Away in a Manger – Paper Plates

There are weeks when my primary lesson is perfectly planned out and ready to go… and then there are other weeks where I find myself in panic on Saturday night trying to throw something together for singing time.

On evenings like that, I try to think of the materials I have in hand. One material that is easy to use and fun to incorporate into primary is a paper plate!

This Away in a Manger – Paper Plates activity is an easy, no-stress way to review Away in a Manger.

Away in a Manger – Paper Plates

Paper plates are an inexpensive way to incorporate rhythm and movement into your singing time. Seriously, all you have to do to prep for this activity is have enough paper plates for each child in primary to have 2 plates.

If you are running short, you can order this set of 220 Dixie paper plates on Amazon or make a quick stop at Walmart.

Away in a Manger – Paper Plates Video

So, what do you do with paper plates in singing time? I made this short video to show the simple, 4-movement pattern for Away in a Manger. I only outlined the pattern for the first verse of the song, but it can be used for all 3 verses of the song. In the video, I also include some alternate ideas to add an extra challenge to your primary activity.

Click on this link to view the How-To Video or watch below!

The actions for this activity are super simple. Before teaching the pattern, I recommend reviewing the song by singing it once through. If your primary kids are struggling with the words, it might be tricky to add actions. If you plan on teaching multiple verses, sing the verse before adding in the paper plate pattern.

Away in a Manger – Paper Plates Pattern

The easiest way to use the plates is by holding the rim of the plate with your fingertips with the bottom of the plate facing outward. This pattern contains 4 simple actions that are repeated throughout the verse.

The patterns are broken into 6 beats, or two measures, of the song. You should be able to get through the pattern twice in each verse. Here is a short description of each of the actions:

Swish Plates Together: For this action, simply rub the back of the plates together at waist level to make a “swish” sound. Do this for the first 6 counts of the song.

Ex. “Away in a manger, no”

Tap-Tap-Tap: For this action, tap the ends of the plate together three times. A fun way to dress up this action is by getting louder with each “tap.” Start with the plates close together to make a quiet tapping sound then slowly draw the plates further apart to make the tapping louder. Do this action for the next 6 counts of the song or two measures of music.

Ex. “Crib for his bed, the”

Tap Overhead: This action is similar to the one above, but with your hands high above your head. When singing “the stars in the heaven,” you might also consider making a rainbow above your head by tapping the plates while moving from one side to the other.

Ex. “Little Lord Jesus laid”

Tap Low: Again, this action is similar to the tapping patterns, but with your hands down low. A fun addition to this one is to see who can crouch down the lowest.

Ex. “Down his sweet head.”

Adding Some Competition:

For senior primary, adding some competition to raise the stakes often increases participation. My primary LOVES to compete against their teachers.

For this activity, have the teachers go out of the room and create a short routine with the paper plates to go with the song. While they are out of the room, ask the kids what actions they’d like to add. Have the teachers come back in and do a teacher vs. primary children face off!

Extension Activities:

  • Take the first 5 minutes of primary letting the children color their plates. You could put up pictures of the manger, star, sheep, or Mary and Joseph. Play the music and sing it to them while walking around the room. They’ll absorb the song while coloring!
  • After going through the song a few times with the paper plates, ask the kids to choose a word that will be the “special word.” When that word is sung, have the kids jump up and clap with their plates. Some great words to use for this song are “away” or “asleep.”

For another fun movement activity this holiday season, try this Away in a Manger – Dance Scarves activity.

Any questions about this activity? Let us know in the comments!

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