Kids need and thrive on movement! In this post, I’m sharing 12 different ways you can incorporate purposeful movement into your singing time lesson plans! From dance moves and yoga to using ribbon wands or plastic cups, there’s lots of variety here to help you engage the kids in Primary!
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12 Purposeful Movement Activities
for Singing Time
1. Dance Scarves
Use 12″ or 24″ dance scarves to create meaningful actions that represent some of the words of the song. Use can use the scarves to make them look like objects, such as shaping it like a hat, blanket, boat, shield, etc.
Or, use the scarves as a movement – such as swishing it back and forth in front of you or raising it up and down while holding on to two corners.
An absolute favorite with my Primary kids is tossing the scarf up in the air and trying to catch it! We almost always use this action for the last word. There’s so many ways you can use scarves!
Check out the Dance Scarves Movement Cards available in my digital shop! They are awesome for quickly coming up with patterns and sequences for any song in minutes!!
You’ll also love this packed full post on how to use Dance Scarves in Singing Time!
Here’s an example of the dance scarves in use:
- My Heavenly Father Loves Me – Scarves Pattern
- Away in a Manger – Dance Scarves
- In My Father’s Hands – Dance Scarves Actions
- I Feel My Savior’s Love – Dance Scarves
- I Will Walk with Jesus – Dance Scarves
2. Ribbon Wands
There are several options of ribbon wands. Some have long ribbons attached to the end of a stick, others have thick ribbon tied around a wristband. You can even make homemade ribbon wands with ribbon or colorful tablecloths cut into thin strips. Glue them onto the end of a stick or tie them around a hair tie!
You can use ribbon wands in somewhat similar ways to the dance scarves, but there’s a different range of actions and not so many options for representing objects.
While similar, they do have a different feel in use and both are so much fun! If you need to pick just one, I’d probably pick dance scarves first.
Use the wands to make wide sweeping motions in front of you or overhead, swirl in a big circle pulling the ribbons with you, spell letters, draw shapes, you name it!
I also made a fun set of Ribbon Wand Action Cards that coordinate with Dance Scarves!!
Head over to this post where we dive deep on how to use Ribbon Wands in Singing Time!
See examples of how I have used Ribbon Wands:
- Come, Follow Me – Ribbon Wands Pattern
- When I Am Baptized – Ribbon Wands
- He Sent His Son – Ribbon Wands
- Love One Another – Ribbon Wands
- Families Can Be Together Forever – Ribbon Wands
- Choose the Right – Ribbon Wands
3. Body Rhythm Patterns
Get up and move with simple (or challenging) movement patterns! Try to involve their whole body. For this category – think of the macarena! Your actions don’t have to match the words, just get them moving with something that matches the beat or rhythm.
You can come up with a set pattern, or ask the kids to add their favorite actions. Look at the tempo which will really help you come up with a repeating pattern that makes sense.
You can also be intentional about following the flow of the high notes or unique note combinations, such as a bunch of short notes in succession might be fun to do a series of quick claps through the notes. While a slow section might fit a sway or a spin.
Find our body rhythm example explained in more depth here:
- An Angel Came to Joseph Smith – Body Rhythm
- Baptism – Body Rhythm
- Love is Spoken Here – Simple Actions
- Teach me to Walk in the Light – Action Code
- Seek the Lord Early – Body Rhythms
4. Hand / Clap Pattern
Similar to body rhythm patterns, this category is all about using your hands! There’s so many ways to make meaningful actions including claps, snaps, patsch, etc.
You can even use your hands to represent the words and help them be easier to remember – which is super helpful when you have lots of verses!
These hand actions / patterns can be used to get wiggles out while sitting or you can have them stand.
Usually I’ll have the kids sit the first few times through while we are learning the actions, then have them stand to “perform” or even come up front to show off what they’ve learned.
One of my previously included ideas on my Song Planner Worksheet was Tap and Swish. This idea really falls perfectly under this category, though, so I’ve changed up that worksheet just slightly and added this one here!
Look through these examples to help you put hand actions into use:
- When I Am Baptized – Hand Clap Patterns
- I Am a Child of God – Finger Actions
- The Holy Ghost – Hand Pattern
- Teach Me to Walk in the Light – Clap, Pat & Snap
- Simple Fruit Rhythm Patterns Cards
5. Cup Pattern
I adore cup patterns! They are sort of the unexpected trick up your sleeve! Plastic disposable cups are super fun to bring into the Primary room and can be really meaningful, too.
You can create a traditional cup pattern, such as the ones you learned at girls camp, or use cups to represent the words or even stack them!
I reused cups in 3 different ways in We’ll Bring the World His Truth, see just some of the many ideas you could come up with here:
- We’ll Bring the World His Truth – Cup Pattern
- We’ll Bring the World His Truth – Simple Cup Actions
- We’ll Bring the World His Truth – Cup Stacking
- I Know My Father Lives – Cup Pattern
- I Will Be Valiant – Cup Pattern
- Redeemer of Israel – Cup Actions
- Did Jesus Really Live Again – Cup Pattern
6. Directional Marching
This is a guided activity where the kids will follow you, or the “marching leader” to get up and move along with the beat and switch directions occasionally to keep things interesting.
You can also use marching as meaningful movement by marching in one big circle around the room. I do this most every time we do a missionary song! Such as, Called to Serve or I Hope They Call Me on a Mission.
We’ll all get up and march in one big circle together like we’re heading out into the world to preach the gospel!
Grab a helpful Directional Marching Sign in these posts:
7. Be My Mirror
Have the kids follow you, as if they were looking into a mirror and seeing their reflection. Tell them to try their very best to follow your movements.
You can stand in different shapes to try to match the lyrics of the song – like standing the way scripture heroes stood. Or, use this activity with more flexibility to just move!
See some easy lesson plans for using Be My Mirror here:
- Tell Me the Stories of Jesus – Be Like Him
- Fathers – Be My Mirror
- Choose the Right – Up & Down
- Give Said the Little Stream – Up & Down
8. Sign Language
Introduce American Sign Language, or any other type of signs, as a very meaningful way to learn the lyrics and be active and moving! It often works best to pick a couple of keywords per phrase, rather than trying to make the signs of every single word.
You also do not need to do official ASL to still include this idea as a meaningful way to move.
You can think about the words, and represent them with a hand sign that will make sense to the children and be meaningful and easy to recognize.
For example, in Search, Ponder and Pray I might choose the following actions:
- Love = Make a heart with my hands
- Read the Holy Scriptures = Hold hands out like a book
- Every time I do = Point to my wrist/watch
See ways to use sign language in singing time in these posts:
9. Sway and Freeze
For this activity, you’ll swing your arms from side to side, following the flow and rhythm of the song. You can freeze in place on those long notes you hold.
It can be such a fun activity to get them moving and making connections to the melody of the music, without being rowdy!
We even have adapted this to be a fun partner styled activity, for variety!
See our how we use Sway and Freeze Here:
- Keep the Commandments – Sway and Freeze
- Away in a Manger – Partner Arm Swings
- He Sent His Son – Sway and Freeze +Signs
- Gethsemane – Sway and Tap
10. Dance Routine
Introduce a repeating dance routine like The Electric Slide that fits your songs time signature. For a 4/4 song, you’ll want movements in patterns of 4, 8, or 12, repeated! That could mean a shuffle to the right, tap your toe, then shuffle back to the left, and tap your toe.
This idea is really fun, and a great workout, that leaves everyone happy and ready to settle back into their seats for the next activity!
See a fun Dance Routine example idea here:
Grab a pack of kids yoga cards and pick a set of 3-5 cards to use during the song. You might demonstrate all the moves and let the kids transition between them as they would like to or set up a routine that you all follow together that changes with the songs transitions.
You can find yoga poses that work while sitting or stick to ones that are all down on the floor to limit the up and down transitions that can be tiring on us leaders. Or, embrace the workout and include a variety! Yoga activities work best with slow tempo songs.
I have to fun themed sports yoga lesson plans here:
12. Movement Words
Pick a specific keyword (or several words) and then choose an action to use every time you sing the word! You can do the action in place of the word(s) or while singing. It’s fun to mix it up and add variety and skipping certain words will have them singing them silently in their minds!
See two different ideas for incorporating movement words in your singing time:
- Mother, I Love You – Movement Words
- Search, Ponder, and Pray – Action Words
- In My Father’s Hands – Action Hands
- Give Said the Little Stream – Up and Down
- Families Can Be Together Forever – Action Words
- I Know My Father Lives – First Letter Actions
Find More Activities by Learning Style
This is the first of a series of posts on teaching by learning styles! The next post will share ideas on using Logical Conclusions in Singing Time!
You can see all our posts that use Purposeful Movement under this category landing page.
Grab the free printable Song Planner Worksheet to make planning engaging activities a cinch — here!
What other purposeful movement activities do you use in Singing Time?