Handbells provide tons of movement, repetition and FUN when singing and reviewing Primary songs! There are several types, qualities and companies that sell handbells and here’s what I use and HIGHLY recommend getting for your Primary!
**This post contains affiliate links. That means I receive a small commission from sales at no cost to you. But know that I wouldn’t recommend these products if I didn’t LOVE them!
There as SO many uses for handbells! If you are looking to purchase a set, make sure you check out all their possible uses including:
Handbells for Singing Time
My favorite use for handbells is in singing time! But their use isn’t limited to just at church!
Primary Activity Days
Use handbells during weekly boys and girls Activity Days! They provide so much engagement and are an easy way to learn to play a new instrument!
Also bring in handbells during any of your other Primary parties! Summer parties, Christmas parties, just-because Primary parties!!
Ward Party Entertainment
Handbells make for great ward Christmas party entertainment! Display the music up on a projector or posters and let anyone come have a turn to play! The rest of the audience can sing along.
People of all ages enjoy playing handbells, not just kids! Take handbells to your next family reunion and provide entertainment that everyone will remember for years to come!
Where to Purchase Musical Handbells
There’s a new handbell company on the market – Merry Bells. They are my favorite handbell set for Primary. You can’t beat the price and the fact that you are supporting a small business owner who is also a member of the Church!
Merry Bells is unique in that you can purchase Play Along Songs (in the form of DVD’s or digital downloads) that contain digital note charts so kids can play along with all types of songs – Christmas, children’s, patriotic, Primary and Hymns!! The handbell set includes the Christmas DVD already! All the songs can be played with the 8-note basic set!
If you are new to handbells, I HIGHLY recommend purchasing Merry Bells 8-Note Handbell set. Then grab some of the Play Along Songs (either digital or DVD). They are SO easy to follow and implement in singing time and are perfect for beginners!
Use code CPI at check out to get 10% off your entire order!!
There’s a fun video of shoppers stopping to play Merry Bells at one of their Christmas booths. So easy that anyone can stop and play!
Kidsplay (aka Rhythm Band)
Kidsplay (also sold as Rhythm Band) is the only other handbell brand I recommend and use. Their handbells are similar to Merry Bells in quality. However, there is one significant difference with their color.
Merry Bells contains a white handbell for one of the C octaves in the basic 8-note set. The Kidsplay brand has 2 red bells for the C octaves. Merry Bells has simply differentiated between the 2 C octaves with a red and white note where Kidsplay handbells do not.
Basic 8-Note Set
This basic 8-note handbell set (Amazon affiliate link) includes the red Kidsplay (also known as Rhythm Band) box pictured above SIMILAR to the Merry Bells handbells.
So once you have chosen to purchase your basic 8-note set either from Merry Bells (RECOMMENDED) and maybe a few Play Along Songs or the Kidsplay brand, it’s time to expand your set.
Expanding Your Handbell Set
This is where I recommend Kidsplay (also known as Rhythm Band). Merry Bells does not offer expanded sets which include the 5-note chromatic handbells and additional octaves.
If you want to go strictly with Kidsplay, I recommend this 13-note set. It includes the red & yellow Kidsplay boxes pictured above. Those contain the 8-note basic set and the 5-note chromatic add on set.
5-Note Chromatic Handbell Add On Set (RECOMMENDED)
If you purchase the Merry Bells basic set, I HIGHLY recommend purchasing this 5-Note Chromatic Handbell Add On Set (Amazon affiliate link). It’s the yellow box pictured above. Almost all of my note charts will require you to have these notes in addition to the 8-note basic set.
7-Note Expanded Range Handbells
This 7-note expanded range handbell set will extend your set further (the orange box). It’s a great way to get more kids playing the bells, but not necessary. The extended set can be optionally used all my charts.
UPDATE: The Kidsplay 7-note expanded range handbell set doesn’t appear to be sold on Amazon anymore. But I did find them online:
How to Use Handbells in Singing Time
I pull out the handbells throughout the year in singing time. I also use them in sacrament meeting when we sing for the holidays and occasionally for our Primary Program. Make sure to permission from your bishop if using in sacrament meeting.
The kids absolutely LOVE them and we can sing a song a million times over and never get tired of it when we use the bells.
There is a wide variety of ways to use handbells other than simply playing the melody. This list of handbell note charts contains all the handbell note charts I have. They are all categorized by bell type, playing method and holiday/season.
Teaching with Handbells
Before I pass out the bells to the kids, I go over our handbell rules:
- Don’t touch the color portion on the bell
- Don’t touch the clapper (the middle bell ringer part)
- Only hold the bell by the handle.
- You only ring your bell when I point to your color on the note chart. If you ring it any other time, you may forfeit your chance to play the bells.
- When you are not ringing your bell, you hold it against your chest in rest position.
- Only good singers will get to be bell ringers so SING.
Bell ringers are not expected to sing but the non-bell ringers are. Non-bell ringers not singing, will remain as such! 😉
So once you have your notes posted on the board, the words posted, your assistant, and your bells distributed, you are ready to go! Pull out a pointer and play however you like.
Sometimes just the bells will play, sometimes just the kids will sing. Sometimes we’ll play and sing together with or without the piano. Mix it up. The variety is endless!
Handbells in Sacrament Meeting
Get Your Primary Handbells!
If there’s not enough budget money, see if the other 2 Primaries that share your building would go in and purchase a set for all 3 primaries in the building to share. Then just keep the set in the library where they must be checked out and returned after each use.
Use Handbells in Singing Time Video
Make sure to check out my video here for more details:
You can also find this video on my YouTube channel. I’d love it if you’d like and subscribe!
Handbells may be out of your budget. If so, I recommend a set of chimes! You can get instructions to make your own or buy them. Find more information on chimes.
More Handbells in Singing Time
Leave any comments for additional ideas on using the bells or what you’ve found to work for you! Scroll through all my handbell posts.