Resilience as Pornography Prevention: Eight Child-Building Articles in one FRIEND Magazine!

Sept 2014 FriendYou may already have explored the pornography prevention materials on this site for parents to use in the home (see the Pornography Prevention tab above, or click here). One way that parents can help protect their children is to teach them healthy coping strategies for life’s stresses and disappointments. As BYU professor Mark Butler points out in a Sept 2014 ENSIGN article, “Children who have not learned how to deal with guilt, shame, sorrow, or pain will often turn to addictive behaviors to numb their negative emotions. Even less serious emotions such as stress, boredom, or loneliness can lead to addictive behaviors if the child doesn’t understand how to cope. Emotional pain is not bad. You can help your children learn to relate to pain not as a horrible emotion to be avoided but as a teacher that can lead to incredible growth.”

Then the Church takes that counsel to help children learn to cope and backs it up with real resources to help accomplish it. In a single FRIEND magazine (Sept 2014), in addition to other wonderful articles about God’s love, going to the temple, doing service, etc., I spotted these:

I just love these marvelous articles that speak directly to children, addressing real life situations in kid-friendly language. In every case, the answer is, as always, “come unto Christ.” (Moroni 10:32) “Instead of relying on entertainment to escape your problems, . . . the healthiest way to solve problems is to rely on Heavenly Father, the Savior, and your relationships with others.” (Jennifer Grace Fallon, “Healing Hidden Wounds,” Sept 2014 ENSIGN, 56).

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Primary in Zion now live on Mormon Media Network!

We’re delighted to announce that an audio interview about Primary in Zion is online on Mormon Media Network! Lori Henderson, host of the show “Mormon Tea,” interviewed authors Michelle and Marci in Episode 9, titled “Fill My Cup with Primary in Zion.”  The description of the episode reads, “Not just for Primary workers, ‘Primary in Zion’ provides useful information specific to our day for anyone who works with children.”

Listen here. The link to the pdf is here; the last 4 pages contain blog highlights about building your Primary team, music ideas, behavior issues, Scouting and Activity Days, activity favorites, and resources for families to use in the home.

Grab a cup of herb tea, sit back and listen!

-Marci and Michelle

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Babysitting Bag: A Five-Session Activity Day Series

IMG_20140801_185158_970Girls or boys can enjoy putting together a Babysitting Bag. Whether they use it at home with younger siblings (to give Mom or Dad a chance to lay down for a minute), or whether they use it with little friends or neighbors (as they serve as a “mother’s helper”), this Babysitting Bag will help Senior Primary children prepare for and learn about caring for younger children. Assembling it can be a multi-session engaged activity!


Session 1: Make playdough, which can entertain young folks for hours. It’s also nice for older kids to see that a cherished toy can be homemade! Add your choice of food coloring and package in airtight containers for each Babysitting Bag. Here’s my favorite recipe:


  • 1 cup (110 grams)  flour
  • 1/4 cup (68 grams) salt
  • 2 Tablespoons (20 grams) cream of tartar

Combine in a pan. In a separate bowl, combine:

  • 1 cup (235 milliliters) water
  • 2 teaspoons (10 milliliters) food coloring
  • 1 Tablespoon (13 grams) oil

Add to the above. Cook and stir constantly for 3-5 minutes. When the clay forms a ball in the center of the pan, knead on lightly floured surface with rubber gloves on (it will be hot). Keeps 1-2 months.

Session 2: Make a file folder game. Color, cut out and laminate the pieces. Ideas can be found here:

Session 3: Make a list of favorite activity songs like “Do As I’m Doing” (CS 276) and “If You’re Happy [And You Know It] (CS 266). Learn a new active song from that section of the Children’s Songbook to teach younger children. You might want to make some simple rhythm instruments:

Session 4: Make or decorate a simple fabric bag with handles to hold these things plus crayons, coloring sheets, and other simple age-appropriate activities.

Session 5: Talk about basic babysitting skills, first aid, when to summon help, etc.

Learning about caring for younger children is a valuable skill on a child’s way to learning how to be a responsible, loving, nurturing father or mother. It also is a self-esteem builder for a child to realize that they too can serve others.

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What if Your Own Child is in Your Primary?

Whether you have your own children in Primary or work with other Primary leaders who do, this post is for you. Even if your own children aren’t in Primary, being aware of the pitfalls and opportunities may lead you to offer inspired help to a leader who is in that situation.

When I served as Primary President to my own children, I really enjoyed interacting with them each Sunday as we explored the gospel together. However, I noticed this situation had challenges of its own. I saw myself overcompensating or undercompensating for the understandably different kind of love I had for the few children in the room who would go home with me after Primary.

Here’s what I learned:

1) Even-handed turns. Use popsicle sticks with each child’s name or some other method to choose turns to hold the picture, play the game, or do the activity. Otherwise I would either gravitate towards that face I love, or overcompensate in the other direction by not calling on my own in order to not play favorites. Letting the popsicle sticks keep track kept me from feeling guilty whatever I chose, and pre-empted the inevitable complaint, “You never call on me, Mom!”

2) Use other Primary leaders when needed. My own kids would tune me out when I reminded them of reverence rules for the nine thousandth time. But when one of my counselors asked them to keep their hands to themselves, all of a sudden this was new information to my kids. Sometimes that worked much better.

3) Ask God to help you leave home tensions at home. When things were particularly difficult at home with a certain child, sometimes those hard feelings would spill over into Primary. I would walk in the room ready to give my own the chilly treatment for something unrelated to their behavior at church. In all fairness, I had no way of knowing which other children had likewise refused to get out of bed and made everybody late, teased their brother, could only locate one Sunday shoe, or groaned again about the very fine breakfast put before them. I prayed to have God help me start the day over as soon as I entered the Primary room, so I could be their Primary leader instead of their disciplining mom. Then when we returned home we would pick up the situation if needed, with both of us refreshed from our time together basking in the Spirit. Being reminded of eternal gospel principles helped me remember that life is so much more than lost shoes or breakfast grumbles.

4) Reinforce learnings. Just because you happen to know the answer to “what did you learn in Primary today?” doesn’t mean you can’t ask it in a different way and really solidify an insight or concept. “What was the most interesting thing you learned?” or “What would you do if you were faced with that situation we talked about today?” or “How do you imagine we as a family might do better in living that principle we discussed today?”

5) Invite their feedback about your methods. You have a golden opportunity to receive valuable “customer satisfaction” information. Ask your kids, “Was that game too confusing today? What do you think would be a more interesting way to learn the scripture of the month? How did you feel when we sang that song?” You might learn something, because your own child knows you well enough to tell you the truth.

6) It’s OK to be their very own parent sometimes. A child may need their mom or dad during Primary, and it’s OK to leave someone else in charge while you attend to your own child’s needs.

God bless you to bask in this special time for your family as you worship Him in Primary together.


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2014 Primary Program Invitation (English and Spanish) and Reception Idea

english picScreen Shot 2014-08-23 at 2.18.56 PM

Back by popular demand, the 2014 Primary Program Invite is here. Special shout out to Tami Ray and her blog for providing the beautiful images on the front!

English: Front and Back (customize & print back to back, 4 invites to a page)

Spanish: Front and Back (customize & print back to back, 4 invites to a page)

I would recommend printing out the invite for the Primary children and missionaries to distribute. Check out our previous post here about kids inviting friends and family to the Primary Program and the wonderful missionary tool it can be.

Last year, my ward set up a small reception after the program for those people who came to see the program and to celebrate the Primary children’s hard work. It consisted of cookies and drinks in the Relief Society room after the program. This gave the viewers a chance to casually stick around and congratulate the child that they came to see, and not feel like they were obligated to go to class after. They could stay longer and talk with others in a relaxed setting. The missionaries also joined the reception so they could talk with the investigators they brought, as well as meet other visitors who attended the program. Then everyone attended 3rd hour classes as usual, and some hardy investigators stuck around.

Another variation on this idea is to have everyone in the ward join in on a reception in the cultural hall after the program during 2nd hour.


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Honesty: teach them how, as well as what and why July 14, 2009

Download the 1-page lesson plan:  Honesty sharing time outline.

Download a 1-page story about a baseball player who was honest: Honesty story (also see below)

Looking for a Sharing Time or Family Home Evening lesson about honesty? Honesty can be a tough concept for children who like magical thinking and don’t realize that nothing – nothing – is ever hidden from the Lord. Very little is hidden from their parents and teachers either, at least not for long!

Joseph Smith was honest even when he was pressured to deny his First Vision. Jesus “always spoke the truth,” says the songwriter of Jesus Once Was a Little Child (CS 55).

Even more than telling children what they should do (“be honest”) and why (“it’s a commandment”), teach the how. It can be helpful for children to hear grownups help them disassemble the stumbling blocks: children may think they might get in trouble if they tell the truth, or they may fear that people may not like them. To avoid these situations, it’s tempting to try to cover up a bad choice by being dishonest. But adults can teach and testify that honesty is the only way to feel the sweet peace of the companionship of the Spirit. Being honest leads others to trust us.

Here’s a story that illustrates that principle.

Kent is Tempted

For four innings the two teams battled on even terms; neither had scored. During the first of the fifth, there were two men out and one man on second base attempting to steal third. The catcher made a nice peg to Kent, the third baseman, in what looked like a sure out. The runner made a beautiful slide and as Kent attempted to tag him, he knew he narrowly missed the runner. From the umpire’s position it looked like an out, and that’s the way he called it. The fans let out a tumultuous yell. But Kent stood at third.

“Play ball!” shouted the umpire.

“No, he wasn’t [out],” came the astounding reply from Kent. “I didn’t tag him. The umpire is wrong. The runner should be called safe.”

A hushed silence gripped the crowd. A few catcalls were aimed at Kent for being so dumb as not to take advantage of the umpire’s decision. Under their breath his teammates were cursing Kent. But inwardly Kent knew that he had fought off temptation, and that was his only compensation. He felt good about it.

[Later in the game] Kent was at bat. Some of the fans [were] still heckling Kent for his fifth inning stand. Two strikes were called. It looked like Kent might strike out. Then he made a nice long hit over the right fielder. Kent circled the bases – past second, third, then on toward home. The throw-in was coming. The play was going to be close. One runner had scored; this would be the winning run. The catcher had the ball. Kent was forced to make a hook slide past the catcher. This he did beautifully. The dust and the umpire’s position made it impossible for him to tell whether the catcher had tagged the runner. It was a tough decision for the umpire, the second one in the game. The umpire walked straight towards Kent and looked him square in the eye. “Did he tag you?” asked the umpire sharply.

“No sir, he didn’t.” In a flash the crowd sensed that the game was won. Kent’s word was good with the umpire. (Adapted from Gospel Truths, by A.C. Nielsen, LDS Department of Education; page 175, quoted in Scripture Lessons in Leadership: Appendices to Teacher’s Manual, Deseret Sunday School Union, 1962, 534-535)

Use this story as part of a Sharing Time lesson. Download the 1-page Honesty sharing time outline.


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Lone Cub Scouts: “Activity Days” for Boys

photo 1Guest author Jen returns to write with love and concern in her heart for some of the older Primary boys who needed something more. Inspired by the Spirit, she sought to meet each child’s needs. See Jen’s other posts here , here and here.

Jen writes:

Several months ago I expressed concern about the boys in our Senior Primary.  For many reasons they aren’t able to attend Cub Scouts, but I felt that they could benefit from something like Activity Days for Boys.

I asked for advice from the bishopric and Stake Primary President. With their support, I felt inspired to ask a father of one of the boys for help. He meets with three boys every other Sunday for about twenty minutes after church to talk about what they’ve been working on in their Faith in God booklets, set goals, etc.  It has been really wonderful.

The Activity Day boys & girls went on a combined end-of-the-year hiking activity. The pictures from the hike fill me with such joy and happiness.  Listening to the Spirit tell me that the boys in our ward needed something a little different has changed part of our Primary for the better. It has also reminded me of the great love our Father has for each of His children.


photo 2

photo 3

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Classroom Management Poster: Download and print from home!

photo from

photo from

This idea is catching fire! Awhile back we shared these 5 simple Classroom Management rules in kid-friendly language that cover just about everything you need but remain concise and easy to remember.  We received some excellent feedback and success stories from Primaries who put them to use.  One Primary President took this idea and created a digital document for all of her Primary teachers.  Here’s the story.

For a large classroom-sized print, here’s Primary Rules on 5 separate pages. Print on regular paper,  tape together, and voila!

As always, reverence is not an end in itself, but a means of inviting the Spirit to whisper truth to children’s hearts.


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5th Sunday in August: Celebrate Birthdays of Primary, Pres. Monson

Painting of the first Primary from

Painting of the first Primary from

What do Primary and President Monson have in common? Their birthdays are both in late August! The first Primary was held on August 25, 1878 (see History of Primary at President Monson was born on August 21, 1927.

Pres. Monson on his birthday in 2013 at the Hartford Temple groundbreaking, from

Pres. Monson on his birthday in 2013 at the Hartford Temple groundbreaking, from

Perhaps your Primary children would like to celebrate one or the other? Or perhaps they would enjoy a birthday party for Primary and President Monson, all rolled into one? Having a 5th Sunday on August 31 gives you the chance! 

Download the lesson plan here.

For another service project idea, check out this idea.

What other pint-sized service projects can you imagine? We’re always looking for ideas!


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Teaching about the Sabbath Day through Activity & Music: August Sharing Time Idea

Here’s an idea for August 2014 Sharing Time, week 4’s theme: “The Sabbath is a day of rest and worship.”

The Sabbath day concept is a little tricky for kids to grasp.  In a recent Sharing Time lesson about this topic it was obvious the kids didn’t quite  have an understanding of the Sabbath day when they answered the question, “What do we do on Sunday?” with things such as: “Only wear a dress,”  “Pay our tithing,”  “Be nice,”  “Don’t drink beer” (It’s OK to drink beer the other 6 days of the week, I guess?).  Not once was “Go to church” or “Think about Jesus” ever mentioned.

Everyone has their own interpretation about what it means to keep the Sabbath day holy.  Making a list of what one should or should not do on the Sabbath is not very effective and where one family might choose not to watch TV on Sundays, others may.  What we can and should teach is the doctrine from the scriptures.  And of course, a fun activity to accompany good doctrine always goes a long way with Primary children.

Often, children are more likely to remember something when it’s taught through music!  It’s a win-win situation really; it’s more fun and more memorable for the kids and also makes it easier on you!

Here’s an idea for you, compliments of my mother-in-law Cindy who still has her music time visuals from 20 years past. She continues to share wonderful ideas that engaged children back then and still do today!

Clothesline Activity:

  1. Create some simple visuals to go with the lyrics of the song Saturday (see lyrics and visual ideas below).
  2. Gather a clothesline and clothespins for singing time.
  3. As you teach the song you can hang up each picture on your clothesline across the front of the Primary room, or call on children to help you do so.  You can also add key words to the front of each visual, for your readers.
  4. As you learn the song you can take down the visuals.  Or after the children are familiar with the song you could mix up the visuals and ask the children to put them back on the clothesline in the correct order.

Courtesy of Peg Stock Photos

Lyrics/Visual Ideas:

Saturday is a special day  (a big smiley face)
It’s the day we get ready for Sunday. ( a picture of a church building)
We clean the house, and we shop at the store, (a picture of a home or a simple drawing of dollar bills, or both)
So we won’t have to work until Monday.
We brush (wash) our clothes, and we shine our shoes, (picture of clothing and/or shoes)
And we call it our get-the-work-done day.
Then we trim our nails, and we shampoo our hair, (picture of a nail trimmer, bottle of shampoo, or bathtub)
So we can be ready for Sunday! (another picture of the church)

Saturday (CS 196)


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