Daily repentance in daily prayers: May 2015 Sharing Time idea

Personal PrayerThe May 2015 Sharing Time theme for week 2 is “I can repent.” This is an ideal opportunity to teach children repentance as a positive, ongoing, daily process of becoming better and better. As we leave behind mistakes, we let the atonement of Jesus Christ give us a fresh start. Speaking to all church members of all ages, Elder Robert C. Gay of the Seventy said, “The question before us is not whether we are doing things which need correcting, because we always are. . . The Lord loves our righteousness but asks of us continued repentance and submission.” (“What Shall a Man Give In Exchange for His Soul?” Ensign, November 2012, 34.)

Repentance is not just for extraordinary circumstances; it is a principle of daily self-examination as we seek to be better. Therefore, there is always a place for repentance in our personal prayers. As you teach, have the children count with you on their fingers:

  1. Heavenly Father,
  2. I thank Thee . . .
  3. I ask Thee . . .
  4. Forgive me for . . .
  5. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Using the downloadable handout here, ask the children to line up their fingers and trace around their hands. Then, in the spaces between the fingers, children can write or draw illustrations for the various steps.

Be sure you teach that these are the five steps of personal prayer. We should not talk about our mistakes when we are praying in front of other people. (If we need to tell someone besides Heavenly Father about something we’ve done wrong, we should talk to our parents in private, or our bishop.)

Learning frequent repentance young is building a lifelong habit to becoming more like Jesus, a day at a time.

FYI: The theme for week 3 of May 2015 is “When I am baptized I make a covenant with God.” See “Baptismal Promises – sharing time lesson and family night idea (English and Spanish visuals included!)”


This idea is one of the chapters in “Sunday Lessons and Activities for Kids,” page 25. Read more about how Primary in Zion became a book by clicking on the book cover. SundayLessons_Front_RGB


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Do Pets Go to Heaven? Finding comfort through scripture and Primary songs

My 5-year-old daughter got her first pet for her birthday last summer: a fish she lovingly named Beanbag.  When inquisitive minds inquired about the origin of his name she excitedly explained, “In preschool I had this favorite game that was a beanbag toss and since he is my favorite fish I named him Beanbag!”

Sadly, Beanbag will not be with us this year to celebrate her 6th birthday.  The evening my daughter discovered his lifeless form “laying on the ground” of his fishbowl there were many tears shed.  It seemed a milestone of childhood.  A rite of passage.  An event a child will remember even years later in adulthood. 

As we held a short memorial for Beanbag we began with a prayer.  We took turns saying something we liked about Beanbag and remembering funny moments like when he jumped out onto the table while we were changing his tank water.  My daughter worried that Beanbag would be sad or lonely and experience pain as we flushed him down his watery grave.  This might sound silly, but as we sat there in the bathroom preparing to say goodbye to Beanbag, it was the scriptures and Primary songs that brought comfort to a little girl who was mourning the death of her first pet.

Section 77 of the Doctrine and Covenants teaches us that “Beasts have spirits and shall dwell in eternal felicity…” (chapter heading, see also verses 1-4 and additional scriptures below).  This scripture eased her fears knowing Beanbag would not be sad or in pain but indeed enjoy eternal happiness.  We talked about the resurrection and how spirits live on after the body dies.  To end our memorial we suggested we sing a song.  She immediately liked the idea but didn’t want a “Rock ‘n’ Roll song or a ballet song” (her older brother’s and her typical requests respectively).  No, she wanted, “a song of God: I am a Child of God,  and Our Father Has a Family“.   And so with many a tear we sang the familiar words that now offered peace and comfort to a little girl learning about mortality and eternity.

Our Father has a family. It’s me, it’s you, all others too; we are His children.  He sent each one of us to earth, through birth, to live and learn here in families.  God gave us families to help us become what he wants us to be.  This is how He shares His love.  For the family is of God.  (The Family is of God)

I am a child of God and He has sent me here, has given me an earthly home with parents kind and dear.  Lead me, guide me, walk beside me, help me find the way.  Teach me all that I must do to live with Him someday. (CS 2)


More about the role of animals in God’s eternal plan:

* Bible Dictionary, “Christ:” “He rose from the grave and brought to pass the bodily resurrection of every living thing.” (page 633)

* Bible Dictionary, “Revelation of John: “Animals are resurrected from the dead, and there are animals in heaven, redeemed by the blood of Christ.” (page 763, referring to Revelation 5:11-14)

* Moses 3:19 “. . . God formed every beast of the field, . . . and they were also living souls.”

* Genesis 9:9-10 “. . . “I establish my covenant with you, and with your seed after you; and with every living creature that is with you, of the fowl, of the cattle, and of every beast of the earth with you; from all that go out of the ark,to every beast of the earth.” (That is, God covenanted with man and animals.)




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Utah, DC, and New England friends – “Primary in Zion Live!”

SundayLessons_Front_RGBUTAH friends: Sat April 11 at 3 pm in downtown SLC: Marci is doing a hands-on workshop of many Primary in Zion ideas from the book “Sunday Lessons & Activities for Kids!” All ages welcome, refreshments served. Join the action as Marci demonstrates ideas about nurturing children in a tough world. Come home with ideas for fun activities for children in a church class or your own children or grandchildren. Audience volunteers of all ages might be part of the action! Details here.


FINAL LOGO_Light2015_VerticalNEW ENGLAND friends: Register now for “Let Your Light Shine 2015!” Although this FREE 13-stake Women’s Conference isn’t happening until Sat May 30 in Lowell, Mass, seating is limited and tickets are going fast! Primary in Zion co-founders Michelle and Marci are presenting “Busting Out of the Bubble: Teaching Kids to Feel Empathy for All God’s Children Through Service.” The session will be recorded and available as a podcast after the conference.


WASHINGTON DC friends: Sat May 2 at 4 pm in Annandale, VA: Join contributing author Tina and editor Marci in a hands-on workshop of many Primary in Zion ideas from the book “Sunday Lessons & Activities for Kids!” All ages welcome, refreshments served. Join the action as they demonstrate ideas about nurturing children in a tough world. Come home with ideas for fun activities for children in a church class or your own children or grandchildren. Audience volunteers of all ages might be part of the action! Details here.SundayLessons_Front_RGB




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Scripture study habits bring peace to children in turmoil



Today’s guest author Holly is a wife, mother of 8 (four mine, four his), grandma to 7, and daughter of God.

When my children were young we had family prayer and family scripture study every day without fail. EVERY DAY. Many of those days our family scripture study didn’t go well. Someone is poking someone. Someone was touching or looking at someone, etc…you get the picture, but we did it anyway. Most days scripture study was between 20-30 minutes long as we read scriptures and discussed them. Days, months, and years passed.  We found out from our kids that none of their friends did it that way, but we kept on. This was sacred time to us.

Our older children grew to be young teens and then their world crashed. My husband and I divorced. This was a traumatic time for them and, in essence, they went off the deep end. Our life was in uproar. They were angry and frustrated, and since they lived with me, they took all that anger and frustration out on me. It felt like a war zone. For the first time, I dreaded the moment they stepped in the door from school.

But here is the important part of the story. At 8:30 every night without me prodding them, they would each come in my room for family scripture study and prayer. There was no fighting, no evil looks….just peace as we studied scriptures and prayed. 20-30 minutes of peace every day.

Afterwards, they stepped out my bedroom door and it was a war zone again. Those really were the only peaceful moments we had for several months. It was a remarkable miracle that I will forever value.

I didn’t know when my children were young just how much of a sacred time our crazy scripture study was. If we hadn’t been having scripture study on a consistent basis all along, I wouldn’t have been able to start it at that tumultuous time in their life.  But during those days of turmoil, that sacred time brought peace, and from that the strength to move forward, for each one of us.

“Wherefore, be not weary in well doing, for ye are laying the foundation of a great work. And out of small things proceedeth that which is great.” Doctrine & Covenants 64:33


Other related posts: Scripture Power! Where to find that memorable song?


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5th Sunday in March Sharing Time Lesson Idea: Preparing for Easter

This year Easter Sunday happens to fall on General Conference weekend.  This happens every few years.  I love having the opportunity to listen to the prophet and apostles on Easter and be home together as a family.  But I do miss having regular Sunday meetings and Primary.  But who says you can’t teach about Easter in Primary the week before Easter or the week after?  Or both?  In fact, I think anytime is a good time to help children learn about Jesus’ life mission, celebrate His resurrection and get to know Jesus better!

Image from photobucket.com

Image from photobucket.com

If you plan ahead you can prepare children for the true meaning of Easter by teaching about Palm Sunday and Jesus’ last week on Palm Sunday, March 29. Since this is a 5th Sunday there isn’t a lesson topic in our Sharing Time Outline for Primary. We’ve got you covered!  Check out the link below for some Palm Sunday and Easter Sharing Time Lesson ideas with links to visuals that will help you tell the story of Jesus’ last week.

Palm Sunday and Easter Sharing Time Idea and Family Activity

Share this 1 page document with your Primary children’s families so they can follow along at home through the week leading up to Easter and draw closer to Jesus through scripture.  This is always a memorable week in our house when we dedicate a little chunk of time each morning or night to study Jesus’ last week. Easter morning comes and the kids are definitely excited for their Easter basket treats but we also burst into song and praise our Lord through music inspired by the scripture verses we’ve been studying.  Learning and thinking about Jesus all week makes Easter so much more meaningful for me.  Jesus’ ministry, death and resurrection are…well…everything!

“He is not here: for he is risen, as he said.  Come, see the place where the Lord lay.” Matthew 28: 6


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Filed under Easter, General Conference, Lesson, Parent Involvement, Scriptures, Sharing Time

Special Needs: Parents and Teachers on the Same Team!

Our guest author today is Jodi, a returned missionary and full-time mom of six children, many with special needs. Even as a little girl Jodi had a natural love for individuals with special needs. Today she is sharing some of her feelings about raising children with special needs in the Church.

I am a mom of six children, all adopted, and special in their own unique ways. The biggest thing that ward members can do to support and help families with special needs is to trust that the parents know best, and not judge.

Trust is so powerful and truly gives the child the best chance at being successful. While leaders of the church receive inspiration for those that they have stewardship over, it is always vital to remember that the parents receive guidance and direction for their children too. Thus parents and church leaders should work together as a team. We have been very blessed to have leaders that trust and support us. We have tried to trust and support them as well.

Erin Anderson Photography

Photo by Erin Anderson Photo & Design

We have two children with Down Syndrome. Daisy is almost five and Leila is three. A Primary worker was called to specifically help watch over and care for our girls while in Nursery. This gave me great peace of mind in leaving them. Our girls choke easily and knowing that there was somebody there just to keep an extra eye on them was a blessing. Also, because of their delay in development there was always somebody there to help them sit on their chair, or carry them to the next activity (they didn’t walk when others walked). These are some of the accommodations that were made for them in Nursery.

When Daisy was the appropriate age for Sunbeams, she was delayed socially and verbally. I asked that Daisy stay in Nursery for one more year.  This is when I appreciated the Primary President’s trust.  Consistency and predictability is huge for all children, but especially those children with special needs. I felt that an extra year in Nursery would serve her well, and it did.

The next year, she really should have been transitioning into Sunbeams, but now we were focusing on building endurance in a classroom setting. Once again, I was grateful to a Primary President who trusts us. Daisy now attends Singing Time in Primary, and then returns to Nursery for the rest of the time. We plan to continually transition her into Sharing Time and class time throughout the year. She’ll be fully participating in Primary by next January.

In addition, some special needs aren’t visually apparent like Down Syndrome. Some children struggle with unseen special needs like anxiety disorders, mental health issues, etc. Our oldest son, who is 14, suffers with Reactive Attachment Disorder. The bishop, Young Men and Scout leaders have been very supportive. They listen to our needs and desires, and make accommodations to best help our son. This has done so much for us and for him.

When ministering to and having stewardship over children that have special needs, the best thing that leaders can do to support the child and family is to trust the parents and to work together as a team, never judging. When we come together as one and focus on the individual we are truly ministering as Christ did by focusing on the worth of each individual soul.

Erin Anderson Photography

Photo by Erin Anderson Photo & Design


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Filed under Life Lessons, Nursery, Parent Involvement, Reaching the One, Special Needs, Teacher Support, Transitions

Set the Tone, Reap the Benefits

Today’s guest author is Cathryn who is a homeschooling mother of four and loves to sing, dance, be outside, sew, bake, learn, and create.  Her favorite thing about Primary is singing beautiful songs with beautiful children!

When I was called to be the Primary Music Leader, having never served in that capacity before (and being thrilled to the very core to try!), I turned to the church website to read any information given in reference to that calling.  One of the first gems that I happened upon was the idea of having the children do some singing as they first enter the Primary room.  You know, that time when the end of Sacrament Meeting chaos begins, and 5 to 10 (sometimes more) children immediately scoot down the hall to the primary room before any teachers have any hope of getting there before them.  At least, that’s how it is in our ward.  We were having trouble keeping reverence in our Primary from the very start, so I thought this idea of giving the kids an opportunity to focus their energy into moving and singing, instead of chatting and wiggling, would be perfect!  So I tried it, and the results have been awesome!

Catch their attention with music to give them the opportunity to hear, feel, absorb, learn and grow!

So this is how we do it.  First off, I make sure that I am in the Primary room before Sacrament Meeting ends.  Then, as children arrive, I begin immediately by doing wiggle songs with them (“Popcorn Popping “(CS 242), “Once there was a Snowman” (CS 249), “Do as I’m Doing” (CS 276), etc.).  As other children arrive, they become immediately involved in the songs we are singing, and they are excited!  These are their favorite songs, of course!  After about 5 or so minutes of wiggle songs, our pianist has arrived.  I do one last wiggle song that ends with the children in a reverent position.  My favorite one to use is “My Hands” (CS 273).  I motion to the pianist to begin playing reverent primary songs.  I ask the children to either ooh or hum the songs as she plays them.  After one or two songs it is time to begin, and the children have their wiggles out and are much more ready to be reverent.  Such a simple idea, really, requiring very little effort on my part, but so very effective in setting the tone for the rest of primary.


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Filed under Music, Opening Exercises

Spotlight! Four ideas to showcase children (and teachers)

Jesus loves each child individually, and so do we. It’s wonderful to get better acquainted with each child in Primary through a brief weekly spotlight. Here are four fun ways to do it.spotlight closeup.

  1. FIVE OBJECTS: Make up a simple drawstring bag. Ask a child to take the bag home and put five objects in it and bring it the next week. It’s great fun for the child to find five things that represent his or her interests and favorites that will fit in a small bag. Then the secretary gives the bag to a different child for the following week. In small Primaries, you can let a teacher or leader have a turn once in awhile! Children love getting to know their teachers as Actual People.spotlight bag
  2. A FAMILY AT A TIME: You may enjoy getting to know several members of a whole family together. Depending upon their availability, parents and siblings can join Junior or Senior Primary or both. They can tell about the whole family, with each child participating. (Give families a time limit.)
  3. GUESS THE SPOTLIGHT CHILD: At the beginning of the year, ask all the parents to fill out a page asking about the child’s characteristics, favorites, etc. Keep these spotlight sheets on hand and choose one each week. When it’s spotlight time, ask all the children to stand (which is good for getting all the children involved at once). As you read each characteristic, children sit down if this doesn’t apply to them. For example, “Today’s spotlight child’s favorite food is pizza. If you like pizza, stay standing. If you don’t like pizza, sit down.” At the end, identify the spotlight child.
  4. PANEL OF CHILDREN (and a teacher or two!): This is particularly good for large Primaries, where a spotlight child a week may mean children wait years for a turn. Select several children (5-6) to be the spotlight children that week, and throw in a teacher or leader if you like. Ask the panel questions, then pass the microphone down the row and let each person respond.

Feel free to mix and match — a drawstring bag this week, a panel next week (especially if the spotlight child doesn’t show up with the bag). Or you may want to do a single spotlight method until you’ve worked your way through all the children, then switch to a different spotlight method.

Prayerfully consider reaching out to less active children as well. You might say something like this: “It’s Ruth’s turn to be our spotlight child sometime this month! Which Sunday would work for you? We’d love to get to know her better.”

What other spotlight ideas have worked for you?


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Filed under Opening Exercises, Reaching the One, Sharing Time

Follow the Prophet Tic Tac Toe – sharing time idea

The March 2015 theme has to do with prophets. Here is an idea for involving the children in learning the prophet’s teachings and how to follow them.

Prophet tic-tac-toe board

Follow the Prophet Tic Tac Toe lesson plan

You can also adapt the Tic Tac Toe game board for any lesson you’d like to teach, inserting other clip art.

While the children are learning to “Follow the Prophet,” it’s great to encourage them to find out exactly what that means, and
for them to commit to DO IT.  

“He knows the way!”



Filed under Lesson, Sharing Time

Activity Day Gatherings with Families!

from timigustafson.com

from timigustafson.com

Guest author Heidi is a mother, former ward Primary president and current stake Primary president. Heidi shares this fun idea:

My daughter is quickly approaching her 8th birthday with anticipation that is only matched by a wedding, graduation or other major life celebration!  She’s planning her special baptism dress, shoes, bow for her hair, and invitation list for her special baptism.  She is equally thrilled that she’ll be able to attend Activity Days twice a month, as she has seen these girls at the church when we are there for her older brother’s mid-week church activities! The Activity Day program for the young girls in the church is a wonderful way for them to learn and grow, develop talents and friendships that will span the decade until they leave home for college and missions.
A few years ago our ward started a great tradition of holding two annual activities for the girls and their families. These activities have been a huge success and are completely in line with the program as outlined in the Faith in God for Girls booklet under “Orientation and Recognition,” bullet #2 on page 19.  They have allowed the girls to showcase their talents, accomplishments and have fostered wonderful friendships and camaraderie between the families.
The first event is an annual Talent Show. It has been held on a Saturday morning, but could easily be held on a mid-week night. Decorations and refreshments were simple but fun. The girls and families were so excited and love every moment of the show. Girls this age LOVE the spotlight and are so supportive of each other -and a Talent Show is a wonderful way to grow these desires.
The second annual event the Activity Day program conducted was a Family Hike and Picnic on a Saturday in spring to a wonderful nearby recreational site. Families enjoyed the hike together then brought their own meals for a picnic at the park nearby. These two events have become traditions and the girls absolutely look forward to them each year. They are both low-budget events with high-value results! Even more importantly, these activities strengthen these wonderful daughters of God, their families and their testimonies of the gospel and their Savior.

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Filed under Activity, Faith in God program