Happy Birthday, Dear Ancestor

Once a month, as a special Sabbath activity, I bake a cake and honor our direct-line ancestors whose birthdays fall during that month. I place each ancestor’s name and birthday on a yearly calendar so I know at a glance who we will honor that month.

Usually, after our family has enjoyed cake and ice cream, I read the biographies of our ancestors or share an interesting fact or story about them. If I have any of their heirlooms, I show those and explain their significance as well. This activity helps to acquaint our children with their heritage and does not require a great deal of preparation.Marlene Cameron Thomas, Pellissippi Ward, Knoxville Tennessee Stake

[photo] Photo by Lana Leishman

Finances and Family Fun

One year when we could not afford an elaborate family vacation, we came up with an alternative plan that resulted in one of the best vacations we ever had. This plan was not only entertaining but also helpful in teaching our children financial responsibility.

During family home evening, my husband and I divided the money we had saved for our family vacation into equal amounts for each of the five vacation days. Then we grouped everyone into teams of two. Each team was given money (cash in an envelope) and assigned to plan activities for one day and one night. The activities could include one night where we stayed in a hotel, but it had to be within the budget. The only restraint was the driving distance. The activity had to be something we could do in a day’s drive from home, and all activities had to meet Church standards for entertainment. Each team made their plans, then presented them to the rest of the family to make sure we didn’t have duplications and to help everyone know what to expect.

We were delighted with the varied ideas that sprang up as the teams tried to find something really fun to do within the budget. We discovered our family members had great imaginations. The activities varied from attending a basketball game, which included a three-hour drive from home, to watching rented videos while snacking on popcorn and candy and later sleeping on the family room floor. We had many different activities, and the children developed skills in planning, budgeting, and leadership.

Recently, I received a letter from my college sophomore son, Brad, in which he said, “Today I was reflecting on how nice it was on that family vacation when you let us each choose the activity for a day and gave us each a budget. So many families never get to do something so cool.”

Not only was it a great learning experience for the children, but they are able to look back on it many years later with positive, happy feelings.Sharlene T. Barber, Farragut Ward, Knoxville Tennessee Stake

Using Children’s Art

Wards that use preprinted sacrament meeting covers can save money by photocopying the artwork of the Primary children. In our ward, this idea has also increased the children’s excitement about sacrament meeting.

To accomplish this, our Primary has one sharing time early in the year in which the children illustrate a favorite scripture story or gospel topic in pencil. The ward librarians darken the art and photocopy the program information on the blank side. Other covers are sometimes used, but the ward members anticipate each delightful contribution from the children. The response of our ward members has been wonderful, and the children are happy to play a small part in sacrament meeting.Patsy Shipley, Idaho Falls 26th Ward, Idaho Falls Idaho Central Stake

[illustration] Illustrated by Joe Flores

Primarily for Family

We have had success in our family home evenings by basing our lessons on the Primary theme for the month. Our children, ages three to nine, grasp the concepts more quickly because of the uniformity between lessons taught in family home evening, Primary, and in the Church magazines. Some articles in the Friend correspond to these monthly themes.

We also choose songs from the Children’s Songbook to match the lesson topics. Often, we find that these same songs are being practiced in Primary singing time. By singing these songs with our children during family home evening, they become more familiar with them and enjoy singing them in Primary and Church musical programs.

By focusing on the monthly Primary theme, we have found that our children are more familiar with the topics and scriptures being presented and are more involved in family home evening. Memorizing the monthly scriptures is also easier because of the charts printed in the Friend. We have found that even our three-year-old has been able to memorize several short scriptures.

Other helpful resources for planning a successful family home evening are the Family Home Evening Resource Book (item no. 31106, U.S., $5.00) and Family Home Evening video supplements (53276, 53277, $5.00 each). These resources may also be checked out from ward or branch libraries.

By applying these practices in our lives, our children receive valuable instruction during family home evening that allows their testimonies and ours to grow.Gib and Kimberly Condie, Powell Third Ward, Cody Wyoming Stake

[illustration] Illustrated by Beth M. Whittaker