I shared on FB a couple of ideas for practicing program songs, and in return I received a lot of questions! Which is great! So here are some more details about the things we've done in hopes that it helps a few other lovely choristers out there!
PRACTICE AT HOME
This is something new I tried this year and I have LOVED it. I sent each child home with a practice page asking them to sing each song 3 times. They colored in a circle for each time they sang it.
(This is my practice page)
When all of their practicing was done, their parent signed the bottom and they could return it to me for a SQUISHY... which apparently kids will do anything to get one of these toys!
(I purchased these ones on Amazon)
When I introduced this to the kids, I told them it was completely optional. No pressure to do it whatsoever!! Some kids weren't super interested...a lot of the older boys. But the majority of the kids were all over it! I had kids showing up a couple hours after church THAT DAY to hand in their papers and claim their SQUISHY. It cracked me up!
And then in following weeks, I just reminded them quickly at the beginning of singing time that they could bring me their papers after church in the primary room or to my house. But again, no pressure :)
I wasn't sure if this approach would really help, but I honestly feel like it did! We did a run-through of songs today and they were AMAZING! Even Junior Primary sang with all their hearts, almost every word ;)
>>> A little more about the practice page.....
I added a QR Code - you can use an app or free online sites to make one. It just went to a google document that I put together. The document included a link to a YouTube playlist of all the songs, coloring pages that matched up with the songs we learned, and some other activities I made. The only reason I didn't want the QR Code showing was because I also included my contact info for parents on the original document ;)
Here is the document without my contact info :)
ICE CREAM PASS-OFFS
The last couple of years we have "passed-off" our program songs by having the kids earn ice cream toppings. Then at some point - either at the program practice or an activity a week after the program - we have an ice cream party where the kids can come and enjoy all of the toppings they earned.
One of our amazing choristers made a poster a few years ago for this purpose, and it has since been passed on to me. I just put the new songs on the ice cream cones and then when the kids sing the song for us, we determine how well they sang. If they nailed it then the little bead gets moved down to the topping, showing that they earned it!! If they need some work then maybe the bead moves down half-way and we re-visit the song at a later time.
In the past we had SO many program songs (10 ice cream cones on our poster!!) and it would usually take two Sundays of singing time for the kids to pass off their songs. Now with fewer songs to sing in the program, they nailed every song the first time for this year's ice cream pass-off and we did it in just one Sunday! Way to go kids!
In conjunction with the Ice Cream Pass-offs, this year we added some sillies to our singing time. I saw this idea online on the FB chorister page, so thank you to whoever shared it!
When the kids sang a song, not only were we seeing if they knew it well enough to earn their ice cream topping, but we also looked for a class on each side of the room that was singing their very best!
(We have a HUGE primary and two choristers. So we each took a side of the room and watched for the best class on our side.)
When the song was over, we each picked a class and their teacher had to come pick a hat out of our pile to wear the rest of primary! I only have half of the hats showing in the picture - my co-chorister brought a fireman hat, Poppy hair (the troll from...Trolls), a Native American headpiece with feathers, a princess crown, Yoda ears, etc. We had a dozen hats to choose from.
The kids LOVED it and thought it was the funniest thing ever to see their teachers with silly hats on. And since most classes had two teachers sitting with them, they could still sing super awesome on the other songs and try to get a hat for their other teacher to wear. :)
COLORING BOOKS & TEACHER LYRIC SHEETS
These are two things we've used in the past for review that also worked wonderfully. I will add more info here soon about how we implemented them ;)