Tuesday, December 30, 2014

2015 Primary Spotlight Board

I found the perfect spotlight idea on Sugardoodle several months back. 

Perfect except I'm not really scrapbook-ey.  Well, I'm only digitally scrapbook-ey and hers was done by hand.  So, I digitized it.  Well, I made a very similar version.

Do you know what that means? 

It means the rest of you can use it by just pushing a print button!  Well, you might have to take it somewhere to have it printed, but it doesn't involve many painful hours of cutting and gluing. Although the painful part might just be me.

Now, you won't download a board that looks exactly like this AND you will have to do a small amount of cutting and gluing.  Small, though.

The download includes the board above, without the pockets and numbers.  It also includes a pocket template, numbers, and questions.

You will either print the template directly onto the colored/patterned paper of your choice or print and cut the template out to trace on that same cute colored/patterned paper.  You could make the pockets all the same color, each one different or some combination.  Also, keep in mind, unlike the example pictured above, yours will not be wholly colored/patterned unless you have double sided paper. 

The numbers also need to be cut out and glued to the front of the pockets, which you can do before or after you fold, glue and attach them to the board.

Now, the questions.  These are fully from that wonderful woman who uploaded her super idea to Sugardoodle.  Each card talks about how we can each know our Savior lives and asks a question to have the children elaborate on different subjects (from the Book of Mormon to the priesthood any many other gospel topics).

To spotlight, choose the child(ren) for the day, have them come up and roll a die.  Match the number on the die to one of the numbered pockets, then have the child answer anywhere from one to all of the questions inside (each pocket will have several).

We're planning to take notes while they answer and use them to help write this years Primary Program.

Ready to download? 

2015 I Know My Savior Lives Spotlight download


Monday, December 29, 2014

Primary 2015 Birthday Gift

This year our birthday gift ties into the annual theme of "I Know My Savior Lives."

It also ties in closely with our spotlight.  For their birthday, each child will receive a seed packet full of faith beans (jelly beans).  I made the seed packet we'll be using and I adjusted it just a little bit to make it general enough for anyone to use.

The front of the packet talks about how we can watch our faith grow one "bean" at a time as we "plant" the teachings of Jesus in our heart.

To recognize the children as they are spotlighted (and so we can remember who has been spotlighted, just in case someone forgets), we will be putting flowers with their pictures in the center up on one side of our bulletin board.  Their faith beans will have grown into a flower!

I haven't put any together yet, but my plan is to glue and side and bottom, let it dry, fill with jelly beans (which I'll get in bulk from a local grocery store), and then use double sided tape on the top flap.  I'll let you know how well it works after I've field tested a few.

You can download these from my google drive.  It's in pdf format and I've fit two packets to one 8.5x11 page.


Sunday, December 28, 2014

2015 Primary Monthly Posters - Part 1

Today, I have for you the first six months of primary posters.  YAY!!!

My posters are simple because my main goal is for the kids in the back of the room to be able to see them on Sunday (we use them every week).  We go over the theme and scripture each month and so that's what I've put on the poster. 

Of course, I did cute it up a little, too.

Here's what they look like. 

You can right click and save the posters as a jpg, but if you keep scrolling to the bottom, I'll have a link where you can download either a higher resolution zipped file of jpg's or a zipped file of pdf's.  

I decided to change the background every three months.  Just for fun.  January, February, and March all have little tiny polka dots and April, May and June are striped.  I'm keeping it nuetral, but mixing things up a little bit.

I also made two different April posters (did you notice yet?).  In our primary we memorize the monthly scripture each month, except sometimes the scripture in the Sharing Time Outline isn't actually the whole scripture.  So, I've got one poster with only the piece of the scripture included in the outline (the second one) and another with the whole scripture (the first one). 

Just in case any of you would like the whole thing like me.

So, what do you think?  If you're a fan and would like to use them you can download your choice of jpg or pdf (or both if you'd like) here.

January - June Primary Monthly Posters - JPG
January - June Primary Monthly Posters - PDF

I'm going to be posting about my bulletin board, names of Jesus monthly family home evenings, spotlight board and birthday gifts throughout the rest of this week (I talked about my early ideas on this post), so check back!


Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Primary Calendars 2015

Several months ago I shared my favorite primary reports.  The ones we ended up really using every week.

Two of those were calendars that need to be adjusted slightly for the new years theme.  I've gone ahead and done that for those of you that haven't gotten around to it yet.  Well, and for myself, too.

This first one I call our Overview Calendar (DOWNLOAD HERE) and it's the one I stick in the very back of my binder so I can see it without have to open the binder.  It's got all our important Sunday dates, lists of all the lesson's, monthly themes and song, and a spot to put who is in charge of what in our presidency.

The second one still has the monthly themes, although they aren't completely necessary here.  This calendar's main purpose is birthdays, thus the name Birthday Calendar (DOWNLOAD HERE).  We keep track of every child and leader so we can recognize them during primary.  I also use it to more easily see upcoming baptisms, primary graduations, and incoming toddlers for nursery.

We've found it handiest to put the child's name along with the birthday, that way we can simply copy and paste from one year to another.

If you'd like to see my other favorite reports, you can check them out in this postI've also made posters for next year (that go along with each months theme) on this post.


Monday, November 17, 2014

Five in Five - November 14th

Yes, I know it's not Friday, but let's pretend it is.  I meant to post this last week and decided I wouldn't let a little thing like the calendar stand in my way.

Unfortunately, this is fairly typical for a Monday here.  I'm not sure what it is about Mondays, but we all seem to have a hard time getting back into the groove after a weekend of playing.  Corner standing is a fairly typical punishment in our home and everyone gets their turn.

Just keeping it real.

One of my favorite things about our school room is the wire strung along one wall where we get to display every one's completed artwork and projects.  We got off to a slow start, but it's finally filled.  We'll rotate out the oldest for the newly finished the rest of the school year.

I've been reading a great book called "Cleaning House" by Kay Wills Wyma.  In it she details a twelve month experiment to get her kids off the enable train by teaching them life skills, also known as chores.  I have a few notebooks I take notes in while I'm reading, but if I don't have one with me I often take pictures of quotes I like.  This one is a gem.

Josh in deep thought.  If only the ceiling really did have all the answers.

This is how my area of our school room table often looks.  Just in case you can't tell what these are, they're multiple stacks of Spanish flashcards.  Why?  Well, I decided it would be a great idea to complete Makenna's Spanish course with her.  Not surprisingly, it's been challenging and, unexpectedly, fun. 

I'm pretty competitive (it's in my genes, I blame my dad) and it turns out my daughter is too (probably something to do with that whole gene thing).  We compete to see who can get the best grades on chapter tests, with the winner getting taken out to ice cream by the loser.  We both really like ice cream.  A lot.  Which of course leads to better learning, and better grades, from both of us.


Thursday, November 13, 2014

2015 Primary Binder Covers "I Know My Savior Lives"

12/3/14 - Update: There was an error on each of the binder covers in the September theme.  I left the pictures on the blog the same, but changed the pdf's and updated the links so when you download them from my google drive you'll get the corrected version.  Thanks so much to Rebecca for pointing it out to me!!!

I've made up a couple binder covers with next years primary theme.

I made two and part way through putting them together, I decided I needed a little more brightness in my life.

Turns out they're a lot brighter.

So, I slipped in a second background for those of you that don't go in for the super bright pattern-ey thing.

If you like them, feel free to click the link underneath your favorite(s) to download a pdf from my google drive.


These are open to the public, so you don't need to request sharing.  Share away.

I'm also not planning to edit or change them, although if I change my mind you'll be the first to know.

Hope your year is going wonderful and that you're getting excited for all the amazing teaching opportunities we're blessed to have next year!!


Friday, October 31, 2014

October 31st - Five in Five

I've decided to start something new as part of my effort to preserve my normal life. 

Not preserve as in keep it safe, but preserve so I don't lose all the memories.  The funny, sweet, frustrating and annoying ones that come together to make up my life.

I knew it needed to be simple or there was, an is, no way I'd be able to do it with any consistency.  And it is very easy.

Throughout our five day school week I'll take pictures (Yay for camera phones!).  Then, I'll choose five that represent different parts of our week.  Or that are just funny.  Or sweet.  Or embarrassing.  I could go on for a while.

I can't promise they'll be exciting because my life is pretty unexciting as a rule.  Which I actually kind of like.  Boring isn't always bad. 

So, this week for my very first five in five we've got:

Our first book report done.  Yipee!! 

When I told James we get to pick out books for our next book report on Monday he groaned.   Huh, I guess he's not quite as excited as I am.

I've copied and pasted pictures of simple projects for each holiday we intend to celebrate through our school year.  I then printed them out and stuck them in a binder so I could pull them out, pin them to our white board and have a "list" of fun and easy projects to do without any last minute searching. 

These are our Halloween ideas.

This is what my school room table looks like in the middle of our school day.  Every single day.

Makenna joined a book club last month and has been having a lot of fun.  She won this cute bookmark at her meeting on Monday.

I've been having a pretty great time, too.  It's fun to sit and talk with other homeschool moms.  I don't get to do that often.  Ever. 

And this is how we all feel at the end of the week. 

Well, I do anyway.

Even though this is actually Josh.  Asleep. 

How?  I have no idea.  A boy I knew in college once told me that all boys can sleep anywhere and I'm pretty sure this is proof.


Wednesday, October 22, 2014

I Know My Savior Lives - Planning for 2015

Okay, I've mentioned before that I'm a planner and I meant it (just in case you weren't sure).  Plans make me happy. 

I like to sit down as a primary presidency and talk about what we want to do for the next year starting in October or November of the previous year (right about now).  We don't plan out every detail of every item, but we do try to at least get a general idea of our plans in several different areas.

What areas?  Well, I'm glad you asked.

We talk and pray about what about the direction we want to take the annual theme, the one our primary needs to focus on and then we try to put that focus into everything we do throughout the year.  Things like: our monthly focuses, bulletin board, a presidency specific focus, spotlights, birthday gifts, baptism gifts, activities, and a Christmas gift.

I know, some of you are shaking your heads at me and asking why in the world I would need to plan a Christmas gift FOR NEXT YEAR!  We haven't even gotten to this year's Christmas yet.  This is one of those things that we mostly toss around ideas about, that way we have more time to "stumble across" something that fits and works great for our primary.  I've seen over and over how planning allows us to be more flexible.  Yup.

We don't have ideas for all of it yet and some of the ideas are a little hazier than others, but I thought I'd share with you what we have so far.  I'll keep you in the loop as we change our minds and share anything I make up in case some of you decide to walk a similar path.

First, we are going to focus on the Savior.  I know, no big surprise there. 

Monthly Focus
Each month we are going to learn about one of Jesus names.  He has a ton of them and each one says something different about the life He lived and the example He set for us.  We'll pick one that goes along with that month's theme from the 2015 Sharing Time Outline

Some of my favorites for next year are: I AM, Savior, Redeemer, Chosen, The Truth, Mediator, The Rock, Revealer, Comforter, Good Shepherd, Bread of Life, Well Beloved, The Way, Living Water, The Rock, Messiah, Holy Child, and Word of God. 

We will study His life, learn what the name teaches us, and apply it in our own lives so we can daily follow Him.  One way we're going to do this is by sending home a simple FHE each month where the children can learn and be challenged to find a way to act with their families.

1/2/2015: I've finished the FHE's for January through June and decided to do a Sunday outline also that details definitions, scriptures and quotes to talk about each week.
Bulletin Board
We'll take that monthly focus and turn it into a bulletin board.  In the center of our board will be a large picture of Jesus.  I'm not sure which one we're going to use, but I like the idea of it being just Him, no background or scenery (any ideas?).  Each month we'll add the name we're learning about somewhere around His picture.

We'll also have monthly posters with the theme and scripture on them to help us as we talk about them each week throughout the month.

12-28-2014: You can check out my posters on this post!

In previous years we tailored the spotlight around that years theme so we could use the forms to easily personalize the primary program.  This year we're thinking we might do something a little different. 

We're thinking about spotlighting people either on their birthday or sometime during their birth month so we aren't done with spotlights half way through the year. 

We are also thinking about doing away with the spotlight forms and having the kids come up and draw a card or two from a box like this one by Anjannete Ludwig.  In the box are questions having to do with the Savior, their testimonies of Him and how they are following in His footsteps.

12/30/14: We went with the box, you can read about it and download your very own in this post!

After they're spotlighted, we'll give them a flower made of their picture surrounded by footprint petals to plant in the front of the room in a planter (this is where I got the idea).  I'm not sure yet what form that planter will take, but I'm hoping to find something I can re-purpose inexpensively.

Birthday Gift
As we're talking both about following Jesus and planting his teachings, we'll give the children a seed packet full of jelly beans for their birthday.  Simple and inexpensive, two of my favorites.

12/30/2014: I've finished the birthday seed packets, you can check them out here!

Baptism Gift
Every year we give pillowcases for the baptism gift.  I like that it's simple and practical, I'm not much for nick knacks.  We always adapt the pillow case to go with the yearly theme, but haven't yet decided what to do for next years (aka, if you have an idea I'd LOVE to hear it). 

We have used stencils to cut the letters CTR out of a pillow case and sown in contrasting fabrics, found theme fabric to sew over part of a plain white pillowcase and had the theme embroidered onto a pillowcase.  All in separate years of course.

The manual does not state that we need to do activities, but I think they're important.  We only plan two a year, but they give us a chance to visit children we don't get to see and invite them out to join us in a less church-ey type setting.

Both activities will be themed around walking as Jesus walked.  In one we'll integrate the different names and do stations where we can do activities to learn about His life and how we can live as He did in our every day lives. 

I read an article recently that talked about how we perceive the iron rod and gave another take on it.  One that had never occurred to me and that I can't stop thinking about it.  In fact, as I read the article, I knew I had to use it in one of our primary activities this year.  In church we sing about how the iron rod is the word of God.  Did you know that Word of God is one of Jesus names?  While I may read or been told that, I've never connected it to the iron rod.  The song, "The Iron Rod," is literally telling us to cling to our Savior, to follow Him, to walk as he walked.

Another idea that goes right along with walking as Jesus did is to serve others.  It's just about impossible to do a big station-ey activity and also, take the children out of the building to serve others, so this would be a second activity. 

A few years ago we had the kids decorate cookies and make cards for some widows in our ward.  Unfortunately, only the children of the presidency got the opportunity to take them around.  I want every child to have the chance to make someones day, to feel the glow and love of our Heavenly Father as they serve someone else, so our second activity will focus on that.

Well, that's it so far.  Do you have any plans?  Ideas?  I'd sure love to hear them!!


Sunday, October 19, 2014

October Sharing Time - Successful Families Work Together

In our primary, we split up the sharing times by the month.  Each member of the presidency takes a turn doing sharing time for one month, another is in charge of conducting that month and the third checks on teachers and fills in where needed.  This has been my month for sharing time and I plan to continue sharing my plans with you every three months when my turn comes back around, but I am not planning to re-start plans every week. 

Just so you know. 

Thanks again for all the wonderful emails and comments!!

Now, on to my planned lesson...

In his most recent General Conference talk Elder L. Tom Perry said, "Many in our worried society understand that the disintegration of the family will bring only sorrow and hopelessness into a troubled world. As members of the Church, we have the responsibility to preserve and protect the family as the basic unit of society and eternity."

I'm going to open with that quote and then spend a little time talking about it with some yarn. 

First, I'll ask what disintegration means.  As we talk about it, I'll unravel one strand of yarn.  There are times in all our lives where we feel like things are falling apart.  Sometimes it's us, like when we throw a tantrum (yes, adults do that too) and other times it's out of our control. 

Next, I'll ask if the quote said that only parents or grown up people are responsible to protect our families?  Elder Perry taught that every member of the church shares that responsibility. 

Then, we'll talk about what our families need while I break some of that unraveled yarn.  We need to work together to make them stronger and to illustrate, I'll have a few kids come up and braid the yarn even stronger than it was in the beginning.

After we finish with the yarn, we'll move on to Noah's charades.  Noah and his family needed to work together to accomplish God's will.  My dad called working together bonding time (my mom still hates to have anything called bonding time) and if that's the case, Noah's family must have been one of the most closely bonded families of all time!

Some ideas for charades (including the outline ideas):
Chopping down wood for ark
Building a fire
Herding animals
Cleaning the animals
Cooking dinner
Hunting for dinner
Building the ark

After you're finished, if you have time, you can have the kids draw something their family does to work together while you talk about how working together makes families stronger.  I think we'll just talk about it, going around the room giving ideas and then I'll send home this sheet making the drawing homework (you can download it from my google drive, it's open to the public, no need to request a share).
The adorable clipart is from Melonheadz where you can find lots for free and to buy, if you haven't been you should check it out!
In closing, I'll talk about how important work is.

I recently found a great talk given back in 1982 by President Dean Jarman, the Stake President of the Salt Lake University 2nd Stake in the Welfare Session of General Conference, titled appropriately enough, "The Blessings of Family Work Projects."  In the talk President Jarman quotes his children describing the values they'd found through hard family work.  His 18 year old son said, “Since I can remember, I have been taught the value of hard work and honoring all of your responsibilities and your family name. As I look back to my experience in family projects, I can see how they have shaped my character and personality by letting me make many important decisions. I have gained confidence by meeting new people and am better able to express myself. But the most important thing about family work projects is that your family comes closer together in love and respect.”

My very favorite part of the quote is the end, after everything else, the most important value in working together as a family is that it brings you together.  It does.  I've experienced it in my life and I'm trying my best to share the value of "bonding time" with my children.

Happy Sharing Time,

Friday, October 17, 2014

School Days

I was reading through a few different blogs last week when I read something that really struck home with me.  This specific blogger hadn't been posting very consistently and the main reason she gave was that nothing exciting was happening.
I totally identify with that.  At least once a day I think about my blog and what I could be posting, especially when it comes to homeschooling, and I'm stumped.  I've always felt like it needs to be a big project or field trip.  Something special.
So, I don't post anything.
Which is funny when you consider that some of my favorite bloggers just blog about their days and every day, normal life.
So, here's a smattering of our life lately:

Josh read his very first book all the way through on his own.  I was more afraid of trying to teach my kids to read than anything else in school.  Terrified, actually, and it has turned into one of the most rewarding areas for me.  Watching the world of books unfold for my children is awesome. 

We learned a little about the life of Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni and decided to find out how it might have been to paint on a ceiling.

I had each child pick one of his works of art which I printed and taped to the bottom of our school room table.  Then, we taped up a piece of watercolor paper and they laid or sat on the floor to get their paint on.

One of my favorite parts of our school room is this white board and we use it throughout the day.  In the lower left hand corner is our calendar, the seasons and a weekly weather chart.  On the right we have a few facts about the state we're learning about while the rest is written on and erased every day. 
The kids might write their spelling words, I'll write down people and places we're studying in history, we'll draw pictures and anything and everything else.  It's amazing and fantastic.

One of my kids favorite parts of every day are projects and experiments.  This video is a simple science experiment we did earlier this month.  I often make slight changes to our experiments so we can use items I already have at home and the results vary.  This didn't go quite as far as we thought it might, but the boys sure had fun trying.

Happy Schooling,

Thursday, October 16, 2014

October Sharing Time - When Family Life is Founded Upon the Teachings of Jesus Christ, We Can Be Happy

Instead of combining two of the Sharing Time Outline ideas into one week (after General Conference, we're short one week), I decided to skip week 2 and go right on to week 3. 

Choose one child before Sunday to bring in a family picture.  If it's last minute and you're blessed to have children in primary, it would be easiest to grab one of your own family pictures and have them do it. 

You can have the chosen child share what they think families should base their lives on or have them ask the other children and lead a short discussion.  I love giving the children the opportunity to teach each other.

After the discussion, display the family picture along with a picture of Jesus Christ.  He is our foundation. 

A fun activity you might do here (especially with junior primary) is have them sing "The Wise Man and the Foolish Man."  After singing, talk about what the song is telling us to do.  Jesus has many names and one of them is The Rock.  He is our sure foundation and when we build on Him/His teachings it will not matter how fierce the storms get in our lives. 

In order to follow His teachings, we have to first learn about them.  The Sharing Time Outline shares three scriptures illustrating three principles that Jesus taught. 

The outline also suggests splitting the primary up and having them discuss the scriptures separately, but that's not the road I'm walking this week.  Every time I try to split them up and have them work through something, they get rowdy.  Rowdy enough that I walk out thinking, "Why in the world did I do that AGAIN."  So, we'll talk about them together as a primary.

The key to doing it together is one I've mentioned before.  Don't be afraid of silence OR if you are, pretend you're not.  I promise they'll answer eventually.  If the silence is killing you, try restating the question, calling on someone, or telling them you want a certain number of answers before you'll move on to motivate the shy and lethargic. 

First: Call on someone to come up, read the scripture, and decide what Jesus is teaching us.  For Senior Primary, I'll have them write it on the board and with Junior Primary, I'll grab a picture from the library that goes along with each scripture to stick on the board.

Second: Talk about how Jesus lived that scripture in His life.  It may be because I'm already excited for next year's theme, but I really want to relate each to Jesus life.  During conference, one of the speakers said while we cannot all walk where Jesus walked, we can all walk AS He walked which really spoke to me and relates fantastically to this weeks theme (I can't remember the speaker, although I did find another great talk while I was looking for it by Elder Gavarett).

Third: Discuss ways each family to do something during the next week to work on that specific instruction.  What ACTION can they take?  Can they encourage their siblings?  Remind parents?  Do a random act of kindness?  Give ideas and if time permits, let each child have a turn telling you something they can do.

I'm going to close with a quote from Elder L. Tom Perry's fantastic talk in October's General Conference "Finding Lasting Peace and Building Eternal Families." 

"Men and women are shaped partly by those among whom they choose to live. Those to whom they look up and try to emulate also shape them. Jesus is the great Exemplar. The only way to find lasting peace is to look to Him and live."

I might add or change the beginning to say boys and girls to help the kids relate it directly to them.  I'll then bear my testimony of the great truth Elder Perry taught. 

We are so very blessed.

Happy Sharing Time,

Thursday, October 9, 2014

October Primary Sharing Time - "The Family: A Proclamation to the World" Came From God to Help My Family

I've been thinking about this weeks sharing time for a few weeks.  I've read through the outline a few times, but finally sat down today to iron out my plans.

My first thought as I re-read the outline was that I wanted to start with a really great quote from one of our modern day prophets about the importance of prophets and their continuing revelation.

My second thought, as I started my search was my thankfulness for the internet.  Seriously.  How in the world did we figure out anything before the internet?  Okay, okay, I know how, I'm not that young, but it was so much more time consuming than tapping a few keys. 

After a minute or two of looking, I came across a FANTASTIC article by President Uchtdorf.  Aptly, it is titled, "Why Do We Need Prophets?"  The whole article is wonderful, but I've decided to start out talking about the Ten Commandments as suggested, discussing revelation just a little and then read my quote.  Along with being both wonderful and fantastic, the article is SHORT, so take a minute, read it over and decide what your primary most needs to hear.

President Uchtdorf said, "Today is not different from ages past. The Lord does not love the people of our day any less than in past times. One of the glorious messages of the Restoration of the Church of Jesus Christ is that God continues to speak to His children! He is not hidden in the heavens but speaks today as He did in ancient days."

I will then ask the kids to give me some examples.  How is God speaking to us today through our prophets?  If no one mentions the Family Proclamation, I'll add that in, although we have been talking about it a lot so I'll be surprised if no one mentions it.

We'll then discuss it's purpose.  Why were our modern day prophets and apostles inspired to issue it?

I love the idea of breaking up the Proclamation and having the kids pick songs that go with it.

I'll make sure to pick up some song books from the library and maybe even quickly review how to use an index as we're passing them out so they have an easier time finding songs on their own. 

I also think I might mix the classes up, at least in junior primary, so there are older kids who can lead the younger ones as opposed to the teachers doing it on their own.  We'll do something simple like count off and then quickly switch seats.

Here are some ideas I came up with based on a few sentences I pulled out of the Proclamation:

IN THE PREMORTAL REALM, spirit sons and daughters knew and worshiped God as their Eternal Father and accepted His plan by which His children could obtain a physical body and gain earthly experience to progress toward perfection and ultimately realize his or her divine destiny as an heir of eternal life.

HUSBAND AND WIFE have a solemn responsibility to love and care for each other and for their children. “Children are an heritage of the Lord” (Psalms 127:3).

Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness, to provide for their physical and spiritual needs, to teach them to love and serve one another, to observe the commandments of God and to be law-abiding citizens wherever they live.

THE FAMILY is ordained of God.

By divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families. Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children.

Successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities.
There are many more songs that would fit and many of these are interchangeable.  I looked up a few just in case a class is well and truly stymied.  Although I'll first try to help (or have a teacher help) them by showing them where to look in the book.

Having given the ideas, I feel I do need to say that I plan to let the kids choose what they want as long as they can somehow show how it links to the sentence. 

Even if it's a bit off base.  Why?

I see the point of this exercise to be getting their juices flowing, get them really thinking about what the Proclamation means and thereby, hopefully, more deeply understand how it can affect their lives if they live it.  That will only happen as they thoughtfully choose their own songs. 

Even if the thoughtfulness goes into trying to explain how a song that might not seem to fit on the surface does work.

I'll close with one more quote from President Uchtdorf, "Brothers and sisters, God does speak to us today. And He desires that all His children listen to and heed His voice. As we do so, the Lord will bless and uphold us greatly, both in this life and through the worlds to come."

I love augmenting my closing testimony with that of our leaders.  Love it.  It helps me to feel the spirit and more easily share it with the rest of the primary.

Good luck on your week!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

2015 LDS Sharing Time Outline - Outline

Nope, that's not a typo in my heading.  I have for you today an outline of the 2015 outline. 

I've been checking pretty regularly to see if 2015's outline was up and I still missed it.  Thankfully, a lovely reader sent me a note letting me know and I jumped right online.

After doing a little copying and pasting, I made myself an outline with the monthly themes, scriptures and songs.  I'll be using it to make posters, schedules and to help me as I'm coming up with our focus(es) for next year. 

Then I thought, maybe some of you would like it also.  Would you?

So, I uploaded it to my google drive and made it open to the public.  That means you.  You don't have to request permission to share or anything.  Share away. 

As I mentioned several weeks ago, I've got ideas swirling around for next year.  In fact, I'm pretty darn excited, but I haven't made any firm decisions yet. 

So, I'd love to hear any wonderful, fun, amazing or simple ideas you've come across or thought up yourself!!


Thursday, September 11, 2014

Getting Your Homeschool Groove On?

I've been thinking lately about how long it takes to get into a new homeschool groove.  Even if you don't stop for a long summer break like we do, there will always be times when you start new curriculum or new activities which require a slightly, or more than slightly, different schedule. 

Our first couple weeks were spent trying out our new curriculum and adapting to having an additional full time schooler I needed to help every day.  It was interesting because we swung between much shorter than normal days due to only reading through instructions and much, MUCH longer due to trying to implement those unfamiliar instructions. 

I think we're starting to even out a little bit this week.  Of course, it'll take more than one week to be sure, but after having shorter days and longer days, things seems to be settling in the middle.  I'm finally seeing our groove, thank goodness.

If you're still struggling, or just starting out, my only tip is to keep moving.  I know, it's not profound.  It seems to take time, no matter how much planning I do, I have to put in the time to feel out and adjust to the new-ness.

So, how are things going for you?  Do you have any tips to help get into a groove faster?   

Happy Homeschooling!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

2015 LDS Primary Theme - I Know My Savior Lives

Wahoo!!  The church announced the new theme this week!  They don't have the new Sharing Time Outline up yet (as of today), but the theme is a great starting point.

Does anyone else get excited?  I mean jump of your chair excited?

Okay, for those of you that have been around the block a little bit, you may have noticed that we seem to be on a 5 year cycle and as a result, not be too surprised by next years theme, but I feel it's not official until it's announced.  They could always change their minds, right?

Just in case you were wondering, I got jump off my chair excited.  Well, I wasn't actually in my chair when I heard, but if I had been I would have jumped off. 

First things first, just in case you don't recognize the adorable graphic of the Savior surrounded by children above, it was done by the talented artist from the website Melonheadz.  She's got so many great graphics.  If you haven't, you should really check it out.

Now, on to second things (and maybe a few more after that).  I spent a while, maybe a few hours, online today checking out things here and there.  Seeing as it was the theme in 2010, I figured I could find a few things and I did.  I pinned a few to my pinterest board if you'd like to check it out.

I found enough fun ideas that I haven't stopped thinking about them all afternoon.  I can feel all the ideas jumbling around and I keep running to my primary binder to write my own ideas down.  I can already feel our birthday gift, spotlights, bulletin boards and an activity beginning to come together in my head.

I love planning.  A lot.

I would love to hear ideas you come across as you start to think about how we can use the theme to touch and teach our primary children!!

Good luck and have FUN!!


9-26-2014 - The outline is up online, yay!!  I made myself an outline of the outline, you can read about it and download it on this post.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

First Days of School

I'm not sure if I said it before, mostly because I'm pretty sure my brain is really going, for real this time, but I was fairly terrified of the first day of school.  The first week of school.  And then, maybe, the whole month. 

While the month is still up for grabs in the terrified or not department, after finishing the first week, I have to say I was pleasantly surprised.

Actually, amazed and astounded would be a much more accurate description.

Now, before you think we've already comfortably settled into our daily routine, we haven't.  Our first few days were shorter.  The schedule was lighter.  Which made a huge difference in the tone our of days, helping to make those first few days as great as they were.

That and my children were just fantastic. 

I can't help but compare these first few days with the end of our last school year.  They did not go great.  We were all ready to be done (that I remember mentioning before, maybe I haven't completely lost it yet) and smooth wasn't what it went. 

Agitated, clamorous, complicated, difficult, rough, turbulent, and unstable more closely define our last few weeks.  Just in case you were wondering, those are all antonyms for smooth.  As well as a pretty darn great definition of our last weeks last school year.

Not this week though.  We were smiley and working hard.

Okay, Ben wasn't smiling, but I did surprise him with the picture.  He smiled afterwards, does that count?


The first week taught me to have hope.  Even while changing our schedule, starting new curriculum and adding another child to my homeschool schedule, things can go smoothly.  We can even have a good time doing it.  I know so because it happened so.

Happy schooling,

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Happy New School Year

My oldest child was sad to discover that her plan to pretend school wasn't really starting this morning, alternated with yelling, "OH NO!!" over and over, did not in fact stop it coming.

While there are always things we love about school, none of us love trying to get back into the groove after a whole summer away. 

Today Makenna informed me that History is her new favorite curriculum.  Why?  It's one of the few that remained the same from last year.  I think it feels like a comfortable, old friend and the rest feel new and scarey. 

Fortunately, the solution to the new and scarey is to get going.  After a few weeks, we'll be back in the swing of things.  Yep, we will.  For sure.  Mostly sure.

What I am sure of is that my children like making funny face pictures a whole lot more than the smile and try to look good (please) pictures. 

Josh started Kindergarten today.  My baby.  He's also the only one that jumps up and down shouting things like, "Zip-ee-day-dazz!" whenever I mention school.

After expressly telling anyone who would listen that he was NOT looking foward to school, James excitedly told his grandmother that today was AWESOME! 

And I just have to say, his funny face picture is a little freaky.  It looks like his head is stretching out toward the left.  Not normal.  I haven't shown him yet, he's going to love it.

Do you think Ben looks a little bit like a little old man in that first picture?  Good, I'm glad it's not just me. 

Makenna is in 8th grade. 

Yes, I know you can read, I've been repeating it to myself at random intervals today and thought I'd share.  She's growing up.  I know, crazy right?

People can tell you and tell you, but until you actually experience it, I'm pretty sure you can't know what it's like to watch your children grow. It's exhilarating and terrifying at the very same time.

Our first day went pretty good, better than I was expecting.  Probably due to my awesome kids.

We have some wrinkles, but I'm sure they'll work their way out as we keep on keepin' on.

Happy first day of school, from our slightly strange and wonderful family to yours!


Sunday, August 17, 2014

How to Plan Your Sharing Time in 5 Easy Steps

Thank you so much for the wonderful emails you've sent thanking me for the sharing time ideas I've shared with you over the past year!!  As many of those emails also mentioned that you'd be missing my ideas, I thought I'd tell you all my sharing time planning secrets to give you a little boost.

We split up sharing time by month, so if you do it by week instead, just substitute the word week for month and it'll work pretty much the same.

1. The Sharing Time Outline

Get out your Sharing Time Outline in whatever format you prefer: hard copy, online, pdf and open it to the month you'll be doing sharing time for.  Then read it.  The whole month. 

Now, the important thing to keep in mind is that you need to do this about a week BEFORE your first lesson. 

Yes, I do know how very much fun those late Saturday night planning sessions are and if you'll keep reading, you'll discover you can still use them. 

2. Study Materials
The purpose of the reading is to get a feel for what the month is all about.  It's more a quick read than an in depth study, that's what this next step is all about. 
Next, I get onto lds dot org and move on over to their General Conference section so I can search for the different topics I'll be teaching throughout the month.  From the link in the previous sentence, there is a search box in the middle of your screen that says "Search Conference." 
Make sure you don't click on the box in the upper right hand corner, that searches the whole website.
For example, in the month of August, I typed in things like: family prayer, family home evening and family scripture study.  If the talk looks like it goes along with my topic, I'll click on it and skim the first paragraph or two to see if it really does fit.  Those that do, I print.
While you can print it out from lds dot org, I prefer to copy and paste into my word processor so I can format it all the same and save some paper and ink.
I limit myself to two talks per topic (at the most), otherwise it's too much to keep up with.  Very overwhelming.
3. Read
Read the talks you've found.  Some months I have more time than others and I read through all the talks at once.  Other months I break it up and read them one week at a time. 
If you have a chance, I'd suggest reading them all at once.  The weeks often go together and I'll find ideas, quotes, and inspiration for week one in a talk I've printed for week three (just as an example).
4. Percolate
After I read through the Sharing Time Outline and the articles, I like to think about it for a few days.  I'll often have ideas occur to me while reading through one or both of them, but I still like to have time to think it over, to let inspiration have time to soak its way in.
5. Plan
After taking the time to think and pray, I read through the Sharing Time Outline again, just for the next Sunday, to plan
As you're reading through, as you're making plans, the most important thing to remember is to KEEP IT SIMPLE. 
You only need two things.  An activity to teach and involve the children and the Holy Ghost. 
Of course, we cannot make anyone feel the Holy Ghost no matter what we do, but I decided not long after I started working in the primary that my only job is to offer.  I try to invite the Spirit as I teach and pray that those I'm teaching will feel God's love for them.
I thought about and even started to write a few different paragraphs on where to find activity ideas and how to go about it...but I kept deleting them.  If you've done some research, read through the Sharing Time Outline and prayed, you will find what your primary needs.  That might mean it occurs to you while you're in the shower (I'm not sure why, but that seems to be my idea spot, I need some waterproof paper), you'll find that the Sharing Time Outline is perfect or maybe you'll "stumble" across it while perusing on the internet.  It will happen and you don't need my help.  Trust me.
Heavenly Father wants your sharing time to be a success.  He is there, giving us inspiration and trying to help us along the way.  The point of this whole process is to give Him the openings to penetrate our often very full lives. 
Happy Sharing Time!
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