Saturday, August 30, 2008

Number Crunching

I'll be honest, math was never my best subject. Words like "calculus" (gasp!) or "statistics" send shivers down my spine. Give me art history, a set of bongos and put a flower in my hair anyday over anything geometry-ish. But....

I do want to show you some numbers. I added a counter to this blog in June 2008. I see daily reports of how many hits I receive and where the hits are coming from. (Thanks!!) The highest number of hits are consistently on Fridays and Saturdays.

Week of July 28- August 3 Friday 800 Saturday 1,537
Week of August 4-10 Friday 611 Saturday 1,273
Week of August 11-17 Friday 633 Saturday 1,358
Week of August 18-24 Friday 644 Saturday 1,375
Week of August 25-31 Friday 586 Saturday 1,171

All other days (M-Th, Sun) each averaging 300-400 hits per day.

Image courtesy Pietroizzo "Better than World Cup"

President Monson wisely said, "It is necessary to prepare, to plan, so that we don’t fritter away our lives. Without a goal, there can be no real success. The best definition of success I have ever found goes something like this: Success is the progressive realization of a worthy ideal. Someone has said the trouble with not having a goal is that you can spend your life running up and down the field and never crossing the goal line...Make certain as you prepare that you do not procrastinate. Someone has said that procrastination is the thief of time. Actually, procrastination is much more. It is the thief of our self-respect. It nags at us and spoils our fun. It deprives us of the fullest realization of our ambitions and hopes." Thomas S. Monson, “Three Gates Only You Can Open,” New Era, Aug 2008, 2–6

I love the word fritter. And not just because I associate it with apple fritters. Mmmmmm....

Really, do we want to fritter away our childrens' time because of lack of preparation or lack of proper prayer? It's not the quantity of time afterall, it's just the quality of time spent.

I know Saturday is our free day, and I'm sure most of the hits are for the Sunday a week after. But just in case, I thought I'd share President Monson's wisdom. PLEASE!! This post is not meant to nag or chastise in anyway!! I just found the numbers interesting and thought I'd share.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

A FHE (Family Home Evening) on Death and the Resurrection

Death and the Resurrection FHE

Image Courtesy Untitled Blue June 3, 2008 "Resurrection"

Opening Prayer: As a thought- don't forget to invite the Spirit and humbly request His presence

Latter Day Scripture: "When Christ rose from the grave, becoming the first fruits of the Resurrection, He made that gift available to all. And with that sublime act, He softened the devastating, consuming sorrow that gnaws at the souls of those who have lost precious loved ones." Joseph B. Wirthlin, "Sunday Will Come," Ensign, Nov. 2006, 29

Activity: Steer your family into a very dark room. (Yes, I'm thinking a closet, because who wouldn't love to have FHE in a closet?!?) If children are afraid of the dark, hold on to them tight. Have each family member hold a candle. Bring a some matches. Sit in the dark for a moment and ask your family how they feel right now.

Take turns reading by candle light (Or by flashlight... think safety and what's best for your individual circumstance) the following (If you have a larger family with older children, try reading the whole talk, Younger children will need short thoughts like the one's italicized):

Thomas S. Monson, “May We So Live,” Ensign, Aug 2008, 4–9
Death’s Darkness Dispelled

"Death eventually comes to all humankind. It comes to the aged as they walk on faltering feet. Its summons is heard by those who have scarcely reached midway in life’s journey, and often it hushes the laughter of little children. Death is one fact that no one can escape or deny.
Frequently death comes as an intruder. It is an enemy that suddenly appears in the midst of life’s feast, putting out its lights and gaiety. Death lays its heavy hand upon those dear to us and at times leaves us baffled and wondering. In certain situations, as in great suffering and illness, death comes as an angel of mercy. But for the most part, we think of it as the enemy of human happiness.

The darkness of death, however, can ever be dispelled by the light of revealed truth.“I am the resurrection, and the life,” spoke the Master. “He that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:“And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die.”
This reassurance—yes, even holy confirmation—of life beyond the grave could well provide the peace promised by the Savior when He assured His disciples: “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”

Out of the darkness and the horror of Calvary came the voice of the Lamb, saying, “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit.” And the dark was no longer dark, for He was with His Father. He had come from God, and to Him He had returned. So also those who walk with God in this earthly pilgrimage know from blessed experience that He will not abandon His children who trust in Him. In the night of death, His presence will be “better than [a] light and safer than a known way.”

Saul, on the road to Damascus, had a vision of the risen, exalted Christ. Later, as Paul, defender of truth and fearless missionary in the service of the Master, he bore witness of the risen Lord as he declared to the Saints at Corinth:“Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;“… he was buried, and … he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:“… he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve:“After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once. …“After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles.“And last of all he was seen of me.”

In our dispensation this same testimony was spoken boldly by the Prophet Joseph Smith, as he and Sidney Rigdon testified:“And now, after the many testimonies which have been given of him, this is the testimony, last of all, which we give of him: That he lives!“For we saw him, even on the right hand of God; and we heard the voice bearing record that he is the Only Begotten of the Father—“That by him, and through him, and of him, the worlds are and were created, and the inhabitants thereof are begotten sons and daughters unto God.”

This is the knowledge that sustains. This is the truth that comforts. This is the assurance that guides those bowed down with grief out of the shadows and into the light. It is available to all."

Have your favorite image of the Savior and a picture of your family. Turn on the lights. Talk about what eternal families mean. Perhaps you could sing I know that my Redeemer lives #136 or another favorite couple church hymns. (Even if your younger children don't know the words, testimony is borne when you as parents sing)
With younger children make sure to emphasize the point that death can be dark, sad, lonely, even a little bit scary. But through Christ and His resurrection we can have light instead of darkness.
End with your personal testimonies.

** Every family is different. I know that not all homes are blessed with mothers and fathers. Please forgive me as I only share this idea in hopes it could be a stepping stone for you to adapt to your individual circumstances. I'm not trying to make anyone feel bad or discouraged, exactly the opposite hopefully. **

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Please Move Chairs

2 little boys are talking. They are into the lesson, they are obviously getting the point but...I'll start from the beginning.

I ask a girl to come up and step in a pretend puddle of mud. She's very dirty, covered head to toe. How will she get clean? I ask another girl to come up and spray some pretend paint on the chair. She does and even gets some on the ceiling. What will we do to get rid of this graffiti? I have to lift her up so she can cover up the paint on the ceiling. I have one more example, but before I can get to it, 2 little boys are talking. They are pretending to spray each other with paint and then paint over the graffiti.
What should I do? Should I:
ignore the disruptive behavior
talk over them
scold them
tell them they aren't being reverent
Boys! You are so smart, you get the point! Please put the spray cans under your chair and think about our next example. (They still fidget with their cans so I step closer and whisper do you need to move chairs? Quickly they stop.)

*Be polite to children and make sure they know you mean what you say. Follow through my friends, follow through.

I invite another child to come up. This time I tell the boy that it was the first day of school and he told a lie. How or what can he do to fix this problem? He can't wash anything or paint over anything. A child shouts out repentance!!
What should I do? The child knew the answer, but when one starts shouting out others will follow suit. Should I:
ignore the disruptive behavior, after all it was the answer I was looking for!
scold them
tell them they aren't being reverent, but it was the right answer
I'm so happy you know about repentance! You are brilliant! Please remember (I look at the boy and then direct my comment to all the children) to raise your hand when you have such a wonderful answer! (look back at the boy and smile, he's still smiling too)

*Be positive. Maintain an environment conducive to learning and where the spirit can be felt.

It's the last 5 minutes of sharing time and my 2 little friends, sweet 8 year old boys, are talking again and this time hands are pinching each other.
What should I do? Should I:
ignore them, keep on going- after all everyone else is paying attention.
scold them
tell them they aren't being reverent, stop it you guys, I've already had to tell you this one time before

"Please move chairs." (One boy moves. Away from the other boy. It's simple.)

(I love this happy chairs!! picture courtesy Arne Jacobsen 1996)

I continue on about the importance of the atonement. I take the pennies out of the ketchup, clean them while bearing testimony that God will forgive and will remember our sins/mistakes no more if we truly repent. I feel the spirit. All eyes are on the penny. It's no longer old and grimy, it's shiny and like new.

We, as teachers, are going to have moments that interrupt learning. The way we respond to our children's behavior can be positive or negative. We have the choice. Pray to our Heavenly Father for guidance.

One time, I and 25 children, were unfortunate enough to witness a "ranting" as I called it. The sharing time hadn't gone that smoothly.

Why might I say this?
Because the adult hasn't prepared enough
the adult is talking too much
the adult didn't think about the children's needs
the adult isn't using proper language, suitable for children
the adult isn't energetic
the adult is stressed out or nervous
the adult is trying to do too much with not enough time
the adult is ignoring behaviors that detract from the spirit
the adult is chastising behaviors that combines also to detract from the spirit
it's not the kids who are talking, but the leaders in the background talking, detracting from the spirit... boo!! hiss!!

The ranting lasted for 12 minutes!!! Lecturing, belittling, publicly berating them in front of others... oh my, it was terrible! I was furious! I didn't stand up for the children. I know I should of, and I didn't. I am far from perfect. My point is this though "An inspired, loving rebuke can be an invitation to unity." (President Eyring Sept. 2008 Ensign) Please move your chairs, indeed. We don't need 12 minute lectures, we don't need constant "You're not being reverent, fold your arms now!" We need the Savior. We need our children to know who He is. Make your primaries places of unity. I often will stand by or direct their attention to the beautiful paintings of the Master to bring back focus if we've gone astray. I pray for the spirit to be with us.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

September 2008 Primary Sharing Time Helps and Ideas

( Image found on Yahoo Search: Keywords Child Prayer)

WEEK 1 I learn about prayer from the scriptures.

*Ask for 2 volunteers. Have one stand outside the door and knock so we can let them back in.
Have the next one go out but tell them not to knock. Stand there for a 30 seconds or so. How would we know they were even there if they aren't knocking?

Matt. 7: 7 : "Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you"
You could have different GAK (Gospel Art Kit) pictures and scriptures having to do with prayer on different doors around the room. The children could pick them and you ask questions or direct conversation about what they've chosen.

* 2 Ne. 32: 4 "Wherefore, now after I have spoken these words, if ye cannot understand them it will be because ye ask not, neither do ye knock; wherefore, ye are not brought into the light, but must perish in the dark."
Have little black squares on the blackboard. A child will choose one and on the back will be a scripture about prayer and a picture having to do with light (like a sun, flashlight, lamps, campfire, stars, lanterns, night light) Turn off the lights, read 2 Nephi 32:4 and ask what brings us back into the light? Have a child turn on the light when everyone together answers prayer!

*Have an assortment of puzzles (1,000 piece, 200 piece, 5 piece) Are some puzzles harder to do than others? Do some puzzles need more time to do? Are some puzzles pretty short and simple? Can we have lots of people work on a puzzle? How are puzzles like prayers? Prayers are like puzzles...when we have the right pieces we can make a work of art.
(Matthew 6:9-15) Talk about the different parts of a prayer. Have envelopes with pictures or different scriptures inside cut up into simple puzzles. Have the envelopes taped under the children's chairs and then when the children put them together, talk about what their puzzle made.

1 Sam. 1:26-27, Daniel 6:10, Acts 7:59-60, Mark 1:35, John 16:23-24, Moses 1:17-18, D&C 46:7, 2 Ne. 4:24, James 1:5, Alma 8:10, Alma 34:27, 3 Ne. 12:44, 3 Ne. 13:5, 3 Ne. 18:16, Matt. 26:39, D&C 6: 22-24, D&C 10:5, D&C 19:28
GAK pictures having to do with prayer (blessings)

122, 225,227,305,403, 602, 603, 605, 606

*Have a child come to the front and use a cell phone to call the bishop. (Tell him in advance what you are doing... please) Put him on speaker, tell him we thought we'd just call to tell him we love him and thanks for all he does. Talk to the kids about phones. They are pretty amazing things. What if you told them there is something out there- where you don't need to push buttons or remember phone numbers, you'll never get a busy signal or have the call disconnected, and you can reach as far as heaven with no long distance charges. It's prayer!!!

Here is a very feeble/decrepit sketch (please re-draw your own, don't scar the children for life with my bad drawing skills) of a cell phone handout with "calling upon" scriptures on it. 2 options: As a primary look up the scriptures together (have the teachers or bigger kids help the little ones). Make sure everyone has a copy of the cell phone handout and when you find and read the scripture everyone can put a star (give stars to teachers to hand out to children) on the square. Or you could have a large posterboard of it on the blackboard and whoever finds the scripture first can come up and read it and put a star on the posterboard under the scripture. (I have 2 bonus stars for anyone who can use the index to find other scriptures about prayer)

Scriptures on cell phone: Alma 9:17, Alma 22:16, 3 Nephi 4:30, 3 Nephi 21:27, Ether 2:14-15, D&C 65:4, D&C 88:62, D&C 93:1, D&C 136:29, Moses 1:17-18

This image is courtesy Sister A. Peterson. She's gone all out and is obviously very talented! Insert my little soapbox- Those of us artistically challenged should not copy and paste this image until we have tried to make our own. How will we grow my fellow Rembrants if we don't try? This image would make a wonderful FHE... all I ask is that we not take the easy route, until we have put forth our best effort.

Yes, this activity is possible with sunbeams!!

They are perfectly capable of turning pages and looking for matches. Give them individual key letters or numbers like M and 6. Show them to look at the top of the page for the name of the book. Have them come up to read (you say it, they repeat). Have them point to the scripture while it is read. Show them pictures of people who wrote the Book of Mormon and those who wrote the Doctrine and Covenants. Just remember to have someone, anyone HELP THEM. Be excited too! Give them plenty of praise when they've found it!! They are important too!! Don't leave them behind in the page shuffle.

And it's not just this activity. With this week's theme especially, they should have their hands on the scriptures, feeling them, looking at them, touching and sensing the importance of the word of God. Make sure every child has a triple combination to use.

If you really want to go all out, here is a link to Family Fun Magazine for a fun treat to make for the kids to take home with a scripture of your choice attached.

Week 2 Heavenly Father wants me to pray to Him often- anytime, anywhere.
* President Monson has said, "Pray with purpose. With God, all things are possible. Remember the prayer of the Prophet Joseph, offered in that grove called sacred. Look around you and see the result of that answered prayer. Prayer is the provider of spiritual strength. Prayer is the passport to peace." (Thomas S. Monson, “Come Listen to a Prophet’s Voice: Follow the Signs,” Friend, May 2006, 2–3)

Have a large map with prayer cut outs (like a clip art of a little boy and girl kneeling in prayer). On the back of the cut outs can be scriptures, songs, quotes, situations or questions having to do with prayer. (E.g. Can you say more than one prayer at meal time? Can you say a prayer on an airplane if you are scared of flying? What is the difference between a sincere prayer and a repeat prayer?) Have the children come up and choose the cut outs. Also, make some paper clocks with different times and put prayer cut outs by those too... to reinforce the weekly theme.

Make passports for the children to stamp with their family at home as they read scriptures together about prayer. (See week one, above, for prayer scriptures)

* Dress up children as prophets from the scriptures and tell their stories. Ask the children what the prophets probably prayed for. Examples could include Joseph of Egypt put in prison after fleeing from Potiphars wife, Joseph Smith in liberty jail, Nephi building a boat, Noah building a boat. (They were the same types of places/situations, but different times.) We may never be put in jail but can we pray when we feel trapped or sad? What about when we need to do something big and need help?

Talk about 2 Ne. 27: 23, "For behold, I am God; and I am a God of miracles; and I will show unto the world that I am the same yesterday, today, and forever; and I work not among the children of men save it be according to their faith."

Just like the prophets of old, we can pray anywhere, anytime. God listened and answered them then, and He listens and answers us now.
* Share this story with the children. Put Alma 34:20-21, "Cry unto him when ye are in your fields, yea, over all your flocks. Cry unto him in your houses, yea, over all your household, both morning, mid-day, and evening." on the chalkboard. Have a cup with strips of paper with the following words (or words of your choice); farm, FHE, jungle, school, midnight, 8 AM, hospital, lunch, church, park, 6 PM. Have the children come up with as many ideas possible of things they could pray for having to do with that place or time. Tally up answers and see which place or time got the most ideas. Let them be creative, be supportive of their ideas. Prayer can be about anything that's in your heart whether there is a bomb in front of their house, they're hiking in a jungle and get poison ivy or they just want to say thank you for the food at dinner.

* Have a bell. Bring one child to the front turned away from the primary, covering one ear with their hand. Choose a child to ring a bell from a corner of the room. Have them sit down and have the child in front point to where they were ringing the bell. Repeat a couple times. Tell them that no matter where we are, God always hears our prayers and knows where we are and what we need. Matt. 6: 8, "For your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him." He never makes a mistake, he always knows where the bell is ringing.

* Invite a few ward members in to teach a couple prayer words in different languages. No matter where or what is said in whatever language or even silent, God will always understand.

D&C 6:14,16 "Verily, verily, I say unto thee, blessed art thou for what thou hast done; for thou hast inquired of me, and behold, as often as thou hast inquired thou hast received instruction of my Spirit... Yea, I tell thee, that thou mayest know that there is none else save God that knowest thy thoughts and the intents of thy heart."

*This idea is by Karen Ashton, “Sharing Time: Ponder, Pray, and Listen,” Friend, Apr 1996, 4 and could be suggested as a take home activity to do with families, just give them the bags with a few supplies inside.

"Younger children would enjoy making a small lunch-bag puppet. The eyes should be under the fold of the bag so that they will appear closed when the bag is folded. This will remind the children to close their eyes while praying. Glue eyelashes along the corresponding parts of the fold. Draw a nose and smile below the fold of the bag, and eyelids and eyebrows on the top of the fold. A small heart could be drawn under the smile to remind the children that praying will make them feel good; ears could be placed on the sides of the bag to remind the children to listen for answers to their prayers. After they have assembled their puppets, have them use the puppets to show how a child closes his eyes before saying a prayer, then listens afterward for an answer. Remind the children that answers come in many ways."

Week 3 and 4 are here!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

When I take the sacrament, I renew my baptismal covenants. August Sharing Time Helps and Ideas

When I take the sacrament, I renew my baptismal covenants.
Sharing Time Helps and Ideas for the 3rd Week in August 2008

( The Susquehanna River, where Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdry recieved the Aaronic Priesthood and were baptized)

** Bring in a license plate with your current car registration. Have a copy of The Friend magazine on the table or the Ensign or Liahona, etc. Have a gallon of expired Milk so the kids can smell. Tell the kids the importance of renewal. To renew means to make new (thank you merriam-webster dictionary). If you don't renew your car registration you can get fined or your car taken away. If you don't renew your magazine subscription you won't get them anymore. Things expire. And when they expire that stinks! (Bring a child volunteer milk sniffer to prove the point!) We never want the covenants and promises we made at Baptism to expire, so we renew them when we take the sacrament.**

** Bring in a runner's headband, wristbands, marathon T-shirt. Dress the child and tell them they are going to jog. Have them start to jog in place. Ask the primary members if they think the person could jog for 5 minutes without a drink of water or rest. What about all 3 hours of church? What about jogging for a whole day or week? It's impossible! Our bodies need to be refreshed by water, food, and sleep. Then it's jog on to Olympic glory we go! When we are baptized we make the promise to help others, keep the commandments, set a good example. Like the runner though, those promises need to be refreshed and sacrament is the time and ordinance to do so. Then it's on to Celestial glory we go!

I would bring in a little homemade torch and have one child come up at a time to jog next to you, pick a question about baptismal covenants and sacrament and then answer the question. Have them pass the torch on to another child (jogging). Again, there is a visual there of "renewal and starting anew, refreshing" like in a marathon. Questions could include:

!. Who will baptize us?
2. What are we baptized in?
3. What does it mean to take upon you the name of Jesus Christ?
4. How can you bear someone's burden, or help someone that's sad or in trouble?
5. What can I think about during the sacrament?
6. What can I do during the sacrament?
7. Have you ever felt the spirit during sacrament? What does it feel like? (I use this question OFTEN because it is sooooooooooo important for our children to be able to recognize WHAT and HOW the spirit feels like)

I would have about 20 questions and scriptures total prepared, it's always better to be over prepared than under prepared!!! Bring some GAK pictures (like 208, 309, 407, 601, 603, 604) too!! **

** Bring in about 25 Books of Mormon, Bibles, etc. And arrange them all over the room. If we read the Book of Mormon once, is that a good thing? You betcha! But are we done learning from the Book of Mormon because we've already read it. We know everything now and can just put in on a book shelf and be done. NO! We have to reread it!! Many times!! President Hinckley has said, "". . . I offer a challenge to members of the Church throughout the world and to our friends everywhere to read or reread the Book of Mormon. . . ." Explain that taking the sacrament is like rereading. We have to do it to learn and grow!

Have the children come up and pick a scripture book. On the backs of the books have pictures and stories that have to do with baptism and the sacrament. Personalize, perhaps you could even have pictures of some of the primary children who've been baptized and their feelings. **

**Invite some priesthood leaders to primary, to act out the very sacred experience of the restoration of the priesthood and baptism. Have a very simple vest or hat to wear and a white sheet for the angel... make it classy, but not over the top because it's the words here that speak with power. Read the following to the children while the brethren help the children visualize:
(From Church History in the Fulness of Times Student Manual Religion 341 through 343, 2nd edition p.55)
"Joseph and Oliver were thrilled as such doctrines as the resurrected Savior's visit to the inhabitants of the Western Hemisphere and his teachings about baptism were unfolded during the translation (see 3 Nephi 11:18-38). At this point their souls were driven to mighty prayer to learn how they could obtain the blessing of baptism. On 15 May 1829, Joseph and Oliver went into the nearby woods along the Susquehanna River to pray. Oliver described the scene that followed: "On a sudden, as from the midst of eternity, the voice of the Redeemer spake peace to us, while the veil was parted and the angel of God came down clothed with glory, and delivered the anxiously looked for message, and the keys of the gospel of repentance! What joy! what wonder! what amazement! While the world were racked and distracted... our eyes beheld- our ears heard."
The angel introduced himself as "John, the same that is called John the Baptist in the New Testament, and told them that he acted under the direction of Peter, James and John' (Joseph Smith history 1:72). He laid his hands upon Joseph and Oliver and said, "Upon you my fellow servants, in the name of Messiah, I confer the Priesthood of Aaron, which holds the keys of the ministering of angels, and of the gospel of repentance, and of baptism by immersion for the remission of sins" (Joseph Smith history 1:69; see also D&C 13:1). John explained that the Melchizedek priesthood would be bestowed upon them at a later time. For the first time in centuries the priesthood was again on the earth.
John directed Joseph to baptize Oliver, and Oliver to then baptize Joseph. They were then to confer the Aaronic priesthood upon each other. As they came out of the water from their baptisms, they were filled with the spirit of prophecy. Oliver predicted "many things which should shortly come to pass," and Joseph prophesied "concerning the rise of this Church and many other things connected with the Church, and this generation of the children of men." They were "filled with the Holy Ghost, and rejoiced in the God of their salvation" (Joseph Smith History 1:73)"

This was a magnificent event and because of it, we are here at church! The truth has been restored, baptism is very special and sacred. This is something we can think of often, especially during the sacrament, because at sacrament we renew our baptismal promises/covenants.

You can then have the children draw pictures that have to do with baptism, baptism covenants and sacrament. Make a book of these pictures and mail to a ward missionary who can use it to teach children in another part of the world. The senior sharing time can write their own testimonies and thoughts down also.**

** I found this idea in the Friend May 1997,by Karen Ashton:
"Discuss what it means “to bear one another’s burdens, … mourn with those that mourn, … comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places” (Mosiah 18:8–9). Divide the children into small groups. Each group leader begins by saying, “I am a member of Heavenly Father’s kingdom.” Then adds a statement (see examples below), which the next child in the group repeats, adding a statement of his or her own. Each child repeats all previous statements before adding his/her own. Continue until every child has been included. Examples of statements: I will obey the commandments; I will be kind to younger children; I will help my neighbor."

And if I may humbly add, when you divide the groups give them each a small picture of a sacrament tray. Explain that the things we are saying are the things we should remember during sacrament, because sacrament is when we renew our baptismal covenants. And please don't force the sunbeams to try to remember what was said before, if they can great. If not, no worries, let them just come up with ideas on what does baptism mean and what should we do before and after we are baptized. **

FHE Idea/Handout to send home with the children (As pictured above):
** Friend July 2005 Illustrated by Thomas S. Child See Here. Print the page in color for them to take home and review scriptures as a family. (You'll have to scroll down to the image, click on it... )

Monday, August 4, 2008

The Holy Ghost will prompt me to repent and live righteously after I am baptized and confirmed. August Sharing Time Helps and Ideas for Week 2

The following are some reader’s theatres I wrote for Senior sharing time based HEAVILY off the following articles from the Ensign:

1.Born Again by Elder D. Todd Christofferson (May Ensign 2008)
2.Elder Quentin L. Cook A Willing Heart and Mind by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland (April Ensign 2008)
3.President Thomas S. Monson In the Footsteps of the Master by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland (A supplement to the Ensign June 2008)
All quotes are from the apostles and are directly from these articles or from scriptures.

*Reminder NO ONE READS ITALISIZED PARTS, they just do what it says.
*You will need a script for everyone one or two people.
*Simple costumes always a plus!
*With a reader’s theatre it’s more reading than acting out, so I always have the children sit in a circle and encourage energetic reading.
*Be aware of children who might not read as well. There are smaller parts incorporated for them.
*Our children really need to know who our current apostles are. They teach us this week's principle beautifully. Let's get to know them!
*The children could be divided in groups and then asked to read to the primary, or you could just read them through all together. Pray for guidance.

Reader’s Theatre #1
By Sofia Lykes
Parts Needed:
Narrator #1
Mystery Apostle #1
Elder Boyd K. Packer
President Joseph Fielding Smith

Narrator 1: I have been baptized and was confirmed a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I look to the Savior and His servants the prophet to teach me. Which apostle is this?

Mystery Apostle #1: “My patriarchal blessing, received at age 13 from a beloved grandfather, includes this statement: “(Your Heavenly Father) sent you forth in this last and glorious dispensation that you might be born under the new and everlasting covenant by goodly, righteous parents.”

Narrator 1: Wait a second, I’m confused. What is the new and everlasting covenant?

Elder Boyd K. Packer: Hello. I’m Elder Boyd K. Packer and I think I can answer your question. But first, let’s see if anyone here can answer what is the new and everlasting covenant?(Let the primary children have a shot at this question)In the book I wrote, The Holy Temple, I quote President Joseph Fielding Smith, “The new and everlasting covenant is the sun total of all covenants and obligations… baptism is A new and everlasting covenant.”

President Joseph Fielding Smith: Well said. Well said.

Narrator: Thanks! I know now that baptism and all the covenants we make were very important to our mystery apostle.

Mystery Apostle #1: “Alma pled, “O Jesus, thou Son of God, have mercy on me, who am in the gall of bitterness, and am encircled about by the everlasting chains of death” Alma 36:18. Forgiveness came to him and he stood and publicly confessed: “I have repented of my sins, and have been redeemed of the Lord; behold I am born of the Spirit.”

Alma: Well said. Well said. My friend Nephi also has some wise words on the subject.

Nephi: Alma, you are too kind! All the words we speak are wise because they are given to us from Heavenly Father. I’d just like to add, “For the gate by which ye should enter is repentance and baptism by water; and then cometh a remission of your sins by fire and by the Holy Ghost.”

Narrator 1: By fire?

All: By fire AND by the Holy Ghost!

Mystery Apostle #1: “Let us not be content to retain some disposition to do evil. Let us worthily partake of the sacrament each week and continue to draw upon the Holy Spirit to root out… impurity within us.”

Narrator #1: That is so deep. The Holy Ghost will prompt me to repent and live righteously after I am baptized and confirmed. Thanks… but one more question. Who is our mystery apostle?

Mystery Apostle #1: (Holds up Picture) I’m one of the newest apostles, Elder D. Todd Christofferson!

Ask the children to think of 2 things they learned from this script. Call on a few to share their thoughts. If there is dead silence:How does the Holy Spirit root out impurities?Why are you grateful for the Holy Ghost?What was your baptism like?How has your baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost influenced your life?

Reader’s Theatre #2
By Sofia Lykes
Parts Needed:
Narrator #2
Mystery Apostle #2
Concerned Girl

Narrator #2: The Holy Ghost will prompt me to repent and live righteously after I am baptized and confirmed.

Joe: I sure do love my little brother! He has a big heart and is always thinking of others. Once when we were in elementary school in Logan UT we had a fire drill. I was the fire drill captain and I was in 6th grade.

Mystery Apostle #2: “I was in first grade.”

Joe: Everyone was out and I thought we were going to set a record and “Go down in history. Then just as fame seemed within…” my grasp someone said….

Concerned Girl: Oh no! This is terrible! Someone is still in the building! Hey, is that Joe’s little brother?? Boy, Joe, you sure do look mad.

Joe: Mad? Mad? “What on earth were you doing!!!”

Mystery Apostle #2: I “held up a pair of large worn boots and said, Joe you know that (I mentioned a friends name) sometimes has to wear hand me down shoes that are too big for him. When the fire drill rang, he took off running and ran right out of these. He didn’t want to ruin the drill, so he left them and ran outside barefoot. I went back to get his boots for him because I didn’t want his feet to be cold in the snow.”

Narrator #2: Our mystery apostle learned at a very young age how to be kind. When we listen to the Holy Ghost he encourages us to do things that are kind and charitable. The Holy Ghost helps us to make good choices.

Concerned Girl: In D&C 18:18 it says, “Ask the Father in my name, in faith believing that you shall receive, and you shall have the Holy Ghost, which manifesteth all things which are expedient unto the children of men.”

Joe: Later on in life, I had a difficult choice to make on whether to serve a mission or go to medical school.

Mystery Apostle #2: “I was 15 years old.”

Joe: I talked with my brother well into the night. My obligation was clear and I left for a mission soon after.

Concerned Girl: That conversation profoundly affected our young Mystery Apostle. He had always had a testimony of the Savior… but he had yet to receive a spiritual witness that confirmed their certain reality. After he and Joe parted that night, our mystery apostle knelt in prayer, a witness he desired with all his heart. And it came in a way so powerful that any doubts he had were swept away forever.

Mystery Apostle #2: I am Elder Quentin L. Cook.

Narrator #2: From these times in Elder Quentin L. Cook’s life, we can see the Holy Ghost can have a lot of good influence in our lives if we allow him in!

Ask the children to think of 2 things they learned from this script. Call on a few to share their thoughts. If there is dead silence:Can the Holy Ghost be with us even though we are not apostles?What would you have done if your little brother or sister ruined something important to you to show kindness to another person?Have you ever had a witness that came in a way so powerful that you don’t have any doubts? Would you like to share what that felt like?

Reader’s Theatre #3
By Sofia Lykes
Parts Needed:
Narrator #3
Narrator #4
Melissa Georgell
YM Advisor

Narrator #3: Prepare yourselves. This is an awesome reader’s theatre. You will be amazed by the talented readers! By the good looks of our charming actors! And I even give an amazing fact about hawks!

Narrator #4: But more importantly, you will learn about the Holy Ghost. How it can help us repent and live righteously after we are baptized and confirmed.

Narrator #3: Right! Now on to the action.

Melissa Georgell: (crying into hands)" Oh Tommy! I am so sad because the boys in particular do not behave during primary."

Tommy: “I had a lot of energy and found it difficult to sit patiently in a class.” Narrator #4: But still, the young Tommy asked…

Tommy: “May I help, Sister Georgell?”

Melissa Georgell: “Would you??”

Narrator #3: she said with a smile on her face. "Young Tommy agreed and the Primary’s disciplinary problems ceased that moment.”

Narrator #4: He repented, stopped that behavior and was guided by the Holy Ghost to do great things the rest of his life. He helped many inactive young men come back to church because of a leader who knew of his love of birds.

YM Advisor: “How would you like me to give you a pair of purebred Birmingham Roller pigeons?”

Narrator #3: "The female of the pair was special and had one eye, the other damaged by a cat. Tommy kept the pigeons for 10 days and then let them free to see who would come back. The male pigeon came back but not the female, she went back to the advisor’s home. When Tom went to get the pigeon back the advisor told him…."

YM Advisor: "There’s a boy in our teacher’s quorum who isn’t active."

Tommy: “I’ll have him at quorum meeting this week.”

Narrator #4: The next time Tommy released his pigeons, the same thing happened. The male pigeon came home, but the female flew to the advisor’s home. This happened many times and each time Tommy went to get his bird the advisor would talk to him about a boy that was inactive.

Tommy: “I was a grown man before I fully realized that indeed, Harold, my advisor had given me a special pigeon, the only bird in his loft he knew would return every time she was releaed. It was his inspired way of having an ideal personal priesthood interview with the teachers quorum president every two weeks. Because of those interviews and that old one-eyed pigeon, every boy in that teacher’s quorum became active.”

Narrator #3: Wow! I never knew that about President Thomas S. Monson! That is way too cool! I personally prefer Hawks and Eagles to pigeons. Don't get me started. Did you know that the Hawk is the fastest creature on earth and has been clocked at speeds of 200 MPH during a dive?
Narrator #4: Ok. Focus Narrator #3. More importantly we learn about how the Holy Ghost helped the Young Men’s advisor in an inspired way. The Holy Ghost also helped President Monson to make good choices and help his inactive friends. I am so grateful for baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost!

All: We are too! The Holy Ghost will prompt me to repent and live righteously after I am baptized and confirmed.

Ask the children to think of 2 things they learned from this script. Call on a few to share their thoughts. If there is dead silence:How do you know President Monson is a true prophet?Can we read 1 Nephi 13:37, 2 Nephi 33:1, Article of Faith 1, Moses 5:58, Amos 3:7

Junior Sharing Time
You will need write the stories into your own words and have the kids act it out. Have them be animals, trees, the apostles... Have plenty of props! You can even have them say certain things, just be sure to PROMPT them.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

No One Likes to Be Talked At

May I first start this out by thanking Liz, who commented on the August Sharing Time Helps post. It brought to my mind an experience I had and a few thoughts.

Let's just picture a primary where there are neon signs, guitar music and the kids are cheering! This is great! They are having a blast! The primary pianist can even rock out using her toes on the keys! They want more, they want to come to primary, they want to come to church and can feel.... Hmmm. What are they feeling?

Let's picture another primary. The sharing time teacher has prepared a lesson and on the board lies a make shift drawing of the temple and a pathway to it. She obviously isn't a Picasso, but we get the point, there are certain things we need to do to get to the temple. She starts to teach, asks questions, involves the kids physically and mentally, and is energetic and enthusiastic. She is using the scriptures, you can see them on the table when they aren't in her hands. What are the children feeling?

And finally, let's picture another primary. The kids are sitting perfectly still. As they ought to be, or the sharing time teacher will say, "Why aren't you being more reverent." She is talking, she telling about gospel truths and the kids are sitting there quiet as a mouse. One sunbeam stretches and says they miss their new puppy who is at home. The puppy's name is Gerald. The teacher proceeds, ignores the comment and continues with the lesson that has to be finished. What is that little one feeling?

I'm not an expert. Please don't ever think I am. I am, though, very aware of children. I love children!!

May I ask 2 questions: What type of Primary do we have? What type of Primary should we be striving for?

Our Church Handbook Book 2 Section 5 Primary (under sharing time p. 234) says, "This is an opportunity for them (members of the Primary Presidency) to INTERACT with the children and TEACH them gospel principles." It also uses words like, "ACTIVELY INVOLVE. BEAR TESTIMONY. PHYSICAL ACTIVITIES that allow STANDING and MOVEMENT."

Our Church Handbook Book 2 Section 16 Gospel Teaching and Leadership also gives 2 very important suggestions when teaching the gospel (pgs. 300-304)

Liz said, "I agree Sofia that it shouldn't be flashing lights and all, but it does need to capture their attention. No child just wants to sit there and be taught and not be drawn in...Primary can be fun and reverent at the same time. Keep it up." Well said, and if I may Liz, add no child (or adult for that matter) wants to sit and be talked at.

I'll share an experience I had in a Primary where my husband and I were called to teach the 6 year olds. We loved those children! There were 4 total, 2 boys and 2 girls all coming from very solid homes where they were taught properly the gospel. They were smart. They were amazing! As all children really are.

One week the sharing time lesson was just not going well. The teacher was trying to get the kids to memorize the 13th article of faith. There were no pictures. There was no energy in her and she was actually getting upset when the kids weren't pronouncing the words right. This was after a 5 minute "talk to" the children about reverence and sitting quietly. This was after a 10 minute (no questions, no involvement) "talk to" the little ones about why we need to know our articles of faith. I zoned out. I just couldn't do it. And then, all of the sudden she was done with 15 minutes left for sharing time and the music leader was missing.

I made my way up to the front and said thank you sister. Who's ready to shake like Solomon! We shook our hands. Who's ready to move like Moroni! We wiggled our legs and wielded a pretend sword. Who's ready to... I invited a child to come on up and pick an action and see if we could think of a person that started with that letter from the scriptures.
I don't know what we did after. But I remember how livid I was.

"Bueller? Bueller? Bueller? Anyone? Anyone?" Thank you Ben Stine.

This is primary!! It is my humble desire that we as Primary Teachers (this including the presidency, as we teach sharing times) will be prepared, prayerful and the gospel message presented with power.

May we find balance and harmony in our Primary atmosphere. May it be a place where the spirit is felt. May it be a place of learning. May our children have positive experiences with primary. May our children come closer to our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ because of each Sunday in Primary.

I bear these thoughts humbly in the Name of my Master and Gracious Lord, Jesus Christ.

Here are a few scriptures as food for thought and the soul. How do these apply to what has been said above?

D&C 52: 15-17 " Wherefore he that prayeth, whose spirit is contrite, the same is accepted of me if he obey mine ordinances. He that speaketh, whose spirit is contrite, whose language is meek and edifieth, the same is of God if he obey mine ordinances. And again, he that trembleth under my power shall be made strong, and shall bring forth fruits of praise and wisdom, according to the revelations and truths which I have given you. "

John 5: 1-2 " Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments."

Galations 4: 28-31 "Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise.But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now. Nevertheless what saith the scripture? Cast out the bondwoman and her son: for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman. So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman, but of the free."