Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Seven Super Secrets to Enjoying General Conference with Kids

Every six months, we enjoy General Conference, which is up to ten hours of listening to talks on a variety of subjects related to the gospel of Jesus Christ.  We're excited to participate again this Saturday and Sunday.

Two of my favorite talks from last April's conference were 
"Sadly enough, my young friends, it is a characteristic of our age that if people want any gods at all, they want them to be gods who do not demand much, comfortable gods, smooth gods who not only don’t rock the boat but don’t even row it, gods who pat us on the head, make us giggle, then tell us to run along and pick marigolds.
"At the zenith of His mortal ministry, Jesus said, “Love one another, as I have loved you.”16 To make certain they understood exactly what kind of love that was, He said, “If ye love me, keep my commandments”17 and “whosoever … shall break one of [the] least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be … the least in the kingdom of heaven.”18Christlike love is the greatest need we have on this planet in part because righteousness was always supposed to accompany it. So if love is to be our watchword, as it must be, then by the word of Him who is love personified, we must forsake transgression and any hint of advocacy for it in others. Jesus clearly understood what many in our modern culture seem to forget: that there is a crucial difference between the commandment to forgive sin (which He had an infinite capacity to do) and the warning against condoning it (which He never ever did even once)." 
But some might say, “What do I have to be grateful for when my world is falling apart?” 
Perhaps focusing on what we are grateful for is the wrong approach. It is difficult to develop a spirit of gratitude if our thankfulness is only proportional to the number of blessings we can count. True, it is important to frequently “count our blessings”—and anyone who has tried this knows there are many—but I don’t believe the Lord expects us to be less thankful in times of trial than in times of abundance and ease. In fact, most of the scriptural references do not speak of gratitude for things but rather suggest an overall spirit or attitude of gratitude. 
It is easy to be grateful for things when life seems to be going our way. But what then of those times when what we wish for seems to be far out of reach? 
Could I suggest that we see gratitude as a disposition, a way of life that stands independent of our current situation? In other words, I’m suggesting that instead of being thankful for things, we focus on being thankful in our circumstances—whatever they may be.
As you might imagine, though we enjoy conference, keeping kids' attention for two hours at a time isn't always easy.  Over the years we've developed a few traditions that we love and that make our kids really look forward to "Jennifer Conference."

Super Secret #1:  Goodies

My friend Diane pointed out to me once that some families get a boatload of treats every year for the Super Bowl.  Since General Conference was way more important to her family, she wanted to make it just as much of a celebration.  I liked that idea -- and my kids were even more enthusiastic.

So each year, a week before conference, I ask each child to tell me their favorite treat.  I buy each one, plus a few extras, so that we have 15 snacks total.  This is about the only time in the year we splurge on everyone's favorites, so they look forward to it.

This week's list

Super Secret #2:  Pictures of the Prophets and Apostles

Next, I print up photos for each of the fifteen men who will for sure speak to us.  There's plenty of places on the web to get the photos, but this year, I'm going to print them off from this month's issue of the Friend magazine.  I like the interesting biographical information.

This helps my kids to learn the names and faces of these important men, that we believe are actually Christ's Apostles on the earth today.


I then staple each photo to one of the treats.  We get to eat the treat after each man has spoken, and secret #3 has been finished.


Super Secret #3:  Notes, Notes, Notes ~ Especially Post-Its

Kids always pay more attention when they are taking notes, and we've made a habit of it.  Even the younger kids can draw pictures related to what's going on.  Each conference, I pull out small notebooks for each child to take their own notes on.  Thanks to an idea from my friend Montserrat, I also hand out a post-it note to each child.during each of the talks from the Twelve Apostles and the First Presidency.


After the talk is over, we hand out the treats, put up the face of the speaker, and everyone adds their notes below.

Some of the notes are just perfect:


Super Secret #4:  Quiet Activities

Our last trick is to have quiet activities prepared for the kids to work on, especially for the younger ones.  Sometimes we print up Conference packets for the kids to color.  There are plenty of activity booklets and ideas out there.





Regular coloring books work great, too, particularly if they're new.


Super Secret #5:  Puzzles

Another thing we like to do is get a new 500 or 1000 piece puzzle to do Conference Weekend.  It's a good family activity that leaves our minds free to listen, watch, and absorb.

On occasion, we've even used conference weekend as the perfect time to sort through all our kids puzzles.  We try to do all of them and then throw out ones with missing pieces.



 Super Secret #6:  Make the Whole Weekend Special

We try to make conference weekend special in other ways as well.  We always make sticky buns for Saturday or Sunday morning breakfast, along with eggs, bacon and other yummy items we don't have often.

We also often take a drive up the canyon to see the fall leaves in October or just to get some energy out in April.

Super Secret #7 Review

After conference is over, we like to use our next Family Home Evening to discuss the notes we took and take the conference quiz my parents and siblings always prepare for us.

We also make it a habit to study the talks for our Family Home Evening lessons for the next six months.

***

So there you have it, folks, our seven secrets to enjoying General Conference with kids.  It works for us.  Our kids genuinely look forward to our traditions every six months and they are genuinely engaged and learning.

2 comments:

Megan said...

Love it! Thank you for sharing your Conference traditions. I've been thinking of ways to change it up this year since our kids have already said they're tired of always doing bingo. I love the apostle pictures linked to special treats and the post it notes after their talks.

Jenny Evans said...

Ditto! We incorporated your idea of Post-It notes and the 15 treats with GA's pictures on them... but my kids were so disappointed when they missed Quentin L. Cook speak! (He spoke in priesthood session, which here in the Northeast didn't start until 8pm after they're all in bed.) They were particularly excited because they'd put his picture on the package of cookies and waited all day for "Quentin L. Cookies" to speak. :) We let them have the cookies, anyway.

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