It’s the moment you dread — a teacher or member of the presidency is home with a sick child, and you’re on stage — with no time to prepare. You can count on this happening sometime (make that often) in your lifetime, so you may as well have a permanent trick up your sleeve. Here’s one: get the children to teach the lesson. Here’s how it works —
I call it “Student’s Choice – Songs & Scriptures.”
Ask a child to choose his favorite song. Look up the song in the Children’s Songbook (CS) or Hymns. Sing the song, then go to the bottom right corner of the page in the songbook for two scriptures that relate to the song topic. For example, a child chooses “Baptism” (CS, 100). The bottom right corner of the songbook page leads you to Matthew 3:13-16, the story of Christ’s baptism, and the 4th Article of Faith. Teach about that principle, bearing testimony as you feel prompted, perhaps asking a child to share an experience. Repeat as time allows.
In short: sing, read the corresponding scriptures, discuss, testify.
Variation – Open the songbook at random, and sing that song, look up the scripture, and discuss. If it’s a song you don’t know, close the book and try again.
By the way, this works with children of any age. The most memorable time that I did this was when I was asked to substitute for early morning seminary. No one foresaw that the absent seminary teacher had the building key. As the students arrived in the parking lot outside the locked building in the dark, we chose the largest car and all piled in. We had an opening prayer and hymn. By streetlight, as we waited for the sun to come up, the students shared, one by one, their favorite scripture story or hymn. The Spirit was strong and sweet.
Good luck — now you’re ready for the unexpected!