Sunday, February 23, 2014

March Sharing Time - I Can Gain a Testimony Of Jesus Christ

President Ezra Taft Benson gave a fantastic talk about being valiant in our testimonies of Jesus Christ.  In fact, it's so good, I was really tempted to scrap all the ideas from the Sharing Time Outline and use his list defining what a testimony of Jesus Christ includes instead.

While I'm still going to use that list sometime (I'm thinking for a family home evening this month), I truly believe that the outline is inspired and teaches what our primary children most need to hear. 

Later on in that same talk, President Benson quotes Heber C. Kimball talking about testimony.

"If you have not got the testimony, live right and call upon the Lord and cease not till you obtain it. ... If you don't have it, you will not stand; therefore seek for the testimony of Jesus and cleave to it, that when the trying time comes you may not stumble and fall."

I love so many things about this quote.

It's simplicity for one thing.  If you don't have a testimony, live right, pray and don't stop until you gain one. 

I also love how it teaches us to cleave unto our testimonies.  Not just have one, but CLEAVE unto it so that when those hard times come (and then come again or just don't go away to begin with), we will NOT stumble and fall.

Our testimonies can be anchors that give "stability or confidence in an otherwise uncertain situation."   I think you could pretty much define life itself as an uncertain situation.

Before we can gain a testimony of Jesus, we first have to learn of Him.  To help the kids think about what they've learned about Jesus and when they learned it, tell them the story about President Faust whose grandmother taught him that he would always be safe because Jesus was watching over him.

After relating the story, ask them if something they've learned about Jesus has helped them in their lives.  Because this isn't a question with a stock answer, it may take some perseverance to wait for an answer.  You can give them another example from your own life, but don't be afraid (or just ignore your fear like I try to) to wait through the silence.  These kinds of question allow them the opportunity to bear their testimonies, which will help them to grow and teach each other.

After they've had a chance to share their experiences, you can teach them some different ways they can, we all can, continue to grow our testimonies.  This is a great continuation of last weeks agency lesson where we talked about how our choices either bring us closer to Heavenly Father or lead us off on a detour.  This week, following the same principle, our choices either lead us to a stronger testimony or not.

I probably have a rope somewhere in my garage, but I think it would be easier to use colored paper.  They've got a variety of different colors in our library (and every ward library I've been in), but if yours doesn't, you could use what you have at home (even if it's white).  Lay them up the isle or across the front of the room and use each sheet just like the knots in the example.  This week the Sharing Time Outline even provides a link to some great wordstrips. 

If you've downloaded the 2014 Sharing Time Outline, open it up, go to March Week 1 and click the link on the words "sample wordstrips."  It has to be one you've downloaded, not one you've just opened from lds dot org for the link to work.

You can print out these "I Can Gain" and "A Testimony of Jesus Christ" signs to use in your primary.

Being valiant in our testimonies of Jesus does not mean we'll always make the right choice.  It means that we'll keep trying: we'll get up, dust ourselves off, and (after eating a chocolate cookie or two) continue trying to follow our Savior's perfect example.  My mantra is to keep it simple and just keep walking.  I know that progress CAN be made one small step at a time.


Wednesday, February 19, 2014

What a Wonderful Valentine

I know it was last week and all, but I have to share with you how well our Valentines went. 

The reason it went so well?  I had very little to do with it. 

Well, that's not entirely true, but I did make myself stand back and not participate other than to say things like, "That looks awesome!" because I have a tendency to think everyone is doing things wrong if it isn't the way I'd do them. 

Before we got started (minutes before, while my kids were outside on lunch recess) I got on Pinterest so I could copy and paste some starting off points.

This is what I ended up with. 

As they came back inside, I told them they could make whatever they wanted.

After they got over the shock (maybe some slight exaggeration), they ran to get some crafting supplies and dug in.

They all sat there for MORE THAN TWO HOURS!  Every one of them (ages 4 through 12) LOVED making various heart animals, naming them and creating elaborate back stories for each and every creation (okay, that last one was mostly just the 12 year old). 

I couldn't believe how little work it was for me and how darn much fun they had.

To keep myself close enough to nod enthusiastically at their creativity, but far enough away to allow for it to happen, I made some sugar cookie dough on the other side of the kitchen.

As it was rolled and ready, they came over and cut out various heart shaped cookies, because, you know, it isn't really a party unless there's food involved. 

I'm sorry, but it's true.

We'd planned to decorate them after they'd cooled, but my super amazing husband came home early and took me out.  Surprise!

A few days later, as I was going through the pictures on my camera, I found this one...

I guess they decided to decorate a few without me. 

So, the moral of the story is, structured creativity (is that a real thing?) is good for my soul, but letting the kids take off on their own is pretty darn long as I'm not too close.

Hope you had a FANTASTIC V-day!


Sunday, February 16, 2014

February Sharing Time - Agency is the Gift to Choose for Myself

We often talk about agency simply as the gift to choose.  It is so much more and, also, maybe a little less.

No matter what happens around us, what country or laws we must live with, we CHOOSE who we are.  It is such an awesome blessing.

It isn't that it's less really, but even though I know better, I find myself equating the gift to choose with more than just making a choice.  Somehow, I sometimes feel that when I make choices, I'm also choosing the result or consequence of that choice.  That's not possible.  We do not, ever, get to choose the consequence of our choices.  That's not to say that some choices have a better probability of certain consequences, but because we aren't omniscient, we can't tell exactly how things will ripple out...or back in.

Elder Robert D. Hales said that "agency is to act with accountability and responsibility for our actions."  I love it.  Agency isn't just making a choice, it's accepting the consequences of those choices and continuing to choose well no matter what.

He also said, "By our righteous choices and actions, we liberate [ourselves] from darkness by increasing [our] ability to walk in the light."  Our choices don't just eliminate darkness, they ALLOW us to walk in the light, to leave the darkness behind.  Awesome.

I like the introductory object lesson with one small addition.  It does introduce choices as a parrallel to agency, but I think it's important to note that some choices matter and others...don't.

2 Nephi 2:27 says we are free to choose one of two things, "liberty and eternal life" or "captivity and death."  Stated like that it's the simplest of choices, unfortunately most of our choices don't feel like that.  That's one reason I really like the idea of having the kids work their way through a variety of choices and consequences.  I think we could all use some practice.

I found a few different activities aside from the role playing mentioned in the Sharing Time Outline to give you a few options.

This first idea is my favorite.  And it's my favorite because of the consequences, or how the way the consequences are given is just like real life.  I found this great idea on Primary In Zion and another thing I like about it is how simple it is.  After setting out the word strips you've made (or the ones I've made, either Microsoft Word or PDF) containing a variety of different choices, have two children come up to the front of the room.

One child gets to choose the choice (just like we each get to make our own choices everyday) and the other child gets to decide what they think the consequence will be (just like we don't get to choose what will happen after we make our choice).  I love how it brings home the idea that consequences come along with every single choice we make AND we don't get to choose them.

The last two ideas are similar in that they both use a game board.   One of them (found on Little LDS Ideas) uses a path moving straight toward eternal life and along the path there are places where you have to stop in order to make a choice.  If a good choice is made, you get to continue on the straight and narrow.  If a poor choice is made, you are off on a detour.  It would be easiest to draw a pathway on a chalkboard or white board, but if you'd prefer I sort of made one...on accident.  I wanted a picture for the top of my post and ended up making this whole entire gameboard (with the very talented Susan Fitch's primary children).  So, I have it both as a jpg (so you can make it any size you want) and a pdf (preset to a 20x20 size)

My favorite part is that after making a wrong choice, in order to get back onto the path, the kids have to decide what they've done wrong, how they can fix it and how they could've made a better choice in the first place.  This pathway could use the very same word strip choices I mentioned in the above example, they're just presented in a different way.

The last idea is a take on Chutes and Ladders and it's also done by the talented artist Susan Fitch.  Her pictures give you the choices made and as you progress through the board, you can take the time to talk about each one.  All you have to do is print it out.  Easy peasy (as my kids would say).

In that same talk (it's a really great one!) by Elder Hales, he testifies "...that by making the same choice to follow the Savior now, while we are here on earth, we will obtain an even greater blessing in the eternities.  But let it be known: we must continue to choose to follow the Savior.  Eternity is at stake, and our wise use of agency and our actions are essential that we might have eternal life."

I know that agency is a gift and a great blessing.  Possibly the greatest.  I also know that with great blessing comes great responsibility.  I am a little overwhelmed as I think about it, but I'm more inspired by the confidence that our Heavenly Father places in each of us.  Of course we will all make poor choices, but that doesn't mean that we can't dust ourselves off, remember His unending love, and keep trying to do a better job. 


Wednesday, February 12, 2014

2014 Winter Olympics

First, is everyone else out there loving the Olympics?  I'm not sure what it is, but I can sit there and watch it for hours.  Maybe there's some sort of hypnotism going on.

Second, am I the only one who never realized the opening ceremonies don't actually OPEN the Olympics?  Preliminaries in many events start before the ceremony.  I know, this really shows how novice I am at watching the Olympics, but it really seems like an opening ceremony would, you know, open it?

Third, I found the perfect activity for my kids to do to learn more about the Olympics.  It's a great (and it's only a quarter!) lap book.  If you aren't familiar with lapbooking, it's a fun and simple way to get your kids into any subject, one small project at a time (and by small, I mean 10-15 minutes!).  All you need to complete the activities is 3 file folders per child, a printer, scissors and glue.

And the activity?  Each of the folders covers a different part of the Olympics.  Folder #1 covers the history of the Olympic, folder #2 is all about our modern day Olympics, and folder #3 gives the kids an opportunity to learn about some of the different events this Olympics.

I know the Olympics have already started, so you might think it's too late to get started, but the only section that is really time sensitive is the third and thanks to the internet, you can still watch who won with your kids (or tell them, or have them write their favorite thing about that specific sport or an interesting fact about it instead).

We've been having a lot of fun learning about the Olympics and putting together our lapbooks...just look at Makenna.

We'll be finishing up the first folder this week.  We started pretty slow, but have picked up speed the last few days.  I'm still not sure we'll finish it before the closing ceremony, but I don't mind. 

I was even thinking today that if I had my plate full, I might pick up the lapbook file anyway to use for the next Olympics.  It wouldn't take much to alter a few parts for summer Olympics in two years. 

This is one of my favorite projects we've worked on this year, what's yours?


Sunday, February 9, 2014

February Sharing Time - My Body is Created in the Image of God

This week's theme brought back a memory.  One that's resurfaced several times over the years and each time I'm thankful for the knowledge that I have.

When I was in middle school I went to a slumber party and somehow, during the night we ended up in a discussion about what we would be like after we died.  Now, I grew up in northwest Oregon and while I did have some friends who were LDS, there weren't any at the party and we all had different ideas.  The one I remember best and have thought about over and over is that we are almost nothing once we die.  We're alive, but in a formless, bodiless sort of way.  And what do we do?  Nothing.  If we've done what we're supposed to, if we were good, we'll be happy in that state.  The whole teaching is based off the understanding that God is the same way.  He is formless, not human.

I am so thankful for the knowledge that we were created in the image of God, we are like Him and we can become like Him.  Our earth life is only one small part of our existence.  We will be learning and growing for eternity (which I think it pretty darn cool).  This knowledge gives me a great sense of purpose and direction.

Elder Russell M. Nelson said, "God is the Father of our spirits.  He has a glorified, perfected body of flesh and bone.  We lived with Him in heaven before we were born.  And when He created us physically, we were created in the image of God, each with a personal body."

I love the idea of using a mirror to introduce the idea of an image.  It will really drive home the knowledge that, yes, this is your image and when we are taught that we're made in the IMAGE of God, it's literal.  As they are looking at themselves, and after you've asked and talked about what exactly an image is, read Genesis 1:27 and see if they can tell you what it means.  Both just definition and what it means for them in their lives.

I think the dice game could be fun, but I saw another idea I like better.  On Sofia's Primary Ideas, she had a great idea I'd like to tweak just a little bit.  Her idea is to bring up one child, show the rest of the primary a picture of one body part and then have the primary give the child you've brought to the front clues to get them to guess which body part.

I'd like to switch it up just a little bit by making it like the game Hedbanz.  Have you played it?  Instead of showing the rest of the primary a picture of the body part, stick the picture in a headband (it's one that goes across the forehead and would probably be easiest if you either have the game or access to it).  After the child guesses the body part, have them tell you how this body part is a blessing and/or how Heavenly Father would like them to use it.

Part of the purpose I derive from the knowledge that I was created in the image of my Heavenly Father comes from the potential this gives me.  I CAN be like Him.  When I make a mistake, instead of allowing guilt to bring me down, I think about how I can be strong, stand up and continue to try.  I CAN be like Him.  What a blessing it is!

President Monson taught us, "At times many of us let that enemy of achievement - even the culprit "self-defeat" - dwarf our aspirations, smother our dreams, cloud our vision, and impair our lives.  The enemy's voice whispers in our ears, "You can't do it." "You're too young." "You're too old." "You're nobody." This is when we remember that we were created in the image of God.  Reflection on this truth provides a profound sense of strength and power."


I've put together some pictures for a Hedbanz game (or to show the kids without a headband) that you can download if you'd like.  I've also made this handout (included in the download linked to above) so they can think about what they learned during the game and choose a way to use their bodies to serve their Father in Heaven.

Have a great Sharing Time!

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Happy Groundhog's Day!

Before I get started, I need to have an honest moment.  

I've been slacking on the project front for months.  My kids love them, but for some reason, I just procrastinate putting them together until, almost all of a sudden, it's been 3 months without a project.

My goal for the rest of school is to plan one, simple project each month.  Plan and then DO (I'm pretty good with the planning). 

Okay, now that we're clear, HAPPY GROUNDHOGS DAY!!

I started off on my new goal right away by finding this cute Groundhogs Day craft on Pinterest and then getting it ready for my kids to do the same day.

For each child you'll need:
2 sheets of blue construction paper (or whatever color they decide the sky should be)
1 sheet of green construction paper (again, or whichever color they'd like the ground to be)
1 groundhog shadow (trace groundhog on black paper)
1 sun, clouds and possibly some snow (yellow and white construction paper)
Scissors and Glue

1. I used a math compass to draw circles as big as would fit on each sheet (you'll need 2 blue circles and 1 green for each child).

2. Either draw your own groundhogs or print these ones like I did.  I printed them wallet size and they fit perfectly.

3. Trace one groundhog on black paper for a shadow.

4. Cut out a circle for your sun, a few white clouds and maybe even a mound or two of snow (or use cotton balls for the clouds and snow, I just didn't have any).  You can also cut out some small flowers or draw them on like we did.

5. Put them together by cutting the green circle in half and gluing one half to each blue circle.  Fold the blue circles in half leaving one half green and one half blue on the inside.  Glue the two blue circles together so you can flip back and forth between the groundhog seeing his shadow (sun, shadow, and snow on one circle) and not seeing his shadow (clouds and flowers).

He sees his shadow and we get 6 more weeks of winter.

It's cloudy, there's no shadow to be seen and SPRING IS HERE!
(can you tell which one I voted for?)

Here you can see how we glued the two blue circles together.

While I know there are lots of wonderful parents out there who love projects just as much as their children, just in case there are a few of you who end of having to make yourself (even when you like it after getting started), I have some advice.  Pick something small (even if it's the week after the holiday!) and then, just do it.

Hope you've had a fantastic Groundhogs Day (even though Punxatawney Phil predicted 6 more weeks of winter). 


February Sharing Time - Heavenly Father Commanded Jesus Christ to Create the Earth as a Home for His Children

This week is simple.  I love simple lessons.  They force me to focus more on other aspects of teaching a lesson, like helping the rest of the primary to feel God's love.

I would suggest hiding pictures of creation around the room, drawing kids names out, and letting the kids try and find one (alternatively, you could use two sets of pictures and play memory, following the rest of the instructions after a match is made).  After they've found a picture, have them come and stick it up in the front of the room.

Only, before they get to put it up, have them tell everyone what the creation is and why that creation is important in their lives.  I'm a big fan of specificity, so I would additionally suggest you encourage them to use specific examples from their lives.  How does the sun bless their lives?  Do they love to feel the warmth of the sun on their faces?  Do they love a certain flower because their mom planted them one (that's me and it's a lilac)?  It would be more fun and maybe even more memorable.

Do you want to know what the best part is?  I found all sorts of AWESOME creation printables.  I've separated them into two groups, one to use during the Sunday lesson and one to go home.  There are two you could use to hide around the room.  One uses circles, one circle for each day of creation.  The other has a sheet for each day of creation, with a few different examples/pictures on each page.  I think it really depends on how many items you'd like to hide around the room (and how much time you think each will take to go through them).

I also found a sheet that would work great for a handout.  It's one sheet that has the numbers 1-7 (for each day of creation) filled with pictures from that day for the kids to color.  My only problem with it is that it doesn't give them the opportunity to draw their own favorites, so perhaps you could use this one instead.  I found some blank numbers and I put them together into one sheet.

If you'd like to download it, please click over to google docs.

While today is all about Jesus as creator of earth and everything in it, I love this quote by Elder Russell M. Nelson where he talks about how we are each creators:

"We are to be creators in our own right - builders of an individual faith in God, faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and faith in His Church.  We are to build families and be sealed in holy temples.  We are to build the Church and kingdom of God upon the earth.  We are to prepare for our own divine destiny - glory, immortality, and eternal lives."

While I know we are to emulate our Savior in many different ways, I'd never thought about how we can follow His example as a creator.  But we can!  We create our lives every single day through all the decisions we make.

Happy Sharing Time,

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