Saturday, March 30, 2013

Spring has Sprung

As much as I know it's dangerous, I can't hold it in anymore.  I love spring! 

In fact, it's my very favorite season.  New life after everything's been dead for soooo long. 

Okay, it hasn't been that long, it just feels like it after every single winter.

The danger comes because it seems every time I exult and exclaim my love and snows.  Darn spring.  That I love.  We have a strange relationship.

We've been on spring break the last week and have spent a lot of it at the park near our home.  It's been wonderful. 

I hope you're seeing signs of spring and enjoying the beauty all around us!!!  Have a wonderful Easter weekend and a fantastic spring.

Friday, March 29, 2013

April Family Home Evening Plan

My two favorite things about having a family home evening plan last month were:

1. Even though I still seem to wait until sometime Monday to get everything ready, because I've already put time and prayer into topics and finding lessons, I'm not sacrificing content due to my procrastination.

2. Because I've found cool lessons, I'm printing them out, laminating them and adding them to favorite lessons I already have floating around.  That means after this year, I'll have so many awesome family tested lessons to choose from that are already READY! 

Now, onto my April lessons...

Week 1
We'll review our goals again (I finally put them up on the wall next to our dining table so we can see them EVERYDAY) and see if there are smaller goals we can set to work towards our bigger goals during the month of April. 

Seeing as this is the family night before General Conference, we're going to talk about and get ready for General Conference. 

I love General Conference and I'm really excited to help my kids understand what a gift it is (or can be) in our lives.

I've found two different FHE's I like that are very, very similar.  The first is from Chocolate on my Cranium and the second is from Parenting in the Latter-days

They both use the theme of Watchmen on the Tower, which I LOVE!  Chocolate on my Cranium is simpler and quicker while Parenting in the Latter-days has more options in the stories and activities department.  I will probably do bits from both.

Sometime during family night we'll put up pictures of all our apostles.  I don't have them yet, but I plan to run down to distribution (attached to the Deseret Book's around here) and pick up an 8.5x11 of each of them for only $.50 each.  If you don't live near a distribution, you can order them online here (they probably won't be there in time for General Conference, but I think it's so important that our children recognize and know who they're prophets are).  We'll leave the pictures up all week and then have the kids move the picture of the apostle speaking to the top of our tower during conference (I'll be posting about exactly what we're doing as a family for conference next week).

Week 2
Every month I try to do a lesson (or have my kids do one) on either Faith in God or, now that my daughter is going to be 12 next month, on Personal Progress.  This week we're going to talk about Faith Experience #2. 

We'll get it started as a family and then Makenna will work on finishing it throughout the week.  We're going to talk about the story of Helaman and the stripling warriors and the faith they had.  I'm not certain if we'll watch any of the video yet (my kids love the LDS Living Scriptures videos) because they've seen it a lot, but they do love it, so maybe I'll try and find a short clip we can watch to emphasize the principle of faith.

Then I'm going to use bits and pieces from this lesson I found at LDS Family Fun.  We'll review the story and read some scriptures (the experience asks that you read Alma 56:45-48 and 57:21) then talk about how Helaman's Stripling Warriors' faith helped them.  In primary this year we're talking about the armor of God and so we'll relate faith to a shield.

Quote: “We were dressed in our home each morning, not only with hats and raincoats and boots to protect us from physical storm, but even more carefully our parents dressed us each day in the armor of God. As we would kneel in family prayer and listen to our father, a bearer of the priesthood, pour out his soul to the Lord for the protection of his family against the fiery darts of the wicked, one more layer was added to our shield of faith. While our shield was being made strong, theirs was always available, for they were available and we knew it.” L. Tom Perry, Ensign, May 1974

I think we'll end with a treat (which I'm too lazy to do normally).  During the day I'll make up some sugar cookie dough and we'll cook it after school.  Then, it'll be ready to turn into shields after our lesson.

Short and sweet!

Week 3
Years ago I did a bunch of family home evening lessons for a church activity and since then they've spent more time sitting in a box than being used. I'm working on changing that.

I've been reading books on Christ off and on for the last several years and my love for Him has grown so much that I want to share it with everyone, especially my children.  So, I've chosen one of those buried lessons titled Seeking Christ to do for this week.

It suggest using either "Seek the Lord Early" (pg 108) or "Teach Me to Walk in the Light" (pg177) for your opening song.  I love Teach Me, it's been a favorite since I was in primary so I'll try to convince my kids we should go with that one (not that it really matters, they're both really great). 

Read Proverbs 8:17, "I love them that love me; and those that seek me early shall find me."  A really great scripture.  Does anyone else come across quotes and scriptures and have the urge to start sticking them all over the walls in their home?  I think if I actually followed through, my walls would be coated...

The lesson starts out with all the lights off (or have a blindfold handy if you can't get your house dark enough).  You need to ask a family member to do a simple task in the dark (write a sentence, put something away...) and then show the difference when the same task is done in the light. 

Read John 8:12 and talk about how Jesus is the light of the world.  How does He give us His light and how does it make it easier for us to make the right choices (or does it)?

Then you do a fun activity to show how we can find Christ in our lives.  My kids love scavenger/clue hunts (I may have mentioned this before) and I love that this one involves reading scriptures (this make me think of KIX, kid tested and mother approved...).  Each clue in the scavenger hunt has a tip or idea to be used in finding Christ in our lives based off a scripture, along with the clue to the location of your next tip and clue.  I like that not only are the tips scripturally based, the clues are also scriptures.  Getting my kids in the scriptures is always a good thing!

Week 4
Elder Bednar talked about testimony and how it relates to conversion in his Sunday afternoon General Conference address in October and we're going to use it for the inspiration for this week's family night.  He said, "Knowing that the gospel is true is the essence of a testimony.  Consistently being true to the gospel is the essence of conversion."  So good!!!!

We'll talk about Elder Bednar, share a quote from his talk and then we'll talk about which is the first step?  I think they're very inter-related, perhaps more cyclical that actually one leading to the other, but I think it would make sure a great family discussion.

Then, I'll use a lot of the awesome testimony lesson found on Parenting in the Latter-days.  We'll talk about how we can gain a testimony using the steps from their lesson.  I'll also tell the story of the tomato seed.  We use seeds a lot in teaching the gospel to children (and even sometimes to adults) and I was really excited to see that this story is a little bit different.  It doesn't just talk about how we need to take care of our seeds (testimonies) to help them grow big and strong, it keeps the story going and says that when our plants are grown, we aren't done.  We have to continue to help the plants, to work hard to keep them healthy and producing good fruit.  I think we often focus so much on shorter term goals, we forget they are in fact short term.  Gaining a testimony is great, but keeping it strong and growing it bigger is a lifetime goal.

We'll also talk about why we should have a testimony, expanding on our faith family night from two weeks ago, and how it can be a shield and protection to us.  I love the testimony wheel in this lesson and we'll give that to our kids.  We'll also go into when we should bear our testimonies because I think we often forget it can be in our hearts, journals, to our family and friends, and not just on Fast Sunday.

If I'm feeling extra ambitious, we'll end with the testimony cookies.  I love how each ingredient helps to reinforce and reteach in a new way all the principles we've already talked about in the lesson.  And I've never met a kid who didn't like to help cook in the kitchen.

Week 5
Yep, there are 5 Mondays in April.  And we have a tradition for our 5th Mondays.  They are officially family game nights.  We have lots of board and card games, but maybe we'll celebrate spring by taking our game playing down to the park to play soccer, baseball or who can nap fastest under the tree (there's really no point, my husband wins every time).

Good luck with your month!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

April Holidays

After reading, consistently referring to and really loving the post on Homeschool Classroom talking about all the crazy different holidays in March, I thought I'd do a little of my own reconnaissance for April.

Oh my heavens.  There are a ridiculous number of recognized days, weeks and different things we're supposed to be "aware" of for the entire month.  A lot.  I really mean it.  I'm going to mention just a few here, but if you want to see the whole list, go to Holiday Insights.  It's a pretty fun website.

April is....

National Humor Month
I would suggest going to the library and picking out one of the many, many joke books (or one for each member of your family).  Then, pick out your favorites and have a joke-a-thon night.  A comedy night.  Host your very own comedy club in your home, taking turns to see who can get the biggest laughs.

Looking around, I also found this really fun book called Just Joking by National Geographic.  It not only has fun jokes, it also has some pretty cool animal pictures and facts.  My soon to be 12 year old loves silly jokes almost as much as she loves animals and I'm thinking this would be a perfect birthday gift. 

National Poetry Month
We've been reading poetry every day for the last month or so and I've been wanting to have my kids pick out and read some of their favorites, I'm thinking April will be the perfect time for this.  I'll check out a few different poem compilations and have the kids read in them for 10 minutes-ish every day.  Fridays we can take turns reading our favorite finds from the week.  I think it would be even more fun if my kids try to get into it, I'm always trying to get them to read with emotion and this would be a really fun way to do that.

There's also a pretty great website called Read Write Think where you can print out some simple worksheets for a few different poem types that work perfectly with my simple and easy approach.  Although, if you want to dig a little deeper, they have that too.  There is so much information on all kinds of writing, making this website a really great resource.

Stress Awareness Month
I am a natural stresser.  It's sort of what I do, in fact, my husband will often tell me to "just not worry."  I'm pretty sure it's not possible, but I am much better than I used to be (not with not stressing at all, but with forcing myself to let go...most of the time).  Even though I do know some ways to relieve my stress, I've been thinking about learning more about other methods and I think it would be fun to use April to work on that with my kids.

My kids aren't overly stressed that I've noticed, but life is stressful and it's something they will face as they grow up.  Like any other emotion, I want them to learn about how it can be both good and bad and different tactics to deal with it.  So, we'll talk about stress and practice ways to relieve it: talking, exercise, yoga, meditation, prayer...  If you have any favorite books or websites about any of these, I would love to hear about them!

1 April Fool's Day
This is going to be so much fun, I can't hardly wait.  I've never done much for April Fools before...that's about to change.  There are so many fun ideas out there.  I found a blog on Pinterest that has lots of fun ideas, like covering every item in your fridge with eyes, so when you're kids open the fridge, everything is staring back at them.  Hehe, it makes me laugh just thinking about it.

2 Children's Book Day
Read your kids favorite books.  Better yet, have them make their own children's book!

7 Caramel Popcorn Day
Um, yum!  I love caramel popcorn.  I love caramel.  Unfortunately, caramel does not love me.  I'm a pretty decent cook.  I can make just about anything with a recipe in my hand.  Not just make it, but make it taste good.  I can.  Really.  Everything except caramel corn.  I don't know what it is.  I just can't do it (it crystallizes every time).  Luckily, my husband can.  In fact, he makes some pretty darn good caramel corn with the recipe in our old falling apart Better Homes and Gardens red and white cookbook. 

In case you're like me and can't make caramel corn you can join me in making trying out some 6 minute microwave caramels my sister has been eating for days.  She's told me they're amazing and because I'm so trusting, I'm willing to give it a try. 

9 Name Yourself Day
Now, this one's just funny.  Have your kids pick a name, any name.  A funny name or their real name or just another name they like and then call each other by your "name" for the day.  You could even make name tags and pretend you're meeting for the first time (or for mom's like me, so you can remember their new name).

10 National Siblings Day
This is a perfect day for simple acts of kindness and love.  Challenge your kids (and yourself) to make everyone else feel great for one whole day. 

13 Scrabble Day
Play scrabble!  Or one of the scrabble-like games floating around out there.  We have bananagrams and my kids LOVE IT. 

Or you could take your scrabble tiles (if the game is lying around with dust on it because you never use it) and make it into something else.  A tile pendant, coaster, frame or something else fun.

14 International Moment of Laughter Day
This would be the perfect day for your comedy club night.

16 National Librarian Day
We LOVE our local library and it just so happens that this holiday falls on our normal weekly library day.  We'll be doing something nice for our librarian.  Something simple like a thank you card and maybe some homemade treats.  If you have any good ideas, I would LOVE to hear about them!

22 National Jelly Bean Day
I love jelly beans.  Not the colored but all taste the same variety, the ones that taste like stuff.  Although, I'm not a huge fan of jelly bellies because you have to eat those one at a time (I'm not that patient).  Have you ever noticed there are some flavors that really don't go well together?  My favorites are the starburst and lifesavor variety.  I'll go pick up a few bags after Easter when the candy is getting clearanced. 

We'll also learn how they're made by watching a video on youtube.  My kids are obsessed with how to videos.

25 World Penguin Day
We'll watch another video or two about penguins like this one on youtube and check out books on and about penguins.  My kids love all animals, so this holiday will be a winner!

A few months ago I came across a really great website call Confessions of a Homeschooler.  She's amazing and very creative.  She made a unit study with a lap book to go along with the book Mr. Popper's Penguins.  It would be fun to read the book, watch the movie and do some (or all) of the activities leading up to World Penguin Day.

26 National Pretzel Day
The crispy pretzels are good, but my favorites are the soft variety.  If you're not a fan of cooking, you can buy the frozen sort from the grocery store, all you need to do is heat them up and add butter, salt or cinnamon and sugar.  Yum.

If you like cooking, there are tons of recipes that use pretzels, soft or crunchy.  Oh my heavens, I can't wait to make these.  They look AMAZING!!

If you're craving something sweet, I'd go with either Caramel Pretzel Chocolate Chip Cookies or Caramel Pretzel Brownies.  They both sound amazing.  I bought ingredients to the cookies a few weeks ago, but I keep forgetting to make them.  Crazy, I know. 

If you're not much of a sweets person (or if you like everything like me), you can go with Soft Pretzel and Cheese Sauce or Ham and Cheese Pretzel Bites.  We'll probably turn the ham and cheese ones into pepperoni and cheese because we're pretty big pizza fans around here, but you could stick just about anything on them and I bet they'd turn out yummy.

There's also a fun video on YouTube about where pretzels came from and how they're made you can check out.

30 Hairstyle Appreciation Day
One of the things I miss getting to do with my kids now that they're not in public school is crazy hair day.  I love doing their hair in all sorts of nutty styles and they think it's pretty fun, too.
These are from a few years ago and I'm excited to try something new and crazy at home this year.
That wraps up my favorites from April, did I miss one your yours?  What are your favorite April holiday/recognition days and what do you usually do for them?

Monday, March 25, 2013


I'm still not exactly sure what we're going to do for Easter.  Well, I'm not sure exactly what crafts, if any, we're going to be working on. 

We are off school this week (taking Spring Break with the kids in our neighborhood) and the kids are much more interested in playing that in making anything. 

I did find a few ideas I really love.  Love, love. 

I reviewed my Easter pinterest board last week and found that I'd let myself down a little bit.  I wasn't really excited about much of any of it.  Don't get me wrong, there's some pretty darn cute stuff, but not much that fit my quick and easy craft sensibilities.

Yesterday while looking for some other things, I stumbled across 3 posts I just loved.  A lot (did I mention that already?).

The first is full of crafts and activities that have a religious note.  Fun things that focus on Christ, how cool is that?!  The post is titled, 30 Christ Centered Easter Traditions and Crafts.  It's got a paper plate tomb, a carnation experiment, great kids Easter books, jelly bean symbolism and a whole lot more.  I'm still not certain which ones we'll do, but I think I'll choose ones that go along with the next cool idea I found.

Which is on the same blog coincidentally.  This might be my new favorite blog.  Or, at least, I'm adding it to my favorites list...the one I have in my head...I should probably write it down one of these days.

The one thing that I KNOW we're doing for sure is Walking the Kids Through Holy Week.  I did miss the first day, but we'll combine or leave out some stuff to make it all work.  The walk starts the Sunday before Easter and continues through Easter Sunday.  There is a small lesson, activity and picture to put on your wall (I use some reusable adhesive putty whenever I want to stick something to my wall temporarily).  I love the artwork she chose and how simple it is to go through the whole Crucifixion/Resurrection story when it's split over a week. 

The third idea I really like I can't do this year because it's a 30 day countdown.  The countdown is based on The Living Christ (here's a cool YouTube video of it) and each day focuses on a different section or sentence of it.  I've toyed with the idea of memorizing The Living Christ for a few years and I think focusing on it as a family for a month would be AWESOME!  Yes, I feel that strongly about it. 

You can find the idea in all its awesome-ness on a great blog called Chocolate on my Cranium.  She has pictures, activities and videos for each day.  It might sound overwhelming, but you can do as little as you want, taking only a few minutes.  And then in exchange for those few minutes you get to talk with your family about Christ every day for a MONTH!  Man, I wish I'd seen this earlier, but I'm very excited to use this resource next year.  In fact, I think I'm going to go and put it in my phone (you know, my other, more reliable brain) right now so I remember next year.

What are your favorite traditions for Easter? 

Sharing Time - Easter

I've mentioned a few times before that I love that this whole month is focused exclusively on our Savior.  Teaching our children to rejoice in Christ is such an amazing blessing and can be a lot of fun, too!

I looked at all sorts of family home evening ideas and Easter sharing times (I've posted about a few favorites I want to do with my family here) and my two very favorites happen to be the two that are on sugardoodle for this month.  With just a little bit of tweakage (not much though). 

Idea #1
The first, and I think favorite (although I keep leaning back and forth), idea requires no changing at all.  None.  It's pretty amazing, very simple and only requires you to coordinate with your music leader and check out a few pictures from the library.  You use pictures, songs and scriptures to walk through the atonement and resurrection story.  You can view the pdf of this fun idea (that I found on sugardoodle) here.

The reason I keep leaning back and forth is that while this is a fantastic idea, it covers exactly the same things already covered.  The same scriptures already read, the same pictures already shown, but it is presented in a new way and I LOVE the addition of singing as a method of teaching.  Plus, repetition is a really good thing when teaching.  One of my counselors is an elementary school teacher and she said she's been taught that children need to repeat something 80 times until it really sticks.  Yes, I did just say 80. 

Idea #2
The second idea I really like is also a review of all the information from this month, just presented in a different way.  First, I would have the kids walk me through Holy Week making sure to hit on the specific things we'd talked about all month. 

You could either use the pictures and basic outline (sans the scriptures and songs) from idea #1, or you could use this amazing blog I just found yesterday called, We Talk of Christ, We Rejoice in Christ.  She has a small activity for each day of the week starting with the Sunday before Easter (we are totally doing this at home this week, we'll just combine the Sunday activity with Mondays).  Of course, you wouldn't do these daily, or even do all the activities she uses, but you would use the pictures from Monday through Easter Sunday as your outline for the kids to narrate.  There is some beautiful artwork, many I haven't seen before.

So, you've chosen your pictures and you have them up front on the board (all mixed up) for the kids to come up, put in order and tell the story behind each picture as they go.  This would be a short, quick review.

Then, you move on to the game portion (or even skip the review and only do the game).  This game is another way to review all the information taught throughout the month.  I really love the sheep game on Pergler's Primary Place, with one adjustment.  Talk for a moment about Christ being a shepherd and that we are his sheep.  We follow Him as sheep would follow a shepherd because he not only leads us to safety, but protects us along the way.  So, let's help all the sheep get home by answering questions, but not the parable questions provided, ask instead questions from each lesson taught in March.

Here are some questions I thought of as I read through the Sharing Time Outline to get you going...

1. How was Christ a good example when he was with John the Baptist?
2. When we are following the actions of someone else, we are following their...?
3. How can we talk to Heavenly Father and also follow Jesus example? 
4. How is sharing the gospel following Jesus example?
5. What is it called when we say we're sorry for our mistakes/sins?
6. What did Christ do to make it possible for us to repent?
7. What is the name of the garden where Christ prayed before he was crucified?
8. What does atonement mean?
9. What do we need to do to receive the blessings of the atonement?
10. What does it mean to be resurrected?
11. Who was the first person to be resurrected?
12. Who can be resurrected?
13. Name someone who is a saver in our lives?
14. Why is Jesus called our Savior?
15. Who can be saved from their sins through the atonement?
16. Name one person from the scriptures that was saved from their sins?

End with your testimony about the amazing gift the Savior is in each of our lives.  Amazing.  Astounding.  Overwhelming in a completely great way. 

Testimony Challenge
This last week I was talking to my boys and asking them if they'd prayed to know if Jesus was their Savior.  I told them that when you're younger, you often trust what your parents tells you because you know how much they love you and want what's best for you.  I said that is a wonderful thing, but a testimony is something they have to have all on their own.  They can lean on ours (my husbands and mine), but I really want them to be praying everyday for their own testimony. 

I think this is the perfect challenge for this week.  Pray everyday to know that Jesus is your personal Savior.  Pray and don't stop until you know.  It might not happen overnight (although it could), it might take years (which it did for me) until you finally realize you do know.  Any effort is so very worth it.  It is one of the biggest and best blessings in my life and I want each child, each person to have that witness in their lives also.

If you are the handout sort, I've found a very cute and simple idea.  It's a pdf of the recipe and instructions for Easter Story Cookies.  Simply print it out, make copies, roll them up and tie them to a spoon.  Or you could skip the spoon (although I think it's kinda cute) and simply tie the recipe with whatever you have around the house (I have a whole bin full of rafia, don't ask my why).  As my kids would say, "Easy peasy."

Good luck with your week!!

Friday, March 22, 2013

Book Report

In addition to adding more projects (or really, just doing projects), I've been doing a few book reports this year.  We did one with a lunch bag a few months ago where I let the kids pick any book they wanted.

This time, we're making a hamburger and I had them pick a historical fiction book.  I love "making" them pick different genres for a couple reasons.  It helps them to broaden their reading horizons (which the boys really need) and to realize that the broadening can actually be fun.  Plus, my boys get to learn what genres are (bonus).

As I was pinteresting around (is that a real phrase?), I came across this cute idea a really long time ago and looked it up again yesterday.

The original idea (or at least where I got the idea from) is a website called Unique Teaching Resources.  They turned a book report into a cheeseburger.  Hmm, that sounds messy.  Although my kids think it's funny.  And fun.  If you click the link above, you can watch a video that shoes you the different pieces up close and then you can purchase their template for $4.99.

I'm way too cheap for that.  So, I made my own.  Here are all my pieces apart...

And together...

My kids will either use mine as inspiration and draw their own (I even told them they could make it any color they wanted, can you imagine purple meat?) or they can trace mine. 

After they finish making the hamburger piece (although this particular sandwich is roast beef, it's what Josh wanted), they will cut out a piece of lined paper and glue it on top to do their writing.  Although I think the writing would probably be easier to do before the gluing, I think we'll do that from now on.

The top bun has the title, author and genre.  Then the middle pieces (in whatever order you choose) you have: the setting, main character, plot, conclusion and my favorite part.  Or if you like something else more, you can always substitute and talk all about the story line or all about the characters or anything else you can think of.  The bottom bun has a picture drawn from the story. 

I'm pretty excited to watch my kids put these together.  I'll take some pictures of them as they get finished in the next few weeks (we have next week off for Spring Break, so it'll take a little longer) and post them.

Do you have a favorite report (book report or something else)?  I'd love to hear about it or see it if it's posted online!  I'm always looking for new, fun ideas.

Primary Teacher Thank You

I think it's very important to make sure our teachers know they are appreciated.  Heck, not just the teachers, but everyone who works hard for the children in our ward. 

I also try to check with the different members of the primary board to see if they need anything.  They rarely do, so the checking turns into more of a way to let them know we (the presidency) are always here for them. 

We love them, appreciate them, and will support them in any way they need.  And I think that needs to be recognized with more than just words sometimes.

I looked around on the Internet (and Pinterest) and didn't find exactly what I was looking for, but I did get inspired to make one of my own that says, "You are egg-cellent" on top with "Thank you for all you do" below on a cute background. 

I printed it out 3"x 3" and attached it to a candy egg (I bought some of the Reece's, Butterfinger's, and Coconut Creme eggs) with some rafia to cute it up a little (plus I have a TON of it) and we took them around to some of the teachers last night.  We'll hand out the rest on Sunday at church.

I'd be happy to send my thank you to anyone who'd like to use it!  What do you do to keep the lines of communication open (or has been done for you) that's worked well in your primary?

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Primary General Conference Packets

Keeping with my "keep it simple" theme, I try to keep our handouts and packets for conference minimal.  Last fall we gave them a two page (front and back) packet from sugardoodle and I wanted to do something similar, yet different for spring.

I couldn't find exactly what I wanted and so I made my own.  Well, sort of.  Made as in, put together from other packets I've saved over the years.  Not made as in I came up with the pages (although I did adjust a few of them that didn't do exactly what I wanted them to, yay for Photoshop!).  All of the pages are from Sugardoodle, from different packets over the last 3 or 4 years.

If you'd like to check out my ideas for your primary (or your kids/grandkids/neighbors...), click the link(s) below.

Junior Primary
Senior Primary

Monday, March 18, 2013

Sharing Time - March Week 4

To introduce the topic of Jesus being our Savior I really like Jill's idea over at Hatch Patch to do a matching game.  On one side of your board use her cute picture cards showing different problems we come across and the other side show all the different "savers" we have in our lives to help us.  Next, let the kids come up and match a "saver" with a problem and then discovering at the end there's a problem left over!  Who can save us from sin?

Even if they already shout out the answer, stop for a minute and talk about sin.  What is it really?  Read James chapter 4, verse 17 which says,

"Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin." 

-I copied this next part while reading yesterday, but I didn't put a reference- 

"Sin is more than just making a mistake.  When we sin, we disobey God's commandments or fail to act correctly despite our knowledge of the truth." 

Ask the kids what that means?  Maybe ask who does that?  Do their parents, their primary teachers, the BISHOP?!

Everyone sins, and thankfully Heavenly Father knew we would and he sent a Savior to pay for our sins.  All we have to do is what?  We talked about it earlier this month?  Repent!!!

One of the first Sundays this month we realized our kids don't know the scriptures.  Many of them don't even know the main books of scripture we use (one adorable boy held his quad, looking at the spine trying to find the New Testament and declared his scriptures didn't have one because he didn't realize it was part of the Bible).  So, we're trying to find ways to use them to help our kids become more familiar with them.

Along that vein, I found this idea on lds dot org that you can adapt and meld with the encourage understanding section from the Sharing Time Outline.  On a board hang several names from the scriptures (those who've more dramatically been saved from sin): Alma the Younger, Enos, Zeezrom, Lamoni's father, the man brought to Jesus, and I added, Paul/Saul.  Then make up strips with a scripture that talks about each to put into a jar or basket for the children to draw out.

Alma the Younger
Alma 36:17
"And it came to pass that as I was thus racked with torment while I was harrowed up by the memory of my many sins, behold, I remembered also to have heard my father prophesy unto the people concerning the coming of one Jesus Christ, a Son of God, to atone for the sins of the world."

Enos 1:2
"And I will tell you of the wrestle which I had before God, before I received a remission of my sins."

Alma 15:8-10
"And Alma said: If thou believest in the redemption of Christ thou canst be healed. 
And he said: Yea I believe according to thy words.
And then Alma cried unto the Lord, saying: O Lord our God, have mercy on this man, and heal him according to his faith which is in Christ."

Lamoni's father
Alma 22:18
"O God, Aaron hath told me that there is a God; and if there is a God, and if thou art God, wilt thou make thyself known unto me, and I will give away all my sins to know thee, and that I may be raised from the dead, and be saved at the last day.  And now when the king had said these words, he was struck as if he were dead."

Man brought to Jesus
Luke 5:24
"But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power upon earth to forgive sins, (he said unto the sick of the palsy,) I say unto thee, Arise, and take up thy couch, and go into thine house."

Acts 9:4 & 6
"And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him...why persecutest thou me?
And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?  And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do."

For Junior Primary, I would have the scripture reference and the scripture to read on the piece of paper.  Then, let the first child who can tell me which main book of scripture that verse is found in guess which man the clue is referring to.

For Senior Primary, I would only have the reference, giving them the opportunity to look through the scriptures and become more familiar with them.  That part would take longer, but it will be easier to "guess" the answer when you can read surrounding verses.

I like the idea of have time to bare testimonies.  You can bare yours (taking down the helmet of salvation if you've done the armor of God guy), give the kids an opportunity to share theirs or have a short guest speaker in to share theirs. 

I also really like the idea of having the bishop be that guest speaker (as long as you make sure he knows your time limits) to share his testimony of the Savior.  Our bishopric comes in the first Sunday of every month and I'm always impressed with the love a bishop has for the children in his ward.  I suppose it is the Savior's love showing through and the kids won't be able to help feeling it.

Testimony Challenge
Short and sweet, just like last week add one thing to their prayers.  Ask to know and feel Heavenly Father's love during the day.  Ask and think about it everyday!

Good luck with your week!!

Friday, March 15, 2013

Potato Chips

In case you were unaware, yesterday was National Potato Chip day.  All I can say is, YUM!

We found out about it when I was perusing the Homeschooling Classroom a few weeks ago and I KNEW this was one day of recognition we just couldn't let pass by un-well-recognized. 

Did you know that potato chips began with an irritable customer and a fed up chef?  This grumpy customer kept sending back his french fries claiming they were too soggy until finally, Chef George Crum had enough.  He sliced the potatoes so thin that after frying them, you couldn't eat them with a fork.  "Ha," he thought as he sent them out, "that'll show him."  And it did.  They became so popular Crum added them to his restaurants menu!

All I can say is, thank you grumpy customer!  We need more people like you (just don't tell my sister I said that, she spent years in food service and might do something mean to me).

Since then potato chips have become just a smidge popular.  So popular people keep experimenting trying to find the next best flavor.  I know invention is a good thing, ingenuity and all that, but every once in a while, do you just wonder why?  Why would someone go to the trouble of trying to make a chip taste like Haggis and Cracked Black Pepper?  Why?  To check out some more weird flavors, go here.

We celebrated by watching a video on YouTube over and over and over.  My kids were sort of obsessed.  There are probably better videos out there, but I didn't take the time to look around, if you watched a fun one, shoot me a link so we can check it out.  Although, my kids didn't mind, they thought it was so cool they watched the video about 5 times while they ate homemade potato chips.

This recipe is so darn simple.  Really, really simple.  And they even turned out really good.  Good enough I'm definitely going to make them again.  All you do is cut a potato really thin (that was my job), drizzle a little oil in a zip loc baggie, throw the potatoes in with the oil and moosh it all together really good.  That was my kids favorite part. 

After they're good and covered, lay them in a single layer on a plate and microwave them.  Yes, I did say microwave.  Yes, it does work.  It took ours about 9 minutes (check after 7-8) until they were browning, which means crisp. 

I took them out (don't forget a hot pad, I didn't use one the first time and it didn't end well for my fingers), dumped them on a paper towel and sprinkled salt and pepper all over.  YUM!

Here are my kids, watching the potato chip video for probably the 4th time, eating yummy chips and finishing up their leprechauns from yesterday.  A pretty great day, if I do say so myself.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Poetry Curriculum

Even though I've decided to take poetry slowly for now, I eventually want to start an actual curriculum.  Right now I'm thinking the magic will begin next year, but I'm not exactly sure which (or which combination) we'll be doing just yet. 

I do have my favorites, the ones I think will work best for us now, but there are also others that look intriguing.  Either for later as my kids progress or some things I liked but don't think will work for us.

Like I mentioned in my previous post, I gleaned all these wonderful sounding books and curriculum from an amazing program set up over at Pioneer Woman.  You can email questions into her Homeschooling section and get answers from homeschoolers (and non-homeschoolers) from all over.  It worked amazingly for me!

There are three books I KNOW I'm going to be purchasing for next year.  They aren't so much curriculum (at least not the detailed sort I generally buy), but more along the lines of reference material.  Each of them take you through a variety of different poetry with examples, pictures and instructions.

 A Child's Introduction to Poetry, by Michael Driscoll, even comes with a CD!  I'm pretty excited about it (betcha couldn't tell).  I'm thinking all of us will have fun listening to someone else for a change, plus it'll give us another take on the poetry (hearing how someone else reads it).

Fly With Poetry, by Avis Harley
A Kick in the Head, by Paul Janeczko
I know, I probably don't need each of these, but I like books, I like options, and I really like poetry.  Plus, I figure each book will have it's own way of describing the poems and perhaps one will resonate more with each of my kids than the others. 
This group includes some books that might be considered curriculum, but not in the lesson, take poetry apart way.  They're more like phase 1, pre-curriculum curriculum.  They are meant to be memorized (if there's such a thing as memorization curriculum, this is what they are).  They help to develop an appreciation, love, and understanding of poetry without actually talking about those things. 

The Harp and Laurel Wreath by Laura M. Berquist appeals to my classical bent.  I'm a big fan of The Well Trained Mind specifically and classical homeschooling in general.  I like the idea of having poetry already broken up into a four year historical cycle to go along with what we're already studying.  I also like that there are poems geared toward children at all levels (literally, 1st through 12th).

 Linguistic Development Through Poetry Memorization is put out by the Institute for Excellence in Writing.  I've heard good things about IEW, but haven't yet purchased or used anything from them.  I like the idea of simple exposure combined with filling my children's heads (not to mention mine) with beautiful words.  I like this more for my younger children, but as they're currently in the majority, I'm seriously considering this for next year.

Elementary - Middle School
This next group is filled with curriculum geared towards the elementary years (and sometimes as far as middle school).  I have only held one of these, which is one of the reasons why I'm hesitant to purchase one right away.  I'm not certain which will fit best with our schooling methods, although I like something about each of them.

Kids' Poems by Regie Routman comes in grades K through 4th (that I was able to find) and is the one I was able to check out from my local library to peruse.  I liked some of the ideas in it, I especially like how she talked about making sure to teach kids that poetry does not have to rhyme or follow special rules.  It teaches how to teach and introduce poetry with less pressure (it reminds me of the awesome book, Love That Dog we finished a couple weeks ago), but it is definitely geared towards a large classroom.  Good info (I'd suggest seeing if your library has it to look over and glean from), but not one I'm planning to purchase right now.

Read and Understand Poetry made by Evan-Moor is definitely more my speed.  It has well laid out lessons (from what I was able to see on Amazons cool Click to Look Inside tool) with worksheets and review.  I like a script, not that I always use it, but it makes me feel more confident, especially when I'm traipsing into new territory.  Sort of like back-up.  You know, just in case.  They also have a variety of grades/levels to choose from. 

For the Good of the Earth and Sun by Georgia Heard feels like the opposite of the structured approach I usually go for.  As I read through some excerpts, I kept thinking it was a book I would want to read and glean goodness from.  Lots of good teaching tips, lots about loving poetry and not restricting the enjoyment of the poems with unnecessary analyzing.  Love first, figure out why later.

Grammar of Poetry is another curriculum put out by the Institute for Excellence in Writing (this one is geared towards 6th through 9th graders).  I have a confession (okay, it's not really a confession, I've said it before), I don't really know a whole lot about poetry.  Nope.  Nada.  Okay, I think nada means nothing and that's an exaggeration.  I like this course a lot because it's well laid out (like I like) and the lessons are on DVD, so I can watch and learn right along with Makenna.  If you click the link above, you can read all about it (of course), but they also have samples of what's on the DVD's.   
Middle - High School
These next three I haven't looked at as much.  Only enough to say, hey, I like the look of that and off it went into my amazon wishlist to delve into more when my kids are older.  All I can really say is that the reviews are really good (both from Amazon and from the Pioneer Woman's awesome readers).  Check them out, maybe they'll work wonderfully for you!
The Roar on the Other Side, by Suzanne Rhodes.

How Does a Poem Mean?, by John Ciardi and Miller Williams.

Sound and Sense, by Laurence Perrine and Thomas R. Arp

I was completely overwhelmed with what felt like a total lack of knowledge when I first started thinking about what and how to teach my children poetry.  After some good advice and a little (okay, a lot) of research, I am so very EXCITED to not just teach my kids, but to learn with them!! 

I hope you've found something you can use and if I've left out your very favorite, leave me a comment so I can check it out!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

To Do List

I'm remembering better now why I revolt sometimes against my lists.  It really doesn't ever end, I think they grow exponentially as I cross things off.

Have you ever seen (or read about) Hercules?  Do you remember that multiple headed dragon he fought?  I think it was called a hydra, but I can't remember for sure.  What I do remember is that every time Hercules cut off one of the heads, two grew back in its place.

Sound familiar?  I think he ended up using fire?  Or maybe burying it in some sort of rock avalanche.  Either of those would work for getting rid of my list, but not so much with the tasks attached to it. 

Darn.  Well, at least I'm laughing now (at myself and the though of burning my list...hehe).

Okay, without any further complaining (or comparing myself to Hercules), here's my list today.

1.  Look up Journal Writing Prompts
2.  Find quotes emphasizing importance of Scripture Memorization
3.  Organize information for Poetry Curriculum post
4.  Family History picture wall
5.  Temple picture wall
6.  Make lists from Parenting Breakthrough
7.  Review/finalize packets for General Conference (primary)
8.  Prescription Pickup
9.  Baseball Sign up
10.Call Soccer Coaches
12.Print primary Monthly Theme sheets for rest of year
13.Reserve church for June Primary Activity
14.Review Primary Sub List

If you'll notice, a few of those are the same as the last time I posted my To Do list.  Yep.  That's just sort of how it goes sometimes.  Okay, all the time.  When I'm busy, the things that are less time sensitive often get shoved onto the back burner and, every once in a while, get lost back there. 

I figure if I keep sticking them on my list, eventually, I'll get to them.  If they're important enough. 

How do you keep track of your daily (and not so daily) tasks?

Monday, March 11, 2013

Sharing Time - March Week 3

Have I mentioned yet that this month is awesome?  We get to spend the WHOLE MONTH talking of Christ, rejoicing in Christ and preaching of Christ.  It's been so great and we still have half the month left!

This week focuses on Christ's resurrection and how it affects our lives. 

I found a couple of different ideas on how to talk about Christ's resurrection and this first one is my favorite.

Idea #1
Start out by talking about shoes, if you happen to love shoes like me, you could talk about how fun it is to wear different shoes.  Even how different shoes can make you feel differently.  Next, pull out a few different shoes: gardening, running, flip flops and/or cute date night shoes and talk a little about what each pair of shoes might be for (you could even be a little silly here acting like you're going to go garden in some cute heels). 

Then ask if they've heard the saying that you don't really know someone until you've walked a mile in their shoes.  We can't really know how someone felt by wearing their shoes, but we can use our imaginations to think about how we might have felt if the same things happened to us. 

Today, we have some very special shoes that are going to help us learn more about Christ's resurrection (I was inspired by Little LDS Ideas; scroll down to the bottom, it's the last suggestion).

1.  Men's sandals: the apostles who followed Christ throughout His day and watched as He was crucified and died.

2. Men's boots (or some sort of work boots): the Roman soldiers who were tasked with guarding Christ's tomb.

3. Women's sandals: Mary Magdalene finding Christ's tomb empty and then meeting Him outside the tomb.

4. Sandals that lace up the leg (just use regular sandals and an extra pair of laces): the Nephites who saw, were taught and blessed by Jesus.

5. A child's pair of shoes: discuss how knowing that because Christ was resurrected means that we will also be resurrected affects their lives (this would be where you could have someone come in and talk about how the knowledge has affected their lives as the Sharing Time Outline suggests if you'd like).

As you go through each shoe, choose a child to come up, put them on and walk around.  Ask them how the shoes make them feel.  Whose shoes do they think they're wearing?  Have the kids help to tell the story based off the shoes from the perspective of the person.  Have them really try to be the person the shoes represent, how might they have felt? 

If you have the Armor of God guy, you can pull of His helmet, remind or ask them what it stands for (and if you don't, just skip that part) and bear your testimony that it is only through Christ that we can have salvation or be saved.

President Kimball said, "We believe and it is our testimony, and we proclaim it to the world "that there shall be no other name given nor any other way nor means whereby salvation can come unto the children of men, only in and through the name of Christ, the Lord Omnipotent" (Mosiah3:17).

Idea #2
Instead of shoes, you could tell the resurrection story with symbols.  I found two different ways to do this that I liked. 

The first is to bring a basket full of all sorts of objects up front, have the kids come up and pick one at a time.  As they come up and pick, they can try and guess what it might mean and help you tell that part of the story.  I found 17 different clues, along with scriptures, here.  I also found 11 clues (with some duplicates) on lds dot org (scroll down to #1).  You could either use them all (which would be too many unless you're much speedier than I am), or go through and pick out the ones you like the best.

The other way to use symbols is to use the rest of the idea on lds dot org.  Come in with a magnifying glass and wearing a trench coat.  Tell the kids that you're a detective in search of clues about the resurrection and you're going to need some help finding and interpreting the clues.  Then proceed to "look" around the room for your pre-hidden symbols/clues.

You can then end with your testimony just like idea #1.

Testimony Challenge
Each week I try to give the kids a challenge to help them work on their testimonies at home.  This week I would simply ask them to add something to their prayers.  When they're praying every morning and night, ask Heavenly Father to either help them gain a testimony of Jesus Christ's resurrection or ask to have their testimonies strengthened.  Next week, check with them and see who remembered to pray.

Good luck with your week!!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

March Celebrations

Okay, the title might be just a little bit misleading.  Not totally, but a little. 

A week or two ago I read a blog post on The Homeschool Classroom talking about all the days declared holidays or days of recognition in the month of March.  I was flabbergasted.  I still am.  Is it like this every month?! 

After reading through it, I decided to choose some we can talk about and do projects on this month.  The only two we were already planning on was St. Patrick's Day and Easter and I'll post about those later this month (if I did it here, this post would be crazy long...even for me).

March 3rd was National Anthem day.  Today we read through the anthem and talked about how it started as a poem.  After reading it, I went back through and asked them what some of the words and phrases meant trying to help them paint a picture of what was happening when it was written.  Then we listed to Whitney Houston's version of it on YouTube.  Short, sweet and fun.

Today (March 6th) was the start of Purim and so we watched the short video (my oldest thought it was strange, but the boys all loved it) linked to on The Homeschool Classroom.

Tomorrow we're going to celebrate the fact that it is both National Noodle Month (who comes up with these?) and National Craft Month by making noodle monsters.  They're so darn adorable!!  I'm excited to see what my kids come up with, they always surprise (and sometimes confuse) me with their creativity (check out Ben's groundhog to see what I mean).

Next week we'll start our preparations for St. Patricks day, but on Thursday (March 14th) we'll take a break while we celebrate Potato Chip Day.  How absolutely cool is that?  A day celebrating yummy potato chips.  Mmmm, if I hadn't just finished breakfast, I'd be salivating.  We'll watch a video showing us how potato chips are made and then we'll make our own.  I've never made any, so we'll be trying out a new recipe, if you have a favorite, I'd love to hear about it!

March 18th is Rubber Band Day (and I go back to my earlier question, who comes up with these?!) and we're going to watch another short you tube video, this time about how rubber bands are made.
Then we're going to make one or more rubber band instruments, depending on what scraps I have around the house (you can use old Kleenex boxes, Ziploc boxes or plastic container...).  It's going to be so much fun.  My kids are going to LOVE it.
March 19th is Bubble day and we're going to try our hand at making our own bubble solution.  Maybe even a few different ones that we dye different colors with food coloring.  Do you have a favorite recipe?
In addition to March being Noodle and Craft month, it's also Nutrition Month.  So Wednesday or Friday next week we're going to talk a little bit about nutrition and color a few pages talking about the food plate (whatever happened to the food pyramid by the way?).
Did you know there's a World Poetry Day?  I wonder who decided to call it that and if it is, in fact, celebrated around the world.  I should look that up before the 21st, or even better, have my daughter do it.  Makenna will get some great researching experience and can then present her "findings" to the rest of us (and she really loves to teach her brothers).  We've been reading poetry in the mornings for the last month or two and have really been enjoying it.  For World Poetry Day, I think we'll have our very first reading jam session.  I'll have the kids pick out their favorite poems and read them to us.  We'll also write a poem or two of our own, The Homeschool Classroom linked to a fun acrostic poem worksheet even my kindergartner could do.
We'll spend the last week of March working on Easter.  Decorating the house and doing craft projects and talking about our Savior.
I'm pretty excited about using holidays, recognition days, awareness days (or whatever they're called) to lead some extra learning in our home.  Are there any strange or different holidays you celebrate? 
Have a creative March!!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

March Family Home Evening Plan

One of my goals for the year is to have a plan for our FHE and I started off with a general outline of what I want to teach during our family nights.

I want to help my kids LIVE the basic principles of the gospel, to focus on the teachings of our current prophets and apostles from the previous General Conference and to provide a time for my kids to work on and pass off their Faith In God activities (soon to be Personal Progress also, I can't believe my oldest is almost TWELVE!).

I have to come clean here, I actually had this goal last year, too.  And I didn't do it.  For some reason I decided I had to have a specific plan for the whole year all at once.  Specific like having every lesson planned out including having everything I needed for every single lesson.  When you're starting from scratch, that's kind of overwhelming to put together. 

So, I decided to start a little more slowly, just one month at a time.  I can plan out 4 nights at once.  And I did.  Yesterday.

Week 1
The first week of the year, before our lesson, we review the goals we've set individually and as a family to see if we need to make any adjustments in our goals, ask for help if it's needed and to just make sure we're on track (or remind us to get back on track).  Also, one of our family goals is to do one planned family activity a month so we talk about it and decide together what that'll be (my kids decided on a family game night for this Saturday).

As I mentioned above, my oldest is turning 12 next month and she's working on finishing up her Faith in God.  In the Preparing For Young Women section is asks her to study the 13th Article of Faith and so that's what we did last night.

I found an awesome lesson on LDS Living's website. 

First, I had one of the kids try and repeat the 13th Article of Faith from memory.  Then I read the Elaine S. Dalton quote (although it was way above the heads of all three boys) and we discussed what virtuous meant. 

We also watched the video, it's definitely geared towards little kids and mine loved it. 

We finished up our discussion talking about how we can do good to all men and what sort of things are "virtuous, lovely, or of good report, or praiseworthy."

The ending was their favorite, in fact, my kids declared it the most fun family night EVER.  I sent them on a scavenger hunt.  I told them that when you seek after good things, you will most often find them and handed them the first clue.  It only took a few minutes to walk around my house depositing clues and they had a blast. 

Week 2
Last fall, we made a tree for our wall and I printed out apostle leaves for our kids to either color or write on during General Conference (we're doing flowers for this April, I'm pretty excited).  They worked out really well and have kept conference in our minds as we see our tree in the hall all day.  I'm explaining because we use those leaves for our family nights a few times a month.  Next week we're going to talk about temples.

Here's a sideways picture of our tree (it's in a longer hallway, hard to get a straight on pic).

It's actually a little funny because what my kids wrote wasn't always exactly the main point, but we still try to focus on what they felt was the most important.  I'm pretty sure the leaf for this week was made during President Monson's Saturday morning opening talk when he mentioned the new temples being built.  So, it's not really the main topic, but that doesn't matter.  Temples are a great topic anytime!

First, we read a quote from the actual conference talk and talk about who gave the talk (we've been memorizing the apostles) and then I'll use a lesson I have or one I've found that goes along with our topic.  I found a great lesson at my new favorite family home evening blog, Parenting in the Latter-days.

Weeks 3 & 4
For the last two weeks of the month, we're going to focus on Easter and I'm sticking with Parenting in the Latter-days for both lessons.  First, we'll do the Symbols of Easter and then we'll focus on the Atonement (I put parts of this lesson in my Sharing Time ideas for week 2). 

I'm excited to try out some new lessons and to more purposefully hold our family nights.  If you have any favorite lessons, websites or helps, I'd love to hear about them!!

Monday, March 4, 2013

Sharing Time - March Week 2

Several months ago we made a few new rules about what we read and watch on Sundays.  I could take a while explaining all the different aspects of our rules, but it breaks down to one question, does what you're/we're doing bring us closer to Heavenly Father? 

It works pretty well, although my kids can get pretty creative when coming up with their answers.  I think I actually struggle more with it than they do.  In an attempt to do better, I've been trying to use my Sunday time to study and plan for primary.

Yesterday, I read through next weeks lesson, the helps on Sugardoodle and then ended up thinking about family home evening (another good Sunday activity, YAY!).  One of my goals for the year is to have a family home evening plan, which I haven't done yet.  There are so many different things I want to accomplish through family home evening and flying by the seat of my pants hasn't been quite as effective as you might think.  So while I was sitting there, I decided to search for family home evening's on both repentance and the atonement and I SCORED!

I found an awesome website with really fun family home evening ideas (I'm going to post about my March family home evening plan later) and I found several ideas that would work really well in next weeks Sharing Time.

The first idea that I really liked I found on the Family Home Evening Planner blog.  You'll need to get someone to help you (I might even get an adult, although some older kids would have a lot of fun with the acting) cut out something for the lesson (just for pretend, unless you actually have something).  You start the lesson, perhaps even do a whole introductory segment (like one of the two I'm going to talk about next) and then when you get to a predetermined point, the volunteer will clutch their hand and cry out as if they've cut their finger.

You'll stop and run over, exclaiming about their finger and asking if you can help.  Then you'll start pulling out all sorts of crazy stuff.  Try to wrap it in some rope/yarn/string (wait for a response from the primary), some tape, Elmer's glue or anything else you can think of.  At some point, stop and ask for help, what does your volunteer need to help their finger?  A band-aid, of course.

We know what we need to do when we feel physical pain, imagine what would happen to us if we didn't.  We'd hurt ourselves a lot pretty often.  Compare this to spiritual pain, it's purposes and why we need to feel it just as much as physical pain.  From here you can teach them the steps of repentance (there's a cute song on her blog).

Intro #1
The next idea I liked would be a great introduction and could be done while you're "helper" is busy cutting out things for you.  I found it on lds (dot) org and it does take a little need some baby pictures (I would say 4-6 baby pictures from each primary).  Have the kids come up to the front and let the rest of the primary try and guess which picture goes with which each child. 

If you have access to a baby, you could bring one in and show him/her to the primary and talk about what babies are like, how they are perfect and don't sin.  Unfortunately we're all tempted and we all sin or make mistakes.  This would be a great time for your helper to yell or cry out.

Intro #2
This is part of the Visual of the Pits found in the Atonement FHE on Parenting in the Latter days. For this one, you have two plates up at the front of the room.  Each plate is covered with a towel so no one can see what's underneath.  Get two adult helpers to stand next to the plates and try to convince everyone to come and stand by their plate.  Both adults should talk about how wonderful their plate is and how what's on their plate will bring joy and happiness.  After everyone has chosen a side, remove the towels to show a plate of cookies on one side and a plate of rocks on the other. 

Satan tries to make his way sound just as wonderful as Heavenly Fathers, he makes it sound wonderful enough that we will all make mistakes.  We all choose the rocks sometimes, but thankfully, we can do what?  Repent.  This would be your helpers cue to "cut" his/her finger.

Atonement - Sharing Time Outline
I really like how the sharing time outline talks about Gethsemane and the Crucifixion so I would definitely do that as a transition to talking about how and why we can repent.  I also love Jill's puzzle over at Hatch Patch which makes making it all cute that much easier. 

Wrap Up
Go back to the Visual of the Pits (although I should say Pit, because I'd only talk about the spiritual side) and talk about how without the Atonement, we'd all be stuck over on the rock side, where no one wants to be.  Thankfully, through Christ (get the helmet off your armor of god guy if you have one) we can all reach salvation.  His Atonement fulfills our debt, as long as we repent, it acts as a bridge, giving us access to our Father in Heaven (and the yummy cookies!).

Testimony Challenge
I like to leave them with a challenge to work on their testimonies throughout the week and for this week it would be to remember to repent everyday during their personal prayers. 

Good luck with your week!!

Saturday, March 2, 2013


When I first started homeschooling (you know, so super long ago...last school year), I forced myself to start with only the basic core classes.  I had lots of other ideas, but I'd read so many stories of burnout, I wanted to make sure I went slowly.

After our first semester (just Ben and I that first year), I added a few more things, revised what we were doing and ended up adding our weekly checklists (one of my best ideas ever). 

At the beginning of this school year (now with Makenna, Ben and James...I had some small panic attacks about that, but it's going pretty darn good) I added art, music and latin (Makenna does an actual latin course, Ben is doing English From the Roots Up). 

Throughout the year I've slowly added in some projects for things like holidays and book reports until we're almost doing one a week (this is probably the kids favorite addition).

Over the last few months I've been trying to figure out how to add poetry to our school days.  I'm not a fly by the seat of my pants or make up my own curriculum (not that those two go together, I just don't do either one well) kind of girl and I also don't know anything about poetry.  Really.  I'm not exagerating. 

I have several friends who teach elementary school and I was talking to one of them who was telling me the types of poems she teaches her 4th grade students and I while I did recognize some of the words she was using, I didn't know what they meant.  Sad, I know.  But that's part of the reason I like to have very detailed instructions along with my curriculum, so my children and I can have fun learning together.

Eventually, I decided to try and take advantage of an amazing resource over at Pioneer Woman.  If you have a homeschooling question, you can email it in to Heather and she'll schedule you for their once a week Community Question.  I asked and they answered.  So many answers.  So many ideas.  It was AMAZING!! 

After reading through all the posts, looking curriculum and books up online and checking a few others out from my local library, here's what I've decided to do.

Right now, nothing.  Well, not exactly nothing.  What I mean is, I'm not buying anything new right now.  We've added poetry reading to our opening in the mornings.  My kids think it's pretty fun.  Here are a few books I had recommended that we're either reading through (thank you my wonderful library) or I've added them to my wishlist so we can read through them.  This list is by no means exhaustive, but it includes all the books that most appealed to me and ended up being longer than I thought it was once I'd written them all down.

I was going to seperate those geared more towards younger kids from those for older kids, but I've changed my mind.  Mostly because I'm not exactly certain where I'd seperate them.  My oldest loves all of them and, in short bursts, my younger kids love listening to anything (at least so far). 
There are a TON of different books titled A Child's Garden of Verses.  They're all poems by Robert Louis Stevenson, but the illustrators are different, so  make sure to pick the one with the pictures that most appeals to you (or your kids) if you're planning to buy one.

I have to say that we didn't have to check out or purchase any of these.  This is the one series of poetry books that I already own.  I've loved them from when I was little.  In face, they were mine (at least a couple of them) before we even started having kids.  They're amazing and hilarious.

I have a few of these on my list, treasuries or compilations I mean, and I think they might be my favorite.  At least for a beginning poetry enthusiast.  I'm not sure exactly who I like and I figure these will introduce my family to a whole bunch of poets at once.  Letting us pick our favorites to delve more deeply into later.

I know, I know, this flies in the face of what I just said about compilations, but there's just something about Poe.  Even though I'm not a fanatic sort of fan (or even maybe a fan, his poems are just strange), his poems stay with you.  At least me.  His are probably the only poems (outside Mr. Silverstein) I remember from growing up. 

We've just finished this one and we LOVED it.  It's very short, but pretty awesome.  Every poem describes boys so well, they make me smile.

We're in the middle of this one right now.  My kids cluster around me to look at the page while I read and there aren't even any pictures.  I have to admit, I cried through reading yesterday.  I even cried this morning while I was telling my husband about reading yesterday's poems.  We're loving this one also.

This is actually a series of books.  As you can see, this specific one is about Robert Frost, but there are a TON about many different poets.  I thought we'd see who we liked and then get a few of these every year to study about specific poets a little more in depth.

Next year I plan to add some actual curriculum and do a weekly poetry journal.  I have a few ideas about those also (thank you Pioneer Woman) and I'll post about them next week (I finished up the post and you can peruse it here). 
Do you have a favorite book of poetry I should add to my list?

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