10 Tips for Leading Children in Song- {Use Music for Religious Education!}

Whether you’re at home, at acation bible school, in the classroom, or in church, music can really enhance worship for kids!

“Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the lands!” Psalm 100: 1

See? We’re only asked to make a joyful noise to the Lord, not a perfect one. πŸ˜‰

Last year, I was signing up to help teach vacation bible school. I was hoping to help with crafts… but they already had their craft people lined up. They wanted to know if I could sing because they didn’t have anyone to do music. I wanted to help where I was needed, so I agreed… but I was terrified! I didn’t have any experience in leading such a large group in singing, but I was going to try!

I happen to play a little guitar- I’m a 3 chord wonder. I can figure out how to play most of what I need to play using just my 3 chords. I’ve never had any lessons or anything, but my kids think I rock!

I learned a lot last Summer when leading the music for vacation bible school, and wanted to share some tips with you. So without further adieu…

10 Tips for Singing With Kids:

  • You don’t have to be able to play a guitar (or any instrument) to lead children in music. You can just sing- it will be just as much fun for them!
  • It doesn’t take much to impress kids. They’re going to think you rock!
  • Choose appropriate songs.Β No one really wants to sing “Amazing Grace” at Vacation Bible School. Likewise, you probably don’t want to be belting out “Rise and Shine” in the middle of mass. There are a large variety of religious occasions to sing with kids, and a wide variety of music to meet these needs. Use your head when making your music selections.
  • Practice, practice, practice! You want to be well prepared and confident before you lead a whole group.
  • Don’t be nervous. Kids loveΒ to sing, and you’re just looking to have a good time and enhance their religious education. No pressure- you’re not recording a children’s CD or singing for the pope. Just do your best!
  • Provide everyone with the song lyrics. For those of us who aren’t professional performers, it’s less awkward when everyone sings along. I like to provide the lyrics by writing them out on big pieces of poster board. (More about this at the end of the post). Alternately, you could print out the lyrics on individual pieces of paper and pass them out.
  • Use songs with hand motions, and teach the motions to your helpers. Trust me on this- songs with hand motions are way more fun than songs without. Also, this helps break the ice for you and your audience, and helps to get everyone involved. It’s also easier to make up hand motions than you might think- it can be simple. Search for hand motions to the songs you’ve selected on You Tube. Have leaders stand up in front. Walk your crowd through the hand motions slowly before singing, then encourage everyone to join in.
  • Playing the guitar or leading hand motions… you will have to choose between these things. Even the most skilled guitar player can’t do both at the same time. πŸ˜‰ If you’re not going to be able to do the hand motions yourself, recruit help and teach them the hand motions ahead of time.
  • Repetition rocks! Sing the same songs time and again- kids like singing what they know! Also, find songs that have repetition because it makes them easier to learn.
  • Sing louder than you think you need to. The people in the back want to hear the joyful noise you’re making for the Lord! πŸ™‚

God gave me a loud mouth… may as well use it, right?

Β Providing Lyrics for the Crowd

When I lead the VBS music last year, I wrote out all the song lyrics on pieces of poster board. I wrote in big, bold, black marker to the words would be easy to read. In another color, I went back in and wrote in the guitar chords. This was to help me as I went in case I got nervous and forgot which chord to switch to, which was really helpful.

This was our main song for the week of VBS, and each day I “revealed” a new verse. It was fun and exciting for the kids. πŸ™‚

For some of my posters, I got a little fancy. For the “Yes Lord” song, I used this craft to dress up the lyrics poster.

I also got some religious bulletin board boarders from the Dollar tree and used them to dress up some of my posters.

I wasn’t sure how much help I would have with the music, so I brought my own easel for holding the poster boards. I also taped 2 poster boards together to make myself a huge folder to keep all my lyric posters in.

I used these same posters when leading my homeschool co-op in opening song. However, when I sing with my preschool class, I don’t use the posters (they can’t read). I also don’t bother with the guitar with my preschool class because I’d rather have my hands free for hand motions and finger plays.

Lucky for me, I have a great guitar case that straps on my back. Good thing! As I hear about 500 times every time I leave my house, “It looks like you have your hands full!”

Over the next month, I’m going to be posting fun, Christian songs for kids and crafts to go with them. I thought this would be great fun for Summertime!

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  1. Christine Howieson says

    oh, I can’ t wait to see the crafts with the songs.

  2. Awesome, Lacy! I am using the heck out of your abc curriculum for our parish summer school, the first time we’ve done the preschool age group. Two days down, two to go! Yes, we are cramming a whole lotta stuff in four days but so far so good. If we repeat it next year, this music stuff will be the perfect addition. Thanks so much!!

  3. Great! I had forgotten about ‘Alleluia, Praise ye the Lord’. When I learned it (guitars had only one string then), the class divided into ‘Alleluias” and “Praise ye’s”, and each had to stand up, sing their part, and sit down. We ended up looking like jack-in-the-boxes.

    This will be perfect for my 1st grade saints-in-the-making. I will even borrow your idea of two colors on the chart.

  4. Thanks Lacy. I will be sharing this with my song leader for VBS in July and with all my catechists in the Fall.

  5. Thank you so much for this! I’m director of our VBS this year and I have to learn and teach songs to all the kids and I’m not much of a singer, but this gave me a little inspiration πŸ™‚

    • You can do it! I lead all the music last year with no experience whatsoever that qualified me for the task- lol!

  6. Can’t wait for the song ideas!! Hope all is going well with your new little one… been thinking of you πŸ™‚ God bless πŸ™‚

  7. Dear Lacy – Thank you so much for the awesome tips! Your last photo reminds me — could you PLEEEEEASE re-post your instructions on how to make a pool noodle rosary!? Please!? Thank you! πŸ˜€

  8. Oh man, those songs bring back memories :).

  9. I love how you used the bulletin board border for the posters! And I like the holder for the poster songs. Thanks for sharing!

  10. Stephanie Rubio says

    love the pool noodle rosary! Very cute.

    • Stephanie Rubio says

      Do you teach the rosary to pre-schoolers? If yes, how? I’ll have pre-k and K kids this year and would love to teach this in a way that won’t be too much.

  11. I am sooo excited to have been introduce to your website by a fellow CCD teacher. I plan to use the songs and hand motions as I teach my 4th graders. Thank you for sharing your creativity with us!

  12. Thanks for all your great crafts and songs! I am an elementary teacher in a Catholic independent school and I have used a good bit of your stuff on here this year. Your website is such a help to me, with great activities to explain the faith to children and bring them closer to God! Thanks again!!

  13. web hosting says

    I truly like it whenever people get together and share ideas. Great site, stick with it!

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