Friday, June 30, 2017

"The Wise Man & the Foolish Man"--Teaching more than just the hand actions

Pictures can add meaning to this action song.
The song of the month is "The Wise Man & the Foolish Man." We all love it, but isn't it kind of simplistic? And, it doesn't really take a month to teach, does it? This song is great because with the repetition and hand actions, children learn it really quickly. It would be easy to leave it at that. If, however, you take the opportunity to explain a few eternal truths, you can help this simple song really strengthen the faith of your children.

All I really do to teach eternal principles with this song is 1) bring a picture or two and 2) pause and explain. You can do variations for age with junior, senior, and even nursery. Actually, I love bringing this explanation and song into nursery the same month the older siblings learn it, as it's a great way to encourage gospel learning as a family.

Bring in a picture or two

Kids love stories. (And so do I!) You can tell the children that today, you'll be telling them a story, but you aren't the one who told it first. Who did? Show them a picture of the Savior teaching, and let them fill in that blank. (In the picture above, I used The Sermon on the Mount by Carl Heinrich Bloch, found in the Gospel Art Book on p. 39.) For nursery, you may want one picture for each child to hold.

After you sing the song through, you could show a picture of crashing waves and rocks, or a rainstorm by a house. (In the picture above, I used a photo from the inside cover of the July 2015 Ensign magazine, but you could find or draw your own.) Some children learn best through visually connecting with what they're hearing.

Pause and explain

Then you could ask, "Why does Jesus care where we build our houses?" Keeping in mind the age group you're teaching, you can help them understand that the song is a symbol for what Jesus really wants for us. He wants us to be strong when there are hard times, just like the house can be strong when there are hard storms. 

Sing the song again, and then older children may enjoy thinking of what the storms, sand, and rock represent spiritually. In this way, they can connect at their level with a song we usually categorize as being for younger children.

Happy singing!

Looking for more?  For an explanation of these symbols:        , visit my page on the 8 learning styles.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

A Lasting Impact: Primary Songs in Seminary

What they learned in Primary
Primary music and early morning seminary. I know, I know. Those don't normally go together. I'm teaching seminary right now, though, and I've been taking opportunities to merge these two loves of mine. 

For the past month, I've asked my students to choose only Primary songs for the opening hymn. One day, a young man chose "A Child's Prayer."  After we sang both verses, I stopped the music and said we could stop there, since singing both parts together might be hard. The young man spoke up and said, "But that's why I chose this song!" Another young man said he'd be happy to help me by leading the other part, and so we went ahead with it. It was beautiful. :)  Another day, the song chosen was "I'm Trying to Be Like Jesus," and my sleepy teenagers have never sung with more enthusiasm, either before or since. 

At the end of the month, I culminated the experience by recreating an activity from my senior year seminary teacher, Sister Aycock. I started by mentioning how much effort we in the Church put into teaching our children gospel truths. I asked my seminary students for what they learned in Primary. Specifically, what actual Primary lessons could they could remember? Only one student could think of one, and she reported, "We planted a seed. I think it was supposed to be like faith, but that's all I remember." Before they could start to feel bad, I reassured my students that I couldn't remember any individual Primary lessons, either. 

"OK, instead of that, what Primary songs do you remember?" I asked. I had all my students come up and write a Primary song on the board. A picture of their input is at the beginning of this post. Here is exactly what they wrote:

Popcorn Popping
Keep the Commandments
Teach Me to Walk in the Light
The Word of Wisdom
Popcorn Tree
We'll Bring the World His Truth
Army of Helaman (yep, I let them know that this was the same song as the one above)
Follow the Prophet
Where Love Is
I Am a Child of God
A Child's Prayer (x3)
Scripture Power

After they all sat down, I asked, "So tell me now, what did you learn in Primary?" This quiet, prolonged moment of realization was so powerful to me as a high school senior that I was determined to share it with my students. I went through several of the songs they'd chosen, commenting on what they'd learned. They'd learned that they were children of God. They'd learned to keep the commandments and walk in the light. They'd learned that power comes from the scriptures and from prayer. They did indeed remember the most important lessons from Primary. 

Brothers and sisters, the work you do teaching our children faith-filled songs, it matters! The effects of your efforts are long-lasting. Thank you.

Happy singing,

Looking for more?   
If you want another feel-good post about how much you're appreciated, I've got a good one for you. :) My absolute favorite post I've ever done is this one