Friday, February 28, 2014

Missionary Prep

It will be another 12 years before that kid is eligible to serve a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  I can easily look back 12 years and see the changes that have happened in our society, the decay of common values and shared principles.  I can see those changes accelerating, and worry about the world that he will serve his mission in and raise his family in.  But worry does me no good.  Today, what I can do is prepare him by teaching him the Gospel and the Words of God.

I recently looked at the seminary Scripture Mastery verses.  Under the references was a section on effectively teaching the Scripture Mastery verses.  One of the recommendations was that the students learn the songs that teach the order of the books in each book of scripture.  I still sing the Old Testament song that I learned in Primary in my head when I am looking for a verse in the Old Testament.  This is something that my kids can easily learn now.

The Book of Mormon song is particularly fun, and short enough for all of my kids to easily learn.

I've created a PDF with the words of the song that we will print out and use while we are learning the song.  We can sing it each night at dinner and then once we have learned it we will add it to the rotation for Family Home Evenings.  It should help our kids be able to find scriptures more easily.  Maybe if it goes well we will learn the Old Testament and New Testament songs too.

It is sung to the tune of "Ten Little Indians".

Friday, February 21, 2014

Scripture Study with Little Kids

In 2008 we had our fifth child, our oldest was seven.  We were exhausted. :)  We had a desire to share the scriptures with our kids, and to have regular Family Home Evenings- but it seemed so daunting, especially because the kids couldn't even read the scriptures, and at FHE they just wanted to play Ring-Around-the-Rosy.  Four of those five kids were rambunctious boys.  I was so encouraged that year when I heard this exchange of thoughts:

2008 Worldwide Leadership Training Meeting, Roundtable Discussion  (click to listen)

(It's all great, but if you just want to hear about family scripture study with little kids start at minute 35:00 of the Roundtable Discussion.)

If you haven't listened to it yet I'll paraphrase just a small section of it:  Julie Beck said that recently a young mother had approached her.  This mother shared that she had four children under the age of six, and that they were trying to faithfully read their scriptures as a family each day, but that it wasn't going well. (She tells the story better than I do.)  Sister Beck asked the mother how long they were reading each day and the mother responded that their goal was to read for ten minutes each day.  Sister Beck told her that with her young audience that she was probably shooting for about eight minutes too long, and that she would probably have better luck just showing a picture of Adam and Eve and telling her kids about them.

I cried when I heard this.  I had been so overwhelmed with the idea of perfection that just sharing pictures and telling stories sounded so incredibly manageable.   We simplified our expectations for Family Home Evening too- ten minutes of songs, stories, a prayer and a treat became a tradition that our kids looked forward to, and that we could manage to do even when we were exhausted or unprepared.  

So at breakfast each morning my sweet husband shares a little from one of the following books:

We leave this open to the story he shared all day so the kids can enjoy the pictures that go along with the story later in the day. 

Hopefully having a basic understanding of the stories in the scriptures will help them to better find the doctrines and personal revelation that they will need as adults.  

We have been promised that greater peace will prevail in our homes when we are studying the Book of Mormon as a family.  We have felt that even as we have shared these simple stories. 
 Recently we allowed our six year old to take this book down to his room because he had a desire to look at the pictures before bed.  I went down to his room the other day to find the book in tatters.  Nearly every page was badly bent, some right in half.  Because of all the bent pages the book couldn't be closed properly.  I decided to give my son a quick lesson on treating the scriptures with more respect.  I started by asking him why he had bent so many of the pages.  He replied that he was just marking the stories that he wanted his dad to read to him before bed.  I stopped my words, and learned a great lesson about respecting the scriptures from him that night.

This is a great tool for teaching church history!

I thought that when my husband got to some pages he would skip them.  But he didn't.   Not a single page.  We had some great discussions about time management, tobacco cessation programs and organizing a baptism that I probably would have skipped.  I'm glad that he didn't.   This also provided a lot of opportunities to share his mission stories and bear testimony of the importance of sharing the Gospel!

  This is a great resource because our kids love to see the pictures.  

The books are inexpensive, and the illustrated scripture ones are available online for free.  The Gospel Art Book is less than $5 and is a great place to start!  

It's been nearly six years since we started our simple scripture study at breakfast.  We have been through each book more than once and we can see what a blessing it has been for our kids.  

We are grateful for Sister Beck's unofficial permission to keep our family scripture study simple enough to be enjoyed by our young children.  We are also grateful that our Father in Heaven sends His Spirit to be in our home as we try to share the gospel with our children, even in simple ways.   

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Old Testament Margin Notes and Pictures

To help my kids learn the stories of the Old Testament, and to be able to FIND the stories in their scriptures I have made some really simple illustrations in the margins of their scriptures.  The kids were excited to see them and mostly knew what stories the pictures represented.  The few stories that the little kids didn't know I think they will pay more attention to next time they hear. 

In the margin I also wrote what the story was, and where else they could read about it (for example: the creation, the fall, and Noah's ark are all also recorded in the Pearl of Great Price).  

I used colored pencils and a mechanical pencil so it wouldn't bleed through to other pages.  

There are some amazing people and stories recorded in the Old Testament!  Some of the books of the Old Testament were the plates that Nephi and his brothers went back to get from King Laban.  
Nephi's testimony was formed reading about these great people.  
Moses was Nephi's scripture hero- Nephi encouraged his brothers saying,
 "Let us be strong like unto Moses" (1 Ne 4:2).  

To make it easier to mark up future sets of scriptures (we give each child a set of nice scriptures when they are baptized) I have made a printable chart showing where I marked, what I wrote in the margin, and which picture I drew.  If your first thought was that you could draw way better pictures, you are probably right.  
It doesn't need to be perfect to do the job!  

This is just the beginning of the Old Testament.  There are still great stories like Daniel in the lion's den, Jonah and the whale, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, etc, I just haven't gotten that far yet!