“I want to change my birthday,” my soon-to-be six year old informed me. “I want it to be during General Conference so we can actually have fun on my birthday!”
Yup. Almost a year after my children informed me that General Conference is a punishment, my six year old asked if he could have General Conference for his birthday. I think that definitely confirms that my mission to convince them to love General Conference has been a success!
Due to budget restraints and a larger crowd, our October 2014 was a bit simpler than it was last time.
Each child receives a basket with different activities and treats inside for each of the four sessions. The children love these baskets and always look forward to the surprises inside. I try to include one craft activity, one small toy and a few treats for each session. They also get a coloring book that lasts all Conference long.
The contents of the basket depend heavily on what’s cheap at Walmart, Target and/or Dollar Tree, so it changes every time and the children don’t really know what to expect.
This time, I tried to assemble a variety of crafts and activities so that each child had something they enjoyed during each session. I included one special drink each time (we bought a box of those “Little Hugs” barrel drinks at Walmart for $3). The morning sessions included a breakfast item, like the bowl of Tootie Fruities in the basket above ($0.50 at Walmart).
The one item that stays with them through all the sessions is a coloring book. Our local Dollar Tree has an awesome selection of coloring books. I usually let the children pick their own.
This was my favorite activity that I came up with. I found some images on the Friend Magazine’s website (click here), resized the images in Word and then printed them. I included a few of these frames in each basket. The frames were about $2 per set of 12 at Walmart.
I included three images for each child. One shows Jesus Christ surrounded by children. Another shows a boy and President Monson speaking at a podium. The last one shows a child being baptized. I’ve included the images (properly sized the frames) in these files: Boys and Girls. The only difference between these files is the baptism picture.
I decided to add some beading activities to the baskets. I picked up these bags of beads, the cord and the keychain things at Walmart. I think I spent about $10-$15 on this activity, but I divided it between eight kids.
I didn’t have a specific plan for these, but I divided up the foam sheets into eight baggies and added one sheet of foam letter stickers to each bag. These items were $1 each at the Dollar Tree. The stickers ended up EVERYWHERE, though, so I probably won’t do this again.
I thought these were fun. I spent $3 at the Dollar Tree and picked up some foam circles, some fuzzy pipe cleaners and some eyes. I meant to include a glue stick in each basket, but somehow I couldn’t find a single glue stick in our homeschool cabinet. It was a little ridiculous. Anyway, the kids enjoyed these… other than the obvious frustration at not being able to glue the pieces in place.
Against my better judgment, I always end up browsing the party favor section, too… and I almost always regret it. For example, I will never buy the sticky frogs again because the boys swung them around and they stuck in the girls’ hair. The skateboards broke quickly. And bouncy balls? Sorry, I can’t even tell you what I was thinking when I bought those.
The Speaker Bags
To make sure they pay actually attention to Conference, I fill 15 paper bags with different treats and activities. Each bag is labeled with the face of a member of the First Presidency or the Quorum of the Twelve (you can find the labels I used here: Speaker Labels). When that person speaks, the kids get to share whatever is inside that bag!
The children absolutely love this. To keep it simple, I choose one child to be the ‘bag grabber’ for each session. When the children are a little older, I plan on having them remove a treat from the speaker bag when they notice that person is speaking. That way, the other children won’t feel like they can count on someone else to pay attention and retrieve their treats for them.
Dollar Tree is a GREAT place to stock up on stuff for these baskets. I failed at including activities this time, and included only the little pinball game in the top right corner of the above picture. The rest were treats. Oops.
Since we had 8 kids over for one of the sessions and I couldn’t predict who was speaking when, I included 8 of each treat in each bag. Since it’s October, the leftovers can be used for Halloween… right?
Target was selling these Mike and Ike boxes for $0.26 each in a clearance aisle! I put these boxes in President Monson’s bag. It seemed fitting to make the prophet’s bag the most exciting one of all.
Although our tent has radically changed since last session, it’s purpose remains the same. It is a symbol of a Book of Mormon story we love, where the people gathered to listen to the temple to listen to the prophet speak.
Remember this story?
“And it came to pass that after Mosiah had done as his father had commanded him, and had made a proclamation throughout all the land, that the people gathered themselves together throughout all the land, that they might go up to the temple to hear the words which king Benjamin should speak unto them….
And it came to pass that when they came up to the temple, they pitched their tents round about, every man according to his family, consisting of his wife, and his sons, and his daughters, and their sons, and their daughters, from the eldest down to the youngest, every family being separate one from another.
And they pitched their tents round about the temple, every man having his tent with the door thereof towards the temple, that thereby they might remain in their tents and hear the words which king Benjamin should speak unto them;
For the multitude being so great that king Benjamin could not teach them all within the walls of the temple, therefore he caused a tower to be erected, that thereby his people might hear the words which he should speak unto them.
-Mosiah 2:1, 5-7
We have a significantly larger couch than last year, so we needed a significantly smaller tent. This time, we hung a hula hoop from the ceiling and attached a shower curtain to the hoop. We tied the two end loops together to prevent the shower curtain from sliding to one side and tipping the entire hoop over. I’m sure we could’ve done a better job but we procrastinated a bit and ran out of time…
Although none of this is exactly Pinterest-worthy, I want to share my love of General Conference with my children and with you. It is such an honor and a miracle to hear the words of living prophets and apostles in our own homes. It is such an uplifting and encouraging experience. I really do believe it is worth celebrating.
Although the next Conference is six months away, I’m always looking for new ideas! What’s your favorite way to celebrate General Conference?