Thursday, May 24, 2012

June 2012 LDS Primary Sharing Time Helps and Ideas

One of the ways we're preparing our daughter for baptism is having her read Gospel Principles alongside the Book of Mormon. We discuss questions from the book itself but she also has a special notebook that she has learning labwork to do after each chapter. A lot of these assignments involve her drawing something. When she's finished I'll do a post and list all the learning labwork from her notebook.

Monthly Theme: I Choose the Right by Living Gospel Principles
Monthly Scripture: "I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them" 1 Nephi 3:7

Week 1 I pray to Heavenly Father for strength to do what is right.

* "Recognize that there is a power greater than ours, that no matter how good a man is, he is not good enough, that no matter how wise he is, he is not wise enough, that no matter how strong he is, he is not strong enough for all of the things which he will face in life, and that there is a source of power to which he can go with the assurance that he will be listened to and that there will be a response." Gordon B. Hinckley, "The Message: Gifts to Bring Home from the Mission Field," New Era, Mar. 2007, 4

Bring in a CD player. Can this turn on if you don't plug it in? Have a primary friend try. Now plug it in... will it turn on? The CD player is just a hunk of plastic and metal, unless it's connected to the power!! Play a song about prayer quietly on the CD player while you read the quote from President Hinckley to the children.We are like the CD player, we need to connect to our Heavenly Father through prayer and He will give us strength and power to do what is right.

* Have the children act out the story of Nephi being bound, while you read the following words from Elder Bednar:
"   Nephi is an example of one who knew, understood, and relied upon the enabling power of the Savior. Recall that the sons of Lehi had returned to Jerusalem to enlist Ishmael and his household in their cause. Laman and others in the party traveling with Nephi from Jerusalem back to the wilderness rebelled, and Nephi exhorted his brethren to have faith in the Lord. It was at this point in their journey that Nephi’s brothers bound him with cords and planned his destruction. Please note Nephi’s prayer:   
    “O Lord, according to my faith which is in thee, wilt thou deliver me from the hands of my brethren; yea, even give me strength that I may burst these bands with which I am bound” (1 Nephi 7:17; emphasis added).
    Do you know what I likely would have prayed for if I had been tied up by my brothers? “Please get me out of this mess NOW!” It is especially interesting to me that Nephi did not pray to have his circumstances changed. Rather, he prayed for the strength to change his circumstances. And I believe he prayed in this manner precisely because he knew, understood, and had experienced the enabling power of the Atonement.
    I do not think the bands with which Nephi was bound just magically fell from his hands and wrists. Rather, I suspect he was blessed with both persistence and personal strength beyond his natural capacity, that he then “in the strength of the Lord” (Mosiah 9:17) worked and twisted and tugged on the cords, and ultimately and literally was enabled to break the bands."
* HERE is an AWESOME AWESOME story from The Friend. Before you tell the story, in front of the children put on your warmest winter coat, hat, mittens and scarf. Read the story with lots of enthusiasm. Ask a couple questions to engage the kids... what do you think will happen next? Will he be able to open the door? Why do you think he'd even want to explore the polar ice caps?
Could he open the door with his own strength? What did prayer give him?

Just as prayer gave Admiral Byrd the strength to open the door, prayer can give us the strength to do what is right. Below are some artic animals. Cut them out, number them 1 to 9, and laminate them. Bring in a small tub with cold water. Put the animals in the tub. Let primary children put on your scarf and draw an animal out of the cold water. Have questions, scriptures, or songs to go along with the numbers they draw out.
For example:
1. When have you felt strengthened by prayer?
2. As a primary, sing A Child's Prayer (Children's Songbook pg. 12)
3. Where are 5 places we can pray?

I am in no way endorsing this website, but I am very grateful for their free cute clip art!

* Break into small groups and have 3 adults to tell the following stories from The Friend. They need to be GOOD readers.... use inflection, perhaps a couple visuals for a child to hold while they read, involve the children with a couple questions here and there.... Rotate the groups so they can hear all the stories! Each group should have about 3-5 minutes to hear the story.

Ummmm... WOW!!! HERE is awesome story #1!!! I would be sure to warn the children that the story is a little scary, but that it has a very happy ending because Heavenly Father answered The Oaks' prayers and because Elder Oaks was given strength to do what was right.

HERE is story #2. Perhaps you can have a picture of a car, a doctor and a person praying. Great quote, be sure to emphasize from the story!! "While the blessings we ask for and receive through prayer are undeniably magnificent, the greatest blessing and benefit is not in the physical blessings that may come as answers to our prayers but in the changes to our souls that come as we learn to be dependent on Heavenly Father for strength."

HERE is story #3. I would bring in a small fan and let it blow on the children as you read a little, but then turn it off when you get to that point in the story. I especially like this story because sometimes we have to be the answer to our prayers, and no matter what, Heavenly Father will strengthen us!! Great quote to emphasize, "How often do we quit because we pray for wind and none comes? Instead, we need to listen for the Lord’s answer when we pray and then act upon it. On the boat, five men prayed, but only one heard and acted. God gave him the strength to be His wind that day, and He will give us the strength to be His wind when we do what He asks."
Week 2 When I pay my tithing, Heavenly Father will bless me.

* HERE is a great story for a couple children to act out while you read. There are excellent questions at the end of the story.  Let the children make a fishing pole with a stick and some yarn. Discuss some blessings that come from paying tithing and write them on the board. Have different colored paper fish children can choose and write blessings on that come from paying tithing! Have plenty of tape!! Enlist teachers help and have the children tape their fish onto their fishing pole yarn.

* Enlarge this picture as BIG as you can!!! Invite a child to come up front, help Maria find a coin, circle it with a big red marker and then answer a question about paying tithing. (From Feb. 2010 The Friend Illustration by Adam Koford)
 hidden picture

* HERE is a tithing maze! Pair up an older child with a younger child. You'll have to have a copy of the maze for each pair. Have them read to the younger children what is on the maze and work together to find their way to the blessings of paying tithing!

* HERE are some great questions and scripture references for Senior Primary to work on in groups. You could make a crossword of it too!

* Boy, The Friend is just the best magazine EVER! HERE is another awesome story to tell the children. It's a little longer, so I would read it really well during your personal preparation time before Sunday and then tell in your own words. Have 10 volunteers in the primary take off their shoes and bring them up front, then go sit down. Invite another child to come up front and say something/ a blessing that comes from paying tithing. Let that child choose a pair of shoes and return it to the proper owner! Repeat until all the shoes are returned.

Week 3 I obey the Word of Wisdom by eating and drinking that which is good and avoiding that which is bad.

* Pack a picnic basket! Bring in plenty of food choices for the children & let them come up one at a time and pick something healthy to put in the basket. On the board have 2 columns- Good Food & Drink, Bad food & drink. When they come up to choose something for the basket, have them also tell you something to add to one of the columns that they don't see by the basket. Write it down on the board. (Many 7 years would be capable of writing on the board too!)

* Bring in paper plates & crayons. Let children draw a healthy breakfast, lunch or dinner. Have them walk around the room reverently for a minute and share with other children what wonderful word of wisdom meals they made!

(Some recycled ideas from previous posts)
* Explain that we are going to have a cooking demonstration. Invite a child to come up front and cut bananas, another one do strawberries... have another child add some yogurt and yet another child add in some grapes. (Please no sharp knives and be mindful of food allergies) Have small cups for the children to sample. Was the fruit salad cooking demonstration something that is good for our bodies?
Have the children play win-win-draw with foods and other things having to do with the Word of Wisdom that are good for our bodies. (They come up to the blackboard and draw, for example, an apple... then someone from the Primary guesses what they have drawn)

* Break into groups and have them pass a healthy food around as you sing The Word of Wisdom. (CS #154) When the music stops, the person holding the healthy food has to name something that is good for our bodies. For older children you can make it a little more challenging by giving them a certain letter that the healthy food has to start with.

* Have a bunch of healthy recipes and let the children make a recipe book for their family!! Make copies of the recipes and let the children draw pictures of how they think the finished food will look like.... Always make a copy or example to show them/give them some starting ideas. Display a bunch of different cook books and let the children end Primary by sharing some recipes they think would be healthy for our bodies in those books. On the chalk board you can have the words written- A RECIPE FOR SUCCESS- THE WORD OF WISDOM!!!
Week 4 When I dress modestly, I respect my body as a gift from God.

* HERE is a great article & story about how to tell if you're modestly dressed! Perhaps you could play it with the kids too!

* Have a clothesline hung between 2 chairs. Invite children to design modest clothes to hang on the clothesline. Be sure to have paper, crayons and scissors available. Teachers can always help cutting!

* I would definitely make copies of THIS talk (Modesty:Reverence for The Lord by Elder Hales), bring in highlighters and let the Senior Primary divide into pairs or small groups and read it together. They can mark things that stick out to them and inspire them. After 5 minutes, invite a couple children to share something they learned from the article. Also, if the weather's good, let them go outside and do it. Sometimes a change of scenery really helps you to focus.

* Look the part! Have a few dress up items. If you wanted to look like a fireman what would you put on... firehat. How about a ballerina? A tutu. What about a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints? HERE are some thoughts on modesty from Elder Christofferson. Invite primary friends to walk reverently around the room and give each other compliments on their modesty. If they are feeling shy, that's OK!! They can just smile at each other. FIRST!! Write some compliments on the board!! For example: Your hair is nicely brushed. Your skirt is a good length. Your pants are neat and unwrinkled. That's a handsome shirt. You look like a missionary. Nice shoes!! That dress has sleeves and is pretty. It's my own personal opinion that we need to make primary an environment where children feel loved and respected by each other. Giving compliments builds self esteem and makes a person's day brighter.

Monday, May 14, 2012


What you will need:
Empty LIFE cereal box, bowl and spoon
Pictures of happy moments in life
Blue, Green, Orange and Red pom poms (3-4 of each color, 12-16 total)
Print out of John 17:3 & Questions

Opening Prayer

Attention Activity:
Show pictures of your happy moments in life. Read 2nd Nephi 2:25. Why are we here in life according to that scripture?

1. Put the pom poms in the cereal box.
2. Have a family member draw out a pom pom and put it in the cereal bowl. Whatever color they drew out, they need to follow the question sheet and answer or do what it says.
3. Next person draws out a pom pom and does the same until there are no more!

 I Lived In Heaven (All verses! CS pg. 4)

Final question:
What is life all about?

Bear Testimonies

Closing Prayer

LIFE cereal?? Perhaps LIFE cereal crispie bars??

Blue- What is the purpose/reasons of life?
Green- What are some good choices you can do with your life?
Orange- Read John 17:3 and see if you can do it by memory!
Red- Name something you like about the life of a person from the scriptures.

John 17:3
"And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent."

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Baptism & Children Under the Age of Accountability

This is my Maria. My beautiful and lovely Maria. She is my 2nd child out of 4. I love this picture. We had just had an "artground". It was our backyard as a playground but with tons of fun art to be messy with. And boy! Did my kiddos get messy... but I suppose that's why God inspired someone to make hoses.

My Maria can get dirty. Understatement. But she is not dirty. It's something you can just feel and know, children ARE pure. Children ARE clean. Children are without sin.

Recently I posted some song helps for When I am Baptized. I appreciate everyone who has taken the time to comment and express their thoughts. I think we all can agree that it's good to discuss doctrine and learn and understand truth. So I really hope that this post isn't misconstrued as me trying to argue or be contentious. I've studied a lot the topic of little children, baptism, atonement, and death because I have a baby that died and wanted to know all I could possibly know! There is so much knowledge out there thanks to our prophets and apostles and thanks to a loving Father in Heaven who has blessed us with the avenue to search, ponder, & pray and then in return give us answers.

Here is the backdrop. I have a simple qualm with the words from the song, "I know when I am baptized my wrongs are washed away." It's nothing to go inactive about, it's nothing really that has blown my world to bits... it's just something my 7 year old brought up, "Mommy, why am I singing this if I don't have sin?". At that moment and even more so now, I know the importance of teaching our children that they are pure and loved by their Heavenly Father.

Misconceptions & Explanations:
- A recently turned 8 year old doesn't have many "wrongs" to wash away
Children do not have any wrongs that are washed away.

- Children are not without wrongs. When they yell at each other, hit, disobey parents, etc. they are obviously wrong for doing those things.
Children make choices. Always they are in a process of learning. Under the age of 8, they do NOT commit sins that are washed away by baptism. They are pure. We are responsible to teach them properly.

- They (children) do commit wrongs, but because of the atonement, those wrongs are washed away without the child having to repent.
The atonement brings children who have died under the age of accountability back into the presence of God and redeems them from physical and spiritual death. Children do NOT have sin.

- The atonement doesn't automatically wash away our sins anymore like it did before we were eight.
Children do NOT have sin before the age of 8.

- God doesn't hold children accountable for their wrongs because they have not yet reached the age of accountability, therefore Christ's atonement makes up for those wrongs.
"The whole need no physician, but they that are sick; wherefore little children are whole." (Moroni 8:8) The atonement for children under the age of 8 is the means by which they are redeemed from physical and spiritual death, and by spiritual death it is not because they are wicked, but because they were separated from God, the Eternal Father.

- That would assume that Christ's atonement couldn't wash away the sins of the little child
Little children do NOT have sins.

-  She is absolutely right, and it is important that we teach our children that we do have "wrongs" that need to be washed away.
Little children do NOT have sins that need to be washed away.

- These children, who are not yet 8, are not perfect, and therefore do need to understand where they can improve each day
We as parents need to teach children in correct paths, but should one die before they reach the age of accountability, children ARE perfect through the grace of Christ.

I'd like to take an in depth look at each misconception and hopefully the spirit will bear witness of truth spoken by latter day apostles and scripture.

What is the purpose of baptism?
As defined in the Bible Dictionary, " Baptism in water has several purposes. It is for the remission of sins, for membership in the Church, and for entrance into the celestial kingdom."

Notice there are 3 purposes. Joseph Smith also taught an additional purpose, obedience. " Do you believe in the baptism of infants? asks the Presbyterian. No. Why? Because it is nowhere written in the Bible. Circumcision is not baptism, neither was baptism instituted in the place of circumcision. Baptism is for the remission of sins. Children have no sins. Jesus blessed them and said, "Do what you have seen me do." (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith compiled by Joseph Fielding Smith pg. 314)

Children have no sin. Children cannot be tempted by the devil. Children are pure. Children are innocent. See Moroni 8. See D&C 29:46-50.

What then of the atonement and children? We need to understand the basics, so we turn to Gospel Principles:

" The Fall of Adam brought two kinds of death into the world: physical death and spiritual death. Physical death is the separation of the body and the spirit. Spiritual death is the separation from God. If these two kinds of death had not been overcome by Jesus Christ's Atonement, two consequences would have resulted: our bodies and our spirits would have been separated forever, and we could not have lived again with our Heavenly Father (see 2 Nephi 9:7-9).
But our wise Heavenly Father prepared a wonderful, merciful plan to save us from physical and
spiritual death. He planned for a Savior to come to earth to ransom (redeem) us from our sins and from death. Because of our sins and the weakness of our mortal bodies, we could not ransom ourselves (see Alma 34:10-12). The one who would be our Savior would need to be sinless and to have power over death."

The atonement DOES NOT wash away the sins of children because CHILDREN DO NOT HAVE ANY SINS OR WRONGS to be washed away. They are clean and pure. The atonement provides a means for children under the age of accountability to overcome physical death and spiritual death, which wasn't because of sin, but simply because they were separated from Heavenly Father because of the weaknesses of mortality.

If it still seems confusing, further clarification is given by Bruce R. McKonkie in a talk entitled The Salvation of Little Children (Ensign April 1977) quote: (I highlighted words that especially meant a lot to me personally)

How and why are they (little children) saved?
They are saved through the atonement and because they are free from sin. They come from God in purity; no sin or taint attaches to them in this life; and they return in purity to their Maker. Accountable persons must become pure through repentance and baptism and obedience. Those who are not accountable for sins never fall spiritually and need not be redeemed from a spiritual fall which they never experienced. Hence the expression that little children are alive in Christ. “Little children are redeemed from the foundation of the world through mine Only Begotten,” the Lord says. (D&C 29:46.)

Why do some children die and others live? Are those who die better off than those who remain in mortality?
We may rest assured that all things are controlled and governed by Him whose spirit children we are. He knows the end from the beginning, and he provides for each of us the testings and trials which he knows we need. President Joseph Fielding Smith once told me that we must assume that the Lord knows and arranges beforehand who shall be taken in infancy and who shall remain on earth to undergo whatever tests are needed in their cases. This accords with Joseph Smith’s statement: “The Lord takes many away, even in infancy, that they may escape the envy of man, and the sorrows and evils of this present world; they were too pure, too lovely, to live on earth.” (Teachings, pp. 196–97.) It is implicit in the whole scheme of things that those of us who have arrived at the years of accountability need the tests and trials to which we are subject and that our problem is to overcome the world and attain that spotless and pure state which little children already possess.

What is the age of accountability?

Accountability does not burst full-bloom upon a child at any given moment in his life. Children become accountable gradually, over a number of years. Becoming accountable is a process, not a goal to be attained when a specified number of years, days, and hours have elapsed. In our revelation the Lord says, “They cannot sin, for power is not given unto Satan to tempt little children, until they begin to become accountable before me.” (D&C 29:47.) There comes a time, however, when accountability is real and actual and sin is attributed in the lives of those who develop normally. It is eight years of age, the age of baptism. (D&C 68:27.)

This principle of accountability has been twisted and perverted and even lost at various times. It was at the root of Mormon’s inquiry to the Lord about infant baptism. (See Moro. 8.) One of our most instructive passages on the point contains the words spoken by the Lord to Abraham. “My people have gone astray from my precepts, and have not kept mine ordinances, which I gave unto their fathers,” the Lord said.
"And they have not observed mine anointing, and the burial, or baptism wherewith I commanded them;
But have turned from the commandment, and taken unto themselves the washing of children, and the blood of sprinkling.” (JST, Gen. 17:4–6.)

Infant baptism was practiced by some even in those early days. The reason? Men no longer understood the atonement. For, as the record continues, those ancient peoples “said that the blood of the righteous Abel was shed for sins; and have not known wherein they are accountable before me.” (JST, Gen. 17:7.)
Then the Lord made this promise to Abraham: “I will establish a covenant of circumcision with thee, and it shall be my covenant between me and thee, and thy seed after thee, in their generations; that thou mayest know for ever that children are not accountable before me until they are eight years old.” (JST, Gen. 17:11)

I always turn to the words of the Lord when a question arises. I always go with what the Spirit whispers to my heart. As I look at my children I do understand perfection, I do understand what the Savior is like. Elder Boyd K. Packer, whom I love, love, love - understatement- gave a wonderful discourse on the beauty of children in this last General Conference, found HERE. A quote I particularly felt touched by was, "Fathers and mothers, next time you cradle a newborn child in your arms, you can have an inner vision of the mysteries and purpose of life."

Our children are what heaven is. Plain and simple. The are pure. They are clean. They have no "wrongs" needed to be "washed away". We should enjoy them, teach them the best we can and love them with all our souls. Christ knows all. God knows all. And They love us more than words can say. This I bear testimony of in the Name of my Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.