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Posts Tagged ‘Recognition Night’

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PJs, makeovers, story time, moms.  What Activity Day girl wouldn’t LOVE this Recognition Activity?  This night had a spiritual message, lots of connecting for moms and daughters, and a healthy dose of fun.  And it actually was fairly simple to execute because the moms brought a lot of the supplies (nice!).

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INVITATION

I didn’t see the actual invite but this activity was called “Mother-Daughter Slumber Party” and it asked each person to bring the following:

  • wear your PJs
  • bring a blanket to sit on
  • bring makeup and a hairbrush to do makeovers (many moms brought makeup that could be “destroyed” because it kind of was…)

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MESSAGE + BEDTIME STORY

The girls were asked to come up to the front of the blanket area for a message about their year-long theme that this group had been focusing on all year: “Daughter of a King”

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  1. One of the purposes of Activity Days – a place to feel safe and learn that they are all different but they have a Heavenly Father who loves them no matter what.
  2. Have the girls look in a mirror and ask, “Who do you see?”  Answers included things like, “myself,” “girls,” etc.
  3. Story: read Daughter of a King by Rachel Ann Nunes (find it used on Amazon here)
  4. Have the girls look in the mirror again and ask, “Now who do you see?”  Answers changed to, “a princess,” “daughter of a king,” etc.
  5. Discuss how each of them is a daughter of a king with potential to do great things. That they have a Heavenly Father who loves them and wants them to return home to Him again.
  6. Each girl stands and shares what they have been working on over the last 6 months in the Faith in God program.
  7. Pillows: explain that the leaders made little pillows for each of the girls to remind them, every time they lay their heads on it, that they are a princess and daughter of a king (the girls take the pillows as they leave later).

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They created small pillows then added a printed card and created a little package for each girl.  Here’s the printable (I think they probably changed the color to navy blue in photoshop).  Clear here for another option.

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BLIND MAKEOVERS

Makeovers are fun but blindfold the one holding the lipstick and you are taking the fun to a whole new level.  The leaders brought the blindfolds (men’s ties or bandanas worked great) while the moms brought the makeup and hair stuff.  The girls started as the artists, followed by the moms.

Note: bring baby wipes so everyone can clean off their faces because they like to try it more than once!

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Nail stuff was located in one section of the gym – the leaders brought all kinds of fabulous polish for moms and daughters to do each other’s nails as part of their makeovers.

And don’t forget fabulous ponytails to complete the look.

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PHOTO SHOOT

Need I say more?

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PILLOW FIGHT

What slumber party would be complete without a pillow fight?  The night ended with a “pillow fight” using huge campfire marshmallows! Don’t kid yourself – it was fun for the girls but the moms were into this!

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REFRESHMENTS

A treat table complete with all kinds of candy and a hot chocolate bar was the fun but simple refreshments for the evening – everyone could go and load up at any time throughout the activities.

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Note: The hot water was very hot – they thought it would cool down quickly but the thermoses did their job and kept it toasty hot.  Keep that in mind and maybe dispense the water beforehand so it has a chance to cool just a little.  Also, because everyone was on the floor and walking around, there were a quite a few hot chocolate spills.  Be prepared for that with clean up supplies or maybe larger cups that aren’t as full would help.  You could also use a paper plate to put their individual treats on as well as their cup and that would have helped everyone know where the cups were placed on the floor and possibly stop part of the hot chocolate if it still spilled.  No one cried over this spilt milk, though!  It was a small hiccough that didn’t put a damper on the fun at all – just something to be prepared for.

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I love any activity that connects parents or families to the girls and helps to build relationships.  This activity did just that.  The message was wonderful and they did a good job of creating a balance of fun with learning a gospel principle.

Thanks for the party in my PJs!

 

 

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I started to help plan this activity but then got a new calling in the Stake.  My new job requires me to attend each Recognition Activity in our area – lucky me!  Our ward finished the plans we started and I got to attend the event tonight!  Here is the plan and some pictures of how it was carried out.  Plus some downloads are coming to help you with your own activity.

Enjoy!IMG_4866

 

Mother Daughter Polka Dot “T” Party – Recognition Night

“T” stands for Testimony :  D.O.T. – Develop Our Testimony
We are going to have a fun but spiritual night where we learn about how to recognize the Holy Ghost and then act on promptings we receive.
Girls and moms are invited to bring their journals.

Opportunities to share their individual growth in testimony development will happen one-on-one with mothers in the Faith Walk.

From the Faith in God Book (Learning and Living the Gospel): Mark these verses about the Holy Ghost in your scriptures: John 14:16–172 Nephi 32:5, and Moroni 10:5. Discuss ways the Holy Ghost helps you.

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WELCOME + SHORT LESSON
One of the 11-year-old girls will do the conducting for the meeting and another lead the music.
“Left-Right Game” (We are using this post for inspiration – including the “Left Right Game”)

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HOLY GHOST OBSTACLE COURSE: We’ll do a blindfold obstacle course where the moms will guide their daughters through a course set up with found objects.  The other participants will serve as distracters and the girls will work to listen to the still small voice of Mom.

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Following the obstacle course, share the pocketknife story from this article: “Learning to Hear and Understand the Spirit” by David McConkie in the February 2011 Ensign.  Discussion:  How is the obstacle course experience like the pocketknife story?  How can we recognize the Holy Ghost?  How does the Holy Ghost speak to us?  What can we do to increase the influence of the Holy Ghost in our lives?

 

FAITH WALK: We will give the mothers and daughters one-on-one experiences in a “Faith Walk” to talk about things of the Spirit and how to increase their commitment to listening to the Holy Ghost.IMG_4846

We’ll have different 2-minute “stations” will be set up around the church with a small/short learning activity such as unscrambling the letters of a word puzzle or cracking  a secret code to spell a word or a scripture to look up and read –  maybe the word is “Holy Ghost” or “Joseph Smith” – including the 5 parts of a testimony found in “The Testimony Glove“.   Then it will have a question or scenario to discuss that goes along with each phrase or scripture.   Moms and daughters will talk about each scenario or scripture and make commitments for how they can increase their testimony.  One station will include the Faith in God requirement listed at the top of this post.  Each station will only be about 2 minutes long – a quick puzzle/code /scripture to look up with a question or prompt to discuss with moms.

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Example: Joseph Smith (unscramble letters to create the word): “What do I know about the story of Joseph Smith and the First Vision?”  “What can I do to increase mine and my family’s understanding of the First Vision?”

See what I mean?  Sharing about their growth in the gospel, setting goals together of how to move forward in their testimonies….pretty awesome sharing going on.

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Throughout this walk, give girls opportunities to share what they are doing to increase their faith & strengthen their testimonies of various gospel principles (this is reporting progress of Learning and Living the Gospel).

(Use the Testimony Glove printable found in the Friend here) or just make your own like our group did!  Each station earned a sticker that is applicable to the testimony principle.

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LESSON + JOURNALS: We are asking the girls to bring their journals (because they already have so many and we don’t want to spend budget money).  We will meet back together to have a short lesson about testimonies using “How to Acquire Spiritual Guidance” by Elder Richard G. Scott.  Consider reading “How the Holy Ghost Makes Me Feel” by Michele Leigh Carnesecca.  Have each person (moms, too) to write their own testimonies in their journals.  We will have a few spare journals or journal sheets available if someone doesn’t bring their own.  Click below to download this page.

Journaling Page - Polka Dot Journaling Page – Polka Dot

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INVITATION INSPIRATION: Of course, everyone will be encouraged to wear polka dots – and tea party cakes and treats will be served.  I was thinking that a version of this is great invitation inspiration.  Easy, unique, special…but easy.

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Here are some 5 x 7 and 6 x 6 versions of this royal printable, inspired by a recent Daddy Daughter Ball – Activity Days Recognition Night I attended.  Click on the name below the image to get each color.  If it pulls up as a new page then simply right click to save as a new file somewhere that you can find.  Click here to see where I got the magical inspiration for this printable.

Enjoy!

Be Loyal to the Royal - 5x7 teal5 x 7 teal
5 x 7 raspberry
5 x 7 navy
5 x 7 coral

Be Loyal to the Royal - 6x6 raspberry

6 x 6 teal
6 x 6 raspberry
6 x 6 navy
6 x 6 coral

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I only attended this activity as a guest so I can’t give you the play-by-play, behind-the-scenes plan.  But I will share what I have because….this is worth sharing…and doing.

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It was meaningful.

It was simple.

It was about connecting.

It was about developing relationships.

It was about celebrating these girls.

It was a lovely evening and I invite you to try it with your own Activity Day group.  Here’s how it went down:

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Everyone dressed up – looking darling and handsome.  They gathered at tables for a short program, had dessert and a photo booth opportunity, then the dancing began.  That was the extent of it.  But from the twirls and spins and dips I saw on the dance floor, it was a magical night for these darling girls and their dads.

  1. welcome
  2. short message from a member of the bishopric
  3. chocolate fountain bar for dessert
  4. photo booth (with props)
  5. dancing

DECOR:

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I wish I had a copy of the invitation, but I don’t.  We will settle for the pictures I took that night with my phone.  They strung a few strands of twinkling lights criss-cross across the gym to create a “dance floor” vibe.  Kind of retro.  Kind of Town Square Courtyard feel.  Festive enough to feel special.  The girls were taught how to create tissue paper poms at a previous activity (a life-skill if I’ve ever heard of one) and those added to the decor.

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The tables had simple vases with silver branches to add some sparkle.  There is never much of a budget for these things and I loved seeing them use their money on the most important parts of the event – the dessert was a special treat and the “gifts and favors” were meaningful and added to the event.

FAVOR:

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The bishopric counselor gave a wonderful (and short – about 5 minutes) message introducing their theme, “Daughter of a Heavenly King.”  He talked about the song “Daughter of a King” by Jenny Phillips as well as a quote, “Be loyal to the royal within you.”  Both became a little bundled favor for each girl to take home – a copy of the song and the printable.   (There are many printables available online with this phrase if you do a simple search.)

Playing the song for the girls and their dads would have been a simple addition.  Or perhaps have this song playing over and over as they arrived at the event.  Either would have been a way to incorporate the actual song to the evening if you wanted to.

CHOCOLATE FOUNTAIN BAR:

I thought that this dessert option was genius for a couple of reasons.  I believe (this is totally my opinion) that serving a meal is often over-rated and an interesting dessert can usually (not always, but often) serve the same purpose.  The reason I say this is because of the time and money it takes to do a meal is high and we can often get the same result just doing a dessert or smaller food item.

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The second reason why this idea was so fabulous was because it was SPECIAL.  Who has a chocolate fountain for dessert on a regular basis?  Not me!  It is fun and interactive and individual and SPECIAL.  It made everyone there feel important and made the night feel magical.  Plus, it probably didn’t cost a huge amount of money to provide the chocolate, some cut fruit, pretzels, cinnamon bears, marshmallows, etc.  Great idea, ladies!

PHOTO BOOTH + PROPS:

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Girls and dads chose props and had their pictures taken in sets of 3 – just like a photo booth.  I have a feeling these pictures will find their way back to the girls in strips of 3 photos (just like a photo booth would produce) and it’s a great idea.  If you don’t want to tackle that photoshop task, one picture is just as fun to commemorate the evening.

(UPDATE) – I was right!  Here’s an example of the 3 photos each Daddy/Daughter pair received from their awesome leaders.  So fun!

 

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GIFT FOR DAD:

If dancing with your little princess wasn’t enough, each father received a gift from their daughter.  I loved what these leaders helped the girls do for their dads.  They decorated a frame but the photo inside was darling – an individual black and white shot of each girl (with a white background).  Someone is good at this photography thing in the group because the photos were great and then they photoshopped a little crown and “Daughter of a King” label onto each image before inserting them into the frames.

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With each photo was a letter to Dad from their daughter.  This was a great opportunity to share their growth in the gospel, their goals, their achievements, and their love for their fathers.  This letter was one of my favorite parts of the whole activity.  What a treasure for these fathers to take home.

DANCING:

The dance took up about half of the hour and a half event.  Disney tunes, upbeat versions of Primary tunes and other completely uplifting and wholesome music was played once the dessert and dance started.  Lots of giggling, lots of twirling, lots of cool dance moves were going on.  Most of all – lots of love was being shared.

It was a magical night to remember.   It made me wish I was 10 years old.

This activity inspired me to design this printable.   Thank you to the wonderful leaders who created such a fabulous evening!

Enjoy!

Be Loyal to the Royal - 6x6 raspberry

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Yee Haw!  if you are wondering what activity to do for 8-11 year-old girls and their dads, look no further.  We had a record turnout for this event.  To me, that is the the way you determine if you are meeting the needs of your girls.  If they show up or not.  We had about 30 out of 36 girls come for this 2-hour Recognition Night activity and they brought their fathers or a special “cowboy” in their life with them.

Sister Missionary Quote - Hinckley - Unmerged

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Everyone was invited to wear their best rodeo outfit (because girls love to dress up….and lots of dads do, too!) and to come ready for some hoe down activities!  We gave each girl a Sherriff’s badge when they arrived and that’s how they were divided into groups.  We started with a very short welcome and words of appreciation to the fathers for supporting their girls in Activity Days.  We explained how the rotations would work and got started.

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Rotation 1: Horseback Riding

This was the highlight of the day, of course.  We have a riding stable in our area where the owner donates a couple hours to us to use.  He teaches the girls (no time for the dad’s to ride!) and gives them an opportunity to participate.  If you do not have this option, don’t worry!  The activity is so fun even without that.  Just add more games and they will have the time of their lives.

And no, I don’t have any pictures of this part….I was busy in another area and I’m highly allergic to horses so I avoided the arena and ended up at the end of the event with no photos of the awesome riders!  Dang!

Rotation 2: Games

Pioneer Clothes Relay Race – Dads dressed up in the women’s dresses and girls dressed up as cowboys for this relay race.  The dads made all the girls giggle with their silly antics.

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Target Shooting – use rubberband guns, marshmallow catapults, nerf guns or anything else for some target shooting.

Rotation 3: Calf Roping and Races

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3-Legged Race – Tie dads and girls’ legs together for the classic 3-legged race.  We did it multiple times because you get better as you go with this activity!

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Calf Roping – With an expert calf roper to teach us the technique, the girls worked with their dads to lasso up a hay bale calf or two.

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Pictures – While doing the calf-roping, we pulled dads and daughters away for a photo shoot against the barn.  I wanted to keep it simple so we just brought a barstool and had the dads sit on that with the girls next to them or on their laps.  The barnyard was a great backdrop to remember the activity.  I took the pictures both horizontally and vertically because I don’t know exactly what we will do with them and I wanted to make sure we had options later for making a gift for their dads.

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Rotation 4: Line Dancing

One of our leaders put together the Cotton-Eyed Joe line dance routine for the girls and their dads and let me tell you – there are some awesome dad dancers in our group!  Make sure you have plenty of water for water breaks during the activity – especially after some high-speed dancing!

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Refreshments: Root Beer Floats

No need to serve dinner – just make some homemade root beer and add the ice cream for yummy root beer floats.  Have plenty of Garbage bags available for a quick and easy clean-up.

We finished off with a whole group line dance performance and a few words about Activity Days.  In our group, we try to make every activity support the Faith in God program requirements so that if the girls come to the activities then they will almost have their Faith In God Award earned by the time they get to Young Womens.  We try to communicate this message as much as possible so we talked about it briefly to the dads that day and thanked them for their support of their girls.

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It was a great activity that can be varied a million ways.   Just look on pinterest for cowboy activities or games and you’ll have too many ideas!  The idea is to get the girls working together with their dads to accomplish something and it was a hit!

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Want a fabulous, fun and meaningful service experience for Activity Days or any or youth group?  Here it is.  We have done activities focused on individual worth and personal development and building relationships and we decided it was time to do an activity centered solely on service.

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SECRET SERVICE MISSION

We pin-lifted this idea from theficklepickle.  as our starting point.  The girls became “Secret Service Agents” who received a top secret mission delivered to their homes in a large manila envelope.  Click on the links below to see what was included in the “Top Secret Mission” package:

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Susan (our leader who was in charge of the packets) pretty much just reworked the downloads from theficklepickle.  Why reinvent something that was already done so well?  Susan also included a different list of service ideas from this blog post by katharinemaries.com.

To personalize their Mission Packets we asked each girl to choose a “Secret Agent Name” which was used as the label on their envelope.  Names could be a number or nickname or something they liked.  We had “Agent Triple S Squid,” and “Agent Nerdy Bird,” and “Agent Flexken 2” but my personal favorite: “Agent M&M Mad Dog.”  Oh, she’s fierce.  All 42 pounds of her.

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GOAL: Practice doing acts of service in a variety of situations and locations.  Learn to see where they can help and act on those observations. Recognize the joy that comes from serving.

Two weeks before the night of the activity the girls received their Secret Service Mission Packets.   During the next two weeks, they were to plan and execute a week’s worth of secret service.  Seven days.  Seven acts of service.  Ideas were listed in their packets.  Everything from taking shopping carts back, holding a public door open for others for 10 minutes straight and smiling at people to inviting someone to play, reading to a younger sibling, or baking cookies for a neighbor.

Each girl wrote down their service experiences each day.  What they did, how they felt, and what the reaction was.  They used this written report to share their experiences at our Recognition Night.

RECOGNITION NIGHT

INVITE

An invitation was included in the Top Secret Mission packet described above – delivered two weeks before the event.  All parents were invited to attend with their daughters and everyone was encouraged to dress in their best spy gear if they chose.   When they arrived to the activity we gave each of the girls a sticker nametag with their Secret Agent Name on it so they could stay in character.

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DECORATIONS

During the weeks before the activity we asked the girls to wear their hair in a ponytail if possible and took profile pictures of each girl.  We then cut out a silhouette from that picture, mounted it to a circle of cardstock (created by cutting it with an Xacto knife and a dinner plate as a template) and then mounted it again to a 12×12 sheet of cardstock.  Tip: an easy way to cut the silhouettes was to print each photo in draft quality on a full-size 8.5″x11″ sheet of paper.  Hold a white sheet of paper under the photo and cut around the silhouette shape in the photo to create your clean white silhouette cut-out.  The photo becomes the pattern for cutting.  Try to get as detailed as possible.  There is no need to trace each picture to get a good silhouette so skip that step and simply use the photo as the pattern.  Wearing their hair up somehow, made a much better silhouette than having it down.

The “secret silhouettes” became the backdrop for our activity as well as an ice breaker as each person tried to figure out who was who on the wall!

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PROGRAM

WELCOME + LESSON: Since we love to have the program focus on the girls themselves, we had a short lesson by a leader “Agent Hadley” who taught for about 7 minutes about the power of working together in our service efforts.  She used this talk as a reference and emphasized the impact they all can make if everyone chooses to work together in their efforts to do a little service.  Plus, she was funny.  That was a bonus.

AGENT REPORTS: Each girl shared their Secret Agent Name and then reported on their service experiences over the last week.  They shared their feelings about service and their favorite secret service ideas.  If you’re thinking that this would take a long time, think again.  8-11 year-old girls like to talk for about 45 seconds each.  Bam.  Done.  Move on to the next person.

SERVICE PROJECTS  TO GO: Since the girls had spent the last two weeks focusing on serving within their sphere of influence, much of their effort happened in their own homes.  We wanted to extend their service even more to the community.  We moved to another room where we offered two other service projects that they completed with their parents.  We wrote the instructions to each project on the board.

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Service Project #1: “Thanks for Serving Me” Treats – 5 bubblegum packets each.  They tied a tag to each little treat bag and were instructed to give them to people in the community who helped them.  The bank teller, the crossing guard, the cashier…just keep them in the car or in their mom’s purse and hand them out when they receive help from someone else.  What a better way to watch for service in their lives – not only were we encouraging them to give service but to be grateful for the service that was done for them as well.  This idea was found here in the super comprehensive and creative list of ways for kids (and grown-ups!) to serve.  We pulled it out to add to our experience of service that night.

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Place all of the supplies on a table and let the girls choose which tags and treat combos they want to use.  Another small table held the scissors and hole punches.  A length of masking tape was a great way to help the girls measure the twine lengths themselves.  We wanted them to be independent and paying attention to the set up of the activity helped them make that happen.

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Here’s the download for the tags I created for this project.  These can also be included in Project Life books or used as other paper crafting projects, tags, labels and cards.  Click on the title below to download the tags.  Print them out on basic cardstock (my go-to for church activities is a ream of white cardstock found at Wal-mart for about $5).  Cut the tags apart and they are ready for your event.

Thank You for Serving – Tags Thank You for Serving - Tags with watermark

Service Project #2: Fleece Dog Toys – donated to a local animal shelter.  The toys were then sent home with adopted dogs.  Let me tell you – girls LOVE doing things for little doggies!  Click here for instructions.  Be sure to check with your animal shelter to make sure that these can be donated there – the dogs couldn’t use them at the shelter itself because of threads and fabric getting in the air circulation system but they were willing to send one home with each adopted dog as a keepsake.

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We were done in about an hour.  With everything.  And look at what happened in that hour – it was an activity packed with meaningful contributions from each girl, parental involvement, and a way to extend their experiences beyond the activity itself.  And we have loved hearing about their opportunities to hand out their thank you treats.  It took some bravery on their part and the excitement they felt when they recognized service being done to them and then expressed thanks for it was thrilling.

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We are so proud of them for taking on their “Secret Service Missions” so completely and energetically.  And a shout out to the parents for supporting and encouraging them in their tasks.  Plan ahead and do this activity with your youth or children’s group – it’s a keeper.

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IMG_0618 Have you ever had one of those experiences where everything comes together perfectly?  When reality surpasses all of your ideas of how something should go?  When a good idea becomes a great moment because all the stars align and everyone actually does their part and you end up with a perfect evening instead of simply a good idea?

That’s what happened at our last Activity Days Recognition Night.  The idea was not mine.  I stole it.  I’m a big believer in building on ideas that are already good and proven and then adapting them to fit our individual needs.  This activity was passed from my sister to my sister-in-law with fabulous results.  They did it for their young women’s groups (ages 12-18) but I knew it would translate perfectly for our 8-11 year-olds.

UPDATE:

I think another reason this is a perfect activity is because of the feedback I have since received from so many groups who have tried it and found it successful.  I love hearing your ideas and how you put your own spin on it – notice the update below about how one group is using it as a Mother/Daughter Activity.  Use this post as a jumping off point – either do it like we did or do your own thing.  It all works! 

 

 

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UPDATE:  I have received emails and comments about the invite so I’ll add that here.  I purchased glassine bags (look like wax paper) very inexpensively from amazon.com.  Click here to see the ones I chose.  They are 4 1/2″ x 6 3/4″ in size (11.4 cm x 17.1 cm).  I used that size because they came in a package of 100 for only about $10 and the numbers worked out that we could use one package for both the invitations and the refreshments so I got them large enough to put the popcorn in.

I designed the invite in Illustrator and it is not possible to offer you a file that you can manipulate in Word so you won’t be able to just use this invite, but I’ll tell you that it doesn’t have to look exactly like this to be darling.  Add some baker’s twine (I pick mine up from pickyourplum.com whenever the spools go on sale because it is heavyweight and lasts forever).  I put ALL the info on the invite so that everyone could be prepared with their presentations.  

If you look at the picture further down in this post you’ll see the back of the invite has the message to the parents and what their responsibility is that night.  To create the gray lattice on the back I used my Silhouette Cameo and cut out one of my pattern shapes. I used that as a mask and simply placed it over the back of each invite and lightly sprayed spray paint over the top.  I didn’t take the time to adhere the mask so I just sprayed very carefully directly over the top of the page (a little farther from the page so that it wouldn’t blow the mask up) and called it good.  I like the effect of the paint being blended and “not perfectly crisp.”  If you want the pattern more crisp then you’ll probably need to use removable adhesive to adhere the mask down each time.

Text About the Bags Said This:

GIRLS, PLEASE BRING A BAG THAT REPRESENTS YOU (such as your backpack, purse, dance bag, sports bag, etc.)

and fill it with three items that reflect YOUR PROGRESS in each of the three areas of the Faith In God program (be prepared to share about them for 3 minutes total)

1.  Learning & Living the Gospel

2.  Serving Others

3.  Developing Talents

 

Overview:

Each girl brings a bag of their choice (purse, backpack, dance bag, whatever) with 3 things in it – one item for each of the 3 areas of the Faith in God program (service, living the gospel, developing talents).  They knew they would share for no more than 3 minutes total about their items and I was totally impressed with their preparation and the thought they put into their items.  Consider letting them know that their parent can share for them if they are too nervous – we don’t want anyone not coming because they are scared to share in front of a group.  Make it accessible and be sensitive to everyone’s needs if you can.

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We started with a very short message about “what we are carrying” in the bags of our lives and how to keep the most important things handy.  Then each girl shared their items in their bags – what each item represented and why they included it. (Scroll down to the “Update” because Mindy put together a great lesson for this portion.  I’ve shared her idea below).

The “Service” category included things like writing to their brothers on their missions, helping friends at school and babysitting the neighbor’s baby.  For “Developing Talents,” we learned a lot about the loves and hobbies of our girls.  Piano, softball, sewing, reading, dance, karate, and even cutting vinyl!  Lots of talents were shared and celebrated that night.  Finally, as the girls shared about “Learning and Living the Gospel,” we learned about scriptures, prayer, Primary, and family home evening.  Each girl was very thoughtful in what they chose to bring in their bag.  They had practiced what they were going to say and did a wonderful job of talking about their own progress in the Faith in God program.

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What could be better than the program being carried out by the girls themselves?  It was often touching, sometimes funny, definitely surprising, and always meaningful.  We learned that Savannah earned her lacrosse bag by selling 29 coupon books in the fundraiser!  No one else even came close!

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We learned that Olivia aspires to be a fashion designer and learned to crochet from just one 30 minute lesson from her mom.  Oh, and she loves pigs.

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We learned that Karissa has been befriending a less-fortunate girl at school who was being teased by their classmates and Madison has been working on developing her talents in the kitchen – especially with “baked goods.”  Yum.

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Parents:

After their daughter shared their items, parents were asked to take 1 minute to share ONE QUALITY that they have seen grow in their daughter over the last 6 months.  It was a focused, simple way to have parents share publicly about their daughter but keep the time under control.  Happy tears were shed, smiles were plentiful and there were lots of spontaneous hugs to go around.

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About 45 minutes and 20 girls later (not bad, right?), we wrapped things up with a short message encouraging the girls to cling to their parents as one of the best things they could “carry” with them throughout their lives.  We then gave each girl a letter from their parents that we had gathered before the evening.  This step takes forever to pull together but it’s worth every phone call and reminder text to track down a letter for each girl.  Treasures.  That’s what those letters were.  Not only did each girl get to share their goals and achievements, but they got to hear what makes them special from their parents – both verbally and in writing.  And the whole fabulous night only lasted a total of about 1 hour and 15 minutes.

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Decorations:

So simple.  We just gathered shopping bags from appropriate shops and stores that coordinated (pink, black and white became our color-scheme because that’s that the majority of shopping bags color motif).  We  used my trusty pedestals in our colors and placed shopping bags on and around them.

Add some tissue paper in each bag and tie a balloon to the handle and you’ve got fun and beautiful decor on the cheap.  I used my foamboard covered in fabric as a backdrop and added some pink banners and called it good.  I think the decorations cost about $2 for the tissue paper that I didn’t have on hand.

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Refreshments:

Popcorn drizzled in white chocolate (thinned just a touch to make it light and easy to pour) and placed in the rest of the glassine bags (same as we used for the invites).  I used box lids as the “trays” and covered it in wrapping paper to keep the color-scheme going.  Those glassine bags were also used for our invitations.  I purchased a package of 100 for $10 and we had enough for both the invites as well as the popcorn.

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Easy.

Simple.

Meaningful.

My top 3 qualifications for a great idea.  This one didn’t disappoint.  It’ll work for any group, young or old, boys, girls, whatever.  It’s easily adapted and totally perfect.  Perfect because it is focused on each individual.  It’s for them, about them, and in celebration of them.  And that’s what turns this good idea into a great one.

Try it with your group and let me know how it goes.  I can’t wait to hear.

(UPDATE):

You can scroll down and look at the comment from Lori to find an awesome way in which they are adapting this idea for a Mother/Daughter activity.  The bags the girls bring are going to be all about THEIR MOTHERS.  Love it.  Thank you so much for sharing, Lori!  Here’s her thoughts…..

 

(ANOTHER UPDATE): 

Another group in our neighborhood did this same activity this week – here is how they ROCKED IT!

LESSON IDEA: Mindy brought her own biking bag and in it were various items that are used to PROTECT her when she rides.  She discussed each item and how it protects her PHYSICALLY.  

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Then she pulled out the things that protect us SPIRITUALLY and talked about each one.  This lesson idea keeping the things close to use that will protect us and help us return to our Heavenly Father can be easily adapted if you are not a cyclist like Mindy.  Great idea.   

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FAVORITE MOMENT:  The girls all did a darling job as they shared what was in their bags and how they had grown in the gospel and in life.  But when Autumn shared that she has been working on magic tricks – THEN DID ONE FOR US – well, that was my favorite moment of the night!  Where else could you see “The Amazing Autumn” than at Activity Days?   

 

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 BEST. TREAT. EVER.  Can you say popcorn bar?  Mindy found recipes on Pinterest for a variety of popcorn flavors and let everyone scoop their own bag.  By making her own, it only cost about $20 for this treat and it added such a great atmosphere of celebration.  Plus, the room smelled yummy!

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