Apr 22, 2014

Easter in Primary

Now that I have a few weeks of experience, I have decided I like to teach sharing time.  Last time the object lesson with dishes was really fun. I think this week's Easter lesson turned out well, too. At the urging of my president, I am documenting the lesson here (you're welcome, Sandi).

I wanted the kids to learn about some of the things leading up to the Savior's death and resurrection, and to make the lesson interactive and meaningful. I wanted to teach doctrine and invite the Spirit. I think all of those things happened, so I consider the day a success.

In Junior Primary, I passed out word strips that said: (1) Triumphal entry; (2) Jesus prepares the sacrament; (3) Jesus washes the apostles' feet; (4) Garden of Gethsemane; (5) The crucifixion; (6) The tomb; and (7) Jesus shows his wounds.  In Senior Primary, I taped these papers under chairs, along with about a dozen papers with scriptures that corresponded to these seven events.

We talked about each event in order. The child with the word strip came to the front, read it to the group, and then looked at a table where I had displayed objects that correlated with each event. They chose the object and showed it to the group. In Senior Primary, the children came to the front and read the scripture verses, but in Junior, I summarized the stories. I also had pictures from the Church's online image gallery that I used to tell the stories. I asked questions and the kids gave some very thoughtful responses. We sang songs for each topic, as well.

Here is a summary of each discussion.

Triumphal Entry: The object was a plant, used to represent the palm leaves that believers waved as Jesus entered the city of Jerusalem during the Passover.  I used this lesson as a reference for the story (which I obviously simplified), and displayed the picture below. We sang "Easter Hosanna" (Children's Songbook, 68). While the children sang the chorus ("Hosanna! Blessed be the name of the most high God!"), a few of them waved scarves in the air.

Jesus Prepares the Sacrament: The objects were a plate with bread and a cup of water. I told the story of the Last Supper, and how Jesus told his apostles to partake of bread and water to remember his body and blood. The children actually explained these things to the group when I asked them questions. They sang "The Church of Jesus Christ" (CS, 77). I showed this picture.

Jesus Washes the Apostles' Feet: Sandals and a towel symbolized this event. Not as many children knew the story, but they quickly understood its meaning--we can serve others as the Savior served his disciples. We talked about ways to serve each other, and then sang "As I Have Loved You" (Hymns, 308). The kids linked arms and swayed together as they sang.

Garden of Gethsemane: The object for this topic was a borrow of soap, which represents the gift of repentance made possible by Jesus' suffering in the garden. I used an example from this talk by Merrill J. Bateman (I remember sitting in the Marriott Center when he gave this devotional), that highlighted how the Savior took upon himself our sins one by one. I love that imagery. From this discussion we went straight into the next one without singing.

The Crucifixion: The children quickly picked the right object: a hammer and nails. I explained some of the events leading up to the crucifixion. I showed the picture below and we talked about some of the details of the story. I told them about the storms and darkness that happened both in Jerusalem and in America. Then the children sang, "To Think About Jesus" (CS, 71).

After this, we watched an excerpt from the video, "Finding Faith in Christ." The clip (from 19:20-22:53) depicts Christ's suffering in the Garden of Gethsemane, his "criminal" sentencing, and his death on the cross. The children were riveted to this sensitive portrayal of events and I think everyone was touched. We sang, "I Stand All Amazed" (Hymns, 193), and I wasn't the only one who was emotional.

The Tomb: A flat rock and a folded white pillowcase were the symbols for this story. The rock represented the stone rolled away from the entrance to Christ's burial tomb, and the pillowcase symbolized the folded napkin found within the empty tomb on the Sabbath. We sang, "Jesus is Risen" (CS, 70).

Jesus Shows His Wounds: I brought a statue (like this one) of the resurrected Christ as the object for this topic. It shows the prints of the nails in his hands and feet. We talked about Mary Magdelene seeing the risen Lord outside of the tomb, and others who saw Jesus, including the people in America documented in the Book of Mormon. A few weeks ago I gave a lesson on the resurrection, so we referenced that, as well. We sang, "Did Jesus Really Live Again?" (CS, 64). 

Then I shared my testimony of all the things we had learned and shared together. We closed by singing, "He Sent His Son" (CS, 34), which I think had more meaning after talking about Easter for 45 minutes.

This sharing time lesson wasn't perfect. The kids weren't always quiet and a technical glitch prevented us from watching the video in Senior Primary. Some of the scripture excerpts were too long to read and should have been summarized (Primary children aren't Young Women... sometimes I forget to shift my expectations). But overall, I think the spirit was present enough to make an impact. All of my studying certainly prepared me to have a more meaningful Easter, and I hope that at least one child or teacher benefited from that, as well.
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