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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Is Anything Getting Through? Proof #3

Sometimes, weary Primary leaders and parents wonder if anything they’re saying is getting through. I’m here to tell you it IS. In an earlier post I wrote about a Bible story I heard when I was age 7, then not again until eleven years later: see Is Anything Getting Through? Proof #1. I also wrote about my children using scripture language in ordinary conversation: see Is Anything Getting Through? Proof #2.

Here’s Proof #3. A friend asked me, “What is your favorite Primary memory?” There are many, but a highlight is when Sarah was in my CTR-7 class. Studying church history, we learned that some people tried to steal the golden plates. “Why were they trying so hard to get the plates away from Joseph Smith?”

Spencer: “Because they wanted to change the words of the translation and try to trick Joseph.”

Me: “That is indeed what happened, but can anyone think of any other reason why some people wanted to get the plates so much that they would try to hurt Joseph?” (No response.)

I pointed to my finger. “See this wedding ring? It cost us about $500, maybe more. Just this little band of gold.”

The children’s eyes widened. Stephanie blurted out, “The gold plates must have been worth millions!”

Me: “Maybe not millions, but certainly a lot of money in a village full of hard-working farmers.”

Sarah, with rapture in her eyes: “And the Book of Mormon is worth more than that!” She said it breathlessly, from her heart, from a true testimony of the worth of God’s word.


I personally have been thinking a lot about what you can’t buy with money. Some things you can’t buy, but are priceless far beyond precious metals, such as happiness, peace of mind, a sense of purpose, a sense of direction, and most importantly. . .






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“A Service is a Service no Matter How Small”

Did you notice the “Chalk Service” idea in this month’s November 2018 Friend magazine? Nathan H., age 10, Arizona USA, suggested doing “nice sidewalk chalk messages at homes of people who needed encouragement.” His motto is “a service is a service, no matter how small.”

With your bishopric’s permission, you might like to try the same idea at church! Pulling in plenty of adult helpers, you could bring the children outside to draw on the church sidewalk. They could write a welcome home message to a returning missionary, or draw what they have learned. This is a good conversation starter on the way home for children to share gospel concepts they are discussing in Primary with their families. Be sure to have a backup rain plan!

Looking for more easy chalk ideas? Check out Chalk talk – inside and outside!

More service ideas? See Serving as Jesus Served: Sharing Time project or family activity and Pint-Sized Service Projects , a free download of a chapter from the book Sunday Lessons and Activities for Kids, the book that was born on this blog!

It’s never too early for children to learn that service is “the only true and lasting happiness. Service is not something we endure on this earth so we can earn the right to live in the celestial kingdom. Service is the very fiber of which an exalted life in the celestial kingdom is made.” (Marion G. Romney, “The Celestial Nature of Self-Reliance,” October 1982).





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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.




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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

November Sharing Time – Gratitude

The November 2018 Sharing Time is the next-to-last month before the big changes in 2019! The theme is thanking God in all things. Week 1 has this theme: “I am thankful for my body, and I know that it is a temple.” For a game to apply this idea, try our #1 Most Viewed Post of All Time (with five times as many views as any other post!): Word of Wisdom: sharing time lesson and family night idea

For Weeks 2,3 and 4 (gratitude for temporal, spiritual and all blessings), consider the classic blessings tree. Here is a lesson plan with scriptures and songs, and downloadable patterns for leaves and tree: Thank God in All Things: November Sharing Time or Family Night with visuals

Listing blessings is one way to think of gratitude. Another is the reverse: “Imagine a world without _____.” Make a blessing tree with leaves listing blessings such as bodies, homes, food, water, clothing, health, the sun, the moon, stars, the earth, animals, plants, family, friends, toys, and books (list from the Sharing Time lesson). As a child pulls out each blessing, help the children imagine a world without that blessing, to consider how much we appreciate God giving us that blessing.

Of course, it’s more than just gratitude for having those things that we like. It’s looking up — thanking God for giving us that blessing. It’s also thinking of ways we can show our gratitude through the things we do.

If you feel inclined to put all that gratitude into action, try making cards to show gratitude to firefighers and police officers, hospital or nursing home staff, or any other organization in your community. Here are more pint-sized service project ideas.

And I can’t resist saying that I am grateful for YOU, dear reader! I’m grateful to be on this covenant path with you and the children we all love.



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Teaching children about womenpower – the updated Relief Society Purpose

Mary Magdalene, from

In his marvelous address at the general women’s session last week (October 6, 2018), Pres. Russell M. Nelson encouraged Primary girls and women to study the purpose of Relief Society. Girls AND boys can benefit from learning the inspiring Relief Society purpose. We make it easy for you with this lesson plan! Just print and go – including visualsWomen and Service in the Kingdom: A Sharing Time or family night lesson for girls AND boys

In March of 2017 while we weren’t looking, slight modifications were made to the wording of the Relief Society Purposewhich is this: Relief Society helps prepare women for the blessings of eternal life as they:

  • Increase faith in Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ and His Atonement;
  • Strengthen individuals, families, and homes through ordinances and covenants; and
  • Work in unity to help those in need.

Or the short version: “Family, Faith, Relief.” Have the children repeat it with you, and talk about each word.  You can also teach the Relief Society motto: “Charity Never Faileth” (1 Corinthians 13:8). Explain what “charity” and “faileth” mean.

Also consider these ideas:

Here’s to the women!







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50 minute Primary coming – including Singing Time!

What a prophet! I’m thrilled to see what a 50-minute Primary will look like in January 2019. I’m even more thrilled to know that it will include Singing Time, no matter what!

The purpose of this shift to home-centered, church-supported instruction is to “greatly increase faith, spirituality, and deepen conversion to Heavenly Father and the Lord Jesus Christ,” explained Elder Quentin L. Cook. And nothing does THAT like music! Primary music has staying power, way beyond Sunday, way beyond the Primary years.

I appreciate Elder David A. Bednar’s reminder 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.”

Does your music need some variety to add some bounce and staying power as you seek to lead children to Christ? Try these ideas:

And for a bonus story, in honor of my mother who recently passed away, here’s The Power of Music, for Children “From One to Ninety-two”

Whether church is two hours or three: music in Primary? YESS!



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um . . . who else is here?

by John Lautermilch at

Much to my astonishment, I checked the stats yesterday and found that this PrimaryinZion blog you’re looking at, right here, has visitors from 176 countries. Read my thoughts about it at What’s Primary like in Nepal or Bahrain?

I’m mystified how this happens — I’m just posting ideas, many generously contributed by guest authors. I’m thrilled that so many folks all over the world find this blog useful as we join hands with our children on our way back to the God who made us all. (Comments always welcome below! We’d love to hear from YOU!)

As children begin to realize that there is more to the world than their town, ward or branch, they too may be asking “um. . . who else is here” in God’s kingdom? Looking to add more multicultural flavor to your Primary? Try these ideas:

God bless the children — ALL the children — wherever in the world they are.



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