It’s great to reward the children for bringing their scriptures to Primary — stickers on a chart or tokens in a jar, or a competition between classes, with a monthly class prize of a grab bag (stickers, erasers, etc…). But if you USE the scriptures EVERY WEEK, soon children will get the idea that if they don’t bring their scriptures, they’re missing out. Conversely, if you reward the children for bringing their scriptures but never open them, the children will get the mistaken impression that the only thing that matters is if you have the scriptures; it really doesn’t matter if you ever actually read them. There are far too many cobwebs on bookshelves in homes that bear witness of this empty concept. Here are a few ideas for using those scriptures children bring!
- Read from the actual book of scriptures, even in Junior Primary. I use a technique to help even the youngest children get into the scriptures. I have a hot pink bookmark that I park in the scriptures and let the children find it, then we read that scripture. Read more about it here: Actively Getting Children into the Scriptures in Primary. I try to have children read at least one actual scripture from the book during every Sharing Time.
Two exciting things happened that told me this idea was working. Once while teaching Primary I said, “I have my hot pink bookmark hidden where this scripture is found.” A child said, “Oh, I love this game!” Then one autumn day young Logan looked out the window of the chapel and said, “Look! That bush is the color of Marci’s hot pink bookmark!” And it was!
Using actual scriptures gives children the visual cue to PAY ATTENTION to these special words. Reading God’s word from a poster is fine — but when they read it from the actual scriptures, children understand that these words are God’s words. I want them to learn the difference between made-up stories and God’s word. In fact, I want them to learn the difference between God’s word and a story about God’s word. All are fine – but using the scriptures themselves as a visual aid helps the children understand “good, better, best” when it comes to words – with God’s own word having unexplainable power. Having the children look for the hot pink bookmark in the scriptures also gets the children actively involved, more than just having me reading aloud from the scriptures.
- Pass out scripture wordstrips as children enter the room. In Senior Primary, I check to see who has scriptures as they enter the room. I give the children with scriptures one of the wordstrips, and ask the teacher to help them find it while the children are gathering. That way children are ready when it’s time to use those verses in the Sharing Time lesson. Occasionally we’ll take the time to pass out books of scripture from the library and have every child find a verse with the teacher’s help. But when you don’t have the time, passing out the wordstrips as children enter gives them time to find the verse. It also rewards those scripture-toting children with the chance to participate. (Hint: far more children bring copies of the Book of Mormon than the whole set of scriptures, so I try to use more scriptures from that book when possible.)
- Post the scriptures I’m going to use on the board so that other children can follow along if they like. This is particularly good for soon-to-turn-twelve-year-olds and other children who are ready to take on a little more challenge. Often these children start to act up out of boredom — but you can engage them with the scriptures instead. Making it optional but available gives every child a chance to engage with the lesson at their own level.
Read more about Primary as pre-seminary here: Scriptures in Primary: Raising the Bar and Addressing the Boredom Challenge