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Creating a Celestial Nursery:
1. You are NOT a Babysitter! Nursery is a child’s first introduction to Primary. Even at this young age these small children can learn the gospel and feel the Spirit! Give them an opportunity to do so and know that you are teaching choice children of God.
2. Plan Ahead! “The purpose of the nursery class is to help children learn the restored gospel of Jesus Christ and live it. The nursery class should help the children increase their understanding of and love for Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ…” (Introduction to Behold Your Little Ones Nursery Manual)
- Visuals, music, games, and activities will enhance your lessons and captivate the children!
- Captivating the children will make your life easier and everyone will have a more uplifting experience; in such an atmosphere you will be more likely to feel the Spirit.
- Visuals are included in the Nursery Manual with each lesson; consider bringing other interesting props or activities as well. Prepare and organize yourself before church.
3. Prepare the Environment. “The nursery class should provide a loving, safe, organized learning experience for the children. The room should be clean, cheerful, and inviting…” (Introduction to Behold Your Little Ones Nursery Manual)
- We all know the room will not be tidy or clean when we arrive unless we are proactive and make it so.
- Consider leaving Sacrament meeting 5 minutes early in order to create an enticing environment that makes the children happy and excited to come to Nursery class!
4. Transitions are Key! Who wants to end an activity when you are thoroughly enjoying it? Nobody. This is why transitions (and gathering activities) are so crucial to the efficacy of the class flow. Additionally, no one likes to be interrupted unexpectedly. Giving the children a 2-minute warning before moving to the next activity will give them a chance to process the impending change. When the children enter the classroom, or when they move from free play to lesson time, the goal is to plan something that makes them think, “Oooh, I want to join my teacher!” Even though transitions are highly important, they don’t have to be elaborate. Sometimes the simplest transition ideas are the best. Consider the following ideas:
- Play a CD of lovely music while the children enter the classroom
- Have a teacher reading animatedly as the children arrive
- Set up a table with a flannel board and interesting flannel pictures
- Set out a bunch of pictures of Jesus, or make a large Memory Game with laminated posters of scenes from His life.
- Start blowing bubbles at the mat to entice them to lesson time
- Sing a song or do a catchy finger-play (ideas online or in Primary songbook)
- Bring an intriguing object—a treasure box, a special toy, a scarf or hat etc.
- Use musical instruments to catch their attention
- Use a self-inking stamp and encourage them to join you with a hand stamp.
5. Children Thrive on Consistency! Once you and the Primary Presidency have established a schedule that works for you and the children, stick to it, every week! Children feel more comfortable when they know what to expect. Similarly, when they can anticipate what comes next the transitions will become easier and smoother. Following a schedule does not limit you. There are still plenty of things you can do different from week to week to spice things up; keeping the basic framework provides the stability children need to blossom!