July and September 2018 have five Sundays — but just four lessons in the Sharing Time manual. Here are my favorite ideas for the 5th Sunday:
Any other favorite ways to fill 5th Sundays?
FRIEND magazine, April 2018
The July 2018 Sharing Time theme is “Families Are Part of Heavenly Father’s Plan.” The Sharing Time outline contains this wise advice: “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.”
Here are some ideas to prayerfully consider, in order to meet the needs of Primary children in all kinds of families.
For Week 1 “Heavenly Father planned for me to come to a family”: Try Nontraditional families (Elder D. Todd Christofferson’s message is timeless, even if Mother’s Day and Father’s Day may be over for this year.)
For Week 2 “Family prayer, family scripture study, and family home evening can strengthen my family”: Even if parents don’t hold these family activities, children can lead the way! See “And A Little Child Shall Lead Them”
For Week 3 “The priesthood can bless and strengthen my family:” You might be looking for a way to answer girls’ question “Why don’t I get the priesthood too?” See ““The Priesthood and Me”, Friend magazine, April 2018. Also see “Restoration of Priesthood AND Relief Society.”
For Week 4 “Heavenly Father wants me to marry in the temple and have an eternal family”: See “Primary Children Looking Toward the Temple.”
God bless the children – in all kinds of families.
Even kids can learn the joy of repentance (and many parents and leaders sure wish they would!). Week 4 Sharing Time theme is “When I repent, I can be forgiven,” part of the June theme “I will follow Heavenly Father’s plan by being baptized and confirmed.”
Leaders can take this foundational gospel principle of repentance and put it in kids’ terms, teaching them that repentance is a positive, joyful principle of change and turning to the Lord. See these ideas:
For other ideas for June Sharing Time, see “All Are Alike Unto God” – a timely Sharing Time or family night lesson at the 40th anniversary of 40th anniversary of OD 2.
Today we share a family night or Sharing Time lesson outline about unity in the face of prejudice and intolerance. “All Are Alike Unto God” is a valuable lesson for children (and adults) from TimesAndSeasons.org. It’s an easy-to-follow, step-by-step lesson plan for Junior and Senior Primary. Feel free to adapt it to the needs of your children.
This message is particularly timely given the 40th anniversary of Official Declaration 2, extending priesthood and temple blessings to all God’s worthy children. BeOne.lds.org has links to the June 1, 2018 “BeOne” event, an essay on Race and the Priesthood, and links to bios of Black Mormon Pioneers such as Jane Manning James (pictured above), Elijah Abel, and others.
Also see the FRIEND magazine articles about Jane Manning James: “Jane’s Choice” and “Jane’s Journey” (Sept 2017 and Oct 2017 FRIEND magazines).
Kids may enjoy singing (and moving their bodies!) along with Sister Gladys Knight’s arrangement of “Come, Come Ye Saints” with a beat.
The June Sharing Time theme is “I Will Follow Heavenly Father’s Plan by Being Baptized and Confirmed.” Each month the Sharing Time manual encourages:”Supplement the ideas provided here with some of your own. Each week, plan ways to (1) identify the doctrine, (2) help the children understand it, and (3) help them apply it in their lives. Ask yourself, “What will the children do to learn, and how can I help them feel the Spirit?”
In your June Sharing Time lesson, you may want to teach these principles of unity and love for all God’s children as a way to “follow Jesus Christ by being baptized and confirmed and keeping baptismal covenants.” You may want to teach about Jane Manning James as a faithful woman who did just that, despite tremendous obstacles.
Jesus gets the last word on this one. He said: “all are alike unto God” (2 Nephi 26:33) and “I say unto you, be one.” (Doctrine & Covenants 38:27)
May’s Sharing Time theme gives us a great opportunity to get acquainted with our new prophet, Pres. Russell M. Nelson. The theme “Prophets Teach Us to Live the Restored Gospel” is a chance to teach children that no matter who the living prophet is, he speaks for the Lord and teaches the same gospel truths.
See “Meet Our New Prophet” in the March 2018 Friend magazine. You may want to play the matching game with statements and pictures about Pres. Nelson. Be sure to read Pres. Nelson’s three statements the day the announcement was made, encouraging kids and adults to live the gospel.
Week 3 Sharing Time theme is “Prophets teach me to pay tithing.” Consider this idea: Paying Tithing on Treats.
Week 4 is “Prophets teach me to live the Word of Wisdom.” Try this idea: Word of Wisdom – sharing time lesson and family night idea (our most popular post of all time!)
God bless our prophet.
When I was a missionary in Spain I experienced an amazing celebration called La Semana Santa, The Holy Week. In Spain the entire week leading up to Easter is a celebration. This was something I wanted to take with me when I returned to the United States. I have always loved celebrating Easter, but experiencing La Semana Santa made me really think about the amazing events in Christ’s last week leading up to his crucifixion and resurrection.
In our family our tradition is to celebrate Jesus’ last week by reading and discussing the things he did in his last mortal days on earth, day by day in the same order that they happened. We begin on Palm Sunday, often with a feast and our own little “procession” to the temple with palm leaves. (Now that we live in Hawaii it’s easy to get palm leaves for such an activity. But even before we moved to Hawaii we would often just use a similar looking branch, fern or leaf.) We like to take a few minutes at breakfast, or before bed each day to share the scripture stories with our children. We open the scriptures so they know where the story comes from, then we simplify the words a little to make it more developmentally appropriate for our toddlers and preschoolers. The older kids follow along in their copy of the Bible. I have simple drawings of some of these events that I like to show the kids while we are talking (See the Gospel Art Kit suggestions below if you are searching for pictures). These discussions have elicited wonderful questions from our children. I feel more in tune and aware of the meaning of Easter because we are thinking about it and discussing it all week!
This is a wonderful family activity, but it could also be an idea for Sharing Time or an individual class lesson. In Sharing Time, the Sunday before Easter–Palm Sunday, you could introduce the idea and share the scripture story of Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem and then give parents this handout as a reference for more scripture study during the rest of the week. Consider bringing in some palm leaves or other similar tree branches so each of the children can reenact what it might have been like to wave a palm while Jesus entered Jerusalem. I often wonder how I might have felt.
Then, on Easter Sunday you could share the scriptures about Christ’s resurrection and discuss how the children felt learning about Jesus’ last week–the Holy Week.
The Last Week of Jesus’ Life-Easter PDF
Gospel Art Kit (GAK) pictures online
Triumphal Entry GAK 223
Jesus Cleansing Temple GAK 224
The Last Supper GAK 225
Jesus Washing Apostles Feet GAK 226
Gethsemane GAK 227
Judas Betrays Jesus GAK 228
Crucifixion GAK 230
Burial of Jesus GAK 231
The Tomb GAK 232
The Empty Tomb GAK 245
Jesus Appears to Mary GAK 233
Jesus Shows His Wounds GAK 234
The concept of Jesus as Savior can be a relief to children who expect to be punished for their mistakes. It may be that kids’ choices will have consequences that might be uncomfortable (and sadly memorable!). But they are never too young to learn that they have a Savior.
I’ll never forget the feeling of introducing another adult to the concept of Jesus as Savior. She grew up in a non-Christian church, and the concept that Someone would pay for her sins if she repented was a relief of eternal proportions. She thought she’d have to suffer for her own sins, and she had suffered plenty already. The Atonement is a magnificent gift from our Father and our Savior Jesus Christ.
Children too can appreciate this gift. As you ponder the needs of the children, you may be inspired to focus more this month on Easter, the Resurrection, or the gift of the Atonement. Here are some ideas:
The February 2018 Sharing Time theme is “The Earth Was Created for Heavenly Father’s Children,” with week 3 being “I have been sent to earth to gain a body and to be tested.” It’s so important for children to know early on that their bodies are a special gift from Heavenly Father. This is not a universally accepted idea in the world today. Some faith traditions teach that our physical bodies are filthy and our spirits are pure, so the way to progress is to deny our physical bodies. We can teach the children that their bodies are precious gifts to be enjoyed within the bounds set by the Lord.
Many topics around caring for our bodies and using them appropriately can enrich your Sharing Time or family night lesson. Our #1 All-Time Favorite blog post with the most visits from the beginning is this one: “Word of Wisdom – sharing time lesson and family night idea” with printable visuals to make a sorting game.
Also consider working in this concept: “But how can it be so bad if Aunt Susie does it?”
Check out these resources about modesty from the Friend magazine, including this maze activity about our bodies as temples. You might enjoy this experience from guest author Becky: Teaching modesty in Sharing Time or Family Night: clothing as advertising
As you look ahead for the year, watch for those 5th Sundays that give you an extra week to do something special. In 2018, fifth Sundays occur in April (but the first Sunday will be General Conference, so no Primary), July, September and December. But each monthly outline in the Sharing Time manual only has 4 weeks? What to do?
- Use the time for your favorite lesson or activity on the monthly theme or another gospel principle. My personal favorites: “Simple Pioneer Trek” (not just for Pioneer Day on July 24!), “Lesson from a Laundry Basket” (suitable for Junior Primary as well as nursery), and Women and Service in the Kingdom: a Sharing Time or family night lesson for girls AND boys (about the power of women and girls, what children might like to know about Relief Society, etc.) Each of these is featured in the book that was born on this blog: read more here about “Sunday Lessons and Activities for Kids“! For more ideas, click on the “Categories” box to the right here, and select “lessons” or “sharing time.”
- Review one of the lessons for the month on the theme. Or review all 4 lessons, tying them together to reinforce the monthly theme.
- Teach a lesson missed because of Stake Conference, General Conference, or a snow day.
- Involve the children in a service project during Sharing Time. Ideas here and here.
- “Children’s Choice – Songs & Scriptures.” Ask a child to choose his favorite song. Look up the song in the Children’s Songbook (CS) or Hymns. Sing the song, then go to the bottom right corner of the page in the songbook for two scriptures that relate to the song topic. Easy. For example, a child chooses “Baptism” (CS, 100). The bottom right corner of the songbook page leads you to Matthew 3:13-16, the story of Christ’s baptism, and the 4th Article of Faith. Teach about that principle, bearing testimony as you feel prompted, perhaps asking a child to share an experience. Repeat as time allows.
- Practice the Articles of Faith. Here are 3 fun ideas: Learning the Articles of Faith: 3 fun ideas
- Watch one of the marvelous videos for children on lds.org, Scroll down past the videos for teachers, leaders and parents to the videos for children. The children might enjoy the “One in a Million” videos of LDS children around the world, or perhaps a video of a favorite scripture story. There are games and activities on that site as well.
Any other favorite ways to fill 5th Sundays?
A new year, a new manual, a new theme! The theme for Week 4 is “I have agency, and I am responsible for my choices.” This is such a critical concept for children to understand as they begin to experiment with their God-given power to choose in this mortal life. The manual reminds us on every page, “Supplement the ideas provided here with some of your own.” Here are some supplemental ideas to try: