Do you do a spotlight in Primary? We have enough children that we spend a few minutes spotlighting each child on their birthday: we are super spoiled because we have an amazing secretary who provides a complete spotlight sheet for each birthday child. She calls the parents in advance and fills it all out. I love her so much. I may share that spotlight form with you later.
When I was in Primary years ago, though, we used a simple list of Birthday Questions, a lot like the ones you see above. Somehow I could never seem to fill out the spotlight sheet before hand so this was a good way to do it on the fly but still get some fun and quirky details about the kids.
There’s an easy printable for you below, two per page. I think it would be cool to fill it out as the child answers the questions and then give it to the child (or parent).
Our ward Primary program is not until November, but we’re starting to write it this week! The goal is to deliver parts to families by the end of September. We’ve already planned the music with our music leader and now we’re writing it to make sure it is well balanced and conducive to the spirit. The music is actually the least of my worries at this point! In January we gave all the children a CD with the music for the year. I’m pretty happy with how well the children have learned the songs so far, but there are a few phrases and verses that they do not know yet.
For this purpose I put together six worksheets that test and drill the words for the six assigned songs for the Primary program: I Know That My Savior Loves Me; Follow the Prophet; He Sent His Son (two pages); The Church of Jesus Christ; The Holy Ghost; and Come Follow Me. The worksheets are designed to help the children really learn all the words. I am a visual learner, so writing or reading the words to songs would have been the easiest way for me learn them.
These worksheets will probably help some kids but not others. That’s okay! They are just a fun extra. There is a word search, a double puzzle, a fill-in-the-blank, and a matching game. They’re pretty fun and not very hard if you know the words to the songs! I think they are a good resource for review.
These worksheets are best suited for a Senior Primary–I’ll be handing them out to our Senior Primary and the CTR 7 class. I’ll also be posting them on our closed Facebook page so if parents would like to print off a copy for their other children they can. I haven’t decided yet whether we’ll give the kids a reward for completing the pages. They’re such a great sabbath day activity that I’m hoping they’ll work on them without needing external motivation (candy).
If there is one good reason to have cell phones at church, this is it. Parents can leave their cell phones on vibrate in their pocket or purse, then when Nursery leaders need to find a parent for a diaper change or potty breaks, they can simply *TEXT* the parent to return to the Nursery room and take care of their child. I cannot count the number of times I’ve had to hunt down a parent in a class or meeting during church! This idea won’t work everywhere or for everyone, but I think it is a simple, genius solution to a common problem!
This month my little Jonah is turning 4! I thought it would be appropriate to share a story about the prophet Jonah from the August 1972 Friend.
I love this 1970’s art. The story itself uses quite sophisticated vocabulary! Perhaps the children were reading on a higher level?
I love the story of Jonah in the scriptures–to me it is the story of a God who believes in second chances. I also think it’s hilarious–Jonah 4:6-11 get me every time. It’s a reminder that a whole city can repent and turn from their evil ways. It’s the story of a God who forgives us whenever He can in spite of our raw, petulant nature.
And happy birthday to my own sweet little Jonah, a reminder of second chances, forgiveness, and repentance.
I think once you get started in Nursery, a good schedule evolves rather quickly: what you do first, how long to have free play, when to fit in the lesson. But sometimes it’s hard to know where to start! Today I’m sharing the Nursery schedule my parents put together: I’ve never seen one that is quite so detailed! The stake leaders asked them to write it down to share because it worked so well. They’ve generously allowed me to share it here, too.
Again, as I’ve mentioned before in this series, please don’t feel that this is the only “right” way to do Nursery! There are plenty of great ways to teach the children and help them feel their Heavenly Father’s love for them. These are simply ideas that may help guide you to the inspiration you need for an effective Nursery.
Below you will find two PDFs, one for Junior Primary and one for Senior. They each include a detailed chart, as seen above, as well as a few pages of text with tons of great advice and ideas! They are a great place to start if you’re just getting ideas for your Nursery.
I think this schedule makes it evident that the purpose of Nursery is not just babysitting. It is the first experience the children have attending church, and I believe it’s a critical time to help these little ones begin to learn about their Heavenly Father. I’ve always been amazed at how much the children are absorbing, even when they are very young. Even though there is a lot of play and free time in this schedule, I think it is wise to make every effort to organize these activities with a purpose in mind. I love how this schedule is thoughtful and intentional.
Below is a brief outline of the schedule my parents put together, above. You’ll notice that the Junior Nursery breaks up the time a little bit more with Transition Songs (like Do as I’m Doing, Picking Up Toys is Fun to Do, Popcorn Popping, Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes, Once There was a Snowman, Ring Around the Rosie, If You’re Happy). I love how mindful the schedule is of the need for little ones to keep moving and doing things.
A final thought: one of my favorite things in Nursery is when the teachers have the Children’s Songbook CD’s playing music when the children arrive. There is something fundamentally calming and soothing about that music. It sets the tone so well: if there were one request I could make for every Nursery in the church, it would be to play church music while the children arrive and during free play time.
In order to teach children in Nursery you have to work with their parents! Along with many others, Nursery was the first time I left my children in a classroom situation. It was a big step for each of my children, and always a bittersweet Sunday for me. There are lots of ways to make this transition easier.
One basic, easy idea is to give the parent a letter to prepare them for Nursery procedures and expectations. There is one available in the manual. The tone seems a little tough to me, but it’s a good place to start.
The letter above is the one that my parents sent to each new Nursery child. They included the Parent letter from the manual as well. I really, really love that they visited each new child in their homes before they started Nursery. I think that’s ideal.
I’ve included a copy of the parent letter above as a Word document, so you can use it and make necessary changes if you wish.
Aside from a parent letter and a visit, I really like to celebrate the arrival of new little ones to Nursery with a certificate! You might recognize this certificate as very similar to the one I made for our new Sunbeams last year. I really like this kind of thing because they are so inexpensive and easy to keep on hand all the time. You are welcome to print your own copy below.
I’d love to hear what else you do to welcome new little ones to Nursery! Please share if your ward has other traditions.
Tomorrow I’m going to share a couple of possible Nursery schedules… stay tuned.
There are so many “right” ways to do Nursery, that I have hesitated to post anything for fear that someone might worry they are doing Nursery “wrong.” I am sure your ward is doing it exactly right for the children in your ward! But if you’ve just been called to Primary or Nursery and want to make some changes, I thought I would spend this week sharing some tips and tricks that have worked.
I also have some great, super detailed info from my parents who really loved the time they spent in Nursery! They were asked to write down a list of the way they organized and carried out Nursery for the stake they lived in and I’m going to share that with you, too. All of this Nursery info is for reference–like almost everything on The Mormon Home, it’s meant to spark ideas, give you context about what others are trying, or perhaps give you a new opinion. Take all that, sift through it and decide what is right for you. No guilt, no worries.
So, the first thing to do when you’re organizing Nursery is to hit the manual. Always start with the handbook! Starting with Church resources and guidelines gets things off on the right foot, every time. Click the image above (or click here) to get to a full, free PDF copy of the Nursery manual. It’s such a great resource–one I use around the house for FHE, sharing time, and more. It’s great.
On the back of the manual is the quote that I reformatted above, from M. Russell Ballard. I printed this and put it on our Nursery bulletin board a couple of weeks ago–a PDF is available for you below. I also put up the phrase “Behold Your Little Ones,” a picture of Jesus, a picture of the L.A. temple, and a full page print out of our Primary binder covers. I think those images can stay up indefinitely, and no one needs to worry about changing the bulletin boards again for a while.
With the guidelines from the handbook in mind, the first thing I look at are people and facilities–setting up the “structure” of the Nursery.
Our Nursery numbers were getting quite large, with about 25 children. Luckily, we have an extra classroom nearby, so we split the older children into a “Moonbeam” class with two Nursery teachers. This group of children will all turn 3 before January, so they’ll be in Sunbeams for 2016. A big focus for this group is to prepare them for lessons and music time. I’ll share a more detailed schedule for this type of class later this week. The younger children stay in the current Nursery room with four Nursery teachers (we are lucky to have lots of help). They’ll have music, snacks, and a short lesson but it will be less structured than the older class. I’ll share a schedule for the younger class later this week too.
It is totally my opinion, but I think 8 is the magic number. When there are more than 8 children who consistently attend class, things start to feel too big. In my experience this is true for Junior Primary, Cub dens, and even Activity Days! I don’t know what it is about that number, but I think 8 children with two adults is a great ratio to shoot for. Even though our rolls indicate our numbers are a bit bigger than the magic “8” number, we’ll have a few extra leaders to help so I think we’ll be ok.
We also have a Nursery music leader who visits the class every week.
As far as physical facilities, we have a plenty of toys and supplies and several big closets in our Nursery room. If you don’t have enough toys, see if there is room in your budget or ask ward members if they have any extras or toys that children have outgrown to replenish your supply. We are also super lucky because we have an outdoor play area and some trikes and toys where the kids can play. I haven’t seen this at many ward buildings, but in SoCal it is used year round and it is a treat. Our Nursery room is well stocked and ready for the children, so I didn’t spend much time reviewing our supplies. My parents, however, put together a detailed Closet Inventory for their Nursery and I thought I’d share it here. You can see if you think these items would be helpful for your Nursery. They have it split up into different closets and Junior and Senior boxes, so you can see that there are duplicates for different locations. I consolidated the list into one easy printable, available below.
Nursery Closet Inventory
- Paper plates
- Paper cups
- Paper bowls
- Paper lunch bags
- Plastic sandwich bags
- Sippy Cups Extra
- Bubble maker
- CD player
- Extra Kleenex boxes
- 2 reams medium cardstock
- Extra diapers
- 1 box markers
- Nursery Resource Manuals
- Book of Mormon Reader
- The Children’s Songbook CD’s
- Coloring books
Misc. Resources Box
- Lysol spray
- Disinfecting wipes
- Band aids
- Hand sanitizers
- Small tops
- Colored pencils
- Single hole punch
- Batteries D and C and AA
- Extra crayons
- Cookie cutters
- Alcohol Swabs
- Gold fish
- Animal crackers
- Graham crackers
Junior Nursery Classroom Box
- Signs to put up (I think these are classroom signs–our Primary secretary does this part)
- Name tags
- Hand Sanitizer
- Glue stick
- Paper and coloring book
- Masking tape
- Children’s Sing CD
- Sippy Cups are taken home every week to wash (we do paper cups!)
Senior Nursery Classroom Box
- Signs to put up (I think these are classroom signs–our Primary secretary does this part)
- Name tags
- Hand Sanitizer
- Glue sticks
- Wet wipes
- Sippy cups are taken home home every week to wash (we do paper cups!)
This list seems even more complete than the items we have at our ward! Please don’t feel that you must have every item on this list for your Nursery. Just see this as a few ideas that you might want to consider, not a “must have” list. Every Nursery is different, so address the needs for your ward.
Tomorrow I’ll share a Parent letter and a Welcome to Nursery certificate.
I was inspired by photos I came across recently from the Indianapolis Temple! It’s opening later this month. I thought I would put together a Sacrament meeting cover printable. It’s full page and in black and white. The image is an artist interpretation of the stained glass windows in the temple. The graphic includes the principle design motif of the temple, “a Celtic knot pattern of intertwining ribbons interlaced with floral elements. The floral design incorporated in the motif is the blossom of the tulip poplar, the Indiana state tree.”
It might be fun to use this as your sacrament program on the 23rd!
I love Mormon ephemera and have a small collection of magazines, books and art that I like to share here at The Mormon Home on Throwback Thursday. Today its the May 1970 edition of The Children’s Friend. I love the art work and colors from this one. The front cover:
And the back:
These zoo animals are fantastic:
The second page of the story:
I saved the best for last. A male paper doll. Read the story line about a puppy party. So random.
Happy Thursday! If you’re looking for more of this kind of stuff, click on the “Vintage” category or type in “Throwback Thursday” in my search box.
Every few years I encounter a season of life that is palpable. I don’t know how else to describe it. Just a handful of weeks or months where I wake up every day and think: this is it. I am living my life. I think I’m less distracted by threats of the future or lingering worries from the past. The immediate sensations sink in deeper: the way everything smells and feels and looks. When I am old, I will flip back to these chapters to remind myself that I once lived.
This summer was one of those chapters.
The breezy, sandy beaches. Visiting the new library. The swimming pool with Jonesy, a natural-born swimmer, my little butternut squash.
Waking at 7 am, smelling like sunscreen. Movies, road trips, Disneyland.
The hot, sunny parks. Watching our lawn turn brown and crunchy. Letting the teenagers sleep late, really late.
Packing and repacking Lucas for scout camps and basketball. Max’s first new bike.
The feeling of the warm sidewalks on my toes during late afternoon walks.
Randy has called it the Summer We’ve All Been Waiting For.
And I guess it was. I couldn’t let it pass without saying that it happened and that I’m grateful.