Tuesday, January 29, 2008

I love my Da....

Yesterday I started looking over the lesson for next week, Jesus Christ is the Son of Heavenly Father. The manual suggests to start the lesson by having someone's daddy come in and talk about how much he loves his child. I'm a little worried about this idea because I think if one person's Dad comes in the others will expect theirs to come too. I'm also a little worried that when that Dad leaves, his child will fall apart.

I was trying to think of an alternate opener and thought it could be fun if I got pictures of the kids' Dads through email requests, printed them out, and hung them on the wall. I would then start the lesson by letting the kids come up to pick out their daddy and say what they like about him. I was starting to get into the idea but then I remembered that one child in my class has a single mother. Her dad isn't in her life at all.

I feel like I want this child more than anyone else to know that she has her Heavenly Father who loves her. I really don't want her to feel left out. To avoid that, I'm thinking I maybe need to skip all the earthly daddy stuff, but that would make teaching Heavenly Father's relationship to the other kids really difficult. Does anyone have ideas? Advice?

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Clock Watching

My ward has gotten into the habit of going ten to fifteen minutes over every Sunday. This has left me thinking very mean thoughts. I don't like thinking mean thoughts but after two hours of toddlers who are becoming exhausted and irritable I am SOO ready for church to end.
What adds to my problem is I watch the clock like a hawk, doing my best to pace my lesson and activities to the end. Another ten minutes can be a VERY long time. As soon as the first kid leaves, usually the one lucky enough to have parents in primary instead of EQ or RS, the others are antsy and eager to go. I'm not sure what a good activity for this time could be. Does anyone have any ideas?

Saturday, January 26, 2008

No Daniel

I picked up some cookie cutters at the craft store by my house. The big box bookstore is next door so I stopped in hoping to peruse their selection of Daniel in the Lion's Den children's books. I expected a few cheesy offerings and maybe something nice but they didn't have a single version of the story. I was surprised and a little disturbed that such a common Bible story wouldn't be available.

Jello Playdough

This is by far the best use I can think of for Jello since I can't stand to eat the stuff. It's Jello Playdough! It provides color and a good smell. I think I might try to make it today. You can see a recipe here or here.
I found out about this at Design Mom which is an awesome blog to browse if you ever have a moment.

Nursery Talk

There's quite the discussion going on at Feminist Mormon House Wives right now and it's ALL about nursery. Go check it out here!

Friday, January 25, 2008

Lesson 4: I Can Pray to Heavenly Father

Here's my lesson plan for Sunday.

Opening: Brown Bag Surprise
I bring a brown bag full of things I am grateful for. I'm going to tell the kids that the bag is full of things I pray about. I'm going to let them guess what's inside. That should take about ten seconds since none of them really talk yet. I'm then going to take the objects out of the bag one by one and talk about them. If things are going well I'll let the kids come up and help me pick the objects out of the bag. Here are some of the things I plan to put in the bag.
A picture of my family
A ball
My scriptures
A fake flower
A little globe
A paint brush
Something that has to do with sleep
I'll talk about how I am grateful for each thing and I thank Heavenly Father for each them by praying to Him.

Picture Time:
LIttle Girl Praying
I'll show the picture of a girl praying and ask if the kids can say what she is doing. I'll ask the kids if they know how to pray.
Family Praying
We can pray with our families too! Talk about that

How Do We Pray?
We fold our arms
We bow our heads
We close our eyes
Now we are ready to pray!
Let anyone who wants to say a prayer.

Daniel and the Lions Den (MUST FIND PICTURE. I might just check out a picture book of the story from the local library.)
Do you know there once was a man named Daniel who loved to pray? He loved talking to his Heavenly Father. Some people didn't like Daniel praying so they threw him in a lion's den. Do you know what lions are? What do lions say? (Let the kids roar. Kids like to roar.) Lions EAT people. Daniel was afraid they were going to hurt him so he prayed. Do you know what happened? Heavenly Father sent an angel who shut the lion's mouth so Daniel was saved!

Make Lion's masks with paper plates and string. I'm going to figure this out tomorrow. I think I'll have them mostly made but will let the kids color and decorate them.

Daniel in the Lion's Den Game
After the kids have their masks made I will let them pretend to be ROARING Lions. They ROAR and Snarl as loud as they can and act like lions but when I pray - they shut their mouths. We'll see if that happens. As soon as I stop "praying" they can start ROARING again.
If they don't want to stop roaring and acting like lions I think I can be okay with that.

That's my plan. Any suggestions?

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Island Hopping

Here's another little game I discovered by accident. I guess it's kind of a modified hopskotch. I call it Island Hopping.
Take some masking tape and tape out small circles all over the floor. Have the kids try to hop "island" to "island" without falling into the "sea".
I don't know why but the kids seem to really like this game. They'll hop the route over and over. They're islomaniacs. Check it out here. It's a real condition, an obsessive love of islands.
My lesson plan for this Sunday should be up by tomorrow. Thanks again for dropping by.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Lesson 3: Heavenly Father's Plan for Us

So I posted what my lesson plan was but like Napoleon said, No battle plan survives first contact with the enemy. I'm telling you, I'm no miracle worker. This is how it went down.
My husband decided to stay up until 2 and I succumbed to temptation and was up way past midnight. That made for a tense and testy morning. We have 8:30 church and I woke up at 7:50. To get to church in time to set up, I went shower-less, dressed ugly, ate only a granola bar, and tried very hard to not say things to my husband that I would need to repent of.
At the last minute I got the idea to make mobiles from the circle diagrams. I snagged ten cheap wire hangers from our closet. The Swimmy book, the big people shoes and my lesson outline got left on the table where I set them out. Sigh...
When it came time to do the lesson I realized I forgot a cardinal rule of lesson giving: Open BIG! I found myself stuttering out, "Hey, Hey, over here!" I needed an attention getter. I pulled out the circles. I got some attention. I talked about having a plan and how nursery had a plan. I showed them the first circle and told them about living with a loving Heavenly Father and how he had a plan for all of us.

I gave them the whole overview using a story about myself. Miss Kate lived with Heavenly Father in the pre-mortal life (hold up circle 1), then Miss Kate came to earth to get a body (circle 2), Miss Kate and her husband are going to live happily in heaven (circle 3). I picked a kid to help tape up each of my circles to the wall. I passed out the blue circles to everyone and let them start coloring as I pulled out the earth circles.
I held up the earth circle and talked about how we lived on Earth now where we have bodies and get to grow up to be big and more like our Heavenly Father. Steve and baby Eliza knocked on the door just then. Perfect timing. I thought, I have them now, they'll see the baby and be interested. I was SO wrong. I asked them about the baby and the daddy and I got BLANK stares and no response. I was so sad. I really expected them to like the baby. At this point I would have pulled out the big shoes to play with but they were not to be had. Instead I passed out the earth circles to each of them with a handful of stickers in the middle of the table that they could decorate their earth with.

I told them about heaven and how Heavenly Father wants us to come back and be with him with our families. I asked if they loved their family and who the loved in their family. Then I passed out the heaven circles and helped some of them draw their families in. Others were happy to have their Heavenly family be composed of horse stickers. At that point I was fine with that too.
I and the other nursery workers went around and helped each kid tape their circles to strings attached to the hanger. They seemed to like their mobiles okay. They really liked playing with the tape. The ones who finished got up and started swinging their mobiles around. They were having a great time, but I started to worry someone was going to get a hanger in the eye. I confiscated the mobiles and we danced the last five minutes of class away. That might have been enough, but grown up class went ten minutes over again. I pulled out the bubbles. And everyone survived.

If any of you are wondering why I didn't rock all three degrees of glory it's because I got tired of cutting circles and I figured that all of these kids "are redeemed from the foundation of the world through the atoning sacrifice of Him who died to save us all." I was willing to be optimistic in the case of myself and my husband.

I'd give myself a 6 out of 10 for how well it went this week. Sort of disappointing. Hopefully next week will be better. It's Lesson 4: I can pray to Heavenly Father. I'm thinking about letting the kids make a phone call on my cell phone. Is that a bad idea?

I'm telling you, this is the only time I spend with kids. I feel a little out of touch so your advice is appreciated/LOVED.

Saturday, January 19, 2008


Here's a little game to play that was suggested by a veteran nursery worker. He said when he was in nursery the kids loved it and would play it forever. That's music to my ears. The game is called Snake!
Put a jump rope on the floor and hold one end. Slowly shake your end so the rope wiggles. Then let the kids try to hop over it without getting "bit"-touched by the rope.
I think I'll try it tomorrow during play time.

Friday, January 18, 2008

My Lesson Plan: Heavenly Father's Plan for Us

Preparing lessons for nursery can be an existential experience. You brainstorm and work and all of your efforts will barely register. Still, I like lessons because they can be lively and fun. And nursery lessons are all like Nephi says, plain and precious teachings.

The Purpose of Sunday's Lesson: Heavenly Father's Plan for Us as stated in the primary manual is:
To help each child understand that we lived with Heavenly Father as spirit children before we came to earth and that we can live with him again after this life.

Okay, how do you teach that to a two year old? I don't even know if they know what a plan is. So that's where I think I'm going to start. Here's my plan:

I'm going to try to mention this earlier to prep them but I'm going to ask, Does nursery have a plan? Yes, nursery does have a plan. When we come to nursery first we sing don't we? Then what do we do? We pray? After that? We have snack? Then what do we do? We play? Then what do we do? We do a lesson. In nursery we have a plan, we know what we're going to do.

Do you know how else has a plan? (Pull out picture of Heavenly Father) Heavenly Father!
Heavenly Father has a plan for each one of us. He has a plan for ... point out kids who are not paying attention by saying their name. Heavenly has a plan for each one of us.
Do you know what his plan for us is? His plan is for us to come to earth to get a body and be alive.

Here I'm going to run through the circle diagram.
I hold up blue circle: We lived in the pre-mortal existence with Heavenly Father who loved us.
I'll let one kid come up and tape the circle to the wall
Hold up Earth Circle: Heavenly Father and Jesus made the earth and sent us to live on it with our families.
Let another child stick up the Earth circle on the wall after the blue circle
Hold up yellow circle: After we live on Earth Heavenly Father wants us to come back and live with him because he loves us so much!
Let another kid put up the yellow circle. If I'm feeling ambitious I might make the yellow circle into a sun but that's a big if. I'm not crafty.

Heavenly Father sent us to earth to get a body and be alive. Are you alive? Do you have a body? What about this doll (as mentioned in the primary manual) is she alive? No. But you're alive aren't you? You can jump up and down (have kids jump) and spin around (kids spin) because you are alive just like Heavenly Father wanted. Is being alive fun? Yes. Heavenly Father loves us so much that he sent us to be alive with our families.

Time for the Special Guest visitor, my bearded brother in law with my 8 month old niece as suggested in the Primary Manual.
Look it's a daddy and a baby! Can you see the baby? Does she have a body? Does her daddy love her? Heavenly Father sent this baby to be with a family because he loves her! He sent you to your family because he loves you! Talk about the baby as long as they're interested...

Do you know what? Heavenly Father wants us to come back to live with him because he loves us so much. But first he wants to grow up big and strong. He wants us to learn to become more like him. Pull out "Daddy Shoes" my husband's size 12s should do nicely. I'm going to let the kids try on the shoes and walk around in while I talk about how they can grow up big and strong like Heavenly Father wants.

After the shoes we're going to have an activity with the circles. I think I'll cut out the circles and let the kids glue them onto another piece of paper with glue sticks or make a mobile with them with string and cardboard.

What you think? What are my chances of this lesson being successful? I think the baby and the "daddy shoes" are going to be a hit. I'm also thinking I might check out the book Swimmy by Leo Lionni to read to who ever wants to listen during play time because in the story Swimmy has a plan.

If you have any other ideas I am ALL ears!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Some Company

I think one of the hardest parts of being in nursery is how lonely it can be. I have a great friend who is the mother of a two year old. She told me when she was serving in nursery (she was released a few weeks ago) she would come home and cry because she felt like church was her one chance to get out and enjoy some adult company and her calling kept her in kiddie land.
I hang out with adults all the time with my work but serving in nursery does cut down on my "Mormon time." One thing I'll do when I get home from church is to read a conference talk then go hang out in the Mormon Archipelago for a while. I feel like it helps me get my church fix, get ideas about what to study personally and I just enjoy the chatter.
Speaking of chatter, I really love and appreciate the chatter that people have been making about this blog. A big thanks to
Feminist Mormon Housewives - I'm on their link bar. Little me! Wow.
Mormon Mommy Wars - Always good for a laugh! She did a post about this blog which I will be forever grateful for. People put some helpful, funny comments you might enjoy reading if you haven't already.
Finding Myself Again - She just put up a great post about what she does in her nursery class.
My So-called Blog - My new favorite blog. It's just SO fun to read.
I have a pretty good feeling that without them none of you would be reading this except my mom and sisters. Hi Mom and sisters! If I left anyone out please let me add you. The more the merrier!
Tomorrow I plan to post on the lesson I'm preparing for Sunday, Heavenly Father's Plan For Us. If you got ideas, I would love to hear them.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Really I Just Love This Video

Really I just love this video, but I think it might give you an idea of what my singing and dancing looks like. I am NOT a musical person. I never sang or danced for fun. I was more the art geek, athlete, and overall nerd in school. My voice cracks just singing primary songs. I often forget the words and have to make them up. My point being, that real talent isn't needed to lead a nursery. The willing are called to the work, right? And as the kid shows, pure enthusiasm can take you a long way.
Watching this video also made me realize what a big nursery dork I am. While I was CRACKING up I was thinking I wonder what those songs are. They're upbeat and have hand motions. What are they? Does anyone know?

Getting Their Foot in the Door

As was mentioned in a comment left by Marie, there is nothing really as unfortunate, as awkward or as painful as a bad goodbye. The way I see it, all organisms with protective parents have an instinct that tells them "Stay with Mom and Dad!! It's your only hope!" It's a good and powerful instinct and it can cause some major trouble when nursery starts.   
So how do you get your nursery kids through the door and away from the ones they love as much as life itself?
As I said before, I do it with music and dance and the chance to pick a laminated picture off the wall.  I've found the music and dancing is involved enough to attract attention away from Mom or Dad and on to me the nursery leader. I think it's also a lot of fun for the kids. It's a chance to really move and jump up and down after an hour of being pretty still. Going in front of everyone to pick a song is so EXCITING. As an added BONUS, singing can often drown out the sound of crying. It sad that that matters but it really does. 
That's how I start but I would love to hear what others do.  Here's a few more ideas I've heard:
Kids get to pick their laminated name off the door and bring it inside to be hung up
Play with Playdough
And as always, the Almighty Bubbles 
Anybody have any other ideas? I can promise they will be MUCH appreciated.

Thanks Mom!

Since playdough has been mentioned a couple times I thought I would provide my family's time honored recipe. I have eaten (age 2), played with (age 2+) and made this playdough through the years and it works great for every purpose.

1 cup white flour
1/4 cup salt
2 TB cream of tartar
Mix these ingredients in a medium pot.

1 cup water
2 tsp food coloring
1 TB oil

Cook this mixture over medium heat, constantly stirring for 3-5minutes.
It will look like a globby mess and you'll be sure it's not turning out, but it will.
Just Believe!When it forms a ball in the center of the pot, turn off and knead
on lightly floured service.
Store in an airtight container or ziplock bag.

Advice from my mother:
I found that kids love using cookie cutters with playdough. Toddlers are not
able to manipulate the playdough well enough to makeballs or snakes, but
they can push cookie cutters into the playdough mass.
I really love to hear advice and ideas from anyone and everyone who has something to share. If you think it's too long for just a comment, email me at n o c r y l d s (at) g m a i l . Sorry it's spelled all weird, I want to try to avoid those evil spammers. If I can, I'll be happy to post your email up on this blog. Every tip helps so please keep them coming!

Monday, January 14, 2008

What To Do

I don't know why people expect a two year old to be completely satisfied playing with toys for two straight hours while we mature adults offer ourselves a chance to break, chat, and switch classes. Primary gets even more variety with class, singing time, talks, and sharing time.
When I've seen Nursery kids left to find their own entertainment they get bored and when they get bored they usually remember they miss Dad or Mom and begin to cry or they fight. As fun as it is to referee minority death matches I think everyone can enjoy themselves a little more with some direction.
So what to do? Nursery time is remarkably open to the discretion of the Nursery Leader which I think can be awesome or bewildering. I use a schedule I learned from a mother of six who was in nursery her 5th-6th time. It runs so beautifully all the other nurseries in our ward adopted it at the suggestion of our Primary President. I love the structure and I think the kids appreciate the routine as well. Here's how it goes:
9:40-10:00 Singing Time
Because it's hard to sing and cry at the same time. The down side is all the parents of nursery aged children get a front row seat to my song and dance show. That can be pretty humiliating. Anyway, I have chairs set up in a circle for the kids to go to. I put up small laminated cutouts on the wall with tape and each kid who is sitting in their seat gets a turn or two to come up and pick one of the wall. The songs are all active and fun like Head, Shoulder, Knees and Toes so we burn off some Sacrament meeting wiggles.
10:00 Prayer
I use three finger puppets that the kids love a bunny, a duck and a mouse. I hold each one and ask what is this? Then we say this little poem
The little bunny hops without a care
Hop hop hop hop hop (have the kids hop)
Please tell her Shhhhhhhhhhhhhh! (The kids Shhh with you)
It's time for prayer.
The little duck quacks without a care
Quack! Quack! Quack! Quack! Quack!
Please tell her Shhhhhhhhhhhh! (Kids Shhh too)
It's time for prayer.
The little mouse squeaks without a care.
Squeak! Squeak! Squeak! Squeak! Squeak! (kids squeak)
Please tell him Shhhhhhhhhhhhhh! (Kids Shhh too)
It's time for prayer.
You get the idea and others can be invented for whichever puppets you have on hand. Then one kid helps say the prayer.
10:10-10:20 Snack
Snack is done around the table and I try hard to have a conversation with each kids while they are eating.
10:20-10:50 Play Time
I pull out the toys and at this time the kids are free to do what they want. Meanwhile I run optional activities that the kids are welcome to participate in if they want. Usually they come and go which cuts down on the toy competition. Common activities are puzzles at the table that I do with them. Bubbles. Ring around the Rosey. Drawing with chalk on the chalkboard. Play Simple Simon. Read a story.
10:50-11:00 Clean up
11:00-11:15 Lesson with another song or two as part of it
11:15-11:30 Small Craft related to the lesson
It really works well. I know there are lots of other ways to do nursery. My mom always taught the lesson while the kids had their snack because she had a much more captive audience.
I also know people who hated the idea of a schedule so much that they pulled their kids out of a routine nursery to a "free play" nursery. I don't understand it but to each their own.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Lesson 2: Heavenly Father Has A Body

Today I taught Lesson 2: Heavenly Father Has A Body
While I was preparing for this lesson I thought about how this knowledge is so central and unique to LDS theology.  It seems like so much of our knowledge of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ's physical state comes from Joseph Smith's first vision.  The lesson manual uses the story of that vision to explain the idea to the kids.  
As a side, does anyone know anywhere else that talks about the physical nature of God?
Anyway,  I used a picture of the first vision and asked the kids to show me their body parts, then point out Heavenly Father and Jesus's body part. It went something like:
Me: Do you have hands? Where are your hands, can you show them to me?
The kids show me their hands.
I feel ambitious and ask them what they do with their hands.
Kids: Garbled responses. It's the beginning of the year so talking is beyond many of them
Me: Can you shake your hands?
Some do, the others catch on because shaking our hands is fun to do.
Me: Does Heavenly Father have hands?
Do you see them?
I ask one kid to come point them out. 
Three kids jump up and show me Heavenly Father and Jesus's hands. 
Class is going well. We move through other body parts. Nose, eyes, ears. Then I try hair. I point out that Heavenly Father has hair. I pick up my own hair and ask do we have hair while nodding my head.  I begin to ask a few kids specifically. 
Me: Sarah, do you have hair? 
Sarah: Yes
Me: Molly, do you have hair?
Molly: Yes
Me: Sam, do you have hair?
Sam: No. 
He rubs his smooth bald head. It supports only a little light blonde fuzz. 
I realize he's right. 
Me: Don't worry, Sam. You'll get hair too, one day.

Worst Nursery Story Ever

For fun, here is the worst nursery story I have ever heard. It was told to my husband while he was Home Teaching by the victims themselves. All names have been changed to protect the innocent.
Happy, newly married Couple Z were called to be in nursery together. Their ward was young and quickly growing which means lots of nursery kids. Couple Z did the best they could in the small classroom they used for nursery.  They had 15 kids at the time so it was very crowded. 
One day, a little boy came to nursery as usual, we'll call him Billy. His mother warned Couple Z that Billy had been sick with a stomach bug but he seemed to be feeling better. Nursery proceeded well until the last hour. Then Sister Z noticed that several kids were quietly congregating in a corner talking among themselves. Even worse, something was starting to smell VERY VERY bad. 
Sister Z went over to investigate and saw that Billy had taken off his pants and diaper and experienced an "explosion" of sorts right on the carpet. Even worse, the other little kids had decided to investigate and were quickly spreading the fowl substance onto every surface in the room, the toys, the walls, each other, EVERYTHING.  
What to do in such a situation? 
The bishop called a lock down and pulled every parent out of their class to rescue their poop smeared children.
When nursery is going badly, I like to think of this story. It reminds me that it could always be worse. 

I'm Not The Only One

So I'm now on the hunt for other LDS nursery sites. Does anyone know of one? 
I found this one LDS Nursery. They have pages and pages to photocopy and use as activities, coming from years of experience. 

Nursery Time

Picture this, you and a two year old are placed in a small, bare, carpeted room for two hours. You do not really know this child. The child has NO idea who you are. Can you handle it? Sure. No worries, right? How about you and 2 two year olds? 3 two year olds ? 5? 7? 9? 12?

Are you screaming for MERCY! yet?  Welcome to Nursery.  

I belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I came to my current ward 3 years ago and I've been in nursery 2 out of those 3 years. Which is pretty standard if I had been born 3 years ago, but I am twenty four.  

The first time I got called to nursery was the second week in the ward. I was newly married and my husband and I were asked to meet with the second counselor before church. I  was thinking I will happily accept any calling but nursery, please not nursery, anything but nursery. So of course, the second counselor asked "Would you be willing to serve in the nursery Sister M?" and I said, "Of course."  

I promptly cried the whole way through sacrament. That is how much I did NOT want to be in nursery. Then I went to nursery and I realized I fit in wonderfully. I didn't want to be there, the kids weren't so sure about coming either. I could really use a snack -I get grumpy without one - the kids felt the same.  I get antsy if I have to sit to long and I hate long boring meetings, the kids felt the same. 

I also had the great fortune of going into one of the most beautifully run nurseries ever to grace the planet.  The kids laughed, danced, and played happily. No one cried. No one screamed for their parents. The kids happily participated in a gospel centered lesson.  They sang gospel songs. They loved it and I grew to love it too.  

But running a nursery is still TOUGH work. I am a college graduate that works in Educational publishing and I still spend hours racking my brains for ideas and activities. Two year olds have about a 5-10 minute attention span so every Sunday I try to prepare about 12 different activities.  AND it's called "Terrible Twos" for a reason. 

Nursery can also be a very isolating.  It's hard to come up with those ideas and stay motivated. That's why I wanted to start this blog, to give nursery, one of the most overlooked places in the church, a forum.  

So Nursery Leaders Unite! Or if you aren't in nursery but have any ideas for activities or advice at all, I WELCOME your contributions.