Category Archives: Activity

June Sharing Time or family night: The most overlooked of the First 4 Principles

from backyardbaseball2003ard

from backyardbaseball2003ard

The June 2016 Sharing Time theme is “The First Principles and Ordinances of the Gospel Make It Possible for Me to Live with God Again.” Start by having the children recite or sing the 4th Article of Faith so they can name those first four principles and ordinances:

  1. Faith
  2. Repentance
  3. Baptism
  4. Holy Ghost

Of these, which do you think is most overlooked when we teach children? My vote is for Repentance. We teach children to have faith, and we talk a lot about baptism, confirmation, and listening to the Spirit. But we seldom teach kids about how to repent, or teach them that this is a positive principle of self-improvement, not self-scolding, because Jesus already paid for our sins when we repent. Repentance is the Atonement of Jesus Christ in action, giving us a fresh start anytime we want it.

We can teach scripture stories about great men who repented, such as:

  1. Enos who pleaded with God all night for forgiveness (see Enos 1:1–4),
  2. Alma leaving King Noah’s court and becoming a prophet (Mosiah 17:2–4; 18:1–17);
  3. Jonah (Jonah 1–3); the
  4. Anti-Nephi-Lehies burying their swords (Alma 23:4–18; 24:6–19).

But we can also make this principle of repentance relevant to children’s everyday lives and teach them how to repent like those scriptural heroes. They may need a bit of guidance in connecting Jonah’s repentance to their need to repent after breaking a rule, for example.

Here’s a lesson about how to incorporate repentance into a child’s daily personal prayer, along with a coloring activity: Daily repentance in daily prayers

Also see this story about repentance that children can relate to: Mailbox Mischief: repentance and atonement for Sharing Time or families by Jackie.

-Marci

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Free State Park Activity Days Program – “Bugs, Buddies and Botany at Borderland”

centralmaine.com Photo by Joe Phelan

centralmaine.com Photo by Joe Phelan

Today’s guest author Marti is 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. 

As a Stake Primary Presidency, one of our goals has been to help the children to realize they are not alone as church members, even though they may be the only member in their school.  We felt that a bonding activity with other children from the stake would help accomplish this goal, as well as increase their social skills.  We also wanted to have a fun activity which would help children earn some Faith In God requirements.

We thought we’d look into holding it at a local state park called Borderland. The park ranger planned several activities and provided the supplies. The only cost to those attending was the parking fee of $5 per car, with senior citizens free! With stake activities, we never know how many children will actually show up, but the park was very flexible around attendance. The Stake Primary provided the food and the take-aways. We also did a little introductory game at the beginning so the children could meet each other and find out which ward they were from. This made for a simple and affordable activity.

We chose a date at the end of August, when most families would be back from vacations but sports and school activities would not have started yet. A date in late May or June might also work, after sports seasons and before the end of school. I met with Ranger Paul, who had many suggestions for group activities no matter how many children actually attended.   He asked us to inform him of an approximate number of attendees two weeks before. They had a special public event planned for the day we had chosen, with two professional entymologists doing a Discovery Walk Insect Tour at 10 AM, and we could plan our activity work around that.  He suggested the following itinerary:

9:00 Tour, Games, & Stations: The children were divided into groups that could go on a tour, play old-fashioned lawn games (crochet, bocce, pick up stix, provided by the state park), or visit stations (identifying skins of various animals, or dissecting owl pellets, which are clusters of what owls cough up that can’t be digested, such as bones and skulls of other critters). The park provided rubber gloves and hand sanitizer, too.

10:00 Discovery Insect Walk: Some children brought their own nets, and the park provided some as well.

11:00 Lunch:  We could use their kitchen or bring a portable gas grill. We decided to grill and provided hot dogs, watermelon, potato chips, fruit snacks and water bottles.

As a memento for the day we gave each child a zipper pull with a crown and star to remind them that they are children of royalty and divine birth, a light to those around them, and that their example can be a positive influence as stated in Romans 5:19: “…by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.” Each of us CAN influence others around us, for good. “Always wear your invisible crown,” said Elaine Dalton in April 2010 General Conference.

Our goals of having fun, making new friends, experiencing the power of gathering with fellow saints, understanding we’re not alone in our quest to keep God’s commandments,  all the while surrounded by nature and His glorious creations, were achieved. You may find local state or national parks in your area might have similar program offerings!

Download the Hingham Stake Primary Activity flyer and permission slip.

-Marti

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“I Was a Stranger” and how this initiative can apply to children

IWasAStranger.lds.org

IWasAStranger.lds.org

I think God knew what he was doing when He included Primary girls in the audience when the new initiative “I Was a Stranger” was announced at the General Women’s Meeting in March 2016. I think God knows that children have something important to contribute to this good work. Not only that, but the Sharing Time theme for the very next month was “Jesus Christ is the perfect example for me.” And what did Jesus do? He served others with love.

You may have already noticed our blog post Serving as Jesus Served: Sharing Time project or family activity, with ideas for pint-sized service projects, with new ideas directly related to the new #IWasAStranger initiative. For example, one ward Relief Society in my area recently did a service project for refugees through a local community organization. They put together bags of items children could play with or might need during the refugee screening process. Primary children could help collect the items or decorate the bags.

“I Was A Stranger” (available in multiple languages) has suggestions of how folks can get involved (scroll to the bottom of the webpage and look for “Getting Involved”). Some ideas are as simple and child-friendly as this:

  • Make a new friend
  • Do something you enjoy with someone new
  • Invite someone to your family night

We hope you’ll prayerfully read that website, and see what you feel inspired to teach your Primary about service, perhaps even about refugees in age-appropriate ways. Remind the children about times when they were strangers and how much they appreciated people helping them feel at home.

Also see the Church News article, Teaching Kids About Refugees: Every One of Us is a Child of God.

And now a question for you: Have you read any children’s books that taught the concepts addressed in I Was A Stranger? Any child-friendly service projects in your area?

Yours in this great work,

Marci

 

 

 

 

 

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A Celebration of Epiphany / Three Kings Day: Family Night Lesson or Sharing Time Supplement

Our guest author Daniel offers a Family-Night-style lesson celebrating an ancient Christian holiday that might have escaped our notice.  Daniel is a teacher and father who loves bird-watching and studying religion.

Download a PDF of this lesson by clicking here.

Star of Bethlehem, Edward Burne-Jones (1890)

Every year on January 6th, millions of Christians around the world celebrate a holiday called Epiphany.  In Spain and Latin America, they call it El Día de los Reyes (“Three Kings Day”), in Sweden it is Trettondedag Jul (“Thirteenth Day Yule”), and in Ethiopia they call it Timkat (though their different calendar puts it on January 19th).  Disneyland even hosts a 5-day celebration!  It is officially “The 12th Day of Christmas,” and is the day on which people of many cultures exchange their Christmas gifts.

The reason for this holiday is contained in the word Epiphany, from the Greek, which means “to make manifest,” “to reveal,” or “to appear.”  First celebrated in the 4th century AD, it traditionally commemorates three New Testament events during which Jesus Christ was “revealed” to the world:

  1. the visit of the wise men (usually called The Magi) shortly after his birth, when baby Jesus was heralded as a king for all people;
  2. Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan River, when the Spirit of God descended and a voice spoke from heaven, “This is my beloved Son;”
  3. and the wedding at Cana, at which Jesus’ first public miracle took place when he revealed his divine powers by changing the water into wine.

Each culture has developed rich traditions as a part of their celebration of Epiphany, ranging from the leaving of children’s shoes outside their doors in hopes that the Three Kings will fill them with gifts during the nighttime, to the baking and eating of a “King Cake,” to putting on massive and glorious parades that culminate in ritual re-enactments of the baptism of Jesus.  Christians the world over have developed an impressive variety of religious feasts, blessings, sacred processions, fasts, and musical celebrations in honor of Epiphany.  It is the climax of the ancient “Twelve Days of Christmas.”  It is the merry-making “Twelfth Night.”  It is a world-wide communal celebration of the revelation of Jesus Christ to all mankind.

 

Study and Discussion (choose anything that interests you)

 Read and discuss the scriptures associated with the three traditional “Epiphany” events.  What does each “reveal” about Jesus?

  • The visit of the Magi (Matthew 2)
  • The Baptism of Jesus (Matthew 3: 13-17 plus JST; Mark 1: 9-11; Luke 3: 21-22; John 1: 32-34)
  • The Wedding Feast at Cana (John 2: 1-11)

Brainstorm, Talk, and Write:

  1. If we were to celebrate three latter-day events for a new kind of Epiphany, which would you choose?  Which events in the history of our church “revealed” Jesus to us in essential ways?
  2. What about you and your personal experience with JesusCan you recall some of the events in your life in which Christ was “revealed” to you in any particular way?
    • Share your memories and experiences with the members of your group if you feel like it.
    • Write them in a journal or elsewhere and revisit these memories each January 6th with a prayer of gratitude and celebration for those events in which Christ “revealed” himself to you.

Expand Your Knowledge:

  1. Search your library of books, the internet, or “The LDS Scripture Citation Index” (scriptures.byu.edu) for more information and insights about the visit of the Magi, the baptism of Jesus, and the wedding feast at Cana.  Work together and make it fun for your group!  Share what you have learned with the others in your group (this can be as structured or as informal and free-wheeling as you’d like).  If you keep a scripture study journal, this might be a good time to write down any new insights.

Activities: Baking, Service, Art, and Video (choose any that interest you)

  1. Bake and eat a King Cake!  Search the internet for ideas and recipes that look good to you.  There are several yummy varieties out there – be sure to look up recipes for La Galette des Rois (a French pastry cake), Rosca de Reyes (the Spanish or Latin American variety), Dreikönigskuchen (a Swiss recipe), and Gâteau des Rois (another French variety).  Before you eat it, say a prayer in which you all take turns thanking God for events in your life in which Jesus Christ was “made manifest” to you in some way.  Watch out for the toy hidden inside!
  2. Take three gifts to a family in need.  Do it in grateful remembrance of the gifts of the Magi to baby Jesus and his humble little family.
  3. Search the vast “art museum” that is the internet for artwork depicting the three Epiphany events from the life of Jesus (for the visit of the wise men, the precise terms “Adoration of the Magi” and “Journey of the Magi” will be useful).  Try to find images from a variety of cultures and eras and using a variety of mediums (Christianity has a rich artistic heritage in painting, stained glass, tile murals, and stone carving to name a few).  Look closely at and ponder your favorite images and discuss the message or feeling each image conveys to you about Jesus.  Which images speak the most directly to your heart?  Which most closely reflect your personal experience of Jesus Christ?  Which inspire your devotion?
  4. Try your hand at religious art or musical expression, whether you’re a professional artist or a complete beginner.  Choose an “Epiphany” theme and depict it in an artistic way: draw a picture, make a play-doh sculpture, write a song, paint with watercolors, use markers on aluminum foil, make Epiphany-themed pancakes – use your imagination!  Try to pour your heart into the project, regardless of your skill level, offering your devotion to Christ through artistic expression.
  5. Explore the internet for videos of people from a variety of religious cultures celebrating Epiphany and Three Kings Day (and don’t forget “Timkat” or “Timket”).  What do people do?  Why do they do it?  As a group, think up some ways you might want to incorporate any of these religious traditions into your own celebration of Epiphany with your family and friends.  Now, let’s celebrate!

~Daniel

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“The Scriptures Are the Word of God” Sharing Time or family night lesson

lds.org

lds.org

I love getting the children into the scriptures! The scriptures truly are the iron rod that can lead us to Christ. Children learn to recognize the Lord’s voice through His words in the scriptures, as they become acquainted with Him.

Children can also discover the wonderful truth that the scriptures have answers to real life situations, like this: Do Pets Go to Heaven? Finding comfort through scripture and Primary songs

Here are our favorite scripture ideas:

-Marci

 

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Preparing for Christmas through Scripture: A fun family activity!

Where do you find Santa in the original story of Jesus’ birth?  No, I don’t have anything against Santa.  But I do like to try and balance out my kids’ excitement over Santa and the presents with the understanding of our Savior and His birth and the real reason we celebrate this Christmas season.  Here’s one fun and simple way to include more scriptures in your family routine as you zip through the month of December:

The 12 Day’s of Christmas through Scripture–in this blog post archive I’ll walk you through a fun DIY where you can create your own 12 Day’s of Christmas with cute downloadables and scriptures for each day tucked into fun little pockets for your kids’ little fingers to pull out in anticipation!  Begin your countdown on December 13th! Enjoy!

12 Days of Christmas File Folder

~Michelle

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“When We Serve Others, We Serve God”

Marci’s CTR 4 class from 2006

Thinking of those less fortunate is a wonderful lesson for children. Any time is an ideal time to coordinate with your Ward Council to find out what the other auxiliaries are planning for service and how Primary children can contribute. For example, perhaps the Relief Society or Young Men/Young Women are planning to mail care packages to missionaries or military personnel. Or maybe the ward is doing a “Sub for Santa” project of collecting holiday gifts for needy families or children in homeless shelters. Primary children can contribute to the cause by:

  • Helping collect non-perishable food items. Senior Primary classes might visit Relief Society or priesthood classes to ask for donations. For extra fun, ask each family to bring one red and one green non-perishable item (green Jello and red dried cranberries, a can of green beans and a can of beets, or a can of pasta sauce and spinach flavored pasta).
  • Making cards to accompany donations. Creating cards with paper, envelopes, stickers and crayons while the pianist plays Primary songs could be a terrific Sharing Time lesson or Activity Day.
  • Making homemade wrapping paper by decorating a roll of newsprint or butcher paper, or decorating plain gift bags. Some restaurants have plain brown paper bags for takeout food that they might be willing to donate. Then gifts for the needy can be wrapped in an extra bit of love from the Primary children. For security, the gift bags can be stapled shut for transport after they’re filled.

For more service project ideas that children can do, see Transform year-round holiday craziness into holiday service, my one-and-only published Ensign contribution here,  and Jackie’s “Pint Sized Service Projects” here.

-Marci

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Support and Unity: Primary Appreciation Dessert Night

Guest author Jen H. returns!

“Thankfulness is the beginning of gratitude. Gratitude is the completion of thankfulness.  Thankfulness may consist merely of words. Gratitude is shown in acts.” – Henri Frederic Amiel

lds.org

lds.org

I don’t think that a Primary presidency can ever say ‘Thank You’ enough to those who serve with us in Primary. This feels especially true with those who serve every week in the quietest ways– the pianist, nursery workers, in Cub Scouts and Activity Days. They work with our Primary children but can often feel disconnected from the Primary organization.

One Sunday evening, we held a Primary Appreciation Dessert Night for our entire Primary board & their families. This meant that everyone who worked with the children in our ward was invited– our bishopric counselor over Primary, Primary teachers, chorister & pianist, nursery workers, nursery chorister, Activity Day leaders, Cubs Scout leaders, 11-year-old Scout leaders — and their families (about 100 people!).

We wanted to keep it intimate (for those who don’t often get a chance to socialize with others on Sunday) and simple (because this was a big group). We chose a local park with a playground and picnic tables for our activity. This worked out perfectly! The children were able to play and have a great time together and the adults got to eat and chat. We served brownies and shortcake that we could top with strawberries and whipped cream, with water to drink. We gave balloons to children as families left.

Everyone who attended our Appreciation Night left feeling a part of the Primary and knew how much we appreciated all of their service. They appreciated that we planned an activity that included their families and didn’t ask them to do anything. We plan to make this a yearly activity.

-Jen H.

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Celebrate August birthdays: Primary AND President Monson!

Ok, you call it a coincidence. I call it a sign.

Painting of the first LDS Primary, lds.org

 

 

In 2014 Laura S. published “5th Sunday in August: Celebrate Birthdays of Primary and President Monson.” She mentioned that the first Primary was held on August 25, 1878 (see History of Primary at lds.org). President Monson was born on August 21, 1927.

Happy birthday, President Monson!

Happy birthday, President Monson!

I thought it was amazing that 2014 had five Sundays, to accommodate this extra lesson idea. But 2015 ALSO has five Sundays.

So if you saw the idea go by in 2014 and said “That sounds like fun,” but didn’t get your head above water to make it happen, maybe 2015 is the year to do it! See lesson plans and service ideas here.

Happy birthday, President Monson!    Happy birthday, Primary!

-Marci

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Creating a Culture of Service in our families and in Primary

FINAL LOGO_Light2015_VerticalNote: While these ideas are aimed at families, they’re easily adapted to Primary. And you can share these ideas with your Primary families, especially as followup after a Primary lesson about service or Christlike love for others.

On May 30, 2015, Michelle and Marci were thrilled to present a workshop at New England’s first conference for all women of faith hosted by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints:  Busting out of the Bubble: Teaching Kids to Feel Empathy for All God’s Children Through Service. part of  Let Your Light Shine 2015. What an inspiring day it was!  Whether you weren’t able to join us and want to hear more, or you did join us and want a refresher, or you are just interested in this topic in general, you’ll find some of our ideas and resources below.  

Kids CAN get involved in meaningful service! Service doesn’t have to be an event requiring a large block of time. Service can be done in 0 minutes (doing something you’d do anyway, like reading a book or singing a song) –but focus it on service. Not only do children learn by doing, but they also learn by learning – being exposed to service heroes in the scriptures, in history, and in their lives. Or service projects can be done in 5 minutes, a few hours, or 1/2 day. All of these things build a culture of service.

The Service Grid Strategy: Take a look at some of our ideas to get you jump-started.  Then use the blank grid to continue brainstorming more ideas that fit your mood!  Here is a list of ideas for service to neighbors, grandparents, missionaries, and family members, with a blank grid for your own ideas (keep a blank one on the fridge and fill it in when ideas come to you).

Kids and service grid ideas (a worksheet full of our ideas)

Service grid page 2 complete FINAL PDF-page-001Kids and service grid worksheet (a blank worksheet for you to brainstorm more ideas!)

Service grid page 1 with blanks FINAL PDF-page-001

Wonder how you can re-frame what you are already doing with a service component and essentially do service in “0 minutes”?  Here we’ve compiled a list of readings, children’s books (for all different age groups), songs and scriptures to help create a culture of service in your family:

Kids and service resource sheet has books, scriptures, songs, and more!

Service is synergy: a cycle of goodness!

Service is synergy: a cycle of goodness!

For example:

Serving a Grandparent (your own or elderly ward members, etc.)

  • In 0 minutes, you can sing “I Have a Family Tree” (Children’s Songbook 199). (You’d be singing songs with your children anyway!)
  • In 5 minutes, you can send a postcard or letter.
  • In a few hours (either Family Night or during the day or in Primary, you can interview a grandparent about what they’ve done for others that they are proudest of.
  • In ½ day, you can put on a show for your grandparents or someone else’s (i.e. a nursing home). This can be singing or acting out a beloved story like the Nativity, or a modified Little Red Riding Hood (starring a grandma!).

Teaching kids about serving and helping them serve others is a foundation for a lifelong habit of living as Christ lived.

-Marci & Michelle

Related posts:

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