Photo courtesy of 123rf.com
As those Christmas cards start to arrive, save the ones that tell the Christmas story. Cut off the fronts and save them for a Sharing Time or Family Home Evening lesson. When I did this activity, I learned a profound lesson from a child who gave me an unexpected answer. Here’s how it works.
“Children, I have here some cards that tell the real Christmas story from the scriptures. Our job is to put them in order. The first person has it easy – just pick a card, tell what it has to do with the story of Jesus’ birth, and put it on the chalkboard with a magnet. The second person does the same – picks a card and tells us what it has to do with the Christmas story. Then that person has to decide whether it goes before or after the first picture. And so on, until we have all the cards in order on the board to tell the whole story of the birth of Jesus. Got it? Let’s go.”
At first it was easy. The children correctly figured that the picture of Joseph with Mary on the donkey traveling to Bethlehem went before the picture of baby Jesus in the manger. The shepherds and wise men were a little trickier – sending the children excitedly to the scriptures to find the difference between what the shepherds found in Luke 2: 16 – a babe – and what the wise men found in Matthew 2:8 – a young child. Ok, so far, so good – Mary on the donkey, then baby Jesus in the manger, then shepherds, then wise men.
Then a little girl picked the angel. I knew the answer – or so I thought. The angel announced to the shepherds that Jesus was born, telling them to go to Bethlehem. The angel goes before the shepherds. Easy.
But the girl twirled her curls and thought a minute. “Well, the angel could go several places. An angel told Mary she would have a baby. An angel told Joseph that it was OK to marry her even though she was already going to have a baby. An angel told the shepherds that Jesus was born and they should hurry to the manger to meet him. And an angel told Joseph to take baby Jesus and Mary to Egypt to escape when Herod killed all the babies. Herod thought one of those babies had to be the Christ Child and he’d surely get rid of him if he just killed all the babies. But the angel told Joseph so he could get Jesus to a safe place. So really, the angel could go a lot of places. I think we need more angels,” she concluded with a grin.
Of course she was right. I looked at her in amazement, thankful that she opened my eyes to more truth when I thought I knew “the answer.” I thank God for faithful parents who taught her to know and love the scriptures. It’s not the first time I’ve learned a profound truth from a child.
Perhaps it’s a scripture, or a quote from a modern leader, in or out of the church. What inspires your work with children? Please add your quotes in the comments below — I’m collecting them!
Here’s a few of my favorites:
“Never let a problem to be solved become more important than a person to be loved.” President Thomas S. Monson, Ensign, August 2011, 4.
“We are not called by God to do extraordinary things, but to do ordinary things with extraordinary love.” Jean Vanier, often repeated by Mother Teresa of Calcutta.
“Little children do have words given unto them many times, which confound the wise and the learned.” Alma 32:23
And of course the Primary theme: “All thy children shall be taught of the Lord; and great shall be the peace of thy children.” 3 Nephi 22:13
What quotes inspire your work with children?
All month in Sharing Time we have been talking about the different things we are thankful for: “ I am thankful for my body, I know that it is a temple of God. I am thankful for temporal blessings. I am thankful for spiritual blessings.” The fourth week in November is a review of all of these wonderful blessings we have and a reminder to thank our Creator who gave us all our blessings: “We should thank Heavenly Father for all of our blessings.”
“He commanded them that . . . every day they should give thanks to the Lord their God” (Mosiah 18:23)
At our house throughout the year we pull out our “Blessings Tree” to help us think about and remember all the blessings we have. This activity is perfect for this month’s Sharing Time theme. It is also helpful when discussing prayer and helping children think about what they would like to pray for or about. The month of November is a great time to ponder our blessings but this is one of those lessons that you could (and should!) teach all year round. We love bringing out our “Blessings Tree” for a quick and easy Family Night Lesson (FHE). We use a small flannel board for our visuals, but there are lots of options: you could simply print out the tree and leaves pattern on paper, you could draw a big version on the chalkboard and let kids add paper leaves or even draw their own leaves with chalk. The patterns are very basic so the sky’s the limit! (If you want to make flannel board pieces with these patterns, simply trace the patterns onto some pellon (which can be found at any fabric store), color with crayons and cut out! Voila!)
Share a personal blessing you are thankful for and/or share a scripture about giving thanks. You can have children take turns choosing a leaf from a bag or from the table and have them add it to the tree. When a blank leaf is chosen, a child can think of a blessing they want to add to the tree.
Scriptures About Giving Thanks:
- Be thankful unto him, and bless his name: Psalm 100:1-5
- O how you ought to thank your heavenly King: Mosiah 2:19-21
- Live in thanksgiving daily: Alma 34:38
- When thou risest in the morning let thy heart be full of thanks unto God: Alma 37:37
- Receive this blessing from the hand of the Lord, with a thankful heart: D&C 62:7
Primary Songs About Giving Thanks/Blessings:
“Children All Over the World” (CS,16–17), “For Health and Strength (CS,21), “I Think the World Is Glorious” (CS,230), “My Heavenly Father Loves Me” (CS,228–29), and “Thanks to Our Father” (CS,20).
Enjoy counting your blessings!
Illustration from lds.org by Arnold Friberg
You can only find it here on Primary in Zion! See below for a free download of “Samuel the Lamanite” sheet music (original music and lyrics by Mark Henderson)! Think of it as our early Christmas present to you.
Week 1 for December 2013 Sharing Time is “The prophets foretold that Jesus Christ would come to earth.” As you prepare to reverently enter the time that we celebrate Christ’s birth, it’s marvelously inspiring to teach children about New World prophets who knew Jesus was coming, as well as beloved ancient Isaiah. In addition to CS 36, “Samuel Tells of the Baby Jesus,” click here to download a free pdf of this catchy original song about Samuel the Lamanite. Play it once and it will be stuck in your head forever. Guaranteed.
~The Primary in Zion Crew
A friend who lived in Israel for a time said that the Primary children sing the beloved song “Popcorn Popping” (Children’s Songbook, 242) a little differently. There aren’t many apricot trees in Israel, but there are a LOT of date trees. And yes, in spring, date blossoms do look like popcorn glued onto tree branches, the same as apricot blossoms. My friend says that this is the way the children in Israel sing it:
I looked out the window and what did I see?
Dates are popping on the date palm tree.
Israel has brought me such a nice surprise,
Dates are popping right before my eyes.
I could take an armful and throw them in the sea;
A great big wave would bring them back to me.
It wasn’t really so, but it seemed to be
Dates are swimming in the Sea of Galilee.
Children may ask “what are dates?” You might want to be ready with a bag to show them.
If you have time, you could talk about what else happened in the Sea of Galilee: when Jesus walked on the Sea of Galilee (Matthew 14:24-27), or called His disciples (Matthew 4:18-19).
FYI: In Israel, when they sing “Far, Far Away on Judea’s Plains” (Hymns, 212), they notice that those plains of Judea are not far far away at all. Instead, I’m told that they sing “Near, Near at Hand on Judea’s Plains.”
I love our worldwide church family with common songs and sometimes interesting ways to sing them.
To our blog readers in Israel and Palestine: is this still the way the children sing it? Does anyone else know of any other countries that adapt this song to their local trees?
Tree photo courtesy of cubits.org
I found these books accidentally and felt like I’d discovered a treasure I needed to share!
I gave a set of “Bible Stories for Girls” and “Bible Stories for Boys” to a young friend being baptized. She and her brother both have Biblical names, but neither her name nor her brother’s was mentioned in the books! (Abigail and Joshua) So clearly these books are not comprehensive. But what a treasure for girls and boys to get acquainted with important, world-changing women as well as men in the Bible.
For a related post about modern-day women and girls from pioneer women to the purpose of Relief Society in kid-friendly terms, see “Women and Service in the Kingdom: A Sharing Time or family night lesson for girls AND boys.”
Here’s a variation on the theme from an earlier post Secret Weapon for Senior Primary: Puzzles. This one is suitable for Junior or Senior Primary or even for classes and families.
Type up all the names of class members or family members. Go to puzzlemaker.com and paste in the names into a word search puzzle. Voila! Even little children will be thrilled to find their own names hidden in the puzzle. For younger children, make a smaller puzzle so their names are easier to find (step 2 of the online instructions). See an example of a puzzle here: Name puzzle.
Each child IS important — all are children of God.