With the official demise of LDS Pageants and, along the same lines, speculation about the possible phasing out of trek re-enactments (makes sense to me, big burden on local members for an activity full of questionable myth and folklore), let’s talk about one of the few Mormon cultural performances that won’t be going away anytime soon: the annual Primary Program. Ours just happened this last Sunday, four months into my first experience as a Primary teacher. So this was my first Primary Program as an “insider.” Here are some random thoughts and observations.
1. The talks are better. Many of the kids quoted a scripture in their little mini-talks, and there were no travelogues or rambling stream-of-consciousness monologues. Each kid’s mini-talk was pulled from their own talk given earlier in the year during Primary Sharing Time, so they weren’t just reading a script, they were giving their own talk. The counselor/coach by the podium adjusted the mic for each kid, so you could actually hear them.
2. The bishop gets a day off. It’s the only Sunday the bishop gets to go down and sit with his wife and family. That seems like a nice thing.
3. Just send everybody home afterwards. After the busy busy hour of setting up the seating, directing kids, adjusting the program for kids who do and don’t show up, and pulling off a performance of 40 or 50 children in front of a live audience … the same Primary Presidency and teachers are expected to go run two more hours of Primary? That’s just crazy. By the third hour my normally manageable class of sweet seven-year-olds was in revolt. After ten minutes I just handed out pictures and crayons, with Cheez-Its distributed liberally (box now empty). Just cancel Primary that Sunday and let everyone with kids go home after the program!
4. Snacks: the unwritten order of things. I started out thinking I would go by the book and not bribe my students with food. Nope, I’d follow the book and teach nice participatory lessons, no food required. By the third week I had my large box of Cheez-It Duos stashed in my Primary bag, soon to be followed by Cheez-It Four Cheeses. There is a purist in the class that wants Original Cheez-Its, just straight powdery orange ones, but I might branch out to Double Stuff Vanilla Oreos next week. The first question my kids ask is, “Do you have a snack today?” I don’t care what the book says, snacks in Primary class are a key part of the unwritten order of things.
5. I know who is really happy about two-hour church. Every Primary President on the planet.
Questions for the comments: What is your experience of Primary Programs? What snacks work for you and your young students? How do I get my Primary classroom designated as a Dominos hot spot? What do non-LDS visitors think of an LDS Primary Program?