The Iron Rod


Here’s my lesson plan for teaching The Iron Rod in singing time (when I teach hymns, I only teach the first verse and chorus).  This song has such a strong and steady beat that I wanted to utilize that strength by having the kids tap out the rhythm with their own “rods.”  Along with learning more about Lehi’s Tree of Life vision.

Camille's Primary Ideas: The Iron Rod Primary singing time ideas

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I really love the visual HERE that was set up in the primary room with the tree of life at the front of the room and the great and spacious building at the back.  I will be setting up something similar (and a little simpler) just without the rod down the middle.  My plan for the rod is different.

For the artwork, I suggest downloading and printing Susan Fitch’s Tree of life artwork HERE.  It’s beautiful!

Camille's Primary Ideas: The Iron Rod singing time idea using Susan Fitch's The Tree of Life Artwork

You’ll need the Tree of Life image.

Camille's Primary Ideas: The Iron Rod singing time idea using Susan Fitch's The Tree of Life Artwork

And her great and spacious building image as well.

On the board in the front of the room, place the picture of the tree of life.  Place the great and spacious building on the back wall.

Attention Getter:

Summarize Lehi’s Dream using verbiage from the link above (Or even better, ask if any primary children paraphrase tell the story!).  Use the images of the Tree of Life and the great and spacious building as you summarize.

I also suggest showing the Gospel Art Book photo of Lehi’s Dream as you summarize:

Lehi's Dream

You can download it from the church’s website HERE.

Have the children listen for how many times the word “rod” is repeated in this song.  Then you and the teachers sing the first verse and chorus or have them listen to it on your phone/cd.  Take answers [4].

Sing or listen to it again then ask what does holding to the rod mean? Where is the rod we are supposed to hold on to?  Take answers, briefly discuss, then pass out 2 “rods” to each child (i.e. rhythm sticks, wooden dowels or even easier…unsharpened pencils!).

Singing Time Activity:

Does anyone else have a plethora of new pencils that make their way home with your school-aged kids?  We get TONS!  I love using them in singing time as rhythm sticks! 

You’ll need enough unsharpened pencils for each of your primary children to have 2, like these (Amazon affiliate link):

A set of rhythm sticks is great too (Amazon affiliate link):

Have the kids tap their pencils together to the beat as you and the teachers sing the song.  Post words as necessary like I do HERE.

Camille's Primary Ideas: posting words for singing time, singing time flip charts

Rhythm Actions:

Next, demonstrate some simple actions to use while you are tapping the pencils/sticks to the beat:

  • To Nephi seer of olden time: tap the sticks heading up (as if growing old!)
  • a vision came from God: tap the sticks in a big circle (creating a cloud or vision)
  • wherein the holy word sublime: create a big rainbow as if turning pages in a big book
  • was shown an iron rod: tap the sticks out in front
  • Hold to the rod: tap right hand on top to the left then tap left hand on top to the right
  • the iron rod: tap straight out in front
  • ’tis strong: cross arms and tap biceps (for strong)
  • and bright: tap top of head
  • and true: tap over heart
  • The iron rod: tap straight out in front
  • is the word of God: create a big rainbow as if turning pages in a big book
  • ’twill safely guide us through: tap above head with elbows bent, then tap forward (like air traffic control guides)

I have a YouTube video demonstrating these actions as well that might help (I’d love it if you’d like and subscribe to my YouTube channel HERE!):

**Make sure to check out my comment to Danielle about the time signature changing…that might be fun to mention to the kids as well as you are learning the actions!

Continuing on:

That might be enough for the entire singing time!  If not continue on to review (otherwise, save this for the following week!):

With the picture of the Tree of life on the board, Write the question:

what can I do to hold to the rod?

Sing the song then 2-4 children what they can do to hold to the rod (in other words, keep the commandments). Write their answers on the board around the tree of life.

Repeat with rhythm actions until all the children have had a turn to give answers as to how they can hold to the rod.

Bear testimony that we need to hold to the iron rod (or learn from the scriptures and latter-day prophets) so we can taste of the delicious fruit (or grow our desire to live with Heavenly Father again).

Check out this quick tutorial video for accessing the Resource Library:

These printables are filed on my Resource Library page under Song Title > The Iron Rod.


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12 thoughts on “The Iron Rod”

  1. Thank you for the rhythm stick idea! I love it! This time of year I am always looking for ways the youngest children (and everyone else) can move in appropriate ways. I appreciate you sharing your fun ideas.

  2. Hi! I love your videos! They are so helpful. I’m fairly new as a primary music leader and I don’t know anything about music so this might be a dumb question. Does the rhythm change in the chorus because the time change from a 3/4 to a 4/4? Should even mention this to the kids? Please feel free to email if the explanation is long. Thank you!

    1. Hi Danielle!

      Not a dumb question at all! In fact, I didn’t even notice it changed time signatures until I saw Sharla Dance’s post here about it:

      and here:

      I contemplated updating my post to reflect this point she brings up – I just haven’t done it yet so thank you for doing it for me ;). But I think it’s a great idea! The rhythm does change (3 taps per measure then 4 taps per measure but you can do it without pointing it out). If you feel the kids would enjoy a learning a little music theory, I think it’s wonderful! You could even ask if they notice anything different between the versus and the chorus.

      I hope that helps some and thank you for your question!!


  3. Hi Camille- thanks for all your amazing ideas!! Where in the resource library can I find the printable for the actions? I don’t see the song listed there. Thanks!

    1. Hi Cindy!

      I’ve emailed you the link but if you go to my Resource Library and scroll down under “Song Title” to “The Iron Rod,” it’s there. I hope that helps.


  4. Hi Camille! I taught the Iron Rod using pencils from the dollar store last Sunday and it was great! The children (and teachers) enjoyed tapping to the rhythm. Thanks for always sharing your great ideas! YOU SAVE this new chorister!! Bless you!! <3

  5. Camille, I was really struggling to figure out how to teach this song, and since it’s one of my favorites, I really wanted to do it. This is perfect!! We have our pencils, and we’re going to learn it today. Thank you so much!!!

  6. Thank you so much for this idea. Movement always engages the kids better than anything else I do. I love the videos you are sharing–it really does help, especially when actions are involved! Thanks for sharing all your work 🙂

  7. Loved this idea and the kids (and leaders) enjoyed it too! The video was really helpful. Thank you for sharing your talents!

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