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How To Get Teens to Participate in the Lesson
Annette Nay, Ph.D.
Copyright 2000

We should always help teens to feel comfortable in the class.

  • The teens should be encouraged to state what things they need to feel safe in sharing their thoughts, feelings, and testimonies with the class.
  • Write these down on a piece of poster board. These become the class rules and are posted each week.
  • When someone breaks these rules refer to the poster board with the class rules and state that we dont do that here, because we value each others comments. It is important that we all feel safe here.

Impromptu Performance A Teen Anxiety

Teens have great anxiety over being on stage and will go to great lengths not to have to do so. Some teens overcome this anxiety by skip class or acting out in class.

One of these dreads is reading the scriptures aloud to class members. There are ways to get around this problem.

  • The scriptures used in the lesson could be prerecorded on tape in the order they will occur in the lesson.
  • Have the class silently read along in their scriptures with the tape.
  • To keep the teen on tract, ask a question about the scripture before it is read so they know that they are to look for a scripture a head of time.
  • Ask how this scripture makes them feel and how it applies to their lives today!

Never allow class members to engage in put-downs nor engage in them yourselves, even in a joking manner.

  • Show respect for every honest comment that is made.
  • If the comment is not what you are looking for. Find a way to make it acceptable to take the teen off the hook. Use comments similar to these
    • Thats a good answer, but not what Im looking for. Im sorry! I didnt make myself very clear. What I meant was.
    • Your getting close, try again. (Give a hint)

Other Assignments

Other types of assignments that can involve your teens and should be set up in advance of the lesson are

  • A report on the lesson topic
  • Bearing their testimony
  • Telling of an experience
  • Sharing their feelings

Challenging Your Youth

Teens love a challenge, especially when there are rewards for meeting the challenge. Rewards are no good unless the teen recognizes them as a reward. Some teen rewards are food, candy, parties, and recognition.

You can challenge your teens to read their weekly reading assignment for the next week so they can discuss it in the next lesson. Those who can do so, could be rewarded with a jelly beans, gummy bears or worms, wrapped chocolate mint paddies, or one miniature candy bar that are sold in large bags during Halloween, Christmas, Valentines, and Easter.

Do not spoon-feeding the scriptures to teens

Tell them that you expect them to come prepared to class to discuss their insights, favorite passages during the first part of class each week.

  • Follow this discussion with questions that prompt deeper thinking on the principles discussed.
  • Ask questions that help the learners to apply those gospel principles.
  • Use follow-up questions that cause the learners to delve even deeper into the subject being discussed.
  • Assign some of them in advance of the class to give reports on portions of the lesson dealing with the reading assignment.
  • Assign them to read the assignment to find out the answer to a particular question to be discussed by the class the beginning of class next week.

In short, help the learners

  • understand that they need to read and ponder the scriptures for personal testimony growth, understanding gospel more deeply, and being able to have a personal relationship with the Lord.
  • to understand how to take advantage of the time they have to be able to read their class assignments.
  • to have opportunities which force them to take responsibility to read their scriptures each week.

Be Sure To

  • Make sure to praise those who do the assignment and share their knowledge with the class.
  • Challenge those who didnt share their comments to do so next week, by saying something likeIm looking forward to hearing from the rest of you next week! The reading assignment is.
  • Drop them a personal reminder of the class assignment by post card, or e-mail during the week.
  • Help your learners be excited about studying and understanding the scriptures and their assigned lessons.
  • Put the learners into action. Start in the classroom. Do not think, What will I do in class today? Instead think, What will my learners do in class today? Your job is not to lecture or show how much you know, but to
  • Pull from the learners what they know about the principle.
  • Fill in the holes.
  • Show how the principles apply to their lives.
  • Help them to set goals to put the principle in action in their lives.
  • Be enthusiastic about your own scripture study. Share your enthusiasm with your learners. Make it contagious.
  • Always use the scriptures in your lessons.
  • Have the learners use the scriptures to answer questions in class.
  • Show learners how to use study helps to understand the scriptures.
  • Compare the scripture characters and their problems to problems we have today. Help the learners understand the feelings of the characters and see them as real people.
  • Show the learners how to use the scriptures to find answers to their daily problems.
  • Bear testimony of the importance of the scriptures and the teaching of Christ and of His gospel.

We Need to Teach With Variety

Many times our teens are with us in body but not in mind. We need to make sure this is not because of our teaching methods.

The manual, Teaching No Greater Call, has almost thirty pages packed with interesting ways to share the lesson material with our learners (p. 159-184). It is your job to vary your presentation to keep the interest of your learners and to pray to find out which way will best reach them with each type of material to be presented. Dont get caught doing the same thing over and over again!

The following table list just some of the methods of presentation, but the possibilities are as endless as your imagination.

Methods of Teaching

Activity Sheets Flannel Boards Readers Theaters
Activity Verses Games Recitations
Application  Techniques Guest Speakers Role Playing
Attention Activities Lectures Roller Boxes
Brainstorming Likening Scriptures, Marking & Writing Margin Notes
Buzz Sessions Maps Scripture Memorization
Case Studies Memorization Scripture Reading (Aloud)
Chalk Boards Music Scripture Study Helps
Choral Readings Music with Narratives Scriptures Teaching
Comparisons Object Lessons Sing-a Story
Demonstrations Overhead Projections Stations to Visit
Dioramas Panel Discussions Stories
Discussions Paper Stan-Up Figures Visuals
Dramatizations Pictures White Boards
Drawing Activities lid windowtext .75pt; padding:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt"> Puppets Work Sheets
Examples Questions  

As teachers we must understand that there is no flexibility in the materials and resources we must use to teach from. Instead, we can find flexibility and creativity in the way in which we choose to present this material (Elsie Elliott).


Christ-Centered Counseling for A Better Life (1999). Annette Nay, MS. Silverdale, WA: Discovery Publishing.

Elliott, Elsie - (1/14/00). Presentation Idea.

One Sister's Lesson on Home Organization (1999). Located on the world wide web at:

Teaching No Greater Call (1999). Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Salt Lake City, Utah: Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.


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