Category Archives: Primary Presidency Administration

Primary Secretaries – try “You’ve Got Mail” and indestructible assignment slips

Today’s guest idea is from Cathleen. She decorated an inexpensive mailbox for Primary, and put slips of paper inside inviting children to do the talk, prayer or scripture for the following week. When it’s time to pass out the slips of paper, she dramatically announces, “You’ve got mail!” She opens the mailbox and passes out the slips of paper.

Another idea is to use indestructible paper bracelets to put on the child’s wrist, to make sure the notice makes it home! Search online for “paper event bracelets” — they cost as little as 5c each and are made of Tyvek, a thin, strong paper.

Here’s more ideas for secretaries:

We appreciate our Primary secretaries for all their good work!

-Marci

 

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Primary Assessment: Children

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In a previous post Primary Assessment: Adults, we talked about ways of obtaining useful feedback from adults. What about the children themselves? What might you learn from a kid’s-eye view of Primary?

Consider taking a few minutes at the end of class or Sharing Time to ask the children a few questions. For younger children, it can be as simple as “Draw a picture of your favorite part of Primary (or our class).” Children may draw a picture of their teacher or friend, Singing Time, using scriptures, being greeted at the door, etc.

For older children, you may want to be more specific. “Tell about the Sharing Time (or lesson) that you remember most. It could be recently, or long ago” or “What three things do you like best about Primary (or our class)?”

You might NOT want to solicit suggestions for improvement. Children usually don’t have a lot of practice in constructive criticism, and might make pointless suggestions like “more treats!” or “shorter time!” or make hurtful remarks about a peer.

You might be surprised at what stands out for them, and they may be pleased that you were interested in what they think and wanted to ask for their opinion.

-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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Primary Mad Libs (for leaders and teachers)

Got a training meeting coming up? In the previous post “Working Together: Strength in Unity,” we noted Elder Joe J. Christensen’s suggestion of occasional Primary worker gatherings “to build unity and team spirit.” In such a gathering, you might like to try the classic Mad Libs game with a Primary twist!

If you haven’t played the game Mad Libs in a while (or never), here’s how it works: “Mad Libs consist of a book that has a short story with many key words replaced with blanks. Beneath each blank is specified a category, such as “noun”, “verb”, “place”, or “part of the body”. One player asks the other players, in turn, to contribute some word for the specified type for each blank, but without revealing the context for that word. Finally, the completed story is read aloud. The result is usually somewhat nonsensical.” Click here to refresh your memory about the difference between adjectives and adverbs!

If you have more participants than blanks in the story, feel free to extend the Mad Libs by adding a few story detours. Naturally, if you have fewer participants, each person can take several turns. Then read the result out loud and enjoy the laughs!

Download this blank version for you to use in Primary (with a short sample included at the top): Primary Mad Libs for teachers and leaders

By the way, if your family enjoys Mad Libs, feel free to write your own! Start with your last vacation or dentist visit or perhaps a minor catastrophe. Write it out, leaving blanks here and there — and let the fun begin!

For other training or Primary gathering ideas, try this hilarious 5-minute skit (just print and read): “Lovable Rascals” – a skit for Primary training meetings about dealing with behavior challenges”

And we can’t talk about this enough: Primary’s #1 ongoing challenge – staffing!

-Marci

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Primary Assessment: Adults

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Whether you are a leader or teacher, your Primary or class may benefit from pausing a moment and taking stock. In professional settings, it’s standard organizational practice to periodically conduct “360 degree” evaluations with all sectors of the organization, in order to figure out what’s working well and what could use adjustment. As always, different points of view may have different insights that might not be as visible to the leaders or teachers themselves.

“No one of us is as smart as many of us together. Each of us brings a unique perspective and set of experiences and insights,” said Jakob R. Jones, Ensign, 9/16, 46). Presidency members may already be conducting personal stewardship interviews with teachers and other Primary leaders. Ideally these interviews would happen after a few weeks in the calling, to see how things are working out at first, and then periodically thereafter. In these interviews, leaders can learn much by listening as well as instructing and training.

Or you may want to invite comments from all the teachers at once, either by survey (paper, electronic or both) or interview (phone or in-person). Questions might include:

  • 3 strengths of our Primary as a whole from your point of view,
  • 3 areas for growth for our Primary as a whole,
  • your 3 greatest challenges as you serve in your position,
  • comments.

Leaders may want to visit classes or co-teach occasionally for additional support of teachers, especially if the teacher has a particular concern.

Also see Working Together: Strength in Unity

It’s a joy to work together in unity in this grand kingdom-building work, one child at a time.

-Marci

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Working Together: Strength in Unity

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Like a one-legged stool, working alone in Primary is not as strong or steady as working together. “No one of us is as smart as many of us together. Each of us brings a unique perspective and set of experiences and insights.” (Jakob R. Jones, Ensign, 9/16, 46). In a landmark address, Elder Joe J. Christensen, former president of Ricks College and member of the presidency of the Seventy, said, “Fewer mistakes are made when a leader counsels effectively.” Ensign, 3/01, 18

Notice he doesn’t say “no mistakes” but “fewer mistakes.” Even when one seeks the Spirit and counsels together, each of us is still imperfect and in need of constant improvement. Elder Christensen then quotes an unnamed counselor in a presidency who said, ““If this were not the Church, I would resign. We do not function as a presidency. The president makes all of the decisions. We don’t meet and counsel together regularly. As counselors, we are more like errand boys and are just expected to do as we are told.” Clearly this is a presidency that has room for growth in their effectiveness as a council.

Elder Christensen adds, “The concept of lay leadership, which involves all of us as active members, provides us with many opportunities to serve and develop.” He makes these suggestions, among others:

  • Counsel together.
  • Avoid interminable meetings through better time management.
  • Develop a feeling of fellowship. “Occasional informal gatherings . . .  can contribute much to building a unity and team spirit.”

“Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counsellors there is safety.” Proverbs 11:14

ACTION STEP: Did the Spirit bring anything specific to your mind as you read this? What challenge are you struggling with right now that may benefit from counsel? Might you gain insight or support by counseling with a member of the Primary presidency, a teacher, bishopric member or parents?

MORE RESOURCES: Read more about Teacher Councils in Primary and new manual: Teaching in the Savior’s Way

Also see Support and Unity: Primary Appreciation Dessert Night

Read the classic book Counseling With Our Councils: Learning to Minister Together in the Church and in the Family by M. Russell Ballard

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Introduction of New Primary Leaders: Show and Tell Music Time Idea!

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:

primary-music-picHere’s the song list for you and the pianist:

  1. “Samuel the Lamanite” (original song, download it here for free!)
  2. “Heavenly Father Loves Me”  (CS 228)
  3. “The Family is of God” (sheet music from the 2014 Primary outline or in the Friend magazine, Oct 2008)
  4. “I’m Trying to Be Like Jesus” (CS 78)
  5. “We’ll Bring the World His Truth” (CS 173)
  6. “I Love to See the Temple” (CS 95)
  7. “I Hope They Call Me on a Mission” (CS 169)

Here’s the object and explanation to go with each song:

  1. 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!”
  2. 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.”
  3. 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.
  4. 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.”
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.

~Michelle

 

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Primary and new manual “Teaching in the Savior’s Way”

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Like you, I thrill at the announcement of the new manual “Teaching in the Savior’s Way.” As stated on the cover, this manual is for “every gospel teacher — every parent, every formally called teacher, . . . and every follower of Christ.” That sounds like you, me and everyone!

I’m particularly delighted that now there will be a regular time for teacher training and development each month. This has been difficult to arrange in the past, but now it’s built-in. Page 3 of the manual states that these monthly meetings can happen during Sunday School or Priesthood/Relief Society, whenever best fits the needs of your Primary. It may take some creativity to figure out how to spring your teachers and leaders loose to attend these meetings (combine classes, get monthly substitutes. To see how others have made this work, see “Springing Primary workers for special presentations and teacher council meetings.”

Prayerfully consider whether Primary teachers and leaders should hold teacher council meetings together with other auxiliaries or separately, to discuss the special needs of children; page 3 of the manual leaves it up to you. The ward council (of which the Primary president is a valuable member) oversees teacher council meetings, perhaps with the Sunday School presidency or any ward council member leading the discussion.

The manual underscores this valuable guideline about the relationship between the home and Primary: “Parents are the most important gospel teachers for their children—they have both the main responsibility and the greatest power to influence their children (see Deuteronomy 6:6–7). As you teach children at church, prayerfully seek ways to support their parents in their essential role. For example, you could talk to parents about the needs and interests of their children, you could share with them what their children are learning in your class, and you could find out how you might support parents’ efforts as you teach.” “Teaching in the Savior’s Way,” page 25.

For ways to connect home and Primary, see “Bridging the Connection Between Home and Primary: a monthly newsletter” and “Bridging Home and Church Through a Child’s Simple Question.”

Also see the Ensign article from “Teaching in the Savior’s Way, titled “Behold Your Little Ones: Learning to Teach Children.”

“The goal of every gospel teacher,” says the manual’s cover, “is to teach the pure doctrine of the gospel, by the Spirit, in order to help God’s children build their faith in the Savior and become more like Him.”

God bless us all – young and old – on the journey.

-Marci

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Preparing (emotionally) for a mission and for life!

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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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Video Workshop: Teaching Kids to Feel Empathy for All God’s Children Through Service

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.)

~Michelle

 

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by | January 11, 2016 · 9:03 am