Author Archives: Marci

About Marci

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

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

lds.org

lds.org

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

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Lesson, Sharing Time

Primary Assessment: Children

ldsclipart.com

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

Leave a comment

Filed under Primary Presidency Administration, Teacher Support

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!

Leave a comment

Filed under Activity, Music

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

Leave a comment

Filed under Primary Presidency Administration, Teacher Support

Chorister Training for Kids

lds.org

lds.org

Who says kids can’t get in on the action? Learning to conduct music is a skill that will benefit them throughout their lives. Why not learn how to conduct while they’re young?

It starts with hearing the beat and identifying rhythms. You can teach children — even very young children — how to follow the rhythm by simply clapping their hands together or patting their legs in rhythm to the music.

Then you can demonstrate how the rhythm translates to conducting, which is nothing more than drawing the rhythm with your hands. Have them watch you and imitate you as you clap out the rhythm with your hands. Children can all lead the music together, or you can ask a certain child or a whole class to come up and lead a song with you. (Remember that when children watch you lead, it’s like looking in the mirror.)

If your children are ready for more, you can teach them how to tell which diagram above you should use — whether 3 beats or 4 beats. Show them the sheet music. Ask them to identify the top number of the time signature. That tells them whether to beat in 3’s or 4’s, pictured above. Those two patterns will get you through most of the songs sung in Primary. (See “Explanation of Symbols and Terms” and “How to conduct a song” from the music resources at lds.org.)

Try this activity in Singing Time or in Activity Days for extra practice in a smaller group.

Learning to conduct gives children another way to enjoy uplifting Primary music. Have fun with it!

-Marci

Leave a comment

Filed under Activity, Music

Sept 2017 Sharing Time – the delicate situation of honoring parents

2017 outline for Sharing Time

The Sharing Time manual for Sept 2017 is about the Ten Commandments. Week 3’s lesson about honoring parents contains this important note: “Tip: The lessons as written may not speak to the specific needs of your children. You understand their abilities and circumstances and can adjust the sharing time ideas to make them effective in your Primary.”

This thought is important in today’s world. Parents may be struggling on their own life path in ways that can be confusing to children. This may apply to only a few of your children that you know of, but it’s important for children (and some adult teachers with difficult pasts) to hear a more nuanced message. They may need to understand the difference between the traditional understanding of honoring one’s parents (doing what they say) and honoring parents by bringing honor to one’s parents.

Read more here (including a ready-to-use lesson plan): Honoring Parents – even if parents make poor choices?

See also For children in imperfect families (that’s all of us!): Encouragement from leaders.

 

Looking for ideas for Week 4’s honesty lesson? See Honesty: teach them how, as well as what and why

-Marci

And here’s a bonus picture of the Hillbilly Ten Commandments, spotted in a drive-through window in Oregon:

Leave a comment

Filed under Lesson, Life Lessons, Sharing Time

Instant Lesson 2.0

store.lds.org

This also makes a great instant family night lesson — just add refreshments!

See also Instant Lesson 1.0

Here’s another instant lesson idea to add to your bag of tricks. In a perfect world you will never be in the situation where a teacher cancels, or someone asks you to substitute at the last minute.  But we all know how it is to get a stomach bug in the middle of Saturday night and be laid up in bed.  Or how miserable it is to wake up Sunday morning with your child running a high fever.  When you get asked to fill in for a teacher who’s had to cancel last minute remember these instant lesson ideas! You may have no time to even pull up the lesson on your phone, much less read and prepare it, before you’re thrown into a classroom of children.  We’ve got you covered!

Grab the Gospel Art Book from your bookshelf. Or send a deputy to the library to grab several pictures of scripture stories from various books of scripture. Then ask each child to choose a picture and tell the story depicted. If you have time, turn to the actual scriptures and read at least one verse, to hear it in God’s words.

Then, ask the child to personalize the story: Have you ever felt like this scripture character? How did you face that situation in your own life? How might we show the same good qualities today? Can you think of a song that goes with this scripture story?

Now you’re ready for the unexpected!  (And the one thing you can expect with children is the unexpected!)

-Marci

Thanks to Sister Brown for this great idea.

Leave a comment

Filed under Music, Scriptures, Sharing Time, Teacher Support

Primary Assessment: Adults

lds.org

Whether you are a leader or teacher, your Primary or class may benefit from pausing a moment and taking stock. In professional settings, it’s standard organizational practice to periodically conduct “360 degree” evaluations with all sectors of the organization, in order to figure out what’s working well and what could use adjustment. As always, different points of view may have different insights that might not be as visible to the leaders or teachers themselves.

“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,” said Jakob R. Jones, Ensign, 9/16, 46). Presidency members may already be conducting personal stewardship interviews with teachers and other Primary leaders. Ideally these interviews would happen after a few weeks in the calling, to see how things are working out at first, and then periodically thereafter. In these interviews, leaders can learn much by listening as well as instructing and training.

Or you may want to invite comments from all the teachers at once, either by survey (paper, electronic or both) or interview (phone or in-person). Questions might include:

  • 3 strengths of our Primary as a whole from your point of view,
  • 3 areas for growth for our Primary as a whole,
  • your 3 greatest challenges as you serve in your position,
  • comments.

Leaders may want to visit classes or co-teach occasionally for additional support of teachers, especially if the teacher has a particular concern.

Also see Working Together: Strength in Unity

It’s a joy to work together in unity in this grand kingdom-building work, one child at a time.

-Marci

1 Comment

Filed under Primary Presidency Administration, Teacher Support

Happy Birthday, Primary!

azbirthdaycollections.com

Primary began in 1878 to address the rowdiness of the boys, with lessons on not taking fruit from orchards or melon patches. Girls were included in that first Primary because their voices were needed to make the singing sound good, although girls too were admonished not to hang on wagons.

Obedience is still taught today in Primary, although children need fewer reminders about melon swiping and wagon hanging. Today’s lessons on obedience are more likely to focus on such topics as honesty and being kind to those who are different from you, such as refugees. Lessons for children in the home may include pornography prevention, including an original song “My Mind’s a Sacred Place” to protect children from today’s dangers.

Check out these ideas on how to celebrate both Primary’s birthday AND President Monson’s birthday, both in August!

Happy birthday, Primary! 139 years old looks good on you.

-Marci

Leave a comment

Filed under Activity, Sharing Time

August 2017 Sharing Time – Fill your life with things that invite the Spirit

These ideas also make great family night lessons!

The August 2017 Sharing Time theme is “I Choose to Fill My Life with Things That Invite the Spirit,” with this favorite song for this month: “I’m Trying to Be like Jesus” (CS, 78–79). Here’s some ideas for each week:

Week 1: Having good friends will help me choose the right. Looking for the video of that wonderful story about the positive prank of hiding a silver coin in a poor man’s shoes? Watch the 4 minute video above.

Week 2: I should read, listen to, and look at things that are pleasing to Heavenly Father. Teach your children a song to help them make good media choices and fend off pornography. See “My Mind’s a Sacred Place” (new original song), with audio, sheet music, and the backstory.

Weeks 3 and 4: I should do things on the Sabbath that will help me stay close to Heavenly Father. Try these ideas: Teaching about the Sabbath Day through Activity & Music. Also see Emma Lu’s story about how rotten it felt NOT to honor the Sabbath day: A child’s safe space to choose the right.

-Marci

Leave a comment

Filed under Lesson, Life Lessons, Sharing Time