Primary Talks from the Heart

When our daughter Madison was three, she agreed to give a talk in Primary. “I get to talk in front of the kids,” she said excitedly, “while you whisper in my ear!” But we knew she wouldn’t need to repeat our words verbatim. Here are a few tips that helped our daughter give her first talk in her own words:

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    Read and discuss. Early in the week, my husband and I read and discussed articles from the Friend with our daughter.

From the information we read together, we organized the talk into six brief sections or main ideas. During the week, we reviewed each section, asking Madison to say, in her own words, what she knew.

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    Use visuals. We found visual aids (a prop and pictures) for her to show during her talk, each illustrating a section’s key point. We also discussed what each represented.

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    Make a review sheet. Using a table format, we made a column with six sections, each showing a simple drawing or scanned image of the visual to be used. In the next column, we wrote the main ideas (usually two or three simple sentences) that Madison had expressed during our preparation that week. By following the pictures on the review sheet, she could easily remember the correct order and what to say. Because we had listed main ideas, we could consistently review the wording with her.

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    Practice. We arranged an advance practice in the Primary room, where Madison learned how to use the microphone and where to place the visuals. If rehearsing at the local meetinghouse is not possible, practice at home, reviewing a final time before church.

By preparing well for her first talk, Madison gained the confidence needed to talk in her own words. Though she still needed me to whisper a few things in her ear, she spoke from her heart and with the Spirit.

Kimberly K. Welling, American Fork 31st Ward, American Fork North Stake

[illustration] Illustrated by Joe Flores

Family Newsletters Made Easy

As our family circle has expanded and some members have moved away, keeping in touch has become a challenge. Our solution? A family newsletter. It has proven to be an inexpensive, simple way to stay connected while simultaneously providing a lasting record of our most important news. Motivation and a little up-front organization can also help you get started.

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    Choose a format. Before presenting the idea to your family, determine a few things first. How often do you plan to publish—monthly, bimonthly, quarterly, yearly? How will you assemble your newsletter? Word processing and desktop publishing programs as well as Internet sources often contain newsletter templates that make it easier to format and cut and paste articles. You’re not computer savvy? No problem. Typing or handwriting the information and photocopying it serve the purpose too.

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    Brainstorm article and column ideas. To make the newsletter a family affair, consider everyone’s talents and expertise. Articles might feature family updates; a calendar of family events; family home evening ideas; gardening, cooking, and household tips; children’s artwork; and poetry, to name a few ideas. Family newsletters also provide opportunities to share testimonies and appropriate faith-promoting experiences.

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    Show the family a sample newsletter. My first front-page article talked about the possibility of doing the newsletter, including column ideas and guidelines. Having the newsletter in hand helped my family feel excited to participate. Depending on family resources, you may decide to mail each newsletter, with family members contributing to all or part of the expense. Family Web sites may also be a good way to share your newsletter. Or you may opt to skip a design format and just batch e-mail text.

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    Establish deadlines. Our articles are due a week before publication, but that may vary for your family. Keep in mind that articles sent via e-mail or saved on computer disk can speed the process. Otherwise, allow time to receive items via postal mail and to type any handwritten material, if needed.

Above all, enjoy creating your family’s newsletter! Don’t worry if you don’t have many articles in an issue or if you’re late sending it out. The most important thing is that you’re helping your family stay in touch.

Stephanie Yrungaray, Herriman Meadows Ward, Herriman Utah Stake

Family Home Evening Helps: Birthday Spotlights

Our family loves the special birthday spotlights we periodically do for family night. Since birthdays often occur on weekdays when it’s difficult for all of us to gather, we celebrate on the Monday night closest to the actual birth date. In addition to traditional festivities, we spotlight the birthday guest by reading selections from his or her baby book, which contains information through age 12. Based on what we read, the birthday person tries to guess how old he or she was when the event occurred. This tradition helps all of us recall past family events. If you don’t have a scrapbook or baby book, you can easily create similar birthday spotlights using yearbooks or family photos or by simply retelling favorite past events from memory.

Next, we dim the lights to watch family slides or video clips featuring the guest of honor. With these fun memories fresh on our minds, we then take a moment to individually express our sentiments about that person. It has been very heartwarming to hear my family’s expressions of love and gratitude for one another. We’ve generally done this activity for our immediate family, but at times we’ve also invited grandparents and others. In our home, birthday celebrations involve more than presents, cake, and ice cream. We celebrate wonderful memories and strong family ties.

Thelissa Zollinger, Willow Creek Ward, Denver Colorado Stake

[illustration] Illustrated by Beth Whittaker