Friday, April 4, 2014

Song: The Family Is Of God

Here are all four verses and the chorus of the April 2014 song, " The Family is of God."  Because I'm teaching them separately, each verse will be it's own document and I will only include the pictures for the chorus in the first document.

The rhythms can be a little tricky.  If you need to, you can hear the song by clicking the link near the bottom of this page.

If I were teaching this song, I'd teach verses 1 and 4 during April, verse 3 in May to sing for Mother's Day and verse 2 in June to sing for Father's Day.  I think it's important that they learn all four verses, but I wouldn't necessarily want them all sung in the program.  That's purely a performance decision, though, so check with your Presidency first if you choose to do it.

I've seen a lot of discussion about this song on Primary Chorister and Primary Presidency boards.  Some leaders question the appropriateness of the message during a time when many children in our care come from broken or non-traditional homes.  I disagree;  I think that is the perfect reason TO teach this song.  But I understand where the concern comes from.  We don't want kids to feel alienated or judged because of their family situation.  Keep that in mind as you decide how to teach the song.  Here are some ideas you might try.  They are entirely my own opinions.

  • Do consider your audience.  If you teach in a ward or branch where there is likely to be contention over the middle verses of the song, teaching them for Mother's and Father's day may help you avoid arguments.  I don't generally advocate avoiding topics, but if you expect it to become a negative experience for the children, this is one way you can at least get the message to them in a positive way.
  • Do think of the questions your children might have and prayerfully prepare to answer them.  
  • Do stress that we are all on earth to learn and grow.  Just as there are no perfect people, there are no perfect families.  We can all strengthen our families through Christ's Atonement.
  • Do consider involving the children's parents.  If you and your Presidency feel that certain children will be particularly upset by this song, ask their parents for advice on how to speak to them about it.  
  • Do help them to understand that even if they don't come from a home with a loving mother and father, they have the ability to create this for themselves and their own children some day.  Sing verse 2 of "Families Can Be Together Forever."  
  • Do help them understand what they can do right now.  Direct their focus to verse 4.  When children feel powerless to change their circumstances, giving them a task can help.  Ask them for specific examples of things they can do at home this week to strengthen their families.

However, with all of that said, keep the following "don'ts"in mind:

  • Don't create a problem where there isn't one!  If a child asks you a question, you should answer it (either in public or in private).  Otherwise, don't worry too much.    
  • Don't assume that children will feel stigmatized if their family isn't perfect.  Some will and some won't.  Be sensitive to their feelings, but be careful not to single them out unnecessarily.
  • Don't assume that teaching children what is right will teach them to hate people who disagree.  Be tolerant and respectful of other opinions and trust children to do so as well.  It shouldn't occur to children to hate anyone, and explaining that you don't may actually plant the suggestion.
  • Don't skip verses 2 and 3 altogether.  I feel strongly that the General Primary Presidency is aware of the children's struggles and chose this song through inspiration for a specific reason.  When our leaders only want certain verses taught, they specifically say so.  Otherwise, we ought to teach all verses of the monthly songs.
  • And don't dilute the Lord's message with unnecessary explanation.  See Doctrine and Covenants 1:38 "What I the Lord have spoken, I have spoken, and I excuse not myself."  Whether or not it is politically correct or popular, the principles taught in this song are true.  We don't need to apologize for them.  

Our Father has a family, it's me!

It's you, all others too:  we are His children!

He sent each one of us to earth, through birth,

To live and learn here in families.

God gave us families to help us become what He wants us to be.

This is how He shares His love, for the fam'ly is of God.

A father's place is to preside, provide

To love and teach the gospel to his children.

A father leads in fam'ly prayer to share

Their love for Father in Heaven.

A mother's purpose is to care, prepare,

To nurture and to strengthen all her children.

She teaches children to obey, to pray,

To love and serve in the fam'ly.
I'll love and serve my family and be

A good example to each fam'ly member.

And when I am a mom or dad, so glad,

I'll help my fam'ly remember.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Activity: Gather Sunshine

The last Sunday in March will be the first Sunday of spring.  To celebrate, print and cut out the butterflies and flowers.  Write the names of songs you want to review on the back of the flowers and write some interesting ways to sing those songs on the back of the butterflies.  (Keep in mind that you'll probably be reviewing "I Stand All Amazed," so choose ways to sing which will still show reverence for the topic.)  

Hang the butterflies and flowers around the room. One at a time, have the children choose a butterfly and a flower to bring to the front of the room and decorate the chalkboard or bulletin board for springtime!

Song Suggestions:
He Sent His Son
I Will Follow God's Plan
I Stand All Amazed verse 1
I Stand All Amazed verse 2
I Stand All Amazed verse 3
Give Said the Little Stream
Popcorn Popping

Ways to Sing Suggestions:
sing with your eyes closed
sing with a big smile- don't let your lips touch each other
sing while standing on one foot
sing while holding your nose
sing with a British accent
sing the whole song without blinking your eyes

Lesson Plans: March 2014

1.  Introduce the song "I Stand All Amazed" and teach the chorus with the activity described at the top of this page.

2.  Teach the song "I Stand All Amazed" with the flipchart found here.  When teaching this song, keep in mind that some Ward and Stake leaders have asked that we do not use "cartoon" pictures of Christ.  I believe that my art is acceptable for the reasons stated here, but if your leaders disagree, please honor their wishes.  In any case, be sure to supplement with more realistic looking pictures of Christ.  This will help the children feel the reverence this song evokes.

3.  Review the song with the emotions activity described at the bottom of this page.

4.  Consider teaching the song (or just the chorus) to the Senior Primary in harmony!

5.  To go with the theme for Week 3 (Jesus Christ was resurrected, and I will be too), teach the third verse of "On a Golden Springtime" with the optional coloring book found here.

6.  To go with the theme for Week 4 (I can show respect for the Savior by being reverent), teach the song "Reverence is Love" or "The Chapel Doors."

7.  Review the program songs you've learned so far and celebrate spring with the Gather Sunshine activity found here.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

How to: Make Coloring-Book-Style Flipcharts From Clipart

I've had lots of comments lately asking if I would make black and white versions of my flipcharts to help y'all save money on printer ink.  Unfortunately, since I'm still only working in MS Paint, that would be a HUGE project for me at the moment. Instead, I thought I'd share with you a couple of the tricks I've used in the past for making coloring-book style pages from color clipart.  I'm not a techie by any means, so if you have a better idea, please share!



1.  Pull up the image you want and size it.  Turn the brightness on your screen to its maximum setting and turn down the lights in the room if necessary.  

2.  Tape a piece of paper to the monitor and trace it.  Use pencil!

3.  If your image is too big, do it in pieces.  Trace the top left corner, remove the tape, scroll down, re-tape, etc.

4.  Go over your pencil lines with a sharpie marker.



1.  Right click on the picture you want to use and save it to your hard drive.
2.  Find an online photo-editing program with a coloring-book or pencil-drawing filter.  The instructions below are for
3.  Click"Edit a Photo" and upload the image.  Select Edit (top center).

4.  Click "Effects" from the white toolbar at the top of the image.  Scroll down until you see the "Pencil Sketch" option.  Click on it.

5.  Play with the options until you get the best result.



1.  Right click on the picture you want to use.  Copy and paste into a Word Document.  

 2.  Select the image, then click on "Format Picture"

3.  Under "Transparency," slide the bar to the right until you can barely see the image.

4.  Print.  Trace outline with a Sharpie marker and color.