Category Archives: Life Lessons

Is Anything Getting Through? Proof #3

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Sometimes, weary Primary leaders and parents wonder if anything they’re saying is getting through. I’m here to tell you it IS. In an earlier post I wrote about a Bible story I heard when I was age 7, then not again until eleven years later: see Is Anything Getting Through? Proof #1. I also wrote about my children using scripture language in ordinary conversation: see Is Anything Getting Through? Proof #2.

Here’s Proof #3. A friend asked me, “What is your favorite Primary memory?” There are many, but a highlight is when Sarah was in my CTR-7 class. Studying church history, we learned that some people tried to steal the golden plates. “Why were they trying so hard to get the plates away from Joseph Smith?”

Spencer: “Because they wanted to change the words of the translation and try to trick Joseph.”

Me: “That is indeed what happened, but can anyone think of any other reason why some people wanted to get the plates so much that they would try to hurt Joseph?” (No response.)

I pointed to my finger. “See this wedding ring? It cost us about $500, maybe more. Just this little band of gold.”

The children’s eyes widened. Stephanie blurted out, “The gold plates must have been worth millions!”

Me: “Maybe not millions, but certainly a lot of money in a village full of hard-working farmers.”

Sarah, with rapture in her eyes: “And the Book of Mormon is worth more than that!” She said it breathlessly, from her heart, from a true testimony of the worth of God’s word.

 

I personally have been thinking a lot about what you can’t buy with money. Some things you can’t buy, but are priceless far beyond precious metals, such as happiness, peace of mind, a sense of purpose, a sense of direction, and most importantly. . .

Love.

 

-Marci

 

 

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“A Service is a Service no Matter How Small”

Did you notice the “Chalk Service” idea in this month’s November 2018 Friend magazine? Nathan H., age 10, Arizona USA, suggested doing “nice sidewalk chalk messages at homes of people who needed encouragement.” His motto is “a service is a service, no matter how small.”

With your bishopric’s permission, you might like to try the same idea at church! Pulling in plenty of adult helpers, you could bring the children outside to draw on the church sidewalk. They could write a welcome home message to a returning missionary, or draw what they have learned. This is a good conversation starter on the way home for children to share gospel concepts they are discussing in Primary with their families. Be sure to have a backup rain plan!

Looking for more easy chalk ideas? Check out Chalk talk – inside and outside!

More service ideas? See Serving as Jesus Served: Sharing Time project or family activity and Pint-Sized Service Projects , a free download of a chapter from the book Sunday Lessons and Activities for Kids, the book that was born on this blog!

It’s never too early for children to learn that service is “the only true and lasting happiness. Service is not something we endure on this earth so we can earn the right to live in the celestial kingdom. Service is the very fiber of which an exalted life in the celestial kingdom is made.” (Marion G. Romney, “The Celestial Nature of Self-Reliance,” October 1982).

-Marci

 

 

 

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Feeling safe in the last days

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When I read in the Friend magazine how children responded to scary news, I felt alternately relieved and deflated. See The Lemonade Stand that Changed Everything, a cheery title for an article about how children responded to news of a terrorist attack by doing a service project to support first responders. Also read “What’s on Your Mind?” about how to help a child feeling scared when they hear bad news.

I felt relieved that church magazine writers are responding to needs of today’s children. I felt deflated because I wanted today’s children to worry about nothing more serious than loud thunderstorms at night.

Teaching children to respond to bad things with acts of service is a non-intuitive but enormously Christlike response. Notice that the Friend article discusses scary things on every level — a sick family member, someone being bullied, people needing help in my neighborhood — as well as natural disasters and terrorist attacks.

Read more ideas in this post: Helping children understand violence and tragedy

For more about bullying, see Bullying: Having Difficult Conversations with Parents and Bullying in Primary

For more about children whose homes may put them at risk, see Honoring Parents – even if parents make poor choices?

As always, the Lord gets the last word: “Wherefore, be of good cheer, and do not fear, for I the Lord am with you, and will stand by you” (Doctrine and Covenants 68:6).

God bless the valiant children of the last days, working to build the kingdom until He comes. And God bless the faithful leaders and parents, saved for the last days to teach children how to do just that.

-Marci

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Is anything getting through? Proof #2

Sometimes, weary Primary leaders and parents wonder if anything they’re saying is getting through. I’m here to tell you it IS. In an earlier post I wrote about a scripture story I heard when I was age 7, then remembered eleven years later when I was investigating the Church: see Is Anything Getting Through? Proof #1

Here’s Proof #2 that kids are absorbing more than we think. When my kids were little, we faithfully held family scripture study. Occasionally we got them to sit still and listen. They couldn’t read yet, and this is before Book of Mormon Stories came out. I often wondered why we bothered; what they could possibly be learning? But I knew that latter-day prophets had instructed us to hold scripture study with our children, no matter how young, and we did.

Around dinnertime, the children would look out the window to watch for Daddy’s arrival. One day our oldest son Rob announced, with authority and enthusiasm, “Hark! Daddy cometh!”

Whether or not he was absorbing the message, he was absorbing the language of the scriptures.

Your efforts DO make a difference. One day, the “children [will] arise and call you blessed” (Proverbs 31:28).

-Marci

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August 2018 Sharing Time: “Heavenly Father Hears and Answers Prayers”

from “Sunday Lessons and Activities for Kids,” by Marci McPhee

The August 2018 Sharing Time theme is “Heavenly Father Hears and Answers Prayers.” Your children may enjoy this charming experience from Eva and Michelle: Faith and Miracles: A Child’s prayer can save a (duck’s) life

Your children may be ready for the next step: adding repentance to prayer. Instead of four steps of prayer (address Heavenly Father by name, thank Him, ask Him, and close in Jesus’ name), consider the FIVE steps of prayer (add repentance as a vibrant, daily part of prayer). Here’s a free downloadable handout from the book that was born on this blog, Sunday Lessons and Activities for Kids! (See also “Personal Prayer Lesson Plan – with visuals for children, especially those with Special Needs.”)

Prayer – a lifelong habit that starts early.

-Marci

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And A Little Child shall Lead Them

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Children are not the leaders of tomorrow. They are the leaders of today.

I repeat – children are NOT the leaders of TOMORROW. They are the leaders of TODAY. Here are two examples among many of children taking the lead and inspiring (provoking?) others to good works, fulfilling Alma’s words: “And now, he imparteth his word by angels unto men, yea, not only men but women also.  Now this is not all; little children do have words given unto them many times, which confound the wise and the learned.” Alma 32:23

From Elizabeth Smart’s book, Where There’s Hope, page 2, speaking about her brother: “When Andrew was a little boy, probably only about two years old, Mom had taken us shopping, and there was a lady standing outside the store smoking a cigarette. Without missing a beat, Andrew said to her, “Smoking is bad for you!” I think my mom died inside a little bit, and she quickly herded us into the store. When we were returning to the car with our groceries, the lady ran up to us and said to Andrew, ‘That was my last cigarette. I’ll never smoke again.’ Whether it was his boyish charm or his sweet face, I don’t know, but he got away with that sort of stunt. . . ”

Here’s another from the Ensign about a child in Peru:

A Seven-Year-Old Missionary

Late one Monday night when my husband and I were busily working in our home, our seven-year-old son, Sergio, appeared. “Well, nobody remembered family home evening,” he said. “I guess you’re not interested.”

My husband had come home late, and he tiredly explained that we had been too busy and still had much to do before we could turn in for the night. At that we continued with our work.

After a few moments we realized Sergio was reading his illustrated Book of Mormon Stories reader all by himself. My husband and I looked at each other and silently agreed that, even if it was late, we shouldn’t deny ourselves the chance to hold family home evening.

When we went into the living room, Sergio told us in all seriousness that we didn’t need to be concerned because he had already started his “individual home evening” and had sung a hymn, said a prayer, and now he was giving the lesson. We stayed and listened as our boy talked about the First Vision.

That night our son was a powerful missionary to us, testifying of the importance of family home evening. My husband and I realized that often we try to teach principles that we are not completely willing to obey. What a wonderful experience we would have missed if we had not participated in that individual home evening.

Cecila Lozada, Maranga Ward, Lima Perú Maranga Stake

 

When children sing “lead me, guide me, walk beside me, help me find the way,” (CS 2), I sometimes wonder who is teaching whom. Thank you, dear children, for showing ME the way.

-Marci

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The Power of Music, for Children “From One to Ninety-two”

The following is a free chapter from the book that was born on this blog, Sunday Lessons and Activities for Kids.  Click here to learn more about how this blog became a book. Although this story is not about my own mother, I share it here in memory of my mother who passed away yesterday.

 

The low undertone of children’s chatter continued unabated as the woman stepped to the podium, punctuated by an occasional baby’s wail and parents’ “shh . . .”. Flipping her long brown hair over her shoulder with a practiced nod, she gripped the podium with both hands to steady herself, and began to speak.

“Many of you know my elderly mom has been getting weaker and weaker. We knew she couldn’t last much longer. Well, I got the call on Friday night that I’d better get to the hospital – it wouldn’t be long.” The woman’s soft dark eyes scanned the audience, as if she was gathering strength to continue.

“I rushed into her hospital room to see her lying there, perfectly still, her chest barely moving with each shallow breath. I took her hand and talked to her. She just kept lying there breathing in and out, but I know she heard me. I just know.”

The daughter took a deep breath and went on. “I said the things I needed for her to hear. When there was nothing left to say, I started singing. I wanted her to hear my voice, to know I was there.” The woman stopped to clear her throat, adjusted the microphone for no reason, and continued in a steady monotone.

“I started with ‘I am a Child of God,’ then sang through every Primary song I knew as the tunes and words came into my mind one by one. Then I started over with ‘I am a Child of God’ again. When I came to the last line, ‘to live with Him someday,” I thought ‘Someday? Maybe today.’ I kept singing softly until Mom slipped away, less than an hour after I arrived.”

She paused a moment to collect herself. “I know she’s at peace now, with God. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.” She grabbed a tissue and went back to her seat.

I thought of the blessings that come from simple Primary songs for children of all ages, throughout their lives. As an elderly child of God lay quietly that day, her own voice spent, her daughter became her voice, asking God to “lead me, guide me, walk beside me, help me find the way.” This time, the way was completely uncharted: the way to the other side, to “live with Him someday.” At that moment, this beloved Primary song reminded this elderly child of God that she was simply going home.

 

Check out the rest of the book, with ready-to-use ideas for channeling boundless energy, teaching about ideal families to children who live in other-than-ideal families, staffing challenges, bullying, children’s music for a lifetime, kids with special needs, building a celestial nursery, pint-sized service projects, and behavior management. And you’ll find some of the best children’s lesson enhancements and activities of all time. Available on Amazon.comDeseretBook.com and wherever LDS books are sold.

 

 

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Is Anything Getting Through? Proof #1

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Especially on discouraging days, sometimes we wonder whether anything we say really penetrates children’s minds. I have proof.

recent post included the story of Jesus’ service to the paralyzed man let down through the roof. This sweet story is one that has particular meaning for me. I learned it in Vacation Bible School when I was about 7 years old. I was amazed at the faith of the man and his friends and the love of Jesus for the paralyzed man. I didn’t know personally anyone who actually got into crowded houses by making holes in roofs (my parents would tan my hide), but just like that paralyzed man, I would do anything to get to Jesus if I had the chance.

Then my parents stopped going to our Methodist church (that’s another story). I didn’t hear that Bible story from the time I was 7 until I was 16. That’s when found the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. When I heard that story again, I instantly remembered it from my childhood, with total recall of the room, my short plastic chair for my little legs, the face of my teacher holding the picture of that heart-tugging story.

I remember that every time I wonder whether anything is penetrating when we teach children. I have proof that some things do stay with a child. You’re doing more good than you may ever know when you lovingly introduce children to their Savior.

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Dodge those arrows and rocks like Samuel the Lamanite!

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Download the free audio MP3 and sheet music here (available exclusively on PrimaryinZion!)

Kids don’t have to stand on a wall to have arrows and rocks thrown at them — or words that hurt like arrows and rocks. But just like Samuel, they might be unhurt. Here’s what happened to Samuel:

“(They) were angry with him; and they cast stones at him upon the wall, and also many shot arrows at him as he stood upon the wall; but the Spirit of the Lord was with him, insomuch that they could not hit him with their stones neither with their arrows.” Helaman 16:2

Like Samuel, children can have the Spirit of the Lord with them, no matter what others do. A little ignoring can go a long way. Kindness to the verbal arrow-shooter can work too. (See “Passing Kindness” game from the Friend magazine for ways to show kindness to others, and how to defend themselves when others are unkind.)

But if the situation is serious, crossing over into bullying, it may be time to take action. Try these ideas:

And in case Samuel the Lamanite is one of YOUR heroes too, teach your children this unforgettable original song (only available here at PrimaryinZion!): Samuel the Lamanite song (with sheet music)!

Don’t let those arrows hurt you. Keep the Spirit of the Lord with you, just like Samuel.

-Marci

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Our “Overheard in Primary” series: go ahead and smile sometimes!

If you sometimes feel like this in your Primary, here’s a lift!

We call our series of clever kid anecdotes “Overheard in Primary.” Type “Overheard in Primary” in the search box at the right to see them all. Here are a few of our favorites:

Also check out this 1975 Ensign article called “Mirthright,” including these gems:

My Primary class of 11-year-old boys had just received the lesson on the 13th Article of Faith. Each boy groaned over how long this article was, but tried hard to memorize it. Boy after boy recited it and received his emblem until one little redheaded boy got stuck. He struggled on: “… If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we … we … ,” he faltered. I hinted, “We sss …” He looked puzzled for only a moment and then finished triumphantly, “We celebrate!”  — Caroline Harper Spanish Fork, Utah

My four-year-old son decided he wanted to write a letter to Heavenly Father after seeing his mother write a letter to her parents. He wrote diligently how thankful he was for the beautiful flowers, birds, and trees. My wife addressed and stamped her envelope, and my son wanted to do the same. His mother explained that we can talk with Heavenly Father directly through prayer, which is better than writing, but that we cannot send him a letter because he has not given us his address. Very patiently, he continued, “Well, Mommy, if Heavenly Father lives in the sky, we could just send it airmail.”  –  Don L. Searle, Jr. Orem, Utah

What crazy, touching or offbeat things have YOUR children said in Primary?  Send your favorites in to us (primaryinzion@yahoo.com) to be spotlighted in next month’s round up of some of our favorite Overheard in Primary gems!

-Marci

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