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Sunday, November 30, 2014

Homemade Nursery Toys

I've heard of some wards who hold annual Nursery Toy Drives or Nursery Showers to stock up on quality and age appropriate toys. For many wards, stocking and replenishing toys and activity materials remains a constant struggle. When facing this challenge, it forces creativity.

If you are lucky enough to live in a ward that can fund quality nursery toys you are really blessed, but if that's not the case it's still possible to run a good nursery if you're willing to get creative.

At the time I was serving in the nursery we didn't have a play kitchen, so I came up with this cardboard version.

This ping pong toy I patterned after the marble versions, only the marbles are a choking hazard. Not so when using ping pongs. Again, using cardboard and a glue gun, you really can make a fun little toy.

Another activity that most children love is playing post office. Cardboard to the rescue again.

 Another easy version.

We set out stamps, stickers and envelopes along with crayons and let the children write and mail letters. This is best done on the big nursery table and setting the mailboxes in different corners of the room. 

These type of activities are best used by letting the children play with them for a set time period and then removing when it's snack or lesson time to avoid distractions. Also, rotating them out every week or so works well, too.

Another idea is table top boat races. We set these up on the table and gave them a push across the surface. You have to show them how to do it at first but it's not long before they're sailing. Just let them have at it.

With a little thought, it's possible to keep nursery exciting and fun, even on a budget.

What low cost ideas have worked well for your nursery? Please share.

Organization for 2015

As part of our ward's plan to get organized for 2015, we've started to prepare our Sharing Time outline for next year. As a Primary Presidency, we all have lots of information to track. One of the ways we are doing this is by summarizing a lot of information on one page. See the link below for the example. This document outlines:

  • Which lesson is being taught each week (helpful quick reference when calling subs last minute). This also includes the Easter and Christmas lessons for Sunbeams and Junior Primary.
  • Reminders on Stake Conference, General Conference, and the Primary Program
  • Who is conducting Sharing Time
  • Who is teaching Sharing Time
  • A quick view of the Theme and Scripture for the month
  • The song we've been instructed to have the children learn (from the Sharing Time outline). We've also left space for our chorister to add their choice (example: May).
We hope you find this document helpful as you get organized for 2015. As you have questions or additional ideas, please be sure to share!

Link: 2015 Sharing Time Outline

Monday, November 24, 2014

Age Appropriate Toys and Nursery Activities

It can be a struggle to find age appropriate and safe toys for nursery. Many of the items are donated, worn out or missing parts. I found it helpful to keep a running list of possible items to try to stock.
It's good to rotate the toys out, not dumping everything out at once, rather set different ones out weekly so the children don't get bored.

Toys for Playtime
Plastic Animals
Table toys (small vehicles, people)
Small people

Dramatic Play
Kitchen, Dishes , Play food
Dolls & doll clothes
Doll Crib, buggy, bed, high chair

Dress Up clothing:
Hats, scarves, gloves, purses, wallets, ties,
  vests, belts, bandanas, shoes, jewelry,
Doctor kit,
Chef hat, apron

In addition to toys, some possible Nursery activities

Flannelboards/ Magnetic Boards
Roller Box

Keep a running list of their favorites (separate post)

Check out appropriate books from library
Set out a corner of room for children to be read to

Gross Motor Skills
Bean Bags; Ball/Ring toss; Bowling (w/ cardboard tubes); Stick horses
Cars made out of boxes; Balance beam (plank of wood on floor)
Pom pom hockey; Moon Ball
Swimming pool noodle for a limbo stick
Scoop ball (plastic milk jug)
Flashlight chase: Move a flashlight beam slowly around the room. Let the children try to stomp on it. If each adult has a light, you can keep a number of children occupied at once.

Classification/sorting activities
Sorting buttons by size, shape, color, etc
Plastic tongs w/ muffin tin for sorting;
Match games
I spy bags

Crayons & paper
Paint (using watercolors & q-tips)
Play doh (has to be used with careful supervision and well established rules, but play doh can be, depending on the leaders, a very good activity.)

Water play, Sand play (in plastic bins) again this one has to be used judiciously
Squishy Bags
Texture Boards

Additional activities
Bubbles, Ribbon wands,
Mailbox (w/ stickers, stamps, envelopes)
Stringing rubber bands between nails
Make telephone (two empty juice cans and a string ten to twenty feet long.  Poke hole in bottom of can, put string through bottom, and tie a knot inside can. Let children talk to each other)
Play store (play food, shelves, grocery cart, cash register)
Cardboard box boat & magnet fishing
Parachute w/ stuffed animals (use an old blanket, put stuff animals on top and bounce them off)
Gas pump & cardboard cars
Train/town village
Cardboard tube put at an incline, put cars through it
Busy box & quiet books

What else would you add to the list? What has worked well in your Nursery?

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Music from the Friend

In addition to songs from the Children's Songbook and Hymnbook, consider also using any songs published in The Friend.

Here's the link to an index of available songs, which you can download or, in some cases, listen to.

My own personal favorite are: Sing Me a Song, Don't Ever Forget to Pray (super easy to learn),  My Blessings, and Christmas Day (especially good because can be sung in parts)

From the Church Handbook 11.2.4:

The Children's Songbook and the current sharing time outline are the basic resources for music in Primary.  Hymns from the hymnbook and songs from the Friend and Liahona are also appropriate. Occasionally children may sing patriotic or holiday songs that are suitable for Sunday and for the children's ages. The use of any other music in Primary must be approved by the bishopric.

Reverence Fingerplays/poems

A simple poem or finger play is another useful tool to help calm or quiet children while transitioning to another activity.

Here are a few from The Friend:

Reverence (Friend, Nov. 1992, p.15)
I’m Always Reverent (Friend, Sept. 1993, p.32)
I’ll Remember (Friend, Apr. 1987, p.39)
What If … ? (Friend, Sept. 1996, p.22)
Diana Eckersell Janson, “I Can Be Reverent,” Friend, Aug 2008, 38–39    
Marli Walker, “The Wiggle-Waggles,” Friend, May 2005, 10

 One that's been especially successful for me in the past:

King of Me

Dorothy King Pace, "King of Me," Friend, Sept. 1996, 20

I said to my feet, "Keep still!"
I said to my hands, "Just stay!"
I said to my all-over-everywhere-self,
"I'm in charge of you today!"

I'm ruler of my mouth,
And I'm the King of Me,
So when I tell me it's reverence time,
I'm as quiet as can be!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

How to Teach a Song

Handout from May 2014 Timpview Stake Leadership Meeting

How to Teach a Song

1. Know the song. Before you can teach a song effectively, you must know the song yourself.  Become familiar with the words and melody by playing the song on the piano, listening to a recording of the Children's Songbook, or listening to the music on the church's website.

2. Sing the Song. Children learn to sing a song by hearing it sung and by singing it themselves. We learn music through aural recognition and spaced repetition.

3. Use the scriptures.  Study the song to learn what message the words convey.  How could you use the scripture references at the end of the song in your preparation or in teaching the song? This is important because this is the doctrine. Incorporating the scriptures into your singing time lesson plans is a great way to provide doctrinal depth.

4. Capture the children's attention.  Use effective and appropriate teaching methods such as an object, a picture, a scripture, an experience, or simply a whisper.  Remember you are your own best visual aid.

5.  Direct children's listening. Ask questions that will encourage children to listen to the song and help children understand the gospel message.  For example, What? Where? When? Why? and state the question in such a way children can discover the answer as you sing the song.

6. Involve the children.  Have children improvise actions. Assign small groups to sing different sections or verses. Use movement to help learn rhythm patterns.

Sing, sing, sing.  Have children hum or sing the prelude music.  For special occasions have a child sing a solo or ask a group of children to sing a chorus. Have the children sing a song that teaches the gospel principle being taught in a sharing time.

Be sure to sing the weekly song listed in the sharing time outline in addition to the monthly song.
Be aware you can use songs from the Friend as well.

Bear testimony. Bear your personal testimony, or read testimonies recorded in the scriptures.  As children hear the testimonies of others they will be strengthened.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Nursery Lesson #10

Some ideas for lesson #10 I Will Take Care of My Body
Dress a Body, small individual flannelboards for pre-lesson activities.

I used adhesive back felt (found at Walmart or most sewing/craft stores) and stuck in on a cardboard square to make the small flannelboard. Using a simple die cut pattern I cut out the girl/boy figures and made simple clothing.

Make a Face:

Good food for our bodies:

During the lesson I showed the pic from the manual and posted this body on the flannelboard:

I had the children touch their corresponding body parts and discussed how they are useful. The church's website now has a great visual section, however these visuals came from another great site Click under Teaching Extras. Side note: The Stories/Props section is a fantastic section also, I use it all the time with my grandchildren. They offer color, ready to print visuals as well as B/W. Best of all it's free.

Using a mystery bag is another good way to discuss how we can take care of our body. Brush & Soap = keep our bodies clean. Apple = take in good food. Ball = exercise. Pillow = Rest.

Anything visual, tactile or sensory goes over well with little nursery children.