Reconsidering Our Approach to Testimonies

From the ages of about 7-11 years old, cognitive development is in the “concrete operational period.” This means that kids can make logical connections between action and belief (such as “I have a testimony of Serving Others because it makes me feel good inside when I give a gift to my mom”), but have difficulty with larger abstract concepts (such as “I know the Church is True”).
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Knowing this about the cognitive stage of the kids in Activity Days, what would be the most effective way to help girls develop their testimony? Here are some ideas:

  • When you bear your testimony, make it about a specific aspect of the gospel, preferably one that they just did an activity about (for instance, you can do a service activity and then bear your testimony about service).
  • Avoid generalized testimonies, which are appropriate for teenagers (they are in the “formal operational stage”), but not as effective for Primary children. For instance, rather than saying, “I know Joseph Smith was a Prophet,” you can say, “I know Joseph Smith was inspired by God to write the Word of Wisdom because eating healthy food makes my body feel good.”
  • Rather than an entire activity about a girls’ testimony (which would be difficult to sit through anyway), pick any idea on this site and, a few minutes before the closing prayer, have the girls share their feelings about the specific theme for that activity, either vocally or on paper.  (You could also tie in this practice to journal writing if you do it several times a year in the same notebook.)
  • At the end of an activity, re-share the spiritual thought from the beginning of the activity to help them remember the Gospel connection.
  • We often compare a child’s testimony to a little seed that will grow if we help nurture it. In reality, a child’s testimony is more like a garden full of seeds. There are many different aspects of the Gospel and, as an Activity Days leader, you are one of many gardeners helping to nurture that garden. Just focus on one seed at a time – one gospel principle at a time. They can’t yet process a testimony of the Gospel as a whole entity, but you can strengthen that forming testimony seed by seed!
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