Monday, December 30, 2013

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

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

I'm not giving this sharing time. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Sunday, December 29, 2013

Favorite LDS Primary Calendars and Schedules

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Friday, December 27, 2013

2014 Families Are Forever Bulletin Board & Monthly Posters

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The theme posters are their own separate downloads.  

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


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

Sunday, December 22, 2013

December Sharing Time - Families Are Forever Spotlight

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

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

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

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

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

Spotlight pdf
Spotlight excel

Have a fantastic week and a very Merry Christmas!


Thursday, December 19, 2013

30 Minute Cleanup

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

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

What?  Doesn't cleaning make you happy?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What have you figured out lately?


Monday, December 16, 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Have a wonderful week (and a Merry Christmas!)

Monday, December 9, 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Friday, December 6, 2013

Keeping Track of Assignments

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Wednesday, December 4, 2013

A Bend in the Road

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

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

I knew it.

Do you ever know things like that?

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

I did.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Sunday, December 1, 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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