New and refurbished ideas for LDS Primary Music Leaders (a.k.a. Primary Choristers)

Saturday, May 19, 2012


Using the classic game of BATTLESHIP to help review a song or songs was an idea I originally saw on Divine Secrets' blog back in 2009 and I thought it would be something fun to do sometime, so I put it down on my "Someday To Do Idea List" and there it sat just patiently waiting for me. Now with the advent of the movie BATTLESHIP coming out this weekend, I thought it would be a fun time to pull it out. No, I haven't seen the movie nor have I heard anything about it or even seen any previews, but, maybe the older kids have and might find this fun and exciting. And hey, a good ol' classic game, I don't think you can go too wrong with that. So here is my take on the game.
I created a gamboard grid and markers that you can print out if you like, but you could also play it the way it was originally done with pencil and paper, well, chalk and chalkboard for the Primary room. Just draw a grid on the chalkboard with the alpha-numeric headers and draw in X's and O's or other shapes for the hits and misses as you play. Basically, you play it like the classic game of BATTLESHIP with just a few fun musical changes.

  1. Print out the game board on card stock. I specifically made each section on its own sheet instead of it all being on one sheet that you print out into a poster format because I wanted to make sure the squares would be the correct size to fit the markers. If I had you print it in a poster format, than the squares would vary in size depending on what size each of you printed it since each printer can vary a little on the percentage from its original size even if I gave you an exact percentage to print out. Yeah, I know . . .blah, blah, blah.
  2. Print on card stock one page each for all the markers that you want to use. Remember there are enough colors for up to five music ships. You will need to print multiple pages for the Treble Clef and Coda markers.
    1. There are a total of 35 squares that you will need markers for.
  3. For the game board, cut off all four sides of each page just along the inside of the dotted lines and for the solid lines, cut lengthwise down the middle of the solid lines, that way when you butt the pages up together, you won't have thick lines since you will be leaving a half a line for each page except the top "A" row, cut that top row of solid lines along the out side edge so you have a full, thick line. Sheesh, hope that all makes sense.
  4. You can tape them together in the correct order by butting them up or mount them to a poster board. You can size the game board to fit a poster board if you cut off the bottom set of numbers. 
    1. You can laminate your poster if you prefer. I am mounting mine to this thick poster board I get from work that comes with this plating material we purchase that just gets thrown away (it is like several poster boards thick and just a little larger in size). I love it because it is sturdy and free. So, I won't be laminating mine and besides, I have found over the years that poster board does not hold up well with lamination. Some posters I've laminated in the past have begun separating so now they are looking like a poster board in a baggie. I've been told by my copy center that lamination sticks mainly to itself and over time it will separate from the paper surface of thicker and larger pieces.
  5. Cut out the markers along the outside of the solid lines or insides; your preference. Laminate these if you prefer. I will because that will help them hold up better.
  6. Mount a square piece of self-adhesive Velcro (hook and loop tape) to the center of each square on the game board. Mount the opposing square piece of Velcro to the markers. This makes the game reusable. 
MARKERS (Musical Symbols—see the first picture)
  • Miss: Treble Clef 
    • For the blank spots—do nothing
  • Music Ships: Connected Eighth Notes—3 of the same color per ship
    • There are enough sets of colors to do up to 5 Music Ships if you do 3 per ship.
      • You may want to only assign one or two markers per song instead of three depending on how much practice you want to do for each song.
      • If you want to use this as a songs review instead of just concentrating on one or two songs, just assign a different song to each ship.
    • The markers represent the song(s) you are reviewing
    • Assign a verse or song you are working on to each ship and you will sing it each time they hit that color
    • I am not planning on assigning a specific verse to each ship color. Because I want to be more orderly in singing this song through, the first ship they hit will be verse 1, when they sink that ship and we hit the next ship, we will sing verse 2. My 3rd ship will be verse 3 of "If the Savior Stood Beside Me" that we haven't had much time to work on.
  • Submarines: Single Eighth Notes OPTIONAL
    • Fun, wiggle, program or other songs
  • Sea Mines: Coda OPTIONAL
    • Song questions: make a list of questions about the song or songs—one question for each Sea Mine used in the game

HOW TO PLAY (see update below)
  • Post the blank game board and have a child call out a coordinate (one letter and one number) e.g. A-2 
    • For JR you may just want them to quickly come up and point to a blank square.
  • Using your key sheet, determine if it is a miss, hit, submarine or sea mine.
    • If it is a miss, place the Treble Clef marker in the square and have another child select another space. You could have the JR child put the marker up.
    • If they hit a Music Ship, sing the verse of the song or song for that music ship. If they sing it well, place that ships color marker on the game board and have another child select a coordinate.
      • Each time they hit the same part of the music ship, you sing that verse or song over again. I plan on using my visual for "When I Am Baptized" and after the first time through, removing two of the visuals for that verse and one visual from the chorus off of the board so by the time they hit the ship the 3rd time they will need to sing the song without the words for the 1st verse and they must sing it well in order to sink that music ship.
      • Add more Music Ships for more songs if you use this on a Sunday you have the full Singing and Sharing Time allotment. 
    • Optional Way To Play: If you want to do a combined Singing and Sharing Time or if you happen to be the music leader and a Primary President or counselor that is doing a double duty calling (usually in smaller wards/branches), this game is a good one to use as a combo Singing and Sharing Time. In between sinking the Musical Ships, use the Sea Mines for questions and/or discussion moments for that week's topic or about the song.
    • Optional: If they hit a submarine, you can have them sing another song like a wiggle song, another program song, or whatever song you want them to sing, hey, you are the captain admiral. This will give a little variety.
    • Optional: If they hit a sea mine, they must answer a question about the song. I plan on using a few questions just to help fill up some blank spaces and to review/test their understanding of the song and melody. Use this if you want to have less blank spaces or if you will have a longer singing time.
  • I will have my little over-bedazzled treasure box, I made a couple of years ago and have used for a variety of things on several occasions, to hold some baptism stickers to give out at the end of singing time after we sink all the Musical Battleships. I'm hoping that might be incentive for those older boys who may just try and not pick the Musical Battleships after they make one hit on it. Always trying to stay one step ahead of those rascals.
This should be a fun way to review a song or several songs over-and-over again.
Here are a couple of pictures of the key sheets showing three music ships and three submarines. Add Sea Mines (Coda Symbol) if you want.
Key Sheet 1

Key Sheet 2
The file for the game is below and includes the game board, game markers, blank key sheets and 2 sample key sheets.

Bombs Away On Your Singing Time!

As much as I plan what I am going to do for singing time, something I have learned as a Primary Music Leader is that things don't always never go the way you plan. Depending on how much time you have or what is going on in your Primary that day, you become good at adjusting and adapting during your singing time. Because of a little shorter time and wanting to keep the game moving more, I made some changes to the game on the fly that also helped in adapting to how the children liked to pick the coordinates. They seemed to like to pick randomly on the board instead of trying to find the three in a row. So here is an adaptation idea to play this game that is more freeform that will help keep things going. Instead of having the three ships in a row, I randomly had the ships individually scattered on the key sheet along with the sea mines and subs. Each time they found a ship, any colored ship, we sang the first verse and continued to sing it each time a ship was hit until the first three ships were found. After singing it three times, that part of the song was sunk (still removed some visuals the 2nd time through and then no visuals on the 3rd time as in the instructions above). For SR I only did two ships for the first verse since they didn't need much practice on that verse. The next three ships found would be for the next verse and so on. Same rules as above, just random placements of individual ships. I'll admit to tweaking the game a little during play if after a few misses were found in a row, I would have the next guess end up being a ship even if it wasn't where one was planned on the key sheet. So in actuality, I had my key sheet handy and used it as a general guideline, but adjusted where the ships, subs or sea mines were a couple of times to make sure we kept singing without too much down time. Hope that all makes sense. You could really just pretend to use a key sheet and just randomly let them hit a ship, sea mine or sub. Yeah, that is rigging the game, but hey, you gotta do what you gotta do in the short time you have. The main object is to just have some interesting fun while the children learn the songs.  

Musical Battleship—Nalani


  1. You have the funnest ideas! Latter Day Prophets is still a favorite of my Primary. I am sure this is going to be yet another hit! Thank you so much for sharing your ideas!

  2. Thank you for doing all the work! This is so much appreciated, since I have to speak in Sacrament Mtg this week. Also, I was thinking--instead of working from a key sheet and letting the kids know if it's a hit or miss and having them place a marker, why not place all the battleships on the poster, then cover all squares with squares of construction paper? All a child (or you) have to do is take down a square and see what's underneath. I know it's not traditional Battleship, but maybe it would make sense to younger kids or those who haven't played Battleship, plus there's less referring back to the key and might save time. What do you think?

  3. —Thank you Brady Bunch.

    —Lauren, what you suggest is a good suggestion and is something that did cross my mind but wasn't sure if having more squares taped on top would cause some difficulty for the little ones in being able to only remove the top cover without removing the marker underneath and I didn't want to put the markers on permanently because I wanted the game to be reusable. I also thought of putting plastic pockets over each square but then decided that might be too much work to put together. One of the things I was thinking in the back of my mind when I put this together was that I might have to "rig" the game a little if things didn't flow, so I wanted to keep it a bit flexible, which was a good thing I did because I did end up having to help the game along a bit because of time constraints. I actually wasn't as keen on using the key sheet as an absolute for where the markers should go; I ended up using it more as a general placement guideline and to pretend I was checking the key sheet. I did post an update on what I did, which I think goes along your line of thinking. Thanks for the suggestion and oh, if you do it the way you suggested, please let me know how it goes in case I do another similar game that this might work for.

    1. Nalani--like I said, your Battleship board SAVED ME this week, since I spent my time preparing my talk. THANK YOU THANK YOU! Good idea--using a key sheet does let you have the option of...uh...helping it along a little, because I was worried about time, too. To teach a song, your update sounds great. As for me, I used it for a review game, so I came up with the solution I needed, too! I mounted it on poster board (adding an extra strip to the top so I wouldn't have to remove the bottom set of numbers) and covered it with contact paper. Then dry erase markers worked perfectly and came off cleanly, so I drew on the things to be in my ocean and covered them with squares of construction paper, using sticky tac to stick them on (found that sticky notes would work also and were the PERFECT size too!) For JR primary, we randomly put up ships to fill a single square each--one for each program song to review. We also drew worms to sing "wiggle worm" songs, and boots to sing Father's Day songs. Easy! For SR primary, I did basically the same thing, but I strung together the ships in a row to form one 4-square battleship. (Then I put worms and boots in all the closeby squares, so they would run into some of them while trying to figure it out.) I told them once they sunk the battleship, we got to sing their favorite songs for the rest of primary. They were motivated, and I was so pleased with how quickly it moved along, and they loved it! It is totally reusable, and I will definitely use it again!

  4. What a great idea!!! The kids loved it this week. I just drew the grid on the board and had nine songs on the key. Each song was two spaces and we sang the whole song each time and maybe did extra on problem areas. There were no teams, the kids just enjoyed sinking the songs. My councilor kept track of what we did so we can finish it next week. The kids all said it was fun. I will do this again in a couple of months. Thank You!!