The program is over. Whew! Now what do you do though!? The Sunday of the Primary Program is probably one of the roughest Sundays for Primary teachers, the children, and the Primary Presidency. How in the world do you make it work and what can you do make sure next year is even better?
First Things First
Before we jump into what to do with all those Primary children now that they have completed the program and did their best to sit still; let’s talk about what you should plan on doing first.
Say it, send it, top it off with a bow but say “Thank You” to those that have helped you so much with putting together this program. Most of the time people think about the chorister and pianist and the other women in the presidency but what about your spouse and your children? Did they help out a lot too? Is there anyone else that you may be forgetting? Here’s three easy ways you can say thank you.
Right after the program is the perfect time to take some notes of what worked well and what you hope to change next year. Some things become so much clearer once you have completed the program. When you get home, write down the things you loved about your program, things you want to change, and the ideas you had along the way. Include any comment cards that were helpful as well. Then put it all in your binder where you will remember to look when you are ready to tackle next year’s program.
What to Do After the Program with the Kids
You can use the whole 2 hours for a celebration or keep it to 1 hour of class time and 1 hour of fun. Whichever you choose to do PLEASE be sure you are communicating with your Primary teachers, chorister, and pianist (and other presidency members). It’s a rough Sunday for them in the classroom as well and they need the time to prepare something appropriate too. If you are expecting them to help with your celebration be sure they know the details before they show up on Sunday. The biggest complaint from Primary teachers is always lack of communication so get them on the same page as you! Just letting them know what you are planning is helpful! For example, if you are planning on doing a movie they’ll know they shouldn’t do the same thing.
This is by far the easiest thing to do, however, I personally DO NOT recommend it. It’s really easy for the kids to get bored and crazy with this option and it definitely comes with a mess if you opt for popcorn. Even if the kids don’t obviously complain at church, their parents are going to hear all about how Primary was sooo boring that day. HOWEVER, sometimes you have to do what you have to do. Pick a church movie that is really engaging for the children but can be finished within the allotted time. Get rid of the chairs and lay out blankets for everyone to sit on. Make it fun! If you can, make your own video slideshow of the children. Kids love watching themselves on screen. The key is to make sure someone is taking photos throughout the year or take the time to interview on film beforehand.
Alternatives to the popcorn mess: Doughnuts and chocolate milk seem to be quite popular. I’m all about a bag of fruit snacks because it’s easy! Whatever you choose though be sure it’s safe for everyone to consume.
This is my favorite option because you can still do some learning and you get to channel all that energy in a great way. There are all kinds of fun games you can play. Keep in mind though, with games there will be an increase in volume. As long as you are expecting it, it’s not so bad. Here are a few of my favorite games:
LDS Pictionary- You can make it as easy or hard as you need to and all you need are the cards and a white board marker. You can jazz it up with a Cranium style twist where they might have sculpt it or hum it, act it out, or answer a question about that card instead.
Games with the Bishopric- Bring in these great priesthood holders for some entertainment. A lot of wards love doing the Trivia Pie Face game (a combination of Pie Face with some trivia cards. If you do the Pie Face Dual game, it gets turned away from them when they get it right and at them when it’s a wrong answer. If you do regular Pie Face, the children get to turn the knob for the Bishopric member when the child answers the question correctly). Another great game is Are You Smarter than the Bishopric (or Primary Children)? or Stump the Bishopric. You can base all the questions around the program or search for some ideas on Pinterest. I liked this one from Hannah and Brett.
Name that Tune- You know the classic game of “I can guess that song in 20 notes” and the next person says, “I can guess it in 15” and so on until one persons calls them on their bluff and says, “Name that tune!” The pianist then plays the notes and the kids have to guess the song. Since they have been working so hard on memorizing the songs, it’s great game to do as a reward. It works better if you have teams for the kids to cheer on and help out.
LDS Family Feud is always fun. The Mormon Home has a great free edition you can use. I also love LDS Shout Out! It similar to Family Feud in that you have to find the right key answers but allows more people to play at once.
Life Sized Board Game- Keep it basic like Candyland but use construction paper squares on the floor and a giant dice. One person even suggested making a human spinner instead of using a dice. To do so, grab a spinning chair and place the numbers all around. Have one person sit in the chair then give them a spin. Whichever way they end up facing is the number you use.
Another great way to channel extra energy on Primary Program Sunday is to use it to serve others. Need some service project ideas?
Decorate the covers of blank greeting cards then use them as a Presidency to send out to children that don’t come often, are sick, who are investing the Church, a teacher that had a rough Sunday, etc.
Depending on when your program is, you could also use it as a time to make centerpieces for a ward party (think Halloween or Christmas).
The Senior Primary could tie fleece blankets for a local shelter and everyone could pitch in an assembly line of making hygiene kits.
Decorate bags or coloring pages for Meals on Wheels.
Get them cleaning! Everyone can wipe down the chairs and tables, pick up trash around the building (in and out), etc.
Write the missionaries!
Heart Attack the Bishop’s door, ward clerk’s office, the library, etc.
Make cards for the elderly in your ward.
Random Acts of Kindness- Sing to someone in the hallway, give someone a treat, read a story to a baby, quickly make and give out birthday cards for people that have them that month, etc.
Children love hearing that all their hard work paid off. Include comment cards in the ward bulletin or hand them to people as they enter asking people to share what they enjoyed about the program. Remember to place baskets by the exit to deposit them later. When you have the children together, read some of the cards out loud so they can hear the impact their hard work had on others. Also consider giving the children time to share how they felt during the program and what they liked. It’s great to hear their sweet testimonies too. You can read them all in a row or divide them up by reading a few at the beginning, a few more after a game, another few after a movie clip, etc. Little LDS Ideas has great Comment Cards and program covers by the way.
Host a Talent Show
Let your Primary children continue to showcase their talents (especially the ones you wouldn’t include in the Primary Program). Encourage the children to do some goofy talents too so that even if they didn’t prepare anything, they can get up and share something fun.
Act Out Scripture Stories
Since they are already in performance mode, bring in some costumes or puppets and let everyone have a chance at acting out a scripture story. It can be a fun guessing game- the rest of the Primary has to guess which story it is.
Break down your Primary into smaller groups by doing stations instead. Each Presidency member can be in charge of a station or ask the other Primary callings to help out too. Plan for about 15 minutes a station plus time to switch between them. If you do 10 minutes it’s usually too rushed. What do you do in stations? Here are some ideas from around the world:
Gospel focused Minute It to Win It Games
Refreshment table- Make their own snack necklaces or treat bags
Read the comment cards
Play a Short Game like LDS Shout Out! (it’s perfect for a station)
Children of the World stations- Each table is a different part of the world. It’s a great opportunity to get returned missionaries to share about their missions.
Watch a Mormon Message- Watching a movie goes over better in stations since it’s for such a short period of time.
Articles of Faith Station- You can practice memorizing or do a puzzle race, etc.
Sharing Time as Usual
There is nothing wrong with doing Sharing Time as usual. Just remember to say a few words of gratitude or praise before diving into it. I also suggest planning a more interactive Sharing Time so the children have the opportunity to use their energy wisely.
Ask Your Stake Primary Presidency
Some Stake Presidencies are happy to come fill in for Sharing Time on the day of the Program. It gives them a chance to see the program, be involved with the children, and see you. However, keep in mind they may already have commitments that day so ask early and be okay with a “No.”