Thursday, December 7, 2017

Christmas Singing Time Lesson Plans

This week I'll be continuing on with my lesson plan for The Shepherd's Carol using the handbells HERE.  I've seen the question asked a lot if Jr. primary can handle the bells.  My Jr. primary LOVES the bells.  They may not be spot on with their ringing but that doesn't matter to me.  We are able to sing/listen to the song over and over and over again just so everyone can have a turn ringing a bell.  Sr. primary loves the bells equally as much but their skill level is much more advanced and they produce a beautiful bell choir!

If you are looking for something else that's Christmas-related, check out all of my Christmas posts HERE including Christmas Silent Singer, Christmas Singo (I love to use this one the week between Christmas and New Years!), Primary Christmas Song Nativity and more!

Thursday, November 30, 2017

The Shepherd's Carol

We will be singing The Shepherd's Carol and Christmas Bells using the handbells in sacrament meeting on Christmas Eve this year.  You can find details on how I use handbells in primary HERE (details include how I pick my handbell choir, how we rotate playing the handbells during singing time and how I use them in sacrament meeting).  Christmas Bells is an annual repeat so we'll only be reviewing it the Sunday before Christmas Eve but you can find my lesson plan for it HERE.  You can also find all of my Christmas sing time lesson plan ideas HERE for more ideas.

To teach The Shepherd's Carol, I'll simply be using the flip chart found HERE.  The 1st go around, I'll have the kids listen to the piano as I point to the pictures posted on the chalkboard.  The second time, I'll sing it and the 3rd time I'll ask them to sing it with me if they can.  That's it.  The real learning will come when we sing it over and over again using the handbells.

The bells will be playing the base clef (or bottom hand of the piano accompaniment).  Find my bell chart HERE.  I'm probably going to have the primary perform without the piano for the first time ever (using the piano as necessary to practice)!  Fingers crossed it works!!  The bells will be the only musical instrument playing.

I'm planning on my bell choir playing handbell pages 1-3 six times:
  • 1st time - completely alone with no singing
  • 2nd time - the entire primary will sing the 1st verse
  • 3rd time - the entire primary will sing the 2nd verse
  • 4th time - half the primary will come in, the other half of the primary will start 5 measures later (the second line of the music singing in a round)
  • 5th time - half the primary will come in singing the 2nd verse, the other half of the primary will start 5 measures later on the 2nd verse singing in a round
  • 6th time - the later half of the primary will finish the 2nd verse and the bells will play alone the last 5 measures, ending with page 4 of the bell chart.
If you have a bigger primary, try the round with 4 groups and just repeat as many times as you need!  I'm going to try to have a primary teacher/presidency member lead each group while I lead the bell choir.

If I need to, I will have the piano bring the groups in by playing the top hand of the 1st line each time.  If you are unfamiliar how I make my charts, the little black lines in the lower right hand corner are my counting.  They each represent one count.  The time signature to this song is 6/8 so count to 3 (or 6 but 3 is easier I think) with each line representing one count.

Also, I don't have octaves represented.  The kids will play all the "D" bells we own and all the "A" bells, etc.  It sounds really pretty to have all the octaves played at the same time while also simplifying it.  It also gives more kids a chance to play the bells.

This last page is simply to end the bell choir.  It's not written in the accompaniment but it sounds better if you end with this last note, trust me ;).  Only play it once, after you have repeated as many times as you need. 

Clear as mud?  Leave comments with questions!  Also, if you see any mistakes PLEASE let me know!!  

Sunday, November 26, 2017

December 2017 Singing Time Schedule

See how I use my singing time schedule HERE!  Then download an editable and printable version of the below information HERE.

We'll be able to sing (keyword being "sing" not "learn") every single Christmas song in the Children's Songbook this month!  Perfect!!  You can check out all of my Christmas singing time lesson plan ideas HERE.

Note that this month I will be utilizing the handbells for 3 weeks and also when we sing in sacrament meeting.  If you want to join in on the handbell fun (and I would HIGHLY recommend it!), check out my post HERE for everything you need to know about handbells!

Singing Time Schedule
December 2017

December 3rd:
Opening song: Little Jesus p. 39
Scripture song: The Thirteenth Article of Faith p. 132
Birthday song:  Feliz Cumpleanos p. 282
Welcome song: We Welcome you p. 256
Singing Time: The Shepherd’s Carol p. 40
Activity:  Learn The Shepherd's Carol to perform on Christmas Eve in Sacrament Meeting.  Lesson plan will include a flip chart to learn the words and a bell chart for playing the bottom hand of the accompaniment on the handbells.  More to come!!

December 10th:
Opening song: There Was Starlight on the Hillside p. 40
Scripture song: The Thirteenth Article of Faith p. 132
Birthday song:  Feliz Cumpleanos p. 282
Welcome song: We Welcome you p. 256
Singing Time: The Shepherd’s Carol p. 40
Activity:  Continue with previous week's lesson plan - more to come!

December 17th:
Opening song: Have a Very Merry Christmas! p. 51
Scripture song: The Thirteenth Article of Faith p. 132
Birthday song:  Feliz Cumpleanos p. 282
Welcome song: We Welcome you p. 256
Singing Time: The Shepherd’s Carol p. 40 & Christmas Bells p. 54
Activity:  Review The Shepherd's Carol & Christmas Bells (lesson plan found HERE) for sacrament meeting musical number which will include firming up my bell choir.

December 31st:
Opening song: Mary’s Lullaby
Scripture song: The Thirteenth Article of Faith p. 132
Birthday song:  Feliz Cumpleanos p. 282
Welcome song: We Welcome you p. 256
Singing Time: Picture a Christmas p. 50, Away in a Manger p. 42, When Joseph went to Bethlehem p. 38, Oh, Hush Thee My Baby p. 48, Christmas Bells p. 54, Once Within a Lowly Stable p. 41, The Nativity Song p. 52, Sleep Little Jesus p. 47, Stars Were Gleaming p. 37, Who Is The Child p. 48
Activity:                  Christmas Singo found HERE.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Fall Bread Tag for Visiting Teaching or Neighbor Gift

I designed this project for a friend and thought I'd share the free download here even though it's not really singing time related (but hey, most of us are all visiting/home teachers!).  Print off the tag and attach it to a loaf of bread (homemade or something yummy from the bakery!).  Easy!

Download it HERE.  If you ever need design work done, I design wedding, party, baptism invitations; birth announcements; Christmas cards; business marketing materials including business cards, flyers, post cards; and more!  Details are all over at my at my other website,

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Sunday, November 19, 2017

2018 Primary Music CD

Every year for Christmas, our primary hands out a primary music CD as our Christmas gift.  It contains all of next year's program songs plus an extra 2 songs for each month (36 songs total - 3 songs per month).  I've gone through the 2018 outline (find my outline summary HERE) and picked songs for each month that go along with that month's theme (usually I fill the CD with the extra songs found in the outline but I've been venturing out with a lot more unknown songs that still relate to that month's theme).  I figure a CD with only 8 songs is kind of a waste so I include a few for each month which I will eventually sing in primary as all our opening songs throughout the year.

If you feel CD's are a thing of the past, I've seen other primaries create digital playlists and email them out to families.  If you've done that for your primary, please feel free to share the details on how you did it!  My preference is a CD - simply because it's a more tangible gift.  If families don't do CD players anymore, the CD's can always be downloaded onto the computer and put on digital music players.

To start, I created a document that contained all my songs.  You can find my list HERE.  I submitted it to my primary president to get everything approved.  But for easy viewing, below is my song list (I chose On a Golden Springtime for April, and Book of Mormon Stories (all the verses) for May as my "your choice" songs:

1. I Am a Child of God, p. 2
2. I Need My Heavenly Father p. 18
3. How Dear to God Are Little Children p. 180

4. My Heavenly Father Loves Me, p. 228
5. All Things Bright and Beautiful p. 231
6. I Think the World Is Glorious p. 230

7. If the Savior Stood Beside Me, Outline
8. Jesus Is Our Loving Friend p. 58
9. Jesus Loved the Little Children p. 59

10. On a Golden Springtime p. 88
11. An Angel Came to Joseph Smith p. 86
12. The Priesthood Is Restored p. 89

13. Book of Mormon Stories p. 118
14. I Want to Live the Gospel p. 148
15. I Want to Give the Lord My Tenth p. 150

16. When I am Baptized p. 103
17. I Like My Birthdays p. 104
18. Listen, Listen p. 107

19. Families Can Be Together Forever p. 188
20. Because God Loves Me p. 234
21. Home p. 192

22. A Child’s Prayer p. 12
23. If with All Your Hearts p. 15
24. Tell Me, Dear Lord p. 176

25. Go the Second Mile p. 167
26. A Happy Helper p. 197
27. I Have Two Little Hands  p. 272

28. I Will Be Valiant p. 162
29. Shine On p. 144
30. The Church of Jesus Christ p. 77

31. I’m Thankful to Be Me p. 11
32. Father, We Thank Thee for the Night p. 8
33. Thank Thee for Everything p. 10

34. Samuel Tells of the Baby Jesus p. 36
35. He Died That We Might Live Again p. 65
36. When He Comes Again p. 82

Once approved, I created a playlist using iTunes with these songs.  I own all the Primary Songs on CD which I've uploaded to iTunes.  But if you don't own the CD, you can download all the songs in the Primary Songbook HERE and If the Savior Stood Beside Me can be found HERE (make sure when you download, you select "Vocals and Music"). **Make sure you allow plug-ins from as a browser settings or you won't be able to view/download the music.

I bought these CD-R's and jewel cases from Amazon:

(note, these aren't the cheapest that Amazon sells but I prefer the Sony brand compared to the no-name.  For some reason, it makes for easier burning and I have less "non-usable" cd's - just my experience!)

Then I started burning {a million} CD's!   Once burned, I simply took a Sharpie marker and wrote "2018 Primary Songs" on the actual CD.  I did take a few random CD's and put them in my CD player to make sure they burned correctly.

We give one CD per primary family.  For our Primary it's about 30 so I've burned 35 to have as a few extras to keep in the cupboard just in case we have move-ins, someone loses theirs, or sometimes a few families ask if they can have another copy, etc.

For a CD cover, I created this...

You can get the document HERE or a blank one HERE without the song list (just in case your songs are different than mine).  To use the blank one, I suggest typing up a list that looks similar to mine (the font I used it just Times New Roman, font size 8), trimming your list so it will fit within the blank square space and taping it on.  When you make photo copies, you will never know that you literally copied and pasted.

I do like the black and white cover only because I can make free copies at the library.  I also tell the kids they are welcome to color their CD cover to make it more personalized.  The artwork I chose is from found HERE.

Once I have my copies made, I cut around on the black lines with the exception of down the middle. I fold it there and simply slide it into the cd jewel case.  The size, once cut out, measures 5 inches and 5.5 centimeters both across and down, making it a perfect square.

I then tie on Christmas ribbon and attach a treat of some sort for each child (we've done ring pops, tootsie roll suckers and Now & Laters, etc.). A family with 4 nursery/primary aged kids would receive one CD tied with 4 treats.  I also attach a tag (signed by our ward's primary name in the space provided):

Find my document HERE (I simply altered a free online gift tag I found HERE).  I hole punch the top and slide it onto a ribbon.

Find my previous years of finished products all HERE.  Our primary president offered to package them so I don't have photos of the finished product this year.

We'll pass these out the Sunday before Christmas Eve (since we won't have primary on Christmas Eve) and deliver them to the kids who are not/less active.

And that's that.  Pretty simple and nothin' fancy but if you know me, you should expect that ;).

Another option instead of doing a CD is a DVD.  They would be similar to the lesson I did HERE for our 2017 Program Showcase, but using 2018 video flip charts.  I'll have those video flip charts ready in January - I'm hoping some helpful choristers out there help me out with those like they have done in the past!!

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Thanksgiving Sing-A-Story

Time for another annual Thanksgiving Sing-A-Story found HERE.  This is a very simple lesson plan to celebrate Thanksgiving (especially if you need a sub!).

I've been asked before if my kids get tired of all my annual repeat lesson plans.  And my response is an astounding "no, they don't!"  I've never once had a child tell me they don't want to do a repeated activity we've done previous years (and in my defense, I don't think doing something once a year is too often.  Would you agree?).  Usually the kids are really excited to see something familiar, telling me they remember when we did it last year.  I always try to challenge them to see what they remember by asking what comes next?

You can check out all of my Thanksgiving/Fall singing time lesson plans HERE or see what I have planned for the rest of November HERE.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

2018 Outline for Sharing Time

This week I picked up a copy of the 2018 Outline for Sharing Time at my local Distribution Center!  Just in time to start getting a little organized for next year.  If you don't have yours yet, you can get it a few different ways:

  • Ask your Primary Presidency if they have received their copies from the Bishopric (or ask the Bishopric directly!).  We only got 3 copies, but in my opinion, the Music Leader should be one to receive a copy!
  • Head to your local Distribution Center (if available)
  • Download the outline HERE

I always like to do a simple annual overview this time of year, then fine-tune it each month with my Singing Time Schedules (if you don't know how I do those, check out my post HERE).  I also work on my 2018 CD song list (our primary hands out CD's as a Christmas present from the Primary each year).  See my previous years of CD's HERE (2018 version coming next week...I'm not sure if I'll be copying exactly my 2013 version HERE but it's a good start).  You can also make a DVD.  See how I used them in a DVD format for singing time last year HERE!).

Here's a quick summary of next year's songs:

January: I Am a Child of God p. 2 - find my lesson plan HERE
February: My Heavenly Father Loves Me p. 228 - find my lesson plan HERE
March: If the Savior Stood Beside Me p. 28 of the 2018 Outline - find my lesson plan HERE
April: On a Golden Springtime* p. 88
May: Book of Mormon Stories* p. 118 (all 8 verses)
June:  When I Am Baptized - find my lesson plan HERE
July:  Families Can Be Together Forever p. 188 - find my lesson plan HERE
August:  A Child's Prayer p. 12 p. 78 - find my lesson plan HERE

*These are my 2 "song of your choice from the Children's Songbook" choices.  I'll have lesson plans ready a week or so before I start teaching these.  These songs are also different from what I taught in 2013 - thought I'd branch out a bit and teach some songs we haven't learned yet.

The beauty about doing this calling long-term is everything has been repeating every 5 years.  You can check out all of my 2013 posts HERE (including the 2 my-choice songs I picked then) which have the same material as 2018!  Some of the posts need a little TLC so I'll be updating/modifying them throughout next year.

As I've been looking through the outline, there are some great tips and teaching advice worth noting:

Page 1 has a "Singing Time" section which gives simple instruction on how singing time should run, how much time you get (which specifically says, "A 20-minute segment of sharing time should be devoted to singing and teaching music."  Make sure you get that!!), along with other information.  Also are guidelines for the Sacrament Meeting Presentation.

Page 3 has "Helps for the Music Leader" for teaching I Am a Child of God...

Page 11 has "Helps for the Music Leader" for teaching We Thank Thee, O God, for a Prophet (a possible song choice for that month)...

Page 17 has "Helps for the Music Leader" for teaching A Child's Prayer...

There was a tip on p. 22 regarding primary songs reinforcing the doctrine!  I always like to choose the song we sing for opening exercises to coincide with the weekly sharing time lesson for this very reason.

Page 26 - 27 is entitled "How to Use Music in Primary" and has some great information on emphasizing the gospel principles in the song, using visual aids and using actions to engage children...

Page 28 is a copy of this year's theme song (to be taught in March), If the Savior Stood Beside Me.  You can download the music by downloading the whole PDF 2018 Sharing Time Outline found at the link above or HERE.

Anyway, there you have it, a brief outline of 2018's outline.  If you haven't looked through it yet, I'd highly recommend it!  January is just around the corner and it's nice to have a head start on next year!