“Instructions for Singing Time and the Children’s Sacrament Meeting Presentation”
“Instructions for Singing Time”
Dear Primary Presidencies and Music Leaders,
Primary songs are a powerful tool to help children learn about Heavenly Father’s plan of happiness and the foundational truths of the gospel of Jesus Christ. As children sing about gospel principles, the Holy Ghost will testify of their truthfulness. The words and music will stay in the children’s minds and hearts throughout their lives.
Seek the help of the Spirit as you prepare to teach the gospel through music. Share your testimony of the truths you sing about. Help the children see how the music relates to what they are learning and experiencing at home and in Primary classes. The children and their families will be blessed by your devoted efforts.
We love you and extend our gratitude for the dedicated service you are giving to fortify and protect our precious children.
The Primary General Presidency
5 minutes (Primary presidency): Opening prayer, scripture or article of faith, and one talk
20 minutes (music leader): Singing time
The Primary presidency and music leader select songs for each month to reinforce principles the children are learning in their classes and at home. A list of songs that reinforce these principles is included in this guide. These songs are also suggested in the outlines in Come, Follow Me—For Primary.
As you teach songs to the children, invite them to share what they have already learned about the stories and doctrinal principles the songs teach. You may want to review the Come, Follow Me—For Primary outlines that the children are studying in their classes. This will help you become aware of the stories and principles they are learning so you can consider how to support their learning with music.
During singing time, you can also review songs the children have previously learned and songs they enjoy singing. As you review, invite the children to share their thoughts and feelings about the truths found in the songs.
The Children’s Songbook is the basic resource for music in Primary. Hymns from the hymnbook and songs from the Friend and Liahona are also appropriate. Occasionally children may sing patriotic or holiday songs that are suitable for Sunday and for the children’s ages. The use of any other music in Primary must be approved by the bishopric (see Handbook 2: Administering the Church, 11.2.4).
Each week, Primary includes:
Leaders of larger Primaries may divide children into two groups and have one group in Primary classes while the other group is in singing time. Then the two groups would switch places. In such cases, Primary leaders may need to adjust the times shown above to suit their circumstances.
Singing time is intended to help the children learn the truths of the gospel. The following ideas can inspire you as you plan ways to teach the gospel principles found in hymns and Primary songs.
Read related scriptures. For many of the songs in the Children’s Songbook and the hymnbook, references to related scriptures are listed. Help the children read some of these passages, and talk about how the scriptures are related to the song. You could also list a few scripture references on the board and invite the children to match each reference to a song or a verse from a song.
Fill in the blank. Write a verse of the song on the board with several key words missing. Then ask the children to sing the song, listening for the words that fill in the blanks. As they fill in each blank, discuss what gospel principles you learn from the missing words.
Quotations from Church leaders. Invite the children to listen to a quotation from a Church leader that teaches the same gospel principle as the Primary song. Ask them to raise their hand when they hear something that helps them understand the truth they are singing about. Ask them to share what they heard.
Testify. Bear brief testimony to the children of gospel truths found in the Primary song. Help the children understand that singing is one way they can bear testimony and feel the Spirit.
Stand as a witness. Invite children to take turns standing and sharing what they learn from the song they are singing or how they feel about the truths taught in the song. Ask them how they feel as they sing the song, and help them identify the influence of the Holy Ghost.
Use pictures. Ask the children to help you find or create pictures that go with important words or phrases in the song. Invite them to share how the pictures relate to the song and what the song teaches. For example, if you are teaching the song “The Iron Rod” (Hymns, no. 274), you could put pictures throughout the room depicting important words from the song (such as iron rod, word of God, guide, temptation, and heaven). Ask the children to gather the pictures and hold them up in the correct order as you sing the song together.
Share an object lesson. You could use an object to inspire discussion about a song. For example, the song “Faith” (Children’s Songbook, 96–97) mentions a little seed. You could show the children a seed and talk about how we show faith when we plant a seed; this could lead to a discussion about ways we show faith in Jesus Christ, as described in the song.
Invite sharing of personal experiences. Help the children connect the principles taught in the song with experiences they have had with those principles. For example, before singing “I Love to See the Temple” (Children’s Songbook, 95), you could ask the children to raise their hands if they have seen a temple. Invite them to think as they sing about how they feel when they see a temple.
Ask questions. There are many questions you can ask as you sing songs. For example, you can ask the children what they learn from each verse in the song. You can also ask them to think of questions that the song answers. This can lead to a discussion about the truths taught in the song.
Listen for answers. Ask the children to listen for answers to questions such as “who?” “what?” “where?” “when?” or “why?” For example, in the song “Nephi’s Courage” (Children’s Songbook, 120–21), they could listen for who was asked to get the plates and where, when, how, and why he obeyed the Lord. You could also ask the children to listen for key words or to count on their fingers how many times they sing a certain word.
Children learn a song by hearing and singing it over and over again. Always sing the words of a new song to the children—don’t just read or recite them. This helps the children connect the melody to the words. After a song is taught, review it in a variety of fun ways throughout the year. Below are some ideas to help children learn and review songs.
Create posters. Display posters with the words from each verse or pictures that represent the words. As the children sing, cover up some of the words or pictures until they can sing the entire verse without the poster. You can also invite the children to help you create the posters.
Demonstrate the pitch. To help children learn the melody of a song, hold your hand in a horizontal position, and as you sing the words, move your hand up to indicate higher pitches and down to indicate lower pitches.
Echo. Invite the children to be your echo by repeating what you sing. Sing to the children a short phrase or a line, and then have them sing it back to you.
Use variation. Sing songs in a variety of ways, such as whispering, humming, clapping the beat, varying the tempo, or singing while sitting or standing. You could also make a cube out of paper and, on each side of the cube, write a different way to sing. Invite a child to roll the cube to decide how the children will sing the song.
Sing in groups. Give each class or individual one phrase to sing while standing, and then have them exchange phrases until each class or individual has had a turn singing each phrase.
Use hand actions. Invite the children to think of simple hand actions to help them remember the words and messages of a song. For example, when you sing the second verse of “My Heavenly Father Loves Me” (Children’s Songbook, 228–29), you could invite the children to point to their eyes, act like butterflies, and cup their hands behind their ears. Ask them to place their hands on their hearts as they sing “Yes, I know Heavenly Father loves me.”
Girls sing, boys sing. Draw a picture of a boy and a picture of a girl, and glue or tape the pictures onto separate sticks. While reviewing a song, hold up one of the pictures to indicate who should sing that part of the song.
Basket toss. Place numbered baskets or other containers at the front of the room—as many containers as there are verses of a particular song. Invite one of the children to toss a beanbag or crumpled piece of paper into or near a numbered container. Have the children sing the verse with the same number as the container.
Match a picture to a phrase. Write each line of a song on a different piece of paper, and find a picture that represents each line. Place the pictures on one side of the room and the papers on the other side. Sing the song, and ask the children to match the pictures to the words.
Note: References to wards and bishoprics also apply to branches and branch presidencies.
Under the direction of the bishop, the children’s sacrament meeting presentation is normally held during the fourth quarter of the year. As the Primary presidency and music leader, arrange to meet early in the year with the counselor in the bishopric who oversees Primary to begin discussing plans for the presentation. When you have completed the plans, obtain his approval for them.
The presentation should allow the children to present what they and their families have learned from the Old Testament at home and in Primary, including the Primary songs they have sung during the year. Prayerfully consider which gospel principles and songs support what they have learned. Throughout the year, keep notes of children’s talks and personal experiences for possible use in the presentation. Invite children to share scriptures, stories, and their testimonies in the presentation. As you plan the presentation, think of ways it can help the congregation focus on the Savior and His teachings.
Units with small numbers of children may consider ways in which family members can participate with their children. A member of the bishopric may conclude the meeting with brief remarks.
As you prepare the presentation, remember the following guidelines:
Practices should not take unnecessary time away from Primary classes or families.
Visuals, costumes, and media presentations are not appropriate for sacrament meeting.
See Handbook 2: Administering the Church, 11.5.4.