Ok guys, not to toot my own horn or anything, but the resources that I’m handing off to you in this post are sheer and utter brilliance. There. I said it. TOOT!
But seriously, as I was preparing these files to share them I was actually sad that I won’t ever get to really use the finished product for myself. I put a TON of work last year into making this whole process easy and seamless for this year and I’d forgotten just how easy I had made it. So I hope this saves someone some work!
So here it is. I put together reminder wristbands for opening exercises assignments and conducting sheets which you can pre-populate for the entire year by simply filling out one simple Excel sheet. Easy peasy, lemon squeezy. You don’t have to use both the wristbands and the conducting sheets, you can use just one or the other but since they both feed from the same spreadsheet I thought it would be easier to put them both together in one post.
I went with wristbands for our reminder papers because it’s the easiest way to make sure that the reminders actually get home, especially for Jr. Primary kids. I take our wristbands, cut them out and tape them to the kids wrists (although I don’t always make the Sr. Primary kids have them on their wrists, I think they probably feel too cool for that). It has all the information their parents need, but I still send the follow-up email just in case. The conducting sheets are pretty basic, I went with a half-sheet format because (as I’ve said before) I hate paper and don’t like to waste it. I didn’t think we really needed a full sheet of paper every week that said most of the same things so I went pretty minimalistic.
So here’s how to put these together. Download the files by clicking here. Start with the excel spreadsheet and assign out all of your talks, scriptures etc. for the year. I left all the weeks in but you will want to delete the rows that correspond to General Conference, your stake conference weeks and any other week that you wouldn’t have opening exercises (maybe your Primary program Sunday?) Then start making your assignments. You can fill this in manually, but there is an easier way. If you have the MLS data from doing the birthday cards you can use that data to help populate this document. My personal philosophy is that every child should be given the chance to have all of the different assignments. I was a very shy child (ok, I’m still relatively shy actually) and I would have *never* volunteered to give a talk or a scripture, or been likely to be picked out as someone who’d do a great job. But because I was given the assignment to do these things at different points in my Primary career I got better at them. I think that’s one of the great blessings of church membership is being given assignments we are not qualified for so that we can learn. Anyways, you can go through and manually select which kids you think should have each assignment each week, but I felt like Excel could have as much inspiration as I could, and do a better job making sure each kid got an assignment. So here’s how I sorted out the assignments –
- Take your list of Jr. Primary kids (first name and last name) and paste into a blank excel document
- In the column after last name enter this into the next cell
- Fill that formula down through all of the cells in that column (Hint: If you didn’t know this, you can copy a formula like that by clicking on the little black square at the bottom right corner of the cell and dragging it down through all of the cells you want the formula to be in – nifty huh?)
- Then click on the “Sort and Filter” option, select the option that says “Custom Sort”
- When the next dialog box pops up and gives you the option of which column to sort by select Column C
That’s it! You now have a randomly sorted list of your Jr. Primary kids. What I did is take that list and divided it into three parts and pasted one part into the talk column, one into scripture and one into prayer. Then at the points where I ran out I just took the kids who had a prayer in the first part of the year and put them in the talk column for the next part of the year, scriptures to prayers and talks to scriptures. You can do that as many times as you need. Then do the same for your Sr. Primary kids. I tried to go through and make sure that I didn’t end up with siblings all having assignments during the same week, or giving all of the talks in a month or anything like that. Also, make sure you look through your Sr. Primary assignments and take out the kids who are graduating after they’ve gone on to Young Men’s or Young Women’s, but this should give you a really good start.
For the conducting and sharing time columns I’m going to assume that your ward does like my ward and has a rotation that doesn’t change too much from one month to the next. To avoid having to type everyone’s names in 52 times just enter the first three or four weeks’ assignments (or whatever gets you through a full rotation), select the filled in boxes and then use that nifty black box again to fill that pattern in through the rest of the year! Oh, and remember my hatred of paper? I’ve formatted this file so that if you delete at least 5 rows (2 General Conference weeks, 2 Stake Conference weeks and 1 Primary Program practice), it will print one page for Jr Primary and one page for Sr. Primary – not bad for a full year’s schedule!
Ok, so once you have all that filled out, save the file and you’re ready to move on to the wristbands. Note: even if you don’t want to use my wristbands and just want the conducting sheets read over this part, it has information you’ll probably want later. Open up the wristbands file and connect to the excel file, just like we did with the birthday cards. Be sure that you select the worksheet labeled “Assignments” and not the one labeled “Themes” – it should be the one selected by default anyways, but just in case. At this point you’re pretty much set, except for one thing – when I made these wristbands I had my contact information for the parents printed on each wristband. Since I don’t really want all of the parents from every ward that uses these to be calling me if Suzie won’t be there to give her talk, I replaced my information with dummy text that says “YOUR NAME AND INFO HERE”, so I should probably show you how to change that. It’s actually really easy –
- Open the “Mailings” tab and de-select the option that says “Preview Results”
- You are now looking at the wristbands in template form. Delete everything that says “YOUR NAME AND INFO HERE” and replace it with your information. You can also change anything else on the wristbands that you’d like. So long as you don’t delete any of the things that have the dashed line under them then you’ll still have the child’s name, the date of the assignment and the scripture/theme for that particular month.
That was it, not so bad right? So, on to the conducting sheets! These should be so stinking easy at this point it’s ridiculous. Open the Publisher file, connect to your excel file (again, make sure you select the sheet that is labeled “Assignments”) and you could be done! The one thing that you’ll probably want to change though is that I put the start/end times for our singing/sharing times that you’ll want to change. Use the same steps to get to the template as you did for the wristbands and you can change anything you would like 🙂
I could have made everything a little more full featured by adding in a column where you could add graduations and baptisms, or pre-fill the musical numbers but I wanted to make things super easy and generic. I figure you’re usually pretty aware of baptisms and graduations so they’re easy to pencil in when you’re getting ready to conduct. We also just would pick our reverence child when we’d get to opening exercises and just pick someone who was sitting nicely (or perhaps who might need some motivation to be sitting nicely 😉 ). The musical numbers also weren’t assigned out at the beginning of the year, we always intended to just have people sign up, which is why the wristbands are just blank as well as that slot on the conducting sheets. I’m sure everyone’s ward has a slightly different way of doing things but having a prayer/scripture/talk seemed to be pretty standard format so I stuck with those and I’ll let you figure out the rest.
You should now be ready to put together everything you need on a weekly basis for a full year’s worth of primary! What I did this last year was take the wristbands (for the following week) and paper clip them along with the birthday cards to the conducting sheets. Then it was all put together on Sunday to just grab out of our basket and go. It was a huge project to print and cut and paper clip all of these weekly packets, but it was SO worth it to have a stress-free Sunday each week!
I have a few more resources that I need to finish putting together, but I’ll have to redesign them as they used some artwork that I was told I did NOT have permission to re-post, even with attribution. So, it might take me a little while to get those up since I lack artistic talents. I’m also thinking that if anyone is interested I could post PDF versions of all of these mail merge resources for people who are more comfortable just filling things in with a pen. Until then, I hope you enjoy what I’ve posted so far!