Are you struggling to deal with disruptive behavior in Primary?

Primary can be difficult and literally too long for some children.  In response many children try to escape or get attention by acting out.  There are some easy things to do to help these children and their teachers.

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  1. Sometimes they might just need a short break.  If children regularly get restless at a similar time, add an active song, a walk to the drinking fountain or a yoga stretch.
  2. In Sharing Time sit behind or with your class, assign seats; don’t be afraid to not allow certain behavior.  I assure you children do not behave as badly in school as we allow them to in Primary.
  3. Have clear rules and apply them consistently.
  4. Remember that not all teachers are created equal.  Some are much better at redirecting children, having well prepared and engaging lessons and being aware that a child is reaching his limit.  If you have a class that is struggling, consider switching teachers around.
  5. Find someone in the ward who can act as a consultant.  This person can observe a class and make helpful suggestions.
  6. Some children may need an individual aide who can sit with them and help them understand concepts, take them out for a break or help them sit quietly so the teacher can teach.
  7. The teacher should prepare engaging age-appropriate lessons that take the children’s needs into consideration.  Stop for sensory breaks if needed, or have an active activity in the middle of your lesson, read short stories to younger children.  Have clear and consistent rules and a routine they can depend upon.
  8. Make sure they aren’t misbehaving because of something physical.  Make sure the child isn’t sick, that their shoes aren’t too small or that they need a drink but are unable to request help.
  9. Reinforce the behavior you want.

The University of Kentucky has created a short online behavioral therapy course that a teacher or leader could go through in a short amount of time that could help them understand antecedents to undesirable behavior and how to replace it with desirable behavior.

Understanding Behavior: An Interactive Tutorial  “provides a basic introduction to the behavioral model. By understanding and applying the behavioral model, you will increase the likelihood of intervening successfully with problem behaviors.”


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Filed under Discipline, Reaching the One, Special Needs, Teacher Support

The Last Week: The Atonement and Resurrection–Easter sharing time idea or family activity

When I was a missionary in Spain I experienced an amazing celebration called La Semana Santa, The Holy Week.  In Spain the entire week leading up to Easter is a celebration.  This was something I wanted to take with me when I returned to the United States.  I have always loved celebrating Easter, but experiencing La Semana Santa made me really think about the amazing events in Christ’s last week leading up to his crucifixion and resurrection.

In our family our tradition is to celebrate Jesus’ last week by reading and discussing the things he did in his last mortal days on earth, day by day in the same order that they happened.  We like to take a few minutes at breakfast, or before bed each day beginning the Sunday before Easter, to share the scripture stories with our children.  We open the scriptures so they know where the story comes from, then we simplify the words a little to make it more developmentally appropriate.  I have  simple drawings of some of these events that I like to show the kids while we are talking (See the Gospel Art Kit suggestions below if you are searching for pictures).  These discussions have elicited wonderful questions from our children.  I feel more in tune and aware of the meaning of Easter because we are thinking about it and discussing it all week!

This is a wonderful family activity, but it could also be an idea for Sharing Time.  In Sharing Time, the Sunday before Easter, you could introduce the idea and share the scripture story of Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem and then give parents this handout as a reference for more scripture study during the rest of the week.  Then, on Easter Sunday you could share the scriptures about Christ’s resurrection and discuss how the children felt learning about Jesus’ last week.  (Since General Conference is the weekend before Easter this year you might consider emailing this to families in your ward so they can use this throughout the week if they desire.)

The Last Week of Jesus’ Life-Easter PDF

Gospel Art Kit (GAK) pictures online


Triumphal Entry GAK 223

Jesus Cleansing Temple GAK 224

The Last Supper GAK 225

Jesus Washing Apostles Feet GAK 226

Gethsemane GAK 227

Judas Betrays Jesus GAK 228

Crucifixion GAK 230

Burial of Jesus GAK 231

The Tomb GAK 232

The Empty Tomb GAK 245

Jesus Appears to Mary GAK 233

Jesus Shows His Wounds GAK 234


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Popcorn. Popping.


Photo: Nigel Cox

Guest author Tina is a homeschooling mother of four, aspiring “health nut,” and enthusiastic Primary worker. She writes:

In a day and age where popcorn is almost exclusively made in a noise-reducing and sight-restricting microwave, most children know what popcorn looks like but few very have ever seen it pop! One chorister remedied that deficiency in a memorable way during singing time one April morning. After discussing the beauty of spring time and the amazing power that nature has to renew its life each year, she spread a large blanket at the front of the room, placed an old-fashioned popcorn popper in the middle of it, filled it with a scoop of popcorn kernels, removed the lid, and plugged it in. She then had the Primary sing “Popcorn Popping” while they waited for the machine to work its magic. Just as they were ending the verse and starting again, the first white puff appeared, thrust from the popper by the force of its eruption and the steady stream of upward-moving hot air. As that first puff was followed by a multitude of its companions—a volcano of little white pieces of joy—the kids stared in amazement. In no time at all, the noise in the room became a blend of popping, singing, aaaahs, oooohs, and squeals of excitement. And none of those kids ever again had to wonder what “popcorn popping” really looks like!

(Note: The big blanket is key to making this little activity work! When the popcorn is all popped, simply shake it all to the center of the blanket, wrap it up like a little envelope, and take it to the dumpster for quick, thorough cleanup.)

~Tina, guest author

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Set the Stage: Inviting the Spirit in Primary

During a recent training we asked Primary leaders to think about times they thought the children felt the Spirit in Primary or when they themselves felt the Spirit in Primary.  Below is an outline of ideas to help create an environment for inviting the Spirit in Primary:

  • Use the scriptures during Sharing Time, especially with Senior Primary. Children can read passages from the scriptures as they relate to the lesson being taught. Reading directly from God’s word helps invite the Spirit.

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  • Invite a member to pose as an investigator (the children know that they are only playing the role) and ask the children questions about the gospel and the church. The children can then answer the questions. This enables children to think about what they have learned at home and at church.
  • Share personal stories at the beginning and/or end of a lesson or Sharing Time.
  • While teaching,  identify the physical signs and emotional feelings that we may have when we feel the Spirit.
  • Assign a topic that the children can research at home during the week using their scriptures and then share their thoughts the following Sunday during Primary.


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April Sharing Time Ideas: The Family is Central to God’s Plan

button tree


Families come in all shapes and sizes. Just like buttons, each family is unique, dynamic, and versatile.  We are unique parts of a family tree, whose eternal purpose is to learn what LOVE is! We come from a Heavenly Family that helped shape and strengthen our spirits in the pre-mortal life. Then we are all born into a family and grow up to create our own families. Being part of a family helps us to learn love, patience, joy, endurance, but also how to overcome disappointment, sorrow, and how to resolve conflicts (all get along).

For the 1st week’s Sharing Time, you could add the guessing game of writing the word Family in different languages: Rodina (Czech), Perhe (Finnish), Fjolskylda (Icelandic),  Csalad (Hungarian), Aiga (Samoan), Banay (Persian), and put Familia (Italian and Spanish) last for the best hint to what the other words mean.  We all say the word Family differently from whatever part of the world we are from, but we are all part of God’s family. Focus on how each family teaches LOVE.

Have the children share examples of how they can share love in their families. You may want to print out some ideas ahead of time to get them started; i.e. help younger brother or sister, help cook, clean without being asked, help with homework or projects, teach a skill, play games, share, hug & kiss, tell your family how much you love them, do someone’s chore, give a present, thank each other, pray together, serve others together in different ways… rake neighbor’s leaves, make another family a treat, clean the house of family in need, watch other’s children etc..

For the 2nd week of Sharing Time you many want to focus on how mothers and fathers share responsibilities.  Both parents share in chores around the house.  Mothers’ and fathers’ responsibilities include nurturing and raising their children to be studious, productive, hard-working, virtuous, caring, and obedient righteous children of God.  Some families have parents that share producing income to provide for their families.

An apostle Elder Oaks shared a story about his family.  His father died when he was only 7 years old.  His mom had to direct his family of who was to say the prayer each morning.  She was a strong woman who raised him and his siblings in righteousness.  Men and women both have important callings in the church.  Elder Oaks said, “When children see their parents faithfully perform these callings, it strengthens their family relationships.” (Oct 2005 General Conference)

Church programs/activities have to be balanced with family time. You could have the children act out playing a game together. Then Mom and Dad end the game so the family can go to the church to clean for their turn of ward clean up.

Friends, callings, jobs, school, sports, and different activities will always come and go, BUT families are forever. Our family is the center of God’s plan for us to learn and grow while here on earth, so that we can return and live with HIM again.


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Classroom Management: One Simple Handout, One Teacher’s Experience

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This stuff works! You may have seen these posts:

Guest Author Jen H. writes: Several of our teachers were struggling with reverence in their classroom.  I typed up your classroom rules & the 10 ways you suggested reviewing them.  I shared them with the teachers, printed double-sided on cardstock. (Handout pdfs are here: class rules /review rules).
          One example is our fantastic CTR 7 teacher.  He is always prepared, excited to teach the class and actively looks for ways to get the children more interested and participate in the lessons.  He began using & reviewing the rules.
           He said that his class took on a whole different feeling! Before, he was trying to control the class and spent a lot of his energy reminding them to be quiet, to listen, to sit still.  Now he can simply review the class rules and spend that same energy focusing on inviting the Spirit.  He has said that it takes much less effort to do so and that the children have recognized a difference as well.

-Jen H

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“It’s Great to be 8!”: Fireside for Children Preparing for Baptism


Photo compliments of Jenny from

I loved serving in Primary and being able to see the sweet faces of the children every week. Although I loved everything about my calling, I have to admit that I did have a favorite place where I loved to be, and that was attending the baptisms of our Primary children. I absolutely loved it and confess that it was my favorite part of my calling. I can recall the sweet faces of those little children dressed in white sitting next to their families and feeling the love of all those who were in attendance. Every time that I stood in front of these little ones and officially welcomed them to Primary and spoke to them for a few minutes, I could not help but cry every time. I miss those moments.

In addition to attending baptisms, as a Primary Presidency, every year we would plan a small fireside titled “It’s Great to be 8.” This is not a mandatory activity, but one that is planned by many primaries across the country. This is an activity where children who will be turning 8 during the year can learn the importance of baptism and how they can prepare for the big day.

You can be as creative as you would like with this fireside. I will offer a few suggestions based on my experience, but please feel free to add your own ideas to your fireside. There are also hundreds of ideas online which is what inspired me every time.  The following outline is an introduction to the idea for those who have never heard of or are not familiar with the “It’s Great to be 8” idea.

  1. We always planned our fireside a few weeks or months before the first child turned 8 that year. Remember, some children turn 8 in January so you need to start planning the year before.
  2. We held ours at one of our homes because we felt it was a cozy and comfortable place for the children. This worked for us since we had a manageable group of children.
  3. Usually one or both parents attended with their child. Other siblings were welcome, but parents often brought children alone so they felt special. This was always portrayed as a special fireside for the child turning 8.
  4. A talk on baptism and the Holy Ghost were prepared by members of the Primary presidency. We tried to use object lessons and stories to make it interesting and easier for the children to learn about this sacred ordinance.
  5. We also prepared a booklet beforehand that had information for both parents and children that they could use to help prepare for the big day. I don’t have a copy of the one we used, but there are many available online. The informational packet included the following:
    • Information about scheduling chapel for baptism day
    • How long it takes to fill the font
    • A few scrapbook pages in black and white for children to write feelings on baptism day.
  6. We tried to keep fireside to one hour. This was perfect for the parents and helped to keep the children’s attention.
  7. We always made fun refreshments: cookies in the shape of the number 8, and cupcakes with number 8 on them. A fun extra that the children always looked forward to.
  8.  We started and ended the meeting with a child saying the prayer.

Like I said earlier, this is just a quick outline, you can find many ideas online that are creative and wonderful.

Check out some of the great ideas over at Sugardoodle!


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Filed under Activity, Parent Involvement