Sunday, February 7, 2010

February 7

Jr. Primary

We reviewed I know that my Savior Loves Me. We sang Popcorn Popping and Once there was a snowman. Then I started teaching He Sent His Son. I know that we are supposed to be talking less and singing more so now instead of saying the words and having the kids repeat them I sing the words and the kids sing back. I had Preston subdued with my light up wand so there was no crying today - hooray! and I had their complete attention. The trouble is, with so many Sunbeams and no kids over five in the Jr. Primary it really seemed like the only people who were singing were the teachers.
During Sharing Time the president called me out into the hall and asked if they could do anything to help the children sing more. I have been doing singing time - in different wards - on and off since I started college. I've even taken classes in conducting and teaching music so that I can be the best teacher that I can be. Still though, this felt like the moment of reckoning and that I had failed. I know full well that there are two factors here that contribute to why the little ones aren't singing their hearts out.

1. They are only 3. I know that by summertime they will be singing. I know that right now they are watching and listening and some are even singing the new songs at home. They will sing the songs they know from nursery, but they are careful about they new stuff. So the important thing here is patience. They sing when they are ready.

2. There are no "older" kids in Jr. Primary. When there are older kids that sing, it really helps the little ones to sing. They want to be like the older kids, and when they are singing the younger kids really sing much better. We have no room for older kids in the room and we don't have anyone in Jr. Primary older than 5. So no older kids, and no readers and it really affects the singing.

I tried to explain this to the president, but I still felt like I was defending myself. I know the answer is patience and persistence. It's a lot of new songs for those little ones all at once, not only are they learning the new songs but they are learning the regular primary songs that we sing all the time that they weren't exposed to in nursery. It's a lot for them, but they are quick learners and I know that before too long, they will be singing confidently. I guess I had a "bang my head on the piano" moment today, kind of frustrating.

Sr. Primary
As the older kids were coming in from classes my pianist was playing IKTMSLM (Sorry for the abbreviation, it's just a really long title). Some of the kids started to sing and do the signs. So without singing, I signed with them. By the time we were ready to start opening exercises we had gone through the whole song twice while the kids sang softly and I signed with them. It was really cool.

The older kids picked up He Sent His Son really quickly. We went through it several times. I noticed two boys in the back (one of them was my son) who hadn't opened their mouths at all and I handed them the words and gave them the opportunity to sing in front of the entire group. They did it, reluctantly, but they sang. After that there wasn't a boy on the back row who wasn't singing. I guess I put fear in their hearts that they might have to do a solo.
At the end they had worked so hard, I let them pick a song to sing before sharing time, they picked Love is Spoken Here. My pianist had the music playing as soon as Sam said the name of the song. She knows them so well, it is their favorite song, she already knew what they were going to pick.


  1. I totally relate. We have a ton of little 3 year olds. Although we do have a slight bit older, our oldest are 6 but there are only 4 of them (6 if they are all there but 2 belong to less active families). The lesson didn't go over real great for me today, it was alright. For JR Primary it was more of a "Sharing Time" than a "Singing Time". Good Luck. I had one suggestion today, if there is time turn the room into a horseshoe. That way all the children are closer to you (proximity helps), I'm going to mention it to our Primary Pres.

  2. So glad I'm not the only who struggles teaching new songs to Jr Primary. I really like the idea of having the Primary kids help color the picture helps. Thanks for your blog and all your help. I don't comment often, but ready every post.

  3. My Jr. Primary is also 5 and under with four full classes of sunbeams. I feel your pain! Trying to get them to sing this past week was like pulling teeth. It was so discouraging! I appreciate your words about patience and persistence. They gave me hope that by summer they may actually be singing! Kerstin, Herriman, Utah

  4. It may be that your sole purpose in life is simply to serve as a warning to others.............................................

  5. Thanks for all your kind words. I really needed them!

  6. I came home a little discouraged after my kids seemed uninterested this last week. Who knows why, I all but danced to keep them with me! I also sympathize that you couldn't get your message across. Not being understood is so frustrating. I'm glad you have the experience to stay the course!

  7. Thanks for this post. Last Sunday was my first time EVER in primary being the chorister. Our Jr. Primary is all like 4 and under aside from one 7 or 8 year old boy is is OFF the WALLS. He riles up all the little ones, we had no pianist and I can keep a tune, but He sent his son is SOOO hard for me. I was trying to teach them without the piano, I was all over the road, they weren't paying any attention and I think I got through one line. I felt like such a failure. I had planned and prayed and spent a lot of time learning the song and I felt like I just looked like an idiot up there. I'll be following your blog for ANY advice in the area of getting sunbeams involved. Thanks again!

  8. I did have one idea for the sunbeams on a review week since we have a small group and they all want to be out of their chairs anyways. i was thinking we could hold hands in a circle. We could walk one direction singing the questions and the other singing the answers. We could all fall down at the end just for fun. I was thinking that if they felt like it was a game like ring around the rosie, they might want to play (sing) over and over again...thus my repitition. Just a thought....

  9. That sounds like a fun idea. We have so many kids in the room it's absolutely packed, but it's still something I would like to try.
    My brother does singing time a lot in his ward. He rarely has a pianist (only when one of my parents can get to his ward) and so he uses his laptop and creates power point presentations that play while the music plays. He's also used CD's of the music. In the old days he would use the primary CD's but now I know he just burns the songs he's using that day in the order that they are singing them. It's really hard to do anything without a pianist and especially try to teach a song. My hat's off to you. Even with the piano I have my light up wand that I use for conducting so that the Sunbeams can't take their eyes off me. I often feel like as much of an entertainer as anything else. But once you establish a relationship with those little ones, they will be good for you even without the props.

  10. My ward is a lot like yours. Jr. Primary is so hard (uninterested), but then Sr. makes up for it and I love my calling. This is a simple idea but it has worked for me. I get about 10 kids up in the front and each one has to do an action for the verse we are singing. I walk behind them and touch their heads when it is their turn. It works great and they all love being helpers. I am just starting out being chorister, but this really worked for me.