Category Archives: Transitions

Meet your new teacher activity – Breakfast with the Bishopric!

Thinking of a meet-your-new-Primary-teacher activity in the new year? Try Breakfast with the Bishopric! Read Jenn’s step-by-step how-to here, complete with downloadable template!

As Jenn said, “I felt strongly that if we were going to ask parents to bring their kids to the church on a Saturday morning, the experience needed to be extremely valuable – on a spiritual level as well as a social level.”

Such an activity really gets Primary off to a good start, with bonding as well as “solid doctrine-based fun.” You’ll reap the benefits throughout the year!



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January Transitions – the usual changes as well as new!

We’re used to January being a time of transitions in Primary! Nursery children become Sunbeams, each age moves up a class, new teachers, new themes and songs . . . it’s a lot to prepare for! But you’ve got what it takes — tools to give you ideas, and the Spirit to guide you to what YOUR children need.

Here’s our readers’ favorite posts for transitioning smoothly and with love:

And if the transition to the 2-hour schedule has you flummoxed, check out:

Happy new year – a little early!


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What about children without gospel instruction in the home?

I know what you’re thinking. “As we move towards home-centered, church-supported curriculum, what about those children who don’t have families who are active in the church? How can we make sure they are not left behind?”

Good question. As always, we follow Pres. Thomas S. Monson’s counsel, “Never let a problem to be solved [or, I might add, a program to be implemented] become more important than a person to be loved” (from “Finding Joy in the Journey,” Oct 2008). This curriculum change lovingly embraces children without gospel instruction in the home as well.

The video above, “Introduction to Come Follow Me for Primary,” addresses this question head-on.

Minute 3:36: a Primary teacher says, “We obviously want the children to be reading every week with their family, but the reality is that not everyone is going to get that. So it is still our job as teachers to teach them that: to introduce that topic, to introduce the scripture, to share our own personal testimony. Then we open it up to the children, and they go off of what you taught and shared initially.”

Minute 4:30: another Primary teacher says, “We can’t underestimate the power of children to be a positive force for change in their own homes. So even if your parents aren’t the ones leading out in scripture study, children can be the one to lead out in scripture study. I think we need to be particularly sensitive and show them some of the resources and the ways that they could do that.”

Also see Preparing for January 2019: what does it mean for Primary?

Personally, I think it is no accident that we begin our study together this year in the New Testament, learning about Jesus’ life so we can follow Him better.




Filed under Primary Presidency Administration, Teacher Support, Transitions

Preparing for January 2019: what does it mean for Primary?

What an exciting moment! To think of children, youth and adults studying the same scriptures each week, learning together at home, and having harmonized classroom experiences that “support, build upon, and encourage meaningful gospel learning outside of Primary” (Sister Joy D. Jones, Primary General President, video).

What does the new Sunday schedule mean for Primary? Here’s the complete answer from the Church Newsroom. Here are the highlights to help you plan for Sunday, January 6, 2019.

“Primary will follow the schedule (above). If a Primary is large enough to separate into junior and senior Primary, leaders should reverse the schedule for half of the children and adjust the time as necessary.”

Classes will use the manual Come Follow Me — For Primary, downloadable here. Nursery will continue to use the same manual Behold Your Little Ones, downloadable here.

Opening exercises (5 minutes) may look about the same as you are doing now: prayer, scripture or Article of Faith, talk.

Singing time: music that supports the scriptures studied in class. This means that the music leader will be following the weekly lessons in Come Follow Me — For Primary, looking for songs that support the lesson. Read these instructions including exciting ideas for adding variety and solid doctrinal learning while you sing and have fun.


Also see What about children without gospel instruction in the home?

Thinking ahead to the sacrament meeting presentation? Scroll down in these instructions for ideas about how to plan for the 4th quarter presentation.

We hope you will be guided by the Spirit as you consider how these changes impact the children in your Primary. Finally, this caution from Elder David A. Bednar bears repeating, to not “focus primarily upon the logistical aspects of what has been announced.” [He knows me so well.] “We must not allow procedural details to obscure the overarching spiritual reasons these changes now are being made.”

May these changes lead you and your children closer to Jesus.



Filed under Primary Presidency Administration, Teacher Support, Transitions

“The Chapel Doors”: Primary reverence children

Recently we shared an idea,  “Primary prelude music to increase sacrament meeting reverence.” We’re delighted that many have found it useful! Here’s another idea.

Some wards have a “reverence child” who stands by the podium with arms folded to set the example. Problem is, I seldom look at the stand when entering the chapel, and even when I do, it’s hard to spot the short children. Often I don’t even realize there is a “reverence child” until the meeting begins and the person conducting expresses appreciation and invites them to sit with their families. While it is nice to give children responsibility, I’m not convinced it helps reverence.

Instead of a reverence child on the stand, how about a reverence child next to the chapel doors, standing along with the usher? The child could wear a sign around their neck (like a sandwich board) or hold a sign, saying “The chapel doors seem to say to me, shh, be still.”

One reverence child at each chapel door could actually make a difference in the quality of worship. Children can lead the way to making a more serene setting to feeling the Spirit.

If you try this in  your ward, let us know how it goes in the comment section below!



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Ready for a new Primary year?

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!


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Planning ahead: Your Dec/Jan Transition Survival Kit!

It’s that time of year again – wrapping up an old year and beginning a new one! And that means lots of changes in Primary, which can be confusing for children. Here’s our readers’ favorite posts for doing it smoothly and with love:

Happy New Year – a little early!


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Filed under Sharing Time, Teacher Support, Transitions

Favorite Ideas for New Year Transitions

It’s that time of year again – wrapping up an old year and beginning a new one! And that means lots of changes in Primary, which can be confusing for children. Here’s our readers’ favorite posts for doing it smoothly and with love:

Happy New Year!


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Filed under Parent Involvement, Reaching the One, Teacher Support, Transitions

“An Egg for Everyone” – secret weapons galore

This is an excerpt from a book review written by Kate Wangsgard of “Sunday Lessons and Activities for Kids,” the book that emerged from this blog. The review was published in the spring 2015 Exponent II magazine, page 35. Read the full review here

Kate loves to cook and eat delicious vegetarian food, plan-over-the-top Halloween parties and go on bike rides with her family. She lives in Cambridge, MA with her soccer-loving husband, moppy-haired 7 year old son and adventurous 1 year old son.

I am currently teaching Sunbeams for the third time in ten years, so I’m willing to try just about anything to keep those wiggly little bums in their chairs. After reading through “Sunday Lessons and Activities for Kids,” I found what looked to be a secret weapon in the war against squirmy three-year-olds. Last Sunday I sat down next to my rows of Sunbeams, waiting for the perfect moment to use my new trick. It wasn’t long before one of the kids started hopping out of his chair. So I squatted down in front of him and whispered, “I have a special job for you. I need you to pretend you’re a bird and your chair is an egg that you need to keep warm. Make sure you stay in your chair so your egg stays warm!” His eyes lit up as he settled into his chair with a proud smile. It was working! Throughout the rest of Sharing Time, whenever he stared to get out of his chair, I reminded him of his little egg and he quickly returned to keep it warm. My co-teacher was impressed and I sat back and smugly marveled at my newfound Sunbeam wrangling skills.

Sunday Lessons and Activities for Kids” ought to be required reading for anyone serving in Primary. While it is full of clever ideas and tricks like the egg-warming one above, its greatest value lies in the suggestions for sensitively dealing with difficult situations you encounter while teaching children in the Church. The book gives suggestions for how to navigate a lesson on honoring your parents when you know some of your kids don’t have a positive relationship with their parents. It discusses how to deal with bullying and other behavior issues and includes suggestions to reach children of all learning styles or children with special needs. There is a lesson to teach children about the valuable role of women in the Church by introducing them to strong female leaders, past and present. Any efforts to help teach the gospel to the next generation in a more open and loving way gets my vote.

[The book] suggests simple but helpful rules for establishing a smoother running Primary and ways to help the kids learn and remember those rules each week. There are ways to improve Singing Time, Primary training meetings, and suggestions for working with the bishopric on staffing issues. There is also a detailed plan for transitioning new Sunbeams from nursery to Primary.

Sunday Lessons and Activities for Kids” is a quick read but will be a great resource to have on hand when you find yourself facing a particularly daunting subject or difficult situation.

– Kate Wangsgard

(Thank you, Kate!)

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Filed under Bullying, Discipline, Lesson, Music, Nursery, Reaching the One, Special Needs, Transitions

Special Needs: Parents and Teachers on the Same Team!

Our guest author today is Jodi, a returned missionary and full-time mom of six children, many with special needs. Even as a little girl Jodi had a natural love for individuals with special needs. Today she is sharing some of her feelings about raising children with special needs in the Church.

I am a mom of six children, all adopted, and special in their own unique ways. The biggest thing that ward members can do to support and help families with special needs is to trust that the parents know best, and not judge.

Trust is so powerful and truly gives the child the best chance at being successful. While leaders of the church receive inspiration for those that they have stewardship over, it is always vital to remember that the parents receive guidance and direction for their children too. Thus parents and church leaders should work together as a team. We have been very blessed to have leaders that trust and support us. We have tried to trust and support them as well.

Erin Anderson Photography

Photo by Erin Anderson Photo & Design

We have two children with Down Syndrome. Daisy is almost five and Leila is three. A Primary worker was called to specifically help watch over and care for our girls while in Nursery. This gave me great peace of mind in leaving them. Our girls choke easily and knowing that there was somebody there just to keep an extra eye on them was a blessing. Also, because of their delay in development there was always somebody there to help them sit on their chair, or carry them to the next activity (they didn’t walk when others walked). These are some of the accommodations that were made for them in Nursery.

When Daisy was the appropriate age for Sunbeams, she was delayed socially and verbally. I asked that Daisy stay in Nursery for one more year.  This is when I appreciated the Primary President’s trust.  Consistency and predictability is huge for all children, but especially those children with special needs. I felt that an extra year in Nursery would serve her well, and it did.

The next year, she really should have been transitioning into Sunbeams, but now we were focusing on building endurance in a classroom setting. Once again, I was grateful to a Primary President who trusts us. Daisy now attends Singing Time in Primary, and then returns to Nursery for the rest of the time. We plan to continually transition her into Sharing Time and class time throughout the year. She’ll be fully participating in Primary by next January.

In addition, some special needs aren’t visually apparent like Down Syndrome. Some children struggle with unseen special needs like anxiety disorders, mental health issues, etc. Our oldest son, who is 14, suffers with Reactive Attachment Disorder. The bishop, Young Men and Scout leaders have been very supportive. They listen to our needs and desires, and make accommodations to best help our son. This has done so much for us and for him.

When ministering to and having stewardship over children that have special needs, the best thing that leaders can do to support the child and family is to trust the parents and to work together as a team, never judging. When we come together as one and focus on the individual we are truly ministering as Christ did by focusing on the worth of each individual soul.

Erin Anderson Photography

Photo by Erin Anderson Photo & Design


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Filed under Life Lessons, Nursery, Parent Involvement, Reaching the One, Special Needs, Teacher Support, Transitions