I’m a HUGE advocate of using handbells in primary during singing time! They 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!
There’s a new handbell company on the market – Merry Bells. They are my favorite starter handbell set for primary. You can’t beat the price and the fact that you are supporting a member of the church!
Merry Bells is unique in that you can purchase DVD’s that contain digital note charts so kids can play along with all types of songs – Christmas, children’s, patriotic, primary and NOW Hymns!! Digital downloads are becoming available as well! The handbell set includes the Christmas DVD already! All the songs on the DVD’s can be played with the basic!
Here’s a fun Merry Bells video of shoppers stopping to play Merry Bells at one of their Christmas booths. So easy that anyone can stop and play!
I’m thinking this would make for great ward Christmas party entertainment! Display the music up on a projector and let anyone come have a turn to play! The rest of the audience can sing along. Merry Bells has a demonstration video on their website HERE if you want to see them used.
Camille’s Primary Ideas readers can also get 10% off by using coupon code cpi10%off at checkout!!
There is one notable difference between Merry Bells vs. the Kidsplay Basic note set. Merry Bells contain a white handbell you can see pictured above. The Kidsplay brand has 2 red bells which are the C octaves. Merry Bells has simply differentiated between the 2 C octaves with a red and white note where Kidsplay notes do not.
So once you have chosen to purchase your basic 8-note set either from Merry Bells (and maybe a few DVD’s) or the Kidsplay brand and you want to expand your set, I’d recommend going with the Kidsplay for the rest. (The product name may be changing to Rhythm Band but the product appears to be unchanged).
*Please note that all the links below are affiliate links and I make a small commission if you purchase but again I HIGHLY recommend them!
Here’s the basic 8-note set which includes the red box pictured above that is SIMILAR to the Merry Bells handbells set I’ve referenced above:
This is the 13-note set which includes the red & yellow box pictured above:
If you purchase the Merry Bells basic set, I HIGHLY recommend purchasing the 5-note add-on set (the yellow box only). Almost all of my note charts will require you to have these notes in addition to the basic set:
UPDATE: The Kidsplay 5-note add on set doesn’t appear to be sold on Amazon anymore. But I did find them HERE or HERE. I’m begging Merry Bells to start selling this set! Email them as well to plead our cause ;).
This is the extended note set which will extend your set further (the orange box), a great way to get more kids playing the bells, but not necessary (you can use the extended note set as an option with all my charts). I’d recommend getting these eventually:
I pull out the handbells several times a year. I also use them in Sacrament Meeting when we sing for the holidays and occasionally for our Primary Program (you should get permission from your Bishop). 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.
Feel free to scroll through all my lesson plans that incorporate handbells HERE.
Before I pass out the bells to the kids, I go over our handbell rules:
- You don’t touch the color bell portion or the middle bell ringer part (I know, I’m real technical with my terms, right?). You only touch 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.
- 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 chalkboard, the words posted, your assistant, and your bells distributed, you are ready to go. Pull out your wooden dowel 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.
I have a few demonstration videos that I’ve done for A Child’s Prayer HERE and another one for I Am a Child of God HERE. Make sure to subscribe to my YouTube Channel HERE so you never miss any videos!
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.
Handbells may be out of your budget. If so, I’d recommend a set of chimes! You can get instructions to make your own or buy them. Find some more information on chimes HERE.