When I first got started as a Primary music leader, I would fumble through the songbook, even with the little paper tabs, trying to make my way to the different songs.
I was a mess of sticky notes, a pile of papers, and it was hard to stay organized. I decided to ditch my songbook completely!
Enter – the Primary Singing Time Binder!! It is glorious!
I no longer carry my Primary songbook with me to church, except maybe a handful of Sundays each year when we play a game that might call for a variety of songs. Instead, I have a month plan of what songs I’ll be using and I organize a Primary singing time binder to keep everything in order, organized, and a cinch to find!
I love everything about using the binder – and especially handing it off to subs when I need one, as they have absolutely everything they need right in the order they need it. It takes out all the guesswork.
The whole setup correlates with my Monthly Singing Time Song List, if you haven’t checked out that post. You’re going to be itching for it in just a minute when you see how I use these two things together.
This post was originally published on my parenting blog, A Mom’s Take in 2018! I’ve updated and republished it here on Primary Singing for easy reference.
Affiliate links are used in this post.
Getting Organized with a
Primary Singing Time Binder
What is a Singing Time Binder?
A singing time binder is a binder filled with EVERYTHING you need to run singing time. You won’t need to bring any other resources with you (like the Children’s Songbook).
I spend about 15 minutes at the end of each month swapping out files to the new songs of the month and I’m set for an entire month!
What size binder should I use?
My binder is 1.5″ thick. I do have quite a bit of extra space, I could get away with a 1″ binder. But you can use whatever you already have on hand. I do use a filing box at home to keep all my extra teaching aids until I need them.
See how I keep all my singing time ideas organized in a filing system in next week’s post!
What other supplies will I need?
I’ll share with you my 3 favorite finds for an organized binder.
First, I’m obsessed with these Repositionable Tab Dividers. They stick on like a sticker to any page and are super strong and durable. I stick them to the edge of a sheet protector with the song titles so I can use the sheet music itself as my binder divider.
I also really love these style of Pocket Dividers. It let’s me easily stash cutouts and small pieces without needing a sheet protector.
And, you’ll absolutely want a big stash of Heavy Duty Sheet Protectors. 100 ct should do if you’re okay with swapping things in and out of them as needed. I store each activity for the song in one sheet protector. I will use multiple sheet protectors if I plan to post a file up on the board and want to help protect.
What do you include inside the Singing Time Binder?
I’ll dive into each section in a bunch of details below, but here’s a quick overview of what I included within my binder:
- Monthly song list for me (and duplicate for the pianist)
- Singing time plan for the week/month
- Songs for the month:
- Sheet music
- Flip chart
- Lesson plans / activities
- Planning helps
- General reference sheets
I leave any other supplies at home except these sheets that go with me everywhere and the props and printables I’ll need for the week/month.
What’s Inside My Singing Time Binder
1. Front & Back Cover:
On the front cover I like to include a photo of my Primary kiddos, if I can get one! You could also put a cute graphic to represent the year or a favorite quote.
For the back cover, I like to make this space useful! I usually include the entire yearly Primary song list here so it’s super easy to reference throughout the year.
2. Front Pocket:
In the far left side of my binder’s front pocket I keep the monthly song list. I made a free printable that you can use, and edit as needed. I love the song list’s 2-column design as I can easily see all the songs, even when I’m halfway through my binder pages. The individual pages don’t block my song list – so this helps keep me on track during Singing Time!
The rest of the pocket I use to store any notes or plans for the weeks lesson plan that might not fit in a three-ring approach. Such as cutout images, word strips, smaller pictures, or even just notes around a song story or plan for the week. Since these items change every week, I don’t put a lot of effort into preserving them or giving them a permanent spot in my binder.
3. Song Tabs:
I started with color coded dividers that correspond to my singing time colors. Red for wiggle songs, yellow for opening, etc. Under each tab, I have a printed copy of the songs we will be singing and any additional helps I have prepared. That might be a flip chart or pictures, or other paper props that go with the song.
This lets me start at the very front of the binder and simply flip my way from one song to the next from the beginning of Primary all the way through the closing song.
Then, I start with a tab (color coded to coordinate with my monthly song list printable — find that here!) for each of the singing time sections. Following the divider tab, I have the songs printed from lds.org in sheet protectors which makes them much easier to flip through. I’ll also include any flip charts, printables, pictures, or other props right behind the music page.
During Singing Time, I literally just work my way through each of the singing time sections, from front to back.
- Transition Songs
- Opening Song
- Singing Time
I use these UltraTabs that are absolutely amazing!
I stick them right onto the edge of a sheet protector, that way may tabs / dividers actually stick out farther than the songs. I use one for each of the sections – color coordinated where possible.
I also use the UltraTabs sticker tabs on the sheet protectors for my 8 program songs for the year. Since these songs are used over and over and get tons of use throughout the year, I find it really helpful to have them labeled and easy to jump to.
I also don’t necessarily sing my Singing Time songs of the month in the same order each week, so that helps me jump around between these songs when they aren’t in the exact order. My song order mostly depends on the different activities, as I usually do 2-3 different activities during the 20-minute Singing Time.
That means, every second counts! This binder set-up has saved me SO much time each week and really makes Singing Time easier, at least for me!
I use a TON of sheet protectors and found it was easier to just buy a bulk box of 200 from Amazon! That gets me through the year without having to switch the songs in and out each month. I also use the sheet protectors for my flip charts with a simple ring looped through the edges so I can hold up the chart and flip through the song as we’re singing.
It works great and it’s cheap and easy to use! My preference is heavyweight sheet protectors, as they aren’t so “floppy” when you’re holding them, but standard weight is okay, too.
4. Song Planner & Helps:
Next, comes a spot to store and keep ALL my planning docs! I have a song planner like this filled out for each of my songs. It’s how I create all of my lesson plans (rough ideas only) in an hour or two at the beginning of the year!
But don’t worry, I’ve been sharing tons of lesson plans here on this blog so you can skip a lot of the planning step and just use the resources that I’ve shared that will work for your songs!
After I have planned them, I type them all up (because I’m a computer nerd!!) and then drag and drop and move them around between the months as needed so that I have all of my activities noted and easy to pick from each week or adapt on the fly if something isn’t working out.
5. Reference Section:
At the front of the binder I have a section of resources that are helpful when planning my lessons throughout the week/month. A lot of these files I don’t need all the time, but they are helpful for my subs and when it’s planning time. This lets me know exactly where they are and everything I need is in one spot.
Come Follow Me Printable Song Lists – Helpful especially for subs or in a pinch to come up with a different plan. You can see at a glance what songs are recommended each month of each year. Head over to this post to grab that printable!
4-Year Rotation Primary Song List – This is super helpful during the beginning of the year planning. You’ll notice, some of the songs repeat during the Primary songs 4-year rotation. I keep it in my binder for easy reference.
Class “Chart” – Names of the kids in each class. They don’t have assigned seating, but seeing the few names from the class list helps me easily remember the kids names. I use this at the beginning of the year especially to get more familiar with where everyone is in the Primary room.
I have a blank version you can use (and edit) to help you learn the kiddos names! I use the front rows (yellow/green) for the seats closest to me. Each color is separated to indicate a different class. You can of course modify the colors and number of squares to meet your unique Primary class needs.
Click here to download the Primary Seating Chart.
Primary Schedule – A time schedule for Primary, for reference. I don’t need this during singing time, as I have a visual around the clock, but it’s helpful for subs and when I’m planning.
Lists of Games – I have a couple of pages of game ideas, sorted by learn the song, review games, mix of songs, holiday ideas, and ideas for Sr Primary. I printed this list on colorful paper to make it easier to find and just to add some color to my binder! 🙂
You can grab my list of ideas over here on my singing item ideas landing page! There are 3 pages of ideas! Perfect to have on hand for when you’re in a rut, planning for a sub, or just short on prep time!
What else do you add to your primary binder?
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