Mom’s Back-to-School Supply Kit

I can hardly believe that we are wrapping up our summer! Next week is check-in and registration and we start school in mid-August. I am already working on gathering school supplies and filling out paperwork. It reminded me of the handful of essentials that aren’t on any list–these items are a few of the things you *really* need for the Back-to-School season.

Mom's Back to School Supply KitFirst up, gather a handful of photos of your child. One day your kid is going to have the chance to be the VIP for the week at school. Part of this little celebration will include decorating a bulletin board or poster with pictures of your kid. Here is the tip. Print off or gather about a dozen favorite photos of your kid and stick them in an envelope. (You should really keep them for next year, too!)

Trust me on this one: you’ll thank me for it at midnight the night before you’re supposed to take the poster to school. And instead of ripping precious photos out of your scrapbook or scrolling through hundreds of digital files, you’ll have a pile of great shots ready to go. It will make you look like a great mom. It will make your kid feel great. It will prevent all manner of meltdowns.

Next. A new playlist for carpool. Last year we really enjoyed the playlist from Guardians of the Galaxy, but it has definitely worn out its welcome. It’s time for a new playlist to make those infuriating drop-off and pick-ups just a bit more palatable.

Third. Buy six blank posters–a few white and a few colored. You *know* you’re going to need one at 11 pm for some ridiculous project that you’ll be completing for your child. Just buy a few before school even starts! I promise you’ll thank yourself for this sometime in the middle of October.

Fourth: Back-to-school books. This mostly applies to the 3rd grade and younger set, although all of these picture books would hold some ironic value for your older kids. Our favorite back-to-school books include Wemberly Worried and Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes, The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn, and My Teacher is a Monster by Peter Brown. For the high school kids? Make them read Catcher in the Rye.

Finally. You know Crazy Hair Day is coming. Somehow I always forget until 2 minutes before it’s time to leave for school! I’ve finally learned to keep a can of colored hair spray in my bottom bathroom drawer! Buy yourself a fresh bottle–it is worth the look of relief on your kid’s face at 7:55.

Forget about all the recommendations like “get back in the school schedule a few weeks before school starts,” “prepare lunch box notes,” and “find new breakfast recipes.” What you really need to survive re-entry into the school routine are a few of Mom’s emergency supplies. Good luck!


All About Me Family Home Evening Printable

All About Me FHE

We hiked to Timpanogos Cave when we were in Utah this summer! My four-year old did really well on the way up, but we had to carry him almost the whole way down. While we were hiking, I found myself trying to distract him from his sudden disdain for walking by asking everyone their favorite color, their favorite super hero, and their favorite song. I remembered that when my children were younger, we were constantly rehashing these questions. It was a big event when one of the kids changed their mind about a favorite color!

As they have gotten older, these simple questions have taken a back seat to deeper intellectual conversations. Thankfully. But it’s fun, especially for Jonah, to share these little details with each other.

So I thought I would create an “All About Me” poster to complete at Family Home Evening. I think we’ll probably have each person (children and parents) complete one and then highlight one person at FHE for several weeks. I’ll hang them up in the kitchen. You could easily make it the lesson for just one week and complete them all at once. It would be fun around back-to-school season, yes?

Some of the items are sort of specific to our family: Favorite Superhero is for Max, my Marvel aficionado, and Favorite Color or ARTIST is for me, an art history lover. But I think it’s pretty relevant for almost every family out there!

It would be easy to appropriate for Primary, as well.

Old Testament Scripture Mastery Bingo

It took a bit longer than I expected, but today I’m sharing a set of BINGO cards that test Old Testament Scripture Mastery.

Old Testament BingoI think everyone has played Bingo at school or at parties. The goal is to get five in a row: horizontal, vertical or diagonal. In this game, I recommend the teacher randomly selects the verse and calls it out–just read the doctrinal summary, not the scripture reference. The kids then find it on their Bingo Board and then if they can fill in the scripture reference they get to use that square as one of their 5-in-a-row. If they don’t know the scripture reference, they don’t get to use it! I think you can see what I mean above.

Again, the small graphic images are included and will hopefully help the students remember and identify the verse, but the important part is that the student is matching up the doctrine of the verse with the reference.

An easy way to randomize this game is to print the one page scripture mastery set here, cut it up into individual scripture squares (about an inch square), then throw all the pieces into a box or bag. Randomly choose and call out the scripture doctrine and let the kids fill in the reference on their Bingo card.

I know some Bingo games require matching up the right number under the right letter (like B-8 or whatever) but in my game, each student should be allowed to fill out the scripture reference wherever it is located on their Bingo card. First to get five in a row wins!

There are 20 versions of the Bingo cards–hopefully more than enough for your Seminary class. If you have more than 20 students, you have bigger problems!

One last idea–if you think you’ll want to play this game often, think about printing them on cardstock and laminating them. The kids can fill in the scripture references with a dry erase marker and you can reuse the Bingo cards.

Calling Changes

When we lived in Salt Lake I was part of a book group with a fabulous mix of women: varying ages, backgrounds and religious faiths. I loved getting to know a handful of Evangelical Christian women in my book group. They are absolute gems, so kind to me and my family during all the years that we met together. I love them.

I learned a lot, over the years, about the ways their church is organized. So many things were similar to the Mormon experience I am familiar with: helping with each others children, cookie exchange parties, support for moving and weddings and funerals, scripture study, and so much more. I remember answering their questions about our Mormon “callings.” I explained how people are given callings or assignments by their bishop, made with inspiration from the Lord. Sometimes the callings are a natural fit and sometimes they require stretching and adaptation. My friends explained that at their church these kinds of volunteer responsibilities were often filled by those who personally felt “called” to the work.

The example they shared was of an older woman (in her 70’s) who felt called to feed everyone! She was an expert at preparing and serving massive volumes of food to large groups of people. You could tell her the number of people that needed to be served and this woman could precisely and perfectly prepare and deliver the food! It was her calling. They used the word “calling” as a way to describe a feeling that personally compelled one to implement talents or skills. I’m sure you’ve heard that usage before.

I think of that connection every time I watch friends being called and released at church. What would it be like if you served in a calling for as long as you felt “called” to the work? What if that “calling” lasted a lifetime? I’ve wondered about this idea as I’ve seen friends groping for a sense of purpose at church in a calling that is uncomfortable. I’ve rejoiced with friends who have blossomed in callings. And I’ve seen friends who aren’t ready for a release! The way The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is organized requires an obedient flexibility to adapt to callings that come and go.

I was thinking about all of this yesterday when our Primary president was released due to her impending move to Connecticut! (I’m still in Primary, so you’ll continue to see lots of Primary stuff here on the website!) We sent her off with a Chatbook scrapbook as a thank you gift, filled with images of our Primary children in action: at cub camp, during sharing time, at our ice cream activities, and at our visit to the temple. We will miss her and her family dearly.

The previous Primary president was released because she had served a long tenure. We talked together about what it felt like to go to adult classes again. (Weird.) She transitioned gracefully into a calling with the Young Women, but admitted that it was an adjustment.

Callings in our church profoundly affect the way we worship on Sundays. When I am serving in Primary, for example, I find deep joy in serving the children. But my worship comes in the form of ushering children to their seats in opening exercises, applying a band-aid during singing time, or supervising a young friend during a water break. I do find spiritual fulfillment in these rather mundane tasks, because I truly believe I am facilitating the building of testimony! Sometimes I am helping build a testimony by delivering a sharing time message, but more often it is simply through knowing and helping the children in small ways during Sunday meetings. When I get released from Primary, though, as I certainly will one day, my Sunday worship will change. I will have to work to feel closer to God through listening in classes and participating in Relief Society. I can’t even imagine what that kind of worship feels like!

Letting go of one form of worship and adjusting to a new kind of Sunday experience is just part of Mormon “callings.”

I don’t know if I’ve ever felt a calling as clearly as the woman who feeds others in her Evangelical congregation. I do know that my favorite callings have been those where my skills, my heart, and a request from the bishop combine fortuitously.  In other words, the callings where both the Evangelical understanding of the word and the Mormon interpretation align. Those moments when I am truly “called” to the work.

Thoughts from my Sunday. I hope your week is wonderful.

Old Testament Scripture Mastery Quizzes


Old Testament Quizzes for Seminary

I put together a couple of Old Testament Scripture Mastery quizzes designed to be used in a seminary or Sunday school class. The graphics correspond with the scripture mastery printables you can find here on this website. Old Testament Scripture Mastery Quiz part 1

However, the blank slot on this quiz is intended for the scripture reference (like Moses 1:39, for example). The student could also attach the correct graphic (letter J) if you wish, but I believe the emphasis is on getting the main doctrine and the reference. The graphic is extra– just a mnemonic device. You could require that the students link the graphic to the correct verse or not.

I split the 25 scriptures in half, because I anticipate that most students won’t know all 25 right up front. The first PDF is below.

Old Testament Scripture Mastery Quiz Part 2

And here’s the second set half of the references formatted into a quiz.

I am surmising that linking the doctrinal concept with the correct scripture reference is the purpose behind memorizing scripture mastery verses. With that goal in mind, I formatted these graphics and concepts a few different ways, hoping that teachers could choose the quiz that best suited their needs.

Old Testament Complete Scripture Mastery QuizHere’s a quiz with all 25 Old Testament verses. The student is supposed to fill in the scripture reference on the blank line. You’ll notice that this quiz has the scriptures listed in order! So the next one is randomized.

OT Scripture Mastery Quiz Randomized


And finally! The last one is the most difficult. Just the graphics. The student is supposed to fill in both the brief doctrinal concept and the scripture reference on the two lines below.

OT Scripture Mastery HardEST

I am sure there are endless variations of quizzes with these three elements, but hopefully these are a good start!

I have a busy week ahead (Cub camp!), but I’m hoping to get one more fun game up with these graphics–a variation on Bingo. I think you’ll like it! I’m shooting for Friday. Stay tuned…


Old Testament Scripture Mastery One Page

Scripture Master One PageLast year I heard from friends that this one page scripture mastery sheet was useful! So here it is for the Old Testament set. The text is quite small on the verses that have more words: the Ten Commandments are not readable, for example, but I think it’s still useful because the images can help spark a reminder of the scripture.

After compiling the set of printables onto one page, above, I decided to put together a one page worksheet with the brief doctrinal concept, the graphic image, and the scripture reference. It’s easier to read! Studying this could really help student prepare for, say, a quiz. Like the printable ones I have coming tomorrow.

Old Testament Scripture Mastery Summary one page


The Life of Jesus: Tiny Coloring Booklet


It’s been a little while since I’ve shared anything about my parents mission to Cambodia! They are doing so well. They have been abroad for two months, settling in and working hard. They attend many meetings and teaching sessions and they do a lot of humanitarian work. My mom has such a soft heart for the children, so many of whom live without resources that we consider very basic.

We miss them but we are so inspired by their work. The photos and experiences they share are enlarging our vision of what it means to be part of a world wide church. As a small token of support, I decided to put together a one page sheet that is easy to photocopy with images of Christ. I’m shipping a package of crayons and a stack of these papers to my mom and hopefully she can share them with some of the children they visit or with the Primary children in one of their branches.

The sheet is meant to be folded in half twice to make a little coloring booklet.

The Life of Jesus


Old Testament Four-Per-Page Printables

Old Testament Printables 4 per pageA few days ago I posted the complete set of full page Old Testament scripture mastery printables. This set is four-per-page and it’s meant for personal use, in that all 25 are compiled onto 7 pages with four unique verses per page. It would be easy to print of the set (7 pages), and then use them to help with memorization or just familiarization.

Old Testament Scripture Mastery Printables

Old Testament Scripture Mastery Printables 2015

Two years ago I decided to print the Scripture Mastery verses that my son would be learning in seminary. I wanted to post the scripture verses around the house to make it easier for him to memorize and I wanted his younger brothers to participate as well. We used the printables as part of Family Home Evening and I shared them online. It started with the Book of Mormon printables and followed with the Doctrine and Covenants set. This year seminary is studying Old Testament, so I put together a set that are easy to print off and hang up around the house.

This is my eldest son’s senior year! Not to worry. My second son will start seminary just in time for me to finish up the New Testament set and complete the final one of the standard works.

I’ve also resized these printables into a four-per-page size. They are the same layout and fonts, just smaller. Find the complete set below.

They’re also available compiled onto one page. There are two variations: one which keeps the verses in the same layout and format and one which has a simplified summary of the doctrine and the icons. See the original post here.

I’ve used the same small icons and images to create a few quizzes. See the full post about the quizzes here. Find the printable quizzes below.

Finally, a Bingo game! The original post about the Bingo game can be found here. The Bingo card printables (20 different Bingo cards for the whole class) found below.

Thanks for all of your positive feedback on how you’ve been able to use these in your classroom or home! It is absolutely inspiring to hear from so many dedicated seminary teachers and parents. Your work and commitment gives me hope for our youth and our future. Please feel free to leave me any comments or suggestions on how you’d like to see these formatted for your use. I’d be happy to take your recommendations.

Best Summer Punch

I love the summer holidays! It seems like summer around our house was always full of family, food, and sunshine. I remember my Grandpa Evans had a special punch (with a recipe he would not share!) that he made in huge batches for summer picnics. I eventually got a peek at the recipe and it was full of Kool-Aid mixes!

Best Summer Punch

Years later, after delivering my babies, I remember being handed the most delicious punch in the recovery room. It was so refreshing–the perfect drink after the hard work of labor. I mentioned this punch a few months ago and my friend Melissa said, “Oh, I know that recipe! I used to be a nurse and I made it all the time!” It was a life changing moment. She sent over the recipe and I’m sharing it here today.

It’s perfect for summer barbecues or a great pick-me-up for one of those summer days when you’ve been to too many swim classes or spent the whole day at Cub camp.

Best Summer Punch

1 can of Sprite

3/4 cup orange juice

3/4 cup Cran-Raspberry juice

That’s it! Of course it is *BEST* when you have pebble ice, but sometimes it’s just not feasible. I like to fill my cup with ice (usually a 32 ounce cup), add the orange and cran-raspberry juice, and then fill it the rest of the way with Sprite. Happy Fourth!