from “Come Follow Me for Primary”
The “Come Follow Me” curriculum for this week (March 18-24) is about Jesus’ parables. A parable is just a simple story that teaches gospel truths. In Matthew 13, Jesus taught His followers using ordinary objects such as a seed, bread-making, a treasure, and a fishing net. There is much to unpack in these wonderful brief stories Jesus told.
Children may enjoy writing or telling their own parable. Using Jesus’ sentence-starter in Matthew 13, they could start with “The kingdom of heaven is like. . . ” and finish the sentence using an ordinary object that illustrates their feelings. Go ahead and write or tell your own parable to give them an example.
Or you might pick a different sentence starter: “Trying to be like Jesus is like . . . ” or “Prayer is like . . . ” Finish the sentence with an ordinary object, then explain why you chose that object in a few words.
These need not be long; Jesus told the parable of the leaven in 24 words (Matthew 13:33).
Your children — at home or in Primary — might surprise you with their insight. Asking them to create using Jesus’ teaching style can help make the gospel more real in their ordinary lives.
A new age, new challenges! Our foremothers and forefathers never dreamed of the power of the technology in our pockets today. How do we embrace the possibilities and avoid the distraction of digital devices in Primary? Here are some ideas:
Any tricks or traps to share? We welcome your comments below!
The Friend magazine: not just for kids! The January 2019 Friend is full of resources for parents and leaders to implement Come Follow Me at home and in church. Watch for the diamond in the top corner that reads “Come Follow Me.” Here is a selection from the January 2019 Friend in English (see below for Spanish):
Read online at friend.lds.org or subscribe at store.lds.org. You may want to order copies of this special month’s magazine for each of your children, so they will have their own reading chart — or print extra copies online.
Watch for more helps for Come Follow Me in future magazines!
SPANISH SPEAKERS – Notice that the Amigos magazine is separate from the Liahona starting January 2019! Many of the same articles noted above are in the Amigos magazine as well!
This also makes a great instant family night lesson — just add refreshments!
See also Instant Lesson 1.0
Here’s another instant lesson idea to add to your bag of tricks. In a perfect world you will never be in the situation where a teacher cancels, or someone asks you to substitute at the last minute. But we all know how it is to get a stomach bug in the middle of Saturday night and be laid up in bed. Or how miserable it is to wake up Sunday morning with your child running a high fever. When you get asked to fill in for a teacher who’s had to cancel last minute remember these instant lesson ideas! You may have no time to even pull up the lesson on your phone, much less read and prepare it, before you’re thrown into a classroom of children. We’ve got you covered!
Grab the Gospel Art Book from your bookshelf. Or send a deputy to the library to grab several pictures of scripture stories from various books of scripture. Then ask each child to choose a picture and tell the story depicted. If you have time, turn to the actual scriptures and read at least one verse, to hear it in God’s words.
Then, ask the child to personalize the story: Have you ever felt like this scripture character? How did you face that situation in your own life? How might we show the same good qualities today? Can you think of a song that goes with this scripture story?
Now you’re ready for the unexpected! (And the one thing you can expect with children is the unexpected!)
Thanks to Sister Brown for this great idea.
Today’s guest author is Tina, mother of 6, a high school physics teacher who loves reading and listening to Broadway musicals. Tina shares the following Primary lesson idea:
Today I taught my last Primary class to my wonderful 7 and 8-year-olds. I made them each (9 boys and 1 girl) a “Sword of Truth.” The sword was made of Styrofoam wrapped with duct tape and aluminum foil. I wrote “Sword of Truth” on each one with an ordinary ballpoint pen.
For the lesson I read a scenario where a child either told a truth or a lie, each on a separate piece of paper. (Here’s the pdf: Telling a Truth or Telling a Lie) The children would tell me which it was. Then I crumpled up the strip of paper and they got to hit the crumpled paper with the sword of truth.
It’s been a wonderful year with them. They are the most energetic, enthusiastic, and delightful group of kids I’ve dealt with in a long time. I’m sure going to miss teaching these children.
It’s easy to make one or a dozen of these swords. Children of all ages would be thrilled to wield their “Sword of Truth.”
Click here for a pdf of this ready-to-use lesson plan!
The February 2017 theme is “When We Choose the Right, We Are Blessed.” The Sharing Time manual has some wonderful stories of scriptural heroes (men and women) choosing the right – including Noah.
Children love the story of Noah and the ark. If your children are ready for a scripture challenge, teach them the difference between Noah’s ark and the brother of Jared’s eight arks (an ark just means a ship or boat). Review each scripture story (Genesis chapters 6-8 and Ether chapters 1-3, 6). Then hand out these six questions to groups of children to find the answers in the scriptures. Click here for a pdf of the following questions, with and without answers:
For extra drama, help the children visualize the size of Noah’s ark: Genesis 6:15 gives the dimensions in cubits. Each cubit was about one and a half feet (see “Cubit,” Bible Dictionary). Ask a few math whiz children to figure the dimensions in feet: about 450 feet long by 75 feet wide by 45 feet high. If your chapel has a cultural hall, the average basketball court is 94 feet long by 50 feet wide by 10 feet tall to the top of the basketball rim. That means Noah’s ark was about the length of 4 1/2 cultural halls put end to end, about 2/3 as wide as a cultural hall, and about as tall as 4 1/2 basketball poles. That is a big floating house for a year.
APPLICATION: There are many lessons embedded in these stories, such as obedience (build that boat when God tells you!), faith (really, God? I’m going to get into that thing and not steer?), and trusting in God no matter what storm is raging outside (don’t think about the rain or the winds, just stay in the boat). Help the children see the connection to situations in their own lives.
Interested in more challenging scripture activities like these?
Getting Children to Open – not just bring – Their Scriptures
Primary as Pre-Seminary: Raising the Bar and Addressing the Boredom Challenge.
The end goal is for children to learn to love the scriptures and hear God’s voice in His holy word. But how best to accomplish that goal? Specifically, should scriptures on electronic devices be allowed in Primary? You and the Lord will figure out the right answer for your Primary, and that answer may change over time. But here are a few considerations, and a list of pros and cons. Thanks to guests Stacy and Jennifer R.
who added their thoughts!
- Using phones to access scriptures should never be a means of separating those families with more money from those with less, or making any child feel uncomfortable if they don’t have a phone.
- Stacy: “Whichever method you choose, give kids plenty of wait time for them to find the reference. It is very frustrating to still be looking for a scripture when someone is already reading it. When this happens a few times, kids lose interest in even trying to look up the reference.”
BENEFITS OF ELECTRONIC SCRIPTURES:
- What better time to learn to use the Church’s extensive online materials and to learn appropriate etiquette regarding phone use than in Primary? Jennifer R.: “The Church has been asking all members to move toward online class manuals for years, in addition to the amount of resources being put into apps and web materials. Two weeks ago I showed both Junior and Senior Primary how to access the music app (the icon is green with a gold note) and make a playlist of this year’s Primary songs. (CDs are so ‘old school!’ They want mp3’s now!) Some may say the kids could end up just playing games on their phones. That could be true in some cases, just as some adults do in class. But the adults were never taught as children how to self-govern with smart phones. Perhaps we have a golden opportunity to teach the next generation of leaders some e-manners. Our Primary presidency does a good job of being in different parts of the room. They can see who isn’t looking up scriptures and then gently redirect the child. Phones get put under chairs if an activity or song requires action.”
- Navigating in the scriptures can be easier with technology. This is especially helpful as children are beginning their exposure to the scriptures. For example, children need not know what book of scriptures contains Moses 1:39 in order to locate this scripture: “For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man” (from the Pearl of Great Price, not the Old Testament with the rest of Moses’ story, naturally).
- Stacy adds: “For new or struggling readers there is the option of text to speech, which aids in comprehension. You can have one word read or a whole verse or chapter.”
BENEFITS OF BOUND SCRIPTURES:
- I’d hate to think we’re raising a whole generation that can’t study the scriptures if the power is out. Or what if they’re called on a mission to a remote region where technology is scarce and electricity is precious and expensive — will their scripture study skills grind to a halt?
- Research is mixed about how electronics affect understanding. For example, this Scientific American article states, “Whether they realize it or not, many people approach computers and tablets with a state of mind less conducive to learning than the one they bring to paper.” An article in Wired.com is titled “Why the Smart Reading Device of the Future May Be … Paper.” It states “in a world of screen ubiquity, many people still prefer to do their serious reading on paper. When I need to read deeply—when I want to lose myself in a story or an intellectual journey, when focus and comprehension are paramount—I still turn to paper.” This absolutely applies to scripture study: focus and comprehension ARE paramount.
- Stacy: “If using hard copies I always write the reference. And give tips, like this: Alma is in the Book of Mormon, about in the middle of the book, maybe even a page number.”
Stacy adds: We need not suppose that one way is better than another when we are working with children. Our way may not be better for them.
With all this in mind, here’s my personal thoughts. Ideally, I hope children learn to read the scriptures in both formats over time, and make intelligent choices about which format works best for them in what circumstances. Perhaps Primary leaders might have some weeks using only paper scriptures (borrowing copies from the library) and other weeks where either paper or electronics are allowed.
I’m sure the Lord will guide you as you seek to immerse His beloved children in His word in the scriptures.
Also see Worshipping in a Digital Age by Adam C. Olson, Ensign, August 2018, 52.
Principles for youth may guide our thinking about children as well: Teaching with Tech: Engaging Youth in a Digital World by Brian K. Ashton, Ensign, August 2018, 56.
Today’s guest contributor is Mackenzie, who has a fun family scripture study technique that would work beautifully in Primary as well. Mackenzie is a mother of two who enjoys outdoor sports and warm weather.
During scripture reading, Mackenzie gives her children a popsicle stick with a word that frequently appears in the scriptures, such as “Lord” or “God” (see photo) or “faith.” Then, as the scriptures are being read, each child holds up their word when they hear it. Mackenzie says it helps the children to focus and stay involved in scripture reading. This would be a great Primary activity that even the Sunbeams would enjoy, whether they can read the words or not! In fact, for the Junior Primary you might consider writing a word and adding a simple little drawing with it.
I can also imagine older children doing a “Word Choir” (!!) like a verbal equivalent of a bell choir. Cut out the words of a scripture individually. Give each child a word and ask them to unscramble themselves and stand in order. Then, each child reads their word in turn, holding up their word until the whole scripture verse comes together.
Even very young children can have positive experiences with the word of God in the scriptures.
~Marci with guest contributor Mackenzie
I was recently asked an excellent question: “I just got called as the Primary 2nd counselor and I’m super excited, but a little overwhelmed about Sharing Time. I’m not sure how to tailor the lessons to the younger vs. older kids. They seem VERY different, but the lesson outline is the same. Do you have any suggestions?”
Here are my thoughts:
- Plan activities that are picture-based for Junior Primary and word-based for Senior Primary. For example, “Follow the Prophet Tic Tac Toe” has a tic tac toe game board with pictures for Junior Primary and keywords for Senior Primary.
- While children of all ages can benefit from movement and application, this is even more important in Junior Primary. See Teaching to a Child’s Whole Body – resources for reaching children of all learning styles.
- Plan activities that are a little more challenging for Senior Primary. For example, “Women and Service in the Kingdom: a Sharing Time or family night lesson for girls AND boys” has a puzzle activity for Junior Primary and a matching game for Senior Primary.
- Use the teachers in Junior Primary; use the kids in Senior Primary. You can ask the Senior Primary kids hard questions directly. But don’t be afraid to ask the same questions in Junior Primary; just let the teachers give the answers if it goes over the little kids’ heads. It’s good for the kids to be exposed to concepts even if they can’t quite grasp them yet. This has the added benefit of making the teachers feel involved and engaged. For example, in this lesson about families in the scriptures, I would explain that just like families in the scriptures, Heavenly Father has a plan for each child and each family today. I would ask Senior Primary children what that means. In Junior Primary I would ask the same question, but I wouldn’t expect the children to give useful answers. (The default answer for any question appears to be “Jesus,” which is a fine answer to many questions, but not all.) Inviting the teachers to give answers saves me from giving a solid lecture. It also helps to make the teachers feel like they’re in their own gospel learning class. Teachers can also be useful when you need reinforcements. For example, go ahead and use that song that perfectly illustrates a gospel message, even if the little kids don’t know it yet. Ask the teachers to stand and join you in singing it. Any child who knows it can stand and sing too! Teachers can also read scriptures for you in Junior Primary so you’re not doing all the talking.
- Older kids can get into the scriptures themselves! It’s enormously satisfying to see the children begin to become familiar with the scriptures and to feel the power of God’s word. How to do it? See “Raising the bar and addressing the boredom challenge” and “Getting Children to Open – not just bring – Their Scriptures.” While this is particularly valuable in Senior Primary, don’t underestimate the readers in Junior Primary!
What works for you in adapting lessons for Junior and Senior Primary? Add your comments below!
It’s great to reward the children for bringing their scriptures to Primary — stickers on a chart or tokens in a jar, or a competition between classes, with a monthly class prize of a grab bag (stickers, erasers, etc…). But if you USE the scriptures EVERY WEEK, soon children will get the idea that if they don’t bring their scriptures, they’re missing out. Conversely, if you reward the children for bringing their scriptures but never open them, the children will get the mistaken impression that the only thing that matters is if you have the scriptures; it really doesn’t matter if you ever actually read them. There are far too many cobwebs on bookshelves in homes that bear witness of this empty concept. Here are a few ideas for using those scriptures children bring!
- Read from the actual book of scriptures, even in Junior Primary. I use a technique to help even the youngest children get into the scriptures. I have a hot pink bookmark that I park in the scriptures and let the children find it, then we read that scripture. Read more about it here: Actively Getting Children into the Scriptures in Primary. I try to have children read at least one actual scripture from the book during every Sharing Time.
Two exciting things happened that told me this idea was working. Once while teaching Primary I said, “I have my hot pink bookmark hidden where this scripture is found.” A child said, “Oh, I love this game!” Then one autumn day young Logan looked out the window of the chapel and said, “Look! That bush is the color of Marci’s hot pink bookmark!” And it was!
Using actual scriptures gives children the visual cue to PAY ATTENTION to these special words. Reading God’s word from a poster is fine — but when they read it from the actual scriptures, children understand that these words are God’s words. I want them to learn the difference between made-up stories and God’s word. In fact, I want them to learn the difference between God’s word and a story about God’s word. All are fine – but using the scriptures themselves as a visual aid helps the children understand “good, better, best” when it comes to words – with God’s own word having unexplainable power. Having the children look for the hot pink bookmark in the scriptures also gets the children actively involved, more than just having me reading aloud from the scriptures.
- Pass out scripture wordstrips as children enter the room. In Senior Primary, I check to see who has scriptures as they enter the room. I give the children with scriptures one of the wordstrips, and ask the teacher to help them find it while the children are gathering. That way children are ready when it’s time to use those verses in the Sharing Time lesson. Occasionally we’ll take the time to pass out books of scripture from the library and have every child find a verse with the teacher’s help. But when you don’t have the time, passing out the wordstrips as children enter gives them time to find the verse. It also rewards those scripture-toting children with the chance to participate. (Hint: far more children bring copies of the Book of Mormon than the whole set of scriptures, so I try to use more scriptures from that book when possible.)
- Post the scriptures I’m going to use on the board so that other children can follow along if they like. This is particularly good for soon-to-turn-twelve-year-olds and other children who are ready to take on a little more challenge. Often these children start to act up out of boredom — but you can engage them with the scriptures instead. Making it optional but available gives every child a chance to engage with the lesson at their own level.
Read more about Primary as pre-seminary here: Scriptures in Primary: Raising the Bar and Addressing the Boredom Challenge