April – Apostasy paper cup tower activity

thoton9 on Flickr

Download a ready-to-use lesson plan: Apostasy lesson outline

The April 2018 theme for week 1 is: “After Jesus Christ and His Apostles died, gospel truths were lost.”

I learned about the apostasy when Elder Mantle and Elder What’s-His-Name taught me the gospel as a 16-year-old. They used a memorable activity to teach about the apostasy that sticks with me today, decades later.

They pulled a stack of nested cups out of their backpack, each labeled with a gospel principle that was lost or changed during the apostasy such as baptism, priesthood, temples, the sacrament, living prophets, apostles and Jesus Christ. First they put down the cup labeled Jesus Christ as the cornerstone, then living prophets and apostles. Then they built the rest of the cups into a tower representing the church that Jesus himself founded when He was alive.

“Then Jesus Christ died, and the apostles were killed,” they explained, removing those cups. The rest of the paper cup tower tumbled. “In those days, the apostles couldn’t come together often enough to name new apostles as fast as the apostles were killed by the wicked people trying to stop the church. The apostles met together to replace the apostle Judas who betrayed Jesus, choosing Matthias to take Judas’ place (See Acts 1:15-26). But after that, the apostles died off and weren’t replaced, and precious truths were lost.

“But the good news is that all those truths are restored in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The apostasy can’t happen again, because each time an apostle passes away, he is replaced with a new apostle at the next General Conference.”

I’m grateful for those missionaries who taught me these vital life-changing truths years ago. You can be the bearer of this wonderful news to the hearts of the children.

As you teach the restoration of the priesthood, consider teaching the restoration of the Relief Society! Here’s a ready-to-use lesson plan and visual aids: Sharing Time Lesson – Restoration of Priesthood AND Relief Society



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Swapping roles – children as teachers!


“When children explain in their own words the gospel doctrines they have just been taught, real learning takes place,” said Sisters Wixom, Stevens and Esplin, former Primary General Presidency (Church News, July 15, 2012, 15). Russell Wilcox adds, “I realized that I had learned many wonderful principles in Primary, but it was when I was required to teach those principles to others that I fully internalized them” (Ensign, Oct 2013, 48).

How can we create opportunities for children to teach, so they truly master gospel principles that will help them grow?

  • Save the last five minutes of the lesson for review and summary. Ask the children, “What is one thing you heard today that you didn’t know when you came to Primary today?” or “What are you going to do this week because of what you heard today?”
  • At the end of the lesson, ask the children to think of a Primary song that teaches the principle illustrated in the lesson, then hum that song together as you leave.
  • Invite a class of older children to visit a younger class or the nursery and teach a scripture story. Children can bear testimony of what it means for children today.
  • Challenge the children to teach a brother, sister, or grandparent (on the phone?) something they learned, or make it part of the dinner conversation.

When the Lord visited the Nephites, “he did teach and minister unto the children of the multitude . . . and he did loose their tongues, and they did speak unto their fathers great and marvelous things. . . ” (3 Nephi 26:14). We have much to learn from the children.



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Primary Singing Olympics!

Here’s an easy idea to get the kids motivated to sing their very best! Here are our very official judges for the “Singing Olympics” during singing time. We split into 3 teams. Each team performed the song we’ve been learning all month (one team at a time), and we awarded a gold, silver, and bronze medal at the end.

All you need are a clipboard, pen and paper for each judge, and paper medals for each team or each child. Have fun with it!


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March Sharing Time: Jesus as Savior – Easter and more

The concept of Jesus as Savior can be a relief to children who expect to be punished for their mistakes. It may be that kids’ choices will have consequences that might be uncomfortable (and sadly memorable!). But they are never too young to learn that they have a Savior.

I’ll never forget the feeling of introducing another adult to the concept of Jesus as Savior. She grew up in a non-Christian church, and the concept that Someone would pay for her sins if she repented was a relief of eternal proportions. She thought she’d have to suffer for her own sins, and she had suffered plenty already. The Atonement is a magnificent gift from our Father and our Savior Jesus Christ.

Children too can appreciate this gift. As you ponder the needs of the children, you may be inspired to focus more this month on Easter, the Resurrection, or the gift of the Atonement. Here are some ideas:

Happy Easter!


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Rainy Day prop for choosing songs or choosing turns

Guest contributor Sister D. strikes again! (See her previous clever “Hello Song” post here.)

Looking for a fun way to choose songs or for kids to choose turns? Open up an umbrella, hang strings from the metal ribs, and hang paper raindrops from the strings! Label the raindrops with names of songs for review, or numbers that correspond to a list of songs to sing or scriptures to read. (Hint: putting numbers on the raindrops makes them reusable for different purposes.)

Let it pour!

And if it’s more like snow season than rain season, try this “Year Round Snowball Fight!”

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Inspiring, Easy Ideas for a Kids’ Temple Trip!

Guest contributor Chardell is a wife and mother of three who enjoys baking bread and traveling.

Children of all ages can feel the sacredness of the temple, even from the outside. A temple trip for Primary or for families can instill an early love for the temple.

Chardell recently took her ward Primary to the temple. For a temple craft, Chardell had lots of different kinds of white or clear beads and the kids glued them on a blank template. On the back they wrote

I love to see the temple
I went there today
(Name of temple and date)
(Child’s name and age)

See a step-by-step outline of possible Primary/family temple trip activities in the book born on this blog,”Sunday Lessons and Activities for Kids!” (Read the story here: Primary in Zion becomes a book!) See the free download of the temple activity necklace/passport here.

You might like to use these Temple coloring pages and journal (feel free to customize). You’ll see one page with a blank temple for people to draw their family inside. The second temple coloring page has lots of detail; older kids might enjoy getting serious with colored pencils or markers. The third page is the journal for each child to complete, with help from adults or older children if needed. A journal page that records thoughts and feelings from child’s first temple visit becomes a lifelong keepsake, perhaps even displayed at their temple wedding reception.

See Michelle’s story about her children’s reaction to a beautiful 15-minute video that helps children understand the temple: Primary Children Looking Toward the Temple

Also see the Sept 2011 FRIEND article, “Preparing to do baptisms for the dead” to give children an idea of what to expect when they actually get to go inside someday.

May you and your children have an eternally memorable experience visiting the Lord’s holy house.

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Dodge those arrows and rocks like Samuel the Lamanite!


Download the free audio MP3 and sheet music here (available exclusively on PrimaryinZion!)

Kids don’t have to stand on a wall to have arrows and rocks thrown at them — or words that hurt like arrows and rocks. But just like Samuel, they might be unhurt. Here’s what happened to Samuel:

“(They) were angry with him; and they cast stones at him upon the wall, and also many shot arrows at him as he stood upon the wall; but the Spirit of the Lord was with him, insomuch that they could not hit him with their stones neither with their arrows.” Helaman 16:2

Like Samuel, children can have the Spirit of the Lord with them, no matter what others do. A little ignoring can go a long way. Kindness to the verbal arrow-shooter can work too. (See “Passing Kindness” game from the Friend magazine for ways to show kindness to others, and how to defend themselves when others are unkind.)

But if the situation is serious, crossing over into bullying, it may be time to take action. Try these ideas:

And in case Samuel the Lamanite is one of YOUR heroes too, teach your children this unforgettable original song (only available here at PrimaryinZion!): Samuel the Lamanite song (with sheet music)!

Don’t let those arrows hurt you. Keep the Spirit of the Lord with you, just like Samuel.


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NEW! Free Audio for “Samuel the Lamanite,” a catchy original song only on PrimaryinZion!


Guest contributor Benn Cole, father of two, is a music producer, composer, and audio engineer based in Salt Lake City. Check out his website at Benncolemusic.weebly.com including his original composition of “Do As I’m Doing” (Marci’s personal favorite) on the album “Peace Before the Storm.”


We’re delighted to share an audio recording of “Samuel the Lamanite” a catchy song only available here on PrimaryinZion! This original song, with words and music by Dr. Mark Henderson, is a memorable way to teach about this brave ancient prophet that is an inspiration for children today.

Click here to listen to the piano accompaniment on YouTube (WARNING – after singing this song once, it will be stuck in your head forever! and that’s a good thing)

Here’s the sheet musicSamuel the Lamanite Piano Accompaniment

Here’s the lyrics:

Verse 1:

Samuel, Samuel, Samuel the Lamanite

stood up on the wall.

They threw their arrows and their rocks, rocks, rocks,

but they could not make him fall.

Verse 2:

Samuel, Samuel, Samuel the Prophet

said the Savior’s on His way.

In five more years there’ll be a brand new star

and a night as bright as day.

Ending (Coda):

Samuel, Samuel, Samuel the Lamanite said REPENT!


Click here for Michelle’s story about the song: The Power of Music: NEW Samuel the Lamanite song!

It’s copyrighted so please only use it for your personal use or in your Primary at church.  Enjoy!

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February Sharing Time – cherishing our bodies, treating them well


The February 2018 Sharing Time theme is “The Earth Was Created for Heavenly Father’s Children,” with week 3 being “I have been sent to earth to gain a body and to be tested.” It’s so important for children to know early on that their bodies are a special gift from Heavenly Father. This is not a universally accepted idea in the world today. Some faith traditions teach that our physical bodies are filthy and our spirits are pure, so the way to progress is to deny our physical bodies. We can teach the children that their bodies are precious gifts to be enjoyed within the bounds set by the Lord.

Many topics around caring for our bodies and using them appropriately can enrich your Sharing Time or family night lesson. Our #1 All-Time Favorite blog post with the most visits from the beginning is this one: “Word of Wisdom – sharing time lesson and family night idea” with printable visuals to make a sorting game.

Also consider working in this concept: “But how can it be so bad if Aunt Susie does it?”

Check out these resources about modesty from the Friend magazine, including this maze activity about our bodies as temples. You might enjoy this experience from guest author Becky: Teaching modesty in Sharing Time or Family Night: clothing as advertising


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Hello Song in multiple languages made easy!

Here’s a twist on the popular welcome song in Primary! Children love the “Hello Song” (Children’s Songbook, 260) Laura S. shared how growing up in many countries gave her exposure to different languages which she uses for a variation on the welcome song.

Looking for an easy way to do it? Sister D. shares this idea. She prints flags from the different countries on one side with the words and phonetic spellings on the back side. She adds a popsicle stick for a “flagpole” and laminates it. Voila! An easy-to-stuff-in-your-Primary-bag prop for children to choose a language to sing the welcome song!

Not only does this add variety to keep children’s interest, but it exposes them to the idea that there are many children, many languages, and many different sounds in the world. They’re never too young to learn that people are different but all seek the same Heavenly Father.

Welcome to ALL children in Primary!


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