Author Archives: Marci

About Marci

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

Working Together: Strength in Unity

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Like a one-legged stool, working alone in Primary is not as strong or steady as working together. “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.” (Jakob R. Jones, Ensign, 9/16, 46). In a landmark address, Elder Joe J. Christensen, former president of Ricks College and member of the presidency of the Seventy, said, “Fewer mistakes are made when a leader counsels effectively.” Ensign, 3/01, 18

Notice he doesn’t say “no mistakes” but “fewer mistakes.” Even when one seeks the Spirit and counsels together, each of us is still imperfect and in need of constant improvement. Elder Christensen then quotes an unnamed counselor in a presidency who said, ““If this were not the Church, I would resign. We do not function as a presidency. The president makes all of the decisions. We don’t meet and counsel together regularly. As counselors, we are more like errand boys and are just expected to do as we are told.” Clearly this is a presidency that has room for growth in their effectiveness as a council.

Elder Christensen adds, “The concept of lay leadership, which involves all of us as active members, provides us with many opportunities to serve and develop.” He makes these suggestions, among others:

  • Counsel together.
  • Avoid interminable meetings through better time management.
  • Develop a feeling of fellowship. “Occasional informal gatherings . . .  can contribute much to building a unity and team spirit.”

“Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counsellors there is safety.” Proverbs 11:14

ACTION STEP: Did the Spirit bring anything specific to your mind as you read this? What challenge are you struggling with right now that may benefit from counsel? Might you gain insight or support by counseling with a member of the Primary presidency, a teacher, bishopric member or parents?

MORE RESOURCES: Read more about Teacher Councils in Primary and new manual: Teaching in the Savior’s Way

Also see Support and Unity: Primary Appreciation Dessert Night

Read the classic book Counseling With Our Councils: Learning to Minister Together in the Church and in the Family by M. Russell Ballard

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Kids as Commandment Keepers, Part 2 – July Sharing Time Ideas

Reverence-O-Meter made by Kelli, photo by Heidi

The theme for July 2017 is a continuation of the June theme: “I Choose the Right by Living Gospel Principles.” This terrific theme gives kids the opportunity to put solid doctrine into practice in their lives. Here are some supplemental ideas to consider:

Week 1: Fasting and Prayer – see Fasting for Beginners – teaching children about fasting

Week 2: Kindness – consider a Pint-sized Service Project to put this principle into action

Week 3: Reverence – try Quiet Game – Reverence Builder, especially as children enter the Primary room. Or try making the simple Reverence-O-Meter pictured here. Elinor explains that if the marker showed “reverent” at the end of sharing time, the children earned 3 cotton balls in a container, “almost there” earned 2, and so on. They were filling a container with cotton balls to earn a party.

Week 4: Honesty – see Honesty: teach them how, as well as what and why

 

God bless the children of the latter days, and those who love them.

-Marci

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Spring means Popcorn Popping – Even in Israel!

Date farm in Jerusalem

BYU Jerusalem Center

I just got back from the Holy Land with my 92-year-old mom. What a sacred privilege to visit the land of the Bible, the land Jesus loved.

Seeing date trees everywhere made me think of this post about the way children in Israel sing the beloved activity song “Popcorn Popping.” Try teaching your children this fun new spin on the beloved favorite song!

By the way, this very blog has visitors from Israel AND the Palestinian Territories. This region of the world, beloved of the Lord Jesus Christ as His earthly homeland, is revered as holy by many. But even today’s heart-wrenching, devastating conflict doesn’t stop Latter-day Saint Primary leaders coming together in this troubled region, at least on this blog, on behalf of children. My personal wish is that this tiny moment of virtual connection might expand to engulf the region — and the world — in God’s love.

All over the world, we share a common desire for strong, faithful children who know and love the Lord, and a desire to build a better world for them. I wish that these common desires might bring us all just a little closer to Zion — through Primary. It wouldn’t be the first time that “a little child shall lead them.”  (Isaiah 11:6) See “What’s Primary Like in Nepal or Bahrain?

-Marci

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Year-Round Snowball Fight! (with variations)

Today’s idea comes from Heather D, who says, “I love singing, my family, and puppies (but who doesn’t).”

This simple game is for any season. You can use it for Sharing Time, singing time, or a lesson. Here’s how it works: Ask the children a question, then have them write or draw their answer on a piece of paper. Use white paper for snowballs or baseballs; use orange paper for basketballs. When everyone is finished, each child crumples their paper into a ball and throws!

Children can throw their balls all at once (try having them throw their snowballs at YOU, with or without a cardboard CTR shield, as Heather D. did here!). Or each child can take turns throwing their ball into a bucket or basket.  There are lots of variations!

How to use this idea? Choristers can ask children to write their favorite song (with help for younger children). Those songs can be sung that week or next week, as time permits.

For a lesson or Sharing Time, ask the children a review question such as “What is one thing you want to always remember about _____?” Or ask an application question such as “What is one way you can (follow Jesus, be a good friend, show love to your family)?

Have fun with this activity!

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Kids as Commandment Keepers! June Sharing Time ideas

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The theme for June 2017 is “I Choose the Right by Living Gospel Principles.” This terrific theme gives kids the opportunity to put solid doctrine into practice in their lives. Here are some supplemental ideas to consider:

Week 1: Prayer – see Taking Prayer to the Next Level (including “A child’s prayer can save a (duck’s) life”)

Week 2: Tithing – see Paying Tithing on Treats

Week 3: Word of Wisdom – see Word of Wisdom – sharing time lesson and family night idea (our most popular post of all time!)

Week 4: Modesty – see Teaching modesty: clothing as advertising

 

 

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Counting Words in a Song or Scripture: Fun Activity

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lds.org

lds.org

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s a fun way to shake up Singing Time or Sharing Time. You can even adapt it for family scripture study occasionally for variety! Ask the children to count the number of times a familiar word appears in a song or scripture; i.e. count the number of times the word “try” or “trying” appears in “I’m Trying to be like Jesus” (Children’s Songbook, 78). Or count the number of times the word “choose” or “choice” appears in “Choose The Right” (Hymns, 239).

Variations:

  • Select a class to be the counting class. With each instance of the chosen word, one child stands, followed by the next child in the row, etc. Count the number of standing children.
  • Choose helpers to be counters. Have a few more children than there are words in the song or scripture come to the front. When their word is sung, they raise their hand and keep it raised until the end of the song. Then count the number of raised hands.
  • After counting the words, ask the children if they think they can sing it without that key word. Each time they come to that word, hum instead.
  • Try counting words that repeat in a scripture, especially one that you’re trying to memorize. Then recite it without the key word, saying “mmm” when they get to that word.

For more fun music ideas, see “Making Music Time Fun and Interactive” and “Sing like a robot? a snake? an opera singer?

-Marci

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Bullying: Having Difficult Conversations with Parents

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We’ve posted a few thoughts about dealing with bullying here and here. But what if your child might BE the bully? Or what if you as a Primary leader must have a tough conversation with parents, to let them know their child has exhibited bullying behavior in Primary? See how one parent handled it with her son in “Me? A Bully?” in the February 2017 Friend, 36-37.

Notice how the mother doesn’t shame the child, but continues to believe in the boy’s good intentions. She also takes positive steps, like asking him to:

  1. find out three cool things about the person he doesn’t like,
  2. sing a Primary song like “If the Savior Stood Beside Me” (click here for Michelle’s sign language video and visuals),
  3. remember when the child himself was in a similar situation and appreciated being treated with kindness, and
  4. do something nice for someone he doesn’t get along with.

“You don’t have to be best friends with everyone, but you can choose to be kind.”

If you have to have this conversation with parents, you can send the same messages to the parents themselves: not shaming the parents, continuing to believe in the good intentions of the parents AND the child, and taking positive steps, not just avoiding the negative. That is, instead of saying to the parents, “Tell your child to stop bullying,” Primary leaders can encourage parents to help the child see the good in everyone, and take concrete positive steps suggested above. You may want to give them a copy of the Friend article.

This is never an easy conversation, but with the guidance of the Spirit, addressing bullying can make Primary the safe, comfortable space that it needs to be for everyone to grow.

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Curing fidgety fingers and uniting the children: Sign Language and music!

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Learning sign language to songs is a sure-fire way to keep older children challenged as they learn an actual new language, and engage younger children’s busy fingers as they learn signs that teach gospel concepts. For example, it’s very hard for me to make the sign for Jesus Christ (4 second video) without humbly thinking of “His hands pierced and bleeding to pay the debt” (verse 3, “I Stand All Amazed,” Hymns, 193). Learning sign language is particularly valuable for kinesthetic learners – children who learn best by using their bodies (see “Teaching to a Child’s Whole Body“).

But recently, children in the Cardenas Ward, Panama City, Panama shared another benefit of learning sign language. Their ward is truly bilingual, with sacrament meeting conducted in English, the opening hymn in Spanish, the opening prayer in English, Sunday School in Spanish, Relief Society/Priesthood meeting in English — then next week the reverse. Headphones abound.

But in Primary, with some Spanish-speaking children and some English-speaking children, the language that they have in common is the language of images and pictures. ALL children, regardless of their native language, can learn a sign that spans language. Even though it’s called American Sign Language (ASL), the images are relevant. In fact, learning a sign with a familiar image can help them learn a new word.

When the Cardenas Ward children sang in sacrament meeting and did the signs to the song, all the children participated, regardless of their fluency in the language of the song (whether English or Spanish).

Besides, one day your children may meet a deaf person, and they will be surprised to already know the beginnings of phrases and words to communicate. It will mean a great deal to that deaf person to see them try to be their friend. See “Hands That Talk,” March 2012 Friend magazine.

Check out these useful resources to help you on your way:

-Marci

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14 Bean Bag Ideas – Easy Kid Involvers!

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In previous months we posted just a few ideas at a time so you had a chance to try these. Here’s the complete list of 14 bean bag ideas for easy kid involvement in your lesson! Click here for the pdf: 14 Bean Bag Ideas

Michelle writes: When my husband and I were newly married we moved into our first family ward.  On week two we were called to c0-teach the Sunbeams class in Primary.  Our Primary Presidency held a training for all the teachers shortly thereafter and gave each of us a homemade bean bag.  That was more than 12 years ago and I still have that bean bag that was simply made with a scrap of material and some beans and stitched up by hand.  I like to keep this bean bag in my church bag for emergencies in Primary!  Making a bean bag for each of the teachers in your ward would be a great resource for their teaching arsenal.  You could also print off this page of ideas on how they could put it to use!

Today’s guest author is Marti, mother of five and grandmother of nine.  She is a former Primary President, now in the Stake Primary Presidency.  She is retired from dental hygiene and is now working as a real estate agent. Marti has compiled this list of bean bag ideas she has collected over the years.

A simple bean bag has many uses! Here’s a few favorite ideas of how to use one to add interest and kid-involvement to your lesson, Sharing Time or family night. To make a bean bag, simply sew 3 sides of a small square of fabric, fill with dried beans, rice or popcorn, then stitch closed. 

1. TAKE TURNS for the prayer, reading a scripture, holding a picture, etc. Tape a number on the bottom of the bag. Everyone says a number. The one closest to the number takes first turn.

2. REVIEW.  At the end of the lesson, ask each child to think of something related to the lesson. “Today we learned about. . . ” For example, if the lesson is about the Word of Wisdom, ask each child to say something against the Word of Wisdom. Repeat and have each child say something that is healthy. Or you can ask specific review questions, throwing the bean bag to each child in turn.

3. CHOOSE WORD STRIPS, PICTURES, or QUESTIONS: Lay out wordstrips, questions, or pictures (in page protectors!) on the floor face down. Children take turns tossing the bag. Whatever it lands on, the child reads the word strip, tells what the picture is about, or answers the question.

4. MUFFIN TIN: Prepare a muffin tin with numbers in the bottom of each cup. Prepare a list with the same number of questions. Have the children stand back and throw the bean bag into one of the cups. The child answers the corresponding question from the list. The same technique can be used for Articles of Faith, in which the child recites corresponding Article of Faith. Younger children can repeat the Articles of Faith with you.

5.  FINISH THE SENTENCE: Start a sentence, then toss the beanbag to a child to finish the sentence.

6. CHILD TO CHILD: Ask a question, then while your back is turned, have the children pass the bean bag from one child to another. When you turn around, ask the child holding the bean bag to answer the question. Or, instead of turning your back, you can use the same technique with music playing, then stop the music and the child holding the bean bag answers.

7. GETTING ACQUAINTED: Toss the bean bag to a child. Say something you like about that child. Then that child tosses it to someone else and says something nice about them. Be sure you complement their character, effort, obedience, kindness or contribution to Primary, not just their clothes or physical appearance (every child is handsome or beautiful in their own way!).

8. GRATITUDE: Have each child say something they are thankful for when you toss them the bean bag, in preparation for thanking God for those things in prayer.

9. CATEGORIES: Start the bean bag moving by naming one thing in a category, then pass the bean bag. Categories could be reasons why we’re grateful for our families, stories about Jesus, books in the Book of Mormon, latter-day prophets, names of children in our Primary, etc.

10. PROGRESSIVE STORY: Start a story about good choices, then pass the bean bag to a child, who advances the story until you say “And then. . . ” The passes the bean bag to another child to continue the story.

11. REVERENCE – ONE PERSON SPEAKING AT A TIME: Tell the children that only the person holding the bean bag may talk. “Right now I am giving the lesson so I am the one holding the bean bag. If you have something to share or know the answer to a question, raise your hand. When I toss you the bean bag you may talk.”

MUSIC GAMES with BEAN BAGS:

12. HAVE A SEAT: While you sing, pass the bean bag. When the music stops, the person holding the bean bag sits down. Resume the song until everyone is sitting.

13. HOT AND COLD: While one child is out of the room with a teacher, ask another child to hide the bag. When the child returns, sing louder as the child gets closer to the bag, softer as they get farther, until they find the hidden bag.

14. NEXT LINE of the SONG: While you sing, pass the bean bag. When the pianist stops playing, the person holding the bean bag says the next line. If they don’t know it, they pass the bean bag to the next person who does.

I hope you and your children enjoy this timeless Primary bean bag kid-involver!

-Marti

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Children Following Jesus’ Example: Service

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The April 2017 Sharing Time is “Jesus Christ Teaches Me to Choose the Right.” The lesson for Week 1 suggests cutting a puzzle into four pieces, representing four ways that “Jesus Christ is the perfect example for me:”

Of course there are an infinite number of ways that Jesus Christ is the perfect example for me, but we suggest cutting that puzzle into FIVE pieces as you teach the children this one more way:

  • He served others (see Mark 2:1-4, 11-12). Friends lowered a paralyzed man down through the roof when the house was too crowded for them to get to Jesus. Then Jesus healed the man immediately. Afterwards, his friends didn’t pull him back up through the roof; the man picked up his bed and walked home.

In addition to teaching about Jesus’ example of service, you may want to help the children apply it, real time. Add an actual pint-sized service project to your Sharing Time lesson, to help children to serve as Jesus served. If you have time, this can happen in the same lesson, or in a followup lesson. Think about someone in need in your ward or community: perhaps a homebound ward member, a sick child, local nursing home residents, hospitalized children, missionaries serving in your ward, missionaries serving elsewhere who grew up in your ward, firefighters or police officers who work around the clock every day of the year, etc.

Children can draw them a picture or make a card to cheer them up. Older children can write letters about what they’re learning in Primary. This can be simple (paper and crayons/pens) or elaborate (stickers, markers, buttons, lace).

Children can create holiday cards for upcoming regular holidays or for unusual holidays held throughout the year. For example, DaysOfTheYear.com says that Saturday, April 15 is Microvolunteering Day! Even micro-people can help in micro-ways. There’s an occasion to celebrate for every month and every day of the year.

Here’s more ideas for service projects with kids, including great resources to share with Primary families as well: Pint-sized Service Projects and Creating a Culture of Service.

Here’s to serving as Jesus served.

-Marci

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