General Conference With Kids:
LDS General Conference is such a wonderful time, but general conference with kids can be a challenge: especially when they are young. I want my children there so they can feel the spirit that comes with this amazing meeting, but if they are loud and rowdy, it can be difficult for the adults in the room to focus and learn. I want General Conference to be meaningful and memorable for our entire family. I want my kids to be engaged, not just quiet.
Over the last few years that I’ve experienced general conference with kids (mine four kids are ages 3 1/2 – 7), I’ve found and come up with and tweaked (and will continue to tweak I’m sure) some ideas that have made conference an enjoyable experience for our entire family. It has become a memorable tradition for us: something that even the kids look forward to and get excited about!
I’ve complied a bunch of those ideas (plus some for teenagers and adults) here for you in one place! Some are my own ideas. Others come from someone else. Just click to be taken to various different printables and ideas from creative minds all over the internet. A huge thank you to those who have provided these printables. They have been so helpful for our family.
And whether you are LDS or not, I would love your feedback and ideas! How do you get your kids to sit still and listen to something you feel is important for them?
A Note For Those Who Are NOT Member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints:
While this post is specifically written to help my LDS readers, I recognize that there are many of you who are not of my religion and / or are in fact devote members of a different religion. I respect and admire you and appreciate our differences! I’ve learned much from those of different religions in my life. If you are not a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, I still hope you will read this post. I think you will be able to find value in it and possibly be able to adapt it to your own religion somehow. I welcome your comments, questions and ideas!
The reason for the post is that many of my readers are LDS and something important (but sometimes challenging with kids) is about to happen for us next month. It takes organization and preparation to make the most of this event!
Twice a year on the first weekend of October and April members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints gather together (digitally via TV, radio, internet, satellite etc) as a world wide 15 million member church. There are four 2- hour sessions over the two day. We call this General Conference.
The purpose of this gathering is to listen collectively to the leaders of our church: fifteen of whom we believe to be living prophets and apostles for the Lord Jesus Christ. Below is a picture of these fifteen wonderful men. You can “meet” them here and listen to their testimonies of Christ here.
This is an important weekend for us as members of the Church of Jesus Christ! It is a chance to hear the word of the Lord for our day and time directly from his prophets and apostles. I have come to truly look forward to and cherish these two weekends during the year. I feel encouraged, known by God, inspired and motivated to be better. I sincerely hope you find something of value in this post!
General Conference Ideas We Use in Our Home:
Their Own Space:
I believe that one of the most effective things we do for General Conference with kids is to give them their own space. Each of them has their own little mini desk full of snacks, activities and supplies (crayons, glue, scissors, pencils etc). Simply having a space of their own has made a huge difference in their willingness to watch.
We use these lap trays and they have been well worth the $5 or so that I spent. We only pull them out at conference time and the kids get excited every time they see them. Each session the kids get new snacks and activities in / on their tray. They look forward to the beginning of each session just to see what they get!
Before we found the lap trays, we just used a kids table and chairs and gave each kid a gift bag full of their snacks, activities and supplies at the beginning of each session. It worked, but I think they each like having their own desk better.
Snacks / Food
I’ve tried giving my kids candy like this post and this post suggest, but for my kids, that just doesn’t work (but it could for others so don’t rule it out!). When my kids get too much sugar they end up hyper and then grumpy: neither of which works well for conference.
But, I still think special food can make conference fun! Each session our kids get a new set of snacks. Each snack includes a fun drink (like juice…something they wouldn’t normally have) a grain, protein, veggie, and fruit. I like to use pre-bagged items (like mini carrots or teddy grahams) or put their snacks in these colorful muffin cups to make it just a bit more fun. We use cheese, nuts, and a mixture of freeze dried and fresh produce.
We also have cinnamon rolls for breakfast on Saturday and breakfast burritos for breakfast on Sunday.
This year, I will also be combining two different fantastic ideas from other bloggers. The first, Conference Sundaes is from Little LDS Ideas. The second, conference cash, is from Somewhat Simple. Click on over to their blogs to see the original ideas (and to print the conference cash at Somewhat Simple). I will be combining these ideas by allowing my kids to earn conference cash during conference. They can earn the “cash” by being reverent or kind to each other or by completing an activity (see lists below). Then, after Sunday dinner when conference is all over (and I’m not as stressed about too much sugar), we will have sundaes as a family. The kids can buy fun toppings for their sundaes with the cash they’ve earned and we can take a minute to discuss our favorite parts of conference as a family.
My Very Favorite General Conference Activity
I list a lot of activities below and we use each of them. However, I have one that is my absolute favorite. It starts the week before General Conference and a few weeks after.
For family home evening the week before, we talked about prophets and why they are important. Then we tape each of the apostle’s and prophets pictures (find them from the distribution center here) on our wall near the TV. On the other side of the TV we tape up pictures of topics that will likely be discussed during general conference. These stay up all week before conference starts to help us remember to prepare for and pray for the spirit during conference.
Once conference starts, each child gets small pad of sticky notes. For those that can read, when the apostle who is speaking talks about something that interests them (temples for example), they write that word (temples) on the sticky note and stick it on the apostle’s picture. This also helps us keep track of who is still to speak.
When the younger kids that can’t read hear a word that goes with one of the topical pictures, they simply put a sticky note on that picture.
For family home evening following general conference (often for many FHEs) we pull out the pictures and discuss what each apostle / prophet talked about. We also point out which topics have the most sticky notes on them and why they might be important.
Everyone in our family loves this activity. It keeps our kids engaged instead of just quietly distracted!
Below are list of other ideas we use during general conference.
Toddler activity ideas
My goal with my toddlers is just to get them used to the idea of General Conference and to see it as a happy and enjoyable time. We only ask our very youngest kids to join us when the 15 prophets and apostles are speaking. If someone else is speaking, they are allowed to go play: in the backyard, their room, the playroom etc. This provides for lots of built in breaks.
The activities I give them to do while the prophets and apostles are focused on church / religion stuff, but they are not all specific to conference. Their purpose is simply to keep the kids occupied, happy and quiet without much help from Mommy and Daddy. We don’t use each activity for each session, but instead give them new activities each time to keep things interesting. Here are a few ideas I’ve used:
- Printable Conference Coloring Pages Four pages here specific to conference. From LDS.org
- General LDS Coloring Pages. 100+ options here. From LDS.org
- Temple Sewing Card. Print, punch holes, tape one end of a long ribbon and allow kids to “sew”. From Little Tipsy (find detailed tutorial there)
- Popsicle Stick Puzzles. Print a picture, cut it and glue it to craft sticks. From Bits of Everything.
- Do-a Dot Apostle pages. or general do-a-dot pages. Kids color dots on apostle pages next to their pictures or dots next to a religious item (church, temple etc). We use these do-a-dot markers. Or use stickers or cheerios or whatever. From Moms have questions too.
- Apostle envelope matching game. My 3 yr old LOVES this game. Click over to Moms Have Questions Too for detailed instructions.
- General Conference Ties. Toddlers can color the ties as each prophet / apostle speaks. From Sugardoodle
Preschool Age activity ideas
Once my kids start preschool, my goals for them with general conference change a bit. I want them to participate and think (at least a little) about what is being taught.
We still only ask that they join us when the 15 prophets and apostles are speaking, but the activities we give them begin to focus a little more on conference and / or what is being taught. My preschool age kids still like many of the activities listed in the toddler activity section, but here are some additional ideas:
- Conference Bingo Squares. There are words and pictures, so even kids who can’t read can play this. Mark a square when you hear that topic being discussed. My kids can earn an extra snack when they complete one. From LDS.org
- Conference Hidden Pictures. Two pictures here. Kind of like Where’s Waldo. From LDS.org
- General Authority and / or General Conference topic cards. These adorable cards were created to be used as Go Fish cards, but that gets kinda loud during conference. We use them for “memory” games. From Little LDS Ideas.
- Apostle Cut and Paste Pages. These are fun for preschool age kids. Click over to Moms Have Questions Too for detailed instructions (the cut and paste activity starts halfway down the page)
- Word Hunt Worksheets. Even if kids can’t read they can match words. My 5 yr old loves this activity b/c she feels like she is “reading” From Moms Have Questions Too.
- Draw the Speaker. A blank face. Kids add glasses, ties, hair etc. From Kiki and Company.
- Spot the Difference Game and Word Search. Kids look at two pictures from General Conference and try to find the difference. Plus a word search (may be better for slightly older kids). From Over the Big Moon
- Conference is Awesome Folder. This is a bit of work (you will need to click to her site for instructions), but it Ah-mazing! Kids put a picture of the person speaking on a “pulpit” and pictures of what they are speaking about in a word bubble. From Allison Kimball
Activity ideas for kids who read
Once my kids can read, we step it up just a bit more. Some of the activities we give them have the purpose of really making them think about conference. If they are younger when they begin reading (my twin boys were reading very well at four), we may still only ask that they join us when the prophets and apostles are speaking. If they are older (my five year old daughter is just beginning to learn a few words and likely won’t be reading well until six or older) when they begin reading, then we ask that they join us for all of the Sunday sessions in addition to the prophets and apostles on Saturday.
We try to give them a good mixture of activities. All focus on conference / church somehow. Some make them think, while others are just fun. Here are some ideas we’ve used:
- Conference Bingo Squares. My kids can earn an extra snack when they complete one (blackout). Mark a square when you hear that topic being discussed. There are seven different cards here. From LDS.org
- General Conference Note Pages. These are simple note cards where kids can take just 1-2 notes from each of the prophets / apostles talks. From Over the Big Moon.
- Crossword puzzle and word scramble. These aren’t specific to conference, but use lots of topics that will be discussed during conference. From Over the Big Moon.
- Conference Packet. This is super fun and colorful. It requires kids to be able to read and write, but is very simple and keeps their focus on conference. From Somewhat Simple.
- General Conference Packets. This fun (and small) packet prints 4 activities to a page. Get’s kids thinking, but in a fun way. From Fluffy Bunny Feet Designs.
- General Conference Packets. I love most of the pages in the two packets offered here from Jenny Phillips. They get kids focused (in a fun way) and what the 1st Presidency talks about.
Older kid activity ideas
Once our kids turn eight and are baptized we will ask that they join us for all four sessions of general conference. We will still give them activities, but all the activities will be given with the goal of getting them to think about conference and the principles that are being taught.
Here are some additional ideas I plan to use (our oldest boys will be eight in just over a year):
- Conference Notebook. This notebook gives space for notes from each of the prophets and apostles talks. From LDS.org
- The Ultimate LDS General Conference Packet. This is HUGE (35 pages). Most of it is best for those who can read. Almost all of it actually focuses on conference. From Food Storage and Beyond
- My Conference Notebook. This 15 page notebook is still cute enough to work for kids, but teaching great principles about learning from and applying conference. Made for April 2014, but I couldn’t find an updated one. Still works. From Sugardoodle.
- 2 Page Primary Booklet. Simple, but focuses kids on what is important. Just 2 pages. From Sugardoodle.
Teenager activity ideas
I don’t have teenagers yet, but I do remember being one! I would hope that my teenagers will focus on how conference can help / change them personally.
I would love some ideas from all of you in the comments. Here are a few ideas I’ve found that I think I would like to use:
- General Conference Notes. There is a page for each prophet / apostle, fun facts about each one, place for notes, and a place to write down personal promptings and inspiration. Also includes a few pages for other speakers. From The Red Headed Hostess.
- General Conference Doodle Book. This costs $5, but I think would be especially great for Young Women. It is cute, small and effective. Lot of pages for specific notes, inspiration, goals etc. From The Red Headed Hostess
- Youth GC Packet. This may be better for slightly younger kids (10-12) and there are a few pages that I think better fit very young kids. But it is fun and colorful and has many pages that will make your kids think about what is being taught. Specific to 2011 (so dates etc are off a bit) From Sugardoodle.
- Tabbed Notebook. This is super simple, but would work well for many different conferences. From Courtney Aitken.
Adult activity ideas
I don’t know if these are really “activities,” in the way I’ve used the word above, but here are a few ideas (in addition to the “teenager” one above that would also work well for adults), I’ve used to help myself prepare for and stay focused during conference as well apply what I’ve learned later:
- General Conference Notes. I love this page and highly recommend your read her reasons for each section. Not to “cutesy” for guys either! Includes a spot for goals which I really like.
- His & Hers Conference journals. These are not free, but are very simple and strait forward. From My Computer is my Canvas.
I’d love to hear your ideas! What ways have you found to make general conference meaningful for your family?