Primary Chorister Ideas January 2011

Welcome to my BLOG!  I love music and am a 1st grade teacher in Utah. I’ve done the primary chorister job so many times that I thought I’d share some of the fun things I’ve done in the past, and redone presently. I will only keep a week ahead this year, so check back often (maybe even the night before!) I will try not to be such a procrastinator, but old habits die hard. 🙂 I hope I can help any newbies out there.

Me and my 3 little granddaughters!

 One thing I always have on hand is construction paper, colorful cardstock, crafts sticks, stickers, and my color printer for anything I find on the internet.  I always have musical instruments, puppets that say, WHISTLE, HUM, BOYS, GIRLS, GO STOP.

 I have several charts I’ve made that move up and down when kids are singing good and it encourages even more volume. Every month I try to make up the  visual aids for the new song and use it each week. Then I try to come up with a fun game or activity to do to sprinkle in a few extra songs or practice songs so we are always doing a variety.

 I have some standard games I like to do in a pinch if I’ve had a busy week. I will cover the most popular ones I do these first 2 months of my 2011 blog.  If you like my blog, check out my other blog called Pattiesplace at A link is HERE

It’s got a lot of my teacher crafts and art ideas that some of you may want to try with kids at home.  Have fun singing this 2011!


JANUARY 2ND, 2011                  FIRST WEEK!                 HAPPY NEW YEAR! 
We spent most of our time this week getting kids where they needed to go in their new classes. We are moving from a Jr. and Sr. separate sharing time to a combined, since we have lower numbers this year (only about 35!).I just had the kids come up and choose one of my snowmen decorations from around my house. One of them was a snowman snowglobe, many were stuffed or ceramic. Each one had a song tag on the back.

 Then for fun we played my classroom xylophones to the songs.  We had just performed in sacrament meeting the last Sunday in December. I had one of the older boys who plays piano practice the descant to “Christmas Bells are Ringing”. He practiced using my 25 bells set from Musician’s Friend.  It turned out really nice. So we bring out the bells every 5 weeks or so.  If you want a bell set like mine it is really inexpensive and really sturdy. I’ve used it for several years and all my students at school and church love it! It’s a 25 Note Bell Set (G-G) for only$ 19.99 with case  found at MUSICAN’S FRIEND.  If you want to check out the link go HERE I just tell the kids they are keeping the time, they are doing the percussion, so to keep a beat. It always sounds pretty no matter what note they ping. HONEST! It is a really pretty sounding bell set, very clear tones, check it out.  I also have other instruments.  I’ll take a picture of the bunch in a later post.

The new song is “If I Listen With My Heart”. A good flipchart (but it takes a lot of your color printer ink) is found at Sugardoodle.  If you want a link go HERE. It’s my favorite way to teach a song. I sing it through first while showing the words and pictures and having a little discussion about what the song means.  . Then we try it together. The repetitive games I play over the next few weeks helps the kids all memorize the words of the song.

To make the FLIPCHART I usually glue the color printed copies to poster board pieces. Then I punch out a hole in the corner of each and finally attach a ring to keep the song together. It is easy then to keep it in the closet at church too!  Then while I’m singing it is easy to flip the pictures with words over for each phrase in the song. I love teaching this way.  You could also write out the songs on a giant piece of poster board, but I find it hard to manage storing all these. Flip charts can all fit nicely in a box in the church primary closet, along with your musical instruments and fun puppets and charts.  Have fun!

JANUARY 9TH, 2011,  WEEK 2

Well I’m starting my 2nd year as chorister in the primary. But, the funny thing is…this is my 4th time BEING a primary chorister under 3 different bishops. This is the 2nd time in this ward. So it is too bad they didn’t have blogging way back when I first started. Boy would I have a slug of stuff to choose from right now!

For the fun part this week, after the main song, “If I Listen With My Heart”, we are doing a really fun game. It is a once a year Snowball fight called the Snowball Game. You give each child a white piece of paper (can be recycled, used on one side!) and a pencil. Have each one write down their favorite Primary song. Then they wad them up into a ball. Get ready…..yup….you are going to be PELTED!

I tell them it’s their once a year chance to get back at the chorister for all the hard work I made them do! Class by class then we said, Ready, Set, Throw your SNOWBALLS! And I get pelted by all the primary kids in that class.  In the 4 year old class there are only 2 kids, so I’ll have to cover up my face and hop all around like I”m try to keep from getting creamed. Too funny. I really love all those 3 year olds too. So Sweet.

Then I choose one from the pile, read it out, we figure out whose favorite it is and they come up and help lead, play an instrument, hold a GIRLS/BOYS little sign on a stick and switch it back and forth as we sing, or do the motions to the songs with me.  Then we moved onto another class.  That is a fun activity I got from my Sister-in-law Sister Shepherd, who, like me, has done primary chorister multiple times over the years!

Another thing I made a few months back was a SNOWMAN out of some old, white fabric. I just traced circles about 14 inches, and 12 inches for the body parts, and 10 inches for the head. I added a scarf, buttons and a big, black hat.  The kids sing the song “Once There Was a Snowman” to it and the kids make it grow from a puddle on the floor to tall, Tall, TALL!  Then we have it shrink back down slowly to the floor for Small, small, small.  It’s fun and they ask for it during the winter months a lot. So I just keep it folded in my Primary Bag. Here’s what it looks like.

JANUARY 16, 2011,   WEEK 3
For the 16th I’m going to do the FISHING GAME. I have a wooden dowel (or I have used a real fishing pole if it’s in the spring or summer) and a string attached with a heavy round magnet on the end.  Then I have 6 -8 colorful, laminated FISH with a paper clip attached to each one of them.  I put song names on the back with little sticky notes so I can change them when we do this every 4 months or so.

The kids come up and “go fishing” for a song. When they land one of the paper clips on their magnet we look to see what song it is on the back of the fish, and they get to help lead, play an instrument, hold a chart or some visual aids.  This is always a hit so I do it every few months.

To make a fishing pole you will need some kind of long stick. You can use a paint roller stick, broom handle, smaller dowel like a 1/2 inch size from Home Depot or Lowes. Or if you are stuck with nothing, use one of your mini blind hanging twisty things that open and close your blinds. Just unhook it and use if for the day. 🙂

Tie a 1 yard piece of string to the top of your dowel and tape it up with duct tape.  On the other end of the string you will need a “hook” in the form of a round magnet. They sell these in packages at craft stores like Joannes, Roberts, Michaels.  I use the other magnets in the package to hold up pictures, tick tac toe papers and other things on the chalkboard which is magnetized. I hope you have one of these in your primary because it is a great help!

You can make the fish by finding clip art you like and copying them onto colorful cardstock. Or you can just look at my picture and draw some freehand on cardstock with a Sharpie marker.  I buy a ream of colored cardstock at Walmart in the stationery department and it doesn’t get all used up for ages. That’s a good place to get the paper cheap if you have access to a copier.  Otherwise get Kinkos to copy the fish off on their colored cardstock. Cut them out. Use contact paper or laminate them so you can reuse them for years to come. I just write on them with a Vis-a-Vis pen and wipe it off after we are done, so it’s ready for next time.

 Last Spring I did the fishing with my husband’s fishing pole and the magnet was taped to the actual hook. It was a lot more fun because the kids had to actually “cast out” and then reel in the fish and the sound of the reel winding up was a lot of fun. So you can go that route too. It look a lot of time though so it might be a better fit after October when your presentation is done and you can do more fun things without the pressure on, if you know what I mean!

I’m going to start practicing “Love One Another” because I want to add it to the program to do with sign language. I want it completely memorized by October so I will sing it once or twice a month starting now and show them the signs as we sing just using the pictures in the songbook which displays the signing pretty good.
I also LOVE the song “I’ll Follow Him in Faith”. I will have  Those 2 will be my main additions but I usually do 8-10 songs so we will find others that go with our theme this year.  I haven’t decided completely yet.

My grandbaby at the piano with my son Devin

JANUARY 23RD, 2011
We will be doing our new song again  today. We will also be playing HOT AND COLD.  This is a fun game on a 3rd or 4th week when you really have to resing the new song over and over to get it engrained in their memories. It can be boring if you can’t make a game out of it, so this is a good one to do periodically if only for part of the singing time. 

I usually use our Jr. and Sr. Primary Sticks with kids’ names for calling on them….just so it is fair. I will pick a name from the sticks, then they get to choose if they want to go outside the door and be “hunter” or if they want to be the HIDER of the picture. We usually choose a picture of Jesus or some picture that goes along with the song we are singing. The  HIDER  hides the picture somewhere in the room, part of it must be in plain sight…if only a corner of it. The other child that has been sent out is the HUNTER. They are invited back in when the picture has been hidden. I almost always choose an 8 x 10 picture of the Savior.

Then the whole group sings the new song over and over and they get softer when the HUNTER is getting COLD or farther away from the hiding place.  They sing Louder when the HUNTER is getting WARM and they sing REALLY loud when he is HOT (close to the hidden picture).  It is funny to watch their faces while they sing over and over and don’t even realize they are memorizing the words to the song. And eventually the picture is found and everybody has a good chuckle.  Then we redo it with a new hunter and hider.

These are fun to do with any song. Kids hold them up sometime during a song and we switch to a hum. The other one  use to switch to a whistle. Use them only one at a time on a song or the kids  will get too wild & crazy.

JANUARY 30TH, 2011,    WEEK 5
This week I’m going to do one of my favorite games: Tic-Tac-Toe. I have always just used laminated cardstock cut into squares or rectangles and with O and X drawn on them with permanent markers. I’m happy with real simple visual aides.  

I’m stomping around doing an action song here…they are important to sprinkle in!

I have one half of the class play against the other half. We choose a child from one side and they come up and place one of my Xs onto the grid made by a 2 vertical, and 2 horizontal chalklines just drawn on the chalkboard.  Then the other side sends an O person and they choose a spot on the grid.. We do 2 rounds and then if there is not 3 in a row we sing a song anyway. It’s funny because little kids don’t get “blocking” the 3 in a row so they put the X anywhere even when a block is needed. That almost makes it sweeter and more comical. The older kids just LOVE it when that happens as you can imagine. But no matter, I make them do an X, an O, then another X and an O and then we sing.  I choose another song (preferably from the upcoming program) each time. We’ll practice the “I Love to See the Temple, Love One Another, our new song and a few free choices.  

Then we play 2 rounds again.  I can usually get about 5 songs sung this way in my 20 minutes of singing.  It is always a fun game, the kids don’t get overly crazy and they practice the songs without losing energy.

Here’s a picture of my simple Tic Tac Toe cards….laminated (I recycled something from school, junk is on the back)
! I’m just getting to be so GREEN these days!  Yay Me!   😀

I found a flipchart for the  song “If the Savior Stood Beside Me” by Sally DeFord and I always prefer teaching it as a flipchart first. I got a cute one from a gal in Arizona on the Sugardoodle website. If you want to see it go HERE. This may be my other Free Choice. I really LOVE this song, it is cute. I usually go over the words and what they mean as a discussion first.  Then I will do a few memory devices like pointing to my brain  when we sing “would I think of his commandments” and point to my eyes when we sing “if I could see” etc.  Then I sing it through once for them with the piano changing the pages of the flipchart as I go so they can see and hear the song from me.  Then we just dive in and try it! This one would be really beautiful as a solo for a child on the first verse. Then have the rest of the kids learn verse 2 and chorus. If there is time we will try to learn all the verses.  Tell me if you don’t just love this song!

3 thoughts on “Primary Chorister Ideas January 2011”

  1. This is so great-thank you! I love that you have the entire month planned!! I always have a hard time figuring out how to actually teach the words to the new song- especially one like this that has so many words. I know it's basic but I'd really like to hear how you do it 🙂

  2. Hi Aubrey! Thanks for commenting! I use the flipchart to teach almost always. I copied it on my color printer (look on week 1 where it says "go HERE" and I glued the pages on poster board 81/2 x 11 to keep the pages sturdy. Then I put them together with a ring and punched a hole in each page to keep them together. Then I just flip the chart as we sing. Any hard words I go over with them and explain what action I will use while we sing that word to help 3 year olds. I find this helps (ex: cup your ear for listen) I will always try to find a flipchart for you on all the songs ok? Keep checking back. Pattie 😀

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