Teaching Lively Children: Nerf targets, race cars, and reverence bugs

Today’s guest authors Olivia, James, Donna and Alan had a conversation on the Primary in Zion Facebook page that is worth capturing here.


Illustration from shutterstock.com

“One topic I would love to see more about is how to create Primaries that are more boy-friendly. My husband pointed out that almost everything in Primary, from decorations to lessons to visual aids to rules, is created by women and tends to be very female-centric. He asked, ‘Why does everything in Primary have flowers on it?'” Others pointed out that some girls as well as some boys might like things other than flowers. Here’s some specific ideas they shared:

  • Nerf target. “The music leader in our ward brings a Nerf gun. If a child hits the target in the circle, they can pick the song; if not, she gets to pick.”
  • Race car game. When teams sing well during singing time or give good answers during sharing time, they move a race car towards a finish line.
  • Reverence bug. “In various Primaries we have rewarded with little rubber insects (The Reverence Bug! This was Andrea’s brilliant idea, as I recall).”

“We also tried to do at least 50% ‘active’ lessons, with movement and lots of participation, instead of so much sitting quietly and listening time.  I’ve also made a very conscious effort to change my perception of silence as reverence and embrace enthusiasm, kinesthetic presence, and innovative thinking, that had not been being rewarded before in favor of ‘quiet’ participation. 

Their comments made me think of the founding of Primary to help boisterous boys:

“[In 1878], Bishop John W. Hess in Farmington, Utah, was concerned about the children in his ward, particularly the rowdiness of the boys. Sister Aurelia Spencer Rogers asked, ‘What will our girls do for good husbands, if this state of things continues? . . . Could there not be an organization for little boys, and have them trained to make better men?” . . . Although her first concern was for the boys, she felt the meeting must include girls, for singing was necessary and they needed the voices of the little girls to make it work. . . Children were taught lessons on faith, obedience, prayer, punctuality, and manners (specifically, the boys were encouraged to not take fruit from orchards and melon patches, and the girls were exhorted not to hang on wagons). . . . Look where Primary has come since 1878. Today, approximately one million children all over the world benefit from Primary each week in their wards and branches.” Sister Rosemary M. Wixom, Sister Jean A. Stevens and Sister Cheryl A. Esplin, “Celebrating 135 years,” Church News, week of August 11, 2013, 7, also see History of Primary from lds.org.

How have you included activities that appeal to lively children, both boys and girls?



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Filed under Activity, Lesson, Music, Reaching the One

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