As a LDS Primary teacher, it can be a struggle to think of new ideas and ways to connect with your class. Break out of your teaching rut with these 7 new ideas.
I first shared these ideas in a Facebook Live video. You can watch it below to understand more about each method as well as follow along in my summary below.
What Do These Things Have in Common
Take advantage of all the excellent church images in this opening activity. You can print off pictures from LDS.org (search by your topic then narrow your search by clicking on the "Image" tab) , use your gospel art kit, or check pictures out from your church library. Ideally, you need one image per person but if you have a large class three of four works well. As your class enters the room, give them each a poster and ask them to be prepared to talk about that image after the opening prayer. This gives them something to do right away. If you have access to the official church poster ones (check your church library), they have words on the back so even if someone doesn't know the story, they can quickly come up with something. If you printed yours, consider writing a few key word on the back of each one. After the prayer, ask each person to come to the front and briefly describes their image- no more than 3 sentences. They can hang their picture on the board after they finish. Then ask your class what all these images have in common. Usually there can be several answers so if you need to, gently steer them in the direction you need to go- the overall theme of your lesson.
If you do this with younger children, pick simple images that don't need additional explaination.
One of These Things Is Not Like the Other
Using pictures again, gather some that are alike and one that sort of fits in but is definitely different. Hang all your images on the board before class starts. As your class comes in, ask them to take a look at the images and try to figure out which one does not belong. This is great to do as you review past lessons and helps get everyone on task right away.
Photo Fill in the Blank
Use your images almost like a hangman- one picture per letter. For each picture, you will want to have a piece of paper that describes something to do with your lesson and the picture. For example, if your lesson is about covenants, the strip of paper that goes with the temple image would say, "Where can families be sealed for eternity?" You would also put a letter on that strip of paper to spell the word on the board. Hide the strips of paper around the room for your class to find. When it's their turn, they get to answer the question and write the letter on the board. This is a great way to involve all members of your class. The phrase on the board could be the main purpose of the lesson so it ties everything together at the end.
This is a great motivating tool for those classes that get off track easily. Remind your kids the faster you get through your lesson, the more time you have to play the game at the end. You will need to make up two sets of questions- one for the O's to ask the X's and vice versa. I try to make 10 questions each so you can play the game twice even if you get cats. The key for this one is to ask questions that you definitely will cover in your lesson (or use as review for past lessons). Break your class into pairs and let them ask each other the questions. You can also play this as a class instead where if they get the answer correct, they get an X; if they get it wrong, you get an O. You can find my CTR Tic-Tac-Toe board here or make your own.
Is your class really struggling with paying attention? That's when I break out my Bingo boards. After covering the scripture stories or main part of the lesson, use the discussion questions in Bingo format. Everyone in the class gets a board and each person gets a turn answering a question. If it's right, they get to pick a calling card and everyone can mark it off their board. Absolutely help out any that struggle with the answer because we never want anyone to feel like a loser. If you see someone wavering, give clues or tell them that phoning a friend is perfectly acceptable (a friend then whispers the answer in their ear). When you get a Bingo, you can move on to the next activity, give a class reward, or play a video that goes with the lesson. You can get my CTR Bingo boards here- laminate them for long lasting use.
I also use Bingo as homework rewards. If they do their homework, they get to draw a card. When we get a Bingo, I bring in a class treat. Then we play to blackout where we get a class party.
Build a Picture
Some classes need to move! Help them move in a way that you are okay with by using images on the board. You can either give them a piece of the picture to build on the board or have them come up and take a piece off of the board to reveal something underneath. Each piece has a question or reading assignment on the back. When my class finished building the boat in the photo above, I let each person that wanted to draw themselves in the boat as well. It's a little thing but it helps keep the wiggles under control.
Let Them Teach
One of the best things you can do though is figure out a way that lets them teach. For example, if you are going to use a poster on the board, have someone in your class color it (you can even give it to them to color in sacrament meeting). If someone always brings a yo-yo to class, ask him to do a trick for the class then relate it to a gospel principle you are covering. If you are going to cover the baptismal covenant, call some members of your class beforehand and ask them to be prepared to share their testimony of the blessings that come from following the baptismal covenant or bring a photo of the day they were baptized. Allow your class to take ownership and responsibility of the lessons- it makes a huge difference.
Your Turn- What teaching methods work well for you?