One of the very first speakers, Elder Robert D. Hales, said, "Children and Youth love to be included. We make a serious mistake if we assume that the conference is above their intellect and spiritual sensitivity. To the young members of the church, I promise, if you will listen, you will feel the spirit well up within you. The Lord will tell you what He wants to do with your life."
When I was a child we didn't have the technology to watch conference on TV. We had to get dressed in our Sunday clothes and go down to the Stake Center (church building) to watch it on a projection screen via satellite. I remember being booored, and uncomfortable, and being told to be quite and playing bingo with conference themes. However, through all that, I also remember those times fondly. I can't remember anything that was said but, I must have felt the spirit because I remember feeling good being there, it is a happy memory. Every now and then I consider taking the kids down to the chapel for a session. Then I give myself a much needed slap and decide not to self inflict such suffering. Maybe someday I will be so brave, and patient, but for now we will continue to watch conference at home on the couch like all the other good mormons:)
Here are a few of my favorite online findings and what I did with them. With each session we switched our focus from one activity to another to help keep it interesting.
1. Our Conference Center (more on how it works below).
2. Conference Binoculars
Made these about a week before and set them by the TV so the kids could see them but couldn't touch them until conference. Each kid got to pick out their own duck tape used to put the empty toilet paper rolls together.
3. Conference Packets
There are so many good packets online! This year my kids weren't really into them but I think they will like them better as they get older. I used a compilation of several packets found on Sugardoodle and Pinterest. A year of FHE is a great site for packets that cover many age groups. Just One Mom Trying has a part one and part two of really fun ideas covering a variety of conference activities. I found the idea for a conference tree here and hope to try it next time. So cute!
4. King Benjamin Reverence Tents
Found this idea HERE from a 2008 article in The Friend. The kids loved it. I told them about King Benjamin and how the people pitched their tents with the doors facing him. They had a great time "pitching their tents" to hear the prophet speak.
5. Our Conference Center. I found the ideas on a great website here, Tiff Keetch. It took me two days to put together, probably around 10 hours all together. Not bad for how awesome a project it is and I hope it will become a family tradition the kids will fight over when they are grown and grandkids come in to play:) Yes, it's that awesome. Thank you Tiff for all the printables on her site. Definitely made this project doable.
From the site above you can print out all the components for the board. I simplified my board a little by not including all the awesome details available. It worked for my young children though. I also spent a little time decorating the board to please myself. :)
Top left area is for music. The kids can move arrows to who is singing. One for the choir (guest choir or tabernacle choir) and another arrow toward women, men or both. Under that, there is a place to put a picture of the conductor and organist. I thought this was great and helped the kids to pay attention to the music and wonderful people that make the music possible.
Middle right side is a clock and a picture of the temple you can velcro to show which session it is.
Bottom right are some little envelopes to hold all the "people" cards. The site above had a picture for each presidency, quorum and music people. I decided not to print off every presidency as they can change quite often. I did the first presidency, quorum of the 12 and a few quorum of the 70, plus a few music people. Most of the quorum of the 70 I printed were faceless place holders. The only pictures I wish were available were female place holders as I didn't want to print off the female presidency members. I will go back and print them for next conference, we definitely felt something missing by not having them printed.
I thought this might be hard for my 4 year old. He proved me wrong. I was amazed at how often he would shout out a key word and ask for help finding the corresponding picture.
The blog site above suggested using clear velcro. It was a great idea. Honestly I didn't know the stuff existed but it was great at keeping the visual integrity and beauty of the board while adding function. To put the board away, I placed the people cards in their pockets and put all the topic cards in a manilla envelope I velcroed to the back of the board.
Part of the time my kids were great with the board and using it. Part of the time they wrestled over who got to use it:) I guess that is bound to happen when little boys are involved. In all honesty they did really well taking turns. After all this work though, when they wrestled near the poster they got a sharp reproof, "Don't you ruin my board!" :) Of course, yes, part of the time they were booooored! Rite of passage:)