Monday, May 14, 2012

Public Speaking is Bananas


To make a public-speaking activity more 'appetizing', I've combined it with a banana-split incentive. 
Give a short presentation on speaking (focusing on speaking in Church, specifically), giving tips on what to do and what not to do (such as don't say "um", be sure to make eye contact, etc). 

After the presentation, give each girl a frozen chocolate-dipped banana in a bowl and a pen & paper, but tell them to wait to start eating because they can earn toppings for their 'banana split" by spotting the 'mistakes' in a faux talk that you will give. Give a short (1 minute) talk while really over-exaggerating mistakes that you have talked about (1 for each topping that you have to offer). Have the girls write down the mistakes you are making and they get an extra topping for each correct "mistake" they identify in your talk.

I got the idea for little banana splits from this cute dessert:   

but you could use regular banana splits with ice cream, etc. You could assign each "mistake" they catch a specific topping, like....

no eye contact with the audience - cherry
saying 'um' - whipped cream
telling the audience that you didn't prepare - nuts
talking really fast - chocolate sauce
mumbling the name of Jesus Christ at the end - sprinkles

MATERIALS NEEDED: Prepared 1-minute "talk" for you to read, frozen bananas and toppings, paper & pens

PURPOSE: Teaching girls some of the skills needed to give a better talk in Sacrament meeting (and public speaking in general)

UPDATE: We did this activity last week and the girls had a lot of fun. I tried to emphasis some of the common 'mistakes' or 'less-effective' approaches that are frequently seen/heard in our area, such as....

I taught them that we do not discuss sacred things (such as sacred aspects of temple ordinances/teachings and Patriarchal blessings). We have a lot of people in our area who talk openly about their Patriarchal blessings in talks/lessons, so many people think this is acceptable to do in a church context, when they are meant to be shared only with immediate family members. Sacred is sacred. We shouldn't make exceptions because we're speaking in a Church context and develop a "well, we're all Church members here" attitude (especially because sometimes the congregation is not all Church members).

Another thing I discussed is that that we tend to hear (almost weekly) the same phrases over and over "I know without a shadow of a doubt...." "I love each and every one of you, even though I don't know all of you..." "This talk was mostly for me, because I learned more than anyone..." "I would be remiss if I did not stand and thank my Heavenly Father..." and "I didn't want to give a talk, but the Bishop cornered me in the hall..." I explained that while all of these phrases might be true for the person using them, saying those same exact phrases out of habit or because everyone else says them is pretty close to  'vain repetitions' and tends to come across as less than genuine. I encouraged them to try to avoid using phrases just out of habit and to think of their own way to say what they need to.  

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Make ribbon headbands / Thoughts on sewing

I think that sewing skills are essential for girls and boys. It isn't just about 'homemaking'.... its about being frugal, practical, and self-sufficient. For example, you're going to look pretty sloppy if you don't know how to sew on a button or fix a droopy hem. Buying a new shirt or paying someone to hem your pants isn't always an option, especially for college students, newlyweds, or missionaries who are all living on limited funds.

Of course, it goes beyond doing repairs. If you can make your own skirts you have a lot more wardrobe options (and can control the length). And there are so many other uses for basic sewing skills - like making gifts (pajama pants, church bags/purses, pillowcases, etc).

The thing is, people start to panic when you say you want them to learn to sew.  I started to learn this years ago when I was in our Ward's Relief Society Presidency. The Stake Presidency wanted the sisters to learn practical homemaking skills, but if we mentioned the word 'sewing', people started running the other direction. It just seems very difficult, complex, and old-fashioned to many people. And this was my experience with adult women, not teenage girls.

I had a feeling that most of our young women would not be interested in learning to sew. And when we had them fill out an 'interest' survey... my suspicions were confirmed.

So, I was thinking about how to sneakily introduce them to sewing without making a big deal about it and sending them running. I want them to see that it doesn't have to be difficult, and it can be fun.

I came across a website (click on link below photos) that has instructions for making your own headbands using a piece of ribbon, a piece of elastic, and a needle & thread. So, its hand-sewing (less intimidating than a machine, for sure) and simple enough for a beginner to make:

For complete instructions (and also a video with instructions), click here

Purpose: Teach beginning sewing skills and frugality

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Container Gardening / Pico de Gallo salsa

For this activity, we learned about container gardening and followed a recipe to prepare a snack, all going along with the 'faith' theme we had for the month 

Container gardening: Plant seeds (something easy to care for and fast-growing like herbs) in pots. Explain the care needed for growing plants for food. We planted cilantro seeds, since that went along well with making the pico de gallo, but you could plant anything.

Talk about how faith is like a seed: (See Alma 32:27–43)

Learn to make ‘pico de gallo’ salsa: (fresh salsa, no cooking required). Recipe below.

Eat the salsa with chips: You can also double or triple the recipe if you need to, or if you want to send some pico de gallo home with the girls (in that case, bring tupperware).


  • 6 roma (plum) tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 lime

Directions: Stir the tomatoes, onion, and cilantro together in a bowl. Squeeze the juice of one lime over the top and stir again. Refrigerate for at least 10 minutes before serving. Serves @ 6 people (generous servings)


PURPOSE: Reinforce the concept of faith being like a seed, learn practical self-reliance skills of gardening and food preparation.



Temple marriage handout (or invite)

I made this handout for a Sunday lesson I'm doing about temple marriage, but if you are doing any type of temple / wedding theme activity, this would be a cute handout to take home as a reminder.

This idea could also be modified to create an invitation to come to a temple-related activity.

This is a traditional wedding invitation:

and here is the temple-wedding invitation I made for the girls, using the same free template:

I used the monogram style template shown in the first photo, but I copied the whole thing to a Word document so that I could crop out the monogram and add a picture of the temple. I cut off the monogram to make it simpler, but you could keep it if you wanted to edit it and print them all seperately so that you had a monogram of each girl's initial.

 I found the temple clipart here

I changed the traditional wedding-invite wording a bit, of course, since this isn't for an actual wedding, but more to encourage them to prepare for a temple marriage. Instead of listing the parents' names as most people do on wedding invitations, I worded it so that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ are the ones that are doing the inviting.

The text reads,

"You Heavenly Father and His Son Jesus Christ invite you to be married in His Holy Temple, where you will make sacred covenants that will enable your marriage & family relationships to endure forever"

and I also added, "BYOW&WC" (kind of a spoof on BYOB - or, bring your own beverage), which stands for "Bring your own worthiness & a worthy companion"

To go to the Wedding Chicks website for printing free wedding invitations  (add your own text), click here