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Remember the children’s choir in General Conference? This photo is from the Saturday afternoon session of the 2004 General Conference. Primary children CAN rise to the occasion for YOUR stake conference! Nothing brings a sweeter spirit than children singing, and it gives them enormously valuable experience and confidence, strengthening their own testimonies as well.
See Children’s Choir, 60 strong for the how-to breakdown.
Download this letter to the parents, suitable for customizing for your stake: Children’s choir letter to parents and leaders
I love the words of the seldom-sung hymn, “In Our Lovely Deseret” (Hymns, 307):
Hark! Hark! Hark! ’tis children’s music—
Children’s voices, oh, how sweet,
When in innocence and love,
Like the angels up above,
They with happy hearts and cheerful faces meet.
Sing on, sweet children.
When I was a missionary in Spain I experienced an amazing celebration called La Semana Santa, The Holy Week. In Spain the entire week leading up to Easter is a celebration. This was something I wanted to take with me when I returned to the United States. I have always loved celebrating Easter, but experiencing La Semana Santa made me really think about the amazing events in Christ’s last week leading up to his crucifixion and resurrection.
In our family our tradition is to celebrate Jesus’ last week by reading and discussing the things he did in his last mortal days on earth, day by day in the same order that they happened. We begin on Palm Sunday, often with a feast and our own little “procession” to the temple with palm leaves. (Now that we live in Hawaii it’s easy to get palm leaves for such an activity. But even before we moved to Hawaii we would often just use a similar looking branch, fern or leaf.) We like to take a few minutes at breakfast, or before bed each day to share the scripture stories with our children. We open the scriptures so they know where the story comes from, then we simplify the words a little to make it more developmentally appropriate for our toddlers and preschoolers. The older kids follow along in their copy of the Bible. I have simple drawings of some of these events that I like to show the kids while we are talking (See the Gospel Art Kit suggestions below if you are searching for pictures). These discussions have elicited wonderful questions from our children. I feel more in tune and aware of the meaning of Easter because we are thinking about it and discussing it all week!
This is a wonderful family activity, but it could also be an idea for Sharing Time or an individual class lesson. In Sharing Time, the Sunday before Easter–Palm Sunday, you could introduce the idea and share the scripture story of Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem and then give parents this handout as a reference for more scripture study during the rest of the week. Consider bringing in some palm leaves or other similar tree branches so each of the children can reenact what it might have been like to wave a palm while Jesus entered Jerusalem. I often wonder how I might have felt.
Then, on Easter Sunday you could share the scriptures about Christ’s resurrection and discuss how the children felt learning about Jesus’ last week–the Holy Week.
The Last Week of Jesus’ Life-Easter PDF
Gospel Art Kit (GAK) pictures online
Triumphal Entry GAK 223
Jesus Cleansing Temple GAK 224
The Last Supper GAK 225
Jesus Washing Apostles Feet GAK 226
Gethsemane GAK 227
Judas Betrays Jesus GAK 228
Crucifixion GAK 230
Burial of Jesus GAK 231
The Tomb GAK 232
The Empty Tomb GAK 245
Jesus Appears to Mary GAK 233
Jesus Shows His Wounds GAK 234
Here’s an easy idea to get the kids motivated to sing their very best! Here are our very official judges for the “Singing Olympics” during singing time. We split into 3 teams. Each team performed the song we’ve been learning all month (one team at a time), and we awarded a gold, silver, and bronze medal at the end.
All you need are a clipboard, pen and paper for each judge, and paper medals for each team or each child. Have fun with it!
Filed under Activity, Music
In the month of May we will be teaching the Primary children about the first principles and ordinances of the gospel: 1) Faith to follow Jesus Christ 2) Forgiveness through repentance 3) Baptism by immersion like Jesus showed us 4) The gift of the Holy Ghost and 5) Renewing our baptismal covenants by taking the Sacrament each week.
I still love this Baptismal Promises sharing time lesson I posted a few years ago. This is a simple lesson with printables to teach about the promises we make at Baptism and each week when we take the Sacrament. I think we often use words that are very familiar to the adults at church and forget that the kids really don’t have a clue what we mean when we say “covenants” “ordinances” “principles” “Atonement”. This lesson is a great way to break down the concept of covenants. When I teach it I introduce the word covenant so they can become familiar with it but I mostly use the words “big promise” to describe what a covenant is.
On week 2 of the month you could teach about these Baptismal promises and then on week 4 teach the same promises, review the idea that a covenant is a “big promise” and review all the things we promise at baptism and then renew each week when we take the Sacrament. The schedule of this month’s theme is so perfect for repetition and giving the children a chance to absorb these important principles. If we’re going to make a “big promise” with out Heavenly Father I think we better understand what we’re promising.
And as always, since I am a huge believer in the power of music and how much better we remember concepts when taught through music, there are so many fantastic Primary songs about these topics. Songs always teach better than too much talking!
I’m Trying to Be Like Jesus (CS 78)
Faith (CS 96)
Baptism (CS 100)
When Jesus Christ Was Baptized (CS 102)
When I am Baptized (CS 103)
The Holy Ghost (CS 105)
The Still Small Voice (CS 106)
Listen, Listen (CS 107)
The Sacrament (CS 72)
I Feel My Savior’s Love (CS 74)
I just got called as the Primary chorister in our new ward! I’ve served in ward and stake Primary presidencies, taught Sunbeams and CTR 4 and subbed in Primary in various capacities but this is the first time I’ve been the Primary chorister and I’m so excited! I have secretly wanted to have this calling for years!
I’m new to our ward already so I don’t know a lot of the kids in Primary yet. I am excited to get to know them. I also thought it might be fun for them to learn a little about me. So, for my first Singing Time I decided to bring a few different items as show and tell and use them to tell the kids something about myself and then sing a Primary song that I chose to go with each particular item. While music was playing, I had the kids play “Hot Potato,” passing an object around until the music stopped. Whoever was holding it got to choose an item from my show and tell display. I would tell the pianist what song it was so she had a minute to find the page number I had written down on the list I made for her And then I would tell the kids a little something about that item. Below are the items I chose:
Here’s the song list for you and the pianist:
- “Samuel the Lamanite” (original song, download it here for free!)
- “Heavenly Father Loves Me” (CS 228)
- “The Family is of God” (sheet music from the 2014 Primary outline or in the Friend magazine, Oct 2008)
- “I’m Trying to Be Like Jesus” (CS 78)
- “We’ll Bring the World His Truth” (CS 173)
- “I Love to See the Temple” (CS 95)
- “I Hope They Call Me on a Mission” (CS 169)
Here’s the object and explanation to go with each song:
- A Book of Mormon–I showed the picture in the front of the book of Samuel the Lamanite to go with “Samuel the Lamanite” (original song, download it here for free!) When this was chosen I said, “One of my favorite scripture stories is in the Book of Mormon about Samuel the Lamanite. I love Samuel the Lamanite because when he was scared he trusted in the Lord and the Lord helped him do hard things. I get scared too, a lot, but I know the Lord can help me do hard things. We are going to sing a song called Samuel the Lamanite. It’s a new song to you because my husband and his father wrote and arranged it. I think you’re going to love it!”
- A real leaf from my favorite plant to go with “Heavenly Father Loves Me” (CS 228). I said, “I love nature. I love camping and hiking and being outside. How about you? Do any of you like hiking or camping?” (Suddenly we had something in common.) “My favorite Primary song is called ‘Heavenly Father Loves Me’ but I always call it ‘Beautiful World’ because it’s all about all the beautiful things that Heavenly Father created for us.”
- A picture of my family to go with “The Family is of God” (sheet music from the 2014 Primary outline or in the Friend magazine, Oct 2008). I told them about my family. Only 2 of my 4 kids are in Primary (my twins are in Nursery) so they were surprised to learn that my Senior Primary-aged son has 2-year-old twin siblings.
- A picture of Jesus to go with “I’m Trying to Be Like Jesus” (CS 78) I said, “I love Jesus. And my most important goal in life is trying to be like Jesus. But guess what? I’m not always very good at it and in fact, I make a lot of mistakes and have to repent and try again. I hope you will always try to be like Jesus and know that when you make a mistake you can repent and try again.”
- My baby book–I showed a picture of my baptism to go with “We’ll Bring the World His Truth” (CS 173). Of course, I might have chosen one of the songs specifically about baptism, but getting baptized is like joining God’s Army so I thought it was appropriate.
- My wedding album to go with “I Love to See the Temple” (CS 95). I showed them a picture of my wedding day at the temple and told them how special it was to be married there.
- My missionary name tag to go with “I Hope They Call Me on a Mission” (CS 169) I told them that I served my mission in Spain and it was the best and hardest thing I did as a young adult.
Next week I am going to sing a few of these same songs and see if anyone can remember any of the details I told them such as where I served my mission or what my favorite plant looks like. I’d like to also do something similar when I ask for a child helper; I’ll ask the child to share one thing about themselves so I can get to know them better.
It would also be fun and simple to do a show and tell like this to introduce a new Primary Presidency or new teachers or new pianist. You could potentially bring in one item for each person if you wanted to do several people at once. I think the kids would really enjoy seeing into the real lives of their leaders who they often only see in church clothes on Sunday and never out hiking or camping.
The Sharing Time lesson was about the Plan of Salvation. The Primary leader explained that everyone was there in the grand council when Heavenly Father announced the Plan of Salvation. She read Job 38:4,7: “Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?”
The teacher asked the children if there was a time when they had ever “shouted for joy?”
The girl with the braids from the CTR 6 class raised her hand excitedly and answered, “The first time I tasted swiss chard!”
And she was serious.
I peeked into nursery recently to make sure my twin toddlers weren’t still sobbing with separation anxiety. And to my great surprise they weren’t sobbing. In fact, they weren’t even whimpering. Instead, they were mesmerized by the Primary music leaders who visit nursery each week. The music leaders had gathered the children to sit on a cozy blanket laid out on the floor and were singing Jesus Wants Me for a Sunbeam with great animation. They had given each child a bracelet tied with ribbons (called wrist ribbons or a rhythm ring) so the kids could punctuate their “sun-BEAM” with ribbon flourishes. The children were enthralled. They were happy. They were learning the gospel!
I teach music classes outside of church for young children ages 0-3 years. I love music and know what an amazing teaching tool it is. But in my professional classes I don’t get to teach about Jesus or the plan of salvation. The songs I sing and the ASL (American Sign Language) I teach are about animals, colors, feelings, actions, vehicles, balls, and more. All super fun and enriching stuff. But not the best stuff, not the gospel.
Nursery is the perfect place to teach about Jesus, the plan of salvation and other basic gospel principles through music. And toddlers are definitely not too young to understand. If they can do actions and sign language to “Wheels on the Bus,” they can do the actions and signs for “I am Like a Star Shining Brightly“ (Children’s Songbook, 163). Music is the ideal way to teach this age group! Want something to sink in and grab their attention? Sing about it. Take advantage of this perfect opportunity to teach the gospel to these young children through music. It’s 1) memorable 2) fun and 3) teaches the gospel. Boom! That’s Triple Threat Teaching!
So what made music time so successful for my twin toddlers this particular Sunday? Here’s a few of the ideas our Primary music leaders are implementing now with great success when they visit nursery each week:
- Plan a set of songs and sing them for 6-8 weeks to provide repetition and familiarity. If the nursery kids transition to Primary knowing 10 songs that would be amazing!
- Create some physical structure and boundaries by laying out a blanket for the kids to sit on during music time. That way they know where you want them.
- Incorporate movement and visual interest by using inexpensive props such as shakers, scarves, rhythm rings, song sticks or others.
More blog favorites about nursery music: Hands-on Singing: “Song Sticks” and Using Music Effectively in Nursery
photo courtesy of Susan Porter
I love this time of year! It’s always a celebration when you realize that you’ve survived another winter and that spring actually will indeed come again, despite your wavering faith during the endless weeks of frigid temperatures. Easter is a beautiful way to celebrate hope, new life, re-birth, resurrection, new beginnings!
This is a perfect time of year to teach the children about what this big word RESURRECTION actually means. Some of our blog favorites:
- Preparing for Easter
- Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday:Sharing time ideas with family activity. This is a fun hands-on activity you can download and print for Sharing Time.
- The Last Week: The Atonement and Resurrection–Easter sharing time idea or family activity. Do you think your Primary families would enjoy receiving a list of scriptures about the Savior’s last week? This list of scriptures is organized by date to use for yourself or share with your Primary families.
- Making Music Time Fun and Interactive! Particularly check out #4 “Easter Basket” and #5 “Flannel Board Story” for great Easter-themed music time ideas.
Learning about the Savior is a great way to celebrate the true meaning of Easter and balance the focus on Easter egg hunts and baskets filled with candy. However you choose to celebrate, let’s teach our children to remember our Savior and what his life, death, and resurrection means for each of us individually. I am grateful He is risen!
I often ask my children what they learned in Primary and get little to no details. I know this doesn’t mean that they didn’t learn anything. When I am in Primary, I sometimes witness them learning amazing things, but when Daddy asks about it, he gets perfunctory or hollow responses. I think they’re usually just interested in moving on to something else and don’t want to talk about it at the time. I get it; I’m the same way sometimes. But I still would love to hear details about what they’re learning in Primary.
When I received the following email from my daughter’s Primary president recently, I was thrilled!
“Just wanted to share a little anecdote with you from Primary. We did a lesson on opening and closing prayers, to try to increase participation in that area. Your daughter was a great participant in the lesson, and at the end, I asked if there were any questions. One Sunbeam boy asked “How does Heavenly Father hear our prayers?” and then your daughter asked “Why do we say ‘in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen’?” I was so struck by the sincerity of both questions. Unfortunately, I’m not sure if I gave a great answer to her question; I was already overtime, and kind of rushed through some type of explanation about Jesus being our advocate and taking our concerns to Heavenly Father, since He performed the Atonement for us. Anyway, I thought you might want to follow up on that question in Family Home Evening or dinner discussion with a more thorough explanation, so I thought I’d let you know.”
Not only was it exciting to hear what they were discussing, it was so beneficial to know about my daughter’s question. She had never asked us that question before. When we continued the discussion at home during dinner time my daughter was thrilled that both her parents and her church leaders took her question seriously. I think it helped her to see the connection between Sunday gospel learning and home gospel learning as well.
Bridging the gap between Primary and home can be tricky sometimes. Primary teachers and leaders: sending an email to parents is a simple and meaningful way to keep a line of communication, build relationships, and strengthen the spiritual growth of the children. And there never seems to be enough time to cover everything you hope to in Primary, so a follow up email to continue the conversation is genius.
I am so grateful for dedicated Primary leaders and teachers who agree to teach my kids each Sunday, to share their testimony, and to be part of the village I need to raise these beautiful children of God to know and love their Savior. I need all the help I can get! Thank you.
Primary leaders: feel free to share this post with parents, or adapt these ideas for use in Primary.
So often we hear a lesson about service and immediately feel guilty for what we aren’t doing yet all the while feeling overwhelmed with all the things we are doing. This post is for you!
How and when do I fit in service to others in my already busy family life? How do I add one more thing to my already-too-long to-do list, even when I want to fulfill the Savior’s call to “do unto others as you would have done unto you?” (Matthew 7:12) How do I sit through one more lesson on service without feeling guilty?
Have you ever asked yourself any of these questions? They rolled off my mind with ease since I’ve asked them myself more times than I’d like to admit. When Marci and I were asked to present a workshop on the topic, “Teaching Kids to Feel Empathy for All God’s Children Through Service,” at first we were stumped. The one thing we were sure of was that we would only teach something that would be attainable for your typical busy and overwhelmed woman. I have felt too much guilt over the years because I just can’t see how to add one more good thing to my day where I already can’t get half of the things done that I need to and want to. Rather than be another one of those good things that you wished you could accomplish, we hoped to offer realistic strategies and resources that you could implement in your family and community immediately.
Creating a culture of service in our families: that is the goal. We think we’ve come up with some ideas, resources and strategies to do that and not add to your already-too-long to-do list. So, after two months of prayer, brainstorming and study this is what we came up with. We were surprised when the Lord guided us in unexpected directions and led us to go deeper. So much of what we share in this workshop came from above. We hope you feel inspired too. We’d love your feedback. We’d love to hear about your application of these principles, ideas, and strategies. If you like what you see please share it! This video workshop is a live presentation from May of 2015 with 150 women in attendance.
These are the documents we reference during the workshop:
Download and print and get ready to begin your plan for “Creating a Culture of Service” in your family in as few as zero minutes! (You read that right – creating a culture of service in no time at all. It IS possible!Watch and see what we mean.)