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Sunday, March 29, 2009

Making Conference More Meaningful For Families

The ideas in this post came from my sister, Judy Cannon, of Redlands, California.
-Chris Jones


1. At FHE a week or two before conference, have each child make the cover for their own “My Conference Book.” This can be an 8½ x 11 sheet of paper, folded in half. They can draw whatever picture they want on the front that they associate with General Conference.

2. Make pages for the book by folding or cutting white sheets of computer paper in half. Staple book together.

3. On the day of Conference, have child “take notes” on each speaker by drawing something from the speaker’s talk on one of the pages. Write the speaker’s name at the top of the page. Older children can write a few key words or sentences to explain the picture.

4. After Conference, possibly at FHE the next Monday (or two), have kids compare “notes” for each speaker, telling why they chose the picture they did to represent the talk.

(Idea courtesy of Kristin Richey)

Gather as many pictures of the General Authorities as you can. There is usually a centerspread in the Conference editions of the Ensign, or you can buy individual and group pictures of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve very inexpensively through LDS Distribution or at CTR Books. Try to learn the names of as many of them as you can before Conference weekend, starting with the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve. You can use the individual pictures as flash cards. For older children, learn one story or fact about the person along with the name. Try to identify their picture when they are announced as a speaker but before they come to the podium, post their picture when they speak, or try to remember the story/fact about them when they speak.

Sometime before Conference weekend, make a list of topics you think will be discussed in General Conference (e.g., Joseph Smith, repentance, testimony, etc.). Write them on chalkboard or whiteboard, or write them on a piece of paper and make a copy for each child. Each time that topic is mentioned, make a mark by it on the board or sheet. See how accurate your predictions were. During your next FHE, discuss the topics that were mentioned over and over. This will help you discover some of the major themes of the Conference.

Color a picture of the person speaking, or of their topic. Many line drawings of the prophet and apostles and church topics can be found at:

After listening to the first few minutes of a talk, choose a key word you think will be repeated often in that talk (like “Thankful”). Count how many times that word is used in the talk.

Make BINGO cards in several variations where each square has a common talk theme (tithing, obedience, and so on). When you hear a theme mentioned, you get to cover it with an edible marker (raisins, Cheerios, M&Ms, etc.). At the end of the session, you get to eat the goodies on your card. If you got a “bingo,” you get extra goodies. See examples of cards at:

It is hard to make Conference a positive experience for very young children. Keep special somewhat quiet toys—special building blocks, a special coloring book, a craft kit—that are only available during Conference. After Conference was over, the toys are put away and don’t come out again until next Conference. This makes it so that the kids look forward to Conference—maybe not for the right reason initially, but as they outgrow the toys, the feeling of “looking forward to Conference” remains.

After each talk, if someone can tell Mom or Dad (whoever is the candy box holder) what the talk was about, they get a Halloween-sized piece of candy from a special Conference Treasure Box, brought out only on General Conference weekend. For older kids, wait until the end of a session to go over the talk themes. Pictures of the speakers from the Ensign can help children remember individual speakers. It’s amazing how attention will increase with the promise of a small reward.

Older children can invite some of their friends come over to watch with your family. One family always has a big "Conference Soup Party" between Saturday sessions of Conference. All the teens watch the morning session together, enjoy a fun lunch between sessions, then settle back down to watch the afternoon session. Teens can also watch the morning session at home, then gather to eat lunch and watch the afternoon session together. Additionally, a special food tradition can be started within a family or group of friends, with a favorite dish always cooked for lunch between sessions. An atmosphere of festivity helps reinforce to everyone that Conference is a special time.

(GOOD FOR OLDER CHILDREN AND ADULTS)After each talk, record the name of the speaker and his or her topic, then try to guess what the talk will be titled when it is printed in the Ensign or on-line. Keep the list to check against the actual titles later. The goal is to think about the message and summarize it in your mind, seeking for the “essence” or theme of the talk.

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