“Including Every Child,” Ensign, Jan. 2000, 73
My wife and I have found the following tips helpful in giving all the children in our Primary classes—not just one or two—a chance to participate in lesson discussions:
Write It Down
When we ask a question, we have the children write down their answers or note key words or phrases on paper that they can refer to if called upon. This helps all children feel a responsibility to participate and stay involved with the lesson.
Pick and Choose
For this activity we ask a question, then propose several different answers and label them a, b, or c. We tell the children they will have 10 seconds to think about it. Then when we say “Go,” they may indicate their answer by standing up for the a answer, staying seated for the b answer, or sitting on the floor for the c answer.
To encourage thinking about the lesson, we say to the class, “Discuss this point with the person sitting next to you.” After using this technique a few times, we simply call out “Share!” and the students turn to their neighbors and start talking. We often follow up with a general discussion that is richer because they have already talked about it in pairs.
After asking a question, we have the students signal their answer using color-coded cards. Green paper signals “I agree,” and red or yellow paper signals “I disagree” or “I am unsure.” Students can also signal a thumbs up or thumbs down.
During nursery singing or lesson time, we put a blanket on the floor and ask the children to sit on it. This gives them a boundary and keeps them from wandering about. The blanket also serves as a transition: when it is spread out on the floor, the children know it is time to sit quietly.
Grin and Bear It
Sometimes we use a stuffed teddy bear to gain the younger children’s attention during lessons. The bear “watches” for children who are participating, and at the end of the lesson or activity the bear gives them all a kiss.
Cut It Out
One activity the younger children seem to enjoy has been working with modeling clay, which we roll out on the table. Using cookie cutters, the children then cut out shapes that go along with the lesson.—Brad Wilcox, Provo, Utah