How to Write a Primary Program

How to Write a Primary Program

I’ve been in Primary for almost 15 years! Sure, there were a few breaks for Young Women’s, so my total time in Primary is probably more like 12 years, but, you know. That’s just a lot of years in Primary. And a lot of years of working on Primary programs–the sacrament meeting when the Primary shares songs and testimony with the rest of the ward. Have you started thinking about your Primary program yet? We are in the beginning stages of planning already.

I’m sure we could spend hours chatting about different ways to put together a Primary program, because there are so many “right” ways to do it. My husband always says “There is no difference between a good Primary program and  bad Primary program.” Which always makes me laugh because it’s so true! When a bunch of kids are speaking from the heart and singing, it’s going to be an engaging meeting.

That said, if you’ve never written a program before, it can be hard to know where to start. Here are a few steps that might make the process easier.

1. Read the official instructions, found here and in your Sharing Time Outline. These notes are important and useful: pick a date in the fourth quarter of the year. Get approval of the program from your bishop. Not every child needs a scripted part. No visuals, costumes, or media (I’m sad about this one). No unnecessary practices. Good rules to know.

2. With those guidelines in mind, I like to start organizing the program with the music. Look at the songs you’ve been singing this year, including the songs that are “your choice.” The songs in the program outline are:

I Know That My Savior Loves Me

He Sent His Son, CS 34

Follow the Prophet, CS 110

The Church of Jesus Christ, CS 77

The Holy Ghost, CS 105

Come, Follow Me, Hymns 116

Continue reading…

Primary Schedule Poster

Primary Schedule

I made this little poster at the beginning of the year to put up by the clocks in our Primary room. I don’t know why but I can *never* remember when we’re supposed to start and finish the different sections of Primary. It’s super handy to be able to glance up at this poster to check just exactly how late opening exercises is running. (We’re always running late!) This kind of thing is most useful for bigger Primary’s, where crowd management is a big part of every Sunday and where you hold both a Junior and a Senior Opening Exercises. If your Primary is small and you only hold one combined opening exercises you probably won’t need this.

Primary Schedule mini posterThe details. It’s 11×17 (ledger size) which is easy to print at your FedEx/Kinko’s. It should be about $1.50 for a full color version. I didn’t print it on card stock because it’s just going up on the wall and won’t be handled much.

The printable is a Word document so it’s easily adjustable for your times and the order of your Primary meeting. Obviously, ours is split into Junior first (warm colors) and then Senior (cool colors), but the poster is so general I don’t think it matters. The Word document has the colored bars inserted as a picture with text over the top. So if there are problems, you might need to select the picture and choose to place the picture “behind the text.” It’s a little wonky because it’s Word–it’s really hard to keep the text in exactly the right spot. Be patient as you space and center it! The font is Calibri: you probably have it loaded already. Hope you find it useful!


12 Weeks of Progress Update

I am finally getting around to updating the 12 Weeks of Progress printable! I just noticed that the originator and creator, the daughter of my friend, spent quite a bit of time updating and improving her website. I would encourage anyone who is interested in using her 12 week system to immerse yourself in the structure and thinking behind it on her website: Personal Progress 12

You’ll learn how the twelve weeks is organized by Focuses on Self, Family, Worship, and Habit. She also has a remarkable Index tab which should help keep you well oriented in the Personal Progress program as a whole. If you’re implementing her 12 week system, I highly recommend doing your work with her website: she pulled the experiences for each week into a separate tab so it is easy to work through. She also organized all the reading for each week into one place: both the Book of Mormon assignment and all of the scripture references needed to check off the value experiences. There are excellent recommendations for the optional readings and conference talks.

I simply can’t recommend her website highly enough. It’s remarkable and reflects fine thinking and practical experience with the Personal Progress program.

As a (weak) supplement to the website, below you’ll find an updated printable which outlines her original work. Following her lead, I have added Virtue #3 to Week 5 and Good Works #4 to Week 11.


Here’s the original post about this program.

Miscellaneous Pinewood Derby Printables

These next few posts are part of my “mop up” week–I’m taking this week to post a few things that slipped through the cracks or that have needed an update since I originally posted.

It’s stunning, but there are still more Pinewood Derby printables that I put together for our big event. Last minute stuff, like this Garage sign:

Garage copy copy


We stuck it on the “Garage.” Also identified as the portable Hymn Book book shelf (don’t tell the chorister). Super simple, but this worked well for us. I printed a Pit Lane sign and a Pit Passes sign. All three are available below.


For the “Winner’s Circle” we stacked some risers on the stage and then stuck these 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place signs on the side. I got a snapshot but it’s super lame. Hopefully you can imagine what I’m talking about. When the winners came up to accept their trophy, they stood on the risers. It was pretty fun. Anyway, those signs are available below if you’re interested in doing something similar.

Best blank

Someone emailed me about a blank Pinewood Derby certificate, so she could add in the different prizes herself. I formatted the one below for this purpose. Perhaps it will be useful to someone else, too!

Click here for the original Pinewood Derby printable post, and here for invitation flyers.

Hopefully all this stuff doesn’t feel too overwhelming. Just little extras meant to make your life easier (not more complicated). If this isn’t working for your Pack, don’t use it! No need to make the Pinewood Derby harder than it already is. Have a great race!

Pinewood Derby Flyers

The Pinewood Derby printable set has been popular! I am so glad. The Pinewood Derby is always a big project–anything that can help make it easier is useful.

Emily e-mailed me asking about an invitation. I didn’t make one to go along with the certificates, but it was easy to put one together. I saved this one as a Word document which should make it super easy for many of you to adjust and reprint for yourself.

Microsoft Word - Pinewood Derby flyer.docx

It’s really just a half page flyer, so you could also use it as an insert in your sacrament meeting bulletin. There are a few color graphics, but I didn’t design it in full color like the certificates because I wanted it to be easier to print or photocopy.

Inside Word, fyi, it’s a two column landscape document. I tweaked the margins to about 1/2 inch all the way around and 1 inch in the center. I used Arial because it’s one I hope everyone already has installed. The swirly, swoop font is Wisdom Script. You can find a version that is very similar called Thirsty Script for free here. Once you install that font, you could change the Pinewood Derby (in red) to that script (that’s what I would do) but if all of that is way over your head, don’t worry about it! The Cubs won’t care. Print it up in Arial and you’ll be fine.

The original Pinewood Derby post is here. Other Miscellaneous Pinewood Derby printable here.

13 Articles of Taste Flashcards

Articles of Taste flashcards1

The other item I wanted to add to the Articles of Faith set is flashcards. These are a set of the 13 Articles of Taste, laid out into four-per-page. The idea is that you could print off a set for each child and they could use them to study and memorize their articles of faith. Laminate them, hang them up, keep them in your church bag… this size is super flexible. And it goes along perfectly with the 13 Articles of Taste party.

Click here for an overview of how the Articles of Taste works, or just type in 13 Articles of Taste in the search box on the right. It’s quite robust which makes it easy to search for items on this website! No need to scroll, just use the search box.


13 Articles of Taste

This week I’m doing a “mop-up” week–there are a handful of updates and tweaks that have been requested or that I’ve been thinking about that I just haven’t made time to get finished up. Today I’m sharing a blank Articles of Taste sheet that could easily be used for a family. Instead of the title of the Class in the top border, it’s just blank so you could fill it in yourself with a name.

Blank 13 Articles

Thanks for the idea Destiny! Hope this works for you.


Super Simple Tip: Buy Your Teacher Giftcards

Super Simple Teacher Gift

I guess I could be wrong about this… but after 15 years of giving teacher gifts, I’m pretty sure I can say with some authority that what the teachers want as an end-of-the-year Thank You is not a clever “pun-ny” water bottle or coffee mug or a Pinterest inspired gift basket. What they really want is a gift card. Don’t waste a lot of time and money putting together something crafty and cute. Don’t buy anything with apples or pencils (promise, they’ve received lots of those already). A gift card with a nice handwritten note from you and your child=perfection.

If you’re trying to fit something into the budget, a $5 from Starbucks, Jamba Juice or Baskin Robbins will do. If all you can budget is a handwritten Thank You note, it will be welcome. It’s the end of the school year–we’re all just trying to drag our sorry selves across that finish line. No need to waste your extra time and energy on a gift tag or color coordinated bucket.

A super simple tip (or reminder) from me to you.

Tell Me a Story

Summer Stories

I have a few simple academic goals for my kids this summer, varying by age. We’ll be learning the alphabet, practicing multiplication, memorizing poetry, writing and reading.

It sounds pretty fancy when I write it out, but I’ve been doing this Mom thing long enough to know that we’ll get it done in 10-20 minute chunks while one kid is crying and another is taking a bath. That’s okay. My expectations are pretty low, but I’ve noticed that small goals still mean something gets done.

One of my goals is that they will practice writing–not just telling stories but handwriting! My kids seem to have very little difficulty coming up with the stories–they ooze creativity–but they are really bad at forming letters. To make it more appealing, I put together this bucket of golf balls to spark their story writing. On each golf ball I wrote a story element: Character, Setting, Problem, or Object.

I was lucky enough to find this set of 40 foam golf balls at Walmart for $12.97. (Wire basket included!) Ping pong balls would work equally well–just use different colored Sharpies for each category. Because each color also represents a different category: Character, Setting, Problem, or Object. The idea is choose one ball of each color and then make a story out of the items selected! It was easy to write on the foam balls with a Sharpie.

For example, in the picture above the balls I selected include: 1) a super hero  2) at the entrance of a cave 3) caught in a sandstorm 4) with a peanut butter and honey sandwich. There is a story that’s ready to write itself. Is the superhero going to go deep into the treacherous cave or is he forced to brave the sandstorm because of the giant cave worm that’s about to eat him? What’s with the peanut butter and honey sandwich? Part of the challenge is to figure out how to incorporate the odd object into the story.

In my set of story golf balls, all the elements in the Object category are on green balls, all Problems are on yellow balls, all Characters are written on orange balls and all Settings are on blue balls. That way the kids choose one ball for each color and use their choices to write a story. I actually dropped one item from the list below and included one “Your Choice” ball per category instead so my kids will have a chance to add their own ideas, too.

Tell Me a Story

So if you can only find ping pong balls, just buy 40 of them and get 4 colors of Sharpies. Write the entire category with the same color Sharpie (Characters could all be written with a red Sharpie, for example). Frankly, you could just use this printable to get your four items–just have your kids pick a number between 1 and 10 four times, circle that story element, then hand them their assignment.

My plan is to have the kids write one story a week–of course they can write more if they’d like to! The 3rd grader will be required to write five paragraphs and the 7th grader will be writing seven paragraphs. Not too difficult, but I’m hoping once they get started they’ll keep writing.

If your goal is creativity but not necessarily handwriting, you could give your kids the option of writing a story, drawing a picture, taking a photo, or making a movie. If I gave this option to my kids, they’d be making and editing stop-motion animation movies with their Lego guys all summer. Which they will do without any encouragement from me! So I’ll be asking for writing only.