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.


Carter Family said...

I ran across you blog and have to say THANK YOU! Your ideas are great! I am in the Primary Presidency in my ward and over Nursery. It helps to know how I can help you guys out in Nursery. An idea we are doing in our nursery this year is rotating Sundays for the teachers. Two couples are in Nursery for the first hour then the second hour go to class. The other two couples go to class first then switch and go to Nursery. Every Sunday they rotate if they are in Nursery first or second. This allows the teachers a chance to attend two Sunday School classes and two Priesthood/Relief Society classes a month. It is working so far. The teachers apprecitate the break from a two hour nursery schedule.

Carter Family said...

Also the has great helps. It is focused more on Primary but things can be adapted for Nursery. Another website is it has a coloring page for every lesson for the year.

Carter Family said...

Sorry for posting one more comment to the three but i put the wrong address. It is Thanks!

Kate said...

Great stuff! Thank you, thank you, thank you for the recommendations. I've added those sites to the links bar.

And please don't worry about commenting too much. When I saw that there were 3 comments it made my day. I love hearing how each ward adapts and copes with the challenges nursery presents. Yours is an interesting solution.

Our nursery subs in a volunteer in the third hour so if one of the nursery workers wants to they can go to Relief Society. (Presently all the nursery workers are women.)
It's really nice to have the break.

Jared Scott said...

Wow. I am impressed Katy! I am so glad that Bree is in your nursery. It seems like you really know what you are doing already. I think structure is great.

Jared Scott said...

That was me that posted the last comment. I have got to figure out how to get my name on there instead of Jared's.


jjstringham said...

Hi. I just ran into your site from mormonmommywars. I think that's awesome that you started a nursery blog. I belong to a ward that has a lot of little ones and therefore has two nurseries. My oldest just graduated to sunbeams and my littlest is still having a hard time adjusting to being in nursery. I'll be sure to pass your blog along to the nursery leader. :-)

Me again said...

I just wanted to remind everyone that a well run nursery makes all the difference for next years sunbeam teachers.

I could go on and on.

But I can't stress enough the importance of helping kids learn to sit in chairs.

Last year we did playdough at tables and also had our lessons at tables.

Most of the kids did very well. The younger boys were the main problem. but we are still working with them. I guess being under the table could be fun :)

Seriously I could go on and on with nursery ideas and what has worked for us, but don't want to write a bookn in the comments section. Instead I'll go and write it on my blog.

katie said...

Found your site through Mormon Mommy Wars...thanks SO much. I've been in nursery for about 6 months and need all the help I can get.

Caroline said...

I'm also here form Mormon Mommy Wars... and good for you having a schedule. I'm a sunbeam teacher and we have a schedule pretty similar to that. (Because lets face it, going from nursery to sunbeams is quite a culture shock.)

Anyways. In my ward, they have a bubble machine. So when parents are dropping their kids off, it's all about "oooh, look at the pretty bubbles!" Keeps the kids nice and distracted as parents make their exits....

danyelly said...

I had a great experience serving in a large Junior Nursery in Michigan. There were up to 25 kids by the end of each year, so organization was the key. Here is an overview:

Large overflow room for playtime and singing time. 3 small classrooms for dividing into smaller classes for snacks, lesson time and coloring. 1 Nursery Leader, 1 assistant, 8 adults (2 for each smaller class of children)45 minutes of playtime, 5 minutes of clean up (toys go into locking cabinets), 15 minutes of singing time in sectioned off corner of large room (each child had a carpet square to sit on), transition to classes (children hold onto ropes so they don't get lost or distracted in the hall), 20 minutes snack time while teacher is giving lesson (the kids are quiet and pay close attention), coloring, storytime, or bubbles until the parents come.

We also had gates at the doors so that children couldn't escape, and signs on the doors requesting that no one peek in and disrupt the happy children.

It isn't probable that most wards have the manpower that this ward had. And not everyone who was called embraced the calling or enjoyed it, but if it hadn't been for the organization, no one would have enjoyed it.

Kate said...

I am so with you. Blowing bubbles manually is just a short gasp away from chaos. One time when the stars appeared from lack of oxygen, I decided the whole process should really be mechanized. Ooo how I have dreamed of a bubble of machine.

What a great plan. I totally agree that the organization makes what would be martyrdom by babysitting into a survivable calling. I think your sign for the doors is a great idea. I have the most random people opening and closing the nursery doors. Every time the door opens the kids all perk up and I think half of them remember there's somewhere else they'd rather be. I'm tempted to put a sign that just says "STAY OUT" but I'm sure there's a more tactful way to get the idea across. What did yours say???

Rachel said...

Hey! I'm newly called into my ward's nursery and was googling for nursery schedule ideas. This is perfect. Hope you don't mind if I steal it!

Chrystina said...

I googled nursery schedule and found your blog. I am the nursery leader and just about to lose my mind with only two leaders and 16 kids in nursery, we need a better routine! I'm going to try your suggestion for a couple of months, thank you so much for posting it (a few years ago) :)

Adrienne said...

You've probably been released by now, but thank you for posting this! I just moved to a small branch and called as 1st counselor in the primary, which means that I have the pleasure of being locked up in a room with 3 rowdy boys for two hours every other month. This was juat what I needed!

joyce shumway said...

Love having a schedule with the kids. We have one very similar, but use a battery operated bubble machine at the end of class...that way the kids can be manipulated into behaving by promising to use the bubble machine at the end of class...we position it on the opposite side from the doors so that the children's focus is away from the doors and as the parents come in to pick up kids, they are fixated on the bubbles and we never have problems with kids wanting to leave the minute the first child's parents show up. Often the older kids want to join in with the nursery kids! We have snack at the tables and make the children see us for hand sanitizing prior to eating. Once they are done, they are asked to clean up their spots before putting their chairs away and coming to mats for lesson....we figure they listen better with a full stomach. We usually start the class with a song that we are working on learning....currently, "If you choose to meet a frown"....they have a laminated face that each child gets a chance to use as we sing the song over and over....hopefully they will learn it before they get into Primary. Repetition is good for the children....they don't view it as boring, as they only are in class once a week.

Keel Family said...

What is the best way to help a clingy parent let go so their child can learn independence in nursery? Any suggestions?