People looking in the windows make me nervous

Teaching the second verse of CTR went really well. I changed a few of the words we are signing and I’ll update that post to reflect it. The kids really got the meaning of digression (I had them put two fingers together going down the right path and then had one finger go the wrong way like Laman and Lemuel: digression) even the sunbeams said “digression is going the wrong way” enthusiastically! and they loved that the sign for evil is like an evil mustache (we all laughed evil laughs while we practiced this sign) and overcome is like winning an arm wrestling match. And then my favorite: inspiration is like light inside of you. We had a great talk about why that is. The kids know so much already 🙂 I love taking with them and hearing their insights.

The balloon game worked well, except the older kids were freaked out about popping the balloons! The game took twice as long in sr primary as in jr because they couldn’t pop the balloons!!

I think that the kids got the hang of thinking about the blessings, and I did pretty well in remembering to point out the point of each song (I have been remembering to bear my testimony at the end most weeks too!) but I need to be more clear in explaining how the game will work. It was not really clear at the beginning what the point of the game was. I still get nervous and full of adrenaline every time we start a game (adreniline makes your brain turn off certain important functions like logical thought…).
So…practice explaining the game to my kids ahead of time? I get a great benefit from explaining my plans here on the blog, but maybe I need to verbalize it.

So, two goals for the future: practice explaining the game out loud on the drive to church with my captive audience all strapped into their car seats, and maybe not plan an exciting activity every week? I asked my primary president if she felt like I had a good balance of silly and reverent. Her opinion was that I don’t need to entertain the kids quite as much as I have been. I think she means I don’t need to get them quite so excited 🙂
I’m torn about this: I don’t want the kids to have such high expectations that an ordinary week of memory or a matching game is disappointing. But, as a child of less-active parents, I want every week to be awesome for those kids who don’t come every week.
My plan is to try to keep the craziness to one week a month.

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Plan for feb 26

It’s our last week of February’s “when I choose the right I am blessed” theme, and the lessons in the Sharing time outline have more of a focus on the blessed part. I have been wondering if the kids understand what a blessing is exactly? A blessing is a gift from God, right? And that idea is so huge (count your millions of blessings…) that I think the best way to teach it is to give examples.

Because of Stake Conference we’re talking about Nephi this week.  So I’m going to focus on Nephi’s blessings. Most of you did Nephi last week, but it will still work as a review of last week’s lesson! All week I’ve been thinking about the boat. I’ve been imagining it in our primary room: a boat that will travel to the land Lehi was promised as a blessing for choosing the right. As our boat travels across the room we will talk about the blessings the Nephi received because of following the Lord.

Here’s what I’ll need:
Fishing line to be strung around the primary room wall
A paper boat (like this one from the Friend, or the Arnold Friberg one from the gospel art picture kit) with a section of straw taped to the back so it can slide easily on the fishing line.
painter’s tape or some way to string the fishing line across your primary room
4 inflated balloons
a pin to pop the balloons with

Here’s what we’ll do:

Before church I will tape some fishing line (with the boat strung on it) to the wall, with a piece of wide painter’s tape on each end (no tape in the middle). After the lesson part of sharing time we’ll sing Nephi’s Courage and I’ll have a helpful teacher ready to tape four balloons to the wall so that the balloons hold up the string and block the path of the boat.  This way the kids are dying in anticipation.

Then I will teach verse 2 of CTR using ASL because the signs are such good visuals for the big vocab words. I really love this verse. I think that even though the words are big this verse has the most powerful idea of the whole song: ‘When you are tempted have faith that there is a right choice. The Holy Ghost will tell it to you and keep you safe.’ In other words: ‘God loves you and wants you to come home to him. He will not leave you alone.’ This is such an important message for the kids to understand!! This kind of idea will help them through the tough times they will have as they become young adults.  I am really excited to teach it to them, and I pray that I can help the Holy Ghost it stick in their heads and hearts forever.

So after I bear my testimony about the message of the song, then I will finally explain the balloons and the boat.

Each balloon will represent an occasion where Nephi had an opportunity to choose the right. (FYI I really struggled to cut this down to something that might just barely fit into 10 minutes)
1. Go into the wilderness with his father.
2. Go back to get the plates and kill Laban.
3. Go back for Ishmael’s family.
4. Build a boat.

We will move the boat along the string until it reaches a balloon. While my helper moves the boat we will sing verse two (without the chorus). The we will talk about Nephi’s choice and the blessings that came from it: to Nephi, to his family and descendants, and to us in the latter days. We may sing a song to give us a hint or confirm the idea. The pianist will start playing the song when we pop the balloon.

Here is the order of songs:
1. CTR verse 2 (yes I know we just sang this!! I love it though and it answers the question: what blessing did Nephi get by following his father into the wilderness? He was safe. Since we just sang CTR we will sing Follow the Prophet p 110 while the boat travels to the next balloon. Nephi followed the prophet when he left Jerusalem.)
2. Search, Ponder, and Pray p 109 (He got the Scriptures why are the scriptures such a blessing? they teach us what is right, eg. all the prophets in the Book of Mormon could know the truth so they could write the BoM and teach Joseph Smith and every other Mormon until today: all your family and teachers, etc can know the truth because of the scripures. 1 Nephi 4:15 The spirit said that the only way to get the plates was to kill Laban 1 Nephi 4:13 so that we could have them. Sometimes the right choice is not the easy choice, or even the nice choice. Sometimes we have to be strong and stand for right.)
3. I love to see the Temple 2 verses p 95 (The families were able to get married and have children. Otherwise there would have been not Lamanites or Nephites.)
5. Book of Mormon Stories pg 118 (They got the promised land)

My hope is that by identifying the blessings Nephi received and how they bless us today, the kids will have a good understanding of what a blessing is so they can identify them in their own lives. And that they will gain a testimony of how our loving Father in Heaven is just waiting for us to do what is right so we can benefit from the good gifts he has planned for us. I know he is.

Aluminum CTR Shield

Here is the CTR shield I made for the activity Feb 19th. The activity was for the kids to shine a flashlight on it, so I thought it would be really cool if it reflected the light. I am sure I’ll use it again sometime this year of CTR 🙂

It is made of two layers of cardboard. I drew two shields on the piece of cardboard I had lying around, cut them out, and then put them together and trimmed them so one was slightly smaller than the other. The larger one is covered in foil, the smaller one is the back of the shield.

I wrapped heavy-duty aluminum foil around the larger one (leaving about a 2-inch margin around the back of it and cutting or tearing lines in the foil right up to the bent edge (notching in sewing terms I believe) and taped the foil down using double-stick tape.

Then I made the handle in the back piece. I used the scissors to cut two parallel slits in the cardboard and cut a section of an old belt, put it through the slits and stapled them together on the wrong side of the cardboard. Then, using glue on the cardboard and double-stick tape on the foil, I stuck the two together.

I am sure there are ways to make this kind of a thing better. Please let me know if you improve on my design!

Absolutely No flaming balls of goo!

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But I am a little hoarse from talking over all the kids 🙂

The kids loved it! I changed two things from the original plan: I added a station that was for the first line in the chorus, “CTR, CTR” and had the kids make the letters CTR with their bodies or hands, and instead of using the noisy wrapping papering taped a mini CTR shield to the face of a flashlight so the light shone through it and then had the kids shine it over each other’s heads. I’ll update the original blog post to reflect these changes.

The teachers went above and beyond the call of duty and really engaged the kids in learning what the phrases meant. I took the first few minutes to explain to the teachers what the stations were and then they volunteered for the one they wanted. I told the kids “I have a really fun activity to do today, but I’m going to need your teacher’s help while I explain what I need them to do. I need you to be quiet so your teachers can listen.” then went through a brief explanation of each station. I went around and helped the first time, explaining again (when needed) how the activity related to the phrase from the song and asking the kids if they understood. Then I got everyone’s attention and we sang the song all together and switched stations.

The third time we switched I asked the kids to sing their line really loud and had the teachers remind them what that line was ;). The older kids really got into that! It was awesome. I was so blessed to have an extra 5 minutes in Jr primary, so all the kids were able to do all the stations!

The hardest part was getting the kids to stay in groups and to rotate to the next station without skipping one. We had a few kids do their favorite activity twice, but it’s not rocket science. I didn’t let it worry me. I can’t think of another way to rotate the kids (given that almost all the teachers were engaged at the stations and liked knowing what to do there). The presidency went around helping a lot, which I think is a big part of why it went so smoothly. If you have any suggestions, please share in the comments!

Now, it was really nice to have extra time with the Jr primary, but in Sr primary I only had about seven minutes. It was a coloring lesson…those seem to always take forever. So while the kids were coloring for the lesson I went around and pointed out the Achievement that can be passed off by learning the song “CTR” and asked them, “what song are we learning this month?” I think that piqued their interest. But because of lack of time we were only able to do 1 station. My own 8-year-old didn’t seem very disappointed and doesn’t want to do it again next week…so I think it was a good trade-off. If I hadn’t already prepped my 10/11 yr-old class to be my helpers I would have skipped it entirely. But you can’t flake out like that on kids.

I also had the kids sing it once with only singing their station’s phrase and I really got their attention when I said “now, you don’t want to look stupid, so listen to the way we’re going to do it.” erm…going to have to watch my mouth.

Feb 19 CTR vs 1 review

Still teaching Choose the Right Verse 1 and chorus. The kids are going to be tired of it, so I’m going to have to come up with something stupendous for Sunday.

I’ve prayerfully decided that we need to stick with the first verse this week. I’m so tempted to teach vs 2 this week, since they were singing really well last week, but that is not the right choice. I’m going to listen to the still small voice and we’re going to dig in the trenches on verse 1. Since the kids already know Stand for the Right, CTR is going to be able to creep into March and we will still learn the whole song.

If the Sr primary gets bored we’re also going to sing The Books of the Book of Mormon and New Testament. With printed copies of the words. Easy-peasy and fits with the lesson of Jesus’s Disciples were blessed by CTR. (because the prophets were all Jesus’s disciples and chose the right of course). But I will be very surprised if they want to quit early this week!

We’ll play the following game for both groups:

Warning, this requires an excellent chorister/primary/primary teachers relationship. The activity may get out of control if you lack teacher support and have the kids are prone to it. But I think that keeping the kids engaged in small groups may actually help with any behavior issues. I’ll let you know if my primary handled it well or of we went down in flaming goo.

For Jr primary we need to finish learning the signs for the first verse. I talked to my 4-year-old and we decided that I need to slow the tempo way down. I also need something that will keep their attention better than me talking. And also cement the meaning of the words in their minds.

Solution: I will have kids play with each idea in the song. There will be 7 or 8 stations set up around the room–with their teachers to supervise. Each item/station will be labeled with the words to the corresponding line in the song so the teachers don’t get mixed up. The kids will have a few minutes to play with the idea of the song, then we will sing through the song and then the classes will switch. Until each class has been to each station and we’ve been through the song many, many times.

1 action for each line in the 1st verse and chorus:

“CTR when a choice is placed before you” I made a toy out of cardboard with two doors that open. One kid or teacher can hide the movable CTR behind the door and another try to open the right choice.
“In the right, the Holy Spirit guides” Have one kid guide another blindfolded kid along a line of tape labeled CTR.
“And its light is forever shining over you”  updated: I taped a mini CTR shield to the face of a flashlight so the light shone through it and then had the kids shine it over each other’s heads. [option 2 I have some shiny green metallic wrapping paper that I’ll write CTR on and have one taller kid or teacher shake over the head of a smaller ones. this ended up being pretty noisy, so I went with the flashlight]
“When in the right your heart confides” Give a heart pillow labeled CTR a hug.
“CTR, CTR.” [optional depending on how many helpers you have} give the teacher a CTR shield and ask the kids to make the letters CTR with their bodies or hands, working together.
“Let wisdom mark the way before” (station at chalkboard) kids draw a map/line on the board ending at CTR.
“In its light, CTR” Shine a flashlight on a kid or teacher holding a CTR shield.
“And God will bless you evermore”  The class will hold hands like ‘ring around the rosy,’ the circle representing “evermore.” They will be giggly and happy and we’ll talk about how CTR makes us happy.

We should have a great time and completely internalize the meaning of the words.

Items needed:
3-5 CTR shields of various sizes
Chalk and optional map landmarks for the chalkboard
cardboard with two doors (picture)
blindfolds
masking or painter’s tape
Shiny wrapping paper with Right written on it
heart pillow (with CTR)
bright flashlight

I promised last week I’d have a plan for the 10&11-year-old class who are too cool to participate in my silly activities. My plan, (after prayer, seeking advice, and much thought) is to make them all my assistants. I am going to plan in my lessons, as much as possible, to have them teach and lead the other kids. So this week they will all be assigned an activity to supervise. I will express both my confidence (that they will be able to keep the younger kids from getting out of control) and my gratitude (that their help allows me to plan such fun things instead of boring ones).

Review of Feb 12

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Well, I forgot about the animals. oops! I am disappointed because I have been trying to be more silly in Primary. But I did give each kid a heart stamp on their hand (much cheaper than stickers) and the kids showed me their stamp evey time we sang love or heart. It went pretty well. Not my kid’s favorite singing time ever…but it got done what we needed.

My favorite part was reviewing the words to Follow the Prophet. For Jr we did Adam and Noah for Sr just Noah. I had a picture or object cue for each line: Adam= Adam was a Prophet (picture of Adam and Eve), First one that we know (a big #1), in a place called Eden (picture of all animals together), he helped things to grow (silly flowers), Adam served the Lord by Following His way (CTR shield), we are his descendants in the latter days (modern family picture)! Noah: Noah was a Prophet (picture of Noah and partially completed boat), Called to preach the word (toy telephone), Tried to cry repentance, but nobody heard (baby that cries), They were busy sinning (frowny face)—Noah preached in vain. (a mirror) They wished they had listened when they saw the rain (squirt bottle of water). I love when the kids giggle at my props 🙂

Sr Primary learned all the signs we’re using for the first verse of Choose the Right and Jr learned almost all of them. For Jr I had one of my older classes come up to the front and model the signs we were learning, instead of the kids watching me do the signs, they watched their peers do it. I think I need to take a step back with Jr and do the song more slowly and talk about each individual sign again. Most of the younger kids weren’t signing with us and I think it’s because it was overwhelming. I am thinking about not teaching Jr Primary the other verses until the summer when we have the two months of songs we already know. I will go ahead and teach Sr at least vs two this month. We had a great discussion when I taught them the sign for mark. The sign for Jesus is the sign mark on each palm. Today the kids learned the signs for Jesus, Holy Ghost, Holy Spirit, and God. So I pointed out to them that they can bear testimony in sign language now. I want to review that point with them and have each of them learn the first article of faith in sign language.

We reviewed As a Child of God, and we sang one of the songs we’ll be doing for Mother’s Day. I was able to bear my testimony about the rainbow being a reminder of God’s promises to us (because he loves us) and then we sang When I am Baptized and ended the day on a great spiritual note.