12 Living Music Activities for Singing Time

Probably my most favorite category of activities by learning styles, I love bringing in instruments and making the music come to life! Today, I’ll be sharing ideas and activities for using Living Music as a Learning Style!

As another helpful resource, you’ll love this post full of Budget Singing Time Supplies Swaps & Alternatives! Even if you have no or little budget, you’ll want to add in instruments when you can!

This post also helps break down and explain some of the different activities outlined in my Song Planner Worksheet, that makes planning a Year of Singing Time Lessons a cinch!

12 Living Music Activities for LDS Primary Music Leaders Singing Time - lesson plans and activities that can be used for any song!

Affiliate links are used in this post. 

Living Music Activities
for Singing Time

1. Jingle Bells

These Jingle Bell Bracelets are a really fun way to easily bring music into the Primary room. They are inexpensive, easy to use, and versatile! Plus, they’re a must-have for several Christmas songs. 🙂

12 Living Music Activities for Singing Time Singing time ideas for Primary Music Leaders Come Follow Me Song 08789

Use the bells to shake constantly, shake only on certain words, to shake following the beat or rhythm, or even to highlight a specific phrase of the song.

For example, in Stars Were Gleaming you could have the kids ring the bells for these two parts: “rang with glory” and “hear it ringing”.

See other examples of how I use Jingle Bells: 

2. Hand Bells

Hand bells are a very special treat in my Primary! I only bring them out once or twice a year, but they’re always absolutely loved each time they make their appearance.

You can set up a hand bell chart to play the chords so you get several bells per note or make it super simple for the kids to follow by following the top note line of the music. I even created some easy hand bell music cards to make a bell chart in minutes!

My Heavenly Father Loves Me - Lesson plan for Primary singing time for music leaders / choristers!

We always start out our hand bells with rules about the special care of the bells and then I have just a couple of kids come up front to take a turn, then rotate through taking turns with a part!

12 Living Music Activities for Singing Time Singing time ideas for Primary Music Leaders Merry Bells 20221003 123803

My favorite hand bells are Merry Bells! They even make a ton of different hand bell printable charts and play along videos with the songs transposed so they fit the 8-bells perfectly! Use the promo code PrimarySinging to save 10% off any purchase!

See more on using Hand Bells: 

3. Egg Shakers

I consider Egg Shakers an absolute primary essential! These along with rhythm sticks (below) are my two favorite instruments to use in Primary and I bring them in as often as possible. I’ll usually have one or the other at least once a month! You’ll also love this tutorial on how to make Egg Shakers homemade!

Egg Shaker Rhythm Cards

You can make simple shaker patterns by shaking fast, slow, on beat, on the rhythm, or shake for certain words or phrases. There’s lots of different ways to incorporate them in your lesson plans. Our egg shaker patterns cards make this a CINCH!

Egg shakers work especially well with the gentle songs where some of the other instruments need an upbeat tempo.

4. Rhythm Sticks

I really love using Rhythm Sticks and think they are worth the initial investment, though there are some options for alternatives. Some music leaders have used chopsticks, pencils, or wooden dowels in place of traditional rhythm sticks.

12 Living Music Activities for Singing Time Singing time ideas for Primary Music Leaders Singing Time Posts 06065

Create a pattern that follows the melody like maybe tap-tap-swish. You can even pass the sticks behind their backs for a challenging addition to your patterns or roll them for a team interaction! Head over to our digital shop to check out our rhythm sticks pattern cards!

See an example lesson plan for using Rhythm Sticks here:

5. Oooohs and Aaaahs

Mix up your musical expressions by singing along to the melody with a variety of different sounds. Try singing “oooh-po-oooooooh-oooo-ooo-ooo-oooohhh” like a ghost! (That line is following the melody for Shepherd’s Carol).

This Christmas, we used this activity for Shepherd’s Carol. We even performed with a round of oooh’s, then aaah’s, then singing through the song. This was a great replacement for doing the round, which my kids just couldn’t grasp.

Try a variety of other sounds, too, and make a little band with different groups sing along with a different sound.

  • Oooh
  • Aaah
  • Mmmm
  • Da-da-da
  • E-e-e-e
  • La-la-la
I Will Walk with Jesus Letter Sounds singing time ideas for LDS Primary music leaders with printable song helps

See some fun ways to use singing sounds in these examples:

6. Paper Plates

There’s a lot you can do to make music even with everyday items! Grab a set of Paper Plates per child and you’ll have an instant instrument and movement activity in one!

You can clap the plates together, swish them back and forth, tap in quick repetition, clap them in a pattern in front of you, patsch them on your lap, and more! Be creative and find new ways to use them.

12 Living Music Activities for Singing Time Singing time ideas for Primary Music Leaders when I am baptized plates

Head over to this post to see an example activity:

7. Drums

If you have access to a individual sized drum, the type you hold between your feet or thighs, than bring it in and you’ll have so much fun together in Primary!

Baptism Drumming the Beat

You can beat out a pattern, and ask a child to try to repeat it. Or, improvise and make drums out of the Primary chairs.

Try this Fun Drumming Activity Using Hymn Books:

8. Beat vs Rhythm

I use this beat vs rhythm activity all the time when using instruments! It’s so easy for adding in a variety of uses for the instruments, without any fancy patterns needed.

The beat is the steady background pattern to the song. It doesn’t follow the notes, per say, but follows the time signature. So if it’s a 4/4 song it would have 4 steady beats per measure. Or a 3/4 would have 3 steady beats per measure.

12 Living Music Activities for Singing Time Singing time ideas for Primary Music Leaders 05 Well Bring the World His Truth 07227sq

Within each measure those 4 beats might be broken down with half notes or a full note that’s held for the whole measure. The rhythm is how the notes move along during the song.

You can even add a third way of adding variety by using the instrument only at the beginning of each words. This style is a fun challenge, that even I will mess up on sometimes! There are some words that carry over a measure that can be extra tricky.

You can use any instrument or simply clap (or patsch, snap, dab…) along with the different musical patterns.

Learn all about using Beat vs Rhythm activity in this example post: 

9. Maori Sticks

Maori Sticks are like a thick wooden dowel. They can make a strong thumping pattern, clicks, can be rubbed, etc. They can be used similar to cup pattern games to create music, movement, and people interactions while making the melody come to life!

I Want to Live the Gospel Maori Sticks fun movement and living music LDS Primary Music Leaders singing time idea with printable song helps

I haven’t made the investment for official Maori sticks, yet, but you could get a small set of about 6 sets and have the kids rotate groups using them! You could also use rhythm sticks in a similar manner, though having variety is fun! Or, make your own maori sticks using PVC pipe like I did here!

Learn about using Maori Sticks in these two posts:

10. Clap Instead

Replace certain keywords throughout the song with a clap (or other action) to highlight the words. This helps bring music and interest into the room really easily.

12 Living Music Activities for Singing Time Singing time ideas for Primary Music Leaders If the Savior Stood 05119

In the example, I had a certain keyword and in place of singing the word we would clap. You’ll want to look for words that have lots of repetition throughout the song. You can choose more than one word, also, either with a unique action or with the same action.

See the entire lesson plan if you need more explanation: 

11. Sand Blocks

Add a fun and interesting new form of music with sand blocks! You can make your own sand blocks easily at home! Then, use them to swish, tap, patsch on your lap and create lots of fun music.

12 Living Music Activities for Singing Time Singing time ideas for Primary Music Leaders Stand for the Right Sand Blocks sq

Head over to these posts for examples and more ideas!

12. Egg Cartons

egg carton band

Create a “poor man’s band” with things you can find around the house! An empty egg carton can be used to make a big variety of sounds! Picture it like a metal washboard and use a rhythm stick to rub up and down the bumps. Or turn it flat on your lap and use it like a drum.

12 Living Music Activities for Singing Time Singing time ideas for Primary Music Leaders Love is Spoken Here Egg Carton Music 20220123 182229

Head over to see a fun singing time using an egg carton as an instrument:

More Activities by Learning Styles

This is the third post in a series of posts on teaching by learning styles! The next post will share ideas on using Nature and Sense based activities in Singing Time!

You can also head back to the previous post on Logical Conclusions Activities!

7 Nature and Senses Activities - Ideas for LDS Primary Music Leaders for Singing Time! Easy to adapt to any song.

You can see all our posts that use Living Music under this category landing page.

Grab the free printable Song Planner Worksheet to make planning engaging activities a cinch — here!

Printable Song Planner Worksheet - Primary Singing Time resource for Music Leaders! Easily plan 8 different activities in minutes with this free printable.

What other living music activities do you use in Singing Time? 

Join INSTANT Primary Singing today for immediate access to monthly printable singing time ideas!

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