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Saturday, July 3, 2010

Entertaining visiting children / Sacrament meeting

It is always a good thing when investigators to bring their children to Church. However, many kids aren't used to sitting quietly for that long, especially without entertainment! I've found that most parents who just beginning to attend Church are usually unprepared to keep them in their seat for over an hour.

We can help make attending Church a pleasant experience for new families, but one thing that is never pleasant is having half the ward staring at you because your children are racing each other up and down the aisles. I've been caught under-prepared for this situation a few times. I always wish that I could help in some way, but there is only so much doodling a child can do on the back of one Sacrament program, then things start to get ugly again!

There are small things that any of us can do to help in a situation like this by coming to Church armed with a few extra items that are low-cost and easy to obtain (you may already have some of these around the house). The following ideas probably won't work with every age group (like infants or pre-teens), but should definitely help keep the 2-10 age crowd occupied for a little while without distracting too much from the spirit of the meeting.

Bring one (or more) of the following:
  • Coloring book (preferably gender-neutral, or a variety)
  • Pad of plain paper
  • Activity pages and/or coloring pages from the Friend magazine*
  • Crayons or colored pencils
  • Stickers
You don't need to haul in a ton of supplies in every week - I usually just keep a few coloring/activity pages and some crayons on hand in my bag or notebook. I also have an extra stash in my car (just in case it looks like I'm going to need it - I definitely won't have time to run home if a new investigator family shows up with five kids!). This is just a small thing, but it can make a big difference in making Sacrament meeting more peaceful for our investigator families.

*I prefer to use Church/gospel-related pages (like the one shown above) that support the purpose of Sacrament meeting (instead of something like a "Transformers" coloring book). You can print these pages at home for FREE from the Church website's Friend magazine printable "activity archive" section (click here to link to the page) or a non-official church site like - both have pages arranged by topic, so you can choose a variety of pictures and activities that you think would be appropriate. I usually choose general topics like "Service," "Family," or "Christ" instead of more in-depth subjects like "The Word of Wisdom" or "Joseph Smith receives the Priesthood" (which may be less familiar to a new family).

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