17 different women, 36 crazy children, 0 babies in utero
Adventures, Advice and Questions from a group of Mormon women who met in Queens, NY and have now scattered all over the place.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Family Home Evening with a Toddler

I don't want to make this long. The title says it all. I'm just looking for some creative ideas and inspiration.

T is almost 18 months and since his birth we have always been gearing our FHE toward ourselves... that is when we are disciplined enough to actually remember to hold one - oops! But the past few months I've noticed him beginning to "catch on" to some of our spiritual habits (saying Amen after every prayer, and watching intently when we have family prayer). He also points to every piece of art hanging on a wall and calls it "Jesus". This is basically because he isn't in nursery yet and we spend A LOT of time walking the halls of the church building. I'll point to the pictures of Jesus on the walls and say, "T, this is Jesus", or something of the sort, figuring that at least I'm trying to give him a spiritual education. I guess it's working. :)

Anyway, I didn't grow up in the Church and obviously didn't have FHE, so I can't call my mom and ask her what her tricks were for these early years of introducing FHE. I have asked a bunch of friends in my ward about what they do with their little ones and they do pretty much what I do, which includes: sing a primary song, have a prayer, read a scripture that goes with a picture, or something like that. But they all thought it would make a good post on the blog because we were all feeling a bit creatively blocked when it came to FHE.

So what are your ideas for Family Home Evening with a toddler? What has worked for you, and what hasn't? Do you gear FHE toward you and DH, or toward your children? I know there are some very creative people out there who read this, so I'm hoping to get a good list going! Thanks for your help.


  • I actually went online to the distribution center and bought the nursery manual. I would just pick a couple very basic ideas from each lesson to do. It also has lots of other kinds of pictures that come with it - like children sharing, children fighting, families praying etc that I really liked.
    posted by Blogger Corinne at 7/08/2007 05:19:00 PM  

  • Ahh. FHE with small children.

    First of all, I would gear FHE towards your child. FHE is supposed to be a chance for parents and children to learn together, but it's even more necessary for the spiritual education of the children. I would focus on that and then perhaps after your son goes to bed, you and your husband can do an "adult" FHE of your own if you wish. Just a thought.

    Here are some ideas of what we do/did:

    1. Sing-a-thon. We sing a bunch of songs at the beginning --as many as our kids want. Primary, of course. Sometimes it would be the bulk of the night, sometimes just part of it.
    2. Flanel boards. I know they aren't as popular as they have been in the past, but doing scripture stories on the flanel board worked great for us when our kids were nursery age (well, and one still is, so I might need to get it out again...)
    3. Having the children (or your son) do the lesson. I know it sounds silly, but once our kids were old enough to talk, they got a turn at the lesson. Usually they would hold up a picture of Jesus and we would prompt them with questions: "Who is He?" "What does He want us to do?"
    4. Keep it simple. Don't worry about FHE being 10 minutes long. As long as you're doing it, it's good.
    5. Start traditions you want to keep. Our kids absolutely love switching our names each week for our different assignments; and we HAVE to have an activity and a treat. :)
    6. Invite other families to join you. This is especially great if you can invite less-active members or new converts, or just friends that may not be members over.

    Those are some things we've done. Good luck! Just the fact that you are worried/aware means you're doing a great job. :)
    posted by Blogger Cheryl at 7/08/2007 05:22:00 PM  

  • We started rotating assignments when our first daughter was still pretty young - we had a lesson, an activity, and refreshments. When our second daughter wanted something to do we started 'big cheesy grin' time - and she was in charge of everyone smiling for a minute - very amusing. Now that she's older we've added in conducting - the girls love having a turn choosing the song and prayer and telling us what comes next. Sometimes it's very short... but they are now reminding us in advance, so they can know what they're doing.
    posted by Blogger Lucy at 7/08/2007 09:07:00 PM  

  • Dude I can't believe I'm commenting on ya'lls fancy site, but here it goes.

    The best ones of ours is when we act them out...and we use real awesome things like dish towels for costumes. Our favorite is David and Goliath and L pretends to slingshot his dad. We do that one alot. Fortunately the BOM has great inticing stories for little boys...lots of chopping and pictures with swords (ie: Ammon).

    Cheryl awesome ideas, she sounds like the winner to me...I'm going to steal some of those! Props to Lucy as well.

    Our favorite activity is duck duck goose and use stuffed animals to 'duck' since our family is still small and its more fun that way. I like that one cause they only pick there dad so I get to sit there :) ah ahah! Good luck.
    posted by Blogger Boss Lady at 7/08/2007 09:19:00 PM  

  • Our old standby is letting each child pick a photo out of the gospel art kit, we then tell the condensed version of the story (written on the back) and draw a picture about it.

    Lately we have been eating dinner on our roof deck, as something different/special during the week and talking about something we need to work on. Last time we did this (b.c I think it's been a few weeks since we have had FHE) the topic was REVERENCE in CHURCH!!!

    Like cheryl, I often switch it up and try to teach everyone a new primary song...and I ALWAYS work on the one they are "supposed" to be learning in primary that month.

    When I was growing up playing hide and go seek was a big hit with the smaller set, and once a year my parents did THE BIG EVENT which was an awards ceremony for our accomplishments. That was fun.

    Bottom line: FHE is all about you and your family, and it shouldn't be structured to the point of insanity and contention.
    posted by Blogger Kage at 7/09/2007 04:09:00 AM  

  • when we had just one, that age, we did this:
    bring out a picture and explain what it is

    we had the official church art set, or I'd use the Ensign or Temples issue, or the internet.
    posted by Blogger cchrissyy at 7/09/2007 09:02:00 AM  

  • We didn't really start FHE until our oldest was 18 months old. I like to keep them short and sweet. Music is a wonderful tool, so we always sing a couple of songs.
    Like others have mentioned, flannel boards or holding pictures are great tools for little ones, it's easy and keeps their attention just a bit. Here are some things that work for us:

    We like taking walks in the different seasons and talking about Heavenly Father's creations.

    I also love the Friend because it has stories, activities and ideas for ALL ages. Some of our best FHE's have been when I cut out the pictures from a Friend story and the kids helped retell it.

    Sometimes I get them started on coloring a picture that goes with our theme then I tell them a scripture story to go with it while they color.

    The FHE Resource Book from the Distribution Center gives ideas for adapting lessons to younger children, I find it helpful.

    My husband served his mission in Hong Kong, so he always welcomes us to Family Home Evening in Chinese. My kids love it and for me, it invites the Spirit.

    I think the most important thing is to do it. Thanks for this post, I have to teach the RS presidency lesson in August on Family Home Evening and I'm grateful for the good ideas and discussion!
    posted by Blogger normal mom at 7/09/2007 09:36:00 AM  

  • I want to add something to what kage said about "it shouldn't be structured to the point of insanity and contention."

    My husband grew up in a home that was filled with structure. He said that scripture time and FHD were so strict that he hated it. In fact, he was so opposed to the idea of FHE that it took me years to convince him that the way his family did it wasn't the way it had to be. FHE is about spiritual instruction, yes, but it's also about loving each other, having fun together and being together. Once I convinced him it could be fun, we've been good at having it nearly every week for years.
    posted by Blogger Cheryl at 7/09/2007 11:18:00 AM  

  • I'm really glad you posted this, Beth. I have had too many (bad) excuses not to do FHE on a regular basis. Now I have lots of ideas to draw from....Thanks.
    posted by Blogger Jen at 7/10/2007 07:51:00 AM  

  • I'm with you Jen. I have bad excuses and these are great ideas. We usually end up at Karaoke night at the local burger place. I really need to try to work in some more spiritual education.
    posted by Blogger TftCarrie at 7/11/2007 09:32:00 AM  

  • Carrie- Maybe you could throw in a primary song or two during your karaoke nights....
    posted by Blogger Jen at 7/11/2007 04:51:00 PM  

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