INTRODUCING: A 5-Minute Song


This is a brand new concept to Camille’s Primary Ideas!  The appeal behind a 5-minute song is to expose children to more primary songs.  Singing time is WAY more than a means to prepare for a program.  It’s a way for children to grow their testimonies of Jesus Christ and Heavenly Father through music.  And I’ve come to the conclusion that a 5-minute song will do just that!

Camille's Primary Ideas: 5-minute Song singing time ideas

Before I delve into what a 5-minute song is, let me ask you if you struggle with any of the following scenarios:

  • I want to teach more in singing time but I only have 20 minutes each week.
  • I need to feel prepared for the program in the fall but don’t want to spend all my time drilling the same program songs
  • Occasionally we are asked to sing in sacrament meeting and I want to feel like we can do it
  • The 3 suggested monthly songs for Come Follow Me are suggested for a reason and I want to incorporate all of them in singing time
  • Occasionally I don’t get my full 20-minutes so my entire lesson is shot

Have you heard of Sharla Dance?  I have Sharla Dance to thank for the inspiration for my 5-minute song!  Make sure to check out her website HERE.

I attended Sharla Dance’s workshop (see more details HERE) and walked away asking myself, how can I do more in singing time?  How can I incorporate more of Sharla Dance’s methods? And how can I still feel prepared for the program?

Enter 5-minute songs!

I have come up with a perfect arrangement! I am able to accomplish the following in singing time:

  • Sing all 3 suggested songs for singing time each month
  • Focus on one of suggested songs for the program
  • Provide movement activities
  • Review all program songs learned for the year
  • Prepare for the occasional sacrament meeting musical number like Easter, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and Christmas
  • Celebrate holidays and seasons with primary songs

What is a 5-minute Song?

Let’s delve into WHAT a 5-minute song entails.  Or rather, let me start by telling you what it’s not:

  • A lecture or lots of talking
  • Sitting still and listening
  • Long

The 5-minute song is meant to ENGAGE children with songs through musical movement activities and minimal talking.


There is no attention getter and hardly any talking.  Instead there is movement, critical thinking and highly engaged children!

Simply sing through the entire song using movement or engaging activities as many times as you can in about 5 minutes.   Simple verbal instructions can be given as necessary.  The kids, for the most part, just mimic your movements/actions.  They get to engage with any given primary song as they move their little wiggly bodies!

The kicker is, that as they engage with the songs (singing or not), they are learning the music!  It truly is amazing!

So, now that you know what a 5-minute song is, let me show you how to use a 5-minute song in singing time.  You might be familiar with my monthly schedule HERE.

All I’ve done to tweak this schedule is add a 5-minute lesson plan to the 2 weeks that I teach the monthly program song like so:

  • Two weeks a month are focused on learning that month’s 1 song for the program
  • Those same two weeks also include a 5-minute song for the other 2 program songs we are NOT learning for the program.
  • One week a month is centered around a holiday, season or event that occurs that month (I won’t touch the program song that week at all!)
  • One week a month (typically the last week) I review of all the songs we’ve learned that year for the program with a review game
  • If there is a 5th week, I usually take this week to catch up (due to Stake Conference, General Conference, Christmas, etc.) or do another review activity similar to the 4th week.  I just try to plan accordingly.

Supplies Needed

This is just a basic list and you may or may not use all these items.  But if you are looking to gather items to teach a 5-minute song, here’s what I suggest:

  • Rhythm wands or scarfs
  • Handbells (more details HERE)
  • Egg shakers (more details HERE)
  • Paper cups
  • Paper plates
  • Pencils and/or Rhythm sticks

Clear as mud?  Let’s use January 2022’s schedule as an example:

1st Sunday in January: Sing something relating to the New Year (check out my New Year’s Day singing time lesson plans HERE)

2nd Sunday in January: Since we have nothing to review this month, I do a PREVIEW.  Check out all my previous Sing-Along Video posts HERE.

3rd Sunday in January: Use a 5-minute song to engage with When He Comes Again (one of the suggested songs we won’t be using in our program).  Then teach I Know My Father Lives (the suggested song we will be using for the program) for the remainder of singing time.

4th Sunday in January: Use a 5-minute song to engage with I Am a Child of God (one of the suggested songs we won’t be using in our program). Then finish teaching (or review) I Know My Father Lives (to prepare for the program) for the rest of singing time.

If there is an occasional 5th Sunday, I use that Sunday to either get ahead, catch up (usually due to Stake or General Conferences) or just sing more holiday or seasonal songs.

5-minute Song Variation

Or, if you rather, teach 3 5-minute songs each Sunday.  Engage with each of the 3 suggested monthly songs for 3 weeks of the month.  This is how Sharla Dance schedules her singing time.  She has the children interact 3 different ways with the 3 suggested songs during the month.

I assume on the 4th Sunday of the month, she reviews previously learned program songs but don’t quote me on that ;).

For me personally, three 5-minute songs is too overwhelming to prepare.  It means preparing 3 different lesson plans for the same 3 songs.  I know Sharla Dance loves this method so find what works for you.

Camille's Primary Ideas: January 2022 Premium Singing Time To-Go

Most of my lesson plans can easily be adapted and turned into a 5-minute song.  But if you want help or need specific ideas with this method, I am creating 5-minute song lesson plans to coincide with Music for Singing Time 2022 (more details on that list HERE).  These lesson plans are available with my Singing Time To-Go PREMIUM subscription.

An example of a 5-minute song lesson plan is this squiggle map for When He Comes Again for January:

Camille's Primary Ideas: When He Comes Again singing time squiggle map

Subscribe to gain access to my new 5-minute song lesson plans. More details on my Singing Time To-Go page can be found here:

But if you want to come up with your own, it’s not very difficult!  The key to maintaining engagement is VARIETY!  And Sharla Dance has outlined Musical Interaction Categories to make sure we don’t miss any area!  And better yet, she has suggestions for each area!  Thank you Sharla!!

**All this can be found  on the workshop I attended.  More details can be found HERE.

Camille's Primary Ideas Meets Sharla Dance

Sharla’s Musical Interaction Categories include:

  • Purposeful Movement
  • Concrete Representation of Words
  • Visual Intrigue
  • Living Music
  • Logical Conclusions
  • Spiritual Connections
  • People Interactions
  • Awareness of Nature

Let’s break each of these down with activities associated with each activity.  If I have used a particular activity in singing time, that post is linked as an example.

Purposeful Movement

This is probably the most common and easiest method to incorporate in singing time.  Let children move somehow to the rhythm or beat by using:

  • Paper plate patterns
  • Shaker patterns
  • Rhythm stick patterns
  • Body rhythm patterns
  • Action word actions HERE
  • Wands HERE 
  • Paper cup patterns
  • Any movement prop to a steady beat

Concrete Representation of the Words

  • Draw the song* HERE
  • Action word actions* HERE
  • Sign language* HERE
  • Eraser pass
  • Put the words in order HERE
  • Envelope game HERE
  • Find the missing word HERE
  • Crack the code HERE

*better suited for younger children

Living Music

  • Melody & Squiggle maps HERE
  • Rhythm band activities HERE
  • Bell activities HERE
  • Rhythm stick activities HERE

Logical Conclusions

  • Crack the code HERE
  • Numbers
  • What’s the pattern?

Visual Intrigue

  • Concentration match it with pictures
  • Put the pictures in order HERE
  • Color code HERE
  • Silent video
  • Picture puzzles
  • Wands (because of color)
  • Story song HERE

Spiritual Connections

  • Testimony (I try to do this with every lesson plan!)
  • Notice the spirit in the room

People Interactions

  • Partner body rhythm patterns HERE
  • Envelope game
  • Eraser pass
  • Concentration match it

Awareness of Nature

  • Bring in nature
  • Story song with nature HERE
  • What smell is this?

I STRONGLY encourage you to start implementing a 5-minute song!  The examples above are only a start as the sky is the limit!  Try to use different categories in order to engage with children’s different learning styles.  One child may relate better to one category than another.

I would love to hear your thoughts, ideas and comments on this new format!  I love it and know that you will too!


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14 thoughts on “INTRODUCING: A 5-Minute Song”

  1. I have been using Sharla Dance methods for the last three years and the children learn and love the songs. I am always amazed by the children as I sing with them. I’ve tried games and do use them here and there but it never feels right for me. We just sing sing sing and move move move. I don’t use name sticks anymore because the activities involve everyone. My primary is now combined and I cater to the older kids, the younger ones learn and happily participate. It took time to implement Sharla’s ideas but it was well worth my time and energy. I hope that helps. 🙂

    1. Hi YJ!

      I do love being able to involve everyone at the same time – it reduces boredom. And Sharla Dance’s methods are amazing! Thank you for your input!


  2. Thanks, Camille! I am really excited to do this! I found you last year when I was called, and it really helped me organize my year. Then I found Sharla later in the year, and loved her methods, too. So this is great because I feel like I can better combine your ideas and organization strategies with Sharla’s lesson ideas. Love it!

  3. I have also been trying to do this for the last few years and it’s great! I feel like the spirit is really present, the children stay engaged in different ways and, like another poster said, I rarely use name sticks because everyone is interacting.
    Another thing I add to my lesson plans each week is a way that the songs relate to Come Follow Me. Sometimes I’m not sure how it will all go together but by the end of the week of studying it always just falls into place.

    1. Hi JA!

      Thanks for commenting! I love idea of relating singing time to the weekly Come Follow Me lesson plan! I’m excited to implement more of Sharla’s methods!!


  4. I thought I saw you in the video of Sharla’s workshop-now I see it totally was you! Both of you have been such blessings to me (and my primary kiddos)! Thank you so very much for sharing your ideas and talents with us! ❤️

    1. Hi Jen!

      Yeah, that probably was me :). I’ve learned a lot at that workshop and hope to implement more of what I learned! Thank you for such a nice comment!


  5. I’ve been doing something similar to this as a type of prelude when the children come into Primary. I leave Sacrament meeting during the closing song to be sure I am ready for the children when they arrive. I greet the first few children and then I start singing. I try hard to use one of Sharla’s methods so they are drawn in to the song immediately. This was so successful in December. I was able to completely teach one of the songs we sang in Sacrament meeting this way. (Stars Were Gleaming) We sang it for prelude for 4 weeks, using a different activity each time.

    1. Hi Coral!

      So glad to hear it! It’s crazy how you really don’t have to “teach” a song for the kids to learn it. They just need repetition. Thank you for your comment!!


  6. I have used Sharla Dance’s teaching methods for the last 3 years and can testify they work! The children learn the music and have a great spiritual and emotional connection to the songs. Singing Time is fun and the kids look forward to coming each week to see what I have in store for them that day. Also, I look forward to planning! The ideas are endless, and I love planning a month or two at a time and using a variety of learning methods that are fun and engaging. I’m so glad you found her–I just assumed you already knew since sometimes I saw things that aligned with her methods when I referenced your blog occasionally.

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