Saturday, October 28, 2017

Easy sew nativity costumes for Primary

I made some nativity costumes in 2013 that I have pretty much used every year since I made them. They were super easy to make, for someone with limited sewing skills.

I always get a ton of traffic to this blog post every year so I wanted to share it with my LDS primary leaders audience!

On a personal note, for those of you that don't know me, I wrote a Christmas children's book! I'm a published, professional writer but this is the first time I've tried to get a children's book published so it's been an exciting process for me. I just found out my book, "My Nativity ABCs" is at Deseret Book today. I received a Deseret Book catalog in the mail and there was my book, smack in the middle of the "bedtime stories" page. You can also find my book at Seagull Book, Amazon, Barnes & Nobles, Walmart, Target, and other bookstores!

Friday, October 20, 2017

Fun Primary Program Day Lesson: Articles of Faith

Our Primary Program was on Sunday.

To make the day special, but not detract from the purpose of Sharing Time and Singing Time, we spent the day on a combined Singing Time/Sharing Time focused on the Articles of Faith.

Our Primary works on one of the Articles of Faith every month by singing them (from the Children's Songbook) during opening exercises. We don't spend any real time on it - we just have a child recite it, then everyone sings it for four weeks before we move onto the next one. (Since there are 13 Articles of Faith, we combine 1 and 2 in January). They know the article and song pretty well by the end of each month though!

So, for this lesson, we reminded the children that they probably know the Articles of Faith better than they realize.

Our first counselor put together these two activities. For Junior Primary, she pulled a name out of the Helping Hands jar, and that child was invited to find puzzle pieces hidden around the room. The puzzle pieces went to different articles. When one was completed, she talked about them about the Article of Faith and what it meant, and then our chorister led them in singing the song version. Our counselor also gave children the opportunity to recite the article.


In Senior Primary, our counselor put together a Jeopardy board with section for Key Words, General Trivia, Fill in the Words, Name the Article of Faith, and Match the Picture. 

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Combining Singing Time and Sharing Time in a General Conference and Pre-Program Song Review

I just posted a combined singing time/sharing time to prep for the Primary Program but with the dual purpose of reviewing General Conference here.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

General Conference Activity Packs

I have a two-part, free General Conference activity packet for Primary kids here.

It's a combination of Singing Time and Sharing Time topics that are appropriate for General Conference. For example:

Monday, August 14, 2017

Emailing Primary Parents

We occasionally send emails to our Primary Parents to let them know about some resources that could help enhance a lesson that we taught in Primary, or whatever other bit of inspiration comes to us. I would say this happens on average once a month or a bit less. We don't want to inundate folks with emails, but it's nice to share a gem of inspiration once in a while, or just give the parents an idea of what is happening during Primary.

This is an email that we sent out today after Stake Conference this past weekend:

Hello Primary Parents,

Don't forget that the Primary Program this year is on October 15 at 1 p.m. Practice will be held on the Saturday prior, at 9 a.m.! 

We hope you were able to enjoy Stake Conference this past weekend. We enjoyed some great, inspiring talks, particularly some guidance that we can follow for our Primary children. 

1. We love the challenge from President Corbridge to take the next 19 days and spend 5-10 minutes per day on our knees in sincere prayer with our Father in Heaven. This is such a great challenge for the Primary children because even the little ones can do this on their own! On Sundays, we will be reminding the children that they can participate in this challenge - and even invite their families to participate in this challenge. 

2. Sister Arnold also encouraged us to take advantage of the resources found on to participate in activities that help our children fight against the influence of pornography. You can find a link to some of the resources (including a fun activity) here:

Sunday, April 30, 2017

General Conference Cards

I have been working on making General Conference cards for all of the children in our Primary. Each card is laminated, and has the title, speaker, a quote that represents a key learning from their talk, and an illustration.

I had such a hard time leaving out the beautiful words of the talks that this is more geared to Senior Primary and those who have learned to read. So, I'm debating on how and who to share them with because they were a fairly incredible amount of work - but well worth it. I have learned so much from these sessions of General Conference by studying each talk intensely. I'm so grateful for the leaders in our church that dedicate their time to serving others, drawing closer to God, and helping us learn how to do the same.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Jesus Christ is the perfect example for me

This was such a fun sharing time! Our first counselor put different pictures of the Savior on magnets and made sure there was one picture for every child in both Junior and Senior primary. Children looked up scriptures describing four ways that Jesus Christ is a perfect example, then matched those examples to the scriptures on the board. Then, each child was given an opportunity to come to the front of the room to match their picture with one of the four examples.

I love that we were able to:
1. Encourage the children to learn directly from the scriptures
2. Use a lot of visuals
3. Have every child participate
4. Focus our lesson on the Savior

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Sharing Time: Lessons from General Conference

For Sharing Time today our presidency each picked some of our favorite conference talks. We made sure to have a picture that represented the talk for each general authority. We then had the children match symbols with pictures, then tell us what they remembered/learned from the talk. Where necessary, we filled in a little bit of extra detail. For instance, with President Monson's talk, Sister Bowden reminded the Primary that he did not speak for very long, so it's important to think about what he felt was worth talking about in the short amount of time in which he spoke.

Here's a picture of the completed board, after the children matched all of the pictures to a general authority.

I also passed out a hand-out I made for Senior Primary that shares something we learned from each of the general authorities that were featured in today's lesson. 

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Sharing Time: I am blessed when I choose to follow the prophet

This Sunday's lesson is, I am blessed when I choose to follow the prophet.

One of the lesson ideas is to share three suggested stories from the scriptures about people who were blessed when they followed the prophet.

1. The story of Elijah and the widow of Zarephath - 1 Kings 17:8–16
2. The story of Moses and the serpents - Numbers 21:5–9
3. The story of Nephi and the brass plates - 1 Nephi 3–45:21–22

The lesson manual suggested telling story #1 interactively so that children can follow along with the motions. I love that, and could easily do that for all three. For me, we won't have time to get through all three stories so I'm just going to have fun with the first two, which the children are less likely to know than the third story.

For story #2, I wanted some serpents. I looked online and could purchase a dozen for maybe $5, but then I thought about drawing them on paper and cutting them out. That would be great too. Or, the most amusing idea for me was to make sock puppets that some of the children could wear to participate. This took me about ten minutes and a bit rifling through my sewing supplies and my sock drawer. Quicker and cheaper than a trip to the store! (For the top snake that looks like real eyes, I sewed a black bead on top of the button.)

We'll end by talking about who our prophet is today and how we can follow the prophet today but I love this opportunity to help the children learn that the Lord has sent us prophets throughout history, and that we can learn from them.

Here's a great article about following the prophet from William R. Walker from April 2014.

Having the Primary children participate in Missionary Month

We have a tradition in our ward of having a "missionary month" every other year (used to be every year), where we help the youth to think about missionary opportunities to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with others. Although this special missionary month is built around our Young Men/ Young Women program, we try to participate in Primary as well. The church is built around family, and we want the Primary children to be aware of and feel part of what their big brothers and sisters are doing.

This is a special month for me because both of my parents were introduced to the Book of Mormon and the teachings of Jesus Christ there through missionaries that had traveled from the United States to Taiwan. They were both teenagers at the time, and met when they began attending church in the same building. Without the Book of Mormon, I wouldn't have these beautiful words of comfort:

From the section called Doctrine and Covenants, Chapter 121, verses 7-9:

My son, peace be unto thy soul; thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment;
And then, if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high; thou shalt triumph over all thy foes.
Thy friends do stand by thee, and they shall hail thee again with warm hearts and friendly hands.
I love these scriptures that remind us that we are not alone on this earth, that our trials here are making us stronger, better people, and that at the end of the day, we have friends who have left this earth before us that are rooting us - maybe unseen angels all around us that our friends and our ancestors.

I have a favorite quote from a prophet of the Lord who came here in modern days. He says:
  • "God loves us. He is watching us. He wants us to succeed. We will know some day that He has not left one thing undone for the eternal welfare of each of us. If we only knew it, heavenly hosts are pulling for us – friends in heaven we cannot remember now who yearn for our victory. This is our day to show what we can do – what life and sacrifice we can daily, hourly, instantly make for God. If we give our all, we will get His all from the greatest of all." - Ezra Taft Benson, "Jesus Christ – Gifts and Expectations," Ensign, Dec. 1988, 6

For missionary month, here are some ways we have involved the Primary children on Sunday:
1. Invite converts to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to visit with the Primary and share their story.
2. Invite missionaries who are serving in the area to teach the Primary lesson.
3. Invite children to write letters to missionaries from our ward family (local members of the church).

Saturday, January 14, 2017

In the premortal life, I chose to follow God's plan.

I made a chart to help me teach this lesson tomorrow about the beautiful Plan of Happiness or Plan of Salvation. I love this topic! Using advice from the sharing time manual, week 3, I put together the list of songs that takes children through God's plan and how we can chose to follow it. I then matched it with scriptures and pictures. I found some of the scriptures by searching the scriptures, some by looking at different articles on the Primary resources page under Plan of Happiness, and by looking at the references for each of the songs I am highlighting. You can go to Children's Songbook online to easily find the references. I highlighted them in the red box below for you to see:

Here's my reference table. I'll use this differently in Senior vs. Junior Primary. Explanation below the table.

(I pulled pictures by googling "LDS GAK" to go to the LDS image library, and also by using pictures found in some of the articles about this topic in the Primary resources page I referenced above.)

Before I came to earth, I lived in heaven.
D&C 138:55-56
55 I observed that they were also among the noble and great ones who were chosen in the beginning to be rulers in the Church of God.
56 Even before they were born, they, with many others, received their first lessons in the world of spirits and were prepared to come forth in the due time of the Lord to labor in his vineyard for the salvation of the souls of men.
Spirit World (picture of people dressed in white in a pretty place)
I Lived in Heaven - CS 4
I chose to come to earth to receive a body.
Heavenly Father presented a plan for us to become like him. Let’s learn about the plan here:

Moses 1:39
39 For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.
Picture of family on earth (to show earthly bodies + families + earth)
I Am a Child of God - CS 2
I will be baptized and receive the gift of the Holy Ghost
Acts 2:38
38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.

Genesis 9:11-15
11 And I will establish my covenant with you; neither shall all flesh be cut off any more by the waters of a flood; neither shall there any more be a flood to destroy the earth.
12 And God said, This is the token of the covenant which I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations:
13 I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth.
14 And it shall come to pass, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow shall be seen in the cloud:
15 And I will remember my covenant, which is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall no more become a flood to destroy all flesh.
Child getting baptized
When I Am Baptized - 103
I can prepare to go to the temple.
D&C 138: 47-48
47 The Prophet Elijah was to plant in the hearts of the children the promises made to their fathers,
48 Foreshadowing the great work to be done in the temples of the Lord in the dispensation of the fulness of times, for the redemption of the dead, and the sealing of the children to their parents, lest the whole earth be smitten with a curse and utterly wasted at his coming.
Temple picture
Families Can Be Together Forever - 188
I will be resurrected.
John 3:16
16 ¶For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

John 13:15
15 For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.
Jesus Christ resurrection picture
He Sent His Son - 34

For Junior Primary:
1. I'm going to have these pictures all over the room. Then I'm going to talk about it, and have the children look all around the room and point to the topic I'm talking about. Then, I'll have the pianist play the first few notes of the song and have children raise their hand if they recognize it and want to guess the song.  Then, time pending, we'll sing the song to reinforce the lesson and the message.

For Senior Primary:
1. I'll have different children hold the pictures and see if the class can unscramble the order of the pictures, then put them on the chalkboard.
2. Then, I'll have the children draw from a bowl. Each item they draw will have a song # on one side and a scripture on the other side. Depending on which one they draw we'll either read the scripture or guess and then sing the song. Then we'll discuss. Time pending, we'll go back and sing more songs.


One last note. I'm going to start sending occasional lesson plan emails to families as I plan my lessons, and my presidency is welcome to do the same on the weeks that they teach. I had this inspiration last night as I was outlining my lesson and started writing this email:

Dear Primary Parents,

We're so excited to kick off another year with your wonderful children. I wanted to share some information with you as we start off the new year. The overall Primary theme for 2017 (as directed by the First Presidency) is "Choose the Right." The theme for January is "Agency is the Gift to Choose for Ourselves."

This Sunday's Primary Sharing time lesson will be about the Plan of Happiness/Plan of Salvation. 

We often find a lot of great material that we don't end up using as we prepare our lessons. We will sometimes send you material that might inspire your Monday Family Home Evening lesson. There will of course be relevant material in this month's Friend magazine. For FHE on Monday, you may want to consider some of these materials that will reinforce the Primary Sharing time lesson for Sunday:

The July 2013 Friend has a recommendation to create a family banner in a manner similar to Captain Moroni, since families are part of Heavenly Father's plan. This may be a fun Family Home Evening activity! You can read about it here:

There is also a great craft activity in the January 2014 Friend here:

For older kids, there is a a bit of board game that you can play with them:

Esther Sumner