Singing time wasn't too bad because last week we had a stake leadership training where I prepared a singing time presentation and then didn't end up using it, so I just used that because I happened to have it in my church bag! Thanks for that! I was prepared for my sharing time so that went fairly well also.
There are a few things I have noticed that have made our sharing times function better. The first is to not really have any down time. If you are taking time with a child, to help them look up a scripture or to get them to think about something, during that time, you will almost always lose the other children in the room. They just don't have the patience to sit there quietly while someone else is figuring things out.
Our sharing time yesterday had several scriptures that needed to be read and then together, the group decides whether that scripture was talking about the premortal life (before birth), mortality (Earth life), or life after death. I wrote each scripture down on a 5x7 piece of paper, and then a quick synopsis of what the scripture said to help the children understand the point of the scripture. Then I handed out the papers while we were doing something else and asked those with papers to look up their scripture and be prepared to read it.
I had also prepared picture representations of each of the stages in the Plan of Salvation. I basically used this outline, but I made it large enough to be seen across the room, and used colored construction paper.
We had a quick discussion as to what each of the options looked like, for instance, in the premortal life we were spirit bodies but did not have a temporal body. Then to get from the premortal life to Earth life, we participated in the process called birth. We then talked about Earth life and the transition from Earth life to life after death and what happens to our bodies, spiritual and temporal. And we discussed that our bodies and spirits will be reunited during the resurrection, never to be separated again. (If you want a more in depth look at these doctrines and the scriptures that back them up, click here.)
As we presented these materials and discussed those ideas, a few of the children had questions. We took the time to answer their questions. This is where learning is really happening!!! When the children feel comfortable enough with you to ask questions, sincere, heart-felt questions, that's what we want to encourage and respond to their questions appropriately. One question was 'After we are resurrected, can we go back to Earth?'. I wasn't quite sure of exactly what he was asking, so as I answered that I wasn't sure, someone behind me (the pianist) said, 'Yes we do 13th Article of Faith.' (I think she meant the 10th Article of Faith) OK....let's run with that. Then I taught them that the Earth has a spirit. The Earth has been baptized. We are taught that the Earth will receive a Celestial glory and become the sphere whereon those who also inherit a Celestial glory will live. So the answer to his question is yes....if he lives to become worthy to inherit the Celestial kingdom, he not only will return to the Earth, but he will live here for eternity. But I think what he was really asking was 'After we are resurrected, can we come back to Earth to visit people.....' I made the mistake of not clarifying his question or asking if I adequately answered it. I should have done both of those things.
Another question was how are our physical bodies created. To which I answered, "Well, mothers and fathers together create those physical bodies for our spirits to inherit.....and if you need more explanation than that, you'll need to talk to you parents."
I also took the opportunity to teach those children that our Father in Heaven wants us to ask questions. He has given us prophets and those prophets have written down their interactions with Deity, they are recorded as scriptures. So if we will read the words of the prophets and the scriptures, we can know the answers to some of our questions. Our Father in Heaven wants us to want to know how and why things happen the way they do. He has provided answers and He will provide each of us with our own answers if we are willing to pay the price. That price is faith, study, and obedience. When we are prepared to receive the answers, those answers will come, even if they don't come to us in this life time.
Our sharing time was significantly longer than it should have been, but we didn't assign a talk for this week so we had some extra time to fill. It all worked out well.
When those we teach feel comfortable asking questions, we are having a successful class period. It isn't so much about the topic we are teaching as it is about helping others learn to question and then show them how to find the right answers to their questions. Pointing them in the direction of the scriptures and the prophets is key. And especially if their age warrants, encouraging them to ask their parents is also significant.
So even though we were a little loud and unruly, people questioned, learning happened, discussion ensued, and that my friends, is success, especially in Primary!