Category Archives: Life Lessons

Conquering the Big Podium: Sacrament Gem

http://melonheadsldsillustrating.blogspot.com

melonheadsldsillustrating.blogspot.com

Carlan is a California native living in beautiful Boston and mother to three darling blondes. She’s a singer and lover of the arts who is passionate about reading and learning; Boston sports, history and culture; British period films; Mexican food; lime bars and most of all music.

In this post she is magnifying her calling as Primary president. She saw the need for the children to learn how to conquer the big podium in sacrament meeting as they get older, to prepare them for giving talks and prayers after they turn twelve. And she’s doing something about it. Carlan writes:

Recently my mother told me how sacrament meeting used to function when she was a youth. Among the many differences, one aspect she mentioned was something they called the “Sacrament Gem.” After hearing about it I was really interested in implementing it into my ward and with my Primary. Here’s how it works:
After the sacrament is passed and before we hear from any speakers, a Senior Primary child comes to the pulpit, announces the sacrament meeting theme or topic of focus, and reads a correlating scripture. Our Primary secretary schedules the children and gives the list to the bishopric. That’s it!!
It’s simple and not too scary for the kids, yet it gives them crucial experience standing and speaking in front of a group of people. Not only are these useful life skills but they are vital Mormon skills!
-Carlan

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Supporting refugees: Children are needed!

IWasAStranger.lds.org

IWasAStranger.lds.org

Click on the photo to watch the 1 minute video.

To all of our readers, throughout the USA and in the 168 countries who have visited this blog, we express our love and support for you and your neighbors, no matter what religion or none, no matter what skin color, no matter who you are or where you live — you are God’s child and we love you.

On Saturday, January 28, 2017, the following was published on Mormon Newsroom, the official LDS media source: “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is concerned about the temporal and spiritual welfare of all of God’s children across the earth, with special concern for those who are fleeing physical violence, war and religious persecution. The Church urges all people and governments to cooperate fully in seeking the best solutions to meet human needs and relieve suffering.”

Latter-day children of all faiths (or none) can join the effort! It can be as simple as befriending someone new, or as robust as these ideas:

Teach children these songs to help them internalize this message and apply it every, EVERY day:

  • “Jesus said love everyone, treat them kindly too.” Children’s Songbook, 61
  • “If you don’t talk like most people do, some people talk and laugh at you, but I won’t! I won’t!” from “I’ll Walk with You,” CS, 140
  • “I’m trying to be like Jesus.” CS, 68

“For I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat; I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink; I was a stranger, and ye took me in; Naked, and ye clothed me; I was in prison, and ye came unto me.”   Matthew 25:35-36 #IWasAStranger

God bless the refugees and those who seek to help them.

-Marci

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FREE Giveaway of book about Girls’ Camp, by Primary in Zion contributors!

girls-camp-cover-200x300And now this public service announcement:

If you like this blog Primary in Zion, you’ll love the book “Girls’ Camp: Ideas for Today’s Leaders” with contributions by Marci and Michelle (co-founders of this blog) along with some of your favorite Primary in Zion guest authors! Like the Primary in Zion blog, this Girls’ Camp book aims to connect the ideal world with real people’s lived experiences.

Relive your own Girls’ Camp memories, or give to a friend in Young Women leadership, or a parent of a Young Woman — we hope you love it!

Better still, your copy could be FREE! Walnut Springs Press is giving away 3 copies of our book. Enter by Feb. 14 (Valentine’s Day) for a chance to win! Anyone in one of 241 countries is eligible, from Australia to Zimbabwe. To enter, visit Goodreads here!

The book is endorsed by Hailey Smith, co-writer, co-producer, and actress in the movie Once I Was a Beehive (read her endorsement on the back cover of the book, or online here). Here’s the teaser for the book:

The power of girls’ camp is young women joining capable, positive leaders who are organized and who make things happen. Divine nature is strengthened by being in nature. But how do you translate Mormonspeak for nonmember friends at girls’ camp? How do you hold to modesty standards while making every girl feel accepted? What about campers with special needs or diet restrictions? How do you break up cliques at camp?

A spectrum of women and men from across the country have come together in this volume to talk about real-world situations faced at girls’ camp. You’ll find practical ideas and powerful stories, from the first day of camp, to lifetime lessons that continue to bless lives long after camp is over. Whether you’re a leader, lifeguard, nurse, craft-barn leader, or priesthood visitor, whether your camp is primitive or modern, there’s something in these pages for you.

#giveaway #free #win #book #goodreads

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Temptation and Repentance for Kids

Did you catch this profound truth from “Matt and Mandy” in the August 2016 Friend magazine, at the bottom of the article “The Hidden Video Game”?

Mandy: “Watching movies or playing games that make you feel bad. . . ”

Matt: “. . . is like eating worms just because they’re there!”

Children can learn that just because something is there doesn’t mean you have to do it, play it or watch it. Even if it’s fun or interesting, it may not pass Elder Dallin H. Oaks’ “good, better, best” test – especially if done in excess.

Whether children have made truly terrible choices or just not the very best choices, there’s always repentance – even for kids. See “Daily repentance in daily prayers.”

-Marci

clipartkid.com

clipartkid.com

 

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

Photodisc/Thinkstock via lds.org

Photodisc/Thinkstock via lds.org

Naturally, every family is imperfect. But as we teach children that “families are forever” and “honor thy father and mother,” some children may need to hear a more nuanced message. Here are some messages of encouragement from our leaders that we can incorporate as we teach children true doctrine about families.

Sister Neill F. Marriott, second counselor in the Young Women General Presidency, from from “Parents in Training,” New Era, August 2016, 17.

  • “No matter what kind of home you come from now, you can choose what kind of parent you will be in the future.”
  • “Please don’t expect your family to be perfect — because it will not be. It doesn’t help anyone to dwell on faults and imperfections. Instead, focus on what your family does well. . . . As you strive to become a constant source of goodness, you’ll likely influence your family for the better.”

Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve, from “Fathers,” April 2016 General Conference.

  • “To children whose family situation is troubled, we say, you yourself are no less for that. Challenges are at times an indication of the Lord’s trust in you. He can help you, directly and through others, to deal with what you face. You can become the generation, perhaps the first in your family, where the divine patterns that God has ordained for families truly take shape and bless all the generations after you.”
  • “Wherever you rank your own father [or mother] on the scale of good-better-best (and I predict that ranking will go higher as you grow older and wiser), make up your mind to honor him and your mother by your own life. Your righteousness is the greatest honor any [parent] can receive.”

Also see other related posts:

Honoring parents – even if parents make poor choices?

Father’s Day – sensitive, but where else will they learn?

-Marci

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Teaching kids about refugees: Activity Days book club or geography study

Church News photo by Michelle Mullis

Church News photo by Michelle Mullis

Catch these great ideas from the Church News article by Rachel Sterzer, “Teaching Kids About Refugees: Every One of Us is a Child of God,” suitable for families or Primaries!

  • Book Club for Activity Days. Michelle Mullis of Ogden, Utah “had been teaching her 11-year-old daughter Anna and other children in a book club about Corrie ten Boom and the role she played in helping Jewish refugees in Holland during World War II.” The book is called The Hiding Place. That book club inspiration, plus the announcement of the “I Was A Stranger” initiative by Sister Linda K. Burton, led the children to collect items for hygiene kits for the Utah Refugee Center. Would your girls like to read a compelling book for an Activity Days book club?
  • Geography study. What countries do the refugees in your area come from? Or how much do your children know about Syria, with 13.5 million refugees, including 6 million children (as of Feb 2016), making Syria the largest displacement crisis globally? (see UN report) The Church News article continues: “Once you have found a community or a country that resonates with you, you can take that deeper dive and look at the cultural aspects of the country and the people from there.” “Study their food, traditions, and the way they celebrate holidays or their religious differences. Helping children become informed propels them forward in service, Sister Mullins said. After looking at photos of the refugee camps and seeing how some refugees live, ‘the kids were ready to do whatever they could to help.'”

For service ideas, see “I Was A Stranger” and how this initiative can apply to Primary. Add your service ideas for kids to the comments section!

Children may also enjoy these videos:

  • Invite a Refugee to Dinner” about families from Bhutan and USA who shopped together for ingredients and cooked together (4 minutes).
  • Dutch Potato Project” about former enemies in WW2 sacrificing for fellow Saints, despite deep distrust and war trauma (12 minutes). What was accomplished when they gave up their potatoes? What is YOUR potato?
  • Ye Have Done It Unto Me” from Bible videos (3 minutes). Notice the people’s surprised response, “When saw we thee a stranger?” You may be doing more than you realize.

Would your children enjoy studying refugees, then taking action, small or large? Imagine the power of children whose eyes are opened and hearts stirred as they come to ponder Sister Burton’s question, “What if their story were my story?” Even children are needed in this tremendously important lifesaving work, serving as Jesus Christ served.

-Marci

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September Sharing Time Lesson: Preparing (emotionally) for a mission and for life!

lds.org

lds.org

2016 September theme “The Gospel Will Be Preached in All the World.” Week 3: “I can prepare now to serve a mission.”

When we think of children preparing for a mission, we often think of learning to study the scriptures, save money, keep the commandments, and invite friends to church. These are important and valuable skills.

But”The Hardest Part of Missionary Work” isn’t missionary work, reads a June 2016 New Era article by Wendy Ulrich. One missionary said, “for me the hardest part is what goes on in my head—like feeling discouraged or getting frustrated with companions or not liking talking to strangers—just dealing with all the ups and downs, the rejection, the change.” The article continues, “You should also get experience with the emotional, social, and other skills you’ll need as a missionary. You can start practicing now.”

Many young adults have stress-relief mechanisms that they developed as children. These coping mechanisms may or may not be healthy or mission-appropriate. As children try new and hard things, they can practice conflict-resolution skills with family and friends and in Primary. At home, they can build healthy habits, including mission-appropriate bedtime and wake-up routines.

If a child’s preferred stress-coping mechanism involves video games or YouTube, they could use some other mission-appropriate methods. We don’t often think of it as mission preparation, but teaching children to be resilient, positive and resourceful IS preparing them with valuable skills for serving the Lord as missionaries. One family I know took a “no technology vacation” – for TWO WHOLE WEEKS!

One skill that children can start practicing is this: “how to motivate ourselves when we’re bored and calm ourselves down when we’re overstressed. If a situation is boring or not progressing, become curious about what’s wrong and how to fix it, make a game out of it, or figure out what you can learn. Notice when you’re overstressed and learn things you could still do on a mission to calm down (talk to someone, relax, write, sing, walk). Take a step back, break the problem down, involve others, take small steps, pray, and talk back to negative thoughts.”

For a Sharing Time lesson on this idea, you might want to invite the full-time missionaries as guest speakers, and ask them questions like these:

  1. How did you prepare for a mission when you were Primary age?
  2. How did you solve problems with your siblings? How do you solve problems with your companion now?
  3. How did you deal with being discouraged when you were Primary age? How do you deal with discouragement now?
  4. How did you calm yourself down when you were upset when you were Primary age? How do you calm yourself down now?
  5. Now that you’re a missionary, what advice would you give to your Primary-aged self?

As you teach children to prepare for a mission by learning to study the scriptures, save money, keep the commandments, and invite friends to church, also teach them to try new and hard things, practice conflict-resolution skills, and healthy physical and emotional self-care.

Also see Laura’s terrific Sharing Time lesson: “When I Serve A Mission, I Serve God”

-Marci

 

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Filed under Lesson, Life Lessons, Parent Involvement, Primary Presidency Administration, Sharing Time

The Temple Is a House of God

Aba, Nigeria Temple - lds.org

Aba, Nigeria Temple – lds.org

I love this wonderful advice from the Sharing Time manual in July as you teach children about temples:

“Love those you teach: As you teach about eternal families, be sensitive to children who do not have both a mother and a father in their home. Also be sensitive to children who have parents or siblings who are less active or who are not members of the Church. Encourage all the children to live worthily and prepare so they can have eternal families of their own someday. (See TNGC, 31–32.)”

Here are some ideas and resources for teaching about various aspects of temples:

  1. About the purpose of temples, with a video which includes pictures of the inside of the temple: Primary Children Looking Toward the Temple
  2. About eternal families: Sharing Time ideas on “The Family: A Proclamation to the World”
  3. About staying worthy and preparing to enter the temple: But how can it be so bad if Aunt Susie does it?”
  4. About pictures of the temple in the home: “Let’s go get one right now!”

-Marci

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Safe and Loved in Primary

Coloring page from lds.org, artist is Cora Lu, age 7

Coloring page from lds.org, artist is Cora Lu, age 7

Although it has been decades since Emma Lu was in Primary, her story illustrates how Primary can influence a child for eternity. Today’s guest author Emma Lu is a wife, mother of seven, and grandmother. She is an author and lecturer, and she enjoys writing histories and life events.

As a young child, I hurried along the cool, dry sidewalk toward the church-house. I had an appointment to keep. I did not want to be late.

When I arrived at the chapel, I joined my friends on the church bench, where my feet barely touched the floor. As I sat there, listening to soft music on the piano, I knew I was in the right place at the right time. My home seemed so unhappy and messed up. Often times my mother and dad didn’t speak to each other. It was a cold war. My sister and I lived in fear, because of my dad’s occasional demons of alcoholism. But at Primary I felt happy, safe, and loved. Primary made all the difference.

Just like today, we began with an opening prayer followed by singing time. The chorister was a jolly woman whose well-groomed hands led us in the fun and sacred Primary songs. Often she told us we were bearing our testimonies in song. I felt a warm, joyous feeling and with gusto raised my singing voice. She encouraged my love and talent for music.

Our classrom teacher gave each child personal love. As she shook my hand, she cupped her hands around mine and gave me a pat on the back. I remember the twinkle in her eyes as she told wonderful stories of Jesus and led us in rousing classroom discussions. For me, one benfit of being in her class was to open a need for Christ and his teachings. My testimony blossomed in Primary.

I saw my teacher often in our neighborhood, and her eyes always had the same twinkle sending love. To me she appeard as if she were a heavenly angel. I felt she needed me and I needed her.

It has been some time since I attended Primary as a child, but guess what? I still love Primary. Today when I hear the beautiful children’s songs my mind and feelings wander back to our choister and teacher extending love to children. They both were on an errand for Christ. He said, “Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God” (Luke 18:16).

I love Primary. It was my salvation, my place of learning, my place of peace.

-Emma Lu

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Helping children accept others with special needs

Today’s guest author Carolyn joins regulars Marjorie, Marci and Michelle for our first four-author post! Carolyn, mother of two children, both with special needs, has worked in the field of special education for over thirteen years. She loves reading and crocheting. She’s attending BYU-I (online) studying Marriage and Family Studies.

lds.org

lds.org

 

How can we help children be empathetic, loving and kind when the behavior of a child with special needs frightens them?

Recently in response to one of our blog posts, we received this superb question: “Samuel is a new boy in our church who has cerebral palsy.  He is in a wheelchair and doesn’t speak.  He often yells out loudly.  My 5 year old can be particularly sensitive to sensory things, and when Samuel yells or cries, it upsets her.  Yesterday as we were leaving church, he yelled out and it scared all of us because it was unexpected.  My daughter’s first response was, ‘I don’t like him.’  We’ve talked about him before, and loving him, but I’m not sure what steps to take next.  Any suggestions?”  

Carolyn: You can’t force a child (or anyone) to be understanding and loving.  And it takes time to teach love and understanding, especially around special needs because it’s just so different from your own reality. This is multi-layered process. You must honor the feelings of ALL the children in Primary. Don’t band aid the situation with the “they are a child of God and we should love them” explanation. While true, that is a really big concept. And it doesn’t honor the fact that the other kids are scared by the screaming, or intimidated by the wheelchair.  So back up a step. 

The ultimate goal is love for this little child, and for them to be included in Primary fellowship as much as possible. But the first step is acceptance.  You can’t move toward understanding and then toward love until you accept the disability and the child with the disability. To teach acceptance, you just have to let people talk about what they feel. The little girl is scared.  That’s okay.  She doesn’t like it when Samuel screams.  Neither do I. She feels angry when he screams?  That’s okay.  She doesn’t want to sit with him?  That’s okay. Behaviors can be good or bad. But ALL feelings are okay. 

But quickly point out that the ACT is scary–not the child.  Screaming is scary.  Samuel is not.  His is a little boy.  As you reinforce this concept, use the same phrasing over and over so that they can remember the sentence.  You might say, “The screaming is scary, but Samuel is our friend” or “The screaming is scary, but Samuel is just a little boy, like other little boys.”  Use that same phrasing each time, and kids will learn through repetition.

Next, remember that even kids with special needs have needs.  They just struggle to communicate.  And when they can’t communicate, sometimes they get frustrated and scream.  Just like we all do!  You might ask “do you sometimes scream when you get frustrated? Samuel does too.”

Ask the parents what they recommend.  How have they taught other kids to understand Samuel’s special needs? Many parents of children with special needs are very open. They want to talk about their child. They are your best resource because they are the experts on their children. Take the time to really get to know the family, visit them in their home, and let them know you are there to support them and their child.

Finally, children take their cues from adults. They are more intuitive, resilient, compassionate, and aware than we think. When the adults around them are comfortable, the children will be comfortable.

Marjorie: One Sunday I took a few minutes to tell the kids about my son who has autism. I made a poster about him with things he liked, such as his iPad and his favorite movies. I talked about things that he had in common with the other kids. I explained about autism and some of his autistic behaviors by asking if any of them twirled their hair, chewed on their pencils, etc. I explained that that was the same thing. Focus on similarities, explain differences, explain what the disability is and why the kids have certain behaviors or have physical needs. Demystifying and normalizing behavior leads to acceptance.

Marci: As I thought about this, I thought of the saying,  “If you don’t love someone, you haven’t served them enough.” Kids CAN serve other kids:

  • Give them a kind note.
  • Draw them a picture.
  • Find out their favorite color, and wear something with that color one day.
  • Pick some wildflowers for them.
  • Or even just make it a point to always say hello and smile.

Michelle: There is always someone who needs a friend.  Perhaps it is someone who is new or lonely or being bullied. And at one time or another that person may be you. The truth is that we are all “poor and needy” in one way or another at different times in our lives. Service is not a one-way linear sort of process. I  see it more as a circular give-and-take sort of cycle.  We need to serve others just as much as we need to receive service.  This ebb and flow of service creates a community of love, mutual respect and empathy for one another.

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