Monthly Theme: Faith, prayer, repentance, and forgiveness strengthen me and my family.
Monthly Scripture: “Successful . . . families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, [and] forgiveness” (“Proclamation,”paragraph 7).
Week 1 Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ strengthens me and my family.
* Do you know a family with toddlers? Fisher Price makes a toy called Little People Noah's Ark that would be a great visual. Or you can use a picture of an ark and different animals. Hebrews 11:7 "By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house." Divide the primary into groups. Have children come up and choose an animal from the ark that has different stories attached to it about faith in Christ. After they discuss with their group, have them come to the front and share with the whole primary.
* Have a bare tree. (It could be made out of paper or drawn on the chalkboard) Who has ever heard of a family tree? Pass out paper leaves and fruit for the children to write or draw on. What are things we can do to make our family stronger? Put all the leaves and fruit on the tree. Alma 32:41-42 "But if ye will nourish the word, yea, nourish the tree as it beginneth to grow, by your faith with great diligence, and with patience, looking forward to the fruit thereof, it shall take root; and behold it shall be a tree springing up unto everlasting life. And because of your diligence and your faith and your patience with the word in nourishing it, that it may take root in you, behold, by and by ye shall pluck the fruit thereof, which is most precious, which is sweet above all that is sweet, and which is white above all that is white, yea, and pure above all that is pure; and ye shall feast upon this fruit even until ye are filled, that ye hunger not, neither shall ye thirst."
* Place a child 3 feet away from the piano, tell them not to move but to play the piano. Impossible. Have a hair dryer, unplugged and tell a child to blow dry their hair. Impossible. James 2:17-18, 20 "Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works. But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?" We can have faith in Jesus Christ and it is by doing the things He commands that makes us and our families stronger. (Put the child closer to the piano to play. Plug in the dryer. When you combine the two things it becomes possible) ** As a side note this idea is really similar to the one published in the friend. I promise I'm not trying to copy the idea off as my own. I really have better things to do with my time than plagiarize. Plus, I just don't like to mess around with Heavenly Father. (Thank-you Lev. 26:27-29) It just happened I wrote this and then the friend came out and it was similar. **
Week 2 Prayer strengthens me and my family.
* "It is precisely to address the struggle Paul identified that I return to a subject that I believe would do MORE THAN ANY OTHER SINGLE THING TO STRENGTHEN US for the inevitable challenges ahead. It is a time-honored and time-tested but increasingly neglected principle: the practice of prayer... Are we forgetting the Almighty, who in times of last resort is our greatest strength?" President Gordon B. Hinckley Standing for Something pg. 135 Find a bunch of other quotes/scriptures and pictures of the people quoted. Make a simple memory matching game for the children.
* Who are some people we listen to and do what they say? Would we listen to Jesus and do what He says? After He was resurrected and visited the Nephites He said in 3 Nephi 18:21 "Pray in your families unto the Father, always in my name, that your wives and your children may be blessed." Divide the black board into 3 sections. Have teachers there for younger children to write their ideas. One section can be How do we pray? What can we pray for? Prayer strengthens me and my family by... Brainstorm all the ideas you can. Also see if they can come up with families in the scriptures that were blessed by prayer or personal examples from their own home life (for the last section). For the Senior Primary you can make copies of Lessons from the Lord's Prayers by Elder Russell M. Nelson from the last General Conference and have them use that talk to fill in the sections.
* This idea IS NOT FOR CHURCH, more for a family home evening. Bring in a XXL pair of sweatpants and a bag of blown up balloons. Have questions, scriptures and songs on prayers prepared. As the children answer the questions and participate they earn a balloon to put in the sweatpants and make the person "buff". Prayer strengthens me and my family! Show off those muscles!
* Make some simple "privilege coupons". Privileges could include 5 minutes with the Bishop, a hug, a pat on the back, a muffin in the morning.... Sing some songs. Explain that as you sing you are going to watch for reverence and great singing effort and in turn pass out a privilege. Another word for privilege is an honor. Elder David Bednar said, "Prayer is a privilege and the soul's sincere desire. We can move beyond routine and 'checklist' prayers and engage in meaningful prayer..." Ask in Faith," Ensign, May 2008, 97 Prayer is a privilege and is something special. Have a long checklist on the board of standard things we say during prayer and invite the children to erase it as they come up with ideas to make prayer more special. If prayer strengthens us, then we should strengthen our prayers and make them meaningful.
Week 3 Repentance helps me return to Heavenly Father.
* Take a white piece of cloth. Have a child help by gently squeezing ketchup, mustard or whatever else on the cloth. Ask the children if they would ever wear something this dirty to the temple? So it is with Heavenly Father, sin makes us dirty and we need to repent to return to him clean.
* Have a dark black painted piece of wood. Invite a child to come up and paint over it white. One coat of paint isn't going to work to turn it white. We make mistakes often and need to repent often to return to Heavenly Father.* Do you have a tarnished piece of silver? Bring it in with some silver cleaner and basin of water. Repentance makes us clean to return to our Heavenly Father.
* Karen Ashton brilliantly writes “Sharing Time: Repentance—Turning from Wrong to Right,” Friend, Apr 1997, 36"Discuss with the older children what the word poison means. Tell them that it is like sin. Just as poison destroys the body, sin destroys the spirit. Explain that if you were to take poison, you might immediately realize what you had done, be sorry, tell someone, and not take any more. But that would not save you from the effects of the poison already in your body. Help the children understand that when you have sinned, or taken spiritual poison, Jesus has commanded you to repent. You must feel sorry for the sin, confess it to Heavenly Father, try to pay for what you have done, and try to not do it again. Jesus Christ suffered and paid for all our sins so that we can repent. This is called the Atonement. Just as taking an antidote (medicine that works against poison) can eliminate the bad effects of poison in our system, repentance and the Atonement together can eliminate sin from our lives.
Have the children look up the scriptures, then verbally fill in the blanks in the following sentences with repent, repentance, atone, or atonement. Discuss each scripture as you fill in the blank. Give each child a copy of the activity; suggest that he/she share it with his/her family. Sentences: And he commandeth all men that they must ________________ (2 Ne. 9:23). For the ____________ satisfieth the demands of … justice (2 Ne. 9:26). For according to the great plan of the Eternal God there must be an ____________ made, or else all mankind must unavoidably perish (Alma 34:9). We believe that the first principles and ordinances of the Gospel are: first, Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; second, ____________ (A of F 1:4). Now this is the commandment: ____________, all ye ends of the earth, and come unto me and be baptized in my name (3 Ne. 27:20). For behold, I, God, have suffered these things for all, that they might not suffer if they would ____________ (D&C 19:16). For, behold, the Lord your Redeemer suffered death in the flesh; wherefore he suffered the pain of all men, that all men might ____________ and come unto him (D&C 18:11)."* Great-Wonderful-Fantastic-Superb repentance sharing time ideas from the friend magazine HERE
Week 4 As I forgive, I will be forgiven.
* Have a small child and a large sack of really heavy rocks. Have them try to get across the room pulling the rocks. Now have them let go of the rocks and see if they can get across the room. Sometimes we need to just let things go. As you forgive, God will forgive you.* Have a bunch of scrambled names of people from the scriptures who were examples of forgiveness. Have GAK pictures and briefly discuss the stories with the children of these people. For younger children, they obviously won't be able to spell or figure out the proper letter order of the word. So I would ask them questions and as they answer correctly give them some letters from the word until it's correct then say, you spelled it right! Let's say the letters together! Now let's sound it out together!
* Make a list of different situations. Ask the children to give you a thumbs up or down on whether the person should be forgiven. For example: A boy stole an apple from you and then lied, should you forgive him? A little girl hit you really hard in the arm and said sorry, should you forgive her? At the end of all the situations ask everyone to hold up a thumbs up. This should have been our answer to EVERY single situation because D&C 64:10 says, "I, the Lord, will forgive whom I will forgive, but of you it is required to forgive all men."* To fulfill a requirement under the "developing talents" section of the Faith in God program, have the children write a poem about forgiveness. For different type of poem formats the children can use click HERE. (scroll down a tiny bit) I would of course write a couple of poems myself as examples for them. Have them share!!