You know how you sometimes when you’re a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints you get called to the only calling you are afraid of? Then you super hesitantly accept, spend years totally uncomfortable, then finally find your groove, only to be released immediately? This was me and signing time.
This post will attempt to teach how I simplified and elevated my Singing Time lessons as an LDS Primary Chorister. With this system, I spent less than one hour per week preparing, focused on the spiritual side of the songs rather than entertaining, and finally started enjoying my calling rather than feeling apprehensive about it. I use the word “system” lightly, it is just the same plan and steps I followed every month to make everything flow.
How to simplify your calling as an LDS Primary Chorister and plan your weekly lesson in less than an hour:
- Follow this monthly outline:
Week 1 – Focus on Song #1
Week 2 – Focus on Song #2
Week 3 – Focus on Song #3
Week 4 – Fun Review Lesson of the monthly songs
Week 5 – Comprehensive Review of all songs for the year
*Song #1, #2, and #3, are the three monthly songs from the Come Follow Me for Singing Time manual.
- Follow this weekly outline (for weeks 1-3):
5 Songs Each week:
– Sing Song #1 Once
– Sing a Favorite Song
– Sing Song #2 Once
– Sing a Wiggle Song
– Study Song #3
*Rotate the songs, so you’re “studying” a different one of the three songs each week. Favorite Song is a well-known song everyone likes to sing, maybe Follow the Prophet or Nephi’s Courage. Wiggle Song is any song with movement.
*When we study a song, we sing it several times. As many times as we have time for. This is the part of the lesson that I try to invite the spirit and we spend time sharing our experiences together. We may define big words, have the kids come up and draw pictures to help us learn parts of the song. We have done “Sing and Share” which is where we sing a line of the song, then share experiences that go with it.
*The point is, these are very simple ideas that allow us to interact with each other and from one another, which is how they children will spend more and more of their church experience later. The lesson is not about me entertaining them, and I didn’t spend hours and money trying to entice, instead I thoughtfully and prayerfully look at the lesson, and try to teach them from my heart the messages.
- Use Gospel Art Kit for all Visuals
Buy a Gospel Art Book from the church for $4.35. It has pictures of almost every gospel principle you can think of. It never failed me. I used it especially for each song monthly song. I thought of it as “album art” and picked one corresponding picture to go with each song. Then always displayed it on the board when we were singing that song. Pictures from the Gospel Art Kit can also be used as visuals for any activity.
- Simplify “Fun” Songs
Once week a month do a “fun” lesson. This is where I’d pull out the handbells, or instruments, or wands, etc. We would play hot n’ cold, or musical measles, or have a lesson themed around a holiday. The main thing is, regardless of what you do, make sure you spend less than an hour preparing it. I found it very easy to do this once I was already in the habit of simple singing time prep. All of the sudden it seemed completely ridiculous to spend three hours making one hundred paper flags and gluing them to popsicle sticks so the kids could wave them around for 10 minutes. Stick to simple!
- Post the Words
Lastly, I always post the words of every song we sing. I got this idea from Camille’s Primary Ideas, and it my favorite of her ideas. When you post the words to every song it encourages everyone in the room to participate including children who don’t get to come often, teachers, substitute teachers, primary presidency members, and whoever else happens to be in the room.
This system worked really well for me. I just wish I would have figured it out about two and half years earlier than I did!