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

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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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Counting Words in a Song or Scripture: Fun Activity

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Here’s a fun way to shake up Singing Time or Sharing Time. You can even adapt it for family scripture study occasionally for variety! Ask the children to count the number of times a familiar word appears in a song or scripture; i.e. count the number of times the word “try” or “trying” appears in “I’m Trying to be like Jesus” (Children’s Songbook, 78). Or count the number of times the word “choose” or “choice” appears in “Choose The Right” (Hymns, 239).

Variations:

  • Select a class to be the counting class. With each instance of the chosen word, one child stands, followed by the next child in the row, etc. Count the number of standing children.
  • Choose helpers to be counters. Have a few more children than there are words in the song or scripture come to the front. When their word is sung, they raise their hand and keep it raised until the end of the song. Then count the number of raised hands.
  • After counting the words, ask the children if they think they can sing it without that key word. Each time they come to that word, hum instead.
  • Try counting words that repeat in a scripture, especially one that you’re trying to memorize. Then recite it without the key word, saying “mmm” when they get to that word.

For more fun music ideas, see “Making Music Time Fun and Interactive” and “Sing like a robot? a snake? an opera singer?

-Marci

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Bullying: Having Difficult Conversations with Parents

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We’ve posted a few thoughts about dealing with bullying here and here. But what if your child might BE the bully? Or what if you as a Primary leader must have a tough conversation with parents, to let them know their child has exhibited bullying behavior in Primary? See how one parent handled it with her son in “Me? A Bully?” in the February 2017 Friend, 36-37.

Notice how the mother doesn’t shame the child, but continues to believe in the boy’s good intentions. She also takes positive steps, like asking him to:

  1. find out three cool things about the person he doesn’t like,
  2. sing a Primary song like “If the Savior Stood Beside Me” (click here for Michelle’s sign language video and visuals),
  3. remember when the child himself was in a similar situation and appreciated being treated with kindness, and
  4. do something nice for someone he doesn’t get along with.

“You don’t have to be best friends with everyone, but you can choose to be kind.”

If you have to have this conversation with parents, you can send the same messages to the parents themselves: not shaming the parents, continuing to believe in the good intentions of the parents AND the child, and taking positive steps, not just avoiding the negative. That is, instead of saying to the parents, “Tell your child to stop bullying,” Primary leaders can encourage parents to help the child see the good in everyone, and take concrete positive steps suggested above. You may want to give them a copy of the Friend article.

This is never an easy conversation, but with the guidance of the Spirit, addressing bullying can make Primary the safe, comfortable space that it needs to be for everyone to grow.

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Curing fidgety fingers and uniting the children: Sign Language and music!

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Learning sign language to songs is a sure-fire way to keep older children challenged as they learn an actual new language, and engage younger children’s busy fingers as they learn signs that teach gospel concepts. For example, it’s very hard for me to make the sign for Jesus Christ (4 second video) without humbly thinking of “His hands pierced and bleeding to pay the debt” (verse 3, “I Stand All Amazed,” Hymns, 193). Learning sign language is particularly valuable for kinesthetic learners – children who learn best by using their bodies (see “Teaching to a Child’s Whole Body“).

But recently, children in the Cardenas Ward, Panama City, Panama shared another benefit of learning sign language. Their ward is truly bilingual, with sacrament meeting conducted in English, the opening hymn in Spanish, the opening prayer in English, Sunday School in Spanish, Relief Society/Priesthood meeting in English — then next week the reverse. Headphones abound.

But in Primary, with some Spanish-speaking children and some English-speaking children, the language that they have in common is the language of images and pictures. ALL children, regardless of their native language, can learn a sign that spans language. Even though it’s called American Sign Language (ASL), the images are relevant. In fact, learning a sign with a familiar image can help them learn a new word.

When the Cardenas Ward children sang in sacrament meeting and did the signs to the song, all the children participated, regardless of their fluency in the language of the song (whether English or Spanish).

Besides, one day your children may meet a deaf person, and they will be surprised to already know the beginnings of phrases and words to communicate. It will mean a great deal to that deaf person to see them try to be their friend. See “Hands That Talk,” March 2012 Friend magazine.

Check out these useful resources to help you on your way:

-Marci

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I Choose the Right When I am Baptized and Confirmed a Member of the Church–May Sharing Time ideas!

In the month of May we will be teaching the Primary children about the first principles and ordinances of the gospel: 1) Faith to follow Jesus Christ 2) Forgiveness through repentance 3) Baptism by immersion like Jesus showed us 4) The gift of the Holy Ghost and 5) Renewing our baptismal covenants by taking the Sacrament each week.

I still love this Baptismal Promises sharing time lesson I posted a few years ago.  This is a simple lesson with printables to teach about the promises we make at Baptism and each week when we take the Sacrament.  I think we often use words that are very familiar to the adults at church and forget that the kids really don’t have a clue what we mean when we say “covenants” “ordinances” “principles” “Atonement”.  This lesson is a great way to break down the concept of covenants.  When I teach it I introduce the word covenant so they can become familiar with it but I mostly use the words “big promise” to describe what a covenant is.

On week 2 of the month you could teach about these Baptismal promises and then on week 4 teach the same promises, review the idea that a covenant is a “big promise” and review all the things we promise at baptism and then renew each week when we take the Sacrament.  The schedule of this month’s theme is so perfect for repetition and giving the children a chance to absorb these important principles.  If we’re going to make a “big promise” with out Heavenly Father I think we better understand what we’re promising.

And as always, since I am a huge believer in the power of music and how much better we remember concepts when taught through music, there are so many fantastic Primary songs about these topics.  Songs always teach better than too much talking!

I’m Trying to Be Like Jesus (CS 78)

Faith (CS 96)

Baptism (CS 100)

When Jesus Christ Was Baptized (CS 102)

When I am Baptized (CS 103)

The Holy Ghost (CS 105)

The Still Small Voice (CS 106)

Listen, Listen (CS 107)

The Sacrament (CS 72)

I Feel My Savior’s Love (CS 74)

~Michelle

 

 

 

 

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