I created this LDS Activity Days idea to widen the girls’ perspective of the LDS Church and the diversity of its members. Children have a natural tendency to categorize things even without prompting – including people. This might cause them to form incorrect ideas about the type of people who “belong” in the Mormon church (such as when my five year old daughter loudly proclaimed during sacrament that the woman wearing pants to church was not allowed to be there!).
The purpose of this activity idea is to show our primary children that almost anyone can be a Mormon, and that ALL are welcome in our congregation. All of the pictures, quotes, and videos are from the “I’m a Mormon” website, an official site of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I do not claim ownership of the materials presented here.
Category: Learning and Living the Gospel
Duration: 1 session
- Access to (or downloaded copy of) “I’m a Mormon” videos.
- At least ten balloons (may want to do more if you have more than ten kids – you want at least one per kid)
- Permanent marker
- (Optional) popcorn for video watching time at the end.
- “Who’s a Mormon?” slides for a slide show (PDF or PowerPoint), or for a more interactive activity, print Who’s a Mormon Cards (9 slides per page). (Please note: All of the info found on this slide show has been copied directly from the offical LDS site, “I’m a Mormon.” You might experience reservations that some of these individuals self-identify as gay, alcoholic, liberal, etc. Please consider the importance of illustrating to the children that ALL are welcome to worship with us, and that we are all imperfect – that’s what the Atonement is for! Also, if you think that the subject matter is too mature for this audience, remember that these kids have probably heard the term “gay” used as a derogatory term on the school playground, or perhaps they have conservative parents who express to each other that they are not happy with “the Democrats,” etc. It’s very likely that your 8-11 year olds have heard these terms, but never had them explained. From the negative context in which they hear these words, they may draw the conclusion that these types of people are not welcome in our congregation. It is vital that we dispel this myth!)
- Download the slide show to your computer, or for a more interactive activity, print the “cards” version of the slides and cut them all out.
- If your meeting location does not have internet, download the “I’m a Mormon” videos you are going to use and make sure they work on your computer.
- Blow up the balloons before the activity starts (but you may want to hide them for the first part of the activity so they are not a distraction!
1. Tell the girls that you’re going to play a game called “Who’s a Mormon?” If you use the slides, you can show them one by one and have them guess as a group, have them silently write their answers on piece of paper like a quiz, or keep a tally on a chalkboard. If you’d rather do the interactive version with the “cards” (the 9 slides per page, cut out) give them all the cards at once and have them sort into two piles: “Mormon” and “Not Mormon.” Depending on how long you want to watch videos at the end, and how big your group is, you can divide the 63 cards and have teams or individuals sort through smaller piles instead of going through the whole pile all together.
2. After the activity is done, ask the girls what criteria they used to determine who was Mormon and who wasn’t. Was it appearance? Description? Intuition?
3. Reveal to them that ALL of the people in the game are Mormons. Discuss any individual points that might be confusing to them (for instance, someone with a mohawk can still be a Mormon because ______).
4. Reassure the girls that it’s natural to have an initial reaction to people who don’t look like “normal” Mormons, but we need to remind ourselves that they are children of God, too, and we want them to feel welcome at church even if they seem different from us. We should make an extra effort to understand those members who are different from us. We can learn many things from all different church members.
5. Sing or listen to “I’ll Walk With You” and discuss how this can apply to differences in Mormonism.
6. Discuss the meaning of the word “stereotype” (a widely held but oversimplified idea of something). Come up with at least ten stereotypes for Mormons and write each on a balloon.
(You may find when you discuss these that there will be some confusion. For instance, someone might say, “but we’re not supposed to get tattoos!” Don’t shy away from pointing out that NO Mormon on Earth is 100% perfect. Perhaps that member with tattoos is a convert to the church. Perhaps they decided to ignore that particular recommendation for whatever reason, maybe when they were inactive, etc. The fact remains that someone with tattoos can STILL choose to be a Mormon. Being Mormon does NOT mean being perfect. To me, this is the most important thing we can teach them in the activity, because at some point in their life they are going to slip up, and we never want them to feel like that means they can’t be a part of the church any more!)
If they are having trouble coming up with their own, here are some ideas you can use.
- Most Mormons live in Utah.
- Mormons are always happy.
- Mormon families have lots of kids.
- Mormons have a testimony of the Gospel.
- Mormons attend church every week.
- A Mormon man always has short hair.
- Mormon women don’t work outside the home.
- Mormons are white.
- There are no gay Mormons.
- Mormons are Republican.
- Mormons are American.
- Mormons can’t believe in evolution.
- Mormons don’t have purple hair.
- Mormons don’t have tattoos.
- All Mormon men have been on missions.
- Mormons never wear sleeveless shirts.
- Mormon women only wear skirts and dresses to church.
7. Once you have written on all the balloons, give one balloon to each kid. Go around the room and have each girl yell out the stereotype that’s on the balloon, then yell “that’s not true!” and dramatically pop the balloon! This is the most fun part – some try to stomp on the balloon, sit on it, pop it with a pencil, etc.
8. Gather up all the popped balloons and then sit down. Share these quotes with them and discuss:
“Regardless of your circumstances, your personal history, or the strength of your testimony, there is room for you in this Church.”
Dieter F. Uchtdorf, October 2013 General Conference
“Truly, we may each be an instrument in the hands of God. Happily, we need not all be the same kind of instrument. Just as the instruments in an orchestra differ in size, shape, and sound, we too are different from one another. We have different talents and inclinations, but just as the French horn cannot duplicate the sound of the piccolo, neither is it necessary for us to all serve the Lord in the same way. Sister Eliza R. Snow said that ‘there is no sister so isolated and her sphere so narrow but what she can do a great deal towards establishing the Kingdom of God upon the earth’. Our privilege and our responsibility as daughters of God and as sisters of Relief Society, then, is to become the most effective instruments we can be.”
Mary Ellen Smoot, Relief Society General President, October 2000 General Conference
9. Share some “I’m a Mormon” videos with them that show them how diverse Mormons can be. You can browse the website for videos yourself (over 165!) but these are the ones I thought showed the greatest diversity and would resonate with young girls the most (if you are doing this activity with boys you will probably want to add more videos about men). I did not use any videos with subtitles because several girls in my group have learning disabilities, but included some in a separate list for those that don’t have to accommodate the same way and can add more variety.
10. Encourage the person saying the closing prayer to ask that God will help us to see that every person in the church is a Child of God.
- Include some more quotes and stories from Uchtdorf’s 2013 Conference Talk.
- Have a followup activity where a variety of members from your ward come and talk about their conversion story.
- If you have any girls with sensory/noise issues or need a quieter activity than popping balloons, you could write them on the chalkboard and then thoroughly color over them with chalk, drawing lots of hearts. Or same idea but with paper and markers.
- One sister suggested getting some photos and descriptions of people in your ward to add to the mix of all the cards.