Real Bedtime Stories

My children like me to tell them stories before they go to sleep, so bedtime usually finds them all attention for one of dad’s nightly creations.

I’ve discovered that a story about almost anything will hold their interest once they’re in bed. So instead of retelling a familiar fairy tale or some other yarn, I tell them true stories about people they know and events I think are important.

By now they could probably recite experiences from every Scout camp I attended, every trip my wife and I have taken together, and how Grandpa Rust boated down the Green River. I’ve borrowed themes from almost every book I’ve read recently—stories about Jim Bridger and the Mormons, Abba Eban, and President J. Reuben Clark, Jr., to name a few. I may even tell them about things that happened at work that day just to bring events closer to home. The nice thing is that not only do they listen well, their memory of what they hear is amazing.

Naturally my storytelling is concentrated on our three younger children, but I sometimes notice that our twelve-year-old is listening too. My wife even chuckles out loud when I retell the story of our ward basketball team losing 64 to 18 in region playoffs, or describe what it was like when we fell in love.

The children love to hear true stories like these, and I’ve found it to be a good time to relate everyday events to the gospel and bear testimony of moral principles. Combining good fun with such teaching opportunities makes storytime some of the most precious time of the day—a chance to tell my children things I don’t want them to forget. Harold Rust, Springfield, Virginia

Where Did Summer Go?

I decided in May 1980 that I couldn’t send my children back to school one more year thinking “Where did the summer go?” So the children and I sat down at the beginning of the summer and set some goals. We decided that these goals would be fun to work at, but they must be accomplished in time for a family fair at the end of the summer.

Our goals were varied and included projects in physical fitness, music, arts and crafts, education, and homemaking skills. We also kept a scrapbook of fun places we visited and fun activities we did during the summer.

The day before school started, we set up tables in our home with aft of our “summer fun” items on display. What a delight it was to look at the tables and to be able to actually see “where the summer went!” Each child displayed his own Sesquicentennial, 4-H, Scouting, and other craft projects. We invited our neighborhood friends to see our display and enjoy refreshments which the children had learned to cook during the summer. In the evening, we invited grandparents for a little program of new music skills we had learned.

We had an enjoyable and eventful summer, and our family grew in love and appreciation, knowledge and skills. Then, when the time came, I sent my children back to school with a sense of accomplishment. Maureen Gordon, Blackfoot, Idaho

Smileys for Kindness

With several small children at home, I was finding that by the end of the day I could easily remember their messes and mischief. But their little acts of kindness often went unrecognized and unremembered.

After some thought, our family devised a system of rewards. We cut circles from construction paper and drew smiley faces on them, then decorated empty jars and made smiley “banks.”

When I notice a quiet act of sharing, good manners, or reverence, I write briefly on the back of a smiley what that child has done and put it in his bank. Then, on a family council night or other evening when everyone is home, we open the banks. We read aloud what is written on each token. As an added feature, we sometimes have a “store” where the smileys can be used to purchase pencils, notebooks, and other items I have purchased at the variety store.

The children look forward to earning and spending their smileys.

But most of all, I hope they will remember the times of closeness we share as we gather together to recognize the good things our children do. Lois T. Bartholomew, Dawson Minnesota

Organizing the Toys

That big toy box in your child’s bedroom or playroom might be causing him a good deal of trouble. If all his toys are kept there, he must remove almost everything from the box to locate the smaller items. If he can’t find a toy, then he can’t play with it—and sometimes a child would rather not play with a toy if locating it is an inconvenience. And even if he can find the desired item, he is still faced with the task of replacing all the other toys in the box. Furthermore, toys in a large box frequently get broken; then the box often does dual duty as a garbage can when dirt, paper, and broken toy pieces filter to the bottom of the box—a potentially dangerous situation.

A workable alternative might be shelves, with containers to hold smaller toys. (Large toys can sit on the shelves or remain in the toy box.) Two-and-a-half gallon plastic ice cream containers, for example, work very well for holding blocks, small cars, etc. A child can see his toys at a glance and select those he wants to play with. The pickup is easier, too, and the child learns sorting skills as he puts his toys away.

Since we have organized our preschoolers’ toys in this way, the toys get much more use and the room stays neater. Barbara Shillinger, Aberdeen, Washington

Minutes of Family Goings-On

For nearly thirty years our family has faithfully recorded the minutes of our weekly home evenings—and not long ago I suddenly realized that, without effort, our family had kept a valuable record.

In 1952, family home evening was called the Family Hour. At that time we had two small daughters, and each family member had a particular responsibility for part of the Family Hour program. As the years went by, our family grew with the addition of three sons, and the responsibilities were shared and enlarged.

In writing the weekly minutes we included the date and day, the time, and sometimes the weather. We wrote down who gave the prayers and the part that each contributed to the time we spent together. We also recorded the main points of the lesson and described the activity and refreshments.

If any event had occurred during the week that involved our family either collectively or individually—an award, election to an office, graduation, wedding, birth, death, visits, travel, mission, birthday, etc., these were also recorded. Indeed, many times in years past when we have needed information for genealogy, income tax purposes, or just needed to clarify details of a special event, we could always find it tucked safely away in our “minutes.”

When the children were small, they loved to hear their names read each week as we conducted a “mini-review” of the previous week’s program. This helped them remember the lesson, and made it easier for them to apply it to their own lives.

Today, my husband and I are back to where we started—just the two of us at home. But we will continue to record our home evening minutes for future loved ones, hoping that they will find many cherished memories among the pages of these volumes. Betty Lou Wintch, Tropic, Utah

[illustrations] Illustrated by Preston Heiselt