Category Archives: Teacher Support

Ready for a new Primary year?

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As we come to the close of one year and look ahead to another, it’s time to prepare for the big transition! You can help the children take it in stride by taking steps to help them know what to expect. Here’s our readers’ favorite posts for doing it smoothly and with love:

You might also enjoy this resource from the Friend magazine about helping children get ready for Sunbeams. Click on the image above to read the article in the January 2017 Friend.

Happy New Year – a little early!

-Marci

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Filed under Parent Involvement, Teacher Support, Transitions

Meeting Children At Their Level

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Today’s guest author is Emma Lu, a wife, mother, grandmother, writer and music therapist who is inspired by children.

Children are a heritage from the Lord; they are a reward from him. (Psalm 127:3, New International Version)

It is true, children at times can be rowdy, but if we look we will always enjoy the angels inside. You’ve just got to love them.

The Primary sacrament meeting presentation was about to begin. The busy Primary president saw a 10-year-old boy sitting with legs folded together, arms crossed, and scowling face, defiantly pouting at the base of the pulpit in the chapel. She went over to him, knelt down by his side, and spoke softly to him. Then she stood and went about caring for other children. The boy then stood with a smile on his face and joined his class. It showed those of us who watched the tense scene how the boy’s attitude was changed by a loving leader. I asked the Primary president to tell me her wisdom. She said, “It is important to meet a child on his/her level, whether it is physical, emotional, or spiritual. All children need understanding.”

To have the privilege of working in Primary is fulfilling a promise from the scriptures: “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6, King James Version)

– Emma Lu

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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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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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Instant Lesson 2.0

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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!)

-Marci

Thanks to Sister Brown for this great idea.

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Filed under Music, Scriptures, Sharing Time, Teacher Support

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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Happy Birthday! from Primary to Relief Society

Women PR lesson 3On March 17, the world’s oldest continuing organization for women, the Relief Society, turns 175 years old! Children who are turning 4 or 7 or 11 may have a hard time imagining a birthday cake with 175 candles.

What could we give our women’s organization to wish them a happy birthday? What would Relief Society like for it’s birthday? I think Relief Society would like children to understand what Relief Society is about.

The March Sharing Time theme is about living prophets. It was the Prophet Joseph Smith who organized the first Relief Society 175 years ago. The First Presidency, in the preface to Daughters In My Kingdom, said “We testify that the Lord has restored the fullness of the gospel through the Prophet Joseph Smith and that Relief Society is an important part of that restoration” (page ix).

Here are some ideas for a quick birthday message, for children to understand a little about Relief Society:

  • Have the children repeat with you the Relief Society purpose: “Faith, Family, Relief” (from the headline of the Visiting Teaching message in the ENSIGN each month).
  • Teach the Relief Society motto: “Charity Never Faileth” (1 Corinthians 13:8). Explain what “charity” and “faileth” mean.

If you have more time,

  • Have the children make and deliver birthday cards to Relief Society, drawing a picture of what any of the words above mean to them (faith, family, relief, charity) or how those Relief Society words help them choose the right. Each child could give a card to one of the women in Relief Society. You may want to do this at the very end of the Relief Society/Primary hour. The Relief Society secretary could pre-label blank cards before the children decorate them, to make sure the sisters who need them most receive a card. Or you could let each child give the card to any sister in Relief Society (except their mom? including their mom? your choice).
  •  Consider teaching this marvelous lesson about the history and purpose of Relief Society and its powerful women leaders, past and present, complete with visuals and games for younger and older children: Women and Service in the Kingdom: a Sharing Time or family night lesson for girls AND boys

By the way, when is Primary’s birthday? It’s August 25, 1878 (see History of Primary at lds.org). President Monson’s birthday is on August 21, 1927. You may want to start planning ahead to celebrate! Here are some ideas: August: Celebrate Birthdays of Primary, Pres. Monson

Happy birthday, Relief Society! from your pint-sized fans in Primary.

-Marci

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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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Christmas news: Winners of giveaway of the book that was born on Primary in Zion!

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Merry CHRIST-mas to you, our beloved blog readers! We hope it was full of joy and love.

And now this news: What do Serbia, Illinois and Kansas have in common? Those are the homes of the winners of our Goodreads Giveaway! We’re thrilled that there is interest in the book from all over the world. Read here to see how this book was born on this blog: Primary in Zion becomes a book! You can take some of the best of these blog ideas and other good suggestions for parents and Primary leaders along with you in book form. Thanks to you, our readers from 160 countries (see What’s Primary like in Nepal or Bahrain?) Watch for more Goodreads Giveaways in 2017!

And if you’re not already, don’t forget to follow this blog (click on the right sidebar here) and LIKE our page on Facebook!

#giveaway #free #win #book #goodreads

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