In case you’ve missed my other holiday posts, you should know that I like to find ways to make holidays really meaningful for my kids. I plan several activities leading up to most holidays to get us prepared and understand the real meaning of the holiday.
I’m only doing a week’s worth for the 4th of July (I typically do more) but it’s so early in the month, and….it snuck up on me like whoa.
Stay tuned- I’ve got another round of Family Home Evening coming up and Pioneer day activities as well! But here’s for this week:
- Brave men and women have fought for our freedom. Write letters/ color pictures for Operation Gratitude. They have some very specific requirements so make sure you review those before you get started. One of the big ones is NOOOO GLITTER (it works out that I have the same rule at my house.) I have my kids color and then I write a short note on the back of the picture.
- Discuss the Pledge of Allegiance- set up a little flag and practice putting their hands over their hearts. I liked the explanation and clip art version from this site.
- Have a “birthday party” for America (it helps that my son’s birthday is the 3rd of July :). Talk about the signing of the Declaration of Independence.
- Sing the Star Spangled Banner and explain that we watch fireworks to remember “the rockets red glare, the bombs bursting in air.” Watch some fireworks!
- God gave us a beautiful nation to live in- get out and SEE something cool. Try to get to a National or State Park, or just out somewhere in nature (safety first though especially in AZ!!). We’ll be heading to the Petrified Forest with our National Park Pass!
- Statue of Liberty- you could make a crown and torch or keep it super simple by just coloring a picture. Then read the poem found in the Statue of Liberty (for the sake of attention span you might want to start with “Give my your tired….”) Discuss different groups of people mentioned and pick a group to serve. Below I will give some links to some organizations- or find something local and meaningful to your family.
- Our country give us the right to Religious Freedom- attend a church service.
Some service organizations to look into:
Gathering Humanity– this group is based in AZ, they provide assistance to newly arriving refugees and asylum seekers
Raices– this group provides free or low cost legal assistance to immigrants and refugees
CARA– this group of lawyers, interpreters, social workers, etc. are specifically working to assist immigrants in detention centers
Feed my Starving Children– pretty self explanatory
ConPRMetidos– This group is assisting with the rebuilding efforts in Puerto Rico (think tempest-tost from the poem)
Habitat for Humanity
Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay
Time to get inspired for Easter! With Easter being April 21 we will start our countdown on Friday March 29th. A lot of these will be repeats from last year but I’m also going to incorporate some of this year’s activity from the Friend Magazine. They don’t start until Palm Sunday so I won’t be going along day by day because I like to give Easter as much attention and preparation as we give Christmas. I hope this helps you as you make your Easter preparations more intentional.
- Friend The Miracle of Easter (Day 2) “When Jesus was a boy, He lived with Mary and Joseph in a city called Nazareth. He always did what Heavenly Father wanted Him to do.” Date with Dad- It’s our ward’s Father/Son camp out but you could substitute any activity with Dad!
- Friend (Day 3) “When Jesus grew up, He went to the Jordan River. He asked His cousin, John the Baptist, to baptize Him. Then He began to teach others about Heavenly Father.” We will have cousins in town so we’re going to party with cousins, but you could also attend a baptism if possible.
- Jesus is the Light of the world. Use trick candles on cupcakes, as the kids blow them out and they re-light explain that even though they tried to put out Jesus’ light, his light did not go away. (Got this from The Joy Journey, scroll down, it’s one of the last activities, this is also a great resource for ideas!)
- Jesus created the World for us- visit a zoo or aquarium to see some of His creations.
- 2018 Friend activity #3– “Jesus said, “I thirst.” Jesus felt pain and was terribly thirsty. He understands whenever you feel sick or tired or hurt. Jesus wants us to help others who are ill or tired. What can you do to help someone in your family who isn’t feeling well or is very tired?” Serve someone who has been ill (take a meal, make a card, take treats to the hospital, etc.)
- Read the Easter Story from this month’s Friend Jr.
- He is Risen cut and paste, there’s also a tracing one
- Jesus rode in to Jerusalem on a donkey- go to a petting zoo with a donkey
- Resurrection Eggs for toddlers
- Jesus continued His church by calling a Prophet. Read about President Nelson in the Friend and watch General Conference.
- Friend Jr. Life of Jesus Christ Sequencing activity. I will put each picture in an egg and make it an egg hunt and then sequence and talk about each part of Christ’s life.
- 2018 Friend activity #5– “Jesus said, “Behold thy mother!” Before he died, Jesus asked one of His disciples to take care of Mary, His mother.” Mom date! Our ward will be having a mother/daughter activity this evening but again, this could be any fun activity with mom.
- Jesus prayed in a garden and after his Resurrection he visited Mary in a garden- visit the Botanical Garden (they have butterflies this time of year!!!)
- Jesus was the Lamb of God, make a lamb craft
- Easter Movie Night, we will probably watch To This End Was I Born, and one of the VeggieTales Easter shows.
- Friend (Day 1)- “Our Heavenly Parents love us dearly. They want us to live with Them forever. Before we came to earth, Heavenly Father knew we would need someone to show us the path back to Him. We would need someone to save us from our sins. Who could He send to save us?” Talk about our Heavenly Family, and Jesus as our older brother. Explain that because they love us they gave us our Earthly Families as well. Extended family Easter Egg hunt.
- Friend (Day 5)- “Some people were angry with Jesus because of His teachings. They didn’t believe that He was the Son of God. Jesus knew it was almost time for the greatest miracle of all. Jesus gave His disciples the sacrament to help them remember His sacrifice for us. Then He went with some of the disciples to the Garden of Gethsemane. There He prayed to Heavenly Father, and He felt the pain of all of our sins. He did this so we could repent and return to live with our Heavenly Parents.” Take the sacrament at church.
- Friend (Day 6)- “After Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, people came with swords to arrest Him. They took Him to Pilate, the governor of Judea. Then they took Him to a cross on a hill called Calvary.” Make palm frond crosses- my little brother will grab some extra palm fronds for us from the Palm Sunday service at the Episcopal church he attends. Here’s a simple tutorial.
- Friend (Day 4)- “Wherever He went, Jesus taught and helped people. No one had ever seen anyone do miracles like He did! He healed people who couldn’t walk and people who couldn’t see. He blessed children and taught people how to pray. He even brought a girl who had died back to life. What greater miracles could there be than these?” Do a service project to be a miracle for someone else.
- Easter Sequencing Activity– this one focuses just on Christ’s death and Resurrection- the other one I’m using covers His whole life.
- Show a picture of Jesus washing the Apostles’ feet, then wash each others’ feet in a foot spa or just in the tub.
- Make an “Easter Garden” in a pot with some little plants, a rock for the tomb, etc. Mine will be much simpler than the one in the link, but it gives a good idea for reference.
- Make Resurrection Rolls, and tell the Easter story as you do it
- Friend (Day 8)- “Jesus really did live after He had died, and so will we! He visited with His disciples for 40 days. He ate with them and talked with them. What a joyful time it was! Then He asked His disciples to meet Him on a mountain. He told them what they should do after He went to heaven. And He gave them a promise that He would always be with them. This wonderful promise is for us too!” Use a glove and your hand to explain the Resurrection. I explain how I do this in my Family Home Evening post for this month.
If you have followed my Christ-centered Thanksgiving and Christmas activity posts then I hope you love this one as well. I wanted to put together activities last year to make Valentine’s day more meaningful, but then my Grandma died and life got crazy and I didn’t have a chance to get to it. This year I started early, because February is actually going to be crazier this time around with a wedding and a baby blessing, but those have been planned with ample notice, whereas funerals just happen when they need to happen.
As I was thinking through incorporating the wedding and the baby blessing into the calendar, lines from the Family: A Proclamation to the World kept coming to mind. Initially I put it out of my mind and thought it wasn’t really related to Valentine’s day, and then it hit me that if I want to make Valentine’s Day meaningful then really Valentine’s Day is ALL about the family and the teachings in the Proclamation.
Obviously some of our bigger activities are not universal (unless you also have a family member getting married in February and another family member who recently had a baby, in which case we should be friends!), so I’ve tried to include a few ideas for alternate or extra activities that go along with the same theme. And if you are a member of another faith, I’m sure you can still incorporate these ideas based on your beliefs, and I think you will find more similarities than differences in the beliefs outlined in the Proclamation on the family.
- I love to see the temple- walk around the temple (or if you live too far away look at pictures) and explain it’s importance.
- “THE FAMILY is ordained of God. Marriage between man and woman is essential to His eternal plan… The divine plan of happiness enables family relationships to be perpetuated beyond the grave. Sacred ordinances and covenants available in holy temples make it possible for individuals to return to the presence of God and for families to be united eternally.” Wedding time!
- If you don’t have a wedding to go to this month, or even if you do, you could pull out wedding albums, pictures, that wedding DVD you watched like once, and any other mementos from your wedding and show them to your kids. Talk to them about your wedding day and how special it was.
- “Children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony, and to be reared by a father and a mother who honor marital vows with complete fidelity.” Baby blessing time!
- Pull out baby pictures and any mementos from when your kids were blessed (or Christened). Tell them about their blessing and how much of a blessing it is to have them in your life.
- Learn the song Love One Another, Children’s Song Book pg. 136. Including the sign language could be really fun. This is a really great activity to throw in on a day you know will be very busy.
- “HUSBAND AND WIFE have a solemn responsibility to love and care for each other and for their children. ” Trade off date nights with the kids. Obviously this is going to look different for each family depending on the number of kids, but for us we’ll do this over two nights, I’ll take one kid and my husband will take the other and then the next night we’ll switch. Go as simple or as big as your budget and your calendar allow. Maybe it’s just a walk or ice cream (or a walk to ice cream so it cancels out!) or maybe it’s bigger like a performance or game. The biggest thing is that it’s dedicated time to them and their interests.
- See above (and if you’re family is big enough you could just do one on ones the rest of the time until Valentine’s day and ignore the rest of the list!)
- We love our cousins! We’ll be blessed to have cousins visiting so we’ll party hard with them, but if cousins aren’t available you could make Valentine’s to mail to them.
- We love our grandparents! Make Valentine’s for grandparents
- “Successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities.” Do a wholesome recreational activity as a family. For us this will probably be the Renaissance Festival.
- Heavenly Father loves us so he gave us a Prophet. In Arizona we will have a special fireside with President Nelson and President Oaks this day.
- If you’re not in AZ you could talk about going to church to take the sacrament and read John 3:16.
- Make a fun heart craft
- “Successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities.” Focus on compassion, do some kind of service project. We will probably take a meal to a refugee family through Gathering Humanity.
- Make Valentine’s for friends and classmates (and by make, I mean write their names on little store bought cards, but if you’re crafty and into really making cute Valentine’s for everyone then POWER to you!)
- Love Thy Neighbor as Thyself- take treats to neighbors. We started this a few years ago and our neighbors LOVE it. Christmas time always gets so busy and we always end up getting sick so I decided to stop pretending like I was going to take around Christmas treats and now we just do Valentine’s day treats. It’s way better than hunting down a babysitter and trying to get in to an overcrowded restaurant.
Happy Valentine’s Day! I hope this helps you make the time very meaningful for your family!