Five-Minute Lessons on Life Skills

Each week before our family home evening lesson, we have a five-minute lesson called our “practical moment.” These lessons are designed to teach our children basic living skills. Here are some of the topics we have covered.

Social Skills

  • Telephone etiquette.

  • How to act when a parent is on the telephone.

  • How to make a friend.

  • How to greet people.

  • Mealtime manners.

  • How to be a good host or hostess when a friend comes to play.

  • How to resolve a dispute.

  • Concert behavior, which we discuss before attending a play, ballet, or concert.

  • Conquering peer pressure. We role-played the following situations:

    • How to respond when asked to watch an inappropriate movie.

    • What to do if offered tobacco, alcohol, or drugs.

    • What to say if someone wants to copy schoolwork.

    • How to be friends with someone who is not popular.

  • How to write a thank-you note.

Dating skills, including restaurant etiquette, making small talk, and ideas for getting home on time.


  • How to deal with strangers.

  • When to say “No!”

  • What to do in cases of abuse.

  • Agreeing on a family password to be used whenever someone says they are representing your parents.

  • Safety at the swimming pool.


  • Appropriate behavior when visiting the temple or temple grounds or our ward meetinghouse.

  • Sacrament meeting behavior.

  • How to make fasting more meaningful and more effective.

  • Words to use when praying.

Organizational Skills

  • Goal setting: what a goal is and how to achieve it.

  • Time management skills, such as doing homework more effectively or sticking to a task until it is done.

  • How to organize a drawer or closet.

  • Homemaking tasks, such as cleaning off a counter, sorting laundry, scrubbing the bathtub, or ironing a shirt.

  • How to budget and use a checkbook.

  • How to call a store or other professional place and ask for information.

  • Skills for living away from home.


  • Why we vote and how to do it.

  • Respect for our earth.

  • How to be a good neighbor.

  • Respect for others’ property.

  • Respect for law and others in authority.

We keep our moments simple and short, and we’ve seen our children grow in confidence as they’ve learned how to function in the world.Alan and Tere Weir, Kaysville, Utah

A Tour Back in Time

To help our extended family members get to know their ancestors, my nephew David Swenson and I worked together to create a self-guided tour through several nearby cemeteries. His idea was to prepare a tape recording with directions to the cemetery and to the individual graves of our ancestors, together with recorded stories and other information about each person.

Since I had spent many years gathering information, histories, and pictures of our ancestors, I knew I could provide what he needed. David made a form that I could fill out for each individual. It included their birth and death dates and places; their parents, spouse (and how they met), and children; and an interesting anecdote. He also asked for a photograph if one was available.

I took the material out to his home, where we scanned the photos and entered the information into a computer. He also spent many hours mapping routes within each cemetery and organizing our material on tape. David obtained the help of several men and women in his ward to read the histories into a tape recorder as though they were the actual ancestor speaking to his or her descendants today.

When we were ready, we invited the extended family to gather at his home. David presented each family with a loose-leaf binder that had a nice cover. The binder contained a pedigree chart and a message about each ancestor. A zippered pouch in the binder held the cassette tape.

Although I had visited each of the graves previously, I went again and walked to each site, listened to the tape, and looked at the photos. As I did so, I felt as if my ancestors were standing there beside me, and tears came to my eyes. It was an emotional and spiritual experience, and it helped me feel closer than ever before to many of my ancestors.Florence C. Youngberg, Salt Lake City, Utah

Love, Your Sisters

Our ward Relief Society has several sisters with serious health problems who are unable to attend our regular Sunday meetings. Feeling concerned for the loneliness and heartache that resulted from their isolated circumstances, we searched for a way ward members could convey their love and appreciation to them.

Our presidency decided to devote an entire lesson period to giving service through writing letters to as many of our homebound friends as possible. This gave our sisters a chance to rekindle their good feelings of love toward those who could seldom attend.

When the appointed Sunday arrived, we handed out lapboards, pens, and sheets of stationery. We listed the names of the homebound sisters on the chalkboard, and peace settled over the room as we began to write. Soon several sisters had used all their stationery and asked for more. At the end of our meeting, we collected all the letters and sorted them into stacks to be delivered by the presidency.

The day I delivered my stacks of letters, I had a strong feeling I should go first to visit Verda, a fragile, sweet woman whose age and eyesight severely limited her activities. I rang her doorbell, and as Verda opened the door, I became aware that she was trembling and distressed. Tears filled her eyes as she saw me, and I wondered if I had chosen a bad time to come. I asked her if she was all right.

Verda explained she had just returned from trying to get her mail from her mailbox across the street, a task usually performed later in the day by her daughter. Due to Verda’s diminished eyesight, she had not seen a car, which narrowly missed hitting her on the busy road. Shaken and upset, she had returned home without her mail, resigned to a lonely day.

With a smile I held out my handful of letters. We sat together for a long time while I read each one to her. Every letter was filled with love, appreciation, and encouragement and brought fresh tears, which streamed down her cheeks. My heart was full, and as I drove away, I felt as though I had been sent as a special courier to her home that morning. Since then, our Relief Society letter project has touched many other lives.Bonnie Cook, South Weber, Utah

Our Family Mission Fund Project

Finding a way to help support a missionary can often tax a family’s resources, so we were impressed when our friends, by working together as a family, were able to support their son on his mission. Because their household income was limited, the parents decided to take over their son’s janitorial job cleaning a bank each evening to earn the extra money for his mission. When their other children found out, they also wanted to help.

“All became involved,” said the mother. “Our children have always been concerned with each other, and when this opportunity came along, they wanted to be part of it.” Checking their various schedules, family members arranged times to meet each week night to do the cleaning.

Some months later, the father stood during fast and testimony meeting to share his feelings. “Because I know how busy my family is, sometimes I try to slip away and go alone to clean,” he said. “But the children get upset with me. Contributing to their brother’s mission is important to them. As we have shared this task, it has brought our family closer together.”Carolyn C. Williams, Redlands, California

[illustrations] Illustrated by Beth M. Whittaker