I spent a couple of hours of my day today wrangling 7 four year olds in Primary. They were squirmy, they were giggly, they were dramatic, they were emotional, they were all over the place – through Opening Exercises to the lesson I tried vainly to teach to them. Unless I am performing some magic trick ceaselessly in front of their ever demanding and growing entertainment needs, I am pretty much talking to myself. Or my teaching partner. Feeling like you are successful in getting a message across to them is like trying to tie a knot with bubbles.
Today, darling little Will told me “I hate stupid teachers!” when he wasn’t picked for an activity right away in Opening Exercises. Ah, lovely four year old impatience. Then, sweet Jenna came up to me and reached for me to put her on my lap…then pulled back and said, “Oh no, I don’t want you. Not today!” and scampered off to another seat.
I figure I can get them to focus for maybe 37 seconds straight. Thirty-seven if I play my cards right. Or tie them all up together. Which is exactly what I did today. 🙂
The lesson was on our pre-earthly existence and how Jesus believed we should have our free agency down here on earth, that we had the right to choose whether we wanted to follow the gospel or not. I taught them how Satan had a different plan. He wanted us to be forced to do the right thing so not a single soul would be lost. To try and get this point across, I took a string and made a path around the room in a zigzag pattern with a picture of the Savior at the end. I asked the kids to follow the string with their hands until they got to the end–no help required. They quickly reached the end and I asked, “See? Wasn’t that nice that you could do it all on your own and I didn’t force you to go that way?”
To prove the counterpoint, I lined up all of the kids and tied the string in a knot around each of their right wrists, all in a line and told them that this time, we were going to get to the picture of Jesus but we were going to do it my way. I dragged them out into the hallway, up this hall and that, and the funniest thing were all the looks I would get from people as they saw me toting 7 four year old’s in a neat, tied up line. Another Primary teacher saw it and said, “Wow, that’s ingenius! I should tie my kids up, too!”
Needless to say, we reached the end of our journey and I asked the kids if they liked going on their own without being tied up or being dragged to and fro according to my will. Will’s hand quickly shot up.
“Umm, can I have a piece of candy now?”
And thus was my lesson digested by midgets. Maybe sugar helps the lesson sink in better…?