The Ward Nursery
Your experience serving in the nursery doesn't have to be all about a room cluttered with toys and screaming toddlers with cookie crumbs in their hair. You can create a fun atmosphere with activities that are not only spiritually uplifting, but creative, orderly, and age-oriented as well.Spiritually Uplifting
Any parent or teacher can admit that it's difficult teaching two-year-olds about the gospel, but it is possible. Their little spirits are very perceptive--we just have to find the right ways to reach them.
You can provide an opportunity for the nursery children to learn about their Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ in several different ways. Make sure your nursery room has plenty of pictures of Christ and other people from the scriptures. Most small children learn in a very visual way and can gain appreciation for beautiful art. And often, when children later see a similar picture, they can point to it and say, "Jesus."
As the children come into nursery, play some prelude music to set the tone. The children will recognize the music each week and feel comfortable with the Primary songs. If you sing the same prayer song every week, it will help the children calm down and remember that the prayer is coming. Before serving a snack, make sure to say a blessing on the food. Little children love to pray (or to make an attempt), so setting a good example for them will go far.
Keep It Creative
Toddlers' minds are rapidly growing as they mature and develop. By being creative you can help them to learn something new each week. The manual you use will often include an object lesson that goes along with that particular lesson. Object lessons will capture short attention spans and provide a deeper meaning for children. Brainstorm to come up with your own object lessons, games, songs, and activities to keep the class fun and creative.
Have a few extra games on hand that can be accessed during a lag time. Help the children to create "houses" by covering tables with tablecloths. Make a nursery bulletin board with pictures of the children and nametags that they can wear. Include handouts and coloring pages for the kids to take home with them. This will help them to remember the lesson and reinforce the principles they learned.
Safe and Orderly
It's important to keep things safe and orderly, especially around children. Create a secure and comfortable atmosphere by tidying up the room and encouraging children to participate in cleaning up at the end of class. You could even create your own "Clean Up" song with lyrics and a simple melody that all the kids can sing along to as they're tidying up.
Designate separate areas of the room for toys, books, and snacks. You can have a special "reading rug" or "coloring corner" which children can visit.
Make sure that the furniture in the room is functional and safe for the children. Also, toys with missing parts could potentially be dangerous. Rotate these toys out on a regular basis when you wash and disinfect the other toys. Also, it's very important that sick children do not attend nursery. Be sure to inform parents of this and let them know if you think their child is experiencing symptoms.
There's a big difference between an eighteen-month-old and a three-year-old. Although they are able to play together and get along on some levels, they differ in behavior and skills. Learn how to cater to the needs of children of various age groups. For example, a child who is new in nursery may enjoy playing with something as simple as a ball. But an older toddler might be more ambitious and want to make a tower of blocks.
If you have children, imagine the types of activities they might enjoy. Take the children on make-believe bear hunts around the room; this will encourage them to use their imaginations. Children are very curious and inquisitive, so bring new things to show them in class each week. Answer their never-ending questions and teach them the wonders of the world around them.