Author Archives: Marci

About Marci

Besides my thirteen grandchildren and six grown children, I just keep loving every child that crosses my path.

Pray for women church leaders – setting an example

I paused in my prayer. I had just prayed for my bishop and ward Relief Society President, stake president and stake Relief Society President, and the prophet. For the first time, the thought occurred to me that I could pray for the General Relief Society president also.

I often pray for my ward and stake leaders (both men and women) and their counselors. They need our prayers, and we are blessed by their leadership. It meant a lot to me when President Thomas S. Monson said, “I have felt your prayers in my behalf and have been sustained and blessed” (April 2008).

Both boys and girls are blessed when they understand that there are strong, righteous men AND women leading the kingdom on every level, from their own ward or branch to the worldwide level. Setting the example by praying for these men and women blesses their lives and ours.

Guest author Christanne suggests: “Point out women leaders to your children. As I have had a calling as Stake Relief Society president, I noticed that every time I was on the stand or speaking, a mother in the audience was pointing at me and whispering something to her children. After one meeting in which I was conducting, I walked over to talk with this woman and her son. The son saw me and said, “Mom, there she is.” The mother explained that she specifically pointed out women leaders to her children and explained the role they had in that setting. Her children had seen me speak in stake conference, translate a woman’s testimony from Spanish into English during stake conference, and conduct a fireside. Her son had seen me often enough that he started pointing me out to his mother. People appreciate seeing women leaders and children benefit from seeing women leaders in various roles.”

Children might enjoy this story about a bird from General Relief Society president Sister Jean B. Bingham (video above):

“One beautiful spring day I left the door open to enjoy the fresh air. A small bird flew in the open door and then realized this was not where it wanted to be. It flew desperately around the room, repeatedly flying into the window glass in an attempt to escape. I tried to gently guide it toward the open door, but it was frightened and kept darting away. It finally landed on top of the window drapes in bewildered exhaustion. I took a broom and slowly reached the bristle end up to where the bird nervously perched. As I held the head of the broom next to its feet, the bird tentatively stepped onto the bristles. Slowly, very slowly, I walked to the open door, holding the broom as steady as I could. As soon as we reached the open door, the bird swiftly flew to freedom.

“Like that bird, sometimes we are afraid to trust because we don’t understand God’s absolute love and desire to help us. But when we study Heavenly Father’s plan and Jesus Christ’s mission, we understand that Their only objective is our eternal happiness and progress. They delight to help us when we ask, seek, and knock. When we exercise faith and humbly open ourselves to Their answers, we become free from the constraints of our misunderstandings and assumptions, and we can be shown the way forward.” (“That Your Joy Might Be Full,” October 2017)

Children may have had a similar experience where they wanted to pet or help an animal that was frightened of them, even though they were only being kind.

Children (of all ages) are blessed by strong, righteous women and men leaders. Praying for them blesses our leaders, our children, and ourselves.

Related posts:

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Ready for a new Primary year?

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As we come to the close of one year and look ahead to another, it’s time to prepare for the big transition! You can help the children take it in stride by taking steps to help them know what to expect. Here’s our readers’ favorite posts for doing it smoothly and with love:

You might also enjoy this resource from the Friend magazine about helping children get ready for Sunbeams. Click on the image above to read the article in the January 2017 Friend.

Happy New Year – a little early!

-Marci

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How the Christmas Story DIDN’T Happen, aka “What’s Wrong with this (Christmas) Picture?”

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We’re so used to the Christmas story that we forget how startlingly unusual it is. The Son of God, born of a woman? The King of Kings, arriving from heaven in a stable? No room at the inn for the newborn Son of God? You can help children think about this remarkable story by telling it the way it might have happened, if Jesus had been given the princely treatment He deserved at His birth.

I love telling the Christmas story this way with a completely straight face with no warning or prelude, waiting for the children to discover, one by one, that this is no ordinary retelling of the Christmas story.

Click here for the downloadable 1-page pdf, complete with references that correct the errors in this fascinating lesson, Sharing Time or family night lesson, “What’s Wrong with this (Christmas) Picture?” Senior Primary children might each read a scripture reference and correct the errors. (Hint: one of these facts below actually IS true, just slightly disguised.)

“Boys and girls, I know you’ve heard it before, but I love telling the Christmas story. I’ve written it down here so I don’t forget any of the details.

“It starts with Mary who was about to have her first baby, who was Jesus. Because He was the Son of God, King of the Jews, King of Kings, everyone in the entire country of Israel knew He was about to be born. His mother Mary and his stepfather Joseph were well known throughout the land. Joseph was a wise and good governor of Judea.

“Jesus was born in the royal palace, wrapped in the finest linen and laid in a cradle of the most prized Lebanese cedar wood overlaid with pure gold, fitting for the Son of God.

“The first to hear of Jesus’ birth were the governors of all the provinces. Angels appeared to all the provincial governors to announce that their King was born. Everyone knew the way to the palace where Jesus was born. The provincial governors scheduled a visit to baby Jesus when Mary had a little time to recover from giving birth. The governors were very pleased to meet their King.

“In fact, three kings from the East came to bring Jesus gifts: which were gold and two different kinds of tree resin, which is like tree sap only a thicker.

“That’s the way the Christmas story happened, right?”

Click here for the downloadable 1-page pdf, complete with references that correct the errors

 

 

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Sharing Time ideas for December: “Jesus Christ Is the Son of God”

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While we think and talk about Jesus often, it’s particularly sacred to think of Him in December, when we join with the rest of the Christian world and celebrate Jesus’ birth. Here are some special Sharing Time or family night ideas to celebrate Jesus:

Enjoy this sacred season! Merry Christmas to you from all of us at Primary in Zion!

-Marci

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Primary Secretaries – try “You’ve Got Mail” and indestructible assignment slips

Today’s guest idea is from Cathleen. She decorated an inexpensive mailbox for Primary, and put slips of paper inside inviting children to do the talk, prayer or scripture for the following week. When it’s time to pass out the slips of paper, she dramatically announces, “You’ve got mail!” She opens the mailbox and passes out the slips of paper.

Another idea is to use indestructible paper bracelets to put on the child’s wrist, to make sure the notice makes it home! Search online for “paper event bracelets” — they cost as little as 5c each and are made of Tyvek, a thin, strong paper.

Here’s more ideas for secretaries:

We appreciate our Primary secretaries for all their good work!

-Marci

 

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November: I Can Choose to Be a Missionary Now

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Next in the ways to Choose The Right is the November 2017 Sharing Time theme: “I Can Choose to Be a Missionary Now.” In addition to the good ideas of serving others, setting a good example, teaching my friends about Jesus, and preparing to serve a mission, consider these ideas:

 

“Fourth Floor, Last Door” for Children

Preparing (emotionally) for a mission and for life!

Be a Missionary NOW! Sharing Time or Family Night ideas

 

 

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“Why do we pray in the name of Jesus Christ anyway?”

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I write this on the Jewish Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur. A simple question from my beloved little friend Eva almost a year ago has led me on a quest for a way to explain the profound concepts of Advocate, Redeemer, Savior and Mediator to a child. After much prayer, temple worship, and lots and lots of scripture searching, here is my response.

In a previous post, we told about Eva asking a question in Primary that Michelle followed up on at home, highlighting the value of bridging home and church for the sake of these children we both love. But the answer to this simple question from a child has profound significance.

Eva asked, “Why do we pray in the name of Jesus Christ anyway?” Has any child ever asked you this? How can you explain the concept of Christ being our advocate with the Father to a child? Here’s my attempt.

“Beloved child(ren), we pray to Heavenly Father in the name of Jesus Christ because we are not worthy. If we were perfect, we could pray to Heavenly Father in our own name. But we all make mistakes — big and small — and “no unclean thing can enter” into God’s presence, not even for a moment, not even just to talk to Him in prayer. (1 Nephi 15:34) Only Jesus can do that, because He is clean. He is perfect. Jesus never made any bad choices, not even once.

“But Jesus knew we would make mistakes, so He paid for our sins in Gethsemane and on the cross. He agreed to be our Advocate with Heavenly Father. Advocate means someone who begs or pleads for someone else — asks really earnestly and hard. (see Doctrine & Covenants 45:3-5).

“At the Last Supper, just before He died, Jesus said, ‘No man cometh unto the Father but by me’ (John 14:6).

“And that, beloved child, is why we pray to Heavenly Father in Jesus’ name. It reminds us that we are too imperfect to talk to God on our own, but our perfect older brother Jesus pleads for us in front of our perfect Heavenly Father.”

Several memorable songs teach this truth as well; see the Children’s Songbook (CS) index under “Atonement,” including these personal favorites:

  • “I Lived in Heaven” (CS 4)
  • “He Sent His Son” (CS 34)
  • “Help Us, O God, to Understand (CS 73)
  • “Third Article of Faith” (set to music in CS 123)

Side note – I’m trying to learn the 23rd Psalm in Spanish. Instead of “He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake” (verse 3, emphasis added), the Spanish translation reads “He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for the love of his name (por amor de su nombre).” It doesn’t surprise me that in the end, it all comes down to love.

How have you helped a child understand why we pray in Jesus’ name? Comment below!

-Marci

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Primary Assessment: Children

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In a previous post Primary Assessment: Adults, we talked about ways of obtaining useful feedback from adults. What about the children themselves? What might you learn from a kid’s-eye view of Primary?

Consider taking a few minutes at the end of class or Sharing Time to ask the children a few questions. For younger children, it can be as simple as “Draw a picture of your favorite part of Primary (or our class).” Children may draw a picture of their teacher or friend, Singing Time, using scriptures, being greeted at the door, etc.

For older children, you may want to be more specific. “Tell about the Sharing Time (or lesson) that you remember most. It could be recently, or long ago” or “What three things do you like best about Primary (or our class)?”

You might NOT want to solicit suggestions for improvement. Children usually don’t have a lot of practice in constructive criticism, and might make pointless suggestions like “more treats!” or “shorter time!” or make hurtful remarks about a peer.

You might be surprised at what stands out for them, and they may be pleased that you were interested in what they think and wanted to ask for their opinion.

-Marci

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Whose Turn to Sing? Check Your Outfit!

Today’s idea comes from guest contributor Shellie, who describes herself like this: “I’m a Primary music leader with little musical talent, but I believe strongly that we can strengthen and bear our testimonies through the songs of the gospel.”

When it comes to learning and remembering new songs, repetition is key. But if the kids keep singing the song over and over again, they’ll be bored stiff — and so will you. Try different activities to mix it up and keep the children’s interest, to make Primary songs memorable and fun.

Shellie has the children sing based on what color they are wearing. She holds up one of these color swatches. Children wearing that color stand and sing while the other children hum. Every few lines she changes it up and holds up a different color. Occasionally she holds up all the colors and everyone sings.

You can use the same idea for taking turns reading scriptures aloud together, or answering questions, or selecting teams for reverent Primary games. You can get a lot of mileage out of a set of colored cards on a ring!

Looking for more ideas to liven up singing time? Look for “music” in the search box to the right.

Also see Shellie’s previous post Fizzing, Bubbling Chemistry Experiments in Primary!

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Primary Mad Libs (for leaders and teachers)

Got a training meeting coming up? In the previous post “Working Together: Strength in Unity,” we noted Elder Joe J. Christensen’s suggestion of occasional Primary worker gatherings “to build unity and team spirit.” In such a gathering, you might like to try the classic Mad Libs game with a Primary twist!

If you haven’t played the game Mad Libs in a while (or never), here’s how it works: “Mad Libs consist of a book that has a short story with many key words replaced with blanks. Beneath each blank is specified a category, such as “noun”, “verb”, “place”, or “part of the body”. One player asks the other players, in turn, to contribute some word for the specified type for each blank, but without revealing the context for that word. Finally, the completed story is read aloud. The result is usually somewhat nonsensical.” Click here to refresh your memory about the difference between adjectives and adverbs!

If you have more participants than blanks in the story, feel free to extend the Mad Libs by adding a few story detours. Naturally, if you have fewer participants, each person can take several turns. Then read the result out loud and enjoy the laughs!

Download this blank version for you to use in Primary (with a short sample included at the top): Primary Mad Libs for teachers and leaders

By the way, if your family enjoys Mad Libs, feel free to write your own! Start with your last vacation or dentist visit or perhaps a minor catastrophe. Write it out, leaving blanks here and there — and let the fun begin!

For other training or Primary gathering ideas, try this hilarious 5-minute skit (just print and read): “Lovable Rascals” – a skit for Primary training meetings about dealing with behavior challenges”

And we can’t talk about this enough: Primary’s #1 ongoing challenge – staffing!

-Marci

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