Productive Summer Fun

Want to help your children enjoy a productive summer? Spend time learning together. Following are a variety of ideas to add to your own.

  • Organize “learning stations.” Have an older child spend some time each day helping a younger child. The “tutoring” child could teach or review the alphabet, numbers, phonics, multiplication facts, or geographical names.

  • Feature “alphabet” days. For younger children, spend a couple of days teaching each letter. For instance, on “A” days, eat foods beginning with A, learn about “A” animals and countries, and go on a field trip to “A” destinations. With 26 possibilities, this idea provides a host of summer fun.

  • Read together. Visit your public library and discover age-appropriate books to read aloud with your children. Participate in summer youth programs offered there.

  • Schedule quiet time. Help children become more independent by establishing a quiet hour each afternoon. The child spends the time alone in a nearby room, choosing his or her own activities, such as reading, writing, scrapbooking, doing puzzles or workbooks, or completing projects such as crocheting or organizing a drawer.

  • Encourage correspondence. Help your children write letters to family and friends. The handwriting practice is good, the process of addressing and stamping an envelope develops a new skill, and the rewards are great as return mail arrives.

Marilynne Linford, Utah

[illustration] Illustrated by Joe Flores

Memorizing Isn’t Just for Youth

As people grow older, some feel concerned about keeping their minds invigorated. There are many activities that can contribute to expanding the mind.

I have found that memorizing the scriptures helps stimulate my mind. First, I begin with a single line and repeat it over and over until I feel ready to add another line or phrase. For reference, I write the full scripture on an index card and carry it in my purse or pocket. Over time I have acquired many scripture cards, which I have bound into a small booklet to help me easily review them.

As I have committed the scriptures to memory, their meanings have become clearer to me. I often discover connections between them that I hadn’t realized before, thus enhancing my appreciation for Heavenly Father’s blessings in my life.

Patricia Thelin, Utah

Finding Comfort at the Loss of a Spouse

After 32 years of marriage, my husband, Clyn, passed away following a short illness. Even with faith in the eternal marriage covenant and gospel plan, the ensuing years have been painful and lonely. However, I have found comfort and strength through some things we did before we knew of my husband’s illness and some that I have done following his death.

Before a Spouse’s Death:

Discuss together the “what-ifs.” “If I were to die, I would want you to …” “I would want you to remember and know …” Talking about such things openly before emergencies arise provides great comfort later.

Build fond memories. Live in a loving, warm relationship, spending happy time together. Don’t postpone experiences but enjoy them throughout your marriage. Preserve journal entries and photos of these special occasions.

Record your thoughts and feelings. My husband’s love expressed in letters to me, his testimony written in talks, and his goals and desires for our family recorded in other documents bring me great comfort and assurance. Musical recordings of his performances, which are deep expressions of his soul, are priceless.

Learn to be self-reliant. Along with strengthening marital unity, make sure that both of you have participated in each other’s usual responsibilities at home and know names and phone numbers of people to contact for help.

After a Spouse’s Death:

Plan a daily schedule. Keeping busy can be an important way of dealing with loss. Before retiring at night, I organize my schedule for the following day, a practice that helps me arise each morning with a sense of purpose and renewed courage.

Participate in public settings. It can be helpful after a spouse’s death to return to group settings as soon as you can. The support and love of others are essential as one attempts to build a new life.

Increase your faith. Savoring the words of prophets and attending the temple frequently, accompanied with earnest prayer, have strengthened my faith and courage and have made my loved one seem closer in spirit.

Marilyn Barrus, Utah

Family Home Evening Helps: A Wagon in Our Living Room

“Get your wagon ready!” I imagine pioneer leaders called out. Years ago my father helped our family re-create our own version of a pioneer experience—right in the living room. First my dad laid boards on the floor about the size of a covered wagon. (You could also spread blankets or use other items for a similar effect.) He then loaded containers of water, food, blankets, family history records, and other necessities. With our wagon almost ready, he instructed that we each had five minutes to choose three items to place on our confined space. When we were ready, Dad asked us to tell why we had made our selections. I remember choosing my journal and gifts from family and friends—all items that had great sentimental value to me.

To enhance this activity, perhaps your family has a pioneer heritage story you could tell. Or you might select one from Church magazine articles, available at As you reflect upon the pioneers’ sacrifices, you can focus on what’s most important in your own life. Our “wagon” experience taught me that most worldly possessions can be left behind at a moment’s notice, but we need our family and the gospel for our eternal journey.

Rachel Harper Holloway, Utah

[illustration] Illustrated by Beth Whittaker