Monday, December 30, 2013

January Sharing Time - I Am a Child of God and Can Be Like Him Someday

Before I even start, I have a small confession to make.

I'm not giving this sharing time. 

We have Stake Conference in January and instead of combining two weeks together, I'm skipping the first week. 

Does anyone else get a sense of Deja Vu when they read it?  Not including the addition of comparing the different babies to their parents, it feels like the exact same lesson as the 4th week in December.  The one probably given by many of you the 5th Sunday (after giving a Christmas lesson the 4th Sunday). 

If you skipped December's 4th week in the Sharing Time Outline for some reason, this is a fantastic lesson and you can check out some of my ideas here.  I also found some cute printables of babies and adults, that fits perfectly in this lesson, in a downloadable Family Home Evening lesson (score!).

Remember, what you teach is up to you and perhaps this is a lesson your children (or teachers) need back to back (this is one of the amazing parts of being set apart for your calling, you are ENTITLED to receive that inspiration, so make sure and listen).  If you feel this way, you can read through this family home evening lesson on lds dot org to find ways to change it up.

OR you can take this week to introduce the new theme.  You could pass out your new spotlights (I made a spotlight for our primary that's geared towards the theme for the year), talk about your new bulletin board(s) and introduce any new goals you're working towards as a primary.

For example, this year our primary is working towards an ice cream/water party we have scheduled for August.  They'll get to add beans to our jar for bringing their scriptures on Sunday and for memorizing the monthly scripture (we started memorizing the scriptures a year ago and not only have we loved it, but we've had multiple parents come up and tell us how great it is that their kids are excited to memorize scriptures).

I also found a few fun ideas on another Family Home Evening lesson on Chocolate on My Cranium to help introduce 2014's new theme.  I especially love the object lesson she uses to illustrate that when families are sealed together, we stay together. 

You put a cut-out family into an unsealed envelope and shake it, the family falls out all over (it would be fun to shake it hard towards the children so the family members end up farther apart and on the kids) and then, talk about how when we are sealed, we have the opportunity to stay together forever while you seal the envelope (after putting the family back in) and shake it again. 

After the object lesson, you could talk about how not every family has gotten sealed yet and ask what they can do to get ready.  Go through all the different ideas and then ask if families who have been sealed have it made.  Are they now set forever without having to do anything else?

Hopefully they'll say no so you can ask them what they have to do to take advantage of those blessings...the same exact things they had to do to prepare to get sealed in the first place!!!

The family home evening lesson also has a fun game to play using some family dice.  As each family member is rolled (it's a die with pictures of different family members), have the roller tell how they can serve that person in their own family.

In a really great talk by Elder Robert D. Hales called "The Eternal Family" he says, "To receive the blessings of the sealing that our Heavenly Father has given us, we have to keep the commandments and conduct ourselves in such a way that our families will want to live with us in the eternities."


Did you ever think about it like that?  Not only do you have to keep the commandments, but your family has to actually want to spend eternity with you (although, if you were truly keeping them, they would)!  The whole talk is great and I highly recommend it!!

Whatever you decide to do for the first week, I hope you'll be able to help those in your primary "draw nigh unto [our Savior]."

Leah

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Favorite LDS Primary Calendars and Schedules

After searching through the reports of the previous primary presidency and browsing through Sugardoodle, we decided on a variety of calendars and schedules to try out.

After more than a year I have some definite favorites (you know, the ones we actually use).  I love two separate calendars and two different directories.

These are all updated for this year and if you click on the link on the bottom of each picture, you can download the excel file and add your primary's information!  Yahoo!

I love reports.  I love excel.  I love making things lines up and look all organized and pretty.


This is the report I stick on the back our my binder and on the inside of our closet door.  It's got every lesson for every class at a glance, along with who's in charge of Sharing Time, the month's theme and song.  I love it.

This calendar is in 3 pages (I couldn't make it smaller and still fit everything) and has lots of important dates.  We've got birthdays, entrances (into nursery), baptisms, advancements (into Young Men and Women), activities and even a section for extra notes at the bottom.  Plus, we also stuck the scripture, song and theme at the top.  I love this one.  A lot (okay, I just love them all).



I know what you're thinking, "Why in the world would you make your own class list when you can have one printed by your Ward Clerk?"  Well, the answer is that you definitely don't have to, but I find it handy for a few reasons.

First, I can add kids that aren't on the records of the church (part member families where the children weren't blessed) so we can visit them and let their teachers know they're out there.  

Second, I can make notes and attach them to the children.  For example, I can let a teacher know they shouldn't visit (because the parent has asked not to be), I can make note of how to get into a basement apartment, or show relationships when the records are attached to someone who's not the parent.  Or anything else.


This list not only keeps track of everyone in primary (the second page has the presidency, chorister, pianist and all non-Sunday callings) but helps to keep track of how many kids are currently in each class, how many are attending (on average) and when each member of the primary was first called.

Being organized and able to have the information I need at my fingertips takes a big load off.  It helps everything run smoother and, well, just looking at the beautiful organization just makes me smile (I might be a little strange).

I love all these and hope they can help out some of you also!

Leah

12-3-2014: I've updated the calendars for the new 2015 themes, if you'd like to download them (or just check them out), click over to this post.

Friday, December 27, 2013

2014 Families Are Forever Bulletin Board & Monthly Posters

This year we're in charge of two separate bulletin boards, one is a square and is located in the foyer in our building.  The other is rectangular and is at the head of our primary room.

I like to make a mock up of each board on my computer so I can move things around and figure out sizes before printing anything out.

This first one is almost exactly the same as the board I did this year (2013), I just exchanged one year's posters for the next.  I liked it, but (after asking my husband if he had any ideas) I made another version.


I ended up liking this next board better because everything focuses directly on the temple. 


The second board we're in charge of is the one in our primary room.  It has two smaller boards that surround a chalk board. 





I made posters for the year that have the two parts we're most interested in, the monthly theme and the scripture (we challenge the kids to memorize the scripture each month), then I made a second version that separates the two so they'd fit on my foyer board better.







If you click on the links above, you can download zip files containing all the pictures you'd need to put that board together, except for two.  

The theme posters are their own separate downloads.  

And, I also didn't include the temple because this is the Ogden, Utah temple (or at least a rendering of what it will look like when it's finished) and I think it's important to use your own temple (You can download a picture of each temple on lds dot org and then have it printed whatever size you need.).

Leah


The temple in the Families Are Forever clipart is from a very talented artist named Susan Fitch.  You can see her other beautiful artwork on her website, Susan Fitch Designs.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

December Sharing Time - Families Are Forever Spotlight


For our 5th Sunday we'll be introducing the 2014 theme.

We're keeping things simple and will be spending most of the sharing time letting the kids fill out our 2014 spotlight after a short introduction and summary of the Families Are Forever theme.

We like to theme our spotlight on whatever the years theme is so we get to know different things about the children each year.  Plus, it helps to keep our focus on the theme every single Sunday (at least until we run out of spotlights).  And as an additional bonus, we use the spotlights when writing the annual primary program, so we're able to use the kids own words to write their parts (which I LOVE).


We are also going to have our teachers (and us) fill one out so we can intersperse them throughout the kids spotlights.  I think the kids will get a kick out of learning some more about their teachers.

I've uploaded two versions for you to choose from, one's a pdf where you can print exactly what I have and the other is the version I made in excel (which makes it totally editable, you can adjust/change questions or rearrange things).

Spotlight pdf
Spotlight excel

Have a fantastic week and a very Merry Christmas!

Leah

Thursday, December 19, 2013

30 Minute Cleanup

I recently read a homeschool post (I can't remember where, but if I find it, I'll link it later) where one small part seemed to jump off the page at me.  The author said we need to be willing to take the time to DO the things that make us happy.

This might sound funny (or down right strange), but that made me think of cleaning.

What?  Doesn't cleaning make you happy?

Okay, okay, me either, but living in a clean (or at least picked up) house makes me very, very happy.  The opposite is also true.

When my home is a mess, I find my patience wearing thin faster, and I feel stressed and upset all the time.  Not good.

In the beginning of the school year I wrote about how I used to wait until the end of the school day before my kids did any of their chores.  It drove me nuts because we'd spend most of the day in a mess.  We started doing a quick cleanup before bed so everything would be clean first thing in the morning.  It was a wonderful change.

When I actually did it.  Some nights I was (and am) just too tired and didn't want to (gosh darn it). 

Which means my house was still a mess the next day.  Darn (again).

Then, one day not too long ago, I had a brilliant idea.  A super duper wonderfully brilliant idea.  Why does the quick cleanup only have to happen before bed?

Now, whenever I look around and all I see is mess, I yell, "30 minute cleanup!" and my house magically get's picked up in under 30 minutes.  How cool is that?

Crazily enough, my boys love the cleanup, a lot.  They get their chores done early and much faster than if they worked on them later on their own.

It seems that the more I learn, the more I learn there isn't one fit.  Even for the same family.  I'm learning to have fun figuring out what works best for my family today and celebrating when I make a new discovery.

What have you figured out lately?

Leah

Monday, December 16, 2013

December Sharing Time - I Have a Testimony That I Am a Child of God

I talk all the time about how I love the Sharing Time Outline and when I simplify and use it, it brings the spirit more strongly into our primary.  I believe it.  This week, though, there just isn't that much in the outline.

So, I'm going to beef it up just a little bit.  I found a fantastic family home evening from the Family Home Evening Resource Book on lds.org.  It has so many wonderful ideas.  Simple ways to demonstrate and talk about how we are all children of our Heavenly Father.

To introduce the topic of being children of God, the lesson has you bring in two similar (yet different) objects to have the kids compare and contrast (their example uses a rock and an orange).  After discussing their similarities and differences, switch to people.  I would bring in some pictures of my siblings and I for everyone to compare.

Then, bring out a picture of your parents and discuss how you and your siblings each inherited some things from each parent.  Encourage the kids to see if they can find some similarities you each may have gotten from your parents.

Tell them that we are all members of two families, these pictures who one family, what's the other one?

We can learn about being a child of god (and our "other family") by listening to the song, "I Am a Child of God."  I love the idea of reading each verse (one at a time) to the kids and asking them what part is their favorite.  What stands out to them?  After reading through the verses, sing it and ask them how the song makes them feel.  Those good feelings are the Holy Ghost testifying to them that they are each children of God!!!

Is it important to KNOW that we are children of God?  What difference can it make in our lives?  To realize that we are His, always and no matter what, every single one of us, can help us to love each other (and ourselves) a little bit better.

Earlier we talked about how we inherit certain characteristics from our earthly parents, does the same hold true for our us and our Heavenly Father?

On one half of a chalk board have the children list some traits that Heavenly Father has and then on the opposite side, list traits His children (WE) can have.  We are His children and can become like Him, but it takes a lot of hard work.

President Lorenzo Snow said, "We are the offspring of God, born with the same faculties and powers as He possesses, capable of enlargement through the experience that we are now passing through in our second estate."

One way we can learn and grow is to look at our Heavenly Father's traits and try to grow them in ourselves.  Send each child home with this little card to put by their beds (or on a mirror or anywhere else they'll see it that their parents will allow) that reminds them they are children of God and can become more like Him everyday.



I made it small so it would fit well as a wallet size (easier to print a lot for a lot of primary kids), but I thought I'd include the jpg as well so you can print it larger if you'd like.

Child of God Becoming jpg
Child of God Becoming pdf (wallet size in both color and black & white)

Have a wonderful week (and a Merry Christmas!)
Leah

Monday, December 9, 2013

December Sharing Time - I Will Prepare to Live with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ Again

Start the lesson by asking what kinds of things we have to prepare for.  There are a ton, so make sure and give them time to think.

Just in case you're struggling to come up with very many, here are a few ideas: Christmas, school, family pictures, baptism, going to bed, Faith in God, dinner, a test/report/project...

As they give answers, have them stop and ask what kinds of things you have to do to prepare for that specific idea.  For example, to prepare for a test: we go to class, listen to our teacher, study any material we're given, get a good nights rest, eat a good breakfast...  The purpose here is to get them to realize that no matter how big the goal, we can break it down into small, manageable steps that ANYONE can do.

After going through a few of their answers, bring up the topic for today's lesson (if no one has mentioned it yet).  Last week's lesson ended with a challenge to think about different ways we can prepare for the second coming (or to meet Heavenly Father and Jesus again, whenever it happens).  Remind them of the challenge and ask what steps they've come up with.

After going through them, play the guess the song title game from the Sharing Time Outline (don't forget to check with your pianist to make sure they're willing/available to play during Sharing Time too).  After they've guessed the title, have them sing the song and stand (or raise their hand, sometimes standing can make things get a little rowdy) every time they hear a way we can prepare.  Take the time to stop after every song and go over the lessons we can learn from it.

As I mentioned earlier, I think it's really important to break down any larger goal into a simple step that can be acted on now.  The song, "Keep the Commandments," is very general, so have the kids tell you what commandment they can keep and HOW.  Like, I will keep the Sabbath day holy by writing a letter to a missionary every Sunday.  I will honor my mother and father by giving them a hug and telling them I love them everyday.

At the end of Sharing Time, send them home with some homework, a simple family home evening they can lead with their families.  I find it hard to have the kids write things during Sharing Time, it always takes more time than I think it will and it's a really big disruption, so I propose having them do the writing at home with their families.  I made a simple two page (front and back) lesson you can give to your children to really bring this weeks lesson home (hehe, pun sorta intended).

In a great talk by President Hinckley called, If Ye Are Prepared Ye Shall Not Fear, he said,

"I have faith that the Lord will bless us, and watch over us, and assist us if we walk in obedience to His light, His gospel, and His commandments.  He is our Father and our God, and we are His children, and we must be in every way deserving of His love and concern.  That we may do so is my humble prayer..."

We are deserving as we work hard to follow His teachings and prepare as we've been instructed.  What peace that principle brings into our lives!!  This is an amazing gospel and every week I feel blessed to get to share it with the children in our primary.

Leah

Friday, December 6, 2013

Keeping Track of Assignments

In previous years I've always relied on my checklists to keep my kids progressing through their work.  The checklists are pretty exhaustive weekly lists that show what work needs to be completed every day. 

Unfortunately, this year I started to run into a problem. 

It was pretty minor with the boys, they'd check things off they hadn't actually finished so I've found I need to take a minute to read over their list at the end of the day with them.  Simple and easy.

That same issue turned out to not be so minor when it came to my 7th grader.  When she would mark things off she hadn't done, I wouldn't be sure exactly what she still needed to do.  She has a lot more subjects, a lot more assignments and it got to be too much to keep in my head for any length of time (you know, longer than five minutes).

I printed off a few different gradebook pages I found online, but didn't really like any of them.  They just didn't seem to work the way I wanted them to.  So, I decided to go old school.

I pulled out my trust-ey calendar (the same one I use to keep track of holidays) and started writing down all her turn-in-able assignments.  I write down one weeks worth of assignments the beginning of each week (or when I assign them) and then I check my in-box (a little shelf on our bookshelf) every day to see if she's gotten everything done.


If there are missing assignments, now late assignments, I write them on a piece of lined paper I stuck to the wall next to her seat in our school room and highlight them on her checklist.  Now we can both easily keep track of where she is and how she's doing.


I have to admit, it does feel a little micro-manage-ey, but it's working for both of us right now.  My plan is to slowly give her more independence over the next few years.  It's hard to find the happy medium between knowing she's getting everything done and letting her find ways to complete her tasks.

Even though this system is doing the job (for now), I would love to hear how you keep track of your middle or high schooler's assignments.  If you use a gradebook, what does that look like?  If you use your own system, how'd you come up with it? 

Leah

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

A Bend in the Road

I love plans and I've always had one for my life.  Not super detailed, but I had milestones laid out in front of me for a decade...or more. 

While I was in high school, I knew I was going to graduate, go to college for two years, go on a mission for my church, finish with my four year degree (at a minimum, I really wanted a graduate degree), and THEN get married.

I knew it.

Do you ever know things like that?

Do you ever know things like that and then meet a guy named Steve who turns all your carefully laid plans upside down (or just tosses them out all together)?

I did.

And I was okay with that, I made a new plan.  I would have my beautiful children, I would be a stay at home mom (always been my dream) and then, when they were all in school, I would go to school, too.  I would discover the perfect major, the perfect job that would allow me to make a difference and add more purpose to my life.  I was counting down the years (no joke, I could plan my pregnancies and I knew how many kids I was going to have).

I should have known.  Don't you think I should have?  I didn't.  I still thought that once a plan was made, it would somehow come to pass.

When Makenna was in 3rd grade I started to read about homeschooling.  Just for fun.  Not that I was going to do that.  Nope.

When she was in 4th grade I read some more.  I thought it was just for fun, it was interesting, I like to read on a variety of topics and then one day I realized I wanted to homeschool. 

Oh well, so much for plans...right?

After homeschooling for a few months, I felt peace.  I felt a sense of purpose that wasn't there before and like I was making a difference in the world in my own home. 

Holy Cow.  I felt uplifted, amazed and blessed to have found what I was looking for no where near where I was looking.  Has that ever happened to you?

Then this year I've felt a little disquiet.  Not about homeschooling, but about my lack of milestone goals stretching out into the horizon.  I miss them.  I sort of feel like they should be there, but I don't have any idea where this homeschooling journey is headed (or when it's going to end...) so it's a little hard to make those goals.

Then, a few weeks ago I finished the second Mother Daughter Book Club book called Much Ado About Anne.  Each chapter heading has a quote from the book the mothers and daughters are reading, which, in this book, includes the first few books from the Anne of Green Gables series.

The very last quote says, "My future seemed to stretch out before me like a straight road.  I thought I could see along it for many a milestone.  Now there is a bend in it.  I don't know what lies around the bend, but I'm going to believe that the best does."

It jumped right off the page.  Do words every do that to you?  Even though I'm not exactly sure where this road is headed, I will continue to walk it with the faith that it will lead me where I need to be.  I  might find some of those milestones along the way, but for now, I'm going to try to be content with the journey.

Leah

Sunday, December 1, 2013

December Sharing Time - Jesus Christ Will Come to the Earth Again

Last week we talked about how prophets have taught about Christ's birth, mission, death and resurrection from the beginning (or as a child in my primary said today, for a lot of years). 

This week we get to talk about how they not only prophesied of His life, but that He would return in glory.  Even though this is not part of the "official" lesson, I think it's important to note that prophesies relating to His second coming did not stop with the Bible, Joseph Smith prophesied about his coming (that's in the lesson) and so have prophets and apostles throughout the history of our church (not in the lesson).  How amazing and blessed we are to have prophets today who still teach what is important for us.

I recently read a talk by Elder Delbert L. Stapley where he quotes Luke 21:26-28, this is similar to some of the scriptures that you'll be reading and talking about in primary, but there is one difference I wanted to share with you.  Just because I love it.

Luke is speaking of signs of the second coming when he says, "Men's hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken.

"And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.

"And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh."

We learn through many different prophecies that things will be hard.  Our hearts will be filled with fear, but, what does Luke tell us to do?!!  LOOK UP, lift your head, because you will be redeemed.  Christ's second coming is a story of hope and joy.  I can't read that last verse without being filled with excitement and this is something I hope we can share with the children we are privileged to teach.

Today, I have the two sets of scriptures ready for you to print for memory.  Because my memory isn't fantastic and the most important part of this lesson is learning WHAT has been prophesied, I found a picture or two (or three) to go along with each set of scriptures.  As the kids find a match and read the scripture, have them look through the pictures to find which ones help us learn (and remember) what we're being taught.


Next week, we'll talk about how we can prepare to live with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ again, so it might be a good idea to close with a challenge for them to think about how we can get ready for the second coming.  It doesn't matter if we're here to see it, preparing for it prepares us to meet Him whenever it happens.  Then, next week they can choose some of the ideas they've come up with to prepare a little better.

You can download the printables I put together for this lesson from google docs.  I hope you have a wonderful Sharing Time!

Leah

Saturday, November 30, 2013

2014 - Families Are Forever - Extra Downloads

I've had several requests to make a few of my downloads editable and so I did.

I also took the word art from my bookmark and chapstick label and made it a little bigger.  I made it bigger in a few different sizes (4x6, 5x5, 5x7, 8x8, and 8x10). 

Now, back to the editable downloads.

All of them are in Microsoft Word.  I put text boxes in the spots you'd need them, but you may want/need to move them around, resize them or just delete what I've added to make it fit what you need.


    Binder Cover (Horizontal and Vertical)



Check out my other printables here and here.  Plus, there are still a few more things I'm working on, so check back through December!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Simply Fun Thanksgiving Crafts

A few weeks ago I wrote about how I plan and organize our crafts.  At the end of the post I mentioned that I'd show you how our planned Thanksgiving crafts went and so, here they are.

Most of them.  We're still planning to make the thankful pac-man during our family night tonight, I wanted everyone to be able to get in on the grateful action.


This is James after I asked for a normal smile.  I suppose normal is relative, especially when you're talking to/about a 6 year old.


There, that's a little better.  He was the only one who wanted to make the turkey headdress, I love how much he loves to do projects.


I also love their pilgrims.  After getting them done, though, I should have made the heads a little bit bigger, a little more like a bobble head (although these are still cute). 

My favorite thing about them is that they can go anywhere.  I turn around and there's a pilgrim staring at me.  They've had them on the school room table, stuck to our white board (where they are in this picture) and on the bookshelf.  


This is the only project that everyone's made so far.  The rest of the turkeys are hanging on the chandelier in our dining room.  Because you get to choose what colors you want for the "feathers," each turkey turns out differently, and it's interesting how much their choices show their personalities.

My favorite thing about each of these projects is that they don't take a lot of time, supplies or skill.  My kids love projects they can do all or mostly on their own (and so does their mom) and after I sketched a couple templates, these were perfect.

I would love to hear about what you've been doing, what's been your favorite Thanksgiving project?

Hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving week!!
Leah

Sunday, November 24, 2013

December Sharing Time - The Prophets Foretold That Jesus Christ Would Come to Earth


This whole month is going to be pretty darn great.  I'm really excited to watch the kids as they get to learn about, discuss and work on following their Savior a little more closely.

Before Sharing Time starts, you're going to need to attach the scripture that goes along with each prophet to the back of their picture (I LOVE that sticky tacky stuff...it goes under lots of names, but it's removable putty).  Next, attach the prophet pictures to a board, leaving room under each so you can add pictures and words showing what they prophesied.  Then, attach the pictures and words so the kids can look at them as the scriptures are being read and decide which ones go with each prophet.

As you start Sharing Time, share the following quote:

Elder Delbert L. Stapley said, "We will never go wrong as a people if we follow the Lord's prophet, who is also our prophet, and heed his teachings, counsel, and personal example."

This is true in every area of our lives and throughout history, this week we get to learn about the different ways prophets from the scriptures prophesied about the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ.

Have all the prophets names in a pile up front and choose one child at a time to come up, choose a name, and try to match it to the prophet's picture.

As they find a match, have them pull the scripture from behind the picture telling what that specific prophet said about Christ.  For senior primary, you could turn this into a scripture chase to help looking go a little more quickly (plus scripture chases are always fun), but it might be easier to have the scriptures ready for the kids to read in junior primary.

As the scripture is read, have them watch the pictures and words on the board to try and figure out which ones show us some of the prophecies made.  After you're done reading, choose a few kids to come up front and move the pictures and/or words underneath the prophet who made those specific prophecies.  There are a few repeats, for example, both Mary and virgin are prophesied twice in the scriptures we'll be reading (I wasn't sure what to do for those, so I made words for them both, but I also have two pictures of Mary, so you can pick how you want those to go).

End with your testimony about the Jesus birth, life, death, (and most importantly) His resurrection.  The prophets foretold that He would come and HE DID!!

President Monson said, "With all my heart and the fervency of my soul, I lift up my voice in testimony as a special witness and declare that God does live.  Jesus is His Son, the Only Begotten of the Father in the flesh.  He is our Redeemer; He is our Mediator with the Father.  He it was who died on the cross to atone for our sins.  He became the firstfruits of the Resurrection.  Because He died, all shall live again.  "Oh, sweet the joy this sentence gives: 'I know that my Redeemer lives!'" May the whole world know it and live by that knowledge, I humbly pray..."

Here's what I've put together for the week:

Prophet Pictures
Scriptures
Words
Prophecy Pictures


Have a wonderful week,
Leah

Saturday, November 23, 2013

December Sharing Time Theme - I Know That Jesus Christ Will Come Again

I love that every December we get to learn more about and focus a little closer on our Savior.  We speak of Him and His teachings throughout the whole year, but having a chance to learn more about His life is always a blessing.

This month we'll be talking about Christ coming to live on earth, returning to the earth in glory, how we can prepare to live with Him and (my favorite) that we are ALL children of God.  Every single one of us.

I recently read a talk by Elder Delbert L. Stapley where he said, "The predictions of the early prophets concerning Christ's birth, life, and ministry were fulfilled, and those who sincerely believed were prepared to accept him.  This being true, we can reliably expect that the happenings prophesied of concerning his second coming will also be fulfilled."

As we have faith, as we believe what we learn of Christ's life and mission, we will have a greater desire to prepare ourselves to meet Him.  It doesn't matter if it's when He comes again or if it's when our time here in mortality is over.  We need to choose to learn and then ACT.  I love that the months lessons are set up like that.

We first learn about Christ's life, that He is coming again and then we learn how we can incorporate that information into our lives through the action of preparation.

Last, we end our year helping the children to feel Heavenly Father's love for them through the knowledge that they are each truly His children.  I've long felt that the knowledge that we are His, no matter what, that He loves us, no matter what, is one of the biggest life time game changers out there.

President Hinckley said, "Never forget, my dear young friends, that you really are a child of God who has inherited something of His divine nature, one whom He loves and desires to help and bless.  I pray that our Heavenly Father will bless you.  May He smile with favor upon you.  May you walk in His paths and follow His teachings.  May you ever be prayerful unto Him, praying always in the name of His Beloved Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.  May each of us resolve to always follow Him in faith.  May life be kind to you, for you are indeed a child of God, worthy and deserving of His love and blessing."

I also love this months scripture,


Our primary has done so well this year memorizing each month's scripture.  I love that they now have these "packets of light" illuminating their minds (we decided unanimously as a presidency to continue with next years scriptures).

If you've been following along adding pieces to your armor of god guy each month, we've reached the end of the road, his armor was complete last month.  This month we are simply adding a picture of our Savior to the board, above his head in the direction he's looking to show that we need to always be heading toward Christ.


This is actually a picture from my home (the first thing you see as you walk in my front door) and I probably won't be using it, although I may bring it in for decoration (I'm planning to borrow a pass along card from our building for the armor of god display).

My favorite talks this month were,

President Gordon B. Hinckley, "You Are a Child of God"
President Thomas S. Monson, "I Know That My Redeemer Lives"

Hope you have a Merry Christmas,
Leah

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Sharing Time - November Week 4

After spending three weeks focusing on expressing thanks for specific blessings that fall into specific categories (body, temporal and spiritual), this week we're wrapping up by learning that we should offer thanks for every single blessing.  All of them. 

I love what President J. Reuben Clark said about our blessings, "Hold fast to the blessings which God has provided for you.  Yours is not the task to gain them, they are here; yours is the part of cherishing them."

Our job isn't JUST to offer thanks, it is to CHERISH them.  To hold dear, to care for tenderly or to cling fondly (according to dictionary.com).  The word cherish makes me think of my daughter when she was a toddler squeezing her stuffed animals so tightly against her cheek.  She loved them with all her heart and just couldn't quite get enough.

I'm not sure about you, but I don't often have feelings that strong when it comes to my blessings.  How can we truly cherish all that we are blessed with?

This week we get to brainstorm ways to show how much we cherish our blessings.  First, talk about how you have shown thanks for a gift you've received. 

It might be a little fun here to be a little funny.  Talk in all seriousness about how you showed thanks, then, perhaps, you can say that after a while though, the gift became normal.  Not something you really thought about anymore or took care of very well.  As you're talking, drop the gift, step on it or do something else to show a lack of caring.  You can then teach about how it is always important to be thankful, not just when we first receive a gift or blessing.

Brainstorm with the kids different ways we can show thanks.  Say thank you, give a hug, be kind, do an act of kindness, and continue to be thankful.  You could get them to list even more things if you ask for specific acts they could do to show their thanks.  Perhaps contrasting what you could do for a person in their life (a parent) to what we can do for Heavenly Father.

Now that their juices are flowing (and they've got some ideas to get started), set them up into groups and pass around the bags described in the outline.  Challenge them to be specific in their ideas.  How will they show Heavenly Father that they are cherishing His blessings? 

You can download this paper to stick in with your items (even though I know a plain piece of paper works just as good here, I love cute things).  I couldn't decide if I liked having one whole sheet or if a half sheet worked better, so I put both in the download.

After you've read through their ideas, ask the kids for one thing they've learned that they WILL DO. 

Ask them how (or if) they think being thankful will affect their lives.  We learn through modern science that those who cherish what they have been given are happier, but we learn even greater truths from the scriptures.

Doctrine and Covenants teaches, "And he who receiveth all things with thankfulness shall be made glorious; and the things of the earth shall be added unto him, even an hundred fold, yea, more."

Isn't it great that being thankful for what we are blessed with only leads to more blessings!? 

Have a wonderful (and blessed!) week.

Leah

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Families Are Forever - Primary 2014 - Printables!!


I've found that the more I make for next year, the more I think of to make.

While it might sound great, it sort of creates the problem of never quite being done, so I decided I had to pick a temporary stopping point to take the time to get what I had done ready to upload.

I hope you enjoy using these as much as I've enjoyed making them!

First, I have the graphic I made just to go at the top of my posts about next year.  I was surprised so many people wanted it (sans my "watermark").  So here is a link to download that.

Families Are Forever jpg
Families Are Forever pdf

Bookmark
The subway art is made from the monthly themes throughout the year.  It's a smaller bookmark (there are 4 to a page in the download) so that they can fit in smaller scriptures.  If you'd like, you can punch a hole in the top (in the circle) to tie a ribbon/yarn/something else cute.

Chapstick Label
I used the same subway art to make these simple and cute chapstick labels (the label is 2.0625"x2.15").  They work best if you print them on whole sheet labels and cut them apart.  There are 12 on each sheet.

Door Signs


I made two different types of door signs.  One that includes a place for a list of class members (you'll write more than one name on each line) and one that is just the class, teacher and room.

Door Sign
Door Sign - Class Members

 CD Sleeve
After downloading and printing them out, you just need to cut, fold, glue and slide your 2014 CD's in.  I love how simple they are and how well they turned out.

I would LOVE to hear about any of your plans for next year, now that our program is over, I'm getting even more excited!  If you'd like to see the binder covers I've made, be sure to click over to this post.

Leah

Check out other printables I've made here and here.  Check back through December, there are a few more things I'm working on.

The temple I used in all of these printables is from Susan Fitch Illustration and Design, she is such a talented artist!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

November Sharing Time - Week 3 - Spiritual Blessings

Continuing from last week, ask the children if they were able to find ways to show their thanks for their temporal, or physical, blessings.  Encourage them to continue to SEARCH for their blessings everyday, we are promised that as we look for our blessings, we will remember things we hadn't even noticed during the day. 

To transition from the temporal blessings of last week into this weeks theme, you could ask the kids if there are any other ways we are blessed and after listening to and discussing their answers, direct them to the scriptures. 

I could see the junior primary being stumped here, not sure what other ways we can be blessed and I think this could be a great opportunity to remind them that whenever we have a question, we ALWAYS have somewhere we can turn, the SCRIPTURES!!  Even senior primary could use a reminder (heck, I could often use one as well).

I love getting into the scriptures with the kids.  Take the time to make sure they really understand what these scriptures are telling us.  I would stop after the first verse and either re-word it myself or ask for a volunteer to tell me what it said in their own words.  God gives many gifts through the Spirit to help us, to make us better and to help us grow. 

Then, to involve the kids and keep them listening closely as you read (or have a volunteer read) through all the gifts, ask the kids to either stand or raise their hands as they hear a gift.  You could ask whoever stands first to tell you what they think that gift is, what it might mean if they had it and how they could use it to help others or give an example of someone they think does or did have it and how they use(d) it to bless those around them.

The last verse teaches us that these gifts come to each of us.  More than one of them to each of us.  How AMAZING is that?!

After reading through the scriptures, I made up a matching game to go along with each of the gifts to play.  If you wanted, you could wait to talk about each gift until the matching game (and as they find the match, have the person who finds it tell you about it).

I made two versions, one uses words from the scriptures and the other uses pictures to depict the words.  I also have a pdf of the scripture I made if you'd like to use that in your primary.

Matching Game - Words
Matching Game - Pictures
Scripture

Hope your sharing time blesses you and your primary!
Leah

Friday, November 8, 2013

Remembering Holidays

Last year I struggled a lot with remembering holidays.  No, I'm not talking about Thanksgiving sneaking past while I wasn't looking, I mean remembering in time to enjoy our crafts and books BEFORE the big day.

Okay, okay, I still struggle just a smidge, but it's much better this year than last so I thought I'd share my tips and tricks with you.  And, if you've already got it all figured out, I'd LOVE to hear yours, too.

#1 Calendar Holidays and Project Time

I printed out a simple, two page per month, calendar and wrote down the holidays we wanted to incorporate into our school year.  I'm not by nature a "get down and glue-ey" kinda girl, so I tried to keep it down to one a month.

After picking the holidays, I decided how many weeks I wanted to spend working on projects.  Most are one or two weeks.  Then I wrote my plans ON my calendar.  If it isn't written down in my house, we never get to it.  Is anyone else like that? 


 (the notes across the week of the 6th are a new attempt to better keep track of Makenna's assignments, I'm going to post about it in a week or two)


As the school year has progressed, I try to look at least a month ahead each week so I can get ideas ready (and get themed books checked out from our local library before they're all gone).

#2 Using Pinterest
I find most of my ideas for crafty projects on Pinterest.  I love Pinterest.  It's so simple to pin a whole board full of fun ideas, in fact, it's maybe a little too easy.

I have to force myself to only pin the simple and easy projects that I know we can do (I have a separate board called Homeschool Projects so I can still pin everything else on my holiday boards).

I also try to pick ones that use materials we already have around our house which means we can do them anytime (aka: we don't have to wait until I remember to pick up supplies).

#3 Keeping It Simple  
After working hard to keep my pins simple, I look them over and pick a few.  I copy and paste the picture of each project into a document file.  I keep the pictures small enough so I can print them all out on only ONE sheet of paper.  Then I stick that sheet of paper to our white board as we get close to our scheduled weeks of project time.  


With that one piece of paper, I've got every simple and fun idea we want to work on.  It doesn't get easier than that.

And just so you know, we rarely get every picture on my one piece of paper done.  Checking every box (or project) isn't my main goal.  My goal is to have fun cutting, gluing and getting into the holidays with my kids and if that means we spend a whole week slowly working our way through only 1 of the 4 crafts, well, I'm okay with that.  Keeping things simple and as laid back as possible (which doesn't come naturally to me...at all) makes all of us so much happier.

I just stuck our Thanksgiving projects on the board yesterday (pictured above): we're planning a couple of turkeys, a pilgrim, a thankful pacman (that's what Makenna's calling it) and some cookies.  I'll post pictures as we get closer to Thanksgiving and let you know how it went!

Leah

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

November Sharing Time Theme

This month we get to focus on thanks (which is pretty perfect for November).  

President James E. Faust said, "A grateful heart is a beginning of greatness.  It is an expression of humility.  It is a foundation for the development of such virtues as prayer, faith, courage, contentment, happiness, love, and well-being."

I have found that having a thankful heart brings peace to my life.  When I no longer look for greener pastures somewhere else, but focus on the beauties all around me, I find joy and contentment right where I am.

Unfortunately, it is ridiculously easy to lose site of our many blessings during our day to day routines and to focus on any and every small hard thing.  I recently read a poem called "How Different" that says:

Some murmur when the sky is clear
And wholly bright to view,
If one small speck of dark appear
In their great heaven of blue.
And some with thankful love are filled,
If but one streak of light,
One ray of God's good mercy, gild
The darkness of their night.
 
It takes great effort to truly look for and see our blessings.  Even if we happen to be surrounded by them.  It's crazy to me how much more noticeable that one small speck is against all the blue.  

So, what steps can we take to keep our focus on the light?  What can we teach our children TO DO this month? 

President Monson teaches us that we must pray often to see our blessings.  President Eyring has spoken often about keeping a "book of remembrance" where we thoughtfully seek and record how the Lord has blessed us.  Sister Bonnie D. Parkin had a great idea, make a family blessing basket (either real or metaphorical) and before family prayer each night, go around the room remembering and recognizing your blessings.  All three of these relate to another great aphorism, "Use it or lose it!"  If we aren't exercising our blessing seeking muscles, they'll atrophy.  Luckily, all they need is a few good workouts!

One of my favorite things to do when preparing for a lesson is to read a few inspirational talks.  It gets my juices flowing and sometimes sends me off in a direction I hadn't anticipated (which always ends up being a good thing).  Here are two of my favorites on gratitude:

President Thomas S. Monson, "The Divine Gift of Gratitude"
Sister Bonnie D. Parkin, Gratitude: A Path to Happiness

This month we're adding a cloak to our armor of god guy.  We'll relate it to the months theme by talking about how Christ's unwavering love for us both prompts our gratitude and warms our hearts just like this cloak warms our bodies.
 

We're also working on this month's scripture.  I have two separate print outs because I did something a little bit different in our primary.  In the Sharing Time Outline it has a shortened version of the verse found in Mosiah.  While the shortened version makes more sense and relates better with this months theme, I don't like the idea of having the kids memorize only part of a scripture.  

Even with the rest added in, it isn't especially long and this way, they truly know one whole new scripture.  Just in case you'd like to use the shortened version, both are included in the download.



I hope you're feeling inspired about this months topic and are excited to share those feelings with your primary!  

Have a great month,
Leah

Sunday, November 3, 2013

November Sharing Time - Week 2

I have a confession to make.  When I first started in Primary (I can't believe it's been a year and a half already), I sort of thought the Sharing Time Outline was okay, but I didn't use it for much other than a general guideline of what subject to teach on.

After several months I decided to start blogging about plans for my upcoming sharing times.  Then I decided to share ideas every week and promptly got burned out trying to find time to spend hours looking for ideas and posting about each of them.

I prayed and thought about what to do and had a brilliant idea.  I know it's brilliant because I've had this idea before, in fact, I've had it a lot.  I needed to simplify.

I thought about what that meant and about what my favorite part of preparing sharing time ideas was and then, I found a solution.  I would find something to make (which I love) that would make using the outline easier for you (and me, too).  While following my plan, I've found a greater appreciation and even (dare I say) love for the Sharing Time Outline.

Keeping things simple and following the outline a little more closely has also allowed me to focus more on the spiritual side, which has been an unexpected blessing.

So, why am I telling you all about this today?  Well, I'm pretty much using the entire outline this week and only the outline.  It's pretty perfect.

First, talk about temporal blessings and what they are.  I've got both pictures and words to go along with all of our senses in the downloads.

Temporal Blessings Pictures
Temporal Blessings Words

Next, stick the categories up on the board and use the rest of the pictures/words to talk about some of our blessings.  It doesn't matter if the kids stick them in the category I did, many of them can easily fit into multiple categories.  The important thing is to get them thinking.  Ask them where and then how each picture/word fits.

After you've put their picture/word up on the board, ask them how they can show their thanks for that blessing.  If they need help, make sure to let them brainstorm with the other kids.  I've learned (both from primary and homeschool) that children are very smart and inventive and usually only need us to be willing to give them a minute.  Their answers will often be different than what we might have given, but great answers.

As you go through the blessings, make sure to take the time to share any personal stories you might have, along with your testimony of the wonderful blessings that surround us each and every day!

Have a wonderful week,
Leah

ps. I've been working on some more fun printables for next year (2014) and I'm almost ready to put them up (you can check out my first set on this post), check back soon!!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween!

Hope your Halloween is going howling-ly well!






And that you've enjoyed checking out our favorite Halloween activities this year!

Leah
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