Service with Kids in 0, yes Zero, Minutes

You read that right. Zero minutes. Yes, service with kids.

Service rightly takes center stage in December, thinking of others at this joyous time of celebrating the Savior’s birth. I love the church’s “25 ways over 25 days” — an advent calendar of 30-second videos and service project ideas until Dec. 25. But busy, overwhelmed parents and Primary leaders may feel like they’re doing well to get through another day! How can we add more thing to a busy season, added on top of a busy life?

Michelle puts it this way: “I would just like to remind all of us to recognize and give ourselves credit for ALL the amazing things we are already doing for our family, friends, neighbors, and colleagues. We are raising children, serving in our church congregations, teaching our children morals, visiting our neighbors, volunteering at school, smiling at our fellowman, offering words of encouragement, supporting our spouses, helping our extended families and so so much more! These acts of service do not go unnoticed or unappreciated.

“During your lunch break, or if you’re doing dishes today or sit down to fold laundry here’s a little workshop video all about service and how to ‘Create a Culture of Service’ in our families without killing ourselves: Video Workshop: Kids and Service.” Check out the resource sheet and service grids on that same page with ideas for service projects that can be completed in 0 minutes, 5 minutes, a few hours, or 1/2 day.

Service in zero minutes? It boils down to doing something you’re already doing, but focusing it on service. You can have books in your home about being a good friend and neighbor, post a picture of someone your family knows who is serving a mission, or genuinely say “You really tried hard on that” or “I love you.” And never underestimate the power of children and families simply praying for someone in need — a refugee, a family member, a ward member, or a stranger. God hears and answers those prayers offered to Him as genuine acts of service — calling down the powers of heaven on behalf of someone in need.

Also see:

Make it a merry Christmas — through service in as little as zero minutes!

God bless,


1 Comment

Filed under Activity, Christmas, Reaching the One

Bean Bag Ideas for Kid-Involvement: Part 2 of 4

Watch for more bean bag ideas next month! We’re listing just a few each month so you have a chance to try these and don’t zone out when faced with a long list. Click here for Part 1 (ideas 1-4), including the story of Michelle’s lifesaver beanbag, how to make a bean bag, and more about guest author Marti.

A simple bean bag has many uses! Here’s a few favorite ideas of how to use one to add interest and kid-involvement to your lesson, Sharing Time or family night.

5. FINISH THE SENTENCE: Start a sentence, then toss the beanbag to a child to finish the sentence.

6. CHILD TO CHILD: Ask a question, then while your back is turned, have the children pass the bean bag from one child to another. When you turn around, ask the child holding the bean bag to answer the question. Or, instead of turning your back, you can use the same technique with music playing, then stop the music and the child holding the bean bag answers.

7. GETTING ACQUAINTED: Toss the bean bag to a child. Say something you like about that child. Then that child tosses it to someone else and says something nice about them. Be sure you complement their character, effort, obedience, kindness or contribution to Primary, not just their clothes or physical appearance (every child is handsome or beautiful in their own way!).

8. GRATITUDE: Have each child say something they are thankful for when you toss them the bean bag, in preparation for thanking God for those things in prayer.

Watch for more bean bag ideas next month!


1 Comment

Filed under Activity, Lesson, Sharing Time

December: The Scriptures Teach Me about the Savior’s Birth and Second Coming

"The Second Coming," by Harry Anderson. Gospel Art Kit 238

“The Second Coming,” by Harry Anderson. Gospel Art Kit 238

Teaching children about Jesus’ birth (First Coming) AND Second Coming accomplishes several good things:

  • It puts the Savior’s birth in the context of Jesus’ eternal lifespan, helping to keep Christmas focused on Jesus.
  • It removes the confusion about what that baby Messiah was supposed to do. As one of my Jewish co-workers said, “Look around – if that was the Messiah, we need a better one!” Of course she did not believe what we understand –that he would come twice: once to show us the way and atone for our sins, and a second time to conquer and establish his kingdom, subdue evil, and establish peace on earth.

Very few lessons teach the Second Coming in a way that is understandable to children. Most rely on analogies about virgins and lamps that are useful, but often leave children without an understanding of what exactly Jesus’ Second Coming means. Here is a lesson to fill that gap and prepare children to meet Him, whether in this life or the next: Jesus’ First and Second Coming.


Leave a comment

Filed under Christmas, Lesson, Sharing Time

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!


Leave a comment

Filed under Sharing Time, Teacher Support, Transitions

Free giveaway of our book that was born on Primary in Zion!

SundayLessons_Front_RGBAnd now this Public Service Announcement: Walnut Springs Press is giving away 3 copies of our book “Sunday Lessons and Activities for Kids!” Enter by Nov 30 for a chance to win: Click here to enter!!

All countries are eligible worldwide for this giveaway, just for you — our readers from 160 countries (see What’s Primary like in Nepal or Bahrain?) The book is also available on and wherever LDS books are sold. A portion of the proceeds from books sold benefit Waltham Family School, but of course this giveaway is FREE!

Read here to see how this book was born on this blog: Primary in Zion becomes a book!

And if you’re not already, don’t forget to follow the blog (click on the right sidebar here) or “like” our page on Facebook!

#giveaway #free #win #book #goodreads

Leave a comment

Filed under Teacher Support

Bean Bag Ideas for Kid-Involvement: Part 1 of 4

Watch for more bean bag ideas next month! We’re listing just a few each month so you have a chance to try these and don’t zone out when faced with a long list.

Michelle writes: When my husband and I were newly married we moved into our first family ward.  On week two we were called to c0-teach the Sunbeams class in Primary.  Our Primary Presidency held a training for all the teachers shortly thereafter and gave each of us a homemade bean bag.  That was more than 12 years ago and I still have that bean bag that was simply made with a scrap of material and some beans and stitched up by hand.  I like to keep this bean bag in my church bag for emergencies in Primary!  Making a bean bag for each of the teachers in your ward would be a great resource for their teaching arsenal.  You could also print off this page of ideas on how they could put it to use! Watch for a single page printout at the end of this series.

Today’s guest author is Marti, mother of five and grandmother of nine.  She is a former Primary President, now in the Stake Primary Presidency.  She is retired from dental hygiene and is now working as a real estate agent. Marti has compiled this list of bean bag ideas she has collected over the years.

A simple bean bag has many uses! Here’s a few favorite ideas of how to use one to add interest and kid-involvement to your lesson, Sharing Time or family night. To make a bean bag, simply sew 3 sides of a small square of fabric, fill with dried beans, rice or popcorn, then stitch closed. 

  1. TAKE TURNS for the prayer, reading a scripture, holding a picture, etc. Tape a number on the bottom of the bag. Everyone says a number. The one closest to the number takes first turn.
  2. REVIEW.  At the end of the lesson, ask each child to think of something related to the lesson. “Today we learned about. . . ” For example, if the lesson is about the Word of Wisdom, ask each child to say something against the Word of Wisdom. Repeat and have each child say something that is healthy. Or you can ask specific review questions, throwing the bean bag to each child in turn.
  3. CHOOSE WORD STRIPS, PICTURES, or QUESTIONS: Lay out wordstrips, questions, or pictures (in page protectors!) on the floor face down. Children take turns tossing the bag. Whatever it lands on, the child reads the word strip, tells what the picture is about, or answers the question.
  4. MUFFIN TIN: Prepare a muffin tin with numbers in the bottom of each cup. Prepare a list with the same number of questions. Have the children stand back and throw the bean bag into one of the cups. The child answers the corresponding question from the list. The same technique can be used for Articles of Faith, in which the child recites corresponding Article of Faith. Younger children can repeat the Articles of Faith with you.

Watch for more bean bag ideas next month!



Filed under Activity, Lesson, Sharing Time

Nov. Sharing Time and every day: Add some “scripture power” to your Primary music!

Want to keep children’s interest by keeping them challenged and engaged? One of my favorite resources is right in front of you, and you may not have known it!

Open your Children’s Songbook (CS) and check out the bottom right corner of the page for one or two scriptures that relate to the song topic. Then weave those scriptures into your lesson or singing/sharing time. For example, the November 2016 Sharing Time theme is “Reverence is Love and Respect for God.” Week 4 is “Reverence for God helps me respect and love others.” The Sharing Time manual suggests that you sing a few songs such as the ones below. After each song, discuss the accompanying questions.

  • “Kindness Begins with Me” (CS, 145). Ask: What are some ways we can show kindness to our friends? The scriptures at the bottom of the page are: Luke 6:31 (“The Golden Rule”), Luke 10:30-37 (the parable of the Good Samaritan), and Ephesians 4:32 Choose one or more of these scriptures to deepen the children’s understanding. Senior Primary children can look up the scriptures and read them aloud; Junior or Senior Primary children might enjoy acting out the Good Samaritan story as a child or teacher reads it aloud from the scriptures.
  • “I’ll Walk with You” (CS, 140–41). Ask: Who are some of the people who need our kindness? How can we show kindness to them? The scripture at the bottom of the page is: John 13:15: “For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.” And how did Jesus “do unto us?” How would He like us to follow His example?

In short:

  • Sing
  • Read the corresponding scriptures
  • Discuss
  • Testify

(By the way, are you looking for that catchy tune? Find it here: “Scripture Power“)


Leave a comment

Filed under Lesson, Music, Sharing Time

For children in imperfect families (that’s all of us!): Encouragement from leaders

Photodisc/Thinkstock via

Photodisc/Thinkstock via

Naturally, every family is imperfect. But as we teach children that “families are forever” and “honor thy father and mother,” some children may need to hear a more nuanced message. Here are some messages of encouragement from our leaders that we can incorporate as we teach children true doctrine about families.

Sister Neill F. Marriott, second counselor in the Young Women General Presidency, from from “Parents in Training,” New Era, August 2016, 17.

  • “No matter what kind of home you come from now, you can choose what kind of parent you will be in the future.”
  • “Please don’t expect your family to be perfect — because it will not be. It doesn’t help anyone to dwell on faults and imperfections. Instead, focus on what your family does well. . . . As you strive to become a constant source of goodness, you’ll likely influence your family for the better.”

Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve, from “Fathers,” April 2016 General Conference.

  • “To children whose family situation is troubled, we say, you yourself are no less for that. Challenges are at times an indication of the Lord’s trust in you. He can help you, directly and through others, to deal with what you face. You can become the generation, perhaps the first in your family, where the divine patterns that God has ordained for families truly take shape and bless all the generations after you.”
  • “Wherever you rank your own father [or mother] on the scale of good-better-best (and I predict that ranking will go higher as you grow older and wiser), make up your mind to honor him and your mother by your own life. Your righteousness is the greatest honor any [parent] can receive.”

Also see other related posts:

Honoring parents – even if parents make poor choices?

Father’s Day – sensitive, but where else will they learn?


Leave a comment

Filed under Lesson, Life Lessons, Sharing Time

Primary and new manual “Teaching in the Savior’s Way”

Like you, I thrill at the announcement of the new manual “Teaching in the Savior’s Way.” As stated on the cover, this manual is for “every gospel teacher — every parent, every formally called teacher, . . . and every follower of Christ.” That sounds like you, me and everyone!

I’m particularly delighted that now there will be a regular time for teacher training and development each month. This has been difficult to arrange in the past, but now it’s built-in. Page 3 of the manual states that these monthly meetings can happen during Sunday School or Priesthood/Relief Society, whenever best fits the needs of your Primary. It may take some creativity to figure out how to spring your teachers and leaders loose to attend these meetings (combine classes, get monthly substitutes. To see how others have made this work, see “Springing Primary workers for special presentations and teacher council meetings.”

Prayerfully consider whether Primary teachers and leaders should hold teacher council meetings together with other auxiliaries or separately, to discuss the special needs of children; page 3 of the manual leaves it up to you. The ward council (of which the Primary president is a valuable member) oversees teacher council meetings, perhaps with the Sunday School presidency or any ward council member leading the discussion.

The manual underscores this valuable guideline about the relationship between the home and Primary: “Parents are the most important gospel teachers for their children—they have both the main responsibility and the greatest power to influence their children (see Deuteronomy 6:6–7). As you teach children at church, prayerfully seek ways to support their parents in their essential role. For example, you could talk to parents about the needs and interests of their children, you could share with them what their children are learning in your class, and you could find out how you might support parents’ efforts as you teach.” “Teaching in the Savior’s Way,” page 25.

For ways to connect home and Primary, see “Bridging the Connection Between Home and Primary: a monthly newsletter” and “Bridging Home and Church Through a Child’s Simple Question.”

Also see the Ensign article from “Teaching in the Savior’s Way, titled “Behold Your Little Ones: Learning to Teach Children.”

“The goal of every gospel teacher,” says the manual’s cover, “is to teach the pure doctrine of the gospel, by the Spirit, in order to help God’s children build their faith in the Savior and become more like Him.”

God bless us all – young and old – on the journey.


Leave a comment

Filed under Parent Involvement, Primary Presidency Administration, Teacher Support

A Golden Opportunity to Review!, colored by Cara Lu, age 7

from, colored by Cora Lu, age 7

You’ve put up your visual aids one by one, and conveyed to little minds a memorable gospel truth. Now it’s time to take down those visual aids and either set up for the next wave of Primary children coming in the next hour, or pack them away in your Sunday bag.

Take this time as a valuable opportunity to review your lesson as you take down the visual aids! Talk through each visual aid and remind them of its meaning. It’s a basic educational principle that reviewing helps cement the message. You’ll have the children’s attention with the action at the front of the room, and you won’t have to be in a rush to break down after your lesson is over. Better for them, better for you!



Filed under Activity, Lesson, Special Needs, Teacher Support