Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Love is in the air: Four February Family Home Evenings

I love themes. A lot. Since I couldn't select just 1 Valentine's theme for Family Night, we have been enjoying a whole month of Love-themed lessons! I realize by the time this is posted, ya'll will be way over Valentines Day. The heart and red/pink/white images popping up all over social media for the past 4 weeks might have something to do with the V-tines overload--- or perhaps it is post-raspberry-chocolate-cheesecake guilt? hmmmm...but it was worth it! I digress. If these lessons don't fit this month's ideas, feel free to pin this post so you remember 4 great LOVE lessons for next year!

1. Wrinkled Heart

Focus: Using kind words
song: Let Us Oft Speak Kind Words to Each Other (232)
scripture: If we love one another, God dwelleth in us (1 John 4:12)
lesson: Wrinkled Heart
activity: write nice notes to each other
dessert: 'heart' chocolate dipped pretzelsmerengue hearts, or other favorite V-tines treat

The original idea came from here, but we simplified it considerably. I had the kids share experiences of getting their feelings hurt. Eric and I contributed experiences of our own to help illustrate. With each example, we folded the construction paper heart. After all the ideas had wrinkled our heart up pretty good, I asked how we could remove the wrinkles. (for older kids, it would be fun to give each child a chance to try...) Then we discussed how saying sorry is essential, but sometimes damage is already done to tender hearts. Conversely, kind words make a huge impact. I shared this story about the power of kind words (it is short and sweet). 
I really wanted to encourage the kids to think before they speak/act. To be more intentional with their words, aware of the impact, ya know? The poem sums it up!
 I love the poem, so I made one up and printed it on deep red card stock before embellishing with hearts and silver Sharpie. I'm happy to share my ink-saving b&w version if you want it (print on colored cardstock and embellish as desired). Just leave your email in the comments!

After the lesson about positive words, we wrote nice notes to each other. I found a free printable for heart-shaped 'I Love You' notes at FabnFree if you are interested, but we just colored on printer paper for ours. 

 2. Love from Heavenly Father

Focus: Heavenly Father loves you!
Song: I Feel My Savior's Love (CS 74)
Scripture: "He took their little children, one by one, and blessed them, and prayed unto the Father for them." (3 Nephi 17:21... read verses 11-24 for older children)
Lesson: Heavenly Father and Jesus show their love for us
Activity: raining hearts (each time you tell something you are grateful for, you get a heart. Once pile is depleted, we throw hearts in the air and let them rain down on us like blessings from Heaven)
Dessert: merengue heart cookies or heart dipped pretzels

I had 10 or so hearts printed (link to free printable below--keep reading!) with various blessings received from Heavenly Father (everything from temples and family to prayer, scriptures, and the Holy Ghost-- a great selection!). We scattered them face down and each member of the family took turns picking one. They then got to say what they loved about that blessing (or bear their testimony of it). For older kids you could deepen the concept by asking them how this blessing shows Heavenly Father's love for us. You can see Emmett REALLY wanted to hold this commandments heart!

Emmett loved the lesson! He was all over trying to grab hearts and ribbons. Can you tell he was excited?
We had leftover pink camo cake for dessert because Caroline requested it.

I wanted to emphasize that the greatest blessing Heavenly Father has given us--- the most beautiful way He has shown us how much He loves us--- is through the gift of His Son, Jesus Christ. I cannot imagine teaching what LOVE truly means without pointing to the Atonement as the greatest expression of love. 

Neither of the above pics gets the colors right (with the flash it looks purple, without flash is too orange). These free printable hearts from OCD Primary Chorister have lovely rich colors. They are intended for Primary singing time, but why limit the application? After our lesson, they made fabulous chandelier decor above our kitchen table-- like blessings raining down on us!

3. Home Filled with Love

 Focus: Loving your family
Song: Love is Spoken Here
Scripture: John 15:10-12
Lesson: read the poem, talk about loving family
Activity: heart and house game
dessert: merengue hearts, pretzel hearts, heart jello jigglers or other dessert

We read this poem by Jane Lamb entitled My Home:
My home is not the wood. My home is not the brick.
My home’s a loving mother who soothes me when I’m sick.
My home is not the garden, or the place we park the car.
My home’s a gentle father who loves us as we are.
My home is not the windows. My home is not the doors.
My home is my big brother who helps me with the chores.
My home is not the chimney or the smoke that billows there.
My home is all my family as we bow our heads in prayer.
My home is more than just a house with walls and roof above.

My home is where my family lives in peace, in joy, in love.

 After the poem we discussed some of the concepts about what makes a loving home described in the poem. We made sure to point out some of the things our family struggles with in the discussion. We've had sick kids for about 15 days and have seen A LOT of each other during this period of quarantine. There were times in the day or two leading up to this lesson that I seriously contemplated my qualifications to teach it, as I have struggled right along side my kids with patience in the face of so much arguing/pestering each other. But after much prayer, I was reminded that Heavenly Father wants our effort and the Savior's Atonement enables us to overcome our shortcomings. We just have to keep trying. That is the message I shared with my kids and it went well. We talked about what kind of home would be happiest, what kind of home Heavenly Father and Jesus would like us to have, and ultimately what kind of home WE would like to have. It was an easy transition to a fun game about filling our homes with love.
The kids chose a heart, read it (or had it read to them), and had to decide if it was a loving heart or not. If it was something that would 'fill our home with love' then it went right in the little house. Otherwise, it was tossed aside. After a while, we actually started discussing what a better choice would be for those non-loving hearts so that they too could become loving and go in the home. I LOVE the examples selected for the hearts. Some include things like 'tell your brother something you love about him' and other applications that the kids really enjoyed. 
The original idea with free printable game is from Little LDS Ideas and includes the hearts with loving/not loving examples on them and a link to the free printable house template. I used that template for our card stock house and thought it was easy to put together--- though I should warn that it is very small and I had to make sure our hearts were cut pretty precisely in order to ensure they fit (lamination and all) through the slit in our home's roof. Adorable, though. And since my girls are obsessed with 'tiny' things, I knew they would love the cuteness of it.

 Emmett was pretty excited to participate... and really wished those hearts were just a TAD closer! But his efforts at nabbing one only scooted him farther away. I'm sure that convenience won't last much longer with the way he's going, though! Right now we'll just enjoy that he only scoots backwards. :) 
 Caroline, who can't read, immediately assumed that each heart told her to tell a family member how much she loved them. It was adorable! (She did get pretty offended when Gwen didn't reciprocate after picking up a heart. We had to explain that Gwen was following the instructions on the heart but that OF COURSE she would love to tell Caroline lots of things she loves about her! Caroline was comforted after we finally 'altered' what Gwen's next heart said and asked Gwen to tell Caroline why she loved her. Much kissing and hugging ensued!)
 Gwen was pretty intent on getting her hearts in there just perfectly. 

Fondness for the "climb on the dad-gym" game was followed by 

 a rowdy bout of tickle torture! She never tires of it!
I love seeing a lesson permeate our home. For the past week since we had this lesson, I find myself (and have overheard others) saying "is that going to fill our home with love? Is that something we want in our home?" and the wonderful part is seeing behavior modified almost immediately without a fight. They are trying. Trying so hard to follow the example of Jesus Christ. I couldn't ask for more since that is what I'm working on too!

4. Show Love through Service

Focus: Serve others like Christ
Song: Love One Another
Scripture: "When you are in the service of your fellow beings, you are only in the service of your God" (Mosiah 2:17)
Lesson: Show love through service (based on Pres Monson's talk here) 3 meanings of love: feeling in heart, word spoken, action shown. poem about who shows greatest love. 
Activity: family service project and/or secret service (take 3 hearts. Leave a heart behind after doing an act of service within the family)

Greatest Love Poem
(could also simply be summarized as a brief story:

“I love you, mother,” said little John;
Then, forgetting his work, his cap went on,
And he was off to the garden swing,
Leaving his mother the wood to bring.

“I love you, mother,” said rosy Nell;
“I love you better than tongue can tell;”
Then she teased and pouted full half the day,
Till her mother rejoiced when she went to play.

“I love you, mother,” said little Fan;
“To-day I’ll help you all I can;
How glad I am that school doesn’t keep!”
So she rocked the babe till it fell asleep.

Then, stepping softly, she fetched the broom,
And swept the floor, and dusted the room;
Busy and happy all day was she,
Helpful and happy as child could be.

“I love you, mother,” again they said—
Three little children going to bed;
How do you think that mother guessed
Which of them really loved her best?
I prepared a delightfully illustrated 'family' last year as a visual aide for stories about kids/parents. I got these free illustrations from Susan Fitch Designs and just adjusted the size relationships for the 'ages' of the children I wanted my 'family' to have. I found that some of the characters I made last year fit PERFECTLY for the poem above--- Eric even asked me afterwards if this was the story that originally inspired her illustrations, they fit THAT perfectly! I have used Susan's illustrations for many other projects too, including our Plan of Salvation chart, our morning routine flow chart, Primary assignments for talk/scripture/prayer, certificates of accomplishment for Article of Faith, and a family chore chart I'm working on (but that will be for another post) because I absolutely love her style! All of the things I've used have been completely FREE and I HIGHLY recommend Fitch Illustrations for their quality. Go check it out!

We are doing secret service hearts with our family to reinforce the concept (I 'inherited' a TON of fuzzy red fleece fabric from my mom a few years ago. To make this project economical and easy, I just cut out hearts from the fleece. No sew project. Maybe someday I'll sew 2 together and lightly stuff them. Of course you could come up with something cuter, but this works for us.) I also plan to recruit my children's help for some meals we're taking to friends-in-need this week. These service examples fit the ages of our kids, but I look forward to doing more labor-intensive service with older children! The idea for this FHE came from FabnFree, but I used her ideas as inspiration rather than 'outline'. She had videos and coloring pages also that you might be interested in, so go check out her collection of materials. 
 Everyone's favorite family member to serve... not much sacrifice required to do nice things for this adorable face!
and I think he knows it. :)

 I'll be the first to admit that my camera doesn't take the best pictures in poor lighting. And I'll also admit that my food photography leaves much to be desired. :) So forgive the quality of these strawberry thumbprints (cake mix cookies) that are super easy and fun for kids to help make! The recipe is photographed with much more appetizing results on the blog where I found the recipe. 

I love my family and I love the Gospel of Jesus Christ! I hope you are inspired by something you've seen here or a resource I used to go and share with your loved ones!


  1. Emmett is such a ham already. We're in for it. Thanks for teaching our family how to love, Hon. You are a great example.

  2. I LOVE these ideas...and the pictures of the kids are awesome!!