“The Learning Game,” Ensign, Aug. 1995, 61
Years ago I was asked to teach my son’s Primary class. The Primary president had resorted to asking the mothers to take turns teaching these seven- to eight-year-old children because together they made up a very lively class. I wasn’t certain I would know what to do. As I prepared for my turn as teacher, my thoughts turned to some games that I could use to supplement the lesson.
The first Sunday as I rounded up my young charges, I found myself getting a little short of patience. I wondered if I could really get them settled down and interested in a lesson on tithing. Fortunately, having game-type activities as part of my lesson plan really appealed to them. The quiet ones participated, the noisy ones waited their turns, and I relaxed and enjoyed the class.
We pantomimed the ways tithing money is used, unscrambled words and sentences, filled out tithing slips, and had a math quiz on how much tithing to pay on different amounts of money. The class time was soon gone.
I volunteered to teach the same group again. As it turned out, I taught the class for several weeks, and each time we played learning games in support of ideas we were discussing that day. Keeping the entire class involved and participating seemed to be a good method for teaching that particular group.
After one lesson about temples we played a game requiring concentration. I covered a picture of a temple with numbered squares and had a list of questions corresponding with the squares. We divided into two teams. One team would choose a square, and if the players could answer the question for that number, I removed the square so they could guess what temple was being shown in the picture.
Another day each child reported on a temple of his or her choice, and then we had a team game to see which side could identify the most temples. We may not have been the quietest class in Primary, but the fun learning activities made for instructive and memorable lessons.
One week we “turned our hearts to our fathers” as we learned about family history. After the lesson I brought out a heart-shaped spinner that pointed to numbers surrounding it. We took turns spinning the heart and answering questions about the lesson. I found that the class simply enjoyed games, and I believe they learned more as they engaged in learning activities than they would have if I had lectured. Ideas for interesting learning activities can be found in many places. Not only do the lesson manuals themselves suggest games and other learning activities, but Church publications such as the Friend magazine, the Family Home Evening Resource Book, and other sources have ideas that will add variety and effectiveness to teaching.
In the years following I have used learning games in family home evenings with good results. The Family Home Evening Resource Book suggests many games to supplement the lessons, and we add games whenever we can.
Teaching those Primary classes helped me discover the importance of involving the entire class in the lesson, and it helped me discover the value of appropriate games as teaching tools.—Joanne Udy, Holladay, Utah