How to Teach a Primary Song

One of the questions I see asked over and over again in Primary Music Leader online forums is HOW do you actually teach kids the songs? I remember feeling the exact same way as a new Primary Music Leader.

It can feel daunting and overwhelming to think about having to teach about 12 songs in a year, or sometimes many more! You’ll have only a little over an hour each month to teach new Primary songs to the kids. But don’t fret! It’s totally doable!

How to Teach Primary Songs

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How to Teach a Primary Song

Your children will learn the songs with just a few necessary “ingredients” to success:

1: Repetition!!

I can’t stress this enough! The most important factor in teaching the children new songs is simply giving them the opportunity to sing the song over and over again. They need the exposure to the melody, music, lyrics, and feeling of the song.


2: Your Enthusiasm

The next most helpful thing, from my experience, is your own enthusiasm and excitement towards learning the song. Do everything you can to know the song yourself. Don’t worry if you miss the melody by a bit or mess up a word, that happens to all of us. But prepare the best you can. Then, let your happy attitude help the children also be excited to learn the new song.


3: Variety of Learning Styles

The last key to success is reaching children in the way they learn best. This may mean a little extra prep work on your part to come up with up with a variety of activities, but it will really help the children to connect with the songs!

Not everyone is an auditory learner (learning by sounds) or a visual learner (seeing visual aids) so you need to be able to reach all of the children — including those that need hands on or logic or other learning styles to be able to make those connections in their brain to learn, remember, and be able to recall the songs for a lifetime!


Easy Ways to Teach
a Primary Song

Introduce the Melody

It can be really helpful to start by hearing the music, first. That can be as simple as having the children just listen to you sing the song once before you begin or have your pianist play through the melody one time.

I’m Trying to Be Like Jesus – Music Video

Or you could try something with just a little bit of extra prep, like using a music video or playing an version of the song without lyrics! I’ll usually introduce the song with just 2-3 minutes one week, then come back to it on a future week. (The last week of December or 1st week in January is usually a quick introduction to that year’s songs!)


Use Flip Charts

I don’t often put a lot of emphasis on the flip charts when I use them, personally, but even just having the words available can help reach those that need to physically read the words. It also helps encourage the teachers to sing along! Plus, it will help include those that don’t come every week to join in.

Singing Time Ideas Using Flip Charts

I shared a post on 10 different ways to use flip charts for Singing Time that has some fun ideas for incorporating flip charts for a no-prep lesson plan!


Line-by-Line

Teach just one line at a time, then add the next, and the next building up the song as they learn each part. You can do a simple repeat after me activity or even have the kids have the words in front of them in an unscramble game and try to find the first line, then the next, ect!

Gethsemane Lyrics Unscramble
Gethsemane – Lyrics Unscramble

If the song is really long, then you can start with the chorus first to get them excited to learn the rest of the song, like I Will Be What I Believe or Gethsemane, those longer songs can use the support of the chorus the kids LOVE!


Create an Association

I read this memory book once upon a time about being able to memorize names, dates, chapters of a book — anything you wanted. My dad used the technique on his mission to memorize what every chapter of the Book of Mormon was about! The key is making an association in your mind.

In My Father's Hands -- Hand Keyword Pictures
In My Father’s Hands – Action Hands

For example, linking the phrases of the song to a hand action. Each time you start to demonstrate the hand action, their mind can recall the words they’ve learned tied to it! Another way is building a picture in your mind that tells a story. Like, this happened first, then this, next this.


Have fun with the Song

I don’t typically go very far out of my way to dedicate time to “teaching” the song. Instead, I rely on repetition and a little introduction before jumping all in on having fun with the song!

24 different dance scarves movement action cards! Free printable resource for Primary music leaders, homeschoolers, and preschool teachers.
Dance Scarves Movement Cards in my Digital Shop

You can pull out instruments (egg shakers, jingle bells, rhythm sticks) or have fun with manipulatives (rhythm wands, dance scarves, paper plates) or get the kids drawing and matching pictures, etc! See all the fun things I recommend purchasing for your Primary with your budget!!

Song Planner Worksheet

I’ve shared tons, and tons of ways to teach songs through activities, specifically head over to see my planning worksheet to help you jump in with a variety of fun ways to engage with the song.

It will almost certainly feel counter-intuitive to jump in to singing the song over and over with an activity in the mix. It will probably feel like you are just “distracting” the kids. But honestly, the opposite is true! With their hands busy and their minds active, they really quickly pick up the songs through the repetition, even if you don’t see them singing along!


What other easy techniques do you use to teach a Primary song?

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