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!


Sunday, October 27, 2013

November Sharing Time - Week 1

The whole month is all about thanks (pretty appropriate for November) and this week we're focusing on our bodies. 

I've mentioned before how much I love taking any opportunity to get the kids in the scriptures and the Sharing Time Outline gives a great idea.  One that I tweaked just a little bit.

First, make sure all the kids have scriptures and send a runner off to the library to get some more for those who've forgotten (or you could pick up a bunch before Sharing Time). Choose a child to come up and draw out one of the scriptures from the Encourage Understanding section.  And then have everyone look it up before reading through it.

I found pictures to represent everything the scriptures tell us to Do, Do Not, and Blessings.  After you read through the scriptures, have the kids try and figure out what the scripture is telling us and which picture that relates to (we are told to be thankful and eat fruit twice).

After they match the picture, decide whether it's a blessing, a to do or a do not and stick the picture in the right category.

As you're sticking it under the right header, you can talk about how they can follow that counsel (or how that blessing can help them).  Use specific examples, like you could eat an apple for a snack or if your mind is full of energy, you will do better on your spelling test.

As you get finished, you can take a few minutes to let the kids set a goal for the next week.  Have them each choose a different do or do not they want to focus on (and either write it down or draw a picture about it).  If you don't have time, or don't want to take the time during Sharing Time, you could send the paper home with them to finish with their parents.

You can download the files I've put together from Google Docs.

Categories   (this file is too big to preview, just click the download button on the screen that pops up.  It'll then tell you that it's to big to check for viruses, are you sure?  Click yes and it will download)

The perfect ending to every Sharing Time is sharing your testimony.  Even though our bodies don't always work the way we want them to, we are still blessed to have them.  Better yet, those hard things are only temporary.  We will each have a perfected body, every single one of us, what an awesome blessing.

Have a wonderful week!

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Art Project - Jackson Pollack

This year I'm making a more concerted effort to introduce my children to art. 

You know, saying I'm only introducing them makes me feel better.  I'm not confident in my knowledge of art (history, technique or discussing technique).  But, I'm taking baby steps, I'm trying.  I'm introducing them to art.  And you know what else?  If I can do this, you can to. 

I'm using Confession's of a Homeschooler's Worlds Greatest Artists series.  We spend a month or so on each artist, learning about their life, studying their art and trying it out for ourselves.

I'm not super creative (although I'm really good at finding things I like and tweaking them) and thankfully I found a great book to help me out on the painting front.  It's called the Usborne Art Treasury.

This wonderful book talks a little about 22 famous artists, one of their most famous paintings, and (my favorite part) an idea for an art project to imitate that piece of art.  I don't have to be creative, I just get to use someone else's idea.  Yay!!

Right now we're studying Jackson Pollack.  I have to admit I'm in the camp that doesn't really understand the appeal of his splatter paintings.  Although, I do understand the appeal in attempting to imitate them though.

My kids had so much fun and it was really pretty simple.  We squirted a little bit of paint into some small containers, mixed it with water to thin it out (for easier dripping) and went to town.

Outside.  Away from anything important.  Like my furniture, floors and walls.

They each had their own ideas of what kinds of colors and drip techniques they wanted to use.

It was interesting how differently they all turned out, even though they were doing almost exactly the same thing.

Art still isn't my favorite subject (only because I'm the one teaching it), but I'm gaining confidence a little at a time as we move through our school year.  Which demonstrates another of my favorite things about homeschooling...I get to learn just as much as my kids do. 

And we all have fun doing it (most of the time)!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Goodbye Garden

The garden season is over, for me at least.  All that's left are pumpkins and potatoes.

I really should have dug up the potatoes already.  I got so many this year I'm feeling a little intimidated.  And excited.  It's strange how I can have so many different feelings at the very same time.  Who knew you could have feelings about vegetables?

We'll be taking out the pumpkins tomorrow, it's time to carve 'em up!  My kids are pretty excited.

As soon as I get the pumpkins and potatoes out of there, I'm going to cover what's left in leaves.  Lots of leaves.  The leaf mulch will keep the weeds from growing and it adds a little back to the garden, too. 

How do you put your garden to bed?  I'm still learning and would love some tips!


Sunday, October 20, 2013

October Sharing Time - Week 4

My motto when it comes to sharing time is to make it simple and spiritual.  I like to use the outline as much as possible for ideas and this week is no exception.  In fact, the reason I'm mentioning it is because this week, I'm loving pretty much every idea from the outline.

One thing I would change would be the order, I'd wait and do the object lesson at the end when you give the kids a chance to take turns sharing personal examples of how they can share the gospel.  If you are really attached to using the food coloring first, I'd suggest using fresh water for the wrap up sharing at the end, because watching those first drops slowly turn the whole solution a new color is the most fun.

I found an amazing talk by Elder M. Russell Ballard called Pure Testimony that relates perfectly to this weeks sharing time.  I'd start by quoting Elder Ballard when he said, "Having a testimony is not enough.  In fact, when we are truly converted, we cannot be restrained from testifying."

Ask the kids what this means?  Do any of them feel this way?  Is it ever hard to bear your testimony?  Are you ever not sure about some parts of what you think should be your testimony?

I don't know about the rest of you, but I'm pretty sure I have a lot of work to do on the "truly converted" front.  Unfortunately, I can be restrained.  I'm slightly terrified of talking spontaneously in front of people (as opposed to a planned, researched and practiced lesson or talk).

Although, I do find hope in this story Elder Ballard shared about President Brigham Young talking about a missionary with a large group of people,

"According to President Young, this particular elder "never had been able to say that he knew Joseph [Smith] was a Prophet."  He would have preferred to just say a prayer and leave, but the circumstances made that impossible.  So he started to speak, and "as soon as he got 'Joseph' out, 'is a Prophet'; and from that his tongue was loosened, and he continued talking until near sundown." 

This missionary was afraid and not even sure about his testimony.  Did that stop him?!  Astoundingly no.  He decided to share his testimony anyway, using his faith to take a step into the dark and was blessed with light.  "His tongue was loosened" and he was able to talk.

Even though the story doesn't say, I'm certain this missionary's testimony grew and was strengthened that day.  This same thing can happen for each of us as we gather our courage and our faith to testify to those around us.  I hope that one day I can say I cannot be restrained from testifying in all circumstances (especially the unplanned ones).

After talking about how important it is to share our testimonies, ask what are the most important parts of a testimony?

This is the point in which I slightly disagree with the outline.  I believe that having a testimony that our church has the full restored gospel (and thus is the one fully true church) is tied to and a part of having a testimony of Joseph Smith.  I also believe that one of the most important and life changing parts to a testimony is the knowledge that we are each loved and known by our Heavenly Father (no matter what!).

In that same wonderful talk, Elder Ballard said, "Although we can have testimonies of many things as members of the Church, there are basic truths we need to constantly teach one another and share with those not of our faith.  Testify God is our Father and Jesus is the Christ.  The plan of salvation is centered on the Savior's atonement.  Joseph Smith restored the fullness of the everlasting gospel of Jesus Christ, and the Book of Mormon is evidence that our testimony is true."

So, I mixed a little Sharing Time Outline with a little Elder Ballard and this is what I came up with:

1. God is our Father.  He loves every single one of His children.  As my youngest son Josh said, "He even loves pirates."  This knowledge affects every decision and gives the courage to Choose The Right.

2. Jesus is our Savior.  Heavenly Father's plan provided a personal Savior.  One who KNOWS every single thing we've gone through and will go through.  One who loves us so much he was willing to feel our every hurt and suffer for our every mistake.  What a fantastic gift!

3. Joseph Smith restored the fullness of the gospel.  He truly saw Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, he prayed about and received the framework for our church line upon line, truth upon truth.  This is another great point when talking about testimonies, they do not happen overnight.  We do not know everything all at once, Joseph certainly didn't.  We all need to remember to take one step at a time.

4. The Book of Mormon is another testament of Jesus Christ.  Reading, studying and living the principles found in it bring joy, peace and eternal life with our Heavenly Father.

5. We continue to receive revelation through a living prophet.  It is such a comfort to know that we have a prophet today!  One who can speak with God and receive revelation for the entire church.  He uplifts us, warns us and teaches us what is most important for our day.

I do like the idea of using pictures, having the kids draw them out one at a time and talking about what each picture teaches us about the basic building blocks of our testimonies.

After going over the building blocks you feel are the most important for your primary, use the rest of your time to get ideas of how/where/when we can share our testimonies.

I feel strongly that there is a difference between being thankful and truly sharing our testimonies.  It's wonderful when children get up to share about all the lovely parts of their lives they are so very thankful for, but I also think they can do more...that we can do more.

"Clear declaration of truth makes a difference in people's lives.  That is what changes hearts.  That is what the Holy Ghost can confirm in the hearts of God's children."  Challenge them to testify more often.  Challenge them to pray for opportunities to share what they've learned and, as they do, they're testimonies will grow even stronger.

Have a wonderful Sunday!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Top 5 Steps to a Less Stressed Homeschool Life

I've gotten a few comments and emails lately about feeling overwhelmed with homeschooling in addition to, well, the rest of life.  I do think that occasional feelings of too much are normal, this is a pretty huge venture, but I wanted to take a minute to talk about what to do when it's not so occasional.

I've blogged about a lot of these things before, but in seperate posts.  Here are my tried and tested tips, my favorite go to, keep overwhelming-ville at bay ideas.

1. Know what you want your children to accomplish each year.  After I've chosen my curriculum for the year, I sit down with it and decide how to divide it up throughout the year.  What I'm usually looking for is how many times each week we are going to be working on that subject or curriculum. 

This is also when I decide what holidays we want to celebrate or do projects for, how many book reports I want them to do (and when they should be due), and pick any other projects they're going to be working on (currently this last one only applies to my 7th grader).

2. Decide how your children will know what they need to accomplish every day/week to go along with the plans made in step #1.  I make detailed weekly checklists that show every subject and activity they need to get done every day.

The first time I made them I spent a few hours figuratively banging my head against the table trying to figure out exactly what they needed to get done.  And figuring out the formatting so it would all fit.  And making it look nice and organized.  It was very, very worth it. 

My first versions changed A LOT over the first few months, so don't be discouraged if you find that you need to adjust.  In fact, I still make adjustments over the year as we add or take away different activities.

This gives your kids a sense of control over their day and they won't have to ask you over and over again what's next or when they'll be done.  Plus, you'll also know when they're done and you'll know you're making progress toward the goals set in step 1.

3. Be willing to cut things out.  This is very hard for me.  Very, very hard.  As I look through curriculum and read about all the amazing things there are to learn, my step 1 plan is sometimes a little, um, unattainable. 

I need to reassess and reassure myself over what is truly important.  If we're too frustrated, or things are taking too long, I cut back.  I do not have to do as much as anyone else (and neither do you, I promise), only what is best for my family.  As hard as it is to do the initial cut, the relief and peace that follow can be amazing.

4. Give your kids responsibilities both in school and in your home.  I do this in school by giving them their weekly checklists (I also give Makenna some control over what goes on her checklist and how it's formatted) and then letting them choose what order they want to get their work done.  It's interesting to watch them develop their own routines.

For the home, I have chore charts.  They have chores they need to get done every day and every week.  Their assigned chores cover most of the basic picking up and keeping clean in our home.  While it is more of a chore to teach them how to clean correctly at first, the return far (far, far) outweighs any initial frustrations.  It's such a blessing for our home!

I also firmly believe it is good for them.  There are so many fantastic lessons learned from doing chores.  When we all work together, everyone is happier (and chores get done a whole lot faster).  A happy life takes work.  Plain and simple.  They also learn that when you choose to work hard, you often get rewarded (by getting to play with friends and privileges like electronics). 

5. Do what you love.  What is it that you love about homeschooling?  What brings you and your children the most joy?  Make sure you have made time for those things.  Stick them on your schedule so you don't forget to do them and if you're finding that you don't have time, look to step 3 and cut out something that isn't as important. 

There is so much that is good out there.  Good curriculum, activities, projects, extra-curriculars and new things to learn.  There is so much good that it just isn't possible to do it all and you shouldn't try (or feel guilty about it).  After getting the basics (math, language arts, science, history), choose only those things that you and your children love. 

I would love to hear about what tips and tricks you use to feel a little less stressed and overwhelmed, because, well, I still feel that way sometimes too. 


Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Physical Education at Home

For the first two years I homeschooled my kids, we didn't do much in the way of physical activity and nothing directed. 

My kids are all pretty active and involved in sports, so I used that as my excuse to not do anything else.  Not that it's not a great excuse or even a great reason, I just always had a desire to do something more, only I didn't know how.

Then I came across Family Time Fitness and thought I'd give it a try.  They have options for homeschool, co-ops, schools, families and even for individual sports.  I went with Fitness 4 Homeschool, Core 1 and my kids LOVE it (I got the pdf version and use it on our tablet).

These are the basic activities you might have done while in public school (if you went) or that your kids were doing before they came home (if they ever went to public school).  You practice simple things like jumping on one foot, skipping (which is pretty darn hard to learn...who knew?), shuffling and doing these things while tossing a ball, using a hoola hoop and TONS more activities. 

Yes, they are simple things you could do on your own, but I didn't and wouldn't.  Plus, they're already all arranged for me into daily lesson plans (that I only do twice a week) so I don't have to spend any time planning, which I love.

Another bonus that I hadn't thought about before, it's helping my kids develop better gross motor skills.  I have one son who struggles with, well, just walking without tripping over his own feet sometimes and many of these activities work on balance which is fantastic for him.

So, if you didn't already get that drift, I'd highly recommend it.  We love Family Time Fitness and have lots of fun doing it!

What do you guys do for P.E.?


Sunday, October 13, 2013

October Sharing Time - Week 3

Last week we got to teach about how we share the gospel every single day by living it.  This is the way we can affect the most people because we ARE ALWAYS DOING IT!

But, this week, after doing a quick review of last weeks topic, I think it's important to ask why.  Why do we share the gospel?  Why is it important?  Really make them think and see what answers they come up with.

In the beginning of the month, I wrote about how this month is PERFECT for a guest speaker or two and the Sharing Time Outline agrees with me.  :)  If you feel so inspired, take advantage of your local missionaries (the kids always LOVE them) or your ward missionaries.

If you don't feel like that's the right fit for your primary, or if you're doing it a different week, I've got a great idea for this week!

At the beginning of the month, I was looking around trying to find some good information about missionary work and I discovered the Missionary Work page on Sugardoodle (that website has something on just about every gospel's kind of amazing).  If you scroll down, there's a Sharing Time section with so many fun ideas.

I especially like the one using the Articles of Faith.  We spend so much time talking about, singing and memorizing these in primary, I love the idea of teaching the kids how to use them to be better missionaries.

As a member of the church, as we are living the gospel (and teaching through our example), we will sometimes get questions.  Sometimes the questions are simple, but sometimes, they aren't so simple and we're not always sure where to turn for answers (even as adults).

This role playing game will help the kids to learn how the Articles of Faith they've been working on, memorizing, and living, can give them a hand.

I found some adorable missionary badges that are a little different than any I've seen before.  They say, "Sharing is Caring" big at the top and then it has a quote from President John Taylor, "Our duty is to preach the GOSPEL to all men...this is what God expects of us."  They fit pretty darn perfect with this weeks (and months) theme.

Because this week we're focusing on sharing the gospel with our family and friends, I thought you might need a few more badges, so I made these simple badges to go with the missionary ones.
Have a few children come up, one or two to be the missionaries (talk about how we are ALL missionaries every day) and one or two to be the family and/or friends.  Have the "family or friend" choose one of the questions to ask their missionary.  There are 13 different questions, each corresponding to a different Article of Faith.

I typed up the questions (just to make it a little easier on you) and uploaded them to Google Docs.  Click on over to download them (and the friend/family badges), and then just print and cut.

After reading the strip, the "missionaries" will decide which Article of Faith answers the question (have them tell you how).  Last year I found some adorable Article of Faith cards on Simply Fresh Designs (I love that you can download them in a variety of different sizes, they're what we use at my house as we're working on memorization).  You could use these OR use cards from your library.  If you aren't going to use them in your home after, or somehow use them in your primary, I would go with the library (even though the printables are adorable) simply for the sake of simplicity.

Once you decide on the Article of Faith, you can either move on to the next question (which would work best if you want to get through the most possible, 15 minutes goes FAST) or take another minute to sing the primary song that goes with it.

As your time is winding down, you might want to take a minute to talk about how Heavenly Father has given us the job of sharing the gospel, but not the job of making others accept it.  One of the greatest gifts He has given us is agency or the opportunity to make our own choices.  We offer the gospel, and those we love get to choose what they do.  No matter what choice they make, Heavenly Father still asks that we love them.  Share and love, that's it. 

Don't forget to bare your testimony of the great gift our gospel is and how sharing it not only blesses the lives of those around us, but ours also.

Have a wonderful week!

Friday, October 11, 2013

Happy Columbus Day!

We've been reading about Christopher Columbus this week, in honor of it being his day next week.  I also found a fun project to do on Pinterest.

I actually found a few different projects, but we only did one.  

One of my basic tenets of life is to be simple.  To be willing to let go.  

Just so you know, the reason it has to be a tenet is that I'm not very good at it and I need constant reminders.  But, when I remember, I am so much happier (and so are my children).

So, our one project that we did (and had fun doing), I found inspiration for here

Do you still call it inspiration when you basically did what someone else did?  Yeah, probably not.  I mostly just copied it.  And it turned out great.

In the picture above, our Columbuses are sitting waiting for the glue to dry.  Using the Pinterest picture, I made my own pattern for my kids to trace.  They traced, cut and glued everything together on their own.

We usually use glue sticks around here, but the spy glass (half a toilet paper tube) definitely needs real, liquid Elmer's.  You have to let it dry all the way before you try and glue the hands to it.  And then, unless you have a glue gun, you're going to have to tape the hands along with the glue or they won't stay.

After everything was set to dry (we did this over 3 days, just so you don't think I spent all day: 1 to trace and cut, 1 to put together and 1 to do the writing), my kids filled out these really cute FREE printables from Teachers Pay Teachers (you do need an account to download, but that's free also).

The printables are full sized (I changed mine in Photoshop) and would still look really great hanging off the bottom of the page.

Josh wanted to be involved in the picture taking, and he's so cute I couldn't help myself.

And Makenna just looked so serious.  This girl is way too much like her mother.  And she's growing up way too fast.  It's sort of awesome and terrifying at the very same time.  Not that this has anything to do with Columbus Day, I just thought I'd share.

I love this smile, I feel like James goof-ball ness is coming out a little. 

It was a fun and simple project, my very favorite kind.  Hope you have a fantastic Columbus Day!


Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Art & Music

These are both subjects that I struggle to teach.  I don't have training in, nor am I especially talented at, either.  None of that precludes me (or anyone else) from teaching, but it does affect my level of confidence.

 A lot.

Last year we read through The Story of the Orchestra and it ended up being one of my very favorite books.  It gives a general overview of the orchestra (and many composers) along with music that showcases specific instruments (and composers).  I highly recommend it.

This year we decided to try out Erica's (at Confessions of a Homeschooler) Worlds Greatest Composers series.  Then I decided to also use her Worlds Greatest Artists series.

Both curriculum use the same series of books by Mike Venezia for the "textbook" for each composer.  They are simple (and funny) biographies on so many different famous people.  They're pretty inexpensive, but I went an even cheaper route and check out most of the ones I need from my library.

We do both art and music twice a week, getting us through one composer and one artist every month or so.

For music, Erica has a piece of music and an activity to do every lesson, as well as questions to help direct discussion about what you're listening to.  I love it for a few reasons: it's simple (both in preparation and time to complete), my kids love it, and it's a great introduction to some fantastic music.

In art we study specific pieces of art, talk about the artists life and do two projects for each artist we study.  My kids love it.  They love doing projects and have so much fun trying to put their own spin on each artists style. 

What we're doing isn't exhaustive by any means, it's a gentle introduction, but we're having a lot of fun with it.  If you're looking for a little something to get started (an inexpensive little something, which is even better), check these out!

Both Makenna and Ben also play piano for part of their music experience.  Makenna's been playing for almost a year, but Ben just started this year.

We really like Alfred's and Ben's trying out the All-in-one Course this year.  It's a very basic, gentle introduction to playing.  We're moving pretty slow, but he's liking it a lot, which is the most important thing for us.

Makenna has almost finished with Complete Level 1 and likes it a lot.  It's a much quicker start (she was already playing around by herself and she was also 11 when we got started) and has kept her attention really well.  She's playing so well, I might have to find her a more accomplished teacher pretty soon.  Or maybe I just need to practice some more.

What's your favorite music curriculum or activity?


Sunday, October 6, 2013

October Sharing Time - Weeks 1 & 2

Living the gospel helps me to be a missionary now.  This is one of my very favorite ways to be a missionary because it is the one that we all do everyday.  Without trying. 

That's not to say that living the gospel doesn't take effort, because we all know that's not true.  It's more that we get two for one.  We are trying to live the gospel so we can grow closer to and more like our Savior AND at the very same time, we get to show how wonderful that life is to everyone around us. 

I like the story in the Sharing Time Outline about the woman who ends up taking the missionary discussions because of the good example of some neighbor children.  You could either start with that story, or one like it if you have had (or know of) a similar personal experience.  I believe that the more personal a story, the more impact it has had on us, the greater the impact on those we teach.  If you don't have one, just retell the story in your own words. 

Then, ask the kids what that story teaches them about missionary work.  Make sure to stop and wait.  I really struggle here, I have a hard time with silence, so if an answer doesn't come pretty darn fast, I restate the question in a new way or even answer it myself.  My husband, on the other hand, is really good at waiting, letting them think and giving someone a chance to gather the courage to raise their hand.  One of my goals is to brave the silence.  Let the kids answer.

I also really like the next idea in the outline, which uses the My Gospel Standards cards.  You could either sing while passing the cards around, ask your pianist to play the music (without singing) randomly stopping, or choose children to come up and draw one card out of a bag or basket. 

I was going to make some cards to share with you, but then I found these ADORABLE cards on My Heart and Home.  She also has a poster that has the same cute pictures on them which I'm going to print out for my kids at home (the cards were actually made to be a memory game, which you could do and then talk about each standard as its match is found).

Read each standard and talk about it.  I think it's important to know how you can truly live each standard.  Even with the seemingly simple ones like, "I can pray to Heavenly Father anytime, anywhere," ask for a specific example of where and when they can pray.  Then ask them how praying can help them become a better missionary (remember to brave the silence if you need to).

As you finish, hand out these cute slips of paper, ask each child to write down a standard they want to work on and a specific check-off-able goal they can do related to it.  For example, if the prayer standard was the one they want to work on, do they want to pray every day?  Every morning and night?  Help their family to say their prayers together? 

I made two versions (both in the same download), one is quarter page size and the other is half page size.  

Don't forget to end with your testimony of our amazing gospel and the blessings (including missionary work) it brings into our lives.  No matter where we are in life, or what we are going through, the gospel brings peace and assurance that Heavenly Father loves us and will make us strong enough to make our way through anything.  What a gift.

Have a wonderful week!


Thursday, October 3, 2013

Happy Fall Hats

What makes them happy?


Good question.  I think I'd have to go with the kids who made them and wear them.

They sure make me happy (and pretty much every other emotion available).

We hope your fall has gotten off to a great start!


Tuesday, October 1, 2013

2014 Primary Theme - Families Are Forever

I'm not sure how everyone else is doing, but I'm feeling pretty good about this theme.

I've had so many different ideas flickering around in my head for the past few weeks, I can't wait to sit down with my presidency and flesh out our plans.

I love to make plans.  Does anyone else think planning is fun?  Find it strangely exhilarating?


Okay, I'm sure you're out there.  I'm also sure some of you might think I'm nuts.  Oh well, it's alright.

As I just mentioned, I don't have all my plans ready yet, but I thought I'd share a few of the ones making the most noise right now (you know, inside my head...that's normal, right?) and then share a printable with you.

A really cute printable.  Of course I'm biased, but I promise, it's cute.

Right now I'm picturing a few things...

Bulletin Board

We have a two sided bulletin board (small vertical rectangles on each side of the chalkboard at the head of our primary room) and I think we're going to put a tree on one side and a temple on the other.

While sitting in the balcony at the General Primary Auxiliary Training earlier this year, I just knew I wanted to use a tree next year for our bulletin board and I knew it would work (okay, I felt a little inspired, so I hoped it would work).  And it does, perfectly.

The tree will represent our primary family.  As we spotlight each child and teacher throughout the year, we'll add their leaf to our tree.  I also want to somehow incorporate a picture of Christ, perhaps at the base of the tree because Christ should be our base, our foundation.

I'm not exactly sure how I'm going to physically make the temple right now, but I know how I want it to work.  I want to use the temple closest to us (which is the Ogden, Utah temple) as it will be when it's completed next year.  I also want to make it to fit our board, but then cut it apart into twelve pieces.  Each month, as we learn a new principle, we'll add a piece onto our temple.  We'll make it one step (or piece) closer to our goal of being worthy and ready to attend the temple every month.

The last thing I want to do is have the year theme as a central focus.  This year we talked about it in January, but I don't feel like we're keeping it as front and center as we could be.  Or should be.  I'm not sure how to execute this just yet, but I'm percolating (in other words, if you have an idea, I'd love to hear about it).


I love to focus our spotlights on the annual theme.  This year we've been talking about what each child feels Heavenly Father's plan is for them and how they know He loves them.  Next year, we're going to ask a bunch of family themed questions.  I don't have them nailed down yet (I'll post it here when I get it done), but they'll be along the lines of: What's your favorite family home evening?  What was your favorite family vacation?  What's your favorite family story?  What is your favorite thing to do as a family?

I might also go through the Sharing Time Outline to see if I can gear a few questions toward the monthly topics to make writing next years primary program a breeze.

Binder Covers

Now we've come to my printable.  I love my binder cover this year (it was a cute one I found on Sugardoodle), but I thought I'd try and make my own for next year. I love to play around on Photoshop and this gave me a great opportunity.

It's a little funny, I made the one above first and wasn't quite sure I liked it.  So, I moved things around and then ended up with this one.

(The beautiful temple I use in both versions are from Susan Fitch Illustration and Design, she is such a talented artist!)

After finishing the second one, I opened the first one back up and discovered I wasn't sure (again) which one I liked better.  They're very similar, but still different enough that I thought I'd put them both on here for you.

You can pick which you like best or even print both.  I was thinking, seeing as I have two complementary covers, I might as well use them.  Maybe one for Senior Primary and one for Junior.

I've got a few versions of each, the only difference being how the tag is labeled, one says Class (for the teachers) and one says Presidency (for, you know, the presidency).  I like to just stick the class on the binder (as opposed to the teachers names) so I don't have to print a new one if I lose a teacher.  On the flip side, I like to stick the presidency members name so we can tell our binders apart.  The third pdf leaves the tag blank in case you have a different preference.

Vertical Families Are Forever Primary Binder Covers
Horizontal Families Are Forever Primary Binder Covers

Have you made any plans yet?  Come across any fantastic ideas?  I'd LOVE to hear about them!


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!
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