How do you fit so many songs into Singing Time?
First of all, my Presidency is pretty good at giving me my allotted time for Singing Time. If you are consistently getting cut short I would suggest that you please talk with your Primary President to see if you can come up with a solution that works for your Primary. The Sharing Time Outline clearly states that Singing Time each Sunday should be 20 minutes. If you are only getting 10 or even less than 15 minutes consistently, in my humble opinion that really is not sufficient time to be singing with the children and teaching them the many songs for the yearly Program.
But anyway! Here's my spiel. Now, I am no expert, and things may work differently for you and/or for your Primary. So take what you will.
I once saw on the Facebook group someone mention about how having a sort of "warm up" can help the kids, especially Junior, get ready to learn. The approach I've taken with this is to have one or two "warm up" songs in Junior Primary every week. Songs they know and love, not new ones here. Like how people say it is good for the Nursery kids to have predictability, I try to have a little bit of that for Junior in Singing Time. So I've created a bit of a routine for Junior Singing Time. I start with the same few songs (that I rotate each week or month) and sing them in the same way. This only takes about 5 minutes (I give my pianist a sheet of paper with the songs, pages, and order on it with instructions that we will be going straight from one song to the next, which makes it quicker since we just start singing without much introduction, which isn't necessary since the children know the drill, and whenever the pianist is ready). And then I break into teaching the song for the day. Sometimes I spend the rest of the Singing Time on that song, singing it over and over with them (they need lots of repetition!), but I'm recently discovering that I probably need to limit the teaching time since apparently new things start to go over their heads after 5-10 minutes. So for the coming Singing Times in Junior I am planning on breaking up the new stuff with more familiar songs. [Recently we've been working on our Mother's Day and Father's Day songs, which I only spend about 3-5 minutes working on with them at the end (which over the course of multiple weeks and even months I hoped would help them learn and remember them). My goal was to work on those for just a few minutes every week for a couple months and hopefully they'd get to catching on.]
The "warm up" songs I started doing with my Juniors were "Give, Said the Little Stream" and the way we sing it is by doing actions. For the word "give" we use our hands to make a giving motion by holding them together, palms up, like we're holding something and then extending our arms outward when we sing the word. For the word "little" or "small" we shrink (we stand for this song by the way). We just do the first verse. They love it! Even the little Sunbeams! The second song we would do was "I Love to See the Temple" and we would sing this one loud/soft, depending on the size of my hand motions. I would put my hands together (like a clap) and then hold them father apart for loud and then closer together for soft (I always end the song soft, my secret!). They liked that one too. You can also use a slinky for this. My goals with these two songs are to get them out of their chairs and moving for the first song, since they had been sitting still for Sharing Time already, and then to get them to be ready to sit in their seat and listen with the second song.
I've made a list of songs I'd like to bring into the rotation. My plan is to mix up the silly/wiggle songs and other fun ones that have a gospel message in them, or just other gospel message classics. I want to introduce one "new" song each month, which most hopefully won't really be new, to add to our rotation and to help the children become more familiar with more of these wonderful songs. So ideally, my rotation each month will include one different song that we DIDN'T sing the previous month, and one song that we DID sing as a warm up the previous month. I've also been including one of the Program songs we've learned in previous months to keep their memories fresh and help them keep learning those songs. The way I've been doing this is by choosing a different Program song to sing as a warm up/review each week (on a rotation), also with a specific way to sing it. I feel like every week for Junior is a review, which I think is really helpful for them. On the schedule I usually have in this order: 1) a song with movement, 2) a Program song, 3) a song that we can sing in a way that they can end up sitting still and being quiet in their seats, 4) work on the song to be learned that day, 5) and sometimes maybe ending with a familiar song or just a different one than the one we're working hard on, but I usually run out of time in Junior.
One last thing about my Juniors... They are pretty restless coming into Primary right after Sacrament meeting. I haven't previously been singing prelude music with them but I am going to start -- this week. I will choose a Program song I think they need to work on (one we have already learned) and we will sing it (over and over again if needed) until the Primary Presidency is ready to get started. I'm not sure how I'll need to tweak this as I go along, but I imagine most of the children will either just stare at me or be shushed by their teacher. I'm hoping they will sing!
As the Senior Primary is coming in (about 5 minutes before we are scheduled to get started) we sing the Articles of Faith songs as prelude. We begin at #1 and go as far as we can until the Presidency is ready. We just go straight from song to song (with time to breathe and the pianist to turn pages). Sometimes the pianist will help us out by just playing the first note so we know where to start singing. Some days we only get through 6 or 7, and there has been at least one day that we've gotten as far as 10 or 11! I don't lead when I do prelude, just stand and sing, but I have started holding up the Articles of Faith prompt pictures while we sing each one. I love them, and our Presidency actually gives out card versions of them for the children's birthdays in Senior.
My Seniors don't need to "warm up" quite like my Juniors do. I would even go so far as to say that they get bored if we sing too many of the same songs too often and in the same way. So I like to mix it up for them a little bit. I still want to do something fun with them before we get to the nitty-gritty learning. This month I am going to start with "If You're Happy" and you know it, FREEZE LIKE THIS! Hopefully they'll get enough of a kick out of it. I know the Music Leader before me had done it with them. I'm also starting to implement a short review section of Singing Time with them at the beginning. We'll rotate through this year's Program songs we've already learned like in Junior, but for Senior I plan on just doing the songs that need more work. For instance, I think my Seniors know He Sent His Son and I Will Follow God's Plan pretty well, and I don't want to bore them, and I think our monthly review of those (I do a review Singing Time typically on the 4th Sunday) will be enough.
My Senior Primary Singing Time is typically more focused on learning the new song for the Program. However, like I mentioned in the Junior section, I do think I need to break up some of the learning since I guess they can start to lose interest in a song we've been singing for 10 minutes... At this point in time we've been practicing our Mother's Day and Father's Day songs anyway so we've been ending with either or both of those. But with Senior I'd like to spend more time singing a greater variety of songs with them so I'm going to try to bring in familiar songs to sing for a few minutes (like Follow the Prophet in May) after we learn/review our Program song of the month. I'm also hoping to find extra time here and there to sing/work on the Articles of Faith songs with them more often.
And there you have it! My Singing Time plan for singing lots of songs. Sometimes I plan too much and have to cut out some things or adjust accordingly. But it usually works pretty well for the most part, I think! Any other questions? I'll do my best to answer! :)