Family Home Evening Resources

Family Home Evening Resources

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I was asked to give a presentation at a Relief Society meeting about Family Home Evening to give some tips and tricks for making it meaningful and easy with young kids.  I thought I would share with you here what I shared with the sisters in my ward in case anyone from my ward didn’t get a chance to come to our activity, or if it would be helpful for other friends.  I know that I shared the experience in the first paragraph in this post too, but it was applicable here so I hope you’ll forgive the repeat.  The rest of the content should be new 🙂

Before this most recent General Conference I was struggling with feelings of inadequacy as a mother and I wrote down a few questions that I was hoping to have answered during the conference.  This is one of the questions I wrote – “How can I best use my time with the many demands placed thereon? Freelance work, housekeeping, motherhood, callings, education, blogging, reading, socializing children etc. How can I keep from being completely overwhelmed and truly accomplish things? Or do I need to simply embrace the chaos?” In the second talk of the conference Sister Linda S. Reeves shared this experience –

Some of you have heard me tell how overwhelmed my husband, Mel, and I felt as the parents of four young children. As we faced the challenges of parenting and keeping up with the demands of life, we were desperate for help. We prayed and pleaded to know what to do. The answer that came was clear: “It is OK if the house is a mess and the children are still in their pajamas and some responsibilities are left undone. The only things that really need to be accomplished in the home are daily scripture study and prayer and weekly family home evening.”

A friend recently cautioned, “When you ask the sisters to read the scriptures and pray more, it stresses them out. They already feel like they have too much to do.”

Brothers and sisters, because I know from my own experiences, and those of my husband, I must testify of the blessings of daily scripture study and prayer and weekly family home evening. These are the very practices that help take away stress, give direction to our lives, and add protection to our homes. Then, if pornography or other challenges do strike our families, we can petition the Lord for help and expect great guidance from the Spirit, knowing that we have done what our Father has asked us to do.

Nothing could have been more applicable to my situation than that was.  I felt so much comfort that I only needed to really worry about those three simple things in order to be doing what is most important as a mother.  Family prayer, family scripture study and family home evening.  Of course, family home evening can sometimes be a bigger struggle than it might sound so I was asked to share some resources with you on how to make it easier.  So, first of all –

K.I.S.S.: Keep It Simple Smarty!

Family Home Evening was not instituted to stress you out. The point is to gather your family together and spend time together learning and loving one another.  Don’t make it harder than it needs to be!  Watch a Mormon Message together on YouTube, play a game, even just sit in the same room and let your kids do homework together.  Find what works for your family!

I want to walk you through really quickly a “typical” FHE in the Hansen household –

We gather the kids together.  Pull up a hymn on hymns.lds.org and sing along with it.  Pray.  Quick lesson picked from A Year of FHE. Another song. Prayer.  Oreos.  Bedtime.

Oreos are the most important part of our family home evening, the boys don’t recognize it’s FHE without Oreos.  That’s it.  Sometimes I’ll put together my own lesson or we might do something else, but we have short attention spans.  The only part of that whole equation that requires much effort (beyond wrangling the kids of course) is picking a lesson from A Year of FHE, but then I usually just print it out and read it.

I think the most important part of doing a lesson is picking something that really applies to your family’s current situation.  If you have a child struggling with obedience or tattling or something like that, then FHE is a great time to teach those principles.  But my mom warned me, don’t always pick just the things your kids are struggling with, or else they’ll just feel picked on and not want to come.  Lessons about the season (i.e. Christmas, Easter, St. Patrick’s Day) are great, or if you can include something that goes along with the month’s theme for primary it’s a good reinforcement.

So here are some of the resources that I really like for putting together a family home evening:

Church Website – The church has put together an awesome page that has links to the gospel art book, the Family Home Evening Resource book, videos, music and teaching helps.  It’s a great place to go to get started

Mormon Messages– When you want a super easy lesson I definitely recommend just picking a Mormon Message and playing that for your kids and calling it good.  They’ll hold their attention well and have fantastic messages.  Easy, peasy. Done.

A Year of FHE – This is my *favorite* FHE resource.  This lady put together FHE lessons and posted them to her blog every week for 3 years.  They are fantastic.  She has lessons on a lot of different topics.  Most weeks I will open up her blog and then scroll through the topics on the right side of the screen, pick one, print it and teach that.  She also has hymns selected to go with her lessons as well as a scripture.  The lessons are so well written out that you can generally just read what she’s written, show some pictures (if you want) and then bear your testimony where she indicates.  I can’t say enough about how much I love her website.

Chocolate on My Cranium – If your kids really do well with visuals I highly recommend this website for her flannel board stories.  She took all of the flannel board stories from the Friend and colored them in so that you can just print them out, cut out the pieces and tell an interactive story.  If you live nearby, my sweet sister-in-law put together a binder with all of these lessons printed out and ironed all of the characters onto felt so that we had easy FHE lessons for a year.  It was one of the best Christmas presents anyone has ever given me.  We’ve gone through all of those lessons now though so if anyone would like to borrow any of the lessons feel free to come by and borrow them!

Sugardoodle – We all love Sugardoodle.  They have so many cute ideas!  They’re getting ready to re-do their website in the next month, so I don’t know if this will remain how to get to their FHE lessons, but for now if you go to their home page, click on the “Other” tab there’s an option for “Family Home Evening Index”, and there are a ton of great FHE ideas there.

My FHEs – Of course I have to throw in my shameless plug for my own website. I’ve put together a few different FHEs when I had something that I really wanted to teach my kids but couldn’t find *quite* the right lesson out on the web.  I’ve been trying to post them to my website so that other people can use them too.  I have lessons about being a missionary, a general conference preparation lesson (we do this one twice a year just before conference), saying sorry, and even an Angry Birds lesson about teaching kids how to control their emotions (that one gets requested often).  I’ve tried to follow the “A Year of FHE” format and include an opening and closing hymn that goes with the lesson, an easy to follow lesson outline and a predefined spot to bear your testimony.  There aren’t a lot of them, but I love to see people use them!

My one piece of advice if you use the lessons that people post on their blogs is to just leave them a comment to say thank you for their time.  I know, at least that the lessons I put together, it usually takes me the better part of a day to complete them and it means a lot to me when someone will comment even a simple, “great lesson, thanks!”

I promise that if you make Family Home Evening a part of your family’s weekly routine you will see the blessings in your family.  It will help draw you closer together and strengthen you and your kids against the difficult trials that might come against you.

Saying Sorry FHE

Saying Sorry Printable

One of my Facebook friends posted a link to this article called A Better Way to Say Sorry.  With a two year old and a five year old at home apologizing is something that I find we are doing FREQUENTLY, so I decided to read the article.  It was simple, but brilliant!  Her intro – where she goes through what it’s like to try to get kids to apologize, and how you almost never feel like you’ve gotten them to do so adequately – is the story of my life.  Seriously, I couldn’t have written it better myself.  The author goes on to talk about a seminar she went to where she learned the proper breakdown for an apology and how she applied the principles in her classroom.

I decided almost immediately that it was something I wanted to implement in our home.  So of course, I had to make it into an FHE lesson.  I haven’t yet used this in our home because today was a long day and I felt we would be better served by having FHE on Tuesday instead of Monday this week, but I thought I would share what I came up with.  I would recommend reading the article that I linked to above so that you can get a good feel for her methodology before teaching this lesson.  However I think you can probably teach it just fine just from the outline I’ve provided.  Hopefully this works as well as described!   I’m excited to facilitate more effective repentance in our home, and hope it works well for you too 🙂

I’ve provided in this lesson an outline as well as a printable that you could put on your fridge to remind everyone during the week.  My printable is nothing fancy, but I think it will get the job done.

Saying Sorry Printable
Saying Sorry FHE Outline

Oh and I have to give a shout out to my amazing husband Eric for the treat idea.  I was trying to come up with a treat that would go along with repentance, but wasn’t too hopeful that I would come up with anything.  On a whim I decided to ask him if he had any ideas and he almost immediately came up with Sour Patch Kids.  If you don’t understand why that was a brilliant treat idea you should probably see this Youtube video:

St. Patrick’s Day FHE

This post is backdated.  I put this FHE together on St. Patrick’s Day, but then when I went to post it to my website I discovered I’d made a major boo boo and messed up the configuration of my site and completely taken it down.  Oops.  Luckily, everything was easily recovered, but this post got forgotten for awhile.  Anyways, here’s my St. Patrick’s Day FHE.

Since St. Patrick’s Day was on a Monday this year I was very interested in finding a way to incorporate the holiday into our Family Home Evening.  A couple years ago I had read an article someone posted on Facebook called Saint Patrick: Worthy to be Called a Saint that changed my perspective on St. Patrick’s Day completely.  I’d always thought that it was a day to celebrate leprechauns, wear green and eat corned beef.  It had never occurred to me that it was of course a religious holiday celebrating a Catholic saint.  I bet the real St. Patrick just rolls in his grave every year when Americans celebrate his life by perpetuating pagan superstitions (the exact thing he devoted his life to dispelling in Ireland) and getting drunk.  (On a total sidenote, I also read this article called The Dark History of Green Food on St. Patrick’s Day which taught me a little more about Irish history and helped me realize just how culturally insensitive some of our St. Patrick’s Day celebration is towards precisely the people we’re celebrating.)

Anyways, because I had read that article about St. Patrick I really wanted to find an FHE lesson that focused on him and what he’d done with his life, but I came up short.  Lots of lessons on rainbows and pots of gold… nothing about St. Patrick.  So I did the only logical thing and made my own lesson.

Fortunately my niece came to my rescue by reminding me of the Veggie Tales’ retelling of the story of St. Patrick – perfect.  It’s about 10 minutes long and is very engaging for little kids (who doesn’t love Veggie Tales?) and tells about who St. Patrick was and why we celebrate him.  So I started my lesson by showing that video clip.  If you have Amazon Prime you can stream it for free or if not you can rent it for $1.99 (at least that’s the price as I write this post), you can also buy the DVD – Sumo of the Opera if you’re the awesome plan-in-advance kind of person.  Or if you don’t want to show the video I included a brief synopsis in the lesson outline, but really VeggieTales does a much better job 🙂

Anyways, the lesson touches on several different topics – the Godhead, forgiving others and the importance of missionary work.  You can just use part of the lesson or talk about all of it together, whatever works best for you!  It’s a super simple lesson but I think it’s a good way to bring the focus of the holiday to what we really should be celebrating.

So here’s the lesson outline – St. Patrick’s Day FHE Outline

Hopefully your family enjoys this lesson as much as mine did!  Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Respecting Our Bodies FHE

Lately we’ve been having issues in our family with respecting other people’s personal space and being kind to others.  So I decided we needed to have an FHE lesson on respecting our bodies and other people’s bodies.  I looked around the internet and didn’t find anything that quite fit what I was looking for so I decided to make my own.  I decided to play to my strengths this time and make a Power Point presentation instead of flannel board cut outs.

As part of our lesson we made gingerbread men and decorated them.  After the boys had decorated their cookies I took the rest of the frosting and just squiggled it all over the other cookies so they’d be edible. Sam came up to the counter and said, “Wow Mom, you’re quite the artist!”

gingerbread

I guess I’ve raised kids with pretty low artistic standards.  Anyways, here’s the outline and power point.  Hopefully someone else enjoys them as much as we did 🙂

Home Dedication FHE

home

If you don’t want to read through my whole explanation of how this FHE lesson came to be, or my personal suggestions for making this a little more special feel free to click here to skip to where you can download the lesson outline and PowerPoint.  I won’t be offended.  Ok, well I might be offended, but really, I won’t know so don’t let my being offended stop you!

A few weeks back Eric mentioned to me that he had something he wanted to do for Family Home Evening. This surprised me a little since usually I plan our FHE lessons but I was excited that he had something he wanted to do.  That particular night though was the Monday before Easter and I had spent a lot of time putting together this lesson, so I asked if we could do it another night.  The following few weeks were busy with a trip to California, Daniel’s birthday and I think a week where we either missed FHE or Sam had something very specific that he wanted us to do.  So last night I  told Eric that we’d plan on doing his FHE tonight.  I realized though that I didn’t know what it was that Eric wanted to do for his FHE so I asked him.  He replied that he wanted to dedicate our house.

This was an excellent idea.  Even though we’ve lived in this house over 2 years already (man, time flies!) dedicating our home wasn’t something we’d ever gotten around to.  We’d lived in so many places in the 4 years we’d been married before purchasing our house and hadn’t really lived anywhere long enough to think of doing this.  I’d thought of it a few times but always forgot to mention it to Eric.

As we got ready to do it this evening I thought it would be good if I could put together a little lesson about what it means to dedicate a house so that our children could understand what was going on.  I ended up with an outline and a power point presentation which you can download at the bottom of this post.

If you want to do this FHE and dedicate your own home (even if you’ve already lived there awhile) I would suggest at least having the priesthood holder who will be dedicating the home read what the Church Handbook says:

Church members may dedicate their homes as sacred edifices where the Holy Spirit can reside and where family members can worship, find safety from the world, grow spiritually, and prepare for eternal family relationships. Homes need not be free of debt to be dedicated. Unlike Church buildings, homes are not consecrated to the Lord.

A Melchizedek Priesthood holder may dedicate a home by the power of the priesthood. If there is not a Melchizedek Priesthood holder in the home, a family might invite a close relative, a home teacher, or another Melchizedek Priesthood holder to dedicate the home. Or a family might gather and offer a prayer that includes the elements mentioned in the preceding paragraph and other words as the Spirit directs.

If you’re looking for more reading material I also really liked this article about this family’s experience dedicating their home.

We didn’t end up getting around to doing this tonight (our neighbors got their trampoline set up for the first time since the end of winter and the boys played outside until it was too late for a real FHE so we did a prayer-song-Mormon Messages on YouTube- song-prayer-leftover birthday cake FHE instead), but here are some of the guidelines that I think will help make it a more successful experience.  One thing I really tried to do today was to really get our house cleaned up before we dedicated that.  Now, understand that as I write this there are still clothes on the floor from yesterday, and a couple dirty dishes in the sink, and balls ALL over our front room.  But, our closet is cleaned up, the guest room is all made up nicely and the boys’ room is pretty well picked up, and there aren’t any toys out in the family room 🙂  I was starting to get there.  I don’t think that your house (or ours) needs to be immaculate before you dedicate it, but I was thinking of what we do with temples and chapels before we dedicate them and I just think that, to the extent possible, cleaning your house with a little more attention than usual just puts the home in a nice spirit beforehand.  I’m also thinking that I might try to dress up next week when we do this for reals.  Maybe not quite to church clothes, but I could probably put on at least a casual skirt and have the boys in polo shirts.  Just something to mark that we’re doing something a little bit more special, a little bit out of the ordinary for our FHE.

Anyways, without further ado, here is the lesson plan and the PowerPoint.  All of the images in my PowerPoint are either personal pictures, from LDS.org’s image library or from the Microsoft clip art gallery, so there shouldn’t be any issues with copyright.  If you have a minute though I would recommend going through and swapping out a few of the images.  Right now the temple in the pictures is the Draper Temple because it’s our closest temple, but if you go to Temples.lds.org you can find your closest temple and insert that picture as well.  I also have a picture from Eric’s and my wedding day on the page talking about temple ordinances, which might be better replaced with a picture from your own wedding day (if available).  Finally, on two different slides there is a picture of our house and obviously it’s nice if the house in the picture is actually your own 🙂  You are completely welcome to use my PowerPoint as is and just treat the pictures as stock photography, but also feel free to modify it to better fit your own family too.

Downloads

If you download either resource and use it I’d appreciate a comment letting me know what you think!  I never know if people really use my lessons or not but I’m hoping that they’re put to good use by more than just my own family (although it’s worth the effort even just for them 🙂 )  Enjoy!