Sunday, August 4, 2013

FHE for kids: Kirtland Temple

Paul taught a lesson in primary that I really liked. The topic was building the Kirtland Temple, with an emphasis on the Lord's hand in it all. So he brought our wooden blocks in and had each of them take only 5 bricks. Then they went around and each got to place one brick into a "building," however they wanted it.

This is what they came up with:

Then he said, "Y'know what? I actually want it to look like this:" and then he drew a simpler building on the board. He had them try again.

Then they discussed how The Lord showed Joseph Smith and his first presidency exactly how to build the Kirtland Temple and the sacrifices the Saints had to make to build it. Many of the fathers were serving missions at the time so pretty much everyone had to work ALL the time. And of course just the broken china and the fact that many people were poor and didn't understand how much the temple mattered yet so they didn't build it and got chastised a bit (see D&C 95). There were also people that wanted to save money by doing things differently, but the Prophet and his counselors were very firm and exact in following the blueprint of The Lord.

I thought it was a nice object lesson that even toddlers could understand a bit. :)

I know I've been neglecting this blog for a bit, and I won't promise it'll change...but I'll try to pass on cool little things like that at least when I can. :)

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

New and Improved!

You may have noticed that there are some changes being made to the blog. MORE changes are definitely on their way, and not all cosmetic!  I love the inspiration I get during each General Conference session, and one of the many ways I was inspired last weekend was on a few things to do differently here on the ol' FHE blog.  So I'll be trying out my "new and improved" ideas soon!  Some things to look forward to:

  • Tabbed links to my most regularly used FHE resources!
  • Faith in God, Personal Progress, and even Scouting requirements that fit along with each lesson (where appropriate).
  • Ideas for families of all shapes and sizes, not just those with small children!  (It's funny, we don't even have kids ourselves, and yet I find myself prepping lessons for small children more often than anything else.)
  • No more "dates" on the FHE lessons--I'm going to start including not only weekly FHE lessons based on Conference talks, but "My Gospel Standards"/"For the Strength of Youth" and the Proclamation to the World on the Family as I see fit, and just lump it all together under the topic.
Get excited!  I know I am!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Memorizing the 10 Commandments

The 10 Commandments are a fairly universal concept across religions, but I have always struggled to remember them.  I never learned any mnemonics to help me remember the order of the 10 commandments before, either, which is just sad, really.  But Paul taught me the ones his mission companion taught him. A few of them I didn’t like (they were a little hard for me to remember), so I did some internet research and together we came up with our own mixture to help us remember. and we spent an FHE compiling our own list and taking pictures (please excuse the gross, graying, tired-after-a-long-day-of-work me in them and focus on the hands instead :).    So, for your FHE/lesson-planning enjoyment, I give you, the 10 Commandments a la Fernandez.  :)

1. Hold up index finger, pointing toward heaven.  We should only have ONE God.

2. Hold up both index fingers and put them on either side of your head, kinda like a devil or the horns of a bull.  This could represent some of the “graven images” people worship that we should NOT make.

3. Hold up your first three fingers to make a “W”.  W stands for “Watch your Words.”  We must take care not to offend God by taking his name in vain (or, by extension, using other offensive language).

4. Remember that old finger play rhyme, “Here is the church, here is the steeple, open up the doors and see all the people?”  Your thumbs and index fingers make 4 fingers total.  We can remember the Sabbath Day and keep it holy by going to Church.

5. This one I made up, knowing a little American Sign Language.  If you make the sign for Father and Mother, you actually use all 5 fingers of your dominant hand to do them.

6. Don’t kill—open up one hand and aim a “gun” (forefinger of the other hand) at it…6 fingers, don’t kill.

7. Hold out a flat, open hand, palm up.  Stand two fingers (like a little running man) on top of it.  The open hand represents a Church, and the two fingers represent a bride and groom making covenants and promises of fidelity and virtue.  We should not break those promises by committing adultery.
 (And a fun alternative to number 7, again using some ASL...the number seven is actually touching your thumb to your ring finger...a symbol of marriage/commitment.  Love that one, too.)

8. One of my favorites—hold up four fingers on each hand (no thumbs) and put them across your face like jail cell bars.  Don’t steal or you’ll go to jail!  J

9. This one is hard to explain…look at the picture for clarification…but the cunning and sneaky “I’ve got you now” fingers (minus a thumb that is hiding inside) could represent the bad intentions of someone who is bearing false witness.  I also read online that the thumb could be the one bad person in the group of ten who decided not to tell the truth, who is being sneaky and hiding from the rest.

10. Make grabby hands.  Thou shalt not covet.   If you do it palms up and grab towards you a little, you actually do the ASL sign for want.  ;)

There you have it!  An easy way for anyone, but especially your little movers, to remember the 10 commandments!  :)

Monday, September 3, 2012

FHE 7/9: The Race of Life

This week's FHE lesson is inspired by President Thomas S. Monson's talk, "The Race of Life."


  • "In our times of deepest reflection or greatest need, the soul of man reaches heavenward, seeking a divine response to life’s greatest questions: Where did we come from? Why are we here? Where do we go after we leave this life? Answers to these questions are not discovered within the covers of academia’s textbooks or by checking the Internet. These questions transcend mortality. They embrace eternity."
  • "The Apostle Paul likened life to a race. To the Hebrews he urged, “Let us lay aside … the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us.”9
    In our zeal, let us not overlook the sage counsel from Ecclesiastes: “The race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong.”10 Actually, the prize belongs to him or her who endures to the end."
  • "The toy boats of childhood had no keel for stability, no rudder to provide direction, and no source of power. Inevitably, their destination was downstream—the path of least resistance.
    Unlike toy boats, we have been provided divine attributes to guide our journey. We enter mortality not to float with the moving currents of life but with the power to think, to reason, and to achieve.
    Our Heavenly Father did not launch us on our eternal voyage without providing the means whereby we could receive from Him guidance to ensure our safe return. I speak of prayer. I speak too of the whisperings from that still, small voice; and I do not overlook the holy scriptures, which contain the word of the Lord and the words of the prophets—provided to us to help us successfully cross the finish line."
  • I Will Follow God's Plan
  • Listen to the Still Small Voice
  • Dare to Do Right
  • As a Child of God
  • Really, President Monson's already got the object lesson embedded in his talk, likening life to a race.  So I'm going to skip this part this week, since almost all the activities below involve race-themed ideas.  :)
  • Organize family races at a local park or gym or field.  After a few relays, discuss the meaning of truly "enduring to the end." 
  • Make paper boats and float them in a race just like in President Monson's story!  (Could be in a bathtub, down a gutter, or in a stream/river.)  Talk about his quote that "the toy boats of childhood had no keel for stability, no rudder to provide direction, and no source of power. Inevitably, their destination was downstream—the path of least resistance. Unlike toy boats, we have been provided divine attributes to guide our journey. We enter mortality not to float with the moving currents of life but with the power to think, to reason, and to achieve."  Discuss with your family what some of those divine attributes are that help us "win the race."
  • (Older children) Print off a copy of the talk for each family member.  Have "the big three" questions printed on separate pieces of paper: Where do we come from?  Why are we here?  Where are we going?  Assign each family member one of the questions (could be several to a group if necessary) and have them: (1) find the answer to that question as found in President Monson's talk,  (2) find a scripture that supports it, and (3) tell of an experience they've had with that question.  Have each group share.
  • Have family members color their own Plan of Salvation clipart FOUND HERE.  This Plan is really what answers all those big questions. After they color, you can cut them out and use them to talk about that race of life and where our real destination/goal is.
  • I've made bookmarks again for you!   These are 4x6 prints, as usual.  You can download the JPEG HERE.

  • Create paper boats for the race activity above.  Directions HERE.
  • Create a family collage or coloring pages for each other of all the things that help us win the race of life!

FHE 7/2: The Doctrine of Christ

You may have noticed I skipped over the Priesthood Session and the talk by Sister Beck about Relief Society.  We will get to the priesthood session in a bit--I thought it would be a good review in preparation for the next Conference sessions.  Honestly, while the Relief Society talk is a POWERFUL overview of the purposes of Relief Society that I think every adult member (or teenaged, for that matter, especially girls) ought to read and ponder, it isn't really applicably or easily made into an FHE lesson--especially for families with young kids.  So I will leave it up to you. 

SO.  This week's lesson is based on Elder D. Todd Christofferson's talk, "The Doctrine of Christ." There are several components of this talk--the way the Lord reveals his will to the Prophet, the counsel of Apostles and other Church leaders in seeking spiritual guidance, etc.  But the heart of it is the affirmation that we believe in Jesus Christ, and that this belief is central to all others, and that coming unto Him is the ONLY way to be saved.  What simpler, better truth to remind our families of?

  • What do you believe about Christ--really
  • In what ways does your family already come to know Christ and be reminded of Him?  In what ways could you improve?

  • The Savior taught His doctrine in the meridian of time, and His Apostles struggled mightily to preserve it against a barrage of false tradition and philosophy. New Testament Epistles cite numerous incidents demonstrating that serious and widespread apostasy was already under way during the Apostles’ ministry.1
    The centuries that followed were illuminated by occasional rays of gospel light until, in the 19th century, a brilliant dawn of Restoration broke upon the world, and the gospel of Christ, full and complete, was once again upon the earth. This glorious day began when, in “a pillar of light … above the brightness of the sun” (Joseph Smith—History 1:16), God the Father and His Beloved Son, Jesus Christ, visited young Joseph Smith and initiated what would become a virtual flood of revelation linked with divine power and authority.
    In these revelations we find what might be termed the core doctrine of the Church of Jesus Christ reestablished upon the earth. Jesus Himself defined that doctrine in these words recorded in the Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ:
    “This is my doctrine, and it is the doctrine which the Father hath given unto me; and I bear record of the Father, and the Father beareth record of me, and the Holy Ghost beareth record of the Father and me; and I bear record that the Father commandeth all men, everywhere, to repent and believe in me.
    “And whoso believeth in me, and is baptized, the same shall be saved; and they are they who shall inherit the kingdom of God.
    “And whoso believeth not in me, and is not baptized, shall be damned.
    “… And whoso believeth in me believeth in the Father also; and unto him will the Father bear record of me, for he will visit him with fire and with the Holy Ghost. …
    “Verily, verily, I say unto you, that this is my doctrine, and whoso buildeth upon this buildeth upon my rock, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against them” (3 Nephi 11:32–35, 39).
    This is our message, the rock upon which we build, the foundation of everything else in the Church. Like all that comes from God, this doctrine is pure, it is clear, it is easy to understand—even for a child. With glad hearts, we invite all to receive it.
  • The Prophet Joseph Smith confirmed the Savior’s central role in our doctrine in one definitive sentence: “The fundamental principles of our religion are the testimony of the Apostles and Prophets, concerning Jesus Christ, that He died, was buried, and rose again the third day, and ascended into heaven; and all other things which pertain to our religion are only appendages to it.”7 Joseph Smith’s testimony of Jesus is that He lives, “for [he] saw him, even on the right hand of God; and [he] heard the voice bearing record that he is the Only Begotten of the Father” (D&C 76:23; see also verse 22). I appeal to all who hear or read this message to seek through prayer and study of the scriptures that same witness of the divine character, the Atonement, and the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Accept His doctrine by repenting, being baptized, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and then throughout your life following the laws and covenants of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
  • He Sent His Son
  • Beautiful Savior
  • This is My Beloved Son
  • To Think About Jesus
  • The 1st Article of Faith
  • I Feel My Savior's Love
  • Tell Me the Stories of Jesus
  • Compare Christ to the North Star (older children)
  • Repentance & Baptism: Removing the Tarnish from our Lives. Grab a pile of pennies, some that are shiny and some that are tarnished.  Have the children separate the pile into two groups.  Ask: What is the difference between the two kinds of pennies? Is it possible to make the tarnished pennies shine like the new pennies? Put the tarnished pennies in a container with vinegar and stir or shake for several minutes. In the meantime, talk about baptism or repentance. Take the pennies & rub with the cloth until they are clean & shiny. (Anonymous, via
  • Taking Advantage of the Atonement (by Jenny Smith via a class member to make a paper airplane, or make one yourself. Tape a coin, rock, or weight to one side of the airplane. Stand on the same side of the room as the class members, and ask a class member to throw the airplane gently toward the other side of the room. Next, pick up the airplane and remove the taped object. Have the class member throw the airplane again. After the class member has done so a few times, put the airplane away, and ask the following question: How can just one small weight keep the plane from flying correctly? (This object lesson can also be likened to repentance. One small sin can keep us from "flying" back to our Father. We need Christ's atoning sacrifice to make us clean.)

  • If you have a Gospel Art Kit or Book handy, copy or print a few pictures of Christ's life--the Nativity, teaching in the temple at 12 years old, some of His teachings and ministry and miracles, the Garden of Gethsemane, the crucifixion, the Resurrection, and the 2nd coming.  Have family members put them in order and then talk about Christ's life.  If you don't have one handy or are lazy or want smaller copies for quiet books and the like, I've got a copy for you of 12 "cards" you can print off and use HERE.  :)  It's a JPEG sized to 8 1/2" x 11".  The order of the miracles and such don't matter as much, but otherwise you can turn this into a timeline game if you print them on nice cardstock or something. 
  • Help family members memorize the 1st, 3rd, and/or 4th Article of Faith.  For tips on helping children memorize scripture, check out my post HERE
  • Some ideas on teaching children from The Living Christ from "The Family Home Evening Spot": Read selected sections from "The Living Christ" and discuss with family members.  Give each child a copy and on the back have them write their testimonies (younger children can draw pictures).  Show a short video of the Prophet or Apostles speaking about Christ.
  • There are a few coloring pages about Christ's birth HERE .  There's an 8-page mini coloring book about the last days of Christ's life HERE.  Coloring flannel board story of Christ's resurrection can be found HERE.  A coloring page of Christ with a Nephite-looking girl can be found HERE, while a boy putting up a poster of Christ can be found HERE.
  • Create "The Living Christ" collages!
  • Have children cut up pictures from old Friends and Ensigns about Christ and make a collage/poster for their bedrooms.
  • Any treats will do this week, but I like the idea of Easter rolls or something like it.  :)

Helping Children Memorize Scripture

As a teacher by trade, I know that memorization is NOT the most important thing in teaching or learning.  I'm also really bad at it myself, so I try not to put much emphasis on it in school or at church.  But there are times--like learning the 13 Articles of Faith or scripture mastery--where memorization not only is required but it can really come in handy.  Having a favorite verse committed to memory is truly knowing it "by heart," and we can call on these things in times when we need comfort or words beyond our own as we teach others.

So how do we help our children memorize scripture?  While there are a TON of great ideas out there, these are some of the principles that have helped ME learn and teach scripture "by heart."

RULE #1:  Make sure children understand the doctrine/ideas BEHIND the scripture first. 

I cannot stress this enough!  Before you set out to commit anything to memory, you have to understand what it means.  Especially if there are big words in it that maybe children don't understand.  Spend time teaching the principles and vocabulary FIRST, and the memorization will come more easily afterwards.

RULE #2: Make it FUN!

There are a PLETHORA of ideas out on "the interwebs" about games to help kids learn.  Some that are tried-and-true for me are:
(1) Setting it to music.  Many children learn best through music and rhythm.  The Articles of Faith, the Books in each of the scriptures, the order of modern prophets--these all have songs in the Children's Songbook for a reason!  USE THEM!  If you are trying to set a scripture to music that doesn't already exist, enlist the children's help!
(2) Have visuals handy.  Whether it's pictures to match or words/first letters to each word, start with lots of visuals that you can slowly take away as you recite.  Repetition is a lot less dull when you have visuals to help you.  Let the kids help make them for an extra activity!
(3) Play games!  There are some great Articles of Faith mazes/word searches/etc. all linked up at Sugardoodle HERE.  One of my primary kids' favorite games to play when I was teaching the Articles of Faith was Pass the Spoon--just grab a wooden spoon from your kitchen and hand it to the first child, who says the first word in whatever scripture you are memorizing.  They pass it to the second person, who says the second word, and so on.  If kids get stuck on a word, they can ask their neighbors, but if they can't figure it out, they are OUT of that round!  Another idea is to have the words/pictures to the scripture all scrambled up and have the kids put them in order.  Or have the more kinesthetic learners play pictionary with the key words, march around as you recite, or pop up like popcorn when certain words are repeated.  There are as many different games to play as there are people who are learning!

RULE #3: Practice makes perfect.

If your kids are only reciting these things at FHE or in primary/seminary, they will NOT learn all the scriptures they need to in time...and if they do, they certainly won't STICK with them for long. One of my fondest memories is my brother and sisters and I challenging each other throughout the week--in the car, on the schoolbus, at the store, wherever--to recite scriptures and songs and other things we had memorized.  Because of that constant repetition, we can still sing a handful of songs from elementary school almost 2 decades later, and recite all 50 states, and the 9 planets, and the 7 dwarfs, and even important things like all 13 articles of faith.  :)  So make time for practicing these things constantly, and post the words in places where they will be viewed frequently--whether it's making a pocket-sized verse to carry around or writing them on the bathroom mirror!

RULE #4: Don't be afraid of incentives!

I know a lot of people think of incentives as "bribes," but the truth is that most people wouldn't do anything they do without a little push or reward at the end of the day.  Especially for our children who aren't intrinsically motivated to memorize or learn, incentives can be your very best friend.  Have them work toward a party, a special treat or gift, date night with Mom or Dad, bragging rights, ANYTHING that motivates them.  When we were children and the world wasn't so political about its food, we had a big 13 Articles of Faith Ice Cream Party in my primary.  We earned a scoop of ice cream for each AoF we memorized.  I still remember that party 18 years later!  But obviously that isn't the most healthy option.  You don't have to use food--we have Article of Faith "Keys" (found on Sugardoodle) that our primary kids are earning as they pass off each one, and let me tell you that earning a full set of those paper keys is JUST as motivating!  The key is to find out (even if it means you have to ask them point-blank) what will motivate your children to TRY.

What are some of your favorite ways to learn new scripture?  Or what have you seen done in primary/nursery to help children memorize?  I'm always looking for new ideas.  :)

Friday, July 13, 2012


Sorry, things have been REALLY busy and just out-of-routine lately and I haven't had much time to work on extra projects like my FHE blog.  But I will!  Starting today.  So stay tuned!  And thank you for your patience! Happy Friday the 13th!  :P

P.S. I will probably "backlog" some of the other posts I'd intended to post, since this is more of an archives or filebox for FHE ideas anyway so it doesn't really matter.  To the one or two people who actually read this, bear with me.  :)

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

FHE 6/25: Special Lessons

This talk, "Special Lessons" by Elder Ronald A. Rasband, centers on life lessons learned by caring for a child with special needs.  It really hit home for me with Caida's struggles with epilepsy the last 5 1/2 years.  When you have something like that strike in your life, you really do learn many small but powerful life lessons.  I had a hard time deciding exactly how to approach this talk this week (which is why you're getting it late); the first part of Elder Rasband's talk focuses a lot on having faith through adversity, while the second half of the talk really struck me as a call to action of sorts--to be superheroes in serving others!  Seriously, the word "superheroes" just kept running through my mind as I read.  :)  Anyway, I'd thought about going both ways, but really I wanted to focus on this idea of compassionate service for those in need, knowing the worth of souls is indeed great in the sight of God.  We sometimes think our families will just learn how to treat other children with special needs (or any different circumstances), but explicitly talking about these things--and ultimately about how much Heavenly Father loves us ALL--is absolutely necessary if we want to ensure our children and families are compassionate and accepting of all.


  • What lessons have I learned from my biggest trials?
  • We know the worth of souls is great in the sight of God--what does that mean?  What is the worth of souls to us?
  • What experiences have my children/family members had with special needs?


  • “A perfect body is not required to achieve a divine destiny. In fact, some of the sweetest spirits are housed in frail frames. …“Eventually the time will come when each ‘spirit and … body shall be reunited again in … perfect form; both limb and joint shall be restored to its proper frame’ (Alma 11:43). Then, thanks to the Atonement of Jesus Christ, we can become perfected in Him.”1
  • "Some might ask when faced with such suffering, how could Almighty God let this happen? And then that seemingly inevitable question, why did this happen to me? Why must we experience disease and events that disable or call precious family members home early or extend their years in pain? Why the heartaches? At these moments we can turn to the great plan of happiness authored by our Heavenly Father. That plan, when presented in the pre-earth life, prompted us all to shout for joy. Put simply, this life is training for eternal exaltation, and that process means tests and trials. It has always been so, and no one is spared. Trusting in God’s will is central to our mortality. With faith in Him, we draw upon the power of Christ’s Atonement at those times when questions abound and answers are few."
  • "President James E. Faust, my boyhood stake president, said: “I have a great appreciation for those loving parents who stoically bear and overcome their anguish and heartbreak for a child who was born with or who has developed a serious mental or physical infirmity. This anguish often continues every day, without relief, during the lifetime of the parent or the child. Not infrequently, parents are required to give superhuman nurturing care that never ceases, day or night. Many a mother’s arms and heart have ached years on end, giving comfort and relieving the suffering of her special child.”"
  • "Paxton’s family has learned they are surrounded by countless heavenly and earthly ministering angels. Some have quietly slipped in when needed and silently slipped out. Others have been at the door with food, doing the laundry, picking up the siblings, calling with encouragement, and especially praying for Paxton. Thus another special lesson learned: If you come upon a person who is drowning, would you ask if they need help—or would it be better to just jump in and save them from the deepening waters? The offer, while well meaning and often given, “Let me know if I can help” is really no help at all."
  • "One night early in Paxton’s life, we were in the neonatal intensive care unit of the wonderful Primary Children’s Medical Center in Salt Lake City, Utah, marveling at the dedicated, undivided attention given by the doctors, nurses, and caregivers. I asked my daughter how we would ever pay for this and ventured a guess at what the cost would be. A doctor standing nearby suggested that I was “way low” and that little Paxton’s care would cost substantially more than I had estimated. We learned that much of the expense for care given in this hospital is covered by the generous gifts of time and monetary contributions of others. His words humbled me as I thought of the worth of this tiny little soul to those who were so carefully watching over him. I was reminded of a familiar missionary scripture that took on new meaning: “Remember the worth of souls is great in the sight of God.”
    I wept as I pondered the limitless love our Heavenly Father and His Beloved Son, Jesus Christ, have for each one of us, while learning in a powerful way what the worth of a soul is, both physically and spiritually, to God."


  • "I'm Trying to Be Like Jesus"
  • "I Am a Child of God"
  • "I'll Walk With You"
  • "Every Star is Different"
  • "We Are Different"


  • Don't Judge a Kiwi by its Cover by Jenny Smith: "Pass around the kiwi fruit. Make the point that the kiwi has a rough, unpleasant, hairy, tasteless exterior. Ask the students the following questions:1) What makes the kiwi fruit seem unappealing? (It's exterior.)
    2) What are some outward features by which we judge others?
    3) Who might be "kiwi people" around us?
    When the fruit has been examined by everyone, peel off the skin, and slice up the inside to share. Make the following points:
    1) Under it's unappealing exterior, the kiwi is an exciting, delicious fruit.
    2) The kiwi is one of God's creations. Do you think God loved it less than a shiny apple or perfect strawberry? Why not?
    3) You may feel you have a kiwi-like exterior. How does God feel about you? Read 1 Samuel 16:7.
    3) People around us might be like this kiwi -- unappealing on the outside. How must we treat "kiwi people" around us? (By looking at them as God does -- focusing the good that's on the inside. Read 1 Samuel 16:1-7)"


  • There are a variety of activities you can do, but keep this great advice (from the experts) in mind:
Basic ideas to share with your child
  1. No two people are the same -- some differences are just more noticeable.
  2. A disability is only one characteristic of a person. People have many facets: likes and dislikes, strengths and challenges.
  3. Children with disabilities are like all children in that they want friends, respect and to be included.
  4. Children can be born disabled or become disabled from an accident or illness. You can't "catch" a disability from someone else.
  5. Just because someone has a physical disability (when a part or parts of the body do not work well) does not mean they necessarily have a cognitive (or thinking) disability.
  6. Children with disabilities can do many of the things your child does, but it might take them longer. They may need assistance or adaptive equipment to help them.
  7. Try to use clear, respectful language when talking about someone with disabilities. For a younger child, keep explanations simple, such as, "She uses a wheelchair because a part of her body does not work as well as it could."
  • One way to help children develop empathy is to do (tactfully) disability awareness activities--have them sculpt play-doh or get through a simple obstacle course, or even performing simple tasks like tying shoes or finding their way to the bedroom, but they have to adapt it because they are blindfolded/can only use one hand/foot, etc.  Discuss how they initially felt about having to do it with a "disability," but then focus more on the fact that they used their creativity to find a different way to do it, and it still got done--beautifully! Focus on the beautiful and positive things that come from various disabilities--like sign language and braille, and the special lessons mentioned in the talk.
  • There's a story from the Friend (Tin Pot, 1998) about a girl who helps a boy with disabilities...and she learns that it's the flower that matters, not the pot you put it in.  (An object lesson, too!)  You could also (especially for younger children) find some books from the library about children with special needs and read and discuss them.
  • For older children/youth: Allow family members a few minutes to find a scripture of either someone with disabilities coming unto Christ or of a prophet expressing concern over his weaknesses (there are quite a few to choose from!).  You could show pictures from the Gospel Art Kit.  Discuss how the Lord takes care of our needs one-by-one, and no one is exempt from His love and compassion.  If we truly want to take upon us the name of Christ, we must deal with people one-by-one in love and compassion as well.
  • Also for older children/youth: Have a Q&A/panel discussion, or invite a family member with a disability to speak (if they're comfortable).  Children have so many great questions, both about the day-to-day stuff and how it all relates to the gospel, and allowing them to ask any questions and to hear about it all straight from the source can really make a big difference.  For example, my niece talks to her class sometimes about what is going on, how it makes her feel, etc., and once the kids can talk about it, they are MUCH more accepting of her differences. 
  • From the sunbeam manual: "Using familiar examples from your ward or area, discuss how to show kindness and love to those who have disabilities. Help the children think of specific ways they might help a person with a disability. How can we show love (or play, etc.) to someone who cannot see? How can we show love to someone who cannot hear? How can we show love to someone who uses a wheelchair or crutches?"  (Really, giving specifics and openly talking about these things takes away a lot of the "mystery" of it all.)
  • For younger children: have popsicle stick puppets or pictures of two children--one with a disability, one without--for each child.  Start by asking questions that get at their differences, such as "this child can use their eyes," etc., and have them hold up which child they think you're talking about...but end by moving into several questions that get at their similarities.  Point out that we all want friends, want to learn and grow and be healthy, have likes/dislikes, things we're good at and things we're not, etc.  Emphasize through this activity that people are more alike than different, no matter where they come from or what challenges they face. 


  • The last picture in the "Service" category on THIS PAGE is a good coloring page.  :)
  • There are some neat quotes to add to your files on disabilities from Church leaders HERE.
  • There is a very practical coloring book free to download HERE that teaches kids disability etiquette--concrete ways to be kind.  Along with that, there are some great activity ideas, discussion items, and book recommendations from the same people HERE--you have LOTS of secular resources for this!  :)


  • Make family superhero tee-shirts or capes! Discuss the principles of ACTION and SERVICE in this talk, and use the superhero costumes as a reminder to act. 


  • Chocolate coins (worth of souls)

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

FHE 6/18: Gratitude

Gratitude is always a great topic to study.  :)  This week's FHE lessons ideas stem from Elder Russell M. Nelson's talk, "Thanks Be to God."  Gratitude, faith, and happiness are all SO interconnected in our lives--where you increase one, you increase the others.  Helping our families learn to be grateful and to express that gratitude--especially to our Heavenly Father--is SO key to not only this life but the life to come. I love Elder Nelson's talk because it gives us a LOT of specifics that we can be forever grateful about, even on our bad days.  It's worth the read just to stop and wonder at all the blessings we really do have!


  • How good am I at being grateful when things go WRONG?
  • What can I do to improve this in my own life, and in my family?


  • "Recently, Sister Nelson and I enjoyed the beauty of tropical fish in a small private aquarium. Fish with vivid colors and of a variety of shapes and sizes darted back and forth. I asked the attendant nearby, “Who provides food for these beautiful fish?”  She responded, “I do.”  Then I asked, “Have they ever thanked you?”  She replied, “Not yet!”  I thought of some people I know who are just as oblivious to their Creator and their true “bread of life.” They live from day to day without an awareness of God and His goodness unto them.  How much better it would be if all could be more aware of God’s providence and love and express that gratitude to Him."
  • "Anyone who studies the workings of the human body has surely "seen God moving in his majesty and power"...Yet some people erroneously think that these marvelous physical attributes happened by chance or resulted from a big bang somewhere.  Ask yourself, "Could an explosion in a printing shop produce a dictionary?"  The likelihood is most remote.  But if so, it could never heal its own torn pages or reproduce its own newer editions!"
  • "The attributes by which we shall be judged one day are all spiritual.  These include love, virtue, integrity, compassion, and service to others.  Your spirit, coupled with and housed in your body, is able to develop and manifest these attributes in ways that are vital to your eternal progression...God is the same yesterday, today, and forever, but we are not.  Each day, ours is the challenge to access the power of the Atonement so that we can truly change, become more Christlike, and qualify for the gift of exaltation and live eternally with God, Jesus Christ, and our families.  For these powers, privileges, and gospel gifts, thanks be to God!"


  • "Children All Over the World"
  • "For Health and Strength"
  • "My Heavenly Father Loves Me"
  • "Can a Little Child Like Me?"
  • "I Thank Thee, Dear Father"


  • Tell the children, "Look around the room and find all the things you can that are purple." After they had a few minutes to do so, she had them close their eyes. Then she said, "Okay, now tell me all the things you saw that were yellow."And they couldn't do it. That's because they had focused so intently on the purple that they didn't even notice the yellow things."  You can see the application to contentment and gratitude. When we focus on what we don't have, pretty soon that's all we can see, so we become discontented, and whiny, and unsatisfied. But when we focus on our many amazing blessings, we become more and more aware of them, and thus more and more content and humble and grateful. And I might add, happier. And more peaceful."  (Mary Ellen Edmunds, You Can Never Get Enough of What You Don't Need, [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2005], p. 153.)

  • Display an empty cup, a spoon, and a container of water. Ask the children to think of the many blessings Heavenly Father has given them, and explain that each time they name a blessing they may take a spoonful of water from the container and put it into the cup.  Place the cup and the container of water in the pan or dish to catch spills, and place the pan or dish on a flat surface such as the table or floor.  Have the children take turns naming blessings and putting spoonfuls of water in the cup until the cup is filled to overflowing. Explain that Heavenly Father loves us and has given us many blessings. When we think of these blessings, we are thankful and filled with love for Heavenly Father. Heavenly Father has given us so many blessings that we can overflow with love, just like the cup overflowed with water.  (Read Psalms 23:5)
  • Explain that being ungrateful for the Savior's sacrifice or refusing to accept the love of the Savior or his forgiveness in our lives is like if you spent months choosing the perfect birthday gift for person you love the most. You had sold everything you owned to purchase this special gift. Then, when it came time to give the gift, which you had wrapped in the most costly and beautiful wrapping you could find, the receiver simply looked at your package and said, "no thanks" without even opening it. The thought of how that would feel reminds me everyday to thank my Heavenly Father for the sacrifice of the Savior and recognize His hand in all the blessing I receive in this life and the blessings I will receive in the life to come. (Credit Unknown)


  • We feel it is important for our family to visualize the many things we are grateful for. A simple activity that helps us to remember our blessings is called “the gratitude web.” One person holds a ball of yarn or string and identifies one thing for which he is thankful. Holding onto part of the yarn, he then tosses the yarn ball to someone else in the circle. That person then repeats the process, also holding onto a portion of the yarn. The activity continues until everyone has had at least one turn. Depending on the size of your family, you may want to play several times until a web is formed, connecting the group. ~Kristen W. Belcher
  • Play “alphabetical gratitude.” Go around the room and have each person say something he is grateful for. The first person names something that starts with the letter a, and the next person names something beginning with the letter b. Continue around the room as many times as necessary until the entire alphabet is complete.
  • For older children/youth: read D&C 59:16-22 together and discuss.  Create a list (from that scripture passage as well as just from your own experiences) of things each of us can ALWAYS be grateful for.  If they don't mention something that is in Elder Nelson's talk, read that passage together.
  • Write thank-you notes (can attach treats or small gifts if you want, but not necessary) to neighbors, teachers, Church leaders, etc.  Talk about how much MORE we ought to thank our Heavenly Father, not only in words but in our actions.
  • Make one of the gratitude-themed crafts below as a family.  :)
  • In a primary lesson, children are challenged to find ways to SHOW their gratitude for specific blessings in different scenarios, not just tell but SHOW.  Scroll down HERE 'til you get to the heading "WE CAN SHOW OUR GRATITUDE THROUGH OUR ACTIONS"


  • There's a very cute handout HERE about gratitude--both feeling and expressing it.  :)
  • I have a generic 2"x6" bookmark about giving thanks HERE--the idea is that people can write in the journaling spaces what they're grateful for--you could laminate them and use dry-erase markers if you want.  I also have another bookmark using Elder Nelson's quote about the tropical fish HERE.  It's a 4"x6" handout, so you could use it as a postcard if you wanted, too.  :)

  • There are a TON of coloring pages and games about gratitude, taken from the Friend, HERE.


  • You could create a family gratitude jar, adding to it all year and reading them together on Thanksgiving Day or New Year's Eve.
  • You could make gratitude journals to be filled out each evening or on Sundays (even the little kiddos can draw a picture and have parents label them).  Encourage gratitude for the LITTLE things just as much as the big things!
  • Make a (paper) quilt with small white squares; each family member gets to draw on several squares, tape or staple them together and display somewhere for the week!  (Or, you could make a paper chain instead.)
  • I know it's not Thanksgiving, but you could make a thankful tree like THIS one, anyway.  :)
  • How about something simple--a frame and paper/dry erase markers or chalkboard paint make this cute Gratitude memo board interactive fun for the whole family.


  • Anything you normally serve only on Thanksgiving would be appropriate here...especially being about midway through the year. :)  That means cute little turkey-shaped treats, pumpkin or other pies, your special cranberry sauce...all those things you get a craving for.  :)
  • Make hand-shaped sandwiches, melon slices, or cookies.  Before kids can eat them, they must hold up their fingers and name 5 things (one for each finger) that they are grateful for.  

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

FHE 6/11: Forgiveness

This week's lesson is from the amazing talk on forgiveness by President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, entitled "The Merciful Obtain Mercy."  I think everyone remembers this talk a little, because we ALL struggle with forgiveness in some way or another--whether holding grudges, judging others, gossiping, repenting, or forgiving ourselves.  I know I do, anyway.  So I'm grateful for the timely message that reiterates its importance, that reminds us that it's a simple thing (but not easy), and that we aren't alone in our quest to obey this important commandment.  Rereading it this week really brought a lot of peace to my own heart, and inspiration about what my next steps should be. 

  • On a scale of 1-10, how good am I at forgiving others?  At forgiving myself? 
  • What is keeping me from forgiving fully?  What can I do about it?  What can the LORD do about it?
  • "When we feel hurt, angry, or envious, it is quite easy to judge other people, often assigning dark motives to their actions in order to justify our own feelings of resentment."
  • "This topic of judging others could actually be taught in a two-word sermon. When it comes to hating, gossiping, ignoring, ridiculing, holding grudges, or wanting to cause harm, please apply the following: Stop it!"
  • "It’s that simple. We simply have to stop judging others and replace judgmental thoughts and feelings with a heart full of love for God and His children."
  • "Because we all depend on the mercy of God, how can we deny to others any measure of the grace we so desperately desire for ourselves? My beloved brothers and sisters, should we not forgive as we wish to be forgiven?"
  • "Is this difficult to do? Yes, of course. Forgiving ourselves and others is not easy. In fact, for most of us it requires a major change in our attitude and way of thinking—even a change of heart. But there is good news. This “mighty change” of heart is exactly what the gospel of Jesus Christ is designed to bring into our lives. How is it done? Through the love of God."
  • "The more we allow the love of God to govern our minds and emotions—the more we allow our love for our Heavenly Father to swell within our hearts—the easier it is to love others with the pure love of Christ. As we open our hearts to the glowing dawn of the love of God, the darkness and cold of animosity and envy will eventually fade."
  • "My dear brothers and sisters, consider the following questions as a self-test:
    Do you harbor a grudge against someone else?
    Do you gossip, even when what you say may be true?
    Do you exclude, push away, or punish others because of something they have done?
    Do you secretly envy another?
    Do you wish to cause harm to someone?
    If you answered yes to any of these questions, you may want to apply the two-word sermon from earlier: stop it!"
  • "Help Me, Dear Father"
  • "Love One Another"
  • "Jesus Said Love Everyone"
  • Ask a class member to make a paper airplane, or make one yourself. Tape a coin, rock, or weight to one side of the airplane. Stand on the same side of the room as the class members, and ask a class member to throw the airplane gently toward the other side of the room. Next, pick up the airplane and remove the taped object. Have the class member throw the airplane again. After the class member has done so a few times, put the airplane away, and ask the following questions: How can just one small weight keep the plane from flying correctly? Explain that taping a weight to the wing of a paper airplane is like holding a grudge. When we refuse to forgive others, we carry around a weight that keeps us from traveling the straight and narrow path our Father in Heaven wants for us. It is important to forgive others so that we can enjoy the companionship of the Holy Spirit and grow spiritually.
  • Fill a bag or sack with five heavy objects (such as books or rocks) that have each been labeled with one of the following words: revenge, hurt, hate, resentment, and anger. Have each family member take a turn trying to carry this heavy load. Explain that carrying those feelings in our hearts is an even greater burden than carrying the heavy bag. When we really forgive, we forget all of these feelings and are free from the burden of carrying them.
  • There is a fun, life-sized board game idea (with printables, just click, print, cut and go!) about forgiving and forgetting HERE.
  • Sometimes Paul & I play a game when we get a little road-ragey where we try to imagine all the good reasons why that guy just cut us off, or why that person was driving so fast.  It's easier to forgive someone for the little things when you try to understand their reasons and point of view--even if you don't agree with what they did.  There's a game kinda like that for kid-friendly situations HERE.  I'd be really interested to hear the funny reasons kids come up with for doing the things they do sometimes!  :)
  • Prepare a simple obstacle course. Have each person try to get through it backwards. After everyone has had a turn, let them go through the same course looking forward. Discuss how looking forward is like forgiveness, because when we forgive, we can concentrate on our future and forget the hurts of our past.
  • Write down a few situations where someone might accidentally (or even on purpose) make someone else sad, and have family members act them out with a forgiving ending.  Practice makes perfect!
  • We just heard this story retold and reiterated in our Stake Conference (it's from 1983, from Bishop H. Burke Peterson).  Relate the story and his words yourself.  Discuss and have the kids act it out afterwards (especially if you have toy snakes anywhere!):
"For much of our lives, we lived in central Arizona. Some years ago a group of teenagers from the local high school went on an all-day picnic into the desert on the outskirts of Phoenix. As some of you know, the desert foliage is rather sparse—mostly mesquite, cat-claw, and palo verde trees, with a few cactus scattered here and there. In the heat of the summer, where there are thickets of this desert growth, you may also find rattlesnakes as unwelcome residents. These young people were picnicking and playing, and during their frolicking, one of the girls was bitten on the ankle by a rattlesnake. As is the case with such a bite, the rattler’s fangs released venom almost immediately into her bloodstream.

This very moment was a time of critical decision. They could immediately begin to extract the poison from her leg, or they could search out the snake and destroy it. Their decision made, the girl and her young friends pursued the snake. It slipped quickly into the undergrowth and avoided them for fifteen or twenty minutes. Finally, they found it, and rocks and stones soon avenged the infliction.
Then they remembered: their companion had been bitten! They became aware of her discomfort, as by now the venom had had time to move from the surface of the skin deep into the tissues of her foot and leg. Within another thirty minutes they were at the emergency room of the hospital. By then, the venom was well into its work of destruction.

A couple of days later I was informed of the incident and was asked by some young members of the Church to visit their friend in the hospital. As I entered her room, I saw a pathetic sight. Her foot and leg were elevated—swollen almost beyond recognition. The tissue in her limb had been destroyed by the poison, and a few days later it was found her leg would have to be amputated below the knee.
It was a senseless sacrifice, this price of revenge. How much better it would have been if, after the young woman had been bitten, there had been an extraction of the venom from the leg in a process known to all desert dwellers.

As I have said, there are those today who have been bitten—or offended, if you will—by others. What can be done? What will you do when hurt by another? The safe way, the sure way, the right way is to look inward and immediately start the cleansing process. The wise and the happy person removes first the impurities from within. The longer the poison of resentment and unforgiveness stays in a body, the greater and longer lasting is its destructive effect. As long as we blame others for our condition or circumstance and build a wall of self-justification around ourselves, our strength will diminish and our power and ability to rise above our situation will fade away. The poison of revenge, or of unforgiving thoughts or attitudes, unless removed, will destroy the soul in which it is harbored."

  • There's a coloring page called "Forgiveness Makes Us Happy" HERE, where kids get to draw on happy faces and color the kids.  There's one specifically about Joseph (of Egypt) forgiving his brothers HERE--you could summarize that story with pictures while they color.
  • There's a beautiful copy of a C. S. Lewis quote about forgiveness HERE (I'm sure you could print it off and frame it. :)
  • There's a file folder game about forgiveness (and some great scriptural examples) available for free download HERE.
  • I made a bookmark ('cause you can NEVER have too many of those :) with my favorite quote from President Uchtdorf's talk.  You can download it HERE.  :)  (It's a 4"x6" print, cut into two, as usual.)

  • There's a cute kids' handprint craft & poem (you could make it grown-up and fancy if you wanted) about "forgiving fingers" HERE.
  • You could stamp letters into metal brackets or washers for charms/pendants/bookmarks, like HERE.
  • If you're really artsy, it might be healing to try your hand at art centered around forgiveness.  Check out HERE, HERE, HERE, and HERE for inspiration.  :)
  • Make S'mores in the microwave. "Don't just forgive....forgive s'more!" (Even 70x7)
  • Have 490 of something (mini marshmallows, M&Ms, pretzel sticks, grapes, anything small that you can have A LOT of).  Read Matthew 18:21-22 together and discuss how we aren't really supposed to keep track, it's just a way of saying A LOT, completely, forever.  :)
  • Make sugar cookie stop signs (or watermelon with "stop" written in fruit dip letters) and discuss the quote from President Uchtdorf about "stopping it."