Category Archives: faith & family

“Come Follow Me” New Testament Curriculum 2019: Prep

You might have heard about the New Testament Come Follow Me curriculum the church has released for 2019. Maybe you are overwhelmed about the whole thing and don’t know where to start. Or maybe you are excited and just want more ideas to add to your teaching tool belt. If so this blog post is for you!

We are following the lessons provided in the Come Follow Me manual. If you aren’t a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints it’s OK- this curriculum is for ALL who want to be more converted to Christ. It’s a bible based curriculum and is written for anyone that wants to learn more about Him and His teachings.

First things first, don’t be stressed out thinking you have to do a bazillion new things or that this curriculum is designed for professional educators. This program is designed for YOU. For your family. Doesn’t matter where you are religiously, your family dynamics, or your current knowledge of the New Testament.

In fact, if you look at it closely, it is actually a simpler approach to what a lot of you are already doing. This curriculum is family scripture study and family home evening lessons rolled into one  (with the added bonus of church teachers going over the same topics on Sundays). For those of us who are old enough to remember the old family home evening manuals you know how easy they are to use. This program is similar and aligns beautifully with the New Testament and our goal of conversion to Christ.

In this post we interchangeably use the phrases “family scripture study” and “family home evening” but they both refer to the same thing- a special time each week where gospel learning takes place in the home. We plan on using this new curriculum on Sunday and then spend one day during the week doing an activity that corresponds with the lesson. Do what works best for your family.

One of my FAVORITE quotes by Steven Covey is to “begin with the end in mind”. We ultimately want to begin with the end goal of conversion- no matter where we are individually on our spiritual journey, the goal is simply growing and strengthening that relationship with the Savior.

To help carry out that principle of beginning with the end in mind we find that it helps to have a game plan before beginning the program. This blog post covers some basic tips that can help you plan your year- to ultimately make this the best year of family scripture study EVER!!!

Bible Preparation

Scripture Passports

You are about to embark on a journey of the New Testament with your family. You have your scripture suitcase and your excitement to read … all you need now is your passport.

The scripture passports list each week’s reading passages. Kids can get stickers or small stamps to place on their passport as they complete the weekly reading assignment. It would also be super easy to just color in the circles. Just think- by the end of the year your child could have 12 completed passports that show their adventure with the New Testament.

Click on the pic below to download the Scripture Passport PDFs for January- June.

Click here to download the Scripture Passports PDFs for July- December.

You can use these passports as bookmarks- easy peasy! You can also place them in cute little library card pockets and place them in little bible books or bible journals for your kids. What is a bible journal? Read on…..

Journals

Our kids might say something like this if they could articulate some of their worries about church:

Mom, I am having a difficult time connecting topics from week to week in church and would really like a strategy to help me make those connections. It would be great to document my learning in a fun way that is individualized and yet can help me remember the scriptures.

We know making personal connections and reflecting on your learning is an INCREDIBLE tool we can use during family scripture study.

And what better way to document all of this than with a cute journal or bible book. 🙂 This will be the place where kids can write questions, summarize the scriptures they just read, draw pictures of their favorite bible stories, add pictures of faith centered family field trips (more info on that at the bottom of this post), insert stickers, cut and paste little charts and information about the weekly topic… whatever works for you and your family!

The goal of this journal is to have a physical reminder of each family member’s conversion to Christ through the New Testament.

Everyone will journal differently, and that’s OK. My husband has agreed to write notes and reflections on a google doc. That is what will work best for him. My daughter will probably include dragon pictures on several pages of her journal and that’s ok- this is a book of her conversion, not mine- and I want to keep this a positive experience and not one where I am dictating my personal opinions.

We will have printables for each weekly theme for your family to use in their scripture journals as they see fit. You can have them make a collage of their favorite quotes, answer some of the questions, … whatever will work best for your family.

To download the introductory journal pages, click on the image below. This will include some printables you can use in your scripture journals before 2019 to prepare for the year. There is also a list of some ideas of what to include in your journal/ supply kits.

Connections

We can’t emphasis enough the importance of making connections to solidify your learning. Whether it’s through previous experiences or things that you are going through today, take the time to reflect on how the scriptures and gospel topics connect to you. The scriptures will mean more to us if we can make them connect to us.

Connections to Family History

We can make connections to our scriptures through family history! We are both genealogy nerds and want to share what we have learned about our ancestors with our families. One way to incorporate family history connections in your gospel study is to find a story of an ancestor that goes with each weekly theme. You can place the story and a picture of that ancestor (if available) in a family history binder.

Imagine- by the end of the year you could have 52 stories of ancestors! If you can’t find stories that go along with each weekly theme, share conversion to Christ stories or stories that you feel will benefit your family the most.

Click on the  Family History Binder image below to download the cover.

Connections through Service

You can also make great connections to the scriptures through service! Christ was the ultimate example of serving others. Let Him guide you to others in need of a helping hand.

Allow others to serve your family by sharing their conversion stories with you. Take advantage of grandparents or people in your ward. Be sure to include what you learned in your bible journals. We also had the idea to take pictures of your child with the person they interviewed to help them remember their experiences.

Click on the  January 2019 Questions for grandparents  link to download a list of interview questions. It’s a good idea to share this list first with grandparents or those your child will be interviewing so they can have time to ponder on how to best answer the questions.

Organization

Keeping your ideas organized can make for a more efficient family home evening or scripture time. Believe me- I have wasted so much time sorting through ginormous stacks of papers looking for things. Organization now can be a wonderful framework so you can focus on the meaning of the lesson and not have to worry about those handouts that mysteriously disappeared.

There are several ways you can organize your printables, learning materials, and ideas. Choose a system that works best for YOU. And don’t be afraid to change it up a bit if it doesn’t work for you… For us, organization makes us happy (and partially sane) and so finding the right system was important. But not everyone is like that- you might thrive better when things aren’t so structured and that’s totally ok! Just take what works for you and OWN it!

Here are a few ideas that we came up with:

File Folders

This is a great solution in keeping those handouts, lesson plans, pictures, etc. sorted.

Pros? Folders are inexpensive and store materials neatly. This system allows you to easily add materials for upcoming lessons- you could even organize materials for the whole year if you’re feeling adventurous!

Cons? A lot of extra work if you don’t plan on having handouts or extra materials.

Download the Come Follow Me file folder labels by clicking on the image below.

Plastic Drawers

I love the idea of grabbing our plastic drawer for the week full of activities and journaling supplies, plopping down on the couch, and starting our family scripture time. That’s the beauty of the plastic drawers. They are clear so you can see what materials are inside, they are big enough that you can add some craft materials or a church DVD, and you could plan a few weeks in advance.

Pros? It’s beautiful, organized, and allows you to add bigger items that a file folder can’t .

Cons? Expensive. And there’s not a drawer for every week of the year (that would be REALLY expensive) so you would have to change out contents of the drawers regularly. But it’s so cute that I think it might be worth it!

Download the Drawer Labels by clicking on the image below.

Accordion Folder

This is a great option for those that want the efficiency of file folders but with the added perk of portability. You can easily grab this and carry your family home evening plans without papers falling everywhere.

Pros? Prices range depending on your budget, it’s easy to carry, and you can close it.

Cons?  Like the plastic drawers, there aren’t enough spaces for every week so you will have to update your files every so often.

Teacher Planner

Mapping out your activities and ideas is a great way to organize your thoughts. As you read the lesson each week in preparation to teach your family, impressions will come to mind on different strategies or materials to use that will make a difference. Write these down. The Spirit will guide you on how to teach this curriculum specifically for YOUR family.

Our family home evenings will follow a basic outline- song, prayer, lesson, reflections, etc. Nothing too over the top. Using a simple structure like this each week will help our children to begin teaching gospel centered family instruction.

Click on the Monthly Planner or Weekly Planner links to download the PDFs.

Monthly Calendar

You are not alone if this whole curriculum thing sounds a bit confusing. A calendar is a great way to visually map out when you are teaching each topic and when you are learning about that topic in church. It’s also a great way to add special family activities or service projects during the week that correspond with your weekly lesson.

Click on the image below to download the calendar for the first three months of 2019.

Getting the Kids Excited

Your new family home evening/family scripture study curriculum can be EXCITING for your kids! How, you may ask? The first thing is to be enthusiastic yourself. Find something you are genuinely excited about- maybe it’s the extra time spent learning the gospel with your family, organizing the materials, making bible journals with your kids, or helping your kids be more converted to Christ. Let that excitement- however small- be the spark for your family night flame.

Here are some other ideas to spark excitement:

Mission: New Testament

If you choose to do scripture journals with your family, why not make getting their supplies a great adventure!

Prepare your kids by making this activity like a top secret mission. You can create intriguing invitations with manilla envelopes that explain their mission (escape room or scavenger hunt), special security name badges, … all very official to peak your child’s interests.

We came up with a fun little escape room that is sure to get even teenagers excited. If an escape room seems like too much work, we came up with a simpler scavenger hunt that can be used in your home. Both of these activities have the same prize at the end: their new scripture journals or notebooks and supplies.

Click on the image below to download the  Scripture Scavenger Hunt/Escape Room activities.

Tic Tac Toe Boards

Give your family the power of choice while learning gospel topics. A basic tic tac toe board allows kids to choose three activities to complete (as long as they are in a row). Anna had a great idea to laminate the boards and reuse them every so often.

Click on the image below to download the Tic Tac Toe activity boards.

Learning Celebrations

Use the power of parties to make learning fun! Have a New Year’s theme party to kick off your study of the New Testament. Host a little heart party in February to get your kids excited to do service for others. Grab some glow sticks and have a night party in the dark talking about the power of Christ’s light in our lives. It can be as simple as inviting neighbors over and munching on popcorn while watching bible videos.

You may want to have little celebrations with your family as they complete their scripture passports or memorize scripture verses. The possibilities are as endless as your imagination.

Sharing Time

Teaching is a great way to learn. Give your child time each week/month to share their favorite parts of the lesson or their favorite pages in their bible journals. We plan on having small neighborhood sharing times which will work GREAT for me since my tween is all about her friends right now. I imagine our sharing times like a combination of show & tell and a mini book club. I don’t think it will take longer than 15 – 20 minutes to share and eat treats. Keep in mind what will work best for your family- maybe a community sharing time is too intimidating for your shy child or your teen would enjoy having an online sharing time using social media.

Faith Centered Family Field Trips

Mix it up by taking your family on a special outing to help them deepen their understanding of the gospel principles discussed each week. If you talked about the beautiful earth God has given us- head over to the park or outside in your garden and chat about their favorite things about our world. If you talked about temple work- drive to the temple and walk around the grounds. Stop by the laundromat and talk about how just like washing clothes, repentance can make us clean. While learning about the miracles of Jesus, go to a bakery to pick out some yummy bread (or visit a local fish market) and talk about how Christ was able to feed a large crowd with just five small loaves of bread and two fish. If you are at a loss on field trip ideas have no fear- we will have some suggestions for each weekly theme.

Again, do what works best for YOU. Don’t worry about what the neighbors’ are doing because their family needs will be different than yours. And worrying about keeping up with someone else might prevent you from getting those specific impressions from the Spirit that will help you and your family be more converted to Christ.

Happy TEACHing!


A LITTLE BIT ABOUT US

I am SO blessed to be working with a professional graphic designer on this project. Anna‘s initial enthusiasm for the new curriculum got me super excited (I get easily excited when it comes to lesson plans haha). We are two moms with two different talents who wanted to use these to help you implement this program into your home.


LOOKING FORWARD TO UPCOMING POSTS…..

Here are some upcoming blog posts that might help your family implement the new curriculum:

  • Using the Curriculum with Mixed Faith Families
  • January Activity Plans

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

For more information and ideas, visit the following links:

comefollowme.lds.org – this website has pretty much EVERYTHING  you could ever need to start the Come Follow Me curriculum: the manuals, links to media resources, instructions… please check it out.

pinterest – we have created pinterest boards that might aide you and your family in using the new curriculum at home. There are so many cute bible ideas that are out there on the web! We don’t need to reinvent the wheel when it comes to our lessons. 🙂

General Conference Puzzle

Who doesn’t love an interactive activity for kids to work on during general conference? I thought it would be fun to make a little puzzle. The plan is my daughter will fill out a few of these during conference talks. She will cut them out and place all the pieces in one baggie. During our next FHE (or in-between sessions) we will try to put the puzzles together- and my daughter can check to make sure we did it right. This will also be a great review for her since she will be checking our work. You want to make sure that there are at least two complete puzzles, otherwise it will be way too easy to put the puzzle back together.

Enjoy!

Happy TEACHing!

LDS Baptism Binder Freebie

When my daughter was approaching her 8th birthday, we wanted to properly prepare her to accept the invitation to be baptized. I had heard of families inviting the missionaries over to teach the discussions so they would know exactly what it means to be a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I think that is so cool! As a former missionary myself I thought I could  teach my daughter the discussions. I wanted her to have a way to be involved in the lessons, so I made some handouts to go with each of the discussions.

We read the scriptures on each handout, filled in the blanks, and then added a picture that corresponded with the topic. It was super easy and by the time we finished I felt she was more prepared to accept the invitation to be baptized.

For the cover of our binder I used my daughter’s baptism picture. In the pdf I am uploading to this post I have created a baptism binder cover that you can use as well.

Most of the pictures I chose for the baptism binder were found on the church’s website. I added some pictures of our family and my daughter in her baptism dress on a few of the pages. You may decide to have your child draw their own pictures. It’s totally up to you!

I am uploading the PDF I created to share with you! Just click on the link, download, and print!

Baptism Binder Freebie

Happy TEACHing!

 

*clipart by Melonheadz, P4 TriOriginals, and Teacher gumbo  *Font by KG Fonts

 

 

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Summer Punch Reward Cards

Summer is here! YAY! I thought this would be a great time to introduce a goal card to my daughter. The basic idea behind the card is that whenever a child accomplishes a task related to the goal, they get a punch. Kindness was something that I thought would be a good focus, and I was ELATED when I found a darling goal card from My Sweet Sanity. She also has a reading and chore card… so cute!!!!

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The plan is simple. For every act of kindness, we  punch her kindness card. When the kindness card is full, she can trade it in for a special summer treat or activity on the rewards card (which will also get punched.) This prevents my daughter from choosing swimming EVERY SINGLE TIME and gives her the power of choice.  And when she randomly wants to get an ice cream cone on a hot summer day, I can simply point out to her that she needs to fill out her kindness card first. The whole object is to get my daughter thinking about showing acts of KINDNESS more frequently.

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I thought it would be fun to attach both the kindness card and the summer rewards card to a lanyard to make it more “official”. 🙂 Plus I think it might be harder to lose (hopefully!). I simply placed the cards in plastic lanyard sleeves. But you could laminate the cards and attach those to the lanyard instead.

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The lanyard also allows for the cards to be worn when we are out on the town- so I can immediately reward her with punches for good, kind choices (as long as I carry a hole puncher with me!). And I just love this How to Train Your Dragon lanyard!!

Rewards on our pass include: ice cream cone, snow cone, trip to the dollar store, pizza night with friends, family movie night, day at the park, swimming, and family campout. Feel free to download our pass or use it as a guide to help you make your own! (Just click on the image file below to download the pass).
reward cards

And we just happened to get lucky- our summer reading program is using brag tags to motivate kids to read. This is something I can easily attach to our lanyard. I love it!!!

Now some might say that giving your child a tangible reward for service or kindness is not a good idea. And I agree with that, to an extent. When a bad habit needs to be broken , or a good habit needs to be formed, I am all for doing everything and anything to ensure that habit is set securely in place. Sometimes we need to modify our way of thinking and our actions with those extrinsic things that motivate us.

Happy Summer!

10 Ways to Ponderize the Scriptures with your Family

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I knew as soon as the conference talk was given that the word “ponderize”, which means to ponder and memorize scriptures, would become a huge movement for church members. I have already been invited to join a Facebook Ponderizing group and I have seen and heard family and friends eagerly open up their scriptures to ponder and memorize. This simple little made-up word has sparked a fire in scripture study!

I have been thinking of different ways that I can share this excitement  with my family. I have a daughter who will be baptized this month and it is important for me to teach her how to learn to apply and understand scriptures. I came up with a list of 10 different ways that we could use this principle of ponderizing with our children and family… because learning scriptures can be for EVERYONE! You can pick one of these ideas or combine different ideas to come up with a unique way to study the scriptures with your family.

The Ponderizing Pail

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This would be a fun way to include all your family members in the Ponderizing process. During your next family home evening, have each member of your family write 3 (or more) of their favorite scripture verses on slips of paper. I do want to make a quick note here that quotes from modern day prophets and apostles would make great ponderizing material, too! Fold up each slip of paper and place them in your ponderizing pail. Explain to your family that each week somebody will get to pick a paper from the pail. The scripture on that paper will be the one your family will ponderize for that week. At this time you will need to explain to your kiddos what the word ponderizing means. It might be kinda fun to have them predict the definition.

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Have the youngest child choose a paper from the pail. Read the verse together as a family. Have the person who wrote that scripture explain why they picked it. Then place the scripture somewhere that everyone will see it. Throughout the week, make references to that scripture. Use specific sentence prompts such as “This scripture helped me today by...”, “I applied this scripture today by…”, or “As I was thinking about the scripture, I felt that I needed to…” It may seem silly or awkward to use prompts, but I promise you that it will teach your kids how to verbally express their feelings about the scriptures. You will be their scripture comprehension role model! At the end of the week, during your next family home evening, have a little testimony meeting allowing kids and parents to share their experiences with the scripture of the week. Then repeat the process!

The Ponderizing Picture Frame

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Choose a scripture to ponderize with your family. You may want to use the Ponderizing Pail method. It might be more beneficial for your family to take a few minutes at the beginning of your family home evenings to pray and search the scriptures together to find the verse(s) that speak to your hearts. You could even designate one person each week to choose the scripture you will be ponderizing. After choosing your scripture, write or print the verse. Place the verse in a special picture frame located somewhere your whole family can see it on a regular basis. There are SO many cute picture frames you could buy for this activity. You may decide that instead of doing just one verse as a family, you each want to choose your own. If that is the case, how fun would it be to get picture frames from the dollar store for each family member and paint and/or decorate them. This would be a great way to get kids excited about their scriptures!

Ponderizing Journal Blank Template

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You may decide that you want your kids to keep a journal of their weekly scripture. I love journals! For younger kids, it may help them to have a template to organize their scripture study. If you choose to go this route, click on the link to download the ponderizing scripture template.

At the top of the page either write or paste a copy of the scripture. Throughout the week kids can draw pictures of what the verse means to them. Older kids can write their thoughts and feelings on the verse. Maybe your child had a great experience where the scripture helped them to make a good choice. That would be a great thing to record. Place the journal pages in either a family or individual binders or journals.

The Ponderizing Family Notebook

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If your kiddos are older, you may decide that you don’t need templates. A fun way to get family members engaged in a scripture is to make a ponderizing family notebook. The scripture is written or pasted at the top of a blank notebook page. Throughout the week, family members can record their thoughts, feelings, even questions underneath the scripture.

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The benefit of this is that there is only one notebook, so everyone can see and learn from each other. You can answer each others questions or place a smiley face next to thoughts that you enjoyed reading. This is another great way to model for younger kids how to start thinking about the scriptures. And it will be a great way for those family members who may by shy to communicate their feelings.

A New Twist on a Popular Memorizing Method

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A few months ago I came across a great way to memorize scriptures at Simple Charlotte Mason. I love it! I love that you only work on one new scripture to memorize at a time, and I love the review of past scriptures. It is amazing!!!

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I was thinking about how I could take this great memorizing system and apply it to ponderizing. Since it just focuses on memorizing, take it to a deeper and more meaningful level by writing thoughts, feelings, and experiences on the back of the index card. That way you are not only focused on memorizing the scripture, but you also have a place to record  your ponderings. As you review past scriptures, take the time to read and reread the back of the card. We can so quickly forget what we have learned!

Ponderizing Podcasts, Videos, & Puppetshows

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Maybe you have a child who doesn’t like writing  (haha I know NOTHING about what that is like!) For those audio/visual learners try recording a podcast or video of your family scripture of the week! During your next family home evening, choose a scripture (either with the ponderizing pail or through searching and choosing together as a family). Record your family reading the verse. To help your children memorize the verse, you may decide to have them make up “scripture cheers” or take familiar tunes and “sing the scripture”. Once the verse is memorized, record them either saying it or performing it! At the end of the week, record each family member sharing their thoughts, promptings, experiences, etc. with the verse. If kiddos are shy or want to try a different method of sharing, have them use puppets to express their learning. Puppets would also be a great way to verbally model how we “think” while reading the scriptures.

Have a technologically minded family member take the different recordings and put them together into one video. It may take longer to use this method, but what a priceless way to remember your family during this stage… this is a wonderful future family history gem! And those visual learners will love watching and rewatching (and therefore helping them to remember) these scripture videos.

If all of this video editing sounds too complicated, just record the family reciting the verse and maybe one thought or insight they learned. You can quickly send that video clip to other family and friends who are ponderizing, too. 🙂

Color the Verse

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This is a simple way to get young kiddos involved in the ponderizing process. Type the verse using a block font such as KG Red Hand or KG Let Her Go. Print the verse and let your child color it! If you have multiple little ones, I would make sure to print enough so everybody has their own. 🙂 Place the beautifully colored verse somewhere the whole family can view and admire. Your young children will feel involved and included!

Ponderizing Pillowcase

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So this idea may seem over the top. But some of us like to do crazy things. I was thinking about how many times I do my best pondering on my pillow right before I go to bed and when I wake up in the morning. I thought it would be fun to take an old pillowcase and, using a fabric marker, write the scripture reference for the weekly scripture. Older children may enjoy writing the reference themselves. Right before you lay your head down on your pillow, read the reference. See if you have the scripture memorized. Think about what the scripture means to you. Set goals for the following day based on the verse. Fall asleep each night pondering the scripture. Every week add a new scripture reference and before long you will have a pillowcase full of verses and a wonderful new habit.

Ponderizing on the Whiteboard (or Chalkboard)

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During family home evening, have family members choose a scripture to ponderize together using the Ponderizing Pail or through scripture searching together. Write the reference and complete verse on a whiteboard or chalkboard in the kitchen or another area of the home where everyone will see it regularly. Every day, erase one or more words. See if your children can still say the scripture. By the end of the week it should be memorized. To help encourage pondering of the scripture, if room permits leave space at the bottom of the board for people to write thoughts, feelings, experiences, questions, and insights about the scripture. If there is no room on the board, use colorful post it notes to place around it. That way there is plenty of space for everyone’s responses!

Ponderizing Popcorn & Pajama Party

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My daughter LOVES having family sleepovers. They are probably one of her favorite things. Once a week (or month, or year…), preferably on a Friday or Saturday night, have a special popcorn & pajama ponderizing party in your living room. Set out sleeping bags and blankets. Sit in a circle and share scripture verses that you have learned together while eating popcorn and treats. Then hold a special testimony meeting where each family member can share experiences they have had that have strengthened their relationship with Christ. Encourage them to share their testimony of the scriptures. End the night with family prayer and a family sleepover.

A great twist on this activity would be to hold the pajama party outside. Set up a tent in the backyard. A fire pit would be a great place to sit around to make yummy s’mores and share testimonies and feelings about the scriptures (girls camp anyone?). We always need s’more scripture sharing time! 🙂

 

I hope these ideas will help you as you ponderize the scriptures with your family. I think one of the most important things that you can do throughout the process is to share your thoughts, feelings, ideas, experiences, and insights with your family as much as possible. Don’t worry if it seems awkward or not eloquent- that’s not what is important. The spirit and example you are teaching your children is priceless. If you are afraid you might forget throughout your already busy and hectic day- set a timer on your phone, change carpool time to ponderizing time, or have your children remind you. If you are passionate about ponderizing, you will make it a priority.

I am so grateful for the scriptures and the guidance they have given me. I am excited to share this joy with my family!

Happy PONDERIZING!!!

STEAM Summer Camps

Happy Summer everyone! I am so excited to have lots of time to hang out with my #1 kid before she heads off to first grade (and all day school! eeks!) I like to have a lot of summer plans to avoid lots of down time (aka TV time). steam I will be honest- as a teacher mom I have been frustrated with the lack of differentiated curriculum and Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math (STEAM) learning in our schools. So I have taken it upon myself to provide my daughter with more extensive activities based on these areas and her interests and abilities. I was introduced to Core Knowledge by my sister and a colleague and knew it was a curriculum I wanted to integrate into our activities as well. Core Knowledge is a comprehensive curriculum that builds on the knowledge of previous years. I took some units from this program, tied them in with STEAM, and came up with this summer camp program. I am really excited about it!

The basis of this program is to provide my daughter with activities in Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math (STEAM). Every week we will be experimenting with Science on Saturdays. There will also be a weekly Engineering Challenge. The majority of our STEAM learning however will be from learning camps we will have on Thursdays and Fridays. I have a lot of science camps planned (based on content from Core Knowledge and my daughter’s interests) as well as Art, Music, and Math camps. Each camp has different ways you can integrate STEAM. For example, the Rock Camp will not only teach kids the science behind the rock groups, but have ways to incorporate technology, engineering, art, and math into your lessons.

Here is our weekly plan:

Make Something STEAMy Monday: (art project/fun treat/iMovie/etc) centered around STEAM

Take a Trip Tuesday: a day we can take a STEAM centered field trip

Wednesday: Worksheet (I just had to sneak in one day of paper and pencil work) and work on an Engineering Challenge. I made a letter template so the challenges could be done with friends who live far away.

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Engineering Challenge idea

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STEAM Engineering Challenge Letter template

Thursday and Friday: STEAM camp

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Sample STEAM camp idea sheet

Science Saturday with Daddy

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Science Saturday ideas

I am uploading my plans on Teachers Pay Teachers. Feel free to download and let me know what you think! There are also lots of STEAM based activities that can be found in many communities. Check your local library… many libraries will have science activities that go along with their summer reading programs. I also know of communities that have “Arts in the Park” or “Science in the Park” activities. If you live in the Salt Lake area, The Leonardo Museum downtown will be opening up some children exhibits in a few weeks based on STEAM learning…. I am thrilled!!!! And if all else fails, host your own camps! Your neighbors will love you 🙂

Happy STEAMing!

Alphabet Book: Free Printable

A couple years ago I had a Book Themed Baby Shower for my sister in law. I have been getting a lot of people requesting the pdf of the abc baby shower book I made (THANKS!) and thought I would share it with you all in a post.

This is a printable that you can use to make any type of alphabet book- its not just for baby showers! Imagine the possibilities- “The ABC’s of Our Family” with all family members picking a letter (or two) and writing a word that starts with that letter to describe their family. Wouldn’t that be such a fun family night activity? If you are a teacher you could use this pdf to make class books such as “Animal ABCs”, “ABCs of Reading (or Math, Science, any subject!)”, or “26 Reasons Our Class Shines- Our Classroom Alphabet Book”. Seriously the possibilities are endless!

Feel free to download our ABC baby shower book– Enjoy and Happy Teaching!

8 Family Friendly Black Friday Activities

Watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade with my family and I thought I would quickly post some of our non-shopping ideas for Black Friday tomorrow. I know most people love the bargains and the mad rush of running from store to store… but our little family plans on staying in our nice quiet home and will try to avoid the stores for the next few days :).  So for the past few days I have been brainstorming some different activities we could do that would not only officially kick off the Christmas season but also have fun with the “black” theme.

This is what I have come up with so far:

  1. Black Jack Friday: Instead of rolling the dice with what good deals you might be lucky enough to grab, have a game day with the family instead. Pull out all the card games/ board games, pop some popcorn, and just enjoy being together!  
  2. Black Board Friday: Take advantage of this day off from school to play school together. Have little lessons on the value of a dollar, advertising, etc for older kids- or for the little kids have a day celebrating the color black. And of course you don’t have to focus on Black Friday for your learning day- you can also use this time to reinforce/review/enhance skills your child is learning at school.
  3. Black Bag Donations: Grab a black sack (or cardboard boxes) and clean out your house with toys and clothes in good condition your children have outgrown that could be donated to those in need. I love the idea of totally switching gears and turning the shopping madness into a day of giving to others. 
  4. Black Bites: Create a menu of black foods to nibble on throughout Friday. Black licorice, black velvet cake, black berries, olives, and black rice just to name a few!
  5. Play Store: Have your kiddos set up some merchandise (aka run through the house and grab toys, books, etc), find or make some play money, grab a toy shopping cart or basket and a cash register and you are ready to go! For an extra twist have your kids make their own ads- this would be a great writing and art activity. 
  6. North Pole Breakfast: This idea has been floating around the internet for awhile. Have a special breakfast with the family to kick off the holiday season. This is the time we bring back our Elf on the Shelf (although ours is a reindeer).
  7. Decorate for Christmas! For those that decorate for Thanksgiving, Black Friday is the perfect day to set up the tree and enjoy Christmas decorations after the famous day of gratitude.
  8. Black Friday Math: Toddler Approved came up with this WONDERFUL math activity you can do with your kids using your stack of Black Friday ads. Check out her site for more information!
If you do decide to go shopping on Black Friday- be safe! And if you plan on staying home I hope this list helps you to plan a fun family day.
Happy Teaching!

20 Super Fun Holiday Events for Northern Utah

Christmas is on its way! While this is the most wonderful time of the year, it can also be very stressful. I have spent many hours scouring the web not only for good bargains on gifts but also for some fun local holiday events. As I am typing this post I have 10 tabs open with different holiday calendars. I was hoping someone else would make a great condensed list for me but alas I feel this is my Christmas responsibility to make this for you all!(Although this list from Enjoy Utah was VERY informative) And if you don’t happen to live in Northern Utah- don’t worry, maybe this list will guide you in finding activities in your community.
I am including a few Salt Lake County events that I thought some of you might enjoy!

  1. Layton City Christmas Lights starting November 25. Enjoy a free hay ride through the lights Wednesday December 11 from 6pm to 8pm.
  2. Temple Square Not only can you go see the lights, but there are several events such as Savior of the World, Mormon Tabernacle Christmas Concert, and the Christmas Devotional. Consider yourself blessed if you are able to get tickets to any of those events! November 29- December 31.
  3. North Pole Express at Heber Valley A pricey train ride but might be worth the trip if you have a train lover in your family! November 29-December 24
  4. Ogden Christmas Village Enjoy a holiday parade/opening ceremonies November 30 at 5:30 pm. If you can’t make it Saturday- don’t worry, this event is up until January 1. And visit Santa at the village Monday-Saturday nights!
  5. Weber County Winter Holiday Festival November 30 from 11am to 8pm. Enjoy holiday displays, a live nativity, music, treats, and more!
  6. Zoo Lights Visit Hogle Zoo at night for a spectacular light display! November 30- December 31
  7. Live Nativity I have never been to one before- I think this is a great way to bring in the Christmas spirit! The one I linked is December 4 from 6:00pm to 9:00pm but you can find them in most any community.
  8. Festival of Trees December 4-7 from 10:00am to 10:00pm.
  9. Holiday Open House at the Ogden Nature Center December 7, 9:00am to 4:00pm. Free admission as well as local crafts/bake sale and activities for the kids. There is also a fun educational program called Snow, Snow, Snow at the Ogden Nature Center where you can learn how animals adapt, travel, and hide in the snow on December 18 from 3:45pm to 4:15pm.
  10. French Toast with Santa on Monday December 9 from 5pm to 7pm at all Utah Kneaders. Proceeds go to Primary Children’s Hospital. (If you don’t mind spending more money Layton has a Breakfast with Santa on December 14.)
  11. Candlelight Christmas at This is The Place State Park December 9-23 Monday-Saturday evenings.
  12. Dickens Christmas Festival December 11- December 14.
  13. An Old Fashioned Family Holiday in South Ogden Chili dinner, tree lighting with the Mayor, and pics with Santa.  December 14 from 6:00pm-8:00pm.
  14. Here Comes Santa Claus Christmas concert performed by the Utah Symphony. December 17th at 7:00 pm.
  15. Santa on a Firetruck: A few cities have the privilege of watching Santa drive down the street on a firetruck. We happen to live in one of those lucky cities!
  16. Holiday TV Shows Planning on staying at home most of the holiday season? This is the list for you!
  17. Nutcracker This is put on by several ballet companies. While I plan on one day taking my daughter to the Ballet West production, we will settle for the Julie Moffitt Ballet School. We went last year and loved it.
  18. Community Plays: White Christmas, Christmas Carol, Littlest Angel at Centerville Theater, Twas the Night Before Christmas at the Ziegfeld Theater in Ogden, Forgotten Carols shown all over Utah and surrounding states, Babes in Toyland put on by the Utah Children’s Theater, and the 12 Days of Christmas at the Empress Theater in Magna just to name a few.
  19. Carriage Ride in Salt Lake or a Horse Drawn Sleigh Ride in Cache County.
  20. Peery’s Egyptian Theater So many fun events- like Brenn Hill’s Cowboy Christmas.
  21. If you are a member of the Treehouse Museum in Ogden, then you can attend the Santa’s Cookies and Milk party on December 7th or 9th.
  22. Centerville City has their Festival of Lights at Founders Park Monday December 2 with a special visit from St Nick himself!
  23. Bountiful has a Holiday Light Parade on Saturday December 7 starting at 6:00pm.
  24. Breakfast with Santa at the Clearfield Aquatic Center- fun activities for kids including an open plunge in their pools!
  25. Kaysville City has their Holiday Lighting and Electric Parade Monday December 2 at 6:00pm.
  26. Come see Santa light up the night at Farmington Station December 29 from 6:00pm to 8:00pm. Or have breakfast with Santa December 7 from 9:00am to 11:00am at the Harmons located at the Station.
Have fun planning your holiday activities this year.
As always- Happy Teaching!

Fall Bucket/Tree List

Just a quick post to show you our fall bucket list this year. I thought it would be fun to have our list on the wall so I could see all our activities. I like the idea of randomly pulling out a popsicle stick but I am too much of a planner to leave our day up to chance. 🙂

And when we complete an activity- my daughter can take the leaf off the tree and place it in a bucket! Just imagine all the teacher-ish questions I can ask her..”We just took three leaves down. How many leaves are left?” or “Are the number of leaves that are still on the tree greater or less than the number of leaves in the bucket?” and then there are all the science applications of why real leaves change color and fall… oh the educational opportunities excite my soul!

We can see our bucket list leaves falling just like the real leaves outside! And when fall is over-we can reuse the tree for our winter/spring//summer bucket lists. I just love this!!

Our tree is in our craft/school room

Happy Teaching!



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