When I first got started as a Primary music leader, I would fumble through the songbook, even with the little paper tabs, trying to make my way to the different songs.
I was a mess of sticky notes, a pile of papers, and it was hard to stay organized. I decided to ditch my songbook completely! Enter – the Primary Singing Time Binder!! <– This post has been UPDATED and you can find the latest version and SO MANY singing time song helps over on my new blog Primary Singing!
I still don’t carry my Primary songbook with me to church anymore, except maybe a handful of Sundays each year when we play a game that might call for a variety of songs. Instead, I have a month plan of what songs I’ll be using and I organize a Primary singing time binder to keep everything in order, organized, and a cinch to find!
I love everything about using the binder – and especially handing it off to subs when I need one, as they have absolutely everything they need right in the order they need it. It takes out all the guesswork.
The whole setup correlates with my Monthly Singing Time Song List, if you haven’t checked out that post, make sure you open it in another tab. You’re going to be itching for it in just a minute when you see how I use these two things together.
Here’s how I set up my singing time binder system…
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Getting Organized with a Primary Singing Time Binder
My binder is 1.5″ thick. I do have quite a bit of extra space, I could get away with a 1″ binder. But you can use whatever you already have on hand. I do have a second much larger binder I keep at home to store all the extra songs that aren’t currently in use.
I started with color coded dividers that correspond to my singing time colors. Red for wiggle songs, yellow for opening, etc. Under each tab, I have a printed copy of the songs we will be singing and any additional helps I have prepared. That might be a flip chart or pictures, or other paper props that go with the song.
This lets me start at the very front of the binder and simply flip my way from one song to the next from the beginning of Primary all the way through the closing song.
1. Front Pocket:
In the far left side of my binder’s front pocket I keep the monthly song list. I made a free printable that you can use, and edit as needed. I love the song list’s 2-column design as I can easily see all the songs, even when I’m halfway through my binder pages. The individual pages don’t block my song list – so this helps keep me on track during Singing Time!
The rest of the pocket I use to store any notes or plans for the weeks lesson plan that might not fit in a three-ring approach. Such as cutout images, word strips, smaller pictures, or even just notes around a song story or plan for the week. Since these items change every week, I don’t put a lot of effort into preserving them or giving them a permanent spot in my binder.
2. Reference Section:
At the front of the binder I have a section of resources that are helpful when planning my lessons throughout the week/month. A lot of these files I don’t need all the time, but they are helpful for my subs and when it’s planning time. This lets me know exactly where they are and everything I need is in one spot.
- Outline for Sharing Time (excuse the outdated manual, I haven’t received the 2018 outline yet from my Primary President)
- Songs Reference List – Helpful especially for subs or in a pinch to come up with a different plan.
- Class “Chart” – Names of the kids in each class. They don’t have assigned seating, but seeing the few names from the class list helps me easily remember the kids names. I use this at the beginning of the year especially to get more familiar with where everyone is in the Primary room.
- Primary Schedule – A time schedule for Primary, for reference. I don’t need this during singing time, as I have a visual around the clock, but it’s helpful for subs and when I’m planning.
- 5-Year Rotation Primary Song List – I got this idea from another blog, unfortunately I don’t remember where. But I customized it and made it my own, since I wanted the songs in order by year, rather than alphabetical! This is super helpful during the beginning of the year planning. You’ll notice, some of the songs repeat during the 5-year rotation. I keep it in my binder for easy reference.
- Lists of Games – I have a couple of pages of game ideas, sorted by learn the song, review games, mix of songs, holiday ideas, and ideas for Sr Primary. I printed this list on colorful paper to make it easier to find and just to add some color to my binder! :)You can grab my list of ideas, and add to it as needed! There are 3 pages of ideas! Perfect to have on hand for when you’re in a rut, planning for a sub, or just short on prep time!
3. Song Tabs:
Then, I start with a tab (color coded to coordinate with my monthly song list printable — find that here!) for each of the singing time sections. Following the divider tab, I have the songs printed from lds.org in sheet protectors which makes them much easier to flip through. I’ll also include any flip charts, printables, pictures, or other props right behind the music page.
During Singing Time, I literally just work my way through each of the singing time sections, from front to back.
- Wiggle Songs
- Opening Song
- Welcome / Birthday
- Singing Time
- Closing Song
I use these UltraTabs that are absolutely amazing! I stick them right onto the edge of a sheet protector, that way may tabs / dividers actually stick out farther than the songs. I use one for each of the sections – color coordinated where possible.
I also use the UltraTabs sticker tabs on the sheet protectors for my 8 program songs for the year. Since these songs are used over and over and get tons of use throughout the year, I find it really helpful to have them labeled and easy to jump to.
I also don’t necessarily sing my Singing Time songs of the month in the same order each week, so that helps me jump around between these songs when they aren’t in the exact order. My song order mostly depends on the different activities, as I usually do 2-3 different activities during the 20-minute Singing Time.
That means, every second counts! This binder set-up has saved me SO much time each week and really makes Singing Time easier, at least for me!
I use a TON of sheet protectors and found it was easier to just buy a bulk box of 200 from Amazon! That gets me through the year without having to switch the songs in and out each month. I also use the sheet protectors for my flip charts with a simple ring looped through the edges so I can hold up the chart and flip through the song as we’re singing.
It works great and it’s cheap and easy to use! My preference is heavyweight sheet protectors, as they aren’t so “floppy” when you’re holding them, but standard weight is okay, too.
More Resources for Primary Music Leaders
As my blog is mainly a parenting and lifestyle blog (with lots of fun ideas and recipes) I’ve added a category tag to make it easier to find all my posts for Primary Music Leaders!
Head on over to browse all of our LDS content (and bookmark that page!) I have some more blog posts in the words, including my nursery singing time buckets which are my very favorite!! I know you’ll love them too, so check back for that.
Primary Singing Time Song List
What else do you add to your primary binder?
Friday 18th of May 2018
Thanks so much for sharing such great resources! I was just called as a Music Leader and your tips have helped me get organized! I especially love how you color-coordinate your binder and Monthly song lists. Do you happen to have the 2018 Song Reference List in an editable format? (So we can customize the songs we have selected for the Program?) Thanks again for sharing!
Monday 21st of May 2018
I don't have the tools to make an editable PDF, but great idea to add one with blanks! I edited and created one that will work for any year! :)
Friday 9th of February 2018
This is amazing!! Thanks for sharing it!
Friday 9th of February 2018
I absolutely think this is amazing! Could i just wire you some money and you can send me a replica?! Lol ????
Wednesday 31st of January 2018
My daughter's music lesson book is almost this organized. It seems she spends as much time keeping it in order as she does practicing her instruments!
Wednesday 31st of January 2018
It just couldn't get more organized than this. You've got it down to a science, and this is going to help many!