So, I’ve been thinking about writing this post for a while, but I keep putting it off…I’m finally getting around to it.
Generally speaking, I love Sundays. My husband is home. My family is home. Sometimes, I have a few meetings, but otherwise, we are all at home. We are able to enjoy one another and kind of relax. It’s so nice.
HAHA! I always think it’s going to be so nice, but then my kids get a little bored. They want to play Wii. Or they want to watch something that is not okay for Sunday. They start to fight. They complain. They whine. etc. You get the idea. I’m sure you’ve experienced it, too.
One morning, at breakfast, the bickering had begun. Kid “B” reported to me, “Mom, [sister] has the plate I wanted. I never get that plate…” I said, “It’s just a plate.” It wasn’t even 8AM, and I was already exasperated. Of course, there was more to the argument (like a little bit of sneakiness on Kid A’s part, but it doesn’t matter right now). I announced to the girls, “Today, after you are ready for church, I have a little surprise for you.”
They were excited. I told my husband my plan – we were going to make them write reports! hahaha! However, I wanted them to be excited about it, so we came up with the title, Sabbath Day Circus.
I found two of their old notebooks, wrote their names on them, drew a little (horrible) picture, and wrote: “Sabbath Day Circus Notes.” (sounds fun, huh?)
So – I gave each girl a notebook with an topic and writing assignment. My children are 9 and 7. I wasn’t sure how they were going to like this idea, but with the right presentation (Circus! Fun!), they were a little excited.
I wrote their assignments on the first page. If you choose to do this for your children, keep in mind their ability. Here is an example of one of the assignments I gave:
[date] – Topic: Honoring Parents – Write a report on Honoring parents. Who should honor their parents? Why should we honor our parents? When do we honor our parents? Who has told us that we should honor our parents? Why should we honor our parents? How can we honor our parents? If we honor our parents, are we blessed? How are we blessed?”
I gave this topic to my 9-year old – who has been having a little bit of trouble with talking back lately.
Amazingly, she took to it. In fact, here’s the report she wrote. I didn’t help at all…
I’m doing a report on honoring parents. Children honor their parents. We should honor our parents because they teach us to be a righteous person. They also teach us to walk and talk and lots of other things. We should honor our parents all the time. We should honor our parents everywhere we go with them. We should honor them everywhere because then we will feel warm in our hearts. We can honor our parents by being kind, serving them, and a lot more. We will be blessed if we honor our parents. We will be blessed because it’s something Jesus would do. In Colossians 3:20 it says, “Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well pleaseing unto the Lord.” That is another thing on how we will be blessed. It is well pleasing unto the Lord. I just did a report on how honoring our parents blesses our lives.
Pretty cool, huh?
So – if you want to do the “Sabbath Day Circus,” here are a few ideas to make it work.
- Give each child a unique assignment.
- This is a great way to tailor to the specific needs of each child.
- Remember to make the assigments very specific.
- We give the kids a topic for two weeks at a time. For the first week, they write a report. When giving them this assignment, be very specific. If your child is young, they may be new to writing – especially writing reports. So, if you ask a few guiding questions that they can answer, they will begin to see that they can write a report!
- The week after our children have written a report, they get a creative assignment on the same topic.
- Poetry – Sometimes, I assign the children to write a poem. You may need to help them a little bit more with it. When assigning a poem, it helps to have a poetic form in mind. You can click here for a list and explanation of poetic forms. Poetry writing (especially rhyming) can be a little difficult for children, so they need a lot of help, but my kids really love writing the poetry. They get excited. So – don’t be afraid to try it. Here’s an example of some poetry that has been written by the kids.
- Sometimes, other than poetry, you may suggest that your children write an original story that displays their topic in some way. I won’t include an example here, but my children have also really loved doing this.
- Give the children plenty of time to complete their assignment. But don’t force them to take too long either – give them ownership. Then it won’t feel like a chore.
- Remind them to use their scriptures and topical guides. Encourage them to do as much on their own as possible.
- Have them present the reports in a fun way – This is The Circus!
- It may be fun to have a goal – submit a poem or story to the friend or make a goal that after so much has been written, you will type up their work and publish it in a little book. (We will probably do this, eventually).
- You may want to consider, periodically, participating, too. It may be fun to see what kind of story mom or dad may write.
(This poem was written completely by Kid A. It is in “Acrostic” format. Children usually can do this on their own. The subject is Fasting)
For blessings in your life
A long time till you eat
Sometimes want to eat
Tempting not to eat
It pays off afterward
No eating for a long time
Good to do
(Don’t you love that poem!? It is exactly how fasting can feel sometimes!)
(This poem was written by Kid-B – who is seven. Obviously, we had to work together on it. I didn’t write the poem, per se, but I did coach her on things that rhymed. She really felt happy when it was done. Her topic was faith.)
While writing a poem about faith
I began to think
Of the time I spent yesterday
At the roller-rink.
It may sound funny,
But I think it’s true
Skating and faith are alike in many ways –
Here are a few:
With skating and faith
I would suppose
You must be taught
By someone who knows.
Roller skating and faith
Are both hard to do
No one else can do it –
It must be you.
With roller skating you need balance
Which is something you feel.
Faith, like balance, can’t be seen,
But both are real.
At first skating and faith are hard-
You may want to cry
But you’ll get better if you practice
And give it a try.
Getting good at skating and faith
May take a little while
But when you can do them
You will have a great big smile.
This may seem like a crazy idea to some people. In fact, when I first presented it to our family, I kind of had this skeptical voice in my head saying, “Have them write reports…are you crazy?!”, but it has worked really well so far. The kids are now busy on Sundays with something that is positive and gospel centered. Yet, they are in control of their work, so they seem to be very happy. They love taking ownership, doing a good job, and then getting a positive response. They have also loved doing the creative assignments.
I have also noticed how this has helped them become more comfortable with the scriptures. They are looking in the topical guide. They are figuring out how to make meaning of the scriptures. And when we do creative assignments, they can apply these principles to real-life scenarios (like roller skating!). So…anyways, I thought I’d share this little tradition we’ve started in our family. Maybe you might like it, too.
If you do this, or if you have any other insights, please, let me know…comment and share.