This post is sponsored by Mormon.org. All opinions are my own.
One year ago I became the Primary President in our local church congregation. This means I’ve been responsible for overseeing the Sunday School, music, nursery, and sharing time of all children ages 18 months to 11 years old in our church. There are somewhere between 35-50 children in this age bracket. It can be a pretty overwhelming and stressful position to have, especially with a new baby, homeschooling, and a husband gone long hours with a PhD, oh, and working from home.
The good thing is that I love children and find joy in this calling. To help motivate the Primary children to read their scriptures this year, I began assigning weekly scripture chase homework. I gave a question that could only be answered by reading specific verses from the Scriptures. Every week if they completed the assignment, or otherwise read their scriptures by themselves or with their families, they put a small pom pom into our awesome treasure chest, and a larger pom pom if they did the homework, coming prepared with the answer.
Once the treasure chest was full, my counselors and I planned an awesome Primary Activity for the 2016 Primary theme The Scripture are the Word of God.
I love planning parties as I am an idea person, and really I planned most of this scripture-themed carnival myself. I really wanted to bring scripture stories to life, instead of just talk about them, so I got really creative, got permission from the Bishop to do certain activities on church property, and put together a pretty spectacular Primary activity that the kids (and adults) absolutely loved!
Scripture Carnival Activities
I set up various stations, and small groups of children with an adult or parents rotated through the stations. Each station was manned by a Primary teacher or other volunteering adult. I provided them with the full scriptures associated with their station (highlighting important verses in long passages) so the adult could briefly go over the story in their own words. I provided instructions for the adults on what to do at their station as well.
We had the following are the scripture-based stations:
1.) Walking on Water
I had seen this idea floating around on Pinterest (and since then in my head) about creating a leak proof water blob at church so the kids could walk on water like Jesus and Peter in Matthew 14:22-33. A scripture-themed carnival seemed like the perfect opportunity to finally do it!
I bought some Painter’s Plastic Sheeting, sealed it shut with a hot iron with parchment paper protecting the iron/plastic from melting a hole into it, following the directions on the tutorial I found.
The day of the event we filled it up with water, and tied a knot in the corner we put the hose into. However, we made the mistake of not making sure the ground was perfectly level before we started filling it up! Make sure the surface you put the water blob on is FLAT! It wasn’t as awesome as I wanted it to be. Also, make sure none of the kids wear shoes while walking on it or bite it. You can save empty it out and reuse it should no one pop a hole in it.
Whether feeding their families (like in 1 Nephi 16:17-32), fighting in wars, many Scripture stories involve bows and arrows. I brought my real Genesis bow and arrows for the kids to shoot at a Target I placed animal clip art onto. I picked up a smaller (and cheaper) bow and arrow set for the kids under age 6 to use to shoot at the Target too.
3.)David VS Goliath
The story of young David versus the Giant Goliath found in 1 Samuel 17 is a favorite for kids! I painted a giant 9′ 9″ Goliath on a large piece of butcher paper with acrylic paint. It was super fun to paint, though I had to stop myself from making even more awesome as I reminded myself that it would just be destroyed the next day. It was super hard logistically to find a place to hang Goliath with him being that large. I also didn’t feel great about kids slinging rocks against the church building, so a tree worked out best. If I could do it again, I would make him shorter, or the 6′ 9″ that some scholars think he was instead of the 9′ 9″. I kept having to readjust him and add more duct tape to the tree and the paper, and he eventually was placed lower on the tree. I picked up some cheap slingshots and had a friend bring some stones from their backyard and we let the kids use a slingshot to shoot (or throw) rocks at Goliath!
4.) Planting Seeds
Faith it like a little seed, as it beautifully states in Alma 32:28-43. We had the children plant their own little flower seeds. We tried to see about getting permission to plant the flowers on the actual church property, but I don’t think we figured it out in time. Instead we picked up some little plastic cups, potting soil, and some flower seed for the kids to plant!
5.) Build a Boat
Noah was commanded to build a boat, as was Nephi and the Brother of Jared. Jonah was cast off a boat and into the belly of a great fish. Boats are all over the scriptures! I thought it would be fun to have the children make their own boats. I came across lots of great ideas, like origami boats, cork boats, and ice boat racing, but ultimately decided to do some pool noodle boats!
They would take little time for the children to assemble, be very affordable (I bought pool noodles from the Dollar Tree) and the kids could have a little time to race them too. We bought a big pack of straws, and pre-traced some sails on sheets of foam, and the kids cut and assembled them the day of the Scripture carnival. I also bought the inflatable kiddie pool for like $3 at Walmart.
6.) Fishing Pond
Jesus invited his disciples, many whom were fisherman, to become fishers of men as it says in Mark 1:16-20. We let the kids try their hand at fishing with fishing poles and magnetic fish. The younger kids greatly enjoyed this activity.
7.) Record Making
We wouldn’t have the Bible or the Book of Mormon if no one had taken the time to write down their histories and prophecies and miracles! I had the kids create their own records, like it says in 3 Nephi 1:11, 17-18. I had a lot of big ideas on this one, but in the end, just went with tin foil folded over on itself that the kids wrote on with pens. It wasn’t manned very well during the event, so it wasn’t a big hit. I had thought about doing these gold plates, or using copper flashing to make plates, but didn’t want to spend a lot of money or time on this activity.
Scripture Themed Snacks and Drinks
It wouldn’t be a church activity, especially not one for kids, without some great snacks! We did some scripture themed snack ideas based on the activities the kids did during the scripture carnival.
Scripture Themed Drinks
To drink they had mini bottles of water (I picked up a pack at Sam’s Club. Kids never finish a large bottle anyway). I printed off the scripture John 4:13-14 about Jesus offering water that will spring up into everlasting life. I could have printed off individual bottle labels as well, but ran out of time (and motivation to do so). I thought about offer grape juice or milk as a drink as well, but water is cheaper and less messy.
Scripture Themed Snacks
Goldfish Crackers & Swedish Fish
Because we had the children be fishers of men and build boats, we had two different fish snack items for the kids! They are kid favorites, so why not do both? Again, if I had been on top of it more, these fisherman snack bag labels would have been cute to add to the the bag of goldfish crackers. Instead I printed off these fishers of men printables to put on the table by both of these snacks.
Since we hunted for animals during our archery station, we thought it would be fun to have animal crackers! You could also do beef jerky or some other type of real meat instead to go along with the hunting station.
To go along with planting a little seed, the kids were given a little snack bag of sunflower seeds to eat! Next to it we printed off this beautiful sign “Faith is like a little seed; if planted it will grow.” We had also considered this Matthew 17:20 printable as well. You could do different edible seeds too, or a mixed variety.
I had lots of great scripture snack ideas, like bread, olives, grapes, and honey. There are lots of great options!
Ministering to Children
What I have loved about being Primary President and putting together fun activities like this Scripture Carnival is that I am constantly given the opportunity to minister to children, just as my Savior Jesus Christ ministered to children.
Every week I talk to young children about Jesus Christ, about the Holy Spirit, about scriptures, prophets, missionaries, temples, families, treating others with love and kindness, forgiveness, the Atonement, prayer, and so much more. In a world so full of messages that have absolutely nothing to do with truth or Jesus, it is wonderful to be a small, but hopefully powerful, influence of good in their life.
It is always my prayer that myself and those who are called to work with me in Primary are making some small impact for good upon these children’s salvation, their happiness, and their future choices, ultimately bringing them closer to Jesus Christ, who is the way, the truth, and the life.
As Christmas draws near this year, I want to encourage you to do much more this holiday season to show how you light the world with your faith and testimony of Jesus Christ by finding small but meaningful ways to serve. It’s time to get involved in being more like Jesus Christ.
Worldwide Day of Service
For the first 25 Days of December, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is asking individuals of faith to resolve to do things that Jesus Christ did. Every day leading up to Christmas there will be a different Christ-like behavior emphasized and specific suggestions provided so we can emulate His example.
Join us on beginning on December 1, 2016 – the Worldwide Day of Service – and every day until December 25 in completing small or big acts of service as outlined on Mormon.org. You can download the calendar HERE so you can plan ahead your Holiday season. Print it out. Hang it up. D o
It’s time we really celebrate Christ by becoming more like him and taking action.
#LIGHTtheWORLD 25 Days of Service
On December 11 of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saint’s #LIGHTtheWORLD challenge they’ll be reflecting on how Jesus ministered to children and so can you.
Maybe it’s time to volunteer in your church’s nursery or teach a youth Sunday school class.
Maybe it’s the perfect day to sit down and talk to your children, grandchildren, nieces or nephews about the Gospel of Jesus Christ and how it has impacted your life.
Perhaps on December 11 you could write a letter to a child you know and include your favorite picture of Jesus Christ in it, or gift a child their own set of scriptures, or print off and frame your favorite beautiful designed scripture and give it to a child.
Or teach your children about service and give them these cute “Thumbs Up Tickets” – created by the talented (and humorous) Lisa Valentine Clark and Gina James – for the service they do everyday within your home. Encourage them to give them to their siblings too. Maybe these small acknowledgements will help them see even more service opportunities around them.
Or maybe it’s a great day to host a Scripture-Themed Carnival (or not).
If all else fails, it’s the perfect day to pray over the children in your life.