I have the girls sit in a circle on the floor with me, and I ask them to listen to the flow of my singing and try to sway to match it. I try to emphasize the down beat slightly, and I sway and nod my head with the beat, too. Then I ask them if they can feel that there's a stronger beat that comes every so often.  I label it as the down beat, and then I sing a song with a different time signature, so they can identify the down beat there, too. 

2.  Tracing Conducting Patterns

Before class time, I drew the shape of the conducting patterns for 2, 3, and 4 beats onto separate sheets of white paper, making sure to have one set for each girl.  (If you have any left-handed students, make a mirror-image shape for them.)  I also taped the papers onto the wall or chalk board.  Now I let the girls choose a color of crayon. Directing them to start with the 2-beat pattern, I ask them to trace as I sing.  After singing for a minute, I pause singing to say rhythmically, "Down, up, down, up," at the same tempo as the song. Then, I switch back to the song, so they can match their movements to the beat. After they've got it, I have them switch colors, move to the next paper and pattern, and repeat.

Practicing with ribbon wands

3.  Practice with Ribbon Wands

Once the girls have learned the three basic patterns, I change things up to allow for extra practice.   I give each girl a ribbon wand and ask them to spread out through the room.  I ask for favorite Primary songs from the girls, but I also have a few songs in mind of my own, in case their songs don't cover all the time signatures we're learning.  Then we sing and conduct all together, using as many songs as we can until the hour is up.

4.  Provide Opportunities to Conduct Afterwards

Learning a new talent is always more fun if you have a chance to use it right away.  In addition, the Activity Days girls have a Faith in God requirement to teach or share a song with either their family or Primary.  So, after I teach them conducting music, I offer the girls a chance to lead a prelude song in Primary opening exercises.  If they are interested, I let them pick which Primary song they'd like, and I remind them before Sunday.  When they're conducting, I normally sit in the front row and conduct the pattern low in my lap, in case they need a little help.  

It's so rewarding to develop a new ability and be able to share it, both for the girls with their conducting, and for me with my teaching them. :)

Happy singing!

Looking for more?   Learn about the different icons I include, like this one,  , and how they correspond to different learning styles in my post here. Or, if you'd like another activity that includes basic music skills, try my post on using hand bells 

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Adventures with Activity Days: Part 1 of 2

This post is the first of a 2-part series describing ways to bring Primary music into a weekday Activity Days meeting. Look for part 2 next week.

Create a word search on poster board
I love being with my eight to twelve year old girls! Their weekday Activity Days leaders occasionally reach out to me for help incorporating music into their activities.  One thing they wanted was help memorizing the Articles of Faith.  We decided to focus on learning the songs for the first four Articles of Faith.  I split the girls into four small groups (this worked well for our class size of 12), and they rotated through four stations.  Here's how it worked:

The Flow

I had each group choose one of the stations to start.  All the supplies, along with written instructions of the activity, were in separate corners of the room.  The pianist and I started playing and singing the first Article of Faith, while the Activity Days leader helped the girls understand the instructions and work on their different activities.  I basically just sang the song over and over for 10 minutes, with short pauses to answer questions, until I called out that it was time to switch stations.

Each station was focused on a different activity. We changed to the next Article of Faith song when we rotated stations, so that each group was working on the same Article of Faith at the same time, though they were working on different activities.  

Station 1:  Create a Word Search

I prepped a blank word search for each Article of Faith on poster board.  My local department store had poster board with grid lines already drawn, and that made my life a lot easier. :)  I chose key words from the Article of Faith and wrote them at the bottom.  Working as a group, the girls wrote the chosen words in the empty boxes first, and then they added random letters in the remaining spaces.

Station 2: Create Rhythm Patterns

I tasked the girls with working as a group to create their own rhythm patterns to go with the song. I had been thinking something like pat-pat-clap-snap/pat-pat-clap-snap, etc.  One of the groups did something similar, but the others were wildly creative. It was a lot of fun seeing what they came up with!  Lesson learned:  encourage them to choose actions that match the reverent tone of the song....:/

Station 3:  Make a First Letter Code

This activity is one I've used a lot in my Primary, so the girls were familiar with it.  You can find the description in my previous post, here.  This time, I had the girls work as a group to make their own codes by listening carefully to the words as I sang.

Station 4:  Draw the Melody

This station was very simple. I had paper and markers, and I asked them to individually draw a line to show how the melody goes up and down. Then they showed their papers to their group members and traced the line as I sang.

The Wrap-Up

After the girls had been through each station, they demonstrated their hand motions for each other, and we sang each Article of Faith as we did the motions.  Then we put the word searches up on the board, one at a time, and took turns solving them while we sang, until it was time to go home.  The first letter codes we saved for another day.  I had been worried about being able to fill the time, but the hour flew by!  I hope they call me to come visit Activity Days again. :)

Happy singing!

Looking for more?  Take a look at my post for a rhythm band activity, which gives older children the challenge they crave.  Or try some of these suggestions for having older children play prelude for Primary.