Category Archives: Lesson

“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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Priesthood Authority (men and women) and Priesthood Keys (men only)

Guest author Christanne loves all the church auxiliaries but has spent most of her adult life in Relief Society callings. She is mother of three very different but amazing kids. Their family loves to be outside as much as possible.

Click here for the ready-to-use lesson plan: Priesthood keys and authority lesson outline

With 5 Sundays in October, you may have time for a lesson to supplement the excellent lessons in the Sharing Time manual for October 2017: “Blessings of the Priesthood Are Available to All.” This Sharing Time Lesson can be given anytime after week 1, to teach children the vital principle taught by Elder Oaks:

“We are not accustomed to speaking of women having the authority of the priesthood in their Church callings, but what other authority can it be? When a woman—young or old—is set apart to preach the gospel as a full-time missionary, she is given priesthood authority to perform a priesthood function. The same is true when a woman is set apart to function as an officer or teacher in a Church organization under the direction of one who holds the keys of the priesthood. Whoever functions in an office or calling received from one who holds priesthood keys exercises priesthood authority in performing her or his assigned duties.” (emphasis added) Dallin H. Oaks, “The Keys and Authority of the Priesthood,” April 2014 General Conference.

Click here for the ready-to-use lesson plan: Priesthood keys and authority lesson outline

For a 1-minute synopsis of Elder Oak’s talk, click the video link above.

To see the full 16 minute talk, visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B1KOFWmZl8k

To read the text, visit The Keys and Authority of the Priesthood

For a related idea, see Women and Service in the Kingdom

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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:

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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

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“Passing Kindness” game for Sharing Time or family night

lds.org, colored by Alexavier, age 6

Whenever we teach about keeping the commandments, being kind to others often comes to mind. In addition, this activity also talks about what to do when others are unkind to you, even bullies.

This fun activity from the Friend uses paper and a small treat (enough for everyone) with different situations about ways to show kindness to others, and how to defend themselves when others are unkind. Write each question from the Friend on a separate piece of paper (using a full-sized sheet of paper per question works best), wrap each paper around a small shareable treat, and keep going until you have a medium-sized ball. When it’s time for the activity, unwrap the ball and answer the question, until you get down to the treat!

For step-by-step instructions and a list of questions, see “Passing Kindness” in the August 2015 Friend.

~Marci

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Pioneer Experience – Frozen Feet and All

Give your children a pioneer experience they’ll never forget. You can do this in Primary or for family night.

Today’s guest contributors Emily, Shanda and Ashna brought a picnic cooler full of ice and water to Primary to help teach this lesson. Emily invited two children to remove their socks and shoes and stick their feet in the freezing water. They kept their feet in as long as they could (with no hard feelings when they’d had enough). Meanwhile, all the children watched the 4-minute video “Mormon Pioneers: Act of Courage,” President Gordon B. Hinckley’s touching account of the three 18-year-old boys who carried members of the pioneer company across the icy Sweetwater River, then died from the effects of that ordeal.

Pairs of children volunteered to be oxen, yoked together with a hula hoop.Other children were divided into “families,” where pairs of children packed a laundry basket full of supplies. All the children watched while the trekkers packed the laundry basket with flour, dried beans, crackers, a frying pan, a gallon of water, extra clothes, rope — whatever pioneer essentials you have on hand. Then the children carried the basket, one on each handle, on a trek around the edges of the room, while everyone sang (you guessed it), “Pioneer Children Sang as they Walked” (Children’s Songbook, 214), “Little Pioneer Children” (CS, 216) or “To Be a Pioneer” (CS, 218). Simple costumes are fun if you have time — cowboy hats, sunbonnets, bandannas as neckerchiefs or head scarves.

For an extra touch (optional), Emily brought small glass jars for each child, filled halfway with heavy cream and a dash of salt. The children shook the cream into butter while watching the video and singing. Baby food jars or small jelly jars work nicely for this. Then, as the cream turned into butter, each child brought their jar to the back of the room, where Emily spread the homemade butter onto saltine crackers for a pioneer snack for the journey.

You could do the trek with just one or two groups of children pioneers. You could also just have 1-2 children shake cream into butter, perhaps passing along the jar to other children.

Emily writes, “The Sweetwater River crossing was a story that I wanted to include because it is personal to me. According to her biography, my great-great grandmother was a 13-year-old girl in the Martin Handcart company. Her father had died on the plains in Nebraska, but she continued on to Salt Lake City with her mother and sister. My purpose in sharing these stories was to help the children understand that living the gospel brings its challenges, but choices we make today affect not only us, but our posterity. After our Sharing Time, one of the brothers who teaches Primary came to me and told me his ancestor was one of the young men who carried the people across the river.”

Materials needed:

  • cooler with ice (add water at the church building)
  • towels for drying off feet
  • hula hoops for yoking oxen
  • laundry baskets
  • pioneer supplies such as flour, dried beans, crackers, a frying pan, a gallon of water, extra clothes, rope — whatever pioneer essentials you have on hand
  • simple costumes (optional) – cowboy hats, sunbonnets, or bandannas as neckerchiefs or head scarves.

If desired:

  • small glass jars
  • heavy whipping cream
  • crackers
  • knife for spreading
  • napkins

For another idea, click here for a simple “how-to” for a 10-minute pioneer trek for families, nursery, Junior or Senior Primary. You can trek on July 24 (Pioneer Day) or any day. This is a free chapter from the book that was born on this blog, “Sunday Lessons and Activities for Kids.

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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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Overheard in Primary (or at home): Repentance Simplified

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Guest author Marina is a stay-at-home mom of three boys and loves it. She shares this gem from her son Simon on how to repent: “You need to fall down on the ground and sleep for two days like Alma did (Mosiah 27). Then you will wake up with a new heart.”

In case you need something a bit more specific, here are some ideas about helping kids learn about repentance:

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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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