Saturday, July 24, 2010

Soapbox: Art, Winning and Self Expression

Title: First Steps (after Millet, detail), c.1890 by Vincent Van Gogh

Today I had an interesting day, and when I say interesting I mean I was almost ready to take a paint brush and paint a woman's forehead. Not really. Ok, maybe. In my mind it sounded good.

Will this have anything to do with primary? Yes. But patience my friend, patience. I need to build up the emotions and anticipation.

We go to the library for a free painting activity. Background, I love art. My girls have been to many a museum and have done many a project. I am a firm believer in art as an expression not a science, especially for little ones. Art should be enjoyable not something where the adult does it for them or criticizes their technique. So here's when the drama started, the art teacher took the paint brush out of my child's hand and said, "No. It's an OK sun but I want the whole paper yellow."- to which she then painted over my daughter's exceptional (not merely OK) sun. Well, mama bear came out, and believe me, I'm a laid back person. It takes a lot to get me to the point where I'll go postal. I listen to Bob Marley and dance to 80's music with my girls on a daily basis, we're free lovin' spirits.

The pointer finger and hand on the hip came out as I told the eccentric that Christina's art is her art, not the teachers. She is allowed to do it herself, how she wants. Because art is subjective, the beauty of art is different to everyone. The teacher told me that my daughter would never win any competitions if she didn't learn how to paint with technique. (Gagging sounds, anyone? Anyone?) She suggested I make her paint with one color, then let it dry for 10 minutes, have her come back and paint with a different color, then let dry for 10 minutes, repeat, blah blah blah etc. I guess I should add the fact my child is 5. Doesn't that sound really fun for a 5 year old to do? She just sat for 10 minutes of "talking at" and now she's going to sit some more! And be told how winning is just so important in life!

Where do we get off telling kids not to discover or learn for themselves?
Who are we to answer questions that kids can answer for themselves?

What was that?

We should never take a paint brush from a child and paint over their masterpiece. Sheesh, and here comes the connection now.... Just like we should not talk over children in sharing time. I would like to state clearly, Sharing Time is a time where children should be allowed to express themselves and enjoy feeling the spirit. They have so much to share and we need to facilitate opportunities for them to do so!

My pet peeve in life is when people gab. Children don't need 10-20 minute long explanations or talking at's. They learn quickly and they do so best when they aren't sitting bored out of their gourd.

Children can write their own talks, as early as they learn how to speak! Let them discover early on what it's like to pray, receive inspiration and then teach others by the spirit. I mean really, Mormon was 10 years old when he was told to witness the downfall of the Nephites and then record it on the plates later on down the road. Really? I'm convinced we have tons of little 10 year old Mormon's around us, but we're not giving them the opportunity to speak, because we're speaking over them.


Jeremiah 1:6-7 " Then said I, Ah, Lord God! behold, I cannot speak: for I am a child.
But the Lord said unto me, Say not, I am a child: for thou shalt go to all that I shall send thee, and whatsoever I command thee thou shalt speak."

Now before I get some off the wall comment, yes I realize there needs to be balance. We talk and teach, bear testimony etc. I'm just redirecting our attention to the fact it's called "Sharing Time" not "Adult Lecture Series" time. And in life too- are you really listening to children? Are you hearing what they are saying and trying to talk with them not at them?

Van Gogh was never fully appreciated until after he was dead.
Let's discover the color, the life and the unique expression of each of our dear sweet children so they don't end up one day hacking off their ear.

Can I get an amen?
Amen, sista.

** And as I was talking with my brilliant little star about how the teacher was bonkers, how winning is not what is most important about art, but finding the joy in creating- she said, quote "I know mommy. We need to go back and tell the lady I already won a coloring competition. And I won by coloring how I wanted to color not by how she told me to do it."

Way to make a point child, way to make a point.

Friday, July 23, 2010

August 2010 LDS Primary Sharing Time Ideas and Helps

California Quail Image courtesy creative commons license by Peter Baer March 21,2009
I don't know why, but this bird reminds me of me. The dove led the glorious life and the quail was used, well, for dinner. At least I don't feel like a crow. Perhaps I feel like I resemble a quail because secretly I long for the poof bangs of the 90's to return to style.

August Theme: Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and He is a God of miracles.
August Scripture: "For behold, I am God; and I am a God of miracles;...and I work not among the children of men save it be according to their faith." 2 Nephi 27:23

Week 1: Jesus Christ is a God of Miracles.

* Have a small box of feathers with a picture of a quail on front. Briefly ask the children if they know why quails are miracles?

"The book of Exodus reports that quail were miraculously provided to feed the hungry people of ancient Israel (see Ex. 16:13; Num. 11:32; Ps. 105:40). The pioneers had an equivalent experience. After the last of them had been driven out of Nauvoo, many were sick and some had died. Their provisions were meager. On the river bottoms near Montrose, Iowa, on 9 October 1846, many quail miraculously flew into camp. The quail were cooked and fed to some 640 destitute people (see Stanley B. Kimball, "Nauvoo West: The Mormons of the Iowa Shore," BYU Studies, winter 1978, 142)." Russell M. Nelson, "The Exodus Repeated," Ensign, July 1999, 9

Have about 10-12 TOTAL questions, scriptures and songs having to do with Jesus Christ and His many miracles on little scraps of paper. Put these in the feathers and invite the children to come up and pick a paper. For children that have been extra helpful, let them choose a feather to take home!

* Play Miracle charades! Break into groups, give each group a miracle Christ did, have them come up with actions and then come to the front to let the primary guess away! The groups can come up with 3 hints also if our primary friends need help.

* Pin the Pointer on the Liahona: Have a poster board with a large liahona drawn on it. Have 15 black arrows for the children to "pin" on with tape. Have a blindfold and spin them. BUT BEFORE you do this, they have to tell a story from the scriptures or from their own life about how Jesus is a God of miracles. If the younger kids need help, have them choose an older child to come up front to help them tell a story. I would also have a variety of different Gospel Art Kit pictures posted all around to help jog their memory.

Alma 37:38-40 "And now, my son, I have somewhat to say concerning the thing which our fathers call a ball, or director—or our fathers called it Liahona, which is, being interpreted, a compass; and the Lord prepared it. And behold, there cannot any man work after the manner of so curious a workmanship. And behold, it was prepared to show unto our fathers the course which they should travel in the wilderness. And it did work for them according to their faith in God; therefore, if they had faith to believe that God could cause that those spindles should point the way they should go, behold, it was done; therefore they had this miracle, and also many other miracles wrought by the power of God, day by day."

* As a visual- Have an apple. Ask the children if this apple will just up and change into a banana. Let's watch it for 10 seconds, just in case. Nope, not changing! Maybe if a primary friend holds it, it might change? Hmmm.... Kind of like Heavenly Father and Jesus, they don't just up and change out of the blue!!

Mormon 9:17-19 "Who shall say that it was not a miracle that by his word the heaven and the earth should be; and by the power of his word man was created of the dust of the earth; and by the power of his word have miracles been wrought?And who shall say that Jesus Christ did not do many mighty miracles? And there were many mighty miracles wrought by the hands of the apostles. And if there were miracles wrought then, why has God ceased to be a God of miracles and yet be an unchangeable Being? And behold, I say unto you he changeth not; if so he would cease to be God; and he ceaseth not to be God, and is a God of miracles.

* During Singing Time, have a child come to the front and wear and overly large t-shirt. Have their hands barely sticking out. As you sing a song, have the child move their arm out (lengthened) or in (shortened) and correspond with a way to sing. (They might have to do this by pulling up the sleeve or letting it down depending on the size of the shirt) For example, if the arm is outstretched, sing boldly, if it's shortened sing softly. They will have to watch their primary friend carefully! Boy, talk about miracles, what beautiful singing!!!

D&C 35:8 "For I am God, and mine arm is not shortened; and I will show miracles, signs, and wonders, unto all those who believe on my name"

* For Senior Primary: Have copies of this talk by Elder Dallin H. Oaks for each child. Have them break into pairs or small groups and read together. Have highlighters for them to mark anything that sticks out to them. After reading let the children share how they know Jesus Christ is a God of miracles or any thoughts they had about the article.

Week 2: Jesus Christ can heal the sick.

* Have a poster board of an outline of a person. Time to break out the quarters and splurge for a box of band aids at the $1 store. Let the children come up and add band aids to the paper person as they answer questions, sing songs and read scriptures having to do with Jesus healing the sick. We're going to do this for a FHE!

* Have a first aid kit with different scripture stories of Jesus healing the sick attached to the items inside it. Have children pick out an item and discuss the story in groups, then rotate the items.

* Have different stations with special guests! Is there anyone in your ward with a medical background? Have any doctors or nurses come into primary and share with the children stories of Christ healing the sick. Perhaps they could even bring in something they use at work to help others feel better for the children to look at! Make sure each station has a picture to go with the story or a flannel board. Kindly remind guests to be enthusiastic and encourage primary friends to share any knowledge they have of the different stories! I would do probably 3 stations, rotate and then finish with the guests bearing testimony of Christ as our Divine Healer.

* Here is a lesson from the Choose the Right A manual. The enrichments are great for little ones.

* Here is another lesson from Primary 7 manual. I especially like the attention activity with the coat.

* Here is a great crossword of Jesus healing the lepers (from The Friend)

* For FHE play the game operation! Put a gospel twist on it by reviewing stories of Christ healing and singing songs on faith to earn the opportunity to perform surgery! End with the fact that Jesus is the doctor of all doctors! He heals!

Jeremiah 17:14 "Heal me, O Lord, and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved: for thou art my praise."

Week 3: Jesus Christ has power over death.

*Reader's Theatre HERE . Did you notice the tip in the outline "As children act out scripture stories, they are able to remember and understand them better."

Week 4: Miracles come to those who have faith.

Be prepared- miracles accompany the faithful, but even the faithful are tried and tested and sometimes don't get the miracle they want no matter how very faithful they are! God knows what's best when it comes to the "when" and "who" of miracles. Make sure the children understand sometimes they will receive miracles and sometimes not, and that's OK because Heavenly Father and Jesus know what They are doing! The key is to trust them and pray to develop a testimony of Their wisdom and mercy.
* "...Faith precedes the miracle. It has ever been so and shall ever be. It was not raining when Noah was commanded to build an ark. There was no visible ram in the thicket when Abraham prepared to sacrifice his son Isaac. Two heavenly personages were not yet seen when Joseph knelt and prayed. First came the test of faith—and then the miracle."Thomas S. Monson, “The Call to Serve,” Liahona, Jan 2001, 57–60
Have different scripture stories and pictures on faith and miracles. Click HERE for the different books that you can then choose specific stories from. Print out the stories, cut apart and put into envelopes. Have the children divide into groups and sequence the stories in the right order. What came first? What came last? Have them share with the Primary.
* Ether 12:12 "For if there be no faith, among the children of men God can do no miracle among them; wherefore, he showed not himself until after their faith."
Have about 6 different items hidden under 6 different small blankets. These items should have to do with stories from the scriptures having to do with faith and miracles. Have different clues to help the children guess what is hidden. They can come up to the front to read different clues.
For example, I would have small crystal rocks under the blanket. Clues: This miracle takes place in the Book Of Mormon. This miracle only happened because of a very faithful man. This man had a really long name. He prayed very faithfully and often to know what God wanted him to do. This miracle helped the man and his family and friends cross the dark and deep ocean with light. This miracle had to do with a people that rhymes with Marednites. Show a picture clues from the GAK 318. The brother of Jared and the sixteen stones!
* Have the names Stephen, Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas written on the board. Does anybody know who on earth these people are? What do our primary friends think about these names? Tell the children, to find out more, we're going to go back in time. Have the children pat their laps twice and put their thumbs back in the air. Keep on doing this rhythm as an invited guest comes in, dressed in ancient robes. Great job friends, we've made it back in time and it's my pleasure to introduce you to.... (Then using chalk circle the name Stephen). Have your special guest give children scriptures to look up to learn more about him. (Acts 6:4, Acts 6:8, Acts 6:9-10, Acts 7:54-60) Have Stephen answer any questions and talk about how he was the first martyr after the death of Christ. While he was faithful and performed miracles, he still was stoned. We might not understand the "why's" of life, but that's OK because
Proverbs 3:5-6 "Trust in the Lord with all thy heart, and lean not unto thy own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths."
* Have a large map of the world. Have small flags from different countries around the world that you can attach to the map.
2 Nephi 26:13 " And that he manifesteth himself unto all those who believe in him, by the power of the Holy Ghost; yea, unto every nation, kindred, tongue, and people, working mighty miracles,
signs, and wonders, among the children of men according to their faith."
Have questions, scriptures and songs on miracles and faith corresponding to the different flags and as they answer, let them place on the map where it belongs.
* Why do missionaries serve missions? Where do you want to go on a mission? Invite the missionaries in to ENERGETICALLY talk about faith for A COUPLE MINUTES (AS IN A COUPLE MINUTES, 2 MINUTES). Can you really be a missionary without faith? Is serving a mission a miracle? According to our apostle President Boyd K. Packer (I heart Boyd) Yes!!
Tip: Read slowly as some of the words are big. "What kind of miraculous persuasion is it that would have a young man, vigorous, active, interested in life itself- at the one time when he, by virtue of normal appraisal, ought to be more interested in material things- be willing to respond to a call to serve on a mission, pay his own way, give a tithing of his life, 2 years, preaching the gospel? Miracle? Oh, yes; but we have over 25,000 of them." Boyd K. Packer, "Called of God by Prophecy," New Era, Sep 1978, 33
Then take the time to write letters and draw pictures for the faithful missionaries/miracles serving from your ward!
*What is one of the greatest miracles that has happened in the past 200 years? What example of faith led to the only recorded time in history that God the Father and His Son miraculously appeared? Show a church video of the account of Joseph Smith and the first vision. (Remember you only have about 10-13 minutes to do so as you need to incorporate singing and time for them to share their thoughts.)

Saturday, July 17, 2010

LDS Primary Sacrament Meeting Presentation 2010

Image courtesy

With billions and billions of people on the earth, who am I?
How is it even remotely possible that God will answer my prayers and help me receive revelation? Where does He find the time to help everyone?
Why do I even matter?

Woah people... we're getting a bit deep and I wish I knew that answers, but I don't.
Time to step out on the porch, sip some Mug's and look at the stars.
It doesn't matter that we don't know the "hows" or "huh's?".

All that matters is this:
Did you know there was a topical guide topic of God-Access to??
Now, in this section of the study helps, we find 44 different references to the fact that
God is there for us.

4. Bam. 4.

What does this mean? You don't need to worry, you don't need to stress! Take another swig of that root beer, wink at the stars and take it to the Big Man. Primary Program here we come!

For first time Primary Sacrament Meeting writers, here is my advice: Get ready for a treat!! Get ready for an experience of true happiness!! Get ready to be closer to your maker.


1. First things first- Make sure your spirit is healthy. Read those scriptures, pray and attend the temple. Do the standards and the standard will be unfolded unto you. I really have no clue what I meant by the last sentence. It sounds like a Mountain Dew* commercial gone awry. Most important of all, pray, pray, pray, pray, pray for guidance and that the Holy Ghost will guide you.

2. Know your children! Who is shy, who is not? Who is a confident reader, who needs special attention? Who could write their own part? Plan parts that are appropriate for each child. Sunbeams (for the most part) do best with 1-3 sentences. Older children should be given a time frame on what they are expected to fill.

3. Give the children plenty of time to practice their parts at home. (At the very least 2 weeks) If they are able to memorize, fantastic!

4. See here for some more of my ramblings. Details of a practice run in the chapel.

5. Take the Sharing Time Outline and use the weekly topics as basis for your parts. Use parts of the children's talks they've given. Use the scriptures in the outline. Have the children tell stories from the scriptures. Group your program into different topics followed by a song that emphasizes that topic. And if that doesn't work for you, that's OK! Do your thang and just be open to what Heavenly Father has in mind for His primary and children.

Still nervous? See here for even more of my ramblings.

Best of wishes as you realize the truth of this scripture: "And that he manifesteth himself unto all those who believe in him, by the power of the Holy Ghost; yea, unto every nation, kindred, tongue, and people, working mighty miracles, signs, and wonders, among the children of men according to their faith." 2 Nephi 26:13

Despite my 3 references to soda, I rarely drink it. I feel like you really just can't beat water.

Puffed Up With Pride- A Visual

I love to do this for a simple Sabbath Day Activity or Family Home Evening Visual.
Ask: What is pride?
Take a balloon and start puffing/blowing it up. As you do so, talk about some different examples from the scriptures of people "puffed up with pride". Use pictures from GAK (Gospel Art Kit) if possible.
*Laman and Lemuel
*King Noah
*The Nephites over and over and over again!!
*Oliver Cowdery
*Satan and what he did in the pre-mortal world
Scriptures: (Pick and Choose depending on the age of your children)
2 Nephi 28:12-13, 15
Alma 5:53
Alma 31:27
3 Nephi 6:15
What happens when there is too much pride? Keep on puffing up!
When's the last time you've read this? Beware of pride indeed!