This week, I'm combining the first two talks of Conference (minus President Monson's opening remarks--the ones by President Boyd K. Packer as well as Sister Cheryl A. Esplin) because they are both GREAT talks about eternal families. I felt like they both spoke more to parents and all leaders than to children, and they are great resources for YOU when you're trying to capture the vision of WHY you're doing FHE, family prayer, family scripture study, etc. But to make this applicable to your children, too, I'm going to focus more on the aspect touched on in both talks that families are where we learn and grow, find joy, and hope to be together in the eternities.
As such, there are a WIDE range of activities you can do--anything related to families, temples, etc. So I have a MUCH *broader* list than I probably will in the future. Pick and choose in the direction that you feel YOUR family needs to go this week!
SO. Without further ado:
POINTS TO PONDER AS YOU READ THE TALKS/PREPARE/BEFORE YOU BEGIN:
- What does it mean to "become as a little child?" What lessons do my children teach me?
- What do we do WELL together as a family/when are we happiest? When are the toughest parts of our day?
- Forever families don't just happen. What can we do to strengthen our family?
- Families Can Be Together Forever
- I Love to See the Temple
- We Are a Happy Family
- The Family Is of God
- My Eternal Family
- Family Night
- Family Unity: the timeless "stick" example. You know the one. You hold up a small twig and have one of the kids break it, easily. But then you show how much stronger it is when there are multiple sticks together--MUCH harder to break. We gotta STICK together as a family! :)
- Family Unity/Cooperation: candy bar challenge. Have a candy bar (or other small treat) on either side of the room. Have children link arms behind their backs. Tell them they have 10 seconds to get their candy bar (the one they're facing). Most likely your children will struggle against each other the whole time and neither will get the candy--unless one is much stronger, and then they will "win." But point out (maybe Mom and Dad should do the same challenge) that if you work together and take turns, you BOTH get your candy with time to spare and everyone is happy! Talk about how this is true in your family life.
- Family Unity: knit together. If someone knits or crochets, "knit" together multiple colorful strands of yarn into a small square while your family reads and discusses the scripture Mosiah 18:21 together. Show how much stronger, prettier, and more useful all the yarns are when they are knit together than just one lonely strand.
- Family Unity: drawing near. Put a picture of Christ down on the floor and have everyone stand away from it in a circle around it. Then have everyone take a step or two closer to the picture. Point out that when we draw near to Christ, we also draw near to each other. The converse is also true--when we work together as families and draw near to each other, we draw closer to the Savior.
- Family Environment: bucket fillers. This is a popular one in education--there are even picture books about it and a website here. Basically the idea is that we all carry an invisible bucket that contains our feelings. When our bucket is full, we feel great. When our bucket is empty, we feel sad. A bucket filler is someone who says or does nice things for other people. By doing this, they are filling other people's buckets and filling their own bucket at the same time. If we do or say mean things, however, we are a bucket dipper. You could have small buckets/pails (or even mailboxes from dollar store) and have kids think of ways to fill each others' buckets, putting a marble in for each idea.
- Family Environment: food coloring and bleach. Have two glasses about a quarter full of clear "water"--one with water, one with a small bleach. Talk about all the things we do that make our home not a happy place to be--not sharing, not being polite or grateful, grumbling, disobeying--and each time add a drop of food coloring. Show how murky and muddy our home can be. Then, using an eye dropper, draw clear "water" from the bleach and add drops of GOOD things we can do--cleaning up, helping each other, being kind, using our words instead of our hands when we're mad, etc. Show how those good choices can disperse the gloom and make our home clean and bright and happy.
- Family Environment: crayons. We did a variation of this one in primary. We gave each of the kids a crayon--only one--and then told them to draw a beautiful rainbow. Most of them were not happy that they couldn't trade or share crayons. We then told them to think about what the world would be like if EVERYTHING were only that color and they could only ever use that one crayon for the rest of their whole lives. Not too fun, huh? Then we brought them together to draw a big rainbow with all the colors and admired how much prettier it was. We likened this to the differences we all have in our talents and interests and strengths and talked about how this made the world a more colorful, interesting, and beautiful place! This is especially true in families.
- Forever Family: Take a picture of your family (print one off, include extended family if possible) and cut it into a few puzzle pieces. Hide the pieces around the room/house and have kids find them and put them together. Discuss how it would feel if any piece of that puzzle of a family were missing.
- Forever Family: Have children, and then parents, take turns leaving the room. The rest of the family looks around and sees what it would be like if that child or parent weren't in their family. List a few things you would definitely miss about each one. Come together and talk about how EVERY family member is important and you want to be together FOREVER. Show them a picture of the temple and talk about how temples make it possible.
- Forever Family: After discussing what temples look like and what they have in common, have children build little temples with sugar cubes, blocks, LEGOs, or whatever else is on hand.
- Forever Family: Cut out pictures of each member of your family (or just draw stick figures) and lay each picture down on a picture of the temple. Then put a blanket over it, and take one family member away. Have the kids identify who is missing. Tell them you don't want ANYONE missing in your forever family, and only by following Jesus' teachings AND being sealed in the temple is it possible!
- What do the prophets say about families? HERE is a cute matching game, best suited for children between 4 and 10, to help you find out!
- Importance of Families in the Plan: show a picture of baby birds in a nest (there are some good ones on THIS PAGE) and ask them questions about who feeds the babies, why they need parents, etc. Then show a picture of the Nativity and talk about why even Jesus Christ needed parents and a family on this earth. Finally, show a picture of YOUR family and discuss what we each do for each other.
- Importance of Parents: play Simon Says for a few rounds, with the parents taking turns as the leaders. Talk about why it's important to listen to your parents ALWAYS and how you are trying to help them grow up healthy, strong, powerful, and loved, which is why you teach them what to do.
- Importance of Family Time: The Family Proclamation says that wholesome family recreation is an important part of an eternal family! Have each child name one fun thing the whole family could do together this month and calendar it, right then and there! Showing that you're listening to what THEY want to do will help them feel of your love.
- Family Proclamation Go Fish: This adorable idea found HERE from Being LDS has your children drawing important family-related principles and objects on cards you make and label. Then you could play Go Fish with them! Click the link for more details!
- Make a crafty family tree--use each person's handprint as a colorful leaf, or thumbprint if you want to go smaller. I have a whole BOARD of family tree craft ideas on Pinterest, HERE.
- Get a copy of the Proclamation on the Family and read pieces of it together. Highlight favorite parts or important words. Then, take pictures of your own family and put them around it--you can frame it, or just tape the pictures to the back of it and hang it up on the fridge!
- With teenage girls, there's a cute idea for a lesson and banner craft HERE.
- Make family puppets! You can make this easy and just tape/glue a picture of each family member to a popsicle stick, or you can have kids make rectangular finger puppets out of self-portraits, etc. Use these in your FHE lessons now or in the future, or use them to spice up some family routines (like drawing who says a prayer or who gets to pick dessert first, etc.) You could also do this in felt for a flannel board--make "paper dolls" out of felt for each family member.
- Temple crafts! There are SO MANY temple crafts out there, I'm going to let you have at it. Any of them could reinforce the idea that you want a forever family!
- Also from Being LDS, a whole list of 30 activities/crafts based on lines from the Family Proclamation can be found HERE! Any or all of them would definitely fit the theme. I think you could EASILY spend a whole year studying the Family Proclamation in FHE. Maybe I'll think on that later. :)
- Melonheadz LDS Illustrating has some cute, simple coloring pages available for free HERE, HERE, and HERE.
- There's a great Proclamation on the Family subway art for $10, if that's your thing, HERE.
- If your FHE focused more on the temple aspect of a forever family, consider making/handing out something like these mirrors HERE--they say "See Yourself in the Temple." You could easily write/draw on little mirrors with permanent markers if you don't have etching paste or vinyl on hand!
- I've got some temple handouts for you. They're meant to be printed as 4"x6" and then cut down to 3"x4". Let me know if you have a specific temple in mind and want one. :)
|DC temple download|
|Provo temple download|
|SLC temple download|
|Rexburg temple download|
From President Packer:
- (Speaking of holding a hungry child): "You were holding a nation on your lap."
- "The ultimate end of all activity in the Church is to see a husband and his wife and their children happy at home, protected by the principles and laws of the gospel, sealed safely in the covenants of the everlasting priesthood. Husbands and wives should understand that their first calling—from which they will never be released—is to one another and then to their children."
- "There are many things about living the gospel of Jesus Christ that cannot be measured by that which is counted or charted in records of attendance."
- "Fathers and mothers, next time you cradle a newborn child in your arms, you can have an inner vision of the mysteries and purpose of life. You will better understand why the Church is as it is and why the family is the basic organization in time and in eternity. I bear witness that the gospel of Jesus Christ is true, that the plan of redemption, which has been called the plan of happiness, is a plan for families."
- "Sometimes the most powerful way to teach our children to understand a doctrine is to teach in the context of what they are experiencing right at that moment. These moments are spontaneous and unplanned and happen in the normal flow of family life. They come and go quickly, so we need to be alert and recognize a teaching moment when our children come to us with a question or worry, when they have problems getting along with siblings or friends, when they need to control their anger, when they make a mistake, or when they need to make a decision."
- "Learning to fully understand the doctrines of the gospel is a process of a lifetime and comes “line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little” (2 Nephi 28:30). As children learn and act upon what they learn, their understanding is expanded, which leads to more learning, more action, and an even greater and more enduring understanding.We can know our children are beginning to understand the doctrine when we see it revealed in their attitudes and actions without external threats or rewards. As our children learn to understand gospel doctrines, they become more self-reliant and more responsible. They become part of the solution to our family challenges and make a positive contribution to the environment of our home and the success of our family."
- Gingerbread men and women--paired and clothed in white, of course! You could even make a Gingerbread house/temple if you are REALLY inspired.
- If you don't have time for that, just use gingerbread men cookie cutters to cut people shapes out of slices of fruit--melons and apples are especially sturdy--and serve.
- Does your family have a recipe or treat that is special to you? Is there a secret family recipe? Enjoy those as a treat and discuss how even traditions and treats preserve family history and bring us closer together!
WHEW! I hope you find a few things on this list to try out for your FHE. I know family is SO SO SO important to the Plan of Happiness. As President Packer said, the Plan is all ABOUT the family! I'm grateful that we get to be together on this earth with special people who just bring JOY to our lives. We are so richly blessed to know that we get to be with these people FOREVER if we work for it. Some days it really IS work, but it is always worth it when we keep our end in sight. :)