New Nursery Manual

August 27, 2008 | 50 comments
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The new nursery manual is available. I’ve only had time to scan a few lessons, but it looks fabulous. I love how they’ve given hints to the teacher in the margin and I love how the lesson is focused on brief, physical activities.

I’m so pleased to see such age-appropriate materials for teaching young children.

I’m also pleased to see this in the Introduction: “Use only Church-produced resources in the nursery class.” I’ve long been irritated with the professionally-produced materials that people use; I don’t like cartoonish depictions of deity and I don’t like the slant of (some of) these materials. Fortunately, this new nursery manual has enough coloring pages and simple activities that no one should feel the need to turn to these sources anyway. (Is it too much to hope that Deseret Books would stop stocking materials designed to be used contrary to the directions at the beginning of the manual?)

I haven’t looked at most of the lessons in the new manual yet, but it looks like a great deal of thought went into it. The spiral binding should make it easier to teach from and the included full-sized color pictures should be a great resource.

This looks like a great book to use at home with little ones, too.

Good job, curriculum department!

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50 Responses to New Nursery Manual

  1. sscenter on August 27, 2008 at 2:23 pm

    I think this is a good example of something that is going relatively unnoticed by people. The church resources, including manuals for most organizations, are getting much better. There has been such an attempt in the past to water-down lessons to avoid any kind of questions or controversy, I think what has come out in the last six or sever years has been really good.

    I especially noticed this when I taught seminary. I taught the most recent year of D&C and was very impressed with the amount of information shared regarding polygamy and the revelation on the priesthood. I think the same positive attitude can be shared regarding Preach my Gospel.

    My hope is that in the coming years the material for the adult Sunday School classes will mirror this improvement.

  2. Sheldon on August 27, 2008 at 2:43 pm

    (1) My wife and I were nursery teachers for the first 2 years and 9 months we were married – that is, until my wife was pregnant and couldnt chase kids around anymore. Some people say that it would discourage new couples to have kids if you put them in the nursery… that’s only true if the ONLY WAY TO GET OUT OF THE CALLING is to have kids of your own.

    (2) When we taught the lesson from the old manual about the Sun (not the Son, the Sun – the one called “I am thankful for Day and Night”) we found that the nursery kids loved to rock out to the They Might Be Giants Song, “Why Does the Son Shine” – favorite line – “The sun is a mass of incandescent gas / a gigantic nuclear furnace!”

  3. Researcher on August 27, 2008 at 2:50 pm

    After looking at several of the lessons, it passes my stringent standards for nursery materials.

    Actual sit-down lesson time 45 to 90 seconds? Check.

    Lots of music and gross-motor-skill activities? Check.

    Activities where you go through and name and interact with each child? Check.

    Real guidelines for dealing with problem children? Check.

    Instructions on how to deal with children of that age? Check.

    Instructions to ask about food allergies and sensitivities? Check.

    Bright pictures of happy, smiling, people from a variety of backgrounds? Check.

    Coloring pages for every lesson? Check.

    Guideline that the healthy nursery snack comes out of the primary budget? Check.

    Looks good; thanks for the review.

  4. makakona on August 27, 2008 at 2:55 pm

    we ordered it last week, but have yet to receive it. we love using the manuals for family home evening and are really excited about the new nursery manual. we’ve been having HUGE nursery issues in our ward and once we can get the right people in there, i’m really hopeful that the new manual will fill in the blanks. thanks for the review!

  5. Emily M. on August 27, 2008 at 2:58 pm

    I LOVE THIS NEW MANUAL. As someone unfamiliar with teaching this age child (my own kids are different) nursery has been a challenging calling for me. The old manual forced me to figure out my own lesson each week; instructions were not that helpful. I eventually got a grasp of what works and what doesn’t. I’ve only taught one lesson from this manual, but it went very well, and I’m excited to use it.

  6. sister blah 2 on August 27, 2008 at 3:04 pm

    Looks great! Thanks for the heads up Julie.

  7. clark on August 27, 2008 at 3:19 pm

    About time. The old manuals were way too advanced.

  8. Mike Madsen on August 27, 2008 at 3:30 pm

    Good-day,

    I am Mike Madsen, the product manager for the new nursery manual. I do not have alot of time to blog, but am grateful that you are getting the word out. We just went live today on LDS.org with announcements, PDF and HTML downloadable versions, and a sweet promotional video. Please view the video. It sends the message that this manual works great in the home setting as well (where there are young children). As we tested the manual, we have had many successful experiences where parents were using it for FHE and scripture study.
    Please let others you know about the manual by sending them to the home page of lds.org. If you have questions, I will try to get to them.

    Thanks :)

  9. FoxyJ on August 27, 2008 at 3:55 pm

    I spent a few years as Primary president and my biggest frustration was trying to convince teachers that they could just teach from the manual and use the Friend online as an additional resource and that they didn\’t have to spend lots of time buying/creating other stuff. This manual looks great–although I will miss the lessons on things like smells or birds. I kind of liked how the old lessons integrated the natural world and the creation. But it\’s nice to have a simple focus on basic Gospel truths. Is this also going to be the Sunbeam manual like the one we use right now?

  10. Frank McIntyre on August 27, 2008 at 3:57 pm

    I never really had much interaction with the old manual, but flipping through a couple lessons on the new one I can definitely see it working well for my two year old. This is just his level.

  11. quinn on August 27, 2008 at 4:43 pm

    the portuguese manual has a funny error, under the picture of a girl in the first lesson, it says, I am a ‘son’ of god. Eu sou um filho de deus. i dont know how im going to explain this to my daughter.

  12. ZD Eve on August 27, 2008 at 4:53 pm

    Oh, hooray!
    Like FoxyJ, I will miss all the lessons on birds and fish and plants–those did offer lots of fun possibilities. But this looks much better tailored to the needs of nursery-aged kids than the old adapt-the-Sunbeam-manual approach. Looking through the lessons really makes me miss my old nursery calling.

  13. jjohnsen on August 27, 2008 at 5:17 pm

    Very, very cool. It was frustrating to take my son into nursery late one Sunday and watch the leader try and get the kids to pay attention to a 15 minute lecture. This seems much better suited for two-year-olds.

  14. Kevin Barney on August 27, 2008 at 5:53 pm

    Mike Madsen #7, thanks for showing up here and commenting. This can be a tough, demanding crowd, so from the responses it looks like you’ve got a bona fide hit on your hands. Congratulations!

  15. Clark on August 27, 2008 at 7:47 pm

    What’s the link for the video?

  16. Julie M. Smith on August 27, 2008 at 7:57 pm
  17. Shelah on August 27, 2008 at 9:32 pm

    Oh yay! Now I wish I had picked one up when I was at the distribution center yesterday.

  18. Kent Larsen on August 27, 2008 at 10:18 pm

    “Use only Church-produced resources in the nursery class.” I’ve long been irritated with the professionally-produced materials that people use; I don’t like cartoonish depictions of deity and I don’t like the slant of (some of) these materials.

    I’m uncomfortable with this restriction. Its not that I think the materials that can be purchased are all that good (I too dislike the cartoonish quality), its just that I don’t like the restriction, especially considering how poor some Church manuals have been in the past.

    Why not let members use good judgment? “Teach them correct principles…”

    But I’m happy that the manual seems so much better. It was long overdue.

  19. Julie M. Smith on August 27, 2008 at 10:38 pm

    “Why not let members use good judgment?”

    Am I allowed to say “because they haven’t” without sounding like I’m advocating satanic denial of agency?

  20. Bro. Jones on August 27, 2008 at 10:49 pm

    So when are we getting a new primary manual?

  21. FoxyJ on August 27, 2008 at 11:17 pm

    The “restriction” really isn’t all that bad considering the fact that there are over 30 years worth of issues of the Friend online filled with games, coloring pages, activities, stories, etc. Some of those are crappy, but there are a lot of good things in there too. I use the Friend all the time for FHE now. A while ago I had to sub in nursery so I printed off a coloring page of Gordon B. Hinckley from the online website and everyone thought it was so cute. It only took me a minute or two of searching and I had a nice coloring page. Not that hard. I really like the layout of these new lessons–they make it much easier to break a lesson down to Nursery level. And integrating the pictures into a spiral bound manual is genius–my old primary closet was filled with random floating pictures and incomplete picture kits that drove me nuts.

  22. no-man on August 27, 2008 at 11:25 pm

    re:17, I’ve been told that in part that restriction is there to avoid copyright issues when people bring in videos or other materials and show them to a group. Only a lawyer would care, of course …

    I much prefer the good judgment approach, but you’ve got to get people away from showing Veggie Tales videos or whatever in place of lessons. I know that desperate feeling (in Primary, anyway) when you don’t have a real lesson prepared and would love to do anything possible to keep the kids quiet for a few minutes.

  23. Mike Madsen on August 27, 2008 at 11:50 pm

    re-14. The link in on the main page of lds.org…and in 13 other locations on the Church website as well.

    re-19 Every Bishop in the phase 3 languages (27) should be mailed one this week. This mailing is to let nursery leaders begin using it right away, as well as let bishops know about it. They will them be able to order it as a part of their annual curriculum order. It is available at distribution right now, but they go through them fast. Call before you go.

    re-10 thank you. we will fix this in the PDF, and HTML versions. We will also fix it in the hard copies in the next printing.

  24. Starfoxy on August 28, 2008 at 12:01 am

    I got my manual in the mail yesterday and I really like it a lot. I’ve always struggled with figuring out just how to adapt the Sunbeam manual for nursery age kids, and have long wished for a nursery manual.

    About the “Use only Church-produced resources in the nursery class.” restriction- I was a little put off when I first came across that, but I think it is actually a very good idea.

    For example I’ve been singing a song called ‘Slippery fish’ with the kids, and I’ve had more than a few parents approach me to ask if I know something about ‘a fish song’ because the kids want to sing it at home with their families but can’t remember it very well, or tell their parents where they learned it. It’s a cute song, and the parents are generally happy to learn and sing it with their kids, but when I’m the only person who has access to the resources I use in class then families (and my future replacements) are unable to reproduce and reinforce the things I teach. Limiting myself to church produced material helps prevent this.

  25. Mike Madsen on August 28, 2008 at 12:05 am

    re-“Restriction” This is a tough one. For the most part, Church members would use things that are appropriate. It is, however, facinating to see how many people use things that are not. I think it would scare us to see how fast we would go into apostasy if we were not linked to the Brethren.

    We are thinking about publishing electronically all of the approved fun things from former issues or the Friend. We would index them for you by topic and scripture block. We hope to make some of them interactive and fun for children to interact with on-line. There are some good things coming, and the Friend has added some fun things. Go check out thier new features.

  26. alex valencic on August 28, 2008 at 2:06 am

    I just glanced at a few of the lessons in the PDF format, and I must say, I am quite impressed! And while I am sure that a lot of hard work, time, and energy was invested in this amazing resource, I can’t help but share a concern that my wife, our ward’s Substitute Primary Teacher, has had in regards to the Nursery lessons: the words of the songs are given, but not the music! This makes it very hard for someone who does not know the songs to teach them, unless they also have a copy of the Children’s Songbook on-hand.

    But I still think that this manual is an enormous improvement on the old manual! Kudos to Mike and his team!

  27. KTJ on August 28, 2008 at 2:35 am

    I’m so bummed that I don’t get to use this new manual in the nursery (I was recently released as nursery leader – my favorite calling ever)!! It looks AWESOME!!

    The only thing that bothers me a little bit is some of the lesson titles: “I Will Obey,” “I Will Be Thankful,” “I Will Share,” etc. It’s the same reason that the song “I Will Follow God’s Plan for Me” bothers me. I wish the word “can” was used instead of the word “will”: “I Can Obey,” “I Can Be Thankful,” “I Can Share,” “I Can Follow God’s Plan for Me.”

    Teaching children that they “will” do something bothers me because it feels like I’m placing a stricture on their agency (i.e. Lucifer’s plan). Teaching children that they “can” do something feels like I’m empowering them to use their agency well (i.e. Jesus’ plan). I skimmed a few lessons and the materials are all agency-empowering – it’s just the titles that bother me.

    Mike re 24: Please do publish and index all of the Friend materials electronically! I have served in Primary for many years, and I actually thought about compiling an “Index of Church-Produced Resources” and posting it on the Web myself (but didn’t). It is a much-needed resource for those in Primary callings who are trying to follow the “restriction.”

  28. Julie M. Smith on August 28, 2008 at 9:32 am

    Mike Madsen,

    An index would be incredibly useful and well-worth the effort that went in to producing it.

  29. John Buffington on August 28, 2008 at 10:50 am

    I wonder if they will issue this to Mission Presidents? Always seemed to me that this calling is a lot like Nursery Leader, differering largely in form, not substance.

  30. Julie M. Smith on August 28, 2008 at 10:55 am

    I finally watched the video. (BTW, I know the *twin* of the woman in the video, but not her. That was weird.)

    I like how they emphasized that one of the reasons that the manual was written so simply is so that children can use it to teach FHE lessons. I think we’ll try that.

  31. Sherri on August 28, 2008 at 11:35 am

    I use it to home teach the mentally handicapped gals across the street. The lessons are at just the right level.

  32. Carolyn on August 28, 2008 at 8:55 pm

    Any idea when a new Young Women manual will be released?

  33. Mike Madsen on August 28, 2008 at 11:31 pm

    re-31. We actually have a neat product coming this year for the YW. It is called the Young Women resource guide. You can pick one up at the distribution centers for 2009 right now. It provides supplemental materials for the lessons. Mostly to update the quotes and stories. We suggest several recent talks that could be used in conjunction of the lessons. There are also good teaching tips, and ideas for activities tied to doctrines (personal progress and other things).

    Go get one and check it out. They will be delivered to wards when Bishops receive their annual curriculum shipments for 2009.

  34. makakona on August 29, 2008 at 12:31 am

    julie, our kids are a lot younger than yours, but they take turns teaching fhe (well, not the one year old!). we’ve always used the sunbeam manual because i had no ideas on how to convert the fhe manual into something useful for toddlers. they obviously need some help, but it’s fun to see how their imaginations work once they’re given the task.

    i think t&s is racking up big points in the great ‘nacle race… how many “official” people have commented here, lately? i’m drawing a blank on names and titles, but its pretty neat to get stuff straight from the horse’s mouth here. thanks for piping in, mike. i agree that what you proposed in #24 sounds great. i don’t serve in yw, nor do i have any daughters in the program, but your #32 has me running to ldscatalog to place another order! too bad you don’t get commission…

  35. CS Eric on August 29, 2008 at 10:53 am

    Mike,

    My wife is a nursery leader, and when she saw the materials online, she was quite impressed. However, being the practical sort, her first question was why there are only 30 lessons when there are 48 weeks they have to teach? Do they go back and repeat?

  36. nita on August 29, 2008 at 4:27 pm

    #34- as I understand from glancing at it, the teachers can take time to teach a lesson and emphasize concepts that might be hard for the kids to grasp instead of having to “rush” to get through.

  37. nita on August 29, 2008 at 4:27 pm

    #34- as I understand from glancing at it, the teachers can take time to teach a lesson and emphasize concepts that might be hard for the kids to grasp instead of having to “rush” to get through.

  38. amyj on August 29, 2008 at 4:59 pm

    I have heard that this manual is specifically for nursery and that the sunbeam manual will remain the old one, at least until further notice. At least that is “the word” on some of the yahoo groups…

  39. Lupita on August 29, 2008 at 4:59 pm

    I’m sorry but did Julie just get me excited about a nursery manual? I’m looking forward to obtaining one!

  40. Marianne on August 29, 2008 at 5:27 pm

    I like the idea that teachers can use the lessons to go at their own pace–as a Sunbeam teacher there were weeks that I figured if they left at least knowing that Jesus loved them and I loved them we were succeeding (and managing my own expectations). I like that the pics are in the books (contained so they don’t get loose or out of order, just flip and point). I like that there’s a lot of stuff to do.

    I’d love a proper index for the Friend–I’ve found it very searchable in general, but sometimes it’s a little time consuming to sort through all the hits to find something that works (like when you’re hoping to find something about the Nephi and Lehi, Helaman’s sons, and instead you mostly get all the refs to the originals).

  41. Sheila Wilson on August 29, 2008 at 8:04 pm

    Hi Nita and all,

    This new Nursery Manual now becomes an addition to the wealth of Church approved resources for teachers. Since it is the \”latest and greatest\” so to speak, it could strengthen other lessons taught whether they are FHE, Sunbeams, and etc. We wrote it specifically for the nursery age children but has many ideas to teach gospel principles through activities, finger plays and stories and \”younger children methods\” that one can draw from; not to mention the beautiful pictures and great illustrations!

  42. Sheila Wilson on August 29, 2008 at 8:05 pm

    Hi Nita and all,

    This new Nursery Manual now becomes an addition to the wealth of Church approved resources for teachers. Since it is the \”latest and greatest\” so to speak, it could strengthen other lessons taught whether they are FHE, Sunbeams, and etc. We wrote it specifically for the nursery age children but has many ideas to teach gospel principles through activities, finger plays and stories and \”younger children methods\” that one can draw from; not to mention the beautiful pictures and great illustrations!

  43. Sheila Wilson on August 29, 2008 at 8:05 pm

    Hi Nita and all,

    This new Nursery Manual now becomes an addition to the wealth of Church approved resources for teachers. Since it is the \”latest and greatest\” so to speak, it could strengthen other lessons taught whether they are FHE, Sunbeams, and etc. We wrote it specifically for the nursery age children but has many ideas to teach gospel principles through activities, finger plays and stories and \”younger children methods\” that one can draw from; not to mention the beautiful pictures and great illustrations!

  44. Sheila Wilson on August 29, 2008 at 8:05 pm

    Hi Nita and all,

    This new Nursery Manual now becomes an addition to the wealth of Church approved resources for teachers. Since it is the \”latest and greatest\” so to speak, it could strengthen other lessons taught whether they are FHE, Sunbeams, and etc. We wrote it specifically for the nursery age children but has many ideas to teach gospel principles through activities, finger plays and stories and \”younger children methods\” that one can draw from; not to mention the beautiful pictures and great illustrations!

  45. Bookslinger on August 29, 2008 at 8:27 pm

    (Psst… Julie: your mailbox @ timesandseasons.org is full.)

  46. Julie M. Smith on August 29, 2008 at 9:51 pm

    Bookslinger, try again or try juliemariesmith at yahoo.

  47. makakona on August 30, 2008 at 1:08 am

    fedex delivered ours today. (by the way, can i mention how impressive the prices and shipping are on distribution items?) i am in LOVE with it! my husband and i spent naptime lying in our bed, just flipping through it. i love how the pictures and activity sheets are lumped right in there with the lesson and that each lesson has everything there in two pages. the spiral binding is genius and i really can’t wait to use it. looking through, it will be great to use for fhe, especially for our squirrelly 3yo (who is a sunbeam) and even for our oldest daughter. i can see her getting a kick out of planning the lesson according to the manual because it’s on the level of her little sisters. i agree with the previous comment that it really makes it easy to throw out those lame “primary partners” supplements. the intro was awesome.

    i can’t believe i’m this excited over a church manual. simple pleasures for simple minds, i guess!

  48. Mike Madsen on August 30, 2008 at 11:26 am

    re-34 Thank you for the question, many people have asked this. We have put answers in the introduction, but we should have made it clearer somewhere else (our introductions are really the “sealed portions” of the scriptures…)

    For children, nursery starts at 18 months, not in January. Nursery just keeps on going all year round. There is never a real start or finish. So, there is nothing really magical about 30, or 48 for that matter. Actually, our hope would be that some lessons are taught two weeks in a row. Little children learn best through repetition. Think of the success you could have in the second week if children could answer a few more questions or respond as if they have learned from the week before.

    This is a huge cultural shift from the past (one-hit wonders). It is, however, based on solid research. Try it out, even in FHE for your youngest ones. After three weeks, for example, they could even teach you the “steps of prayer” for example (see lesson 3). What a great thing that would be…

    One more thing, the 30 lesson approach allowed us to put line drawings and a full picture with each lesson…

    re 40,41,42,43 Did PC laptops really fix your computer?? :) :)

  49. Sarah on August 31, 2008 at 8:34 pm

    I’m no longer in Primary, and don’t have kids, but I’ll have to check this out just because of Julie’s recommendation. ^_^

    Having an easy way to get to all of the coloring/activity pages from the Friend would be brilliant — I finally resorted to taking the GAK pictures and turning them into coloring pages with Paint Shop Pro, which was really hard and didn’t turn out well; I easily spent thirty or forty hours on that and making word puzzle sheets. If I hadn’t been released I was planning on coercing the YW into drawing me some coloring pages for a value project.

    (it’d also be great if the big-kid Primary manual activity pages were in higher resolution… I finally redrew the CTR shield myself just to get one the size of a full sheet of paper.)

  50. Alison Moore Smith on September 1, 2008 at 1:50 am

    Kudos to the curriculum department and to Julie. It’s really nice to see a post that praises the work done at headquarters.

    I look forward to seeing the new manual, even though my youngest recently graduated from nursery. Sad, however, to see that the YW just get a resource manual. That sounds very much like what we’ve had for years: links to New Era articles, etc. to try to update the pathetic manuals. Every time I’ve been in YW, I’ve really struggled with them.