General Advice: When planning your sharingtime, realize that the more senses you can involve such as touch, sound, smell, feel, sight, etc. the better the children will learn, retain and pay attention to your message. I also believe strongly in the idea of "Move them, or Loose them" as children have a hard time sitting still for three hours of meetings. Even small movement alone at the beginning of the sharingtime will increase their attention span.
If you can think of a way to involved their emotions the learning will be accelerated. Never feel that a message is to complicated for small children to grasp -- if taught in a way they can understand, children actually learn and understand better than adults. When Christ visited the Nephites, he was able to teach the small children greater things than he was able to teach the parents. He then loosen the tongues of even the babies and these small children taught their parents greater things than Christ had taught them. If we keep this in mind we will realize that what a great responsibility it is to teach them correct principles in a way they can understand.
Debra Oaks Coe (c)
by Debra Oaks Coe (c) all right reserved
1. Seek the Spirit long before the day you are presenting Sharingtime. When needing to present Sharingtime ideas we often look for "cute" ways to entertain the children; while we certainly want to maintain their attention, "cute" will never replace having the spirit of God with you and testifying to the children as you present the gospel principle. While there are many Sharingtime helps available either over the internet or in LDS bookstores, every Primary leader should pray for guidance as to the best way to present the theme so that your individual Primary children will best learn. Don't be afraid to prayerfully seek your own inspiration. Be weary of sharingtime ideas that merely entertain with little gospel teaching as part of the presentation.
2. Use the scriptures and conference talks when possible as there are many good stories and object lessons found in the words of the prophets. When you use these same stories and object lessons you will be teaching more than just a principle of the gospel, you will also be teaching a love for the scriptures and / or General Conference. You will also be teaching an importance of these and helping the children know how to apply these teachings to their lives.
3. Make sure you are standing in a place where all the children can see well and that you periodically look at all the groups of children in the room so they will all feel included.
4. Use visual aids! This is very important because many children do not learn very well from just listening and all children will learn and remember better with visuals.
5. Use lots of enthusiasm! I cannot emphasize this enough. A very common error is to talk slowly and quietly. Research has shown that children respond best to a fast moving "cheerleader" type of atmosphere. Of course by cheerleader I don't mean jumps and yells, but I do mean that you get excited about what you teaching and you show lots excitement when they get the answer right, or excitement and compliments over children behaving well, etc.
6. Use as much variety as possible with your sharingtimes rather than just using similar activities all the time. This alone will help the children be interested because they will look forward to finding out what you are doing next.
7. SMILE!! Lots of smiling will go a long way with children. If you want them to be happy in Primary and enjoy sharingtime, they need to see you as the leader enjoy sharingtime.
8. Do something that involves the children physically and gets them moving. This will not only help hold their attention, it will also help them to wiggle less. This can be anything from them playing a game like "Simon Says" to coloring or singing as part of the sharing time.
9. Use a variety of people from your ward to help with your sharingtimes. For example missionaries can be very helpful in sharing experiences and encouraging children to keep the commandments and to share the gospel. Others in your ward may be good at say acting and can help you dramatize a scripture story. The family history specialist may be glad to come into Primary to share many different things related to that calling. Look around your ward or branch and see how many good resources you have in them.
10. When possible involve the children. Thing as simple as holding a picture, choosing something, telling a story, etc can help the entire group of Primary children to feel part of what is being taught. It helps them feel important and helps keep the wiggles down. But most important, most of us learn best when we are active participants; this is especially true with children.
by Debra Oaks Coe (c) all right reserved
10. READ a story to the children. READ it without looking at the children. READ it at a slow pace. READ in a monotone. Wonder why the children seem less reverent today.
9. If the children act up during your sharingtime, stop and yell at them. After Primary wonder why the children didn't seem to understand your message about being more Christlike.
8. Prepare a sharingtime where you only stand in front and talk. Do not have visual aids. Do not involve anyone but yourself. Be annoyed when the children seem to have a hard time sitting still.
7. Talk down to the children. Talk slow and use a different childlike voice. Wonder why the eleven year olds, especially the boys, act annoyed at coming -- like they are above Primary.
6. Use fictitious stories for sharingtime -- the more obviously fictitious the better. Years later wonder why the ones you had in Primary have a hard time believing the scriptures that they were taught in church are true.
5. Do not use enthusiasm while doing sharingtime. Do not smile. Do not look excited about your topic. Wonder why the children are asking their teachers when sharingtime will be over.
4. For Sharingtime use games where there are winners and losers. Wonder why the children on the losing team go home feeling bad.
3. If you aren't the one doing sharingtime, sit in the back of the room and visit with another member of the presidency. Wonder why the children don't seem to understand what it means to be reverent.
2. Stand where the Sunbeam class sitting on the front row can only see your knees and have to look WAY UP to try and see your face. Wonder why the Sunbeam class doesn't seem interested. Wonder why the Sunbeams don't act like you are talking to them.
1. Continually choose the same few children. Wonder why so many children are sad in Primary today.
by Debra Oaks Coe (c) all right reserved1. Find stories in Church Manuals or magazines - setup storytelling stations using several leaders to tell stories. Rotate the children in groups so they get to hear each story and be sure to use different storytelling methods for variety.
2. Prepare a box and fill it with objects and pictures that give a clue (examples: picture of prophet for supporting church leaders and a dime for tithing)
3. Pantomiming scripture stories and with other children guessing the story.
4. Who am I - read facts about a particular Book of Mormon character then ask who am I?
5. Using a separate bag for each story, put sample props and references to scripture stories you have chosen into bags. Divide the children into groups and give each group a bag. Have each group decide what story the props remind them of then dramatize it; after each dramatization, have the group tell what they learned from the story that strengthens their testimonies.
Lessons With Everyday Objects: A word picture or object lesson teaches a principle much more effectively than a lecture. It catches the imagination of the participants and helps bring emotions into the mix and makes the teaching much more effective
Making Sharingtime More Spiritual: excellent page with many good suggestions to make certain your sharingtimes are more spiritual in nature.
Thanksgiving Resources for Thanksgiving Sharingtime
Christmas Resources of Christmas Sharingtimes
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