"...by small and simple things are great things brought to pass..."

Alma 37:6

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Teaching with Sign Language

I love using simple sign language to teach or reinforce the words of a song in Primary.  It is a beautiful language and fun to learn.

There are different ways one can go about using sign language in Primary.  I'll give a few of my ideas and then you can take the ideas and run with them!


First of all, if you're using sign language just for learning you don't have to worry if you don't want to about which hand the kids use and they will just do it with the hand that they want.  However, if you are wanting them to learn with their dominant hand (for most it will be the right hand), or all of them to do the signs with the same hand, you can tell them to mirror you while you do the signs with your left hand (backwards, unless you are left-handed).  To help them practice this I first do a silly mirroring activity by telling them to mirror what I do and then I move my arms in silly ways (such as touching my nose with my elbow sticking out, patting my head, raising either arm, etc.).  This would be good to do if you plan on using sign in a song for a presentation in Sacrament meeting, etc.


Sometimes I will start with the more familiar part of the song to teach, such as the chorus.  I usually do only a few signs at a time, sometimes that's a phrase and sometimes it's half of a phrase.  If it's a song they are not familiar with I will sing the phrase to them first and have them repeat after me.  Then I will show them the signs for the phrase and kind of explain how to do each one and then have them do it with me, while speaking the word it goes with each time.  Then we will sing and sign the phrase we've learned, adding phrases together and singing from the beginning to where we've learned until we have learned the whole thing and can sing it all the way through.  If it's an easy song they know another alternative is you can have them follow along with you as you sign each phrase and then slowly go through the signs after they've seen them.


While I'm teaching the signs we sing small phrases a cappella, or the pianist will play just the melody of the song.  When we put phrases together the pianist usually chimes in with either the melody or accompaniment.  It's nice for the kids to have the music in the background to stabilize their learning of the melody of the song.


It depends on the difficulty/familiarity of the song when I begin sign.  For the hymn I Stand All Amazed, for instance, I began teaching only a few repetitive signs the first Singing Time (I did this at the end of another lesson plan by Pat Graham), and will add the rest in the next Singing Time.  I taught He Sent His Son (which is more well known by most kids) this year with a different activity the first week and then went over it again with them and tuned it up the second week with some sign language.  I've also taught a song with sign language in one Singing Time.

Sign is a great way to teach a song on the first week, and it can also be a great way to review or refine a song on the second week.  Personally I would either do the first or second week of teaching the particular song and not wait longer.  The kids will be happy to do the signs in later weeks as you continue to sing the song, and the more they review it the more they will learn it and get it down.

Happy signing!

Monday, February 10, 2014

I Stand All Amazed - Sign Language


Okay guys, I was brave and made a video of the simple sign I'm going to teach to my Primary to help them learn this hymn...

Disclaimer:  I am not fluent in ASL, but have learned a little bit along the way.  If you're better versed with sign language and notice something that needs fixing please let me know!

Notes and individual signs for each verse are below.

Note: 3rd Edition Video -- EXTENDED EXTENDED VERSION -- Includes ALL VERSES.  :)

The video is mirrored.

NOTE:  I've stumbled upon a few more signs which I now understand better to sign for this hymn, namely -- the sign SHOCK for "stand," the sign WOW for "oh," and I added ENOUGH in there.

Note: Here is my (1st) updated video with a more accurate representation of the signs and meanings.

The video is mirrored.

Each bolded word below are the ones I will teach a sign for to my Primary.  You can find all of these words in the references I listed below.

2nd Edition Video Notes:
FOR JUNIOR PRIMARY: I omitted the sign for STAND, FEEL (in FEEL-AMAZED in "tremble"), and ENOUGH (in the chorus).

I stand(SHOCK) all amazed(AWE/AMAZING) at the LOVE JESUS offers me(HE-GIVES-ME),
CONFUSED at the GRACE that so fully(THOROUGH or ALL)* HE proffers me(HE-GIVES-ME).
I tremble


Oh(WOW), it is WONDERFUL that HE should care(CARE-ABOUT/CHERISH) for ME


That HE should extend(GIVEHIS great LOVE unto such as I,
Sufficient(ENOUGH) to OWN, to REDEEM, and to JUSTIFY.


I think(THINK-OVER) of HIS HANDS PIERCED and bleeding(BLOOD/BLEED) to pay(JUSTICE) the debt(SIN)!
Such MERCY, such LOVE and devotion(DEDICATION) can I FORGET?
NO, no, I will PRAISE and ADORE at the mercy seat(HIM),
Until at the glorified(GLORY) THRONE I KNEEL at his feet([to] HIM). [alternatively you could sign FEET if you'd like]

* The word "fully" in this hymn doesn't mean full like I've eaten so much and now I'm full.  A synonym in this case would be "thoroughly" -- and that's the sign I used.  This sign is also used in the LDS.org ASL video of the hymn.
** "Tremble" in this case means more like in awe and amazement.  If you look up the sign for "tremble" in an ASL dictionary you will find the sign for AFRAID, which is not an accurate representation of the word in this hymn.
It's important to sign "He" in each instance it occurs so to sign a complete thought, that HE did these things for US. 
I wanted to emphasize to my Primary that this song is about what Jesus did for US.  So I am going to have them sign "me" every time me/I is sung.


LDS.org (scroll down to I Stand All Amazed)

LDS ASL Dictionary

This is how I began to teach sign language to this song.  I based my lesson plan on Pat Graham's lesson outline found in a previous post HERE, and used my own visuals (which are included in that post) which looked like this:

I wanted to appeal to more learning styles than just hearing, so seeing the lyrics for this difficultly worded hymn I thought would work well for thee Senior Primary.  However, since a lot of Junior Primary does not read (but some do), I added the colors to help also with signing.  Yellow is for "I/me," red is "Jesus/He," and I will be adding blue for each of the other words we will be signing.

For the first week I went over rhythms and created ways for them to hear the song multiple times, and in regards to sign language I taught them to sign "I/me," "He," and "wonderful" to get them started.  I will spend the next Singing Time teaching the rest of the signs in verse 1 and the chorus.

Happy signing!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

I Stand All Amazed - Hymn 193 (Pat Graham)

~~ Lesson Plan by Pat Graham ~~

(click on images to view larger and save to computer)

Message:  Even though I make mistakes, Jesus loves me.  He died so I can repent and try to be better.  This is a wonderful gift.

CHORUS Materials:  Hymnbook

Attention-getter:  Jesus loves us so much that He was willing to die for us.  Because of that wonderful gift, we can be forgiven, and we will live again.  We have a song about this in our hymnbook.

Questions:  (Ask something that can be answered by listening to the song.  Create a reason to repeat the singing.)

1.  Listen to see how many times the song says "wonderful"? (sing the chorus)
        Oh, it is wonderful that he should care for me enough to die for me.
        Oh, it is wonderful, wonderful to me.

2.  How many times did you hear?  (3)  That's wonderful!  You are good listeners.  Can you make that word bounce (clap the rhythm -- long short long, WON-der-ful).

3.  When I sing the chorus I will point to you when you should sing WON-der-ful.

4.  What other words have that same bouncy rhythm? (care for me; die for me)  Sing and notice the natural accent on care and die.

5.  "It is" is hard to sing, so we move the "t" over and say "tis" (practice).

6.  Watch my hands as I tell you when to stand up.  I am going to scoop under your chin and you will stand up without a sound -- just like the Tabernacle Choir. (practice)  Let's sing with the piano this time.  Be sure to hold the last word (me) until I cut you off. (sing -- hold "me" a long time.  Compliment on watching you)

VERSE ONE:  Materials:  Two rhythm cards

[Click HERE to save and print this file of rhythm cards and papers and lyrics for the first verse to go under the notes on the board if you desire, which looks like this:]

[Explanation of the colors in THIS post.]

Attention-getter:  Here is a picture of the rhythm for "wonderful."  Sing the chorus and tell me what other words have that same bouncy rhythm.  (care for me; die for me).

1.  The verse of the song has even more bouncy words.  Clap the card I hold and let's find out other words with this catchy rhythm. (even rhythm card 3 times, then bouncy -- do the sequence 4 times.)  Ask for words that bounce until the children have located "offers me," "proffers me," crucified," "bled and died."

2.  Which word means to give? (offer; also proffer -- to give a gift)  Sing that part.

3.  Which word means to be killed on a cross? (crucified).  It surprises me that wicked people killed Jesus because they didn't understand who He was.

4.  Our song uses another word that means "surprised." (sing the first line) (amazed).  This love is also called the grace of God.

5.  Word that means "I don't get it" (confused) dictionary says flabbergasted.  Shaking (tremble) Make mistakes (sinner).  Match these words to the bouncy words.  Sing the whole verse.

6.  I am very amazed and grateful that my older brother, Jesus, was willing to give me (and all of you) this wonderful gift of forgiveness and eternal life.

Enrichment:  Hymnbooks for those who read.  With pointer finger play "dot-to-dot" following the top row of notes (show how to move left to right, then down a line and finally to the second page.)

~~ Lesson Plan by Pat Graham ~~

Saturday, February 1, 2014

2014 Monthly Music Outline

Here's my blank/editable 2014 monthly music outline with the dates and weekly themes included:

PDF form with single singing time box

PDF form with SPLIT junior and senior singing time boxes