If you’re like me, you love soaking in all the beautiful messages shared from our living prophets in General Conference.
If you’re like me, you also have little children who make listening to General Conference like listening for a pin drop at a shuttle launch…
However! There is hope!
Help Your Kids Get Familiar with General Conference
First off, prepare your children for General Conference. When General Conference only happens twice a year it’s hard for small children to understand why the big fuss – it’s just another Sunday, right?
Find ways to make the weekend super special. We drew pictures of the prophets speaking from the podium on the Saturday and Sunday squares on our calendar. Watch talks online of previous conferences. Talk about how excited you are to listen to/watch General Conference. Mention the General Authorities by name frequently and even talk about principles from their talks. For example, “Last conference President Uchtdorf reminded us about how much God loves us!” (You Matter to Him, October 2011) It might even help to show them a picture of the prophet you are mentioning.
Have a special “General Conference” edition of Family Home Evening to prepare. Practice using your conference games (be careful not to wear them out!) and consider playing some General Authorities matching games. (find Jocelyn’s here and mine here) We usually watch the “General Conference Highlights” video from the previous conference and practice naming the apostles as they come up. The video is nice because it is short and has background music so the kids are able to tune in a little better.
Start including a plea for Heavenly Father to prepare your hearts for General Conference in your individual and family prayers. This will help your kids know that General Conference is important to you (my kids know that the most important things are things that we pray about) and I know these prayers will be answered as you prepare for General Conference.
V’s birthday happens to be after General Conference and today he told me, “I am so excited to hear the prophets talk” (cue proud mother smile) “because after the prophets talk it will be my birthday!!!” (cue “mother-fail” face…) So we need a little more work with that one…
General Conference Activities
Your next step before conference starts is to arm yourself with more conference activities than you would ever need. There are a lot of great suggestions around the internet for conference activities. Jocelyn at We Talk of Christ, We Rejoice in Christ has a lot of great ideas here. I am planning on using several of her ideas, especially the General Conference wall (anything that gets my kids moving during conference is good for them – little kids don’t sit still well for long periods of time!). I also made several writing practice sheets.
A few days ago we read the story of Alma (the formerly wicked priest) and the story mentioned that Alma wrote down all the words of the prophets. A day or so later, following my own advice from the first tip above, I mentioned to my son how excited I was to listen to the prophets. My son turned to me and said, “Will you turn the prophets on the TV so I can write down what they say?” I definitely could not say no to a request like that, so I pulled out some old Conference DVDs from 2005 and popped one in the DVD player. V grabbed some paper and a pen and situated himself directly in front of the TV and proceeded to “write” the words that Elder Eyring was saying. His faith and love of the prophets melts my heart every time.
So I made some writing practice sheets for some things relating to General Conference – “We listen to the prophets speak at General Conference” “Families can be together forever.” “Keep the Commandments” etc. You can print them here from Google Documents (no sign in required). You can also get to them by clicking on the image above.
Here is a sampling of the things I will be preparing for my kids:
General Conference Wall (from We Talk of Christ, We Rejoice in Christ)
Word Buckets (from the R House)
Gospel Picture Puzzles (from Bits of Everything)
Writing practice sheets (from My Soul Delighteth)
“Note-taking” station (this is just going to be their journals, and I will help them write down what they hear – we will probably have them listen to at least one of the talks from the apostles or a member of the First Presidency)
Some of these activities (the Gospel Picture Puzzles and the Writing Practice sheets) are going to go into our church bag for Sunday. I am hoping to get the writing sheets laminated so they can be wipe-away sheets.
The Friend publishes several General Conference activities. You can download them from the Friend website. I especially like the notebook. It is set up for kids to take notes either with words or with pictures. This can be a really good pre-writing activity for your kids. We plan on using the Friend notebooks.
We may even let the kids play some of the Friend’s online games during General Conference. The family computer is in the same room with the TV.
I am thinking of having them switch activities with each speaker, so they can realize that a new person is speaking. We will also continue our tradition of having a poster of the General Authorities where the kids can find who is speaking and put a sticker on the picture. They really like putting stickers on the faces of the General Authorities. When you think about them like grandpas it seems a lot more reverent than it appears… right?
The Friend had a cute activity this month with the pictures of the apostles for the kids to set up in their chairs, and a pulpit where they can move the apostle when they speak. I think I am going to make a sturdier version of this with craft sticks. We’ll use it in conjunction with the other activities. The more exposure they have to the faces of the General Authorities the better, I say.
You Know Your Kids Best
Remember to make sure you prepare activities that your kids would be interested in. Jocelyn has a cool “build a Lego temple” activity – but my kids would probably just throw the Legos around the room… Sugardoodle has a bunch of coloring pages, but my kids would probably just rip them into little pieces and scatter them around the room. So not every activity will be appropriate for your kids. I think V might enjoy the Lego temple project some time when he’s a little older, and maybe some day my kids will enjoy coloring – for right now they are really into writing, matching games, and puzzles – you’ll notice those are most of the activities we will be doing.
What activities are you going to prepare for your kids? How do you prepare your kids to be ready to watch General Conference? Feel free to link to your favorite websites and activities for conference for kids!