Nazareth to Bethlehem Advent Calendar

I know I’m starting Christmas a little early here on my website! It’s ironic, because I actually have a strict “No Christmas decorations until after Thanksgiving” rule around my house. But I want to give you some time to prep these advent calendars before December 1. So off we go…

Nazareth to Bethlehem Advent Calendar. Move the Holy Family from Nazareth all the way to Bethlehem, on day at a time.

I saw this awesome felt advent calendar on Pinterest last week and I couldn’t stop thinking about it! I love the idea of incorporating a constant reminder of Mary and Joseph’s journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem into a Christmas advent. But felt is not for me. So I made one with a similar concept but it’s easy to print on card stock. The road Mary and Joseph would have taken was probably about 92 miles and would have taken them four or five days to complete. There’s a great article here about The Road to Bethlehem with a lot more details. It would be easy to pair this advent calendar with the article for a killer FHE.

Nazareth to Bethlehem copy

This page is meant to be printed on cardstock. I would probably choose kraft (a brown/cardboard color) but it would be great on red or white. Cut all the dotted lines you see above with an Xacto knife so the little “holy family” piece can slip into each slot as they take a step on their journey on every day of December until Christmas. Don’t let this stress you out: it took me literally 3 minutes. The slots are numbered to help keep you on track.

N to B pieces

These are the “holy family” pieces. There are 18 per page, and you should also plan to print this on card stock, because the thicker paper will help your piece hold up for the month of December. You could easily laminate this whole project if you’re inclined. Note: You only need *one* of the pieces per advent calendar–I included 18 on one page so that you can have lots of extras if you’re creating this advent for a Primary class or for every person in your family. Ideally, you’d move the same Holy Family piece from Day 1 to Day 24.

Best wishes for a really lovely Thanksgiving!

2014 Service Advent Calendar

The holiday storm is about to start! I can see the clouds gathering on the horizon. We are hosting Thanksgiving at my place next week and I’m organizing recipes and getting the house ready. I’m making lists for Christmas and stressing about our Christmas cards. (Should I just skip them this year?)

2014 Service Advent Calendar

At the beginning of December I have lots of energy for extra festivities. But by the end I am just hanging on, getting the essentials finished up. This calendar is perfect for busy families because it is so simple. I thought carefully about each day’s service activity: I think each one can be completed by a child (8+) with very little help from an adult. More importantly, I think the small but meaningful service activities could really add to the spirit of peace and giving that we are all striving for at Christmas time.

It would be perfect for a Primary class, Family Home Evening, and even useful with the Young Women or Young Men.

More Learning, Less Lecturing: Guest Post

More Learning Less Lecturing

A friend of mine was asked to teach seminary this year and I have been watching her adapt her whole lifestyle to this new calling! It’s not just the early mornings: she’s so committed and thoughtful about how she’s teaching and interacting with her students. The preparation she puts into her class really affects her whole day. It’s impressive! So a few weeks ago when Brother Richards and I chatted a bit about his seminary website, I had to ask him: what would he tell a brand new seminary teacher? How do you “quick start” seminary?

He’s been thinking about this question, too! Brother Richards sent me the following list and I’m happy to share it with you today. I think it’s helpful for all teachers and parents: these ideas are great for Sunday School, Young Men and Young Women and Family Home Evening.

There are a few more “nuts and bolts” kinds of tips and advice that Brother Richards sent my way that would be super useful for seminary teachers. I’m looking forward to sharing them with you: stay tuned!

Find Brother Richards’ thoughts below:

If there is one bit of advice I could give any teacher, it is to ask yourself one question: What will my students do in class today? And if the answer is always “Listen to me talk” you are in for disaster.

“Spiritual understanding rarely comes from a lecture. Spiritually, the classroom of faith becomes less like a lecture hall and more like a fitness center. Students do not get stronger by watching someone else do the exercises. As students learn and then participate, their spiritual strength increases. Invite students to teach and to share; encourage them to act in faith and to report on what they are learning.” (Elder Neal L. Anderson, 28 February 2014 Evening with a General Authority)

There are essentially 4 things students can do in class:
•Listen to the teacher
•Work alone
•Work with a partner
•Work within a group

My suggestion is to plan for each of these to occur at least once each week. There are a number of ways students can act (rather than being acted upon) in class:

  1. Have them create a teaching outline (per Preach My Gospel) based on that day’s chapter and then teach in small groups
  2. Post scripture passages around the room with questions to discuss; have them go around the room in partnerships reading and discussing
  3. Use to have students anonymously respond to questions or share answers
  4. Have students take 10 mins to read and discuss a block of scripture and then rotate to another station and repeat the same process with a new group.
  5. Assign each student a passage and ask them to draw a principle from it; divide them into groups and have a show and tell
  6. Do a Speed Dating scripture study approach.
  7. Ask students to create a tweet that summarizes a principle based on the passage; ask, “What would a Facebook status update sound like if a person were to post about a truth found in this passage” or have them create a caption for an Instagram image of the passage or ask “What hashtag would summarize this passage?”
  8. Have students create a “Line Upon Line” presentation, mirroring the “Line Upon Line” articles from the New Era
  9. Do a role play of a family at the dinner table that evening. Pick a father and a mother and then randomly choose 3-4 children. The parents just simply ask, “What did you learn in seminary today?” (sometimes the parents have to push a little to avoid simple answers).
  10. Fishbowl is another way to get students to talk. A small group of students (as many as half the class) arrange themselves in a circle in the center of a room. To begin the discussion, the teacher or a student within the fishbowl offers an open-ended question, and the fishbowl group discusses it. Students might initially be self-conscious as part of the group “on stage,” but they generally grow comfortable as the conversation flows. Leave an empty seat in the fishbowl for an outside participant who wants to speak. He or she should move to the vacant seat and join the discussion until someone else from outside the circle wants to join. That person then taps the first person on the shoulder, and they quietly switch places. Use to create groups

Articles of Faith Review Cards: Spanish and Portuguese

Once I finished up the Articles of Faith printables I realized how easy it would be to transform them into Spanish and Portuguese. Of course, they would be useful in any language if you just omit the text on the back: the images can represent the ideas and doctrine in each article of faith in any language. Nevertheless, I changed the text on the back into Spanish and Portuguese and resaved the PDF’s in both languages. I hope someone will find them useful!

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Remember, these are meant to be printed on cardstock, two-sided, then trim 1/2 inch of the left, right, and bottom of the page. Next cut each card into 2.5 wide and 3.5 inches long, 3 by 3. Hopefully the image and rulers above will help clarify.

Throwback Thursday: Girls of the M.I.A.

I have a special treat for this Thursday: a pamphlet titled Girls of M.I.A. (Mutual Improvement Association). It’s 8 inches tall with four sections, front and back, that fold together. The text is so fantastic: you can click on the image to see it a bit larger.

Girls of MIA 1I think there are two reasons why the women on the cover seem so old. First, I think high school teens tried harder to look like adults. But more importantly, M.I.A. used to include young married couples! You didn’t automatically graduate with marriage, you basically aged out, which makes some sense: young married couples could still associate with their friends and age group. So M.I.A. wasn’t exactly equivalent to the Young Women.

I love this blurb: “Your good looks are too precious for you to mar or risk losing. You will gladly expend every reasonable effort to retain them or enhance them. That finely-textured skin, the rose-glow in your cheeks, the sparkle and fire in your eyes, the pearly sheen on your teeth–these you set at high value.”

Copy writing has become a bit less formal, yes?

Girls of MIA 2


This page is full of warnings from doctors. This one about drinking is curious: “One of the early effects of alcohol is impairment of eyesight. Alcohol not only shortens the distance of vision but also narrows it. As little alcohol as is contained in two glasses of beer has been proved to shorten by one-third the distance one can see distinctly.” I’ve never heard the impairment phrased exactly this way!

Another great blurb on the right side: “Scientific experiments have made tests on typists over and over again, and the story is always the same–the speed is less and the errors are always increased after drinking.”

Girls of MIA 3

I love the quote they decided include on the left: “Shun alcohol as you would shun Satan himself. In how many cases has it been the first step to a girl’s moral downfall! If I wanted to ruin a girl, the first thing I would do would be to get her to take a drink.” From, get this, “A prominent Stake Leader in the Church.” Wah?

Girls of MIA 4This page has quotes from the youth themselves about the damaging effects of drinking. It’s so awesome that they’re already using the “guys don’t find it attractive” argument in the 1940’s:

“I think most girls smoke because they want to do what the crowd does. But boys say few girls do it well. This summer the boy I dated most boasted, ‘My girl doesn’t smoke!’ So I’m proud that I don’t smoke. It’s being different not to, these days.” Dorothy Dyer Akers, Improvement Era, July 1938.

And on the right we have Laraine Day, a saintly Mormon Hollywood starlet. “She’s as pretty a girl as we ever saw, and as intelligent.” And she doesn’t drink or smoke!


Articles of Faith Review Cards

Articles of Faith Simple Review Cards

So, the other day when I was updating the Baptism Preview booklet, I came across these great Article of Faith images in the Media Library and I thought I’d like to reformat them into review cards. They are meant to be printed on cardstock, front to back. They are intended to be cut to fit the size of a baseball or Pokemon card because I love those divided sheet protectors you can find to organize them all. They should end up being 2.5 inches wides and 3.5 inches tall.

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You should be able to trim 1/2 inch off the left, right, and bottom and then cut them out, three by three. But every printer is different, so be sure to eyeball them before you cut them. There is plenty of white space, so that should give you some room to work with. The front have the images, the reverse sides have the Articles of Faith text: four pages total. The art work is by Beth Whitaker: I love how simple the images are.



Baptism Preview Booklet

Baptism Preview Booklet

So, I just got a calling as the second counselor in Primary. I’m so happy: I think this is the calling I would choose, if asked! I’ve been digging around my old Primary files to see what I’ll want to reuse. One of the things I made many years ago but that I still love is this Baptism Preview booklet. It’s 11 pages, black and white, and I wrote it with 7 1/2 year olds in mind. It’s meant to help prepare children for an upcoming baptism, so, obviously it would be perfect for a Baptism Preview if you’re planning one.

This would also be ideal for your own 7 year old child! It would be fun to work through together for Family Home Evening (I think I would split it up into 2 or 3 different FHE’s).

The pages are slightly off–they shift to the right–because these pages are meant to be hole punched and placed in a three-ring booklet (you know, the kind you can find for like .25). This kind of binder is perfect for a Baptism Preview: you can slip in the dates for the year and special instructions for your ward or stake, as well as details on Activity Days or Cubs and Faith in God.

The first two pages of the booklet have identical text, while the images are different: one is a boy and one is a girl. Choose one! I’ve also updated the images with these great line drawings from illustrator Beth Whitaker. They are available in the Media Library at with special permission to repost for noncommercial use (yay!). The children can, obviously, color them in if they would like.

There are also several coloring pages from The Friend archives that you might like to include, links below.

I follow Jesus Christ in faith when I make and keep my baptismal covenant. A coloring page of John the Baptist baptizing Jesus.

I will show my faith in Christ by being baptized and confirmed.

My faith in Jesus Christ grows when I listen to the Holy Ghost. A coloring page of a girl being confirmed.

Baptism and confirmation are ordinances that bless my family. A coloring page with an 8th birthday cake.

Faith in God printables

Faith in God printable for Primary

Faith in God is a program designed for the 8-12 year old Primary children. Often, these activities are completed for the girls during Activity Days meetings. The boys seem to have a harder time because the Cub Scout program competes for time and resources. I’ve always gotten these activities done with my boys during Family Home Evening. I also like to spend time with my kids on this program during the summer, when we have a little more open time.

Faith in God comes with a booklet, one for boys and one for girls which is about the size of a standard set of scriptures. It’s great for the kids to carry around (and lose), but as a parent or leader I really like being able to see all of the activities on one page. I made an easy printable to share meant to supplement the booklet: you could easily use this in a family, for a class, or for the whole Primary. Just write the name of the child in the top right and keep it in a binder. It also has circles to check so you can easily tell what is finished and what needs to be done.

Faith in God for boys

The requirements are slightly different for the boys and girls. On the boys sheet, I shaded in the seven activities that are necessary to complete for the Cub Scout Religious Knot.

Faith in God reminder

I also made a half page “Reminder Page” that you can use to write reminder notes for the kids. If you’re working on Faith in God in a Primary class, at Activity Days, or during Cubs, I think it would be supremely helpful to send this little note home to communicate with parents or remind the kids of stuff they need to finish up. I filled out one above as an example.

Throwback Thursday “Missing You” Postcards

Did You Forget
I came across two adorable postcards that look they are meant to be sent to Primary children who were marked absent. This little elephant one is adorable. I love the red vase. Here is the back.

We Missed You postcard reverse

And then there’s this one that’s become politically incorrect. I still love the colors and style.

Where Were YouAnd the coordinating font on back…

We Missed You back of postcard

I would love to send little postcards to Primary children who missed Sunday! So sweet.

Personal Progress Prescription Pad

Personal Progress RX sheets

Everyone who works with the Young Women looks for ways to support and gently prod them through Personal Progress. I came up with a simple worksheet to help: it’s a “prescription” sheet designed to be left with the young woman after a “check-up” with her Personal Progress Professional. It’s sort of a reminder for the young woman of Things To Do moving forward!

Young Women RX for Personal ProgressThere are two per page (see above) and they should be super easy to print and photocopy in black and white, but I think they would look really sharp on a pastel blue or yellow. I made one version that is editable (!) so you can easily add your personal information (name, phone number, etc) for your young women. You’d add this in below the title “Personal Progress Prescription” on the top. I think this would be ideal.

But I’ve provided another copy that is generic so you could keep multiple copies on hand (or bind into a notepad, actually) to use anytime, by anyone. It’s the same as the one in the image up top.

Tomorrow I’ll put up a version of this for the Faith in God program in Primary, another one of those ongoing projects where adult help and encouragement is helpful and a written reminder of “what to do next” might be needed to get Faith in God finished.