Celebrate August birthdays: Primary AND President Monson!

Ok, you call it a coincidence. I call it a sign.

Painting of the first LDS Primary, lds.org



In 2014 Laura S. published “5th Sunday in August: Celebrate Birthdays of Primary and President Monson.” She mentioned that the first Primary was held on August 25, 1878 (see History of Primary at lds.org). President Monson was born on August 21, 1927.

Happy birthday, President Monson!

Happy birthday, President Monson!

I thought it was amazing that 2014 had five Sundays, to accommodate this extra lesson idea. But 2015 ALSO has five Sundays.

So if you saw the idea go by in 2014 and said “That sounds like fun,” but didn’t get your head above water to make it happen, maybe 2015 is the year to do it! See lesson plans and service ideas here.

Happy birthday, President Monson!    Happy birthday, Primary!


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Planning for Safety: a fire drill in Primary

MARCI: In our church service, I know we’re helping save spiritual lives. This time we might be helping save a physical life. I’ve never heard any discussions about building safety in meetinghouses. A recent alarm (false alarm, thankfully) left teachers and parents baffled — do they stay with the children in their classes? go find their own children? Michelle and Tina were also in similar false alarm situations and we decided to tackle it together.

MICHELLE: I was sitting in Relief Society one Sunday when I experienced my first fire alarm in the church.  The lesson had just begun, I was juggling my twin babies and trying to pay attention when suddenly a loud repetitive noise began.  It was so unexpected and foreign it took me a minute to register that it was a fire alarm!

No one took it seriously.  In fact, a discussion amongst the sisters ensued about whether or not we should bother evacuating or just continue with the lesson.  Finally, one sister holding a young baby said, “I’m evacuating.”  I looked into the hall and noticed a rush of people. I decided to evacuate as well.  For the first time, the thought crossed my mind that this might be a real fire alarm and I realized I had no idea what that meant for my children in Primary!

We all filed out into the congested hall. The crowd moved at a snail’s pace toward the front main entrance.  On the way I picked up my two Primary-aged kids who were standing near their classrooms with teachers who looked as perplexed as I felt.  I slowly attempted to navigate the crowds with my double stroller, twin babies, and two bigger kiddos while everyone stood around looking confused.  It wasn’t until later that I realized how ridiculous I had been.  In fact, I think I passed at least 4 exits while I was slowly plugging along toward the front door of the church building — the exit we usually use.

Not long ago one of the stake centers in the neighboring town actually burned down on a Sunday during Stake Conference!  I’m guessing that when those fire alarms first sounded, that congregation also wondered if they should bother evacuating.  I thought: Does my ward Primary have a safety plan?  Do the teachers know the nearest exit to their classroom and where to gather outside the building?  As a Primary parent I certainly didn’t know what the plan was (if there was one) so “notifying parents” definitely needed to be on that safety plan so that I didn’t panic and go rushing around trying to collect my children from various classrooms instead of just meeting them outside safely.

TINA: Though we’re still working out the details, here is the tentative safety plan in our ward.


  1. In the case of a suspected emergency, someone–anyone–needs to pull the fire alarm so everyone knows to get out! Don’t wait to investigate the cause.
  2. Stay calm, but take the fire alarm seriously. Even if you think it might be a false alarm, TAKE IT SERIOUSLY and evacuate the building.
  3. The evacuation plan should be posted in EVERY classroom and it needs to be part of the training of each new teacher.
  4. The evacuation plan should be reviewed at least once a year in ward council, with instructions that each auxiliary or quorum should review with their leaders and teachers. The evacuation plan should include identifying several individuals to be trained in how to silence (NOT reset) the fire alarm, and designated individuals to sweep the building (if safe to do so) to ensure it is empty.


  1. Adults and youth: Get out of the building using the nearest exit (signs should be posted in each room so people know where the nearest exit is).
  2. Children: Stay with your teacher and get out of the building.  Teachers are responsible for each child in their class until they personally hand the child off to a parent.
  3. EVERYONE walks quickly to the gathering place.
  4. Parents will gather their children one by one at the outside gathering place.  Then the head count will be taken by family, not by class.
  1. Head counts will be done by Priesthood quorum.  Families with no priesthood holder will still be accounted for based on which quorum home teaches them.
  2. Once a family has been accounted for, they should leave the parking lot (drive or walk away).  With fewer people standing around, it’s easier to see what still needs to be done and which kids still need to find parents.
 MARCI: I’d rather be safe (in a hundred false alarms) than sorry (in one I didn’t take seriously). I hope you’ll take this information to your wards and discuss a plan that will work in your building. A ward-level plan may inspire families to come up with similar evacuation plans at home. (See here for ideas from the Family Home Evening Resource Book.) Let’s work together to make sure our children are spiritually safe AND physically safe.

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“I Can Follow Jesus Christ’s Example” by Serving

from lds.org

from lds.org

Kids? Doing service? You bet. No child is too little to help others.

The July 2015 Sharing Time theme is “I Can Follow Jesus Christ’s Example.” In addition to teaching the doctrine, you may want to help them apply it, real time. Talk about how Jesus helped others, then add an actual pint-sized service project to your Sharing Time lesson, to help children to serve as Jesus served. Think about someone in need in your ward or community: perhaps a homebound ward member, a sick child, local nursing home residents, hospitalized children, missionaries serving in your ward, missionaries serving elsewhere who grew up in your ward, etc.

A child can draw them a picture or make a card to cheer them up. Older children can write letters about what they’re learning in Primary. You can make this simple (paper and crayons/pens) or elaborate (stickers, markers, buttons, lace).

Here’s some more ideas for service projects with kids with great resources to share with Primary families as well: Pint-sized Service Projects and Creating a Culture of Service.


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Father’s Day in today’s world: Including every child

from wondermar at pixabay.com

from wondermar at pixabay.com

For a lesson plan and handout about how to teach these ideas in Primary or at home, read “Father’s Day: sensitive, but where else will they learn?

Not every child has an earthly father involved in their lives. But here are three ways to include every child in Father’s Day celebrations:

1) Many children have someone who is like a dad to them: a grandparent raising them, a single mom doing her best to be all the parent they need, a relative, a home teacher, a close family friend. What Father’s Day appreciation can a child show to this father figure of any gender?

2) Every child has a Heavenly Father who loves them beyond measure. He will never let them down. What gift might Heavenly Father like for Father’s Day, to show our love for Him? Jesus put it simply: “If ye love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15) and “Lovest thou me? Feed my sheep” (John 21: 15-17). Heavenly Father would be pleased with a gift to show Him our love for Father’s Day. Choose something specific to do for Heavenly Father for a Father’s Day gift: a commandment to keep better, or someone to serve.

3) Every child might be a father or mother someday. The June 2015 Friend magazine has an article about easing a little boy’s sadness at not having his dad in his life, by celebrating today the kind of father he hopes to be one day: “Steven’s First Future Father’s Day” in English and Spanish. This activity on lds.org asks “When you grow up, what kind of parent do you want to be? You can decide now to be a great parent! What can you do to practice these character traits now?”

As a single parent mom for many years, I feel keenly the anguish of a child who feels that they don’t fit in because of no choice of their own. But loving teachers and parents can remind them of the wonderful people they do have in their lives, the infinite love of their Heavenly Father, and their tremendous potential as future parents.

Happy Father’s Day to every child of God.


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Creating a Culture of Service in our families and in Primary

FINAL LOGO_Light2015_VerticalNote: While these ideas are aimed at families, they’re easily adapted to Primary. And you can share these ideas with your Primary families, especially as followup after a Primary lesson about service or Christlike love for others.

On May 30, 2015, Michelle and Marci were thrilled to present a workshop at New England’s first conference for all women of faith hosted by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints:  Busting out of the Bubble: Teaching Kids to Feel Empathy for All God’s Children Through Service. part of  Let Your Light Shine 2015. What an inspiring day it was!  Whether you weren’t able to join us and want to hear more, or you did join us and want a refresher, or you are just interested in this topic in general, you’ll find some of our ideas and resources below.  

Kids CAN get involved in meaningful service! Service doesn’t have to be an event requiring a large block of time. Service can be done in 0 minutes (doing something you’d do anyway, like reading a book or singing a song) –but focus it on service. Not only do children learn by doing, but they also learn by learning – being exposed to service heroes in the scriptures, in history, and in their lives. Or service projects can be done in 5 minutes, a few hours, or 1/2 day. All of these things build a culture of service.

The Service Grid Strategy: Take a look at some of our ideas to get you jump-started.  Then use the blank grid to continue brainstorming more ideas that fit your mood!  Here is a list of ideas for service to neighbors, grandparents, missionaries, and family members, with a blank grid for your own ideas (keep a blank one on the fridge and fill it in when ideas come to you).

Kids and service grid ideas (a worksheet full of our ideas)

Service grid page 2 complete FINAL PDF-page-001Kids and service grid worksheet (a blank worksheet for you to brainstorm more ideas!)

Service grid page 1 with blanks FINAL PDF-page-001

Wonder how you can re-frame what you are already doing with a service component and essentially do service in “0 minutes”?  Here we’ve compiled a list of readings, children’s books (for all different age groups), songs and scriptures to help create a culture of service in your family:

Kids and service resource sheet has books, scriptures, songs, and more!

Service is synergy: a cycle of goodness!

Service is synergy: a cycle of goodness!

For example:

Serving a Grandparent (your own or elderly ward members, etc.)

  • In 0 minutes, you can sing “I Have a Family Tree” (Children’s Songbook 199). (You’d be singing songs with your children anyway!)
  • In 5 minutes, you can send a postcard or letter.
  • In a few hours (either Family Night or during the day or in Primary, you can interview a grandparent about what they’ve done for others that they are proudest of.
  • In ½ day, you can put on a show for your grandparents or someone else’s (i.e. a nursing home). This can be singing or acting out a beloved story like the Nativity, or a modified Little Red Riding Hood (starring a grandma!).

Teaching kids about serving and helping them serve others is a foundation for a lifelong habit of living as Christ lived.

-Marci & Michelle

Related posts:


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Tending Gardens, Tending Children

Eva in gardenHave you ever planted a vegetable garden?  You plan it out, lovingly place the seeds and seedlings in nutrient rich compost, just the right depth, with just the right spacing.  You make sure they receive the sunlight they need to reach their potential. Each day you check on them.  Each individual plant becomes a special part of your day.  You water religiously.  Not too much, not too little. When one plant seems to lag behind the others you worry and check to make sure every need is met.  You feel the great potential in each of these plants you’ve tended so devotedly.

What happens when an unexpected storm attacks your garden and wipes out these beloved seedlings you’ve been so diligently tending?

Now imagine these plants are our children. What happens when you teach your children, love your children, pray for your children, hope for your children only to have an unexpected storm hit and knock them off their gospel foundation?

Storms do hit us unexpectedly.  We should just expect that!  I’d like to say we should just make sure we’ve tended these plants well enough that they can withstand any storm that comes their way.  But that’s unrealistic.  The truth is, some storms knock us down.  Some wash away the foundation entirely.  Some uproot even the deepest of roots.

So what do we do when the storms come? We keep on praying and let God take care of the rest.  As a parent, it is difficult to let our children trip and fall.  We want to protect them from all the storms of life.  But in reality, by facing the storms they are building a stronger root system that in the long run will make them stronger.  To quote Elder Henry B. Eyring’s mother, “If you are on the right path, it will always be uphill.” (read “Choose Higher Ground” here)

Thank you to an anonymous Relief Society sister for this wonderful analogy about gardens and children.  I heard her comment in a ward I was visiting recently. I didn’t even know who she was. She may never know how much this comment made me search, ponder, and pray.


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The Holy Ghost only whispers: “The Holy Ghost Testifies the Truth of All Things”



Get ready for the quietest Primary you’ve ever heard, while a child whispers which box holds the trinket. Read below or download the lesson plan for June 2015 Sharing Time here: Holy Ghost lesson outline

While preparing this lesson, I came across an answer to something I’ve been wondering for a long time:  “The Holy Ghost is properly referred to as ‘he.’ The gift of the Holy Ghost is properly referred to as ‘it.'” (Elder Bruce R. McConkie, A New Witness for the Articles of Faith, 257). It underscored for me that the Holy Ghost is actually a personage, not just a vapor or a feeling. I love thinking about Him as my constant companion — a real personage — who can walk with me and steer me around bumps in my journey. I can love the Holy Ghost the way I love God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.


Lesson Outline: “The Holy Ghost Testifies the Truth of All Things”

(See above to download this lesson plan as a single page.)

Items needed:

  • Prepare a banner or poster, or write on the board: “The Holy Ghost testifies the truth of all things.”
  • Pictures of heart, ear, and mind from lds.org (June and July 2014)
  • Set out three open boxes, one of which has a small object inside, and place a cloth over the top.

Lesson Principles:

  • There are many ways to know truth.
  • The Holy Ghost tells us in our mind, heart, and ear.
  • The Holy Ghost can tell us of things we can’t know otherwise.

Lesson Outline:


  • Welcome the children. Say “Raise your hand if you think that ice is cold. How do you know?” (Children may say “I’ve touched it.”) “Raise your hand if you think that the sun is hot. How do you know? You’ve never been to the sun.” Point out that you can know the truth of many things that you can’t sense with your five senses (touch, sight, smell, sound, taste). There are many ways to know truth.
  • Explain: “One way to know the truth is by the Holy Ghost, which can tell us of things we can’t see or touch, but can know in our heart or mind.” Give examples of things we may need to know that we can’t find out by seeing or touching such as:
    1. Is God real? We can’t see Him, but the Holy Ghost can tell us that He is real and He loves us.
    2. Does He hear my prayer? The Holy Ghost can tell us that God really is listening, and will answer in His own way.
    3. Is the Book of Mormon true? Did those stories in the book really happen? We can’t put the Book of Mormon on a scale and weigh it to find out if it’s true. We can’t use a measuring stick and find out if it’s true. We can only know if the Holy Ghost tells us.

ACTIVITY: (from 2014 Sharing Time Outline, page 15)

  • The Holy Ghost tells us in our mind, heart, and ear. Show the pictures of mind, heart and ear.
    1. Junior Primary: Have a teacher or older child read the following scriptures. D&C 11:13 (mind), Helaman 5:45 (heart), Helaman 5:46-47 (ear), and D&C 8:2 (mind and heart). Have the children repeat the scripture, a phrase at a time. Ask a child to point to the correct picture, and have all the children place their hands on their own mind, heart or ear.
    2. Senior Primary: Post the pictures. Assign children to four groups; each group looks up one of the scriptures above and stands beneath the picture that applies to their scripture. Then have the children read the scripture aloud together. (Trick question: one of the scriptures has two answers, so the group will have to split up.)

SONG: “Listen, Listen” (Children’s Songbook 107), “The Holy Ghost” (105), or “The Still Small Voice” (106)


  • The Holy Ghost whispers things we can’t know.
    1. Point to the boxes, set up as above. Remove the cloth, so that the boxes are in plain view but the contents are still hidden. Ask the children to guess which box has the object inside. They’ll protest that they can’t tell. Choose a child to look and see which choice is right. Have that child whisper the answer so the whole group can hear. Invite a child to come up and retrieve the object. Repeat as time allows, holding up the cloth in front of the boxes so you can mix them up – and perhaps even sneak another small object into one or both of the other boxes! That way there are two or three right answers.
    2. Point out that sometimes we need to make important choices when we can’t see what the choice actually is. But the Holy Ghost knows everything, and He can whisper the right choice.
    3. Notice that we have to take time to be quiet and listen carefully, because the Holy Ghost only whispers. Reread Helaman 5:46-47.
    4. Tell about a time you had to make a choice without knowing the outcome, such as which school to attend, which person to marry, or where to live. Tell how the Holy Ghost helped you.

TESTIMONY: Testify that the Holy Ghost can guide us to truth.


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Transform year-round holiday craziness into holiday service

Did you see the article “Can We Bring the Holidays Down a Notch?” Some folks think that St. Patrick’s Day must involve a leprechaun hunt for gold coins. Valentine’s Day exchanges must be entire goodie bags, not just homemade cards decorated with crooked red hearts. Pie must be served on Pi Day (March 14 — you know, 3.1415. . . ). And Christmas, well, forget it. The author of the article suggests bringing the holiday craziness down a notch.

Marci's Primary class from 2006.

Marci’s Primary class from 2006.

I’ve got a different idea. First, give yourself credit for getting through each day. It seems impossible sometimes even on ordinary days, with everything there is to do, before you add holiday expectations. Then, go ahead and wear green on St. Patrick’s Day, tint your breakfast milk green, even scramble up some green eggs and ham. Whatever makes you happy. Then, if you still have energy, instead of ever more elaborate holiday celebration ideas, how about making each holiday a service opportunity? Those hungry folks in homeless shelters and soup kitchens that you help out at Christmastime — they’re hungry on St. Patrick’s Day and Easter too. And firemen and policemen work around the clock 365 days a year. Somebody is working on every single holiday. Maybe you’d like to bring them a warm cinnamon roll after your own family’s holiday breakfast.

Maybe children would like to collect all green nonperishable food for the local food pantry on St. Pat’s day (let’s see. . .  canned green beans, lime jello, spinach pasta. . . ) or red food for Valentine’s Day (hmm . . . pasta sauce, beets, canned tomatoes. . . ). Bring a pie to your local police station or fire station for Pi Day to thank them for their service to the community. Make and deliver Easter cards to shut-ins. Invite another family (member or nonmember) to join you in your holiday service caper. You can serve as a family or as a Primary or as a school classroom.

Marci's 4-5s Class 004

More service ideas at my one-and-only published Ensign contribution here.

And check out Jackie’s “Pint Sized Service Projects” here.

Then make each holiday a little bit of a holy day, seeking to make others happy too, serving as Christ served.


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Filed under Activity, Christmas, Easter, Parent Involvement, Sharing Time

A Primary Activity to help meet spiritual goals: scriptures, service and fun!

Our guest author Jen H. is back with a fantastic Primary Activity idea and outline!
Our presidency has lots of little goals for our sweet Primary.  One of them is to have the children use their scriptures each week in Sharing Time.  Another goal is for the Senior Primary children to engage and apply the scriptures in their daily lives.  We also want our Primary to do more active service for our ward family.
In the past, we have found that having each presidency member in charge of a portion of the activity makes everything run much more smoothly.  Another thing that helps activities go smoothly is to have the children rotate through different activities, each lasting 20 minutes or less.
So, with those goals and past experiences in mind, we planned a short activity for a Saturday morning.  We began with a song and spiritual thought.  Teachers stayed with and helped their class as they went through each activity.  We planned four activities:
  1. Scripture bags
  2. Scripture journals
  3. Card making
  4. Game
Scripture Bags: This activity was for Junior Primary children. One presidency member planned and prepared for the scripture bags.  We ordered the bags and used permanent markers to have the Junior Primary decorate them.  We had them work around long tables that were covered in craft paper to minimize the mess to clean up after.  Each child also got their own Book of Mormon and a copy of this Mormonad inside.  The last thing that they did was make a keychain with a picture to attach to the scripture bag.
Scripture Journal: While Junior Primary worked on the scripture bags, Senior Primary was with another presidency member making their own scripture journal using stickers, pens, markers and quotes to decorate them.  Each week in Primary, we will have a thought, scripture or picture/quote for them to add to their journal.
Afterwards, we combined Junior and Senior Primary and divided them into two groups.  The older children helped the younger ones.  We asked the Activity Day girls to plan and carry out these last two activities.
Card Making: One group worked on our service project: making cards for two widows (We made valentines because our activity was in February but any type of card will work).  Our secretary took a picture of each child to add to their card so these sweet sisters would know who they’re from.  We set out pre-cut hearts, stickers and markers.  One presidency member worked with this group but the Activity Day girls managed it.
Game: The other group was in the gym for a scavenger hunt game.  Our Activity Day leader and girls led this.  Scriptures are used as clues to race around the building.  The final clue leads them to a treasure chest with treats.
Our secretary was in charge of the snack at the end.  Store-bought muffins, cut into fourths is an easy and delicious option.  We also had grapes and strawberries and served water too.  We served these in the Primary room during the last 15 minutes of the activity.
Download the timetable schedule for planning your own Primary Activity!
Snack time!
~Jen H.

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Pint-sized Service Projects

Looking for good service projects that even kids can do? Enjoy this sample chapter Pint-sized Service Projects by Jackie from the book “Sunday Lessons and Activities for Kids.” Click on the book cover to learn how this blog became a book!

See related posts:

Creating a Culture of Service in our Families and in Primary

5th Sunday in August: Celebrate birthdays of Primary, Pres. Monson





Filed under Activity, Parent Involvement, Sharing Time