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

Saturday, July 7, 2012


This picture of the Sermon on the Mount
is in the Gospel Art Book
This month's song, "The Wise Man and the Foolish Man" has a very important message in it. I can see why it was chosen for the program. However, I have always associated this song as a wiggle-type song instead of a Sacrament Meeting type song and I have personally never cared for the melody much. Mind you, this is my own personal likes and opinions. However, because the ST Outline also gave the option to choose a song, I was inclined to select another song. Although I had selected another song, in the back of my mind I kept thinking about this parable and THE important message it had about building your foundation upon Christ and I felt very strongly that I needed to share this message with the children but wasn't sure how I would do that if I wasn't going to highlight this song for the month. I prayed for guidance in what I should do and last month I received an answer to my prayers. I received an email from a friend of Terri Hutchings about Terri's musical arrangement of this song. See here for that post. After listening to it and praying about it, I felt this was the answer to my prayers to help me feel more comfortable with the song. Mind you, I really don't have any issues with any Primary songs; in fact, this is the first time I have used something other than the songbook's version for any song. I just seemed to really feel uncomfortable, for whatever reason, with singing this song as is in Sacrament Meeting, so my experience was Heavenly Father's way to help me. Of course, I did get approval to use this arrangement of the song. I am just sharing this tidbit with you as to why I have chosen to use Terri's arrangement instead of the songbook's version. You may choose to sing the song as is from the songbook and that's great. In this calling, we all must pray for guidance in what to do to best help and teach these children; everyone should receive their own inspiration. With that said, these ideas can be used no matter what arrangement you use—if you feel so inspired to use them in teaching the song.
I plan to do the obvious object lesson that goes along with this parable. Because I really want to help the children understand the concept in this song/parable, this singing time will have a little more talking than I normally like to do for singing time mainly because it will take a little more time to explain the parable and relate it to building your foundation upon Christ. Such a simple song, yet a pretty deep parable for little minds to comprehend. Although I usually write out my lesson plans, they are mainly for reference for posting on this blog and to get it in my head what I want to do. I always prefer to tell and describe things as I teach so that I can always have eye contact with the children.

Since my Primary already knows this song, we will start off by singing the original "The Wise Man and the Foolish Man" with actions. This will give them a movement activity before we go into the next part that is more cerebral. 

I've added some additional actions I do for the song than what are described in the songbook. You may already do similar ones. Here are the actions and I've listed the additional ones in red:

Wise Man: ASL link for "Know" Tap fingers on the side of the head by the temple. I use this sign since the children are already familiar with it from other songs and of course, a wise man knows.
House: With both hands, make a house shape.
Rock: Plant right fist solidly in the palm of the hand.
Rains: Let hands descend from high in the air while wiggling the fingers to represent rain.
Floods: Raise hands with palms up. Also at the same time have the children bend down low at the knees and rise up as the hands rise up.
Foolish Man: ASL link for "Foolish" With only the three middle fingers in a fist and the thumb and pinky extended, at the wrist twist your hand back-and-forth with the thumb in front of your nose.
Sand: Wiggle fingers and move arms back and forth in front of body.
Washed away: Wiggle fingers and move arms out away from the body.

Of course, mirror the actions for the children.

  • Picture of the Sermon on the Mount
  • 2 Cake dishes—glass preferred but plastic tubs will do (the glass will help the children see better)
  • Flat topped rock placed in one of the glass dishes
  • Sand (if you don't have any, you could check with a neighbor that may have a sand box—you don't need much and you can return it when you are done.) Make a mound of sand with a flat top in the other glass dish.
    • You can use a small bowl as a mold to help make the mound.
  • 2 Houses (if you don't have any toy house figures, you could use blocks, Legos or print the houses (the medium sized ones) from the story board figures I posted previously—here is the link—and laminate and mount on tongue depressor sticks; one will be stuck in the sand and the other taped to the rock or you could adhere the houses to a squarish rock or block—heavier would be best—to set upon the sand and rock.)
    • Duct tape if using the stick house to tape it to the rock.
  • Watering can or container filled with enough water for demonstration.
  • A piece of fabric or towel to cover your display until presentation time.
  • Towels for any spillovers.
  • Make sure you test this out before your demonstration.

Click here to take you to the LDS Image Library
for the picture to download.
Show a picture of the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 7:24-27) and explain to the children that this is a picture of the Sermon on the Mount. This was a time when Jesus was in Galilee and he saw a really big group of people who wanted to follow and be like Jesus, so Jesus went up a mountain so all could see and hear him as he taught them many things. 
  • He taught them to learn to love one another and not hate anyone. 
  • He taught them that they shouldn't be angry or fight with each other but to be kind.
  • He taught them that they should do good things and serve others.
  • He taught them to learn, live and share the gospel.
  • He taught them to pray.
  • He taught them about repentance and forgiveness.
  • He taught them that they should choose the right.
Jesus taught the people many, many things. And when he was done teaching, he told them a parable. A parable is a little story that Jesus told to help teach people. This parable that Jesus taught is about the Wise Man and the Foolish Man in the song we just sang. (Demonstrate the object lesson as you tell the parable.)
  • Show the containers with the rock and the sand.
  • Where did the Wise Man build his house? [Upon the rock.] 
    • Place the house on the rock or tape the stick house to the rock with duct tape or a strong tape that will hold up to water.)
  • Then the rains came down and the floods came up. 
    • Start singing the first verse and then on the second verse, start pouring water over the rock.
  • What happened with the house that was built upon the rock? [The house on the rock stood still.]
  • Where did the Foolish Man build his house? [Upon the sand.] 
    • Place the house on the sand or insert the stick house into the top of the sand mound.
  • Then the rains came down and the floods came up. 
    • Start singing the third verse and then on the fourth verse, start pouring water over the sand.
  • What happened with the house that was built upon the sand? [The house on the sand washed away.]
  • Which man do you think was happy with where he built his house? [The Wise Man]

This house is attached to a heavy block.

Jesus told this parable to the people to help them understand how important it is to follow his teachings. The rains and the floods in this parable represent the trials in our lives. Those times when we are tempted to choose the wrong way. I testify to you that if we show we have faith and live the gospel by believing in and following Jesus and choosing the right each day, then we will be like the Wise Man—we will be happy because we are building our lives upon a good, solid foundation of Christ; of his gospel, and we will be preparing ourselves to be able to live with our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ again.

Since I will be teaching the song using a different melody, I will be using my Directional Singing Bird signs I posted here. I will hold up the different how to sing singing bird signs at various intervals to have the children hum, la-la, oooo, etc. as the pianist just plays the melody. I will do this 1-2 times depending on time. I will then sing the words while they still hum, la-la, etc. per the sign I hold up. This will give them the opportunity to hear the words in the melody. 

I will next have them sing it with me. I will then use the boy & girl birds per the singing parts in Terri's arrangement having the girls sing when the girl bird is held up and the boys sing when the boy bird is held up and everyone sing when both birds are held up. Although the primary already knows the words to the song, for SR, I made a color-coded words only FC to post on the board to help them visually see how the parts for girls, boys and all should sing. I will use chalk to write the times they will sing the words over again for under the appropriate page. See example below. You could print out the duplicate or triplicate of those pages that are sung more than once if you just want to display them in exact order without the numbers. The FC is color-coded for who sings what part: pink for girls, blue for boys and black for everyone.

Example of how I am posting the FC so the SR Primary
can see when they are supposed to sing their parts.


Hear are a couple of additional scriptures you could use to close singing time with or use on another day for review.

Helaman 5:12

"And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall."

3 Nephi 14:24–27 
“Therefore, whoso heareth these sayings of mine and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, who built his house upon a rock—
“And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not, for it was founded upon a rock.
“And every one that heareth these sayings of mine and doeth them not shall be likened unto a foolish man, who built his house upon the sand—
“And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”
This review idea I got from an old issue of a Friend magazine and a Primary lesson manual that I mashed together with a little added musical twist. 

  • Cut out some pieces of paper in block shapes and write some wise actions and some foolish actions on each slip of paper such as, obey your parents, be reverent in Primary, fight with your brother, tell lies, etc. If you have some toy building blocks, it might be fun to use those and tape small pieces of paper with the written actions to the building blocks.
  • Put the action blocks in a container. If you use toy blocks, you could scatter them around the room for the children to select from.
  • Dividing the board or table in half, display the Wise Man and rock figures on one side of the board or table and the Foolish Man and sand figures on the other side of the board or table. See the previous post for the figures. Or you could use the rock and sand from your object lesson.
  • Have a child pick one of the building blocks from the container.
  • Read or have the child read what is on the building block.
  • Then have the child determine whether that action is a wise or foolish action.
  • If it is a wise action,
    • place the "block" next to the wise man figure or on top of the rock figure on the board or on the table if you are using actual blocks. You will start building a wall with the blocks with each wise action block.
    • Sing the wise man part of the song.
  • If it is a foolish action, 
    • place it next to the foolish man figure or on top of the sand figure on the board or on the table if you are using actual blocks. You will just have these blocks displayed randomly like a pile of rubble.
    • Sing the foolish man part of the song.
  • Repeat the picking, deciding where the action should go, building/rubble and singing process. 
  • If your kids really know the song well, after you have sung the song a few times you could sing other songs that relate to building upon the foundation of Christ.
I plan on doing this review next week. I'll try and post the scenarios for the blocks next week in case you are interested.

WHEW! This is a loooooong post. Sure hope this gives you some ideas for the song.

The Wise Man and the Foolish Man Word Chart-Nalani


  1. Thanks so much for your posts. Your ideas are so helpful!

  2. This post was a direct answer to my prayers tonight as I plan to teach Terri Hutching's arrangement on Sunday (which I found here on your site). Thank you for taking the time to write all of this out because I wanted to do this object lesson, I was concerned about how to teach the melody, and I wanted to bring in the message you outlined, but was struggling to put it all together. I was amazed to find everything I was wanting to do but didn't know how outlined in detail!

  3. Thanks for the much needed ideas! :)

  4. Thank you soooooooooo much! This is amazing!!!! God bless you!!

  5. Thank you so much for this... I really like the link to the other version of the song for sacrament :) One observation, if your signs are meant to follow ASL you do not wiggle your fingers for rain, wiggling the fingers makes the sign snow :)