Trying to keep the attention of a group of 3 to 11 year old children long enough to teach them the words to a new song can be a challenge. In some cases this group can be rather large, like a ward in Cedar Hills, Utah that is on the verge of splitting and running three Primaries in the mean time. Or completely opposite in a small Branch in Ibapah, Utah where sometimes there are regularly 2 primary children present and on occassion 25 children attending when family comes to visit. Whatever the circumstances for your particular ward, the challenge is still the same...keeping their attention! In this post I want to share some ideas of ways you can keep the primary children's attention during Primary Singing Time and Primary Sharing Time by "Making It Fun"!
THREE Ideas to Make Primary Singing Time Fun
1. PARTICIPATION: Primary Children love to be able to come to the front of the room and hold up a picture or some words to the song. It is great to be prepared with visuals to go along with the primary songs you are teaching. There are lots of great resources available for Primary Song Visuals on the internet as well as in the Friend. If you are like me you have a couple of boxes full of Church Magazines just sitting in storage, just waiting...to be used. These magazines are full of great Primary Song Visuals. Holding visuals includes a handfull of primary children which usually end up not singing because they can't see the visuals they are holding and are happy to be in front helping, while the remainder of the children are trying to sing their best with hopes that they will be noticed and get called on to help the next time. I have seen some very creative Primary Music Leaders encourage participation from the entire primary, including...get this...the TEACHERS! My favorite Attention-Getter was when our Primary Music Leader brought a couple wigs and challenged each class to sing their best. The classes who sang the best got to have their teacher(s) come to the front and wear the wig while they sang the song again. You can bet every child in the Primary Room was singing their best.
2. VARIATION: To avoid feeling like you have practiced that song for the Sacrament Program a thousand times, practice each song in a variety of ways. One week you can use visuals to learn the words, the next week hide them around the room, then the next week sing the song while playing a game to see who is singing the best. Have variety in the way the song is sung each time. (See LDS.org for suggestions on "How to Teach a Song.") Another very creative Primary Music Leader brought some cute stuffed animals to Primary with her in a basket. A child was chosen to come up and choose one of the stuffed animals. Based on the characteristics of the stuffed animal the primary children were to sing the song in a matching style. For example if a soft bunny was picked they would sing "softly", if an alligator was picked the primary children would sing "SNAPPY" with quick, snappy notes, if a lion was picked the Primary Children would sing "loud", and if an elephant was picked they would sing "slowly". Before you know it the Primary Children have already practiced the song four times in a variety of ways and it was fun!
3. PLAY GAMES: Of course, playing games is a FINCH FAMILY FAVORITE! Children love to play games and learn while they are having fun. All of the Finch Family Games Primary Song Visuals come with instructions and ideas on how to turn the visuals into a game. I want to encourage you to not only use these ideas but to also be creative yourself and see how other games and activities can be used during Primary Singing Time. For example, a new game was added to FinchFamilyGames.com today named Faithful Flowers it has been created to go with Primary Sharing Time Lessons, Primary Lessons, or Family Home Evening Lessons that teach about Faith in Jesus Christ, but it could also be used as a fun game to play during Primary Singing Time. It is a game that is played by seeing which team gets to the top first. You could split your Primary into 2 teams or have each class be a team. Create your own rules as to how the teams advance based on how well they sing. There are many games at FinchFamilyGames.com that can be used for Primary Singing Time without being designated that way. Some games that come to mind right off are:
- He Is Risen
- I Will Follow God's Plan
- Follow the Prophets: Noah Presentation
- Joseph Smith Prayed - Puzzle
- Holy Ghost
- Being Just Like Jesus Bingo
- Obey Today
- A Mighty Missionary
Be sure to prepare in advance. When you are prepared you will be able to use your time more wisely and transition from one activity or song to another without losing the children's attention. Lastly, have fun yourself, if you aren't having fun then neither will they.
(Please feel free to share your ideas and things that have worked for you by writing a comment below this post!)