Thursday, February 16, 2012

Teaching Gethsemane

If you are teaching Gethsemane to your Primary and need some ideas, this post is for you! It always helps my creative juices start to flow when I hear what other people have done, so.... here's what I did.

Introduction: I introduced the song by showing the children the video I made. I told them briefly that I had heard a new song that helped me feel the spirit and I wanted to share it with them. I asked them to pay attention to their feelings while they watched and listened. After watching the video I asked them what they felt and if they liked the song. Then I asked if they wanted to learn it and of course they all did!

Sing & Repeat w/ Signs: I do this with all of the songs I teach. I sing a phrase while doing the actions and ask them to repeat it. It's the fastest way that I've found to learn the words and melody. I will ask questions like "Why do you think this is the sign for pain?" or "Why do you think this is the sign for battle?" To see the signs I used, scroll down.

Questions: Speaking of questions, it's so natural to ask gospel questions when teaching this song. We learned so much about the atonement discussing this song. You could have questions written on papers that kids pull out of a container, or find hidden around the room. Here are some good questions to get you started. "What is Gethsemane?" "Why was Jesus the only one that could go to Gethsemane?" "Whose pain did Jesus feel?" "What kind of pain do we have?" "What was the battle that Jesus won?" "Why did Jesus have to perform the atonement?" "What would happen if He didn't do it?"  "Do you think it was easy for Jesus to perform the atonement?" "Are you glad He did it?" "How can we show Him we are grateful?"

Pictures: I always have visuals that go with the words and usually I put one verse worth of pictures on the board at a time. After we've learned a verse, then we sing it again while someone points to the pictures. Then I'll give the pictures to different kids and ask them to come up and put them on the board when we sing that phrase. Then we check to see if they are in the right order.  I use mostly pre-printed pictures and I don't bother with words. They are watching me do the signs, so they don't have time to read the words.

Sing along with CD: My Primary loves to hear the little girl singing on the recording, so I used "Sing along with the CD" as a reward. As soon as we could sing a verse and a chorus, we sang along with the CD, and they LOVED it! That gave them motivation to learn the next section.

Signs always help my kids learn the words, but this is a long song, with a sacred message so I used minimal signs. For 'Gethsemane' I used the sign for garden. Many of these signs can be done with the beat of the song. For example 'climbed' we sign to the beat on the whole first phrase. Click on the bolded word to see the sign.

Jesus climbed the hill to the garden still.
His steps were heavy and slow.
Love and a prayer took Him there (I used the sign for 'lead')
To the place only  He could go.

Gethsemane. Jesus loves me. (I used the sign for 'garden' instead of spelling out Gethsemane)
So He went willingly, to Gethsemane. (I just used the sign for 'go')

He felt all that was sad, wicked, or bad
All the pain we would ever know.
While His friends were asleep He fought to keep
His promise made long ago.

The hardest thing that ever was done
The greatest pain that ever was known
The biggest battle that ever was won
This was done by Jesus, the Fight was won by Jesus.

Gethsemane, Jesus  loves  me.
So He gave His gift to me, in Gethsemane . (I did this sign for 'gave' with two hands, up high, to me.)

Gethsemane, Jesus  loves  me.
So He gives His gift to me, from Gethsemane. (same as gave)

I hope these ideas help!


  1. WOW!! Thank you, thank you for this was exactly what I needed to tie all of this together. I don't know how you come up with all of these wonderful are truly inspired! I love using the real signs with the song, I think it is much more respetful. Thank you again for taking the time to post this!!

  2. Would you be able to email me your video so that I may show our primary. I think it is amazing and the kids would love it. Thanks!!

    1. Patti, I wish I could email my video to you. I've had lots of requests, but the file is just too big. There are tools for downloading YouTube videos. I've done it before so I know it's possible. You can find several online helps if you do a Google search. Good Luck!

  3. THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR ALL YOUR WORK! I was just called as music leader and your site has been my go-to for ideas. I want to follow the handbook and the council from my primary president and I find your ideas are right in line with them.

  4. I can't tell you how much this has helped me! Thank you!!1

  5. This song looked very daunting to me to teach until I found your suggestions with signs. Thank you!

  6. i love the ideas to use signs, thank you!!

  7. We used this to learn this song and it was perfect, the kids know it very well and they love it. Thank you!!!

  8. Love this idea! You're the best! Thank yo so much!!

  9. Thanks a lot .. Much needed song !! Thanku once again

  10. Thanks a lot .. Much needed song !! Thanku once again

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  11. Do you know where I can purchase the sound track for this song?

  12. Was there a sign for "won"? It's not highlighted in my text.


    Sheila Cox

  13. Thankyou so much! Now since the kids aren't learning the entire sign language, do you still think its appropriate for them to use these signs in Sacrament Meeting?