Happy Birthday, Primary!

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Primary began in 1878 to address the rowdiness of the boys, with lessons on not taking fruit from orchards or melon patches. Girls were included in that first Primary because their voices were needed to make the singing sound good, although girls too were admonished not to hang on wagons.

Obedience is still taught today in Primary, although children need fewer reminders about melon swiping and wagon hanging. Today’s lessons on obedience are more likely to focus on such topics as honesty and being kind to those who are different from you, such as refugees. Lessons for children in the home may include pornography prevention, including an original song “My Mind’s a Sacred Place” to protect children from today’s dangers.

Check out these ideas on how to celebrate both Primary’s birthday AND President Monson’s birthday, both in August!

Happy birthday, Primary! 139 years old looks good on you.

-Marci

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August 2017 Sharing Time – Fill your life with things that invite the Spirit

These ideas also make great family night lessons!

The August 2017 Sharing Time theme is “I Choose to Fill My Life with Things That Invite the Spirit,” with this favorite song for this month: “I’m Trying to Be like Jesus” (CS, 78–79). Here’s some ideas for each week:

Week 1: Having good friends will help me choose the right. Looking for the video of that wonderful story about the positive prank of hiding a silver coin in a poor man’s shoes? Watch the 4 minute video above.

Week 2: I should read, listen to, and look at things that are pleasing to Heavenly Father. Teach your children a song to help them make good media choices and fend off pornography. See “My Mind’s a Sacred Place” (new original song), with audio, sheet music, and the backstory.

Weeks 3 and 4: I should do things on the Sabbath that will help me stay close to Heavenly Father. Try these ideas: Teaching about the Sabbath Day through Activity & Music. Also see Emma Lu’s story about how rotten it felt NOT to honor the Sabbath day: A child’s safe space to choose the right.

-Marci

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“Passing Kindness” game for Sharing Time or family night

lds.org, colored by Alexavier, age 6

Whenever we teach about keeping the commandments, being kind to others often comes to mind. In addition, this activity also talks about what to do when others are unkind to you, even bullies.

This fun activity from the Friend uses paper and a small treat (enough for everyone) with different situations about ways to show kindness to others, and how to defend themselves when others are unkind. Write each question from the Friend on a separate piece of paper (using a full-sized sheet of paper per question works best), wrap each paper around a small shareable treat, and keep going until you have a medium-sized ball. When it’s time for the activity, unwrap the ball and answer the question, until you get down to the treat!

For step-by-step instructions and a list of questions, see “Passing Kindness” in the August 2015 Friend.

~Marci

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Pioneer Experience – Frozen Feet and All

Give your children a pioneer experience they’ll never forget. You can do this in Primary or for family night.

Today’s guest contributors Emily, Shanda and Ashna brought a picnic cooler full of ice and water to Primary to help teach this lesson. Emily invited two children to remove their socks and shoes and stick their feet in the freezing water. They kept their feet in as long as they could (with no hard feelings when they’d had enough). Meanwhile, all the children watched the 4-minute video “Mormon Pioneers: Act of Courage,” President Gordon B. Hinckley’s touching account of the three 18-year-old boys who carried members of the pioneer company across the icy Sweetwater River, then died from the effects of that ordeal.

Pairs of children volunteered to be oxen, yoked together with a hula hoop.Other children were divided into “families,” where pairs of children packed a laundry basket full of supplies. All the children watched while the trekkers packed the laundry basket with flour, dried beans, crackers, a frying pan, a gallon of water, extra clothes, rope — whatever pioneer essentials you have on hand. Then the children carried the basket, one on each handle, on a trek around the edges of the room, while everyone sang (you guessed it), “Pioneer Children Sang as they Walked” (Children’s Songbook, 214), “Little Pioneer Children” (CS, 216) or “To Be a Pioneer” (CS, 218). Simple costumes are fun if you have time — cowboy hats, sunbonnets, bandannas as neckerchiefs or head scarves.

For an extra touch (optional), Emily brought small glass jars for each child, filled halfway with heavy cream and a dash of salt. The children shook the cream into butter while watching the video and singing. Baby food jars or small jelly jars work nicely for this. Then, as the cream turned into butter, each child brought their jar to the back of the room, where Emily spread the homemade butter onto saltine crackers for a pioneer snack for the journey.

You could do the trek with just one or two groups of children pioneers. You could also just have 1-2 children shake cream into butter, perhaps passing along the jar to other children.

Emily writes, “The Sweetwater River crossing was a story that I wanted to include because it is personal to me. According to her biography, my great-great grandmother was a 13-year-old girl in the Martin Handcart company. Her father had died on the plains in Nebraska, but she continued on to Salt Lake City with her mother and sister. My purpose in sharing these stories was to help the children understand that living the gospel brings its challenges, but choices we make today affect not only us, but our posterity. After our Sharing Time, one of the brothers who teaches Primary came to me and told me his ancestor was one of the young men who carried the people across the river.”

Materials needed:

  • cooler with ice (add water at the church building)
  • towels for drying off feet
  • hula hoops for yoking oxen
  • laundry baskets
  • pioneer supplies such as flour, dried beans, crackers, a frying pan, a gallon of water, extra clothes, rope — whatever pioneer essentials you have on hand
  • simple costumes (optional) – cowboy hats, sunbonnets, or bandannas as neckerchiefs or head scarves.

If desired:

  • small glass jars
  • heavy whipping cream
  • crackers
  • knife for spreading
  • napkins

For another idea, click here for a simple “how-to” for a 10-minute pioneer trek for families, nursery, Junior or Senior Primary. You can trek on July 24 (Pioneer Day) or any day. This is a free chapter from the book that was born on this blog, “Sunday Lessons and Activities for Kids.

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Working Together: Strength in Unity

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Like a one-legged stool, working alone in Primary is not as strong or steady as working together. “No one of us is as smart as many of us together. Each of us brings a unique perspective and set of experiences and insights.” (Jakob R. Jones, Ensign, 9/16, 46). In a landmark address, Elder Joe J. Christensen, former president of Ricks College and member of the presidency of the Seventy, said, “Fewer mistakes are made when a leader counsels effectively.” Ensign, 3/01, 18

Notice he doesn’t say “no mistakes” but “fewer mistakes.” Even when one seeks the Spirit and counsels together, each of us is still imperfect and in need of constant improvement. Elder Christensen then quotes an unnamed counselor in a presidency who said, ““If this were not the Church, I would resign. We do not function as a presidency. The president makes all of the decisions. We don’t meet and counsel together regularly. As counselors, we are more like errand boys and are just expected to do as we are told.” Clearly this is a presidency that has room for growth in their effectiveness as a council.

Elder Christensen adds, “The concept of lay leadership, which involves all of us as active members, provides us with many opportunities to serve and develop.” He makes these suggestions, among others:

  • Counsel together.
  • Avoid interminable meetings through better time management.
  • Develop a feeling of fellowship. “Occasional informal gatherings . . .  can contribute much to building a unity and team spirit.”

“Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counsellors there is safety.” Proverbs 11:14

ACTION STEP: Did the Spirit bring anything specific to your mind as you read this? What challenge are you struggling with right now that may benefit from counsel? Might you gain insight or support by counseling with a member of the Primary presidency, a teacher, bishopric member or parents?

MORE RESOURCES: Read more about Teacher Councils in Primary and new manual: Teaching in the Savior’s Way

Also see Support and Unity: Primary Appreciation Dessert Night

Read the classic book Counseling With Our Councils: Learning to Minister Together in the Church and in the Family by M. Russell Ballard

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Kids as Commandment Keepers, Part 2 – July Sharing Time Ideas

Reverence-O-Meter made by Kelli, photo by Heidi

The theme for July 2017 is a continuation of the June theme: “I Choose the Right by Living Gospel Principles.” This terrific theme gives kids the opportunity to put solid doctrine into practice in their lives. Here are some supplemental ideas to consider:

Week 1: Fasting and Prayer – see Fasting for Beginners – teaching children about fasting

Week 2: Kindness – consider a Pint-sized Service Project to put this principle into action

Week 3: Reverence – try Quiet Game – Reverence Builder, especially as children enter the Primary room. Or try making the simple Reverence-O-Meter pictured here. Elinor explains that if the marker showed “reverent” at the end of sharing time, the children earned 3 cotton balls in a container, “almost there” earned 2, and so on. They were filling a container with cotton balls to earn a party.

Week 4: Honesty – see Honesty: teach them how, as well as what and why

 

God bless the children of the latter days, and those who love them.

-Marci

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Overheard in Primary (or at home): Repentance Simplified

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Guest author Marina is a stay-at-home mom of three boys and loves it. She shares this gem from her son Simon on how to repent: “You need to fall down on the ground and sleep for two days like Alma did (Mosiah 27). Then you will wake up with a new heart.”

In case you need something a bit more specific, here are some ideas about helping kids learn about repentance:

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Spring means Popcorn Popping – Even in Israel!

Date farm in Jerusalem

BYU Jerusalem Center

I just got back from the Holy Land with my 92-year-old mom. What a sacred privilege to visit the land of the Bible, the land Jesus loved.

Seeing date trees everywhere made me think of this post about the way children in Israel sing the beloved activity song “Popcorn Popping.” Try teaching your children this fun new spin on the beloved favorite song!

By the way, this very blog has visitors from Israel AND the Palestinian Territories. This region of the world, beloved of the Lord Jesus Christ as His earthly homeland, is revered as holy by many. But even today’s heart-wrenching, devastating conflict doesn’t stop Latter-day Saint Primary leaders coming together in this troubled region, at least on this blog, on behalf of children. My personal wish is that this tiny moment of virtual connection might expand to engulf the region — and the world — in God’s love.

All over the world, we share a common desire for strong, faithful children who know and love the Lord, and a desire to build a better world for them. I wish that these common desires might bring us all just a little closer to Zion — through Primary. It wouldn’t be the first time that “a little child shall lead them.”  (Isaiah 11:6) See “What’s Primary Like in Nepal or Bahrain?

-Marci

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Year-Round Snowball Fight! (with variations)

Today’s idea comes from Heather D, who says, “I love singing, my family, and puppies (but who doesn’t).”

This simple game is for any season. You can use it for Sharing Time, singing time, or a lesson. Here’s how it works: Ask the children a question, then have them write or draw their answer on a piece of paper. Use white paper for snowballs or baseballs; use orange paper for basketballs. When everyone is finished, each child crumples their paper into a ball and throws!

Children can throw their balls all at once (try having them throw their snowballs at YOU, with or without a cardboard CTR shield, as Heather D. did here!). Or each child can take turns throwing their ball into a bucket or basket.  There are lots of variations!

How to use this idea? Choristers can ask children to write their favorite song (with help for younger children). Those songs can be sung that week or next week, as time permits.

For a lesson or Sharing Time, ask the children a review question such as “What is one thing you want to always remember about _____?” Or ask an application question such as “What is one way you can (follow Jesus, be a good friend, show love to your family)?

Have fun with this activity!

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Kids as Commandment Keepers! June Sharing Time ideas

lds.org

The theme for June 2017 is “I Choose the Right by Living Gospel Principles.” This terrific theme gives kids the opportunity to put solid doctrine into practice in their lives. Here are some supplemental ideas to consider:

Week 1: Prayer – see Taking Prayer to the Next Level (including “A child’s prayer can save a (duck’s) life”)

Week 2: Tithing – see Paying Tithing on Treats

Week 3: Word of Wisdom – see Word of Wisdom – sharing time lesson and family night idea (our most popular post of all time!)

Week 4: Modesty – see Teaching modesty: clothing as advertising

 

 

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