Preparing our Family for General Conference (including FHE plans)

General Conference is a twice-annual event that is very important to me. The opportunity to hear living prophets and apostles speak the word of the Lord is a special blessing, and I am grateful for it. I want my children to recognize what a blessing General Conference is, so we do a number of things to prepare our family for it.

Recognizing the Apostles

We have had a lot of success teaching our children the names of the First Presidency and Apostles by singing their last names to the tune of “10 Little Indians”. Monson, Eyring, Uchtdorf, Packer, Perry…etc. All of my children (age 10, 7, and 5 know the song well now).  The next step is to match the right name with the right person. This month I ordered the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles picture set available from store.lds.org. We can use the 8×10 photos in many ways for many years!

FHE before Conference

Our FHE the week before conference is always focused on conference preparation. Here is our plan for tonight:

1) Using our new picture packet, review the names and faces of the prophet and apostles. Can we put them in the correct order?

2) Review the importance of General Conference by discussing the following quotes from Elder Hales.

“To the young members of the Church, I promise that if you will listen, you will feel the Spirit well up within you. The Lord will tell you what He wants you to do with your life.”

“Wherever we are in this world…I testify that we are gathered at His conference.”

In conferences we can receive the word of the Lord meant just for us…This is possible because the Holy Ghost carries the word of the Lord unto our hearts in terms we can understand.”

General-Conference-Quotes-2We will hang these printable posters from the Red Headed Hostess on our wall and keep them up all week.

3)Plan for General Conference weekend: There are tons of resources available online to help keep children occupied during General Conference (sometimes it is a little overwhelming). We have done many activity packets and coloring in the past, but this year I want to find out what they are most interested in doing, so we aren’t scrambling at the last minute. We will pick our favorites from the ideas below.

IMG_1250-2Remove the poster from the most recent conference Ensign. Hang it on the wall, and then the children get to put a sticker on the picture of whoever is speaking.

Scan10261My children have always enjoyed coloring the General Authority ties. I can’t find the link on Sugardoodle anymore, but I did find a version here.

I picked up a post-it-note pad for each person in our family. I will hang the pictures on the wall, and we can use the post-it-notes to jot down key topics and quotes and hang them on the wall. For my beginning readers and spellers, I printed and laminated these headband cards to use as reference cards.

One of our family goals this year has been to memorize scriptures (almost weekly). We can also use the post-it-notes to quickly record scriptures that are mentioned. We will also listen close to see if our scripture of the year is quoted.

As usual there are a number of packets and great ideas available on Sugardoodle.

We Talk of Christ, We Rejoice in Christ has a fabulous list of ideas and resources. We have had success with the concept of reverence stations in the past.

This time around I would like to try Smash Booklets. The children will have the freedom to write and draw and decorate their pages as they please.

And since it is Easter weekend, it would be fun to combine Easter eggs and apostles.

This Conference I Spy worksheet would be fun, along with homemade spy glasses made from toilet paper rolls.

On the menu

General Conference at our house means crepes for breakfast on Saturday, and cinnamon rolls on Sunday! Yummy!

What General Conference plans and traditions do you have?

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Easter Traditions and Plans: Starting a Holy Week study

Our family just finished a low-key spring break at home, and now it is time to prepare for Easter!

This year I have decided to take another step  to make our Easter a little more focused on the Savior. Inspired by this post, we are going to hold our own “Holy Week”. Starting today we will be reading about the events that took place during the last week of the life of Jesus Christ. We are using the summaries and scriptures that were printed in The Friend in April 2011. To do this I printed off the summary for each day on spring colored cardstock, laminated for durability, and then taped the summary for each day on to one of my kitchen cupboards. As we do the readings each day, we will add a corresponding picture from our Gospel Art Kit. We will do our readings during evening dinner time.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has just released a new Easter campaign on mormon.org: Because He Lives.

“Jesus Christ lived. He walked the Holy Land, working miracles and teaching truth. Then He was crucified. But His death was not the end. Because of His Resurrection, we will live again. Because of His sacrifice, we can rise above sin to experience true joy. Because He lives, we can find His help and healing every day of our lives.”

Here is a lovely new video message which I plan to share with my family today as a start to our Holy Week.

The site also contains a brief summary of each day in the last week of the Savior’s life, which I plan to incorporate in our Holy Week study.

On Easter Sunday we will conclude with this Bible Video: He Is Risen.

I have always struggled a little bit with the idea of Easter baskets and how best to incorporate that into our family. I like the idea I have seen around the web of “Secular Saturday and Sacred Sunday”. In the past I have done a family basket and included things like sidewalk chalk, bubbles, coloring books and stickers. This year I don’t feel like we are really in need of any more stuff, and with a birthday and General Conference this week, I am opting to simplify things a bit.

I found this cute Easter Jelly Bean Prayer at The Idea Room, so this small gift is what my children will wake up to on Easter Sunday.

This year I discovered a very nice picture book called In The Garden, by Caralyn Buehner. It appears that the book is out of print, but I was luckily able to snag a copy from my library. It presents the story of the Atonement in a simple way for children to understand with beautiful illustrations.

In between watching General Conference we will decorate our eggs, and do an egg hunt (some with pictures of Jesus Christ cut out of Ensign magazines, some with coins, and some with candy).

Dinner will be our traditional ham, potatoes, green beans, and rolls, with Angel Food Cake and strawberries and cream to finish things off!

We usually do this Easter FHE lesson (with eggs that are filled with items representing significant events in the atonement and resurrection). We will likely do it the day after Easter this year.

Looking for more ideas?

We Talk of Christ, We Rejoice in Christ has a great list of Christ Centered Easter Crafts and Activities. Maybe another year we will try the Easter All Week booklet.

The Chickabug Blog posted a cute bunny and chick fingerprint craft. This would make a fun activity to entertain the little ones as we listen to General Conference.

It’s been awhile since I have prepped any lunchbox notes for my kiddos, and Kiki and Company has a cute Easter Bunny laugh edition.

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October 2014 General Conference Themes: The Pathway to Jesus Christ

As I have studied and pondered the counsel given at the October 2014 General Conference, I noticed a few consistent themes. A number of talks related to the idea of following  a path that leads to Jesus Christ, and making sure that we are facing him.

President Thomas S. Monson, “Ponder the Path of Thy Feet”.

“As we look to Jesus as our Exemplar and as we follow in His footsteps, we can return safely to our Heavenly Father to live with Him forever.”

“Physically walking where Jesus walked is less important than walking as He walked.”

“As we strive to place Christ at the center of our lives by learning His words, by following His teachings, and by walking in His path, He has promised to share with us the eternal life that He died to gain.”

“Nothing else, no other choice we make, can make of us what He can.”

“Ponder the path of thy feet” (Proverbs 4:26).

“The Savior’s example provides a framework for everything that we do, and His words provide an unfailing guide. His path will take us safely home.”

Elder Eduardo Gavarret, “Yes, Lord, I Will Follow Thee.”

“The decision to “come unto me” and “follow me” is personal. When we accept this invitation, our level of commitment is raised, and it is then that we can “walk with Him.” This level establishes a closer relationship with the Savior—the fruit of our accepting the first invitation.”

What steps can we take today to “walk with Him”?

  1. Feed the desire to be a better follower of Christ.
  2. Pray for this desire that your faith in Him may grow.
  3. Obtain knowledge from the scriptures, lighting the way and strengthening your desire to change.
  4. Make the decision today to act and say, “Yes, Lord, I will follow Thee!” Simply knowing the truth will not change your world unless you turn knowledge into action.
  5. Persevere in the decision you have made by exercising these principles daily.

Elder D. Todd Christofferson, “Free Forever, to Act for Themselves”.

“The gospel of Jesus Christ opens the path to what we may become.”

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “Lord, Is it I?”.

“Is your heart set on the convenient things of this world, or is it focused on the teachings of the diligent Jesus Christ? “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

“Does the Spirit of God dwell in your hearts? Are you “rooted and grounded” in the love of God and of your fellowmen? Do you devote sufficient time and creativity to bringing happiness to your marriage and family? Do you give your energies to the sublime goal of comprehending and living “the breadth, and length, and depth, and height”of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ?”

“May I suggest that the holy scriptures and the talks given at general conference are an effective mirror we can hold up for self-examination.

As you hear or read the words of the ancient and modern prophets, refrain from thinking about how the words apply to someone else and ask the simple question: “Lord, is it I?”

We must approach our Eternal Father with broken hearts and teachable minds. We must be willing to learn and to change. And, oh, how much we gain by committing to live the life our Heavenly Father intends for us.”

Elder Carlos A. Godoy, “The Lord Has a Plan for Us!”.

“We are not here in this life just to waste our time, grow old, and die. God wants us to grow and achieve our potential.”

“I know that the Lord has a plan for us in this life. He knows us. He knows what is best for us. Just because things are going well does not mean that we should not from time to time consider whether there might be something better. If we continue to live as we are living, will the promised blessings be fulfilled?”

Elder Larry S. Kacher, “Trifle Not with Sacred Things”.

“The decisions we make in this life greatly affect the course of our eternal life.”

“Heavenly Father has blessed us with the supernal gift of the Holy Ghost to guide our choices. He has promised us inspiration and revelation as we live worthy to receive such. I invite you to take advantage of this divine gift and examine your choices by asking yourself the question, “Are my decisions firmly planted in the rich soil of the gospel of Jesus Christ?” I invite you to make whatever adjustments are needed, whether small or large, to ensure the eternal blessings of Heavenly Father’s plan for you and those you love.”

Elder Hugo E. Martinez, “Our Personal Ministries”.

“The teachings of our Lord, Jesus Christ, show us the way.”

Elder Jorg Klebingat, “Approaching the Throne of God with Confidence”.

“The decision to change is yours–and yours alone”.

1. Take responsibility for your own spiritual well-being.

2. Take responsibility for your own physical well-being.

3. Embrace voluntary, wholehearted obedience as part of your life.

4. Become really, really good at repenting thoroughly and quickly. 

5. Become really, really good at forgiving.

6. Accept trials, setbacks, and “surprises” as part of your mortal experience.

” I testify of a loving Savior who rejoices when we apply His Atonement daily with the calm and happy assurance that we are facing in the right direction.”

Moroni 10:32 “Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God.”

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Books for Spring and Easter

The first day of Spring has passed, and Easter is just a few days off, so it is time for a little spring reading! In the spring we also like to read our favorite bunny and duckling books.

MakeWayforDucklingsBookCoverA classic favorite is Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey, and a new favorite is Lucky Ducklings by Eva Moore.Lucky-DucklingsOur list has mostly stayed the same this year, so go back to my post in 2013 for our complete list of Books for Spring and Easter.

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Books for Beginning Readers

My seven-year-old daughter has been making great progress in learning to read. She loves to be read to (and I enjoy reading to my children!), but getting her to read on her own has taken some prodding. Here is our list of favorite beginning reader books that she has enjoyed.

9781423133094_p0_v2_s260x420The Elephant and Piggie books by Mo Willems: This author is always a favorite at our house, and we have long enjoyed the silly tales of Elephant and Piggie.

9780062082039-sm1The Penny books by Kevin Henke: Penny and Her Song, Penny and the Marble, Penny and Her Doll: All are sweet stories by another favorite author.

200px-Frog_and_toad_coverThe Frog and Toad books by Arnold Lobel: Frog and Toads adventurous days are often quite hilarious, and their friendship is the kind worth reading about!

9780061478147_Extralarge_imageLittle Critter books by Mercer Meyer: Cute stories that children can relate to, these books are a great length so as not to be intimidating.

9780516020679_xlgRookie Readers series: I found these short books at our library, probably around 50 books written by different authors. They are short, easier reads, and were the first books that my daughter would try reading by herself.

seuss-1-fish-2-fishDr. Seuss:  check out this helpful leveled reading guide to guide you toward an appropriate choice.

220px-LittleBearThe Little Bear books by Else Minarik: The little bear stories are sweet to read. We have enjoyed these stories mostly as read alouds, but they are a great level for beginning readers.

fancy-nancy-poison-ivy-expert-jane-oconnor-hardcover-cover-art

 

Fancy Nancy Beginning Readers: We have been reading Fancy Nancy aloud and enjoying her for years, but admittedly my daughter hasn’t been too willing to try these on her own. I still think they are worth including on this list, and might strike her interest again one of these days.

Looking for more ideas? Check out Not Your Mother’s “Dick and Jane”: Beginning readers that won’t bore you to tears.

What beginning reader books have you and your children enjoyed?

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Three helpful articles for parents

A few interesting articles that popped up in my reader recently. Worth a read for parents!

Why Children Need Chores: Doing household chores has many benefits-academically, emotionally and even professionally.

1. Watch your language: thank your children for “being a helper” rather than “helping”.

2. Schedule chore time.

3. Game it:start small and have young children earn new “levels” of responsibilities, like going from sorting clothes to earning the right to use the washing machine.

4. Keep allowances and chores separate: money can lessen a child’s motivation to help, turning an altruistic act into a business transaction.

5. Types of tasks matter: chores should be routine and focused on taking care of the family (like dusting the living room or doing everyone’s laundry), not self-care (tidying one’s bedroom or doing personal laundry). Let children help in choosing tasks.

6. Talk about chores differently: instead of saying, “Do your chores,” say “Let’s do our chores.”

7. Give chores a PR boost: Don’t tie chores to punishments, talk about them positively.

 

9 Things Every Parent with an Anxious Child Should Try

My children have often struggled with separation anxiety (going to school or primary classes alone, etc). I thought some of these tips could help me to handle the situation better and help me to coach them through their anxiety.

1. Stop Reassuring Your Child: Use the FEEL method-Freeze, Empathize, Evaluate, Let Go

2. Highlight Why Worrying is Good: worry is perfectly normal, it can help protect us

3. Bring Your Child’s Worry to Life

4. Teach Your Child to Be a Thought Detective: Catch your thoughts, collect evidence, challenge your thoughts

5. Allow Them to Worry: worry openly in limited doses, then put them away

6. Help Them Go from What If to What Is: live in the present time

7. Avoid Avoiding Everything that Causes Anxiety: use gradual exposure

8. Help Them Work Through a Checklist

9. Practice Self-Compassion

 

8 Things Top Practicers Do Differently : what does “practice smarter, not harder” really mean?

As a piano teacher and a parent of piano students, I thought the results of this research study were interesting. “The researchers note that the most striking difference between the top three pianists and the rest, was how they handled mistakes.” The one key strategy=strategically slowing things down.

“Success does not consist in never making mistakes but in never making the same one a second time.” -George Bernard Shaw -

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Stay in the Boat and Hold On (FHE plans and quotes from Elder Ballard)

Tonight for FHE we are focusing on Elder M. Russell Ballard’s talk from the October 2014 General Conference. The imagery of a boat passing through hazardous river rapids is a great metaphor for life for children and youth (and adults!) to understand.

Lesson Plan

Watch the video introduction of Elder Ballard’s talk, up to the 2:30 time point (available here).

Give each child a copy of the following printable from Life’s Journey to Perfection.

fhe Raft

 

Read the quote from Elder Ballard:

“The Lord in His goodness has provided help, including a boat, essential supplies such as life jackets, and experienced river guides who give guidance and safety instructions to help us make our way down the river of life to our final destination.”

Use the lesson plan as follows from Life’s Journey to Perfection:

Discuss with your family member what the BOAT symbolizes?  (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) Discuss with your family how each family member can STAY IN THE BOAT? What are some things that can be done each day?  Invite family members to write on the boat,  “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints” as well as examples of things they can do each day to help them stay in the boat.

Discuss with your family member what the LIFE JACKET symbolizes? (The Scriptures/Word of God) Discuss with your family how daily scripture study can be like a Life Jacket and help us to hold on tight. Invite family members to write “the scriptures” next to the life jacket.

Discuss with your family members what the RIVER GUIDES symbolize? (The Apostles, Prophets, and Local Church Leaders)  Discuss how the Prophets, Apostles and local church leaders can direct us and guide us through our journey. Invite family members to write next to the river guide, “Church Leaders”.

Additional Reading

“We need to experience a continuing conversion by increasing our faith in Jesus Christ and our faithfulness to His gospel throughout our lives—not just once but regularly” (Ballard).

“We should focus on studying, living, and loving the doctrine of Christ” (Ballard).

“And they said unto me: What meaneth the rod of iron which our father saw, that led to the tree? And I said unto them that it was the word of God; and whoso would hearken unto the word of God, and would hold fast unto it, they would never perish; neither could the temptations and the fiery darts of the adversary overpower them unto blindness, to lead them away to destruction. Wherefore, I, Nephi, did exhort them to give heed unto the word of the Lord; yea, I did exhort them with all the energies of my soul, and with all the faculty which I possessed, that they would give heed to the word of God and remember to keep his commandments always in all things” (2 Nephi 15:23-25).

“Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life” (2 Nephi 31:20).

 

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Children Will Listen

Have you heard of the One Voice Children’s Choir? They are a choir for youth ages 4-17, based out of Utah, and they are pretty amazing. As a family we have enjoyed viewing a number of their online videos.

They recently released a cover of “Children Will Listen” from Into the Woods. I haven’t seen the movie or the broadway show, so I am not familiar with the song or how it fits into the plot. But as I watched the video I was struck by the words and their implication for parents.

“Careful the things you say,
Children will listen.
Careful the things you do,
Children will see and learn.
Children may not obey
But, children will listen.
Children will look to you
For which way to turn,
To learn what to be.
Careful before you say,
“Listen to me”.
Children will listen.”

Yes, our children do watch and listen to all that we say (even if it seems they don’t hear a word). Am I really saying the things and doing the things I want my children to hear and do? It is something to reflect on.

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Colorful books to read in March

March has a lot of great themes to celebrate: Dr. Seuss Day, Pi Day, St. Patrick’s Day, Spring, and sometimes even Easter! I haven’t really found any great St. Patrick’s Day books that I love, so I tend to review our favorite rainbow and color books this month.

Lemons Are Not Red by Laura Vaccaro Seeger

Duckie’s Rainbow by Frances Barry

Dog’s Colorful Day by Emma Dodd

A Rainbow of My Own by Don Freeman

My Many Colored Days by Dr. Seuss

White Rabbit’s Color Book by Alan Baker

Mouse Paint by Ellen Stoll Walsh

Our list hasn’t changed any this year, but check out last year’s post if you want to see images of the above books.

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We talk of Christ (FHE plans and quotes from President Packer and Elder Christofferson)

Our family theme this year centers on Jesus Christ as our foundation. Teaching about Jesus Christ is the essential family curriculum! I want to introduce my children to one of my favorite scriptures, so tonight’s lesson is built around this verse:

“And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins” (2 Nephi 25:26).c53e03b589db4bc6da442f2d6bed4b27

Lesson Plan

Read 2 Nephi 25:26. Remind the children that everything we do in the gospel is designed to bring us closer to Jesus Christ. Prophets in all time periods have always testified of Christ (we talked about this in Primary yesterday). It is important for us to learn about Jesus, about his life, his miracles, and his teachings. That is why read scripture stories as a family.

Ask the children: what are some of your favorite stories about Jesus Christ?

At the last session of General Conference, President Packer and Elder Christofferson both spoke about Jesus Christ and his atonement. I plan to have my children color a picture of Jesus Christ while we discuss as much of the talks as we can! Below are the points that especially stood out to me:

President Packer

“Those who will repent and forsake sin will find that His merciful arm is outstretched still. Those who listen to and heed His words and the words of His chosen servants will find peace and understanding even in the midst of great heartache and sorrow. The result of His sacrifice is to free us from the effects of sin, that all may have guilt erased and feel hope.

Had He not accomplished the Atonement, there would be no redemption. It would be a difficult world to live in if we could never be forgiven for our mistakes, if we could never purify ourselves and move on.

The mercy and grace of Jesus Christ are not limited to those who commit sins either of commission or omission, but they encompass the promise of everlasting peace to all who will accept and follow Him and His teachings. His mercy is the mighty healer, even to the wounded innocent.”

“If we seek to understand His Atonement, we will come to a deep reverence for the Lord Jesus Christ, His earthly ministry, and His divine mission as our Savior.”

“The true success of the gospel of Jesus Christ will be measured by the spiritual strength of its individual members. We need the strength of conviction that is found in the heart of every loyal disciple of Christ.”

“As one of the Twelve Apostles, I bear witness of the Lord Jesus Christ. He lives. He is our Redeemer and our Savior. “Through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved” (Articles of Faith 1:3). He presides over this Church. He is no stranger to His servants. As we move into the future with quiet confidence, His Spirit will be with us. There is no end to His power to bless and direct the lives of those who seek truth and righteousness. I bear witness of Him in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.” (source)

Elder Christofferson

“The gospel of Jesus Christ opens the path to what we may become.”

“Divine aid can be ours every hour of every day, no matter where we are in the path of obedience. But I know that beyond desiring His help, we must exert ourselves, repent, and choose God for Him to be able to act in our lives consistent with justice and moral agency. My plea is simply to take responsibility and go to work so that there is something for God to help us with.” (source)

Further Reading

Neil L. Anderson, “Tell Me the Stories of Jesus”.

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