Sunday, October 16, 2016

Primary Program - Post-Program Activity

We held our Primary Program today. We wanted to do something special during class time for this special day. However, I'm always worried about the line between just having "fun" and recognizing that they are in church to feel our Savior's love and learn about the gospel. So I always want to make sure the lesson time is used appropriately and focuses on the topics that the Primary is assigned to teach.

First, we started with "crazy, mixed up Sunday" where we had the chorister give the opening prayer, the pianist be the chorister, a presidency member play the piano, etc. The children totally got a kick out of it! We then had Sharing Time first instead of Singing Time, all part of the "crazy, mixed up Sunday."

Our theme last month was missionaries and missionary work. So, today, we talked about how the program today gave them the opportunity to share their testimonies with the congregation and be missionaries. We then had the children write letters to missionaries that are serving all over the world from our ward today. I had emailed the missionaries from our ward beforehand. So, we split the children into groups, and had someone read a letter from a missionary to each group. Then, the children wrote letters to an assigned missionary.

We set up four large tables. This is one of them:

We had a strip of paper with the name of the missionary in front of them. We involved other leaders in the Primary who told the children a little about where the missionary was serving if they had that information. We gave each group 2-3 missionaries to write to, or in the case of younger children, draw pictures to send. It worked best when we had a letter from the missionary to whom they were writing. However, to keep this activity low-stress when we were also planning a primary program, I really tried to keep it simple with the preparation. If a missionary didn't write back, I didn't stress about it! They are busy!

I specifically asked the children to share what they had learned this year in their letters to the missionaries. I was so impressed with how well the children listened to me and followed that instruction. One child (Ethan, who is 7) wrote his line from the program, which was to share his favorite scripture reference (2 Nephi 2:25) and the scripture, about how "Men are that they might have joy." Another child (Charlie, who is also 7) wrote about Heavenly Father's plan. He had a talk assigned to him for the program and shared some of the things he spoke about in that talk. I wish I had thought to take pictures of those deep letters! We used scrap paper that another sister in the ward had donated to the Primary.

Also, in the spirit of keeping things simple (advice from our wonderful President Uchtdorf), I am handing these letters to the parents of the missionaries to mail with their next package rather than trying to track down current addresses and mail them all myself. Which I've done before. Also, I've had to buy a bunch of stamps and get a refund from the ward, where I think this is one way we can avoid using ward budget where I don't think the missionary parents mind slipping a few extra letters into their next package. Many of them are getting ready to send Christmas packages anyway, since some of these packages take a long time to reach their children in countries all over the world!

Another thing we did today: We have an amazing Primary chorister and two amazing Primary pianists, all three of which have been with us in Primary for us a long time, and all of whom are extremely reliable and dedicated to serving the children. We can always count on them. We don't do this every year, but this year, we wanted to take the time to thank them in a bigger way than usual. So, on Saturday night, I put a vase full of two dozen roses in the clerk's office. On Sunday, during Sharing time, I separated the roses into three sets, one for each pianist and for our chorister. One of our pianists wasn't here this Sunday so we didn't choose to sing to her, but we sang to the other two.

I picked out a song I knew from the Children's Songbook called, "A Song of Thanks," and work with me to quickly re-write the words to lines 1-3:


We then asked our two sweet sisters to come to the front of the room where we sang the song to them on the fly (I did this in Senior Primary where the kids can read and quickly picked up the tune) and then gave them the flowers.

Lastly, our amazing Stake Primary Presidency always makes sure someone from the stake attends the Primary Program. They always take the time to write a letter to the Primary children and share specific things they enjoyed about the program. We made sure to read that letter, too.

Our Primary chorister also planned the perfect low-stress Singing Time activity that went really well with our plans. I wish I had remembered to take a picture (I don't usually take pictures during Primary but I knew I wanted to blog about today.) She brought in an office chair, and created a pizza-shaped grid on the ground with tape. She then had each child write down a favorite song, which she put into each pie wedge. A child would spin in the chair, and wherever their feet landed indicated a song they would sing.

Also, we have had a tradition in past years of bringing in healthy snacks on the day of the program - cheese, grapes, pretzels, and sliced apples are typical - but this year, we felt this would be a fun and different thing to do instead. We also checked with our chorister, who made them a fun thank you snack, and felt it was not necessary to overlap and have two separate snacks.