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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“The Priesthood and Me” – two ready-to-use Sharing Time lesson plans

September 2018 – bring on that 5th Sunday! How to use it to best meet the needs of YOUR Primary children? Here’s one idea:

President Dallin H. Oaks rocked my world when he said, “We are not accustomed to speaking of women having the authority of the priesthood in their Church callings, but what other authority can it be?” (April 2014)

Learning this essential principle helps girls AND boys understand priesthood power. Here are two ready-to-use Sharing Time lesson plans with a different spin on the topic:

I was thrilled to see this same idea in the April 2018 Friend magazine: “The Priesthood and Me,” about a girl wondering the same thing, and learning of Pres. Oaks’ thrilling quote, and “What’s on Your Mind?” asking “is the priesthood just for men and boys?

The Ensign that same month reminds us, “To avoid confusion, be sure to use the word priesthood to refer to priesthood power, not to those who hold it” (page 72).

Here are more ideas for 5th Sundays: 5th Sunday favorite ideas

Enjoy this bonus Sunday!



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October: novel missionary ideas

The October 2018 Sharing Time theme is “I Will Share the Gospel with All of God’s Children.” Consider these interesting ideas:

And of course, this is the month to sing Army of Helaman (CS 172), ending strong with “to bring the world His truth.”

Enjoy this terrific theme this month, of helping children see themselves as ambassadors of Jesus Christ in all the world!


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Feeling safe in the last days

When I read in the Friend magazine how children responded to scary news, I felt alternately relieved and deflated. See The Lemonade Stand that Changed Everything, a cheery title for an article about how children responded to news of a terrorist attack by doing a service project to support first responders. Also read “What’s on Your Mind?” about how to help a child feeling scared when they hear bad news.

I felt relieved that church magazine writers are responding to needs of today’s children. I felt deflated because I wanted today’s children to worry about nothing more serious than loud thunderstorms at night.

Teaching children to respond to bad things with acts of service is a non-intuitive but enormously Christlike response. Notice that the Friend article discusses scary things on every level — a sick family member, someone being bullied, people needing help in my neighborhood — as well as natural disasters and terrorist attacks.

Read more ideas in this post: Helping children understand violence and tragedy

For more about bullying, see Bullying: Having Difficult Conversations with Parents and Bullying in Primary

For more about children whose homes may put them at risk, see Honoring Parents – even if parents make poor choices?

As always, the Lord gets the last word: “Wherefore, be of good cheer, and do not fear, for I the Lord am with you, and will stand by you” (Doctrine and Covenants 68:6).

God bless the valiant children of the last days, working to build the kingdom until He comes. And God bless the faithful leaders and parents, saved for the last days to teach children how to do just that.


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Is anything getting through? Proof #2

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 scripture story I heard when I was age 7, then remembered eleven years later when I was investigating the Church: see Is Anything Getting Through? Proof #1

Here’s Proof #2 that kids are absorbing more than we think. When my kids were little, we faithfully held family scripture study. Occasionally we got them to sit still and listen. They couldn’t read yet, and this is before Book of Mormon Stories came out. I often wondered why we bothered; what they could possibly be learning? But I knew that latter-day prophets had instructed us to hold scripture study with our children, no matter how young, and we did.

Around dinnertime, the children would look out the window to watch for Daddy’s arrival. One day our oldest son Rob announced, with authority and enthusiasm, “Hark! Daddy cometh!”

Whether or not he was absorbing the message, he was absorbing the language of the scriptures.

Your efforts DO make a difference. One day, the “children [will] arise and call you blessed” (Proverbs 31:28).


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Scouting – don’t plateau!

photo by Pierette, cake to the left by Seville, Pinewood Derby racecar Twinkies by Ted

Yes, it is true that the Church is discontinuing the relationship with the Boy Scouts of America as of January 2020. But a lot can happen before then!

This article from the Church News reminds us that “History has proven much can happen in 19 months (about the time between the announcement and implementation) —and Church leaders hope the time leading up to the historic youth initiative will be, well, time well spent.

  • “Nineteen months is about eight times as long as Columbus’s voyage to America and nine times as long as the Mayflower’s journey.
  • Nineteen months is five-and-a-half times as long as the Spanish-American War.
  • And 19 months is about 30 days longer than a sister missionary’s typical length of service.

“How to keep up momentum and keep kids excited? Remind leaders, parents and boys that we have a golden opportunity to make the most of this time, and to boldly achieve to each boy’s fullest potential.”

I offer my personal opinion that the Church program rolled out in January 2020 won’t look that different from today’s Cub Scouting. I predict that boys will still be setting goals in areas of character development and achieving those goals. So remaining fully engaged in Cub Scouts will keep them in that good habit. Carry on, “youth of the noble birthright!”

For a related post, see Scouting – Primary’s Final Frontier


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Sept. 2018 Sharing Time – Never too young to serve!

The September 2018 Sharing Time theme is “I Will Serve God with All My Heart, Might, Mind, and Strength.” In addition to the ideas for teaching service, help children to actually DO service with a service project during Sharing Time!

Think about someone in need in your ward or community: perhaps a homebound ward member, a sick child, local nursing home residents, hospitalized children, missionaries serving in your ward, missionaries serving elsewhere who grew up in your ward, firefighters or police officers who work around the clock every day of the year, etc.

Children can draw them a picture or make a card to cheer them up. Older children can write letters about what they’re learning in Primary about service. This can be simple (paper and crayons/pens) or elaborate (stickers, markers, buttons, lace).

Children can create holiday cards for upcoming regular holidays or for unusual holidays held throughout the year. For example, says that April 15 was Microvolunteering Day! Even micro-people can help in micro-ways. There’s an occasion to celebrate for every month and every day of the year.

Here’s more ideas for service projects with kids, including great resources to share with Primary families as well: Pint-sized Service Projects and Creating a Culture of Service.

Never too young to serve!


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Chalk talk – inside and outside!

Looking for interesting ideas for using a simple piece of chalk? Try these:


  • Black construction paper makes a simple “chalkboard.” You can make visual aids ahead of time and post the construction paper chalkboards around the room, or one-by-one as your lesson unfolds. (Remember you can’t erase on black construction paper.)
  • Hand the chalk to the children! They can each have their own black construction paper chalkboard to draw a picture of what they learned. Or a child can draw on the classroom chalkboard what they learned, or write the answer to a question. Usually you can get at least 2 children at the chalkboard at the same time. The more children are involved in the lesson, the more they learn. Also see Singing Time – Art Class!
  • Colored chalk adds interest.


  • With the permission of the Primary presidency and bishopric, and with plenty of adult helpers, bring the children outside to draw on the church sidewalk 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!

Don’t forget the hand wipes for chalky fingers.

For more ideas for interesting lessons, see Potatoes every night: Variety in Teaching and 14 Bean Bag Ideas – Easy Kid Involvers!



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Staffing, Training, Behavior Management, and more!

Calling all Primary leaders! Here are some ideas for making your Primary the best it can be.



God bless the faithful Primary leaders who work so hard to lead God’s children back to Him.


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Filed under Discipline, Primary Presidency Administration, Special Needs

Sacrament Meeting Presentation ready-to-use resources for 2018!

Planning for the Primary sacrament meeting? Here’s some ready-to-use resources!

OUTLINE: Here’s one of our most popular posts each year: guest author Kim’s idea Primary Sacrament Meeting Program outline–click, print and go!

INVITATIONS AND PRINTED PROGRAM COVERS: Kids are natural missionaries and often love to invite neighbors, teachers, coaches to hear them sing and speak in church! See printed invitation ideas here: Invitations for Sacrament Meeting Presentation “I am a Child of God” (BTW – did you see that Jenn gave an invitation to a playground mom who ended up being baptized? Read about it here.)

OPEN HOUSE: As Jenn said, “We realized that when people invite their friends to the Primary program, it can be a little awkward when the program is over.  Members have to rush to Sunday School, and often visitors who might want to linger and visit about the program are ushered into the noisy foyer.  With approval from our bishopric, and with the help of the ward missionaries, we planned an open house reception.  After sacrament meeting was over, we invited everyone into the cultural hall for mingling and refreshments.  We also had some children’s artwork on display.”

INVITING AUDIENCE COMMENTS: Consider this idea: Inviting Audience Comments – Primary Sacrament Meeting Presentation

Is the Primary sacrament meeting presentation my favorite Sunday of the year?



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