Sing, Step and Learn a new Song!

Energetic Primary music leader Leslie does a lively version of musical chairs in this fun singing time activity. Leslie is a 71-year-old Grandma of 35, mother of 11 and great grandma of 3. She works as an accountant and spends her spare time reading, sewing, and preparing for Primary Singing Time.

This activity is a takeoff on musical chairs:

First, make cards with the words to a song the children are learning, with one word on each card. The cards go on the floor in a circle.

Sing, Step, and Learn

After reviewing the song by singing it together once, ask, “Who can sing and walk at the same time?” In a small Primary, all the children can come up; in a larger Primary you can take one or two volunteers from each class. While the pianist plays the song, everyone sings while the children walk from card to card round the circle. At random intervals, the pianist stops the music. Whatever word we last sang is the magic word. Whoever is standing on the word of choice gets a sticker, a “super singer” necklace, or a “hooray!” If the word isn’t represented on the floor (it never comes out exactly even), try again!

A new take on Musical Chairs: “Musical Words”

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“An Egg for Everyone” – secret weapons galore

This is an excerpt from a book review written by Kate Wangsgard of “Sunday Lessons and Activities for Kids,” the book that emerged from this blog. The review was published in the spring 2015 Exponent II magazine, page 35. Read the full review here

Kate loves to cook and eat delicious vegetarian food, plan-over-the-top Halloween parties and go on bike rides with her family. She lives in Cambridge, MA with her soccer-loving husband, moppy-haired 7 year old son and adventurous 1 year old son.

I am currently teaching Sunbeams for the third time in ten years, so I’m willing to try just about anything to keep those wiggly little bums in their chairs. After reading through “Sunday Lessons and Activities for Kids,” I found what looked to be a secret weapon in the war against squirmy three-year-olds. Last Sunday I sat down next to my rows of Sunbeams, waiting for the perfect moment to use my new trick. It wasn’t long before one of the kids started hopping out of his chair. So I squatted down in front of him and whispered, “I have a special job for you. I need you to pretend you’re a bird and your chair is an egg that you need to keep warm. Make sure you stay in your chair so your egg stays warm!” His eyes lit up as he settled into his chair with a proud smile. It was working! Throughout the rest of Sharing Time, whenever he stared to get out of his chair, I reminded him of his little egg and he quickly returned to keep it warm. My co-teacher was impressed and I sat back and smugly marveled at my newfound Sunbeam wrangling skills.

Sunday Lessons and Activities for Kids” ought to be required reading for anyone serving in Primary. While it is full of clever ideas and tricks like the egg-warming one above, its greatest value lies in the suggestions for sensitively dealing with difficult situations you encounter while teaching children in the Church. The book gives suggestions for how to navigate a lesson on honoring your parents when you know some of your kids don’t have a positive relationship with their parents. It discusses how to deal with bullying and other behavior issues and includes suggestions to reach children of all learning styles or children with special needs. There is a lesson to teach children about the valuable role of women in the Church by introducing them to strong female leaders, past and present. Any efforts to help teach the gospel to the next generation in a more open and loving way gets my vote.

[The book] suggests simple but helpful rules for establishing a smoother running Primary and ways to help the kids learn and remember those rules each week. There are ways to improve Singing Time, Primary training meetings, and suggestions for working with the bishopric on staffing issues. There is also a detailed plan for transitioning new Sunbeams from nursery to Primary.

Sunday Lessons and Activities for Kids” is a quick read but will be a great resource to have on hand when you find yourself facing a particularly daunting subject or difficult situation.

– Kate Wangsgard

(Thank you, Kate!)

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Filed under Bullying, Discipline, Lesson, Music, Nursery, Reaching the One, Special Needs, Transitions

Follow the Prophet=Come Unto Christ: October 2015 Sharing Time Lesson ideas and application

In the first week of October the Sharing Time topic is “Following the prophet will help us come unto Christ.”  I absolutely believe that following the prophet will help us come unto Christ.  I feel an increased awareness of this as I try to navigate parenting four-young-children-growing-at-a-rapid-pace.

It seems like only yesterday that my 5-year-old was telling me, in response to the Prophet during General Conference, that we needed a picture of the temple in his room “RIGHT NOW!”  Do you remember the General Conference when President Monson suggested that each child have a picture of the temple in his or her room during their childhood?  You can read more about my son’s response to this conference talk here.  Now that adorable little boy has been baptized, is starting 4th grade and asks me deep questions like, “How am I going to know for sure if Heavenly Father is real?  I want to live with Him again someday but I’m confused because so many people believe different things.”  Following the prophet is a way to build a foundation of faith one brick at a time, helping our children build their path back to Heavenly Father.

Following the Prophet is a way to build a foundation of faith one brick at a time helping our children build their path back to Heavenly Father.{}

Here’s a roundup of some of our greatest hits about Following the Prophet to help you get started on your planning for Sharing Time.  You may have trouble narrowing it down!


Follow the Prophet Tic Tac Toe: A fun activity to reinforce the main ideas is always a good bet — providing repetition and a change of pace, helping learners of all styles practice and remember the lesson.

Lessons from Our Prophet: What did the Prophet actually say in our recent General Conference?  If we’re going to follow him I guess we better know what we’re following!

Follow the Prophet–but how exactly?: How can we help our children understand and apply these principles in their lives?

Anytime is a good time to teach about following the Prophet but October is a great opportunity to reinforce this principle, help the children prepare for General Conference and then remember and reflect on what they saw and heard during General Conference.




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Filed under General Conference, Sharing Time

Look for Primary leaders! and other General Conference ideas

photo from

photo from

One of our favorite guest authors, Primary president Jen H., posted this picture of the Primary General Presidency in her ward, to teach the children about their worldwide leaders. You can ask the children to watch for these leaders at General Conference, including the General Women’s Meeting! “There’s a Primary leader!” You might want to talk about the history of Primary, which first started over 100 years ago with 215 children. Now there are over a million children in Primary all over the world! Read more here.

In addition to learning about Primary itself, children might like to learn about Relief Society and Young Women: their history and purpose, and their strong, faithful women leaders, past and present. See the lesson plan with downloadable visuals at “Women and Service in the Kingdom: A Sharing Time or family night lesson for girls AND boys.”

For more family preparation for General Conference, see this great interactive activity for kids to do during conference: “General Conference Chart: Prophets, Apostles & Velcro OH MY!


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Filed under General Conference, Lesson, Parent Involvement

Birthday bonus from the Bishop!

Birthdays are a way to honor each individual child separately throughout the year, with each child having his/her moment in the sun. And birthdays are very important to a child.

But honoring a birthday child can potentially be disruptive. Giving a child a bag of treats or stickers during Sharing Time often leads the birthday child to investigate the loot. The child stops paying attention, with other children eyeing the treats.

Primary leader Katie found a terrific idea that solves the problem and provides an additional benefit: giving the bishop a chance to interact with precious younger members of his flock. After the children sing one of the fun birthday songs in the Children’s Songbook*  to the child, the secretary gives the child a “birthday coupon” pictured here. After church, the child goes to the bishop’s office to redeem it for a treat. A few laminated coupons can make their way back to Primary to reuse. Prayerfully consider mailing a coupon with a birthday card to a less active child if you think it would be well received.

birthday coupon

Other Primaries make a three-tiered birthday cake out of cardboard, with an assortment of pencils stuck in as candles. The birthday child chooses a birthday pencil.

Some Primaries do both – a pencil in Primary that goes under the child’s chair so as not to distract, and a birthday coupon for a treat after church.

Happy birthday, dear children!

* There are six birthday songs in the Children’s Songbook – do your children know all six? Look in the index on page 306 under “birthdays.”

*To download a PDF of these birthday coupons click here to go to SugarDoodle

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Filed under Opening Exercises, Reaching the One

Video: Royal Singer–a memorable activity for Singing time!

When I teach Singing Time in Primary one of my favorite activities is what I call “Royal Singer”.  All it takes is a simple robe or cape, a crown and some eager children and you’ve got a recipe for a memorable day in Primary!  In the video below I demonstrate how “Royal Singer” works with a child volunteer (and we sing I Love to See the Temple  together while I do some simple sign language).

Watch on YouTube: “Royal Singer”–Activity for Primary Music Time

For more great ideas, see “Making Music Time Fun and Interactive.”


Find this story and other great ideas in the book “Sunday Lessons and Activities for Kids.” Read more here.


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by | August 31, 2015 · 9:07 am

Prayer and Scripture Study: “I Obey Jesus Christ Because I Love Him”

The September 2015 Sharing Time manual lists this theme: “I Obey Jesus Christ Because I Love Him.” Weeks 3 and 4 deal with prayer and scripture study. These two gospel habits go together beautifully. “When we want to speak to God, we pray. And when we want Him to speak to us, we search the scriptures . . . His words.” (Elder Robert D. Hales, Ensign, Nov. 2006, 26-27)

Buchanan family - scripture study

PRAYER: Instead of four steps, consider the FIVE steps of prayer. Read more here, with a downloadable handout to use in your Sharing Time lesson.

SCRIPTURE STUDY is an ideal way to address boredom as well as give the children the gift of an early start to this lifelong gospel habit. Read “Scriptures in Primary: Raising the Bar and Addressing the Boredom Challenge.”

Building these habits in children’s early years will pay rich benefits throughout their lives, as they become more Christlike by talking to God (prayer) and listening to Him (scripture study).



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Filed under Lesson, Scriptures, Sharing Time

Support and Unity: Primary Appreciation Dessert Night

Guest author Jen H. returns!

“Thankfulness is the beginning of gratitude. Gratitude is the completion of thankfulness.  Thankfulness may consist merely of words. Gratitude is shown in acts.” – Henri Frederic Amiel

I don’t think that a Primary presidency can ever say ‘Thank You’ enough to those who serve with us in Primary. This feels especially true with those who serve every week in the quietest ways– the pianist, nursery workers, in Cub Scouts and Activity Days. They work with our Primary children but can often feel disconnected from the Primary organization.

One Sunday evening, we held a Primary Appreciation Dessert Night for our entire Primary board & their families. This meant that everyone who worked with the children in our ward was invited– our bishopric counselor over Primary, Primary teachers, chorister & pianist, nursery workers, nursery chorister, Activity Day leaders, Cubs Scout leaders, 11-year-old Scout leaders — and their families (about 100 people!).

We wanted to keep it intimate (for those who don’t often get a chance to socialize with others on Sunday) and simple (because this was a big group). We chose a local park with a playground and picnic tables for our activity. This worked out perfectly! The children were able to play and have a great time together and the adults got to eat and chat. We served brownies and shortcake that we could top with strawberries and whipped cream, with water to drink. We gave balloons to children as families left.

Everyone who attended our Appreciation Night left feeling a part of the Primary and knew how much we appreciated all of their service. They appreciated that we planned an activity that included their families and didn’t ask them to do anything. We plan to make this a yearly activity.

-Jen H.

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Filed under Activity, Teacher Support

Primary Motto: Instilling “Faith in God” message each week

Painting by Del Parson, text from Faith in God booklet inside front cover

Text from “Faith in God” booklet, inside front cover. Painting by Del Parson.

Guest author Cathy is a ward Primary president who is employed in her dream job as stay-at-home mom.  She has enjoyed serving in Primary in Australia and the Philippines as her family has moved around the world with her husband’s job. She writes:

As a recently called Primary president, I was talking with a friend who had many years experience in the calling. I was looking for wisdom about how to make a difference in the lives of the young children of God that I was called to love and teach.  She shared with me something that she had done that she felt was very successful.  She had been reading through the Faith in God pamphlet and noticed the short motto inside the front cover:

I am a child of God.
I know Heavenly Father loves me, and I love Him.
I can pray to Heavenly Father anytime, anywhere.
I am trying to remember and follow Jesus Christ.

She said to me, “If that is all those Primary kids learned from coming to Primary, that would be enough.”  And so they started reciting this theme each week during their opening exercises.

That really struck me.  Four simple sentences – but such important principles that can impact our every decision and shape our entire life.  Just as each week the Young Women around the world “stand for truth and righteousness” and together recite the Young Women’s theme, I knew I wanted to make this motto part of our weekly Primary routine.  Even as an adult, well out of my young woman years, I can still recite that theme and list off those values. I know even more clearly now the way that foundation influenced me, knowing that I am a daughter of God and that He loves me and I love Him.  I wanted to give a similar foundation to my Primary children, even at the young age of three!

I requested the help of my talented friend Rachel to come up with something visual that we could hold each week for the children to read and memorize this Primary theme.  Along with the words, she incorporated a sweet painting by Del Parson of our loving Savior surrounded by children (see above).  We now have the 11×17 sized theme printed and framed to remain in our Primary.  The children are excited about it and I hope that the Spirit touches their hearts as we say these words together each week.


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Filed under Opening Exercises, Sharing Time

I Know My Savior Lives–2015 Primary Program Invitations

Here’s what you’ve been waiting for: this year’s Primary Sacrament Meeting Program invitation.  In years past this has been a popular resource for so many of our readers.  This year we got wiser and started seeking out some good ideas early.  Thanks go to our guest contributor Laura H. who willingly designed and created this fantastic invitation early enough for us to share it with you.

Front of Invitation, page 1

Front of Invitation, page 1

Customize the second page of the invitation by downloading the Word document below and editing the details for your ward’s date, time, and place.

Primary Program Invitation 2015 Final, Page 2 JPEG

Invitation back, page 2

Download and customize this invitation: Primary Program Invitation Word Doc

Once you print both pages simply make double sided copies, cut and distribute to friends, neighbors, teachers, coaches, and family members.

Here’s some more good ideas for making the most of your Primary Program: Children inviting neighbors, coaches and schoolteachers to Primary Sacrament Meeting Program and Inviting Audience Comments–Primary Sacrament Meeting Presentation

~Michelle, with guest contributor Laura H.

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Filed under Parent Involvement, Primary Presidency Administration, Reaching the One, Sacrament Meeting Presentation