Spring means Popcorn Popping – Even in Israel!

Date farm in Jerusalem

BYU Jerusalem Center

I just got back from the Holy Land with my 92-year-old mom. What a sacred privilege to visit the land of the Bible, the land Jesus loved.

Seeing date trees everywhere made me think of this post about the way children in Israel sing the beloved activity song “Popcorn Popping.” Try teaching your children this fun new spin on the beloved favorite song!

By the way, this very blog has visitors from Israel AND the Palestinian Territories. This region of the world, beloved of the Lord Jesus Christ as His earthly homeland, is revered as holy by many. But even today’s heart-wrenching, devastating conflict doesn’t stop Latter-day Saint Primary leaders coming together in this troubled region, at least on this blog, on behalf of children. My personal wish is that this tiny moment of virtual connection might expand to engulf the region — and the world — in God’s love.

All over the world, we share a common desire for strong, faithful children who know and love the Lord, and a desire to build a better world for them. I wish that these common desires might bring us all just a little closer to Zion — through Primary. It wouldn’t be the first time that “a little child shall lead them.”  (Isaiah 11:6) See “What’s Primary Like in Nepal or Bahrain?

-Marci

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Year-Round Snowball Fight! (with variations)

Today’s idea comes from Heather D, who says, “I love singing, my family, and puppies (but who doesn’t).”

This simple game is for any season. You can use it for Sharing Time, singing time, or a lesson. Here’s how it works: Ask the children a question, then have them write or draw their answer on a piece of paper. Use white paper for snowballs or baseballs; use orange paper for basketballs. When everyone is finished, each child crumples their paper into a ball and throws!

Children can throw their balls all at once (try having them throw their snowballs at YOU, with or without a cardboard CTR shield, as Heather D. did here!). Or each child can take turns throwing their ball into a bucket or basket.  There are lots of variations!

How to use this idea? Choristers can ask children to write their favorite song (with help for younger children). Those songs can be sung that week or next week, as time permits.

For a lesson or Sharing Time, ask the children a review question such as “What is one thing you want to always remember about _____?” Or ask an application question such as “What is one way you can (follow Jesus, be a good friend, show love to your family)?

Have fun with this activity!

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Kids as Commandment Keepers! June Sharing Time ideas

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The theme for June 2017 is “I Choose the Right by Living Gospel Principles.” This terrific theme gives kids the opportunity to put solid doctrine into practice in their lives. Here are some supplemental ideas to consider:

Week 1: Prayer – see Taking Prayer to the Next Level (including “A child’s prayer can save a (duck’s) life”)

Week 2: Tithing – see Paying Tithing on Treats

Week 3: Word of Wisdom – see Word of Wisdom – sharing time lesson and family night idea (our most popular post of all time!)

Week 4: Modesty – see Teaching modesty: clothing as advertising

 

 

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Counting Words in a Song or Scripture: Fun Activity

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Here’s a fun way to shake up Singing Time or Sharing Time. You can even adapt it for family scripture study occasionally for variety! Ask the children to count the number of times a familiar word appears in a song or scripture; i.e. count the number of times the word “try” or “trying” appears in “I’m Trying to be like Jesus” (Children’s Songbook, 78). Or count the number of times the word “choose” or “choice” appears in “Choose The Right” (Hymns, 239).

Variations:

  • Select a class to be the counting class. With each instance of the chosen word, one child stands, followed by the next child in the row, etc. Count the number of standing children.
  • Choose helpers to be counters. Have a few more children than there are words in the song or scripture come to the front. When their word is sung, they raise their hand and keep it raised until the end of the song. Then count the number of raised hands.
  • After counting the words, ask the children if they think they can sing it without that key word. Each time they come to that word, hum instead.
  • Try counting words that repeat in a scripture, especially one that you’re trying to memorize. Then recite it without the key word, saying “mmm” when they get to that word.

For more fun music ideas, see “Making Music Time Fun and Interactive” and “Sing like a robot? a snake? an opera singer?

-Marci

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Bullying: Having Difficult Conversations with Parents

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We’ve posted a few thoughts about dealing with bullying here and here. But what if your child might BE the bully? Or what if you as a Primary leader must have a tough conversation with parents, to let them know their child has exhibited bullying behavior in Primary? See how one parent handled it with her son in “Me? A Bully?” in the February 2017 Friend, 36-37.

Notice how the mother doesn’t shame the child, but continues to believe in the boy’s good intentions. She also takes positive steps, like asking him to:

  1. find out three cool things about the person he doesn’t like,
  2. sing a Primary song like “If the Savior Stood Beside Me” (click here for Michelle’s sign language video and visuals),
  3. remember when the child himself was in a similar situation and appreciated being treated with kindness, and
  4. do something nice for someone he doesn’t get along with.

“You don’t have to be best friends with everyone, but you can choose to be kind.”

If you have to have this conversation with parents, you can send the same messages to the parents themselves: not shaming the parents, continuing to believe in the good intentions of the parents AND the child, and taking positive steps, not just avoiding the negative. That is, instead of saying to the parents, “Tell your child to stop bullying,” Primary leaders can encourage parents to help the child see the good in everyone, and take concrete positive steps suggested above. You may want to give them a copy of the Friend article.

This is never an easy conversation, but with the guidance of the Spirit, addressing bullying can make Primary the safe, comfortable space that it needs to be for everyone to grow.

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Curing fidgety fingers and uniting the children: Sign Language and music!

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Learning sign language to songs is a sure-fire way to keep older children challenged as they learn an actual new language, and engage younger children’s busy fingers as they learn signs that teach gospel concepts. For example, it’s very hard for me to make the sign for Jesus Christ (4 second video) without humbly thinking of “His hands pierced and bleeding to pay the debt” (verse 3, “I Stand All Amazed,” Hymns, 193). Learning sign language is particularly valuable for kinesthetic learners – children who learn best by using their bodies (see “Teaching to a Child’s Whole Body“).

But recently, children in the Cardenas Ward, Panama City, Panama shared another benefit of learning sign language. Their ward is truly bilingual, with sacrament meeting conducted in English, the opening hymn in Spanish, the opening prayer in English, Sunday School in Spanish, Relief Society/Priesthood meeting in English — then next week the reverse. Headphones abound.

But in Primary, with some Spanish-speaking children and some English-speaking children, the language that they have in common is the language of images and pictures. ALL children, regardless of their native language, can learn a sign that spans language. Even though it’s called American Sign Language (ASL), the images are relevant. In fact, learning a sign with a familiar image can help them learn a new word.

When the Cardenas Ward children sang in sacrament meeting and did the signs to the song, all the children participated, regardless of their fluency in the language of the song (whether English or Spanish).

Besides, one day your children may meet a deaf person, and they will be surprised to already know the beginnings of phrases and words to communicate. It will mean a great deal to that deaf person to see them try to be their friend. See “Hands That Talk,” March 2012 Friend magazine.

Check out these useful resources to help you on your way:

-Marci

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I Choose the Right When I am Baptized and Confirmed a Member of the Church–May Sharing Time ideas!

In the month of May we will be teaching the Primary children about the first principles and ordinances of the gospel: 1) Faith to follow Jesus Christ 2) Forgiveness through repentance 3) Baptism by immersion like Jesus showed us 4) The gift of the Holy Ghost and 5) Renewing our baptismal covenants by taking the Sacrament each week.

I still love this Baptismal Promises sharing time lesson I posted a few years ago.  This is a simple lesson with printables to teach about the promises we make at Baptism and each week when we take the Sacrament.  I think we often use words that are very familiar to the adults at church and forget that the kids really don’t have a clue what we mean when we say “covenants” “ordinances” “principles” “Atonement”.  This lesson is a great way to break down the concept of covenants.  When I teach it I introduce the word covenant so they can become familiar with it but I mostly use the words “big promise” to describe what a covenant is.

On week 2 of the month you could teach about these Baptismal promises and then on week 4 teach the same promises, review the idea that a covenant is a “big promise” and review all the things we promise at baptism and then renew each week when we take the Sacrament.  The schedule of this month’s theme is so perfect for repetition and giving the children a chance to absorb these important principles.  If we’re going to make a “big promise” with out Heavenly Father I think we better understand what we’re promising.

And as always, since I am a huge believer in the power of music and how much better we remember concepts when taught through music, there are so many fantastic Primary songs about these topics.  Songs always teach better than too much talking!

I’m Trying to Be Like Jesus (CS 78)

Faith (CS 96)

Baptism (CS 100)

When Jesus Christ Was Baptized (CS 102)

When I am Baptized (CS 103)

The Holy Ghost (CS 105)

The Still Small Voice (CS 106)

Listen, Listen (CS 107)

The Sacrament (CS 72)

I Feel My Savior’s Love (CS 74)

~Michelle

 

 

 

 

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Conquering the Big Podium: Sacrament Gem

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Carlan is a California native living in beautiful Boston and mother to three darling blondes. She’s a singer and lover of the arts who is passionate about reading and learning; Boston sports, history and culture; British period films; Mexican food; lime bars and most of all music.

In this post she is magnifying her calling as Primary president. She saw the need for the children to learn how to conquer the big podium in sacrament meeting as they get older, to prepare them for giving talks and prayers after they turn twelve. And she’s doing something about it. Carlan writes:

Recently my mother told me how sacrament meeting used to function when she was a youth. Among the many differences, one aspect she mentioned was something they called the “Sacrament Gem.” After hearing about it I was really interested in implementing it into my ward and with my Primary. Here’s how it works:
After the sacrament is passed and before we hear from any speakers, a Senior Primary child comes to the pulpit, announces the sacrament meeting theme or topic of focus, and reads a correlating scripture. Our Primary secretary schedules the children and gives the list to the bishopric. That’s it!!
It’s simple and not too scary for the kids, yet it gives them crucial experience standing and speaking in front of a group of people. Not only are these useful life skills but they are vital Mormon skills!
-Carlan

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14 Bean Bag Ideas – Easy Kid Involvers!

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In previous months we posted just a few ideas at a time so you had a chance to try these. Here’s the complete list of 14 bean bag ideas for easy kid involvement in your lesson! Click here for the pdf: 14 Bean Bag Ideas

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!

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.

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.

9. CATEGORIES: Start the bean bag moving by naming one thing in a category, then pass the bean bag. Categories could be reasons why we’re grateful for our families, stories about Jesus, books in the Book of Mormon, latter-day prophets, names of children in our Primary, etc.

10. PROGRESSIVE STORY: Start a story about good choices, then pass the bean bag to a child, who advances the story until you say “And then. . . ” The passes the bean bag to another child to continue the story.

11. REVERENCE – ONE PERSON SPEAKING AT A TIME: Tell the children that only the person holding the bean bag may talk. “Right now I am giving the lesson so I am the one holding the bean bag. If you have something to share or know the answer to a question, raise your hand. When I toss you the bean bag you may talk.”

MUSIC GAMES with BEAN BAGS:

12. HAVE A SEAT: While you sing, pass the bean bag. When the music stops, the person holding the bean bag sits down. Resume the song until everyone is sitting.

13. HOT AND COLD: While one child is out of the room with a teacher, ask another child to hide the bag. When the child returns, sing louder as the child gets closer to the bag, softer as they get farther, until they find the hidden bag.

14. NEXT LINE of the SONG: While you sing, pass the bean bag. When the pianist stops playing, the person holding the bean bag says the next line. If they don’t know it, they pass the bean bag to the next person who does.

I hope you and your children enjoy this timeless Primary bean bag kid-involver!

-Marti

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Swing that Sword of Truth!

sword-of-truthToday’s guest author is Tina, mother of 6, a high school physics teacher who loves reading and listening to Broadway musicals.  Tina shares the following Primary lesson idea:

Today I taught my last Primary class to my wonderful 7 and 8-year-olds. I made them each (9 boys and 1 girl) a “Sword of Truth.”  The sword was made of Styrofoam wrapped with duct tape and aluminum foil. I wrote “Sword of Truth” on each one with an ordinary ballpoint pen.

For the lesson I read a scenario where a child either told a truth or a lie, each on a separate piece of paper. (Here’s the pdf: Telling a Truth or Telling a Lie) The children would tell me which it was. Then I crumpled up the strip of paper and they got to hit the crumpled paper with the sword of truth.

It’s been a wonderful year with them. They are the most energetic, enthusiastic, and delightful group of kids I’ve dealt with in a long time. I’m sure going to miss teaching these children.

It’s easy to make one or a dozen of these swords. Children of all ages would be thrilled to wield their “Sword of Truth.”

~Tina

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