Today's post is written by Janel from PrimarySinging.com, a singing time resource blog with tons of resources and helps for teaching music to children.
Music has a unique way of reaching deep into our souls. It can be a powerful tool for helping to build and promote faith in the younger generation.
7 Faith-building Music Activities for Preschoolers
To help you get started having meaningful faith-building music activities with the children you influence, I have created 7 mini lesson plans that will work for any song you choose!
You'll love the variety, from including movement to having the children take ownership by helping to teach the song.
And when you're ready for more specific singing time ideas, this New Testament Primary Songs list will help inspire many more ideas to come.
Plus, you won't want to miss my song planner worksheet printable; more on that at the end of the post!
1. Sway & Freeze Body Movement
This fun idea will help get the children up and moving and feeling the rhythm of the song.
To start, play the song you want to teach. Sway to the music, following along with how the lyrics flow across the melody. Have the children join in and follow along.
Abruptly stop moving and call out, “Freeze!”
Praise the children for following along with the movement. Ask them what do they notice about how the movement felt?
- Did we move fast, slow, flowy, or choppy?
- Did you move just a little side to side, or did you sway your whole body? Can you try swaying with just your arms this time?
- How much of your energy did the movement take? Was it easy or hard?
Sing through the song and continue swaying and freezing at surprise intervals. This helps draw in focus with purposeful movement.
Scripture Verse: 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
“Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.”
2. Compare & Contrast Objects
Sing through your choice of a favorite faith-based song.
Have one child step out of the room, turn around, or close their eyes.
Show the rest of the children two different but similar objects. Ask the children to try to describe the object to their friend without telling them what the objects are.
- How can you describe them?
- What is different about each item? What is the same?
Example: You can bring in an apple and an orange. They are both fruits, round, and about the same size. But they have very different colors, tastes, and even the way we eat them is pretty different!
After the first child correctly guessed the objects described, sing through the song again. Ask them to try to describe the song now, just like they did the items.
- Which parts of the song are the same? What parts are different?
- How does the melody change and move?
- What part of the music is your favorite?
Scripture Story: Parable of the Prodigal Son, Luke 15: 11-32
Compare the two sons or their different choices and how God sees and reacts to differences.
3. Make the Lyrics Memorable
For this activity, you'll pick out several keywords throughout the song where the word or the concept (such as self or Christ) repeats.
Create a symbol or action you can take to represent each of these word(s). For example, anytime the song references Jesus Christ, no matter the specific word, you can have the children touch one finger to the center of each palm.
Here are a few more simple action examples:
- Point to self for any words similar to I, me, my, mine,
- Fold your arms to represent prayer
- Pound one fist on top of the other for words about taking action
- Place one hand over your heart to represent faith
Scripture Verse: Ezekiel 11:19
“And I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them an heart of flesh.”
4. Draw the Song
To help the children better connect with the song's lyrics, break out each line or 2 and write down the lyrics on a sheet of paper.
Now, sing through the song together. Briefly discuss what the first line of lyrics means and ask a child or 2 to help you draw pictures to represent that line of the song.
While that child draws, sing through the song again and repeat by filling each part of the song into a visual representation of the lyrics.
The children will love taking ownership of the song lyrics with this activity, which will help add in song repetition and meaningful interactions with the music and message.
Scripture Verse: Psalms 98:1
“Sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous things; his right hand and his holy arm have worked salvation for him.”
5. Share With a Unique Arrangement
Music has a tremendous power to uplift and brings the Spirit into our hearts. You can help the children both feel the stirrings of the Spirit and fall in love with a new song by simply bringing in a special arrangement.
If you have wonderful musical talent around you, utilize that resource and ask someone to play a piano solo, strum along on a ukulele, or play a guitar version while they sing along.
Another option is to search on YouTube, where you'll likely find a dozen or so different versions.
My personal preference is an instrument-only (piano, guitar, violin, etc.) version, as it lets the Spirit do the talking. However, tracks with lyrics can be an excellent addition as well.
After the particular arrangement, point out what the kids might feel inside. Then, join together and sing along in praise!
Scripture Verse: Psalms 135:3
“Praise the Lord, for the Lord is good; sing praise to his name, for that is pleasant.”
6. Learn, Teach, and Sing!
Split the children into two equal groups with a leader for each group. Give each group every other line or section of the song.
You might start them out by learning I Will Walk with Jesus lyrics, a wonderful children's song that promotes following the Savior, or any other favorite faith-based song.
Now, challenge each group to read through the lyrics and devise a simple way to help the other group learn the words.
Some simple ideas include:
- Unscramble the lyrics in word strips
- Add an action for specific keywords to help remember them
- Write out the first letter of each word as a hint
- Create a fill-in-the-blank with missing lyrics
After they have spent some time (maybe 10-15 minutes) preparing their task, you can have the groups come back together, and each side will teach their part of the song.
This is a beautiful way to teach leadership skills and help the kids feel important.
If you have only a small group, you can accomplish a similar goal by having one child (or yourself) stand up and sing a line of the song, and have the rest of the group echo sing it back to them in response.
Scripture Story: Parable of the Sower (Mark 4:3-20)
Connect how by teaching one another, they are helping to sow good seeds into the hearts of others.
7. Feel the Rhythm With Egg Shakers
I love to bring in simple instruments to let the children experience bringing the music to life. It brings a whole new energy and feeling to the music and helps to deepen the connection to the song.
I have a whole list with my favorite singing time supplies, but egg shakers are my go-to recommendation when you're just getting started.
They are easy for children of any age to use and can be utilized in many different ways. Here are some of my favorite ways to use egg shakers:
- Shake once at the beginning of each word
- Shake once per note
- Shake fast on long-held-out words or notes
- Pick out specific keywords and give the egg shaker a slight toss and catch every time you sing that word
- Shake fast, then slow, alternating each line of the song
Let the children help you develop a new shaking rhythm to try that matches your song!
Scripture Verse: Ephesians 5:19
“Speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord.”
More Music Activities on Primary Singing
I hope these meaningful activities have inspired you to do more with the children you influence and with music! There are so many ways to deepen their experiences with good songs that can deepen their faith and trust in the Lord.
These are just a few ideas to get you started. I have a printable helper that makes it super easy to plan various activities for any song you choose.
I use this in-depth song planner printable that helps you teach music using various music learning styles to best reach each child and have fun experiences with the music in a bunch of different ways.
Go visit my Primary Singing website today to grab the free Song Planner Printable with more than 90 ways to teach a song!
You'll also find specific ideas for a huge variety of LDS Primary songs that you can adapt to any song you choose. I've shared more than 200 Singing Time Ideas that are easily adaptable.
What are your favorite faith-building music activities? Do you have other fun ways to teach music you can share?