Family Home Evening
About five years ago I put together this super simple Service advent for my family and posted it on my personal family blog. I still really like it. It is so simple and every single activity is inexpensive (or free) and quick. Because 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 (about 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.
I am totally in love with this game I just posted on Or So She Says: it’s a bunch of fabulous words pulled together into brackets so you can play together and countdown to the Best Word Ever. It was super fun to pull together. My husband printed off the pages last week and they’ve been doing the Final Four list at his office–he knew they would like it but he’s been surprised at just how much everyone has gotten on board. It’s originally based on the awesome idea at Ted McCagg’s blog. His top word ever: diphthong.
Go check it out and download your brackets and words. It’s a great game for families with older kids, YSA, or family home evening.
There are two versions–one where you decide the best word per every letter of the alphabet (long game) or one where you debate between the best word ever for just the top letters in the alphabet (short). Both would be super fun. Here’s a glimpse at the complete list, below.
My Mormonism runs deep in my bones: it is the faith of my fathers. My life’s work–my children–is bearing the fruit of this faith. Undeniably one of the more unique aspects of my religion is the doctrine of family. A child of divorced parents, a great-great-great-grandchild of polygamists and pioneers: my understanding of family has been subject to a mature interpretation of Mormonism itself. Capturing the clarity of our doctrine on family while simultaneously allowing room for the complexity of true family life is this lovely book by McArthur Krishna and Bethany Brady Spalding, the authors of Girls Who Choose God.
The book is not a narrative story: it’s organized around fifteen key ideas that would easily lend themselves to lessons for Family Home Evening, Primary Sharing Time or Visiting Teaching. Short paragraphs support these key ideas, reinforced by quotes from leaders. Similar to their earlier books, each key idea also includes questions that provoke discussion and thought. For example, in the section titled “Families Creat and Celebrate,” the questions include: How do you create with your family? What is one of your favorite family traditions? And, what tradition would you like to start? The quote is from Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “Our birthright… is to seek and experience eternal happiness. One of the ways we find this is by creating things….Creation means bringing into existence something that did not exist before–colorful gardens, harmonious homes, family memories, flowing laughter.”
It’s hard to over exaggerate how lovely the illustrations are, all by Caitlin Connolly. Each one is imbued with rich symbolism and imagery that complements the key idea at hand. The art is a stark departure from much recent work for LDS children. It is so much more brave and opinionated. It reminds me of the kind of art work in My Turn on Earth: memorable, evocative and bold. Highly stylized, but purposeful. I love it.
Our Heavenly Family, Our Earthly Families is exactly the kind of book I am happy to support in every way and will treasure in my home for years to come. Pick up a copy online or at your local church bookstore.
This Sunday is the “faith is like a seed” Sharing Time. I think this lesson is one of the first object lessons out there! It’s a great way to connect a concrete process (growing a plant) to a more abstract, spiritual idea (faith). I’m going to be emphasizing how some things help seeds grow and some things prevent seeds from growing: just like our faith. Things that help our faith grow might include prayer, scripture study, attending church, taking the sacrament, FHE, serving a mission, preparing to attend the temple, serving others, choosing good friends, or keeping the commandments. Things that might prevent our faith from growing: forgetting to pray, thinking you’re too busy to read scriptures, being mean to others at school, starting fights with your brothers or sisters, skipping church meetings, or using bad language.
For Junior Primary I started looking for a simple science worksheet about how seeds grow. I found a lot of dead leads and old images online, so I decided to put one together myself. It’s designed to be printed two per page and cut in half and it’s available for you below. I titled it The Tiny Seed because I may be sharing Eric Carle’s book by the same name. Depending on how much time we have.
Just for clarity, the images that are good for the seed are wind (to blow the seed to a good spot), sun, rain, and soil. The bad images are a bird, mouse, weed, and a boot or foot.
I also enlarged all ten images on the worksheet so they are about the size of a quarter page. I’ll use them to talk about the worksheet on the chalkboard while the littles are working on the worksheet in their laps. There are three pages in the following PDF to fit all ten images.
With our Senior Primary I am going to introduce the same metaphor (plants, seeds, faith) but we’ll round it out by reading Alma 32:27-43 together. If we have time we’ll get the kids to memorize Alma 32:21.
This would make a great Family Home Evening too…
I’m going to be teaching the First Vision in sharing time on Sunday. I’ll be doing something different for my Junior Primary, but for Senior Primary I am using this storyboard from The Friend (you can find the original online in the March 2008 Friend).
The twist is that I erased all the words that tell the story. I am planning on having my Senior Primary do their best to fill in the blank boxes and circles on their own, using the scriptures in the Joseph Smith History as a guide. After they’ve tried to fill in the blanks on their own with this one page worksheet, we’ll work on it together. I’ll also have the original available in case we get stuck.
You can print your storyboard worksheets below. They are black and white so you can make copies for the kids. Cool for Family Home Evening, too.
Last year at the Pinewood Derby my friend Kristi showed up with this amazing folding table, kind of like the one you can see above. We set it up in the carpeted overflow area off the gym for the younger kids to play with during the derby. I think it is such a genius idea: so simple, inexpensive, and easy to store. I think it would be fun for a family gathering, Family Home Evening or just to kill time on a rainy day.
I used a few different colors on this table just because I had them on hand (don’t ask) but a single tape color works equally well. The cars don’t really stay in their own track, but that’s not really the point. It’s an easy way to host a mock Pinewood Derby with very little effort or cost. Tip: I think the smaller folding tables work best (not necessarily half size, but not the full banquet size) because these inevitably morph into a slide.
Every kid I know loves playing with wallets (my kids included!) so I’m super excited for this printable. I’ve designed a one page worksheet that can be folded into a fun paper wallet. I think it’s perfect for Senior Primary ages, but it could easily be used with older or younger kids. Great for Family Home Evening, too. Here are the fast and dirty instructions:
To maximize the potential for teaching, I’ve included scriptures, pictures, and even a Children’s Songbook song that are all part of various tithing lessons in the manuals. On the inside you can also find images of things that tithes and fast offerings help to fund: missionary work, temples, buildings, scriptures, family history, printing and translating scriptures, and humanitarian service to others.
The PDF below doesn’t have any of the dotted lines you see above–I have found it looks much cleaner and folds more easily without the guides. But the image above should give you a great idea of how the wallet is meant to come together. Cut on the solid lines, fold on the dotted lines and then glue.
What should go inside the wallet? Money, of course. The printable below has 63 coins you can cut out for your lesson (or use a 1 inch punch). You’ll just give ten to each kid. The wallet comes together with a divider in the middle, which is a great way you can demonstrate that nine coins (on one side of the divider) can be spent or saved and one coin (on the other side of the divider) is reserved for tithing.
What my kids love most about my wallet are my cards! Debit cards, grocery reward cards, insurance cards, and driver’s licenses: my wallet is full of them. So for the tithing wallet I designed a few fun, tithing-related cards! There’s a faux Driver’s License: the kids can color in their own picture, sign it, and fill in their own address. There’s also a Tithing Rewards card intended to mimic a shopping rewards card with a tithing quote from Elder Bednar. The other two cards are both meant to help clarify and reinforce why we pay tithing and how: The Tithing Form and What is Tithing?
There are eight per page (two sets) on the PDF below, best if printed on white card stock.
Finally, I wanted to make a clean, crisp version of the tithing form available to print. I created it for one of the wallet cards above and I know you’ll need it for the lesson. It’s sized to print larger than life, on a full sheet of paper. You could tape it to the wall and fill it out in front of the class.
I’m looking forward to the campaign the church is putting together for Christmas this year: follow along with the hashtag #asaviorisborn. There’s a new video that drops on November 29th, and they’re hoping we’ll use the hashtag on social media–a lot like last year’s #sharethegift. The video and printables will all be found at christmas.mormon.org at the end of the week.
I liked helping our Primary get involved in last years campaign! I think it’s cool for the kids to see how they can participate in a worldwide faith initiative. Their willingness to help can also encourage their families to participate.
Also, I’ve been thinking about doing a service advent. So I’ve merged these two ideas by combining the #asaviorisborn campaign with a service paper chain. Part of the campaign is meant to encourage us all to do something good because of Him. Hopefully the service advent will give everyone lots of ideas of some simple but positive things to do!
I formatted the image above in a couple of different sizes, depending on just how many paper chains you’re making and how much ink you’d like to use! The image is from lds.org and I just layered the title and the scripture Isaiah 9:6 over the top.
Below you’ll also find an easy printable with 25 simple service activities most children could do on their own. Just print the three pages, cut them into 1 inch strips and staple them together into a chain.
You can download the images at different sizes: a large 1 per page, 2 per page, or 6 per page (perfect for a Primary or Sunday school class).
Please note on this six-per-page version the margins are very small. When I print at FedEx, this PDF would work great, but my home printer would not print to the edges, so be aware and print with care.
There are 25 slips in the paper chain, designed to be started on the first day of December and running through December 25th. They are numbered so you can keep them in order. You’re meant to cut 1/2 inch margin off the top and bottom, and then cut each slip one inch tall.
You can attach the image directly to the paper chain, but I think they look great mounted on a nice card stock border. On the one I tested out below, I punched a hole punch at the top and cut a slit with an Xacto knife on the bottom to make it easy to attach the last advent chain.
My cousin’s wife (hey there, Emily!) posted the coolest Family Home Evening idea on Facebook a few weeks ago. They sat with their children and asked:
1. What do mom and dad do to show you we love you?
2. What would you like us to do more with you?
Their children are young, so their questions and answers were fun and simple (they want to play more Transformers and color). But I think these questions are so good to talk about with your children at any age! I am looking forward to seeing what my teenagers have to say…
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.
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