This calling can appear to use a lot of resources and even more of your precious time - which can be very daunting if either or both of those are limited for you! If you do a little online searching, you may find yourself feeling like you are falling short in comparison to what others have posted, shared, created and taught their primaries. Heck, I have a whole website dedicated to teaching singing time and my lesson plans can be occasionally complex. But the key word there was OCCASIONALLY! If I was week after week, trying to outdo my last week's singing time performance, I'd be completely overwhelmed. I wouldn't be able to last in this calling as long as I have.
What you'll fail to notice, especially if you are a novice at this, is that most people don't share that singing time lesson plan that they whipped up while sitting in sacrament meeting (we all know this happens now and then, right?). The one with a few songs hand-written on the backside of the sacrameeting program, torn into strips and squished into your child's snack cup for a make-shift "choosing time." It worked fine and you made it through the 20 minutes but obviously this lesson plan won't make it to your latest and greatest Facebook post with the most "likes."
You don't need to feel pressure from other resources to spend lots and lots of time and money with this calling. I read a post once on the Chorister's Facebook page from a sister who stated that she was a young college student, newly called as primary music leader with absolutely no equipment (like a printer), very little time and even less money. She was struggling coming up with lesson plans every week with her VERY limited resources.
My advice to those who find themselves in a similar situation is to arm yourself with just a few simple supplies that could ultimately be used for teaching almost ANY song (and this is assuming you have access to The Children's Songbook):
1. Gospel Art Book. This VALUABLE resource is not only church-approved, but very versatile. It's simple to use and children love looking at pictures. A picture tells great stories, easily enhances the appearance of a simple lesson, and it's relatively cheap! Find it HERE at the Distribution Center. See if your primary would be willing to buy a book to keep with the calling if that would help.
2. The Children's Songbook Compaion. This is also a VALUABLE resource. The lesson plans are, for the most part, simple to implement (lots of Q&A type things) and there is a lesson plan for every single song in the songbook. Again, if purchasing one isn't in your budget, find out if your primary would be willing to buy a book to keep with the calling. The book can be purchased from Amazon below:
3. The chalkboard/white board. I'm going to assume that most primaries have something for you to write on - no matter where you are teaching in the world. The versatility of the chalkboard is amazing! You can create simple games, the kids LOVE to come draw pictures of their own as part of learning, and it's a great way to portray a visual to the kids!
President Boyd K. Packer stated, “I think that no teaching aid surpasses, and few equal, the chalkboard: first, because it is simple to use, and next, because it is universally available—everywhere in the world you can get a chalkboard. You can use it to focus the eyes of your students while the main lesson is presented audibly. As you talk, you can put just enough on the board to focus their attention and give them the idea, but never so much that the visual aid itself distracts them.” Find his entire talk entitled, Chalk It Up to Learning, a talk given on using the chalkboard HERE (it's a really good one!).
So to sum it up, if you are feeling over burdened financially and with your limited time, I can attest that if you stick to using these 3 essential items to form your lesson plans, you won't feel overwhelmed. For me personally, I try to go back and forth from mostly simple to a little over-the-top. It keeps it interesting (and that's mostly just for me!). But then, I may have a few more resources at my disposal than others so going "all out" isn't burdening to me.
And don't forget, YOU are your best resource. Your attitude and how you present yourself to the children will speak more loudly than your top-notch props. Learn simple actions together, feel the spirit together and have fun together! The more you are enjoying yourself, the more the kids will too.
I'd love to hear your input on this on this subject. How do you try to keep things simple with your lesson plans, while engaging your young learners week after week. Leave a comment below with more ideas!