I took the time this week to sit down and plan out all my lesson plans for January through September.
I also have down a rough outline for the last quarter of the year, as well, but decided to leave the last part of the year a little open in case inspiration strikes and I need to change or add songs to my end of the year plan.
In this post, I’m going to share how I quickly, and easily, planned out a year of singing time lessons! I didn’t just say, for example, “egg shakers”, and call my lesson done. I even went as far as planning out the basic outline and flow of each of my ideas.
Now, each week of the year I can refer to my outlined plan and make any fine tuning needed and prepare for the week with ease! Even on the busiest weeks of the upcoming year, I’ll be able to confidently show up each Sunday with an idea and a plan, even with only a few minutes prep on Sunday morning.
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How to Plan a Year of
Primary Singing Time Lessons
1. Pick Out Your Songs for the Year.
The Come, Follow Me Primary songs for the year gives choristers the flexibility and freedom to select the songs that best fit your Primary’s individual needs.
To pick out my songs for the year I looked over the three suggested songs for each week. I considered the following things, when selecting my songs for the year:
- What the weekly lesson topics talked about
- Songs my Primary already knows (to give more variety)
- How the songs flow and fit together
- Inspiration and Guidance from the Spirit
I’ve created 2 helpful guides to make it super easy to pick your songs for the year! First, use this Come, Follow Me: 4-Year Song Lists Comparison Chart to see which songs are taught in multiple years or in each of the Come, Follow Me years to avoid duplication!
The second resource is my Suggested 4-Year Rotation of Come, Follow Me Songs. I poured over the lists and tried my very best to come up with a combination that fit the Come, Follow Me themes, didn’t repeat any of the songs, and added a variety of songs (reverent, slow and pretty, upbeat, etc) to each year. This is a really great starting point to use, then adjust and make your own list!!
After looking through the week’s lessons and ultimately deciding on the month’s song, I’d add the song to my list and move onto the next week.
You can add songs outside of the suggested list as long as they are from the Children’s Songbook or in the Friend Magazine. Other songs may be approved by your Bishop or Branch President.
See also my printable song list your pianist will love, over here!
When I had taken the time to pour over the list and plan for my songs, I then went to the Primary Presidency and made sure my list was in line with what they were thinking. I have a very trusting and loving presidency who quickly said the list looked great and was grateful for all my planning.
The instructions to teach that we should plan the songs together, so be sure to consultant with your presidency when planning your song list or take it to be approved, if you have a hands-off presidency.
2. Plan Focus Songs for the Month.
After you have picked out your main songs for the Primary Program Presentation, you’ll then want to pick a couple of main songs to work on for the month. I personally plan to sing 2-3 songs each week during Singing Time. See my Example Singing Time for how I structure my lessons!
I also plan a short wiggle songs for Junior Primary for when they get to the Primary room before the start of Primary. I plan out all of those songs for the year to create a song list for my Pianist and for me to work off of, as well.
This year, I’ll be including 2 songs from the monthly outline that are used in the home and classroom setting to add a little extra variety to my singing time.
I will also teach and work on 3 of the Primary Program songs throughout the month. This lets me keep teaching the songs throughout the year and keeps interest and variety in each singing time lesson!
3. Create Lesson Ideas with our Song Planner Worksheet.
The Song Planner Worksheet outlines 80 different basic singing time ideas with a variety of learning styles that make it a cinch to pick out 8 different lessons for each song you need to plan throughout the year.
The worksheet is a huge resource to help you quickly and easily pick out a variety of singing time ideas in literally minutes per song!
That post will show you how to fill in and use the Song Planner, so head over there, then come right back!
4. Fill in Your Month and Year Plan.
By now, you know all your songs for the year, including any additional songs you want to include. You have all your ideas outlined for the main songs you want to teach. It’s as easy, now as picking and choosing and filling in your year!
Looking at my list of songs for the month, I’ll grab my song planner worksheets for those songs I’ll focus on during the month.
I’ll then pick and choose activities for each week (here’s an example) that will give variety to learning styles and keep things interesting. I also try to limit it to one instrument/manipulative next week and try to include one movement activity each week.
You can see my January 2019’s monthly plan list here — if it helps give you ideas!
For example, you could do a Logical activity to start, then move onto a Living Music activity to get the kids moving, and then close with a Spiritual Connection to wind the kids back down. This resource on teaching by Learning Styles in Primary will be SOO helpful!
I try to plan one of the activities to be short (2-5 minutes) to give more time to engage with some of the naturally longer activities like using instruments. Cut down on your transition times by having everything each class will need ready and with the teacher to pass out when needed.
How the Yearly Singing Time
Lesson Plan Looks in Action
You may want to refer to this post on what one of my typical singing time weeks look like, to see how I structure everything to see the bigger picture.
When my planning is all done, I have a couple of resources to fall back on throughout the year:
- Monthly Song Lists for the Entire Year
- 8 Singing Time Ideas for Each Song
- Weekly/Monthly/Yearly Plan for Singing Time
This gives me the flexibility to move lesson plans around, should something come up, or add in another activity for a song the children might be struggling to learn during the year.
Head over to my shop to grab my Primary Music Leader Singing Time Binder Planner to give you EVERYTHING you need to quickly and easily plan out your Singing Time lessons!
I print out a full year’s copy of the song list for my pianist in January. I also put a copy in my Singing Time Binder, as well. I also store my Song Planner Worksheets in my binder and my year’s breakdown of lesson plans.
You can see how I organize and setup my Singing Time Binder in this helpful post on my other blog!
I use pen and paper for the Song Planner Worksheet, but then transfer all the ideas into a Word doc on my computer so I can easily copy/paste or drag/drop the ideas and move them around as I go throughout the year. With my Singing Time Binder Planner worksheets, you can easily fill in everything digitally!!
How far in advance did you used to plan out your singing time lessons?
This post may also be available in: English Español
10 thoughts on “How to Plan a Year of Primary Singing Time Lessons”
Brilliant, thank you!
I just got called and you have SAVED ME! Thank you so much for taking the time to put this together and make it available! My binder is going to look a lot like yours this year! I will be following your blog for sure!
I love this idea, and I am super grateful for it! One side-note though, for the section for “Concrete Representation of Words”, you misspelled Concrete… 😉
Thank you for sharing your time and efforts and for making my job as music leader easier!!!
Hi there! i’m super confused about this still, I guess. First, where did you get the songs? Did you use Come Follow Me-for Primary or Come Follow Me-for Families? What is the difference between a Focus Song, Lesson Song and Program Song (3 a month?!?) How many Program Songs (total) are you planning on? Also In the picture where it shows the month with the songs for that month listed below, I see 5 songs not including warm-ups. And then down below, I count 3 songs/week (not including warm up) each with it’s own activity. That seems impossible to fit into 20 minutes?? Do you think you’ll have time to sing each one with it’s accompanying activity, or is that just a list of ideas to choose from? If you do plan to sing each one, do you just sing it one time and then go to another song? Sorry for Soooo many questions! I’m trying to get a plan for the year but our primary only knows a handful of songs so every single thing we sing has to be taught (including ‘wiggle songs’ or warm-ups) and it is just SO time consuming, the 20 minutes just FLYS by! Thanks for the post and for any further input you might have.
Hey Angela — So I first pick all my songs for the year based on the Come, Follow Me for Primary (Program presentation list). I didn’t necessarially go only off that list, for example I plan to teach Gethsemane and Peach in Christ this year. But for the most part I started by picking my songs off the list and themes we were studying.
After I had my song picks for the Primary Program, I then also picked 2 songs a month from the Come Follow Me for Primary Teachers curriculum and/or Home study for Families. I’m only using these songs ONE week with one activity to help reinforce what the kids are learning in class. I picked two I liked from the big long list of all the ones in the other curriculum and lined those up to the week they correlate with the lessons.
I then picked additional songs from the Come, Follow Me for teachers/home that would work well as wiggle songs. I have an extra 3-7 minutes with the Junior Primary as they don’t take 10 minutes to transition to the Primary room. So I am utilizing that time to do some fun wiggle songs and help them learn additional songs that go along with the weekly themes from the teachers manual.
When I had ALL of my songs picked out, I then created a monthly plan. I put the wiggle songs and “other” songs that all came from the teachers manual to their specific month. I then put in my main program song for the month and 2 additional program songs we’d learn throughout the year for EACH month. I rotate the program songs all year long so it’s easier to learn them, more repetition, and they don’t forget them! I never have to do “review” weeks this way and only do reviews when I have a sub or the couple weeks leading up to the program. This also lets me spend a shorter amount of time on each song during my 20 minutes, rather than feeling like they have to learn the whole song in just the 4 weeks in January, I have all year! I hope that makes sense!!
Each week I 0-3 wiggle songs with Junior Primary, depending on if there is time. This would be based on when the kids actually get into the Primary room, such as if Sacrament meeting goes long we can absolutely skip these! They’re just a helpful filler before we officially get started.
My monthly view is the list of all the songs I may or may not use during the month so my pianist is ready. I choose 2-3 each week for an actual activity for my 20 minutes of singing time. I usually can get through all 3 with Junior and I’ve been getting through 2 of my planned activities with Senior because their transition into the Primary room is still getting ironed out (they’ve been SO rowdy!!) that I have only had 15 minutes the last 2 Sunday’s.
You can definitely fit in 3 activities with a full 20-minute singing time. Either way, I always plan 3 and cut one out if the kids are loving a particular activity or it simply runs long. I’d rather be over prepared than under prepared.
For example, last Sunday this how my singing time went in Junior Primary:
– Come, Follow Me: Oops I dropped the pictures. We started by singing through the song, first. I brought in 6 different pictures from Christ’s life in sheet protectors. I took them out of my singing time binder and dropped them all. I asked the kids if they could help me pick them up! I had eager volunteers that rushed up. I had each helper hold one of the pictures, and then we sang through the song. We rotated with new helpers to hold the pictures and sang through the song 2 more times until everyone got a turn. == Sing Come Follow Me 4 times through with activity == Took 4-5 minutes.
– Choose the Right Way: Missing Word Activity. Sing through the song first. Post the posters and ask them to notice what the symbols and missing words might be. Sing through the song again. Identify one symbol/missing word. Add an action in place of the word. Sing through looking for another action, etc. Continued until we had done the song 6 times all the way through (2 intro and 1 after each missing word). Then I asked for volunteers to come up who “knew” it really well (they could still use the posters) and we sang it one more time through. == Sing Choose the Right Way with activity 7 times. Took about 7-8 minutes.
– A Child’s Prayer- Team Band. Sing A Child’s Prayer (no chorus in JR). Show/explain instruments pattern. Quickly pass out instruments (each teacher had a bag with bells and rhythm sticks). Sing through the song without chorus. Ask them to hold their instruments very still. Ask if anyone knew the story of Elizabeth and Zacharias. One child came up to recap the story. Told them how they prayed, and prayed, and prayed, and prayed, and prayed a really long time for a child. How Heavenly Father hears and answers our prayers, too. Not always right away and not always with the answer we want. This is why we are learning this song this week, though, to remember that we can pray for the things we are seeking or have questions about. Children switch instruments with a child sitting in their row and sing through it one last time. == Sing A Child’s Prayer 3 times through with activity. Took about 7 minutes.
** Senior Primary was the same, without the Come, Follow Me activity.
Don’t worry about TEACHING the song. Just sing and sing and sing and sing it over and over with your activity. You can hold a flip chart up, I have a bunch you can print, and the teachers will help sing it too. That will help them learn it best!
Thank you, Thank you!! for taking the time to give a detailed response. It helps clarify so much! I was feeling very overwhelmed and I feel like now I can go more confidently in a direction, whereas before I was adrift in a year’s worth of songs/ideas/lessons from 2 different books and it was Stressing me out!. And I REALLY really like the idea of doing the songs throughout the year and having a variety each week, instead of just hitting one song really hard for a few weeks, until we’re all sick to death of it. I admit I’m nervous though that I’ll be singing solos the whole time, week after week. ???? So, for example, you didn’t “teach” the hymn Come Follow Me, you just did the activity with holding the pics up and sang it several times and they picked it up pretty well? (And trust it will become more familiar each next time so you don’t worry too much about perfecting the words). I’ll definitely give it a shot. I appreciate so much your help and kind response and the great work you do on this blog. You are an angel. ????????
Take it from one who is NOT musical (me) and is definitely an alto only (those darn high notes) that you’ve totally got this! The teachers help sing and the older JR’s that read will sing. All of SR sings with me. The only thing that will really help them learn and memorize those words, though, is the pure repetition. There was some crazy stat that kids had to hear a song something like 300? Or maybe 500? times before they really could remember it.
I don’t really go out of my way to specifically “teach” as in like here’s the word, say the word, here’s the phrase, say the phrase. Though sometimes I might for some songs. We usually just sing it and incorporate the song in a ton of different ways. I also nearly always use hand actions for the words. So like hand signalling to come, point to me, savior you can point to both palms, for said put your hands around your mouth like a megaphone, etc. I use flip charts the first few times we sing through the song, or as needed. Sometimes I’ll have a child come up to hold it for me (they love that). But most of the room is focused on me because I’m pretty animated with actions of what the words are.
We started Come, Follow Me the previous week and did puzzle pictures. Same concept – just sing and sing while a couple kids unscramble the puzzles. A quick sentence about how the Savior invited the fishermen to follow him. Sing again, a quick mention that the Savior taught the people how to follow him. Sing. A quick question about how can we follow him. This hymn is really pretty simple. Longer and harder songs might need more attention, but it’s the repetition in a meaningful way that gets the songs stuck in their heads all week long!
Yep, I’m an alto too and think all those high notes might be the death of me!???? I “taught” a new song today using your method and it went better than I expected! We got started late so I didn’t have much time for repetition but we’ll do it again next week and gradually we’ll get it.
Yay!! I love hearing that!! It does take some getting used to with the new approach, you’ll totally get the hang of it though.