Young Women Night of Excellence: Family History Fair

I thought I'd share with you today a Young Women's activity, which is actually my calling (not teaching Relief Society like you might think).  I love Young Women's!  This is the time of year when the Young Women put on a Night of Excellence to highlight Personal Progress.  These last two years, we have done this event in a different way than I'm accustomed and I LOVE it.  It wasn't my idea but I'm so grateful that this idea came to our ward.  Instead of just talking or showing about Personal Progress, we have made YW Night of Excellence into a doing activity.  Last year, we sewed pillowcases for the Children's Hospital.  It was a great opportunity to have the Relief Society join us in a big service project.  We had a massive assembly line and made a TON of pillowcases.  It was such a great feeling to come together with the YW and Relief Society sisters and serve together.  We just HAD to do something again this year.  Its seems to us that the subject of Family History has been brought up to the youth a lot lately so we decided to do a Family History Fair!

I thought it was a lot fun, got people doing and thinking, as well as highlighted some Personal Progress.  We invited the Relief Society sisters again.  Here's what what we did:

First we wanted hands on activities but also technology so we came up with 4 classes:

1. Family History Family Home Evening Kits

2. Indexing

3. Write Your Own Story

4. Digital Storytelling

Two of the 4 classes needed computers and were even better if people could bring a device (laptop or tablet) but not necessary.  The other two require a little bit of crafting and assembling.  We sent sign up sheets around on the Sundays before so we knew how many to expect for each class.  The Young Women picked which ones they wanted to teach and we went from there (after all it is their night).  We taught 2 classes at a time for about 35 minutes each.  Each class was only offered once.  When the YW weren't teaching, they were attending a class with their mom. 

1. Family History Family Home Evening Kits- Thanks to Pinterest I was able to find a fabulous kit done by "A Year of FHE." She does such an amazing job on her Family Home Evening Lessons.  I loved the handouts and idea with this lesson.  Instead of the family tree she used, however, I used this one.  Its a tree that you can add your own thumbprints to and make a family history tree.  I love the idea of the thumbprints!  I want to do ours then frame it!  I also added a family history mobile that I found here under "Teaching Children About Family History."  Its a big packet full of activities.  I decided to just print out the mobile and insert the activity at the end of the lesson that "A Year of FHE" did.  Also, at the end of the lesson, I added a Family History Notebook.  We are currently doing this notebook with one set of Grandparents and plan to continue with each set to create our own family history notebooks.  For the notebooks, I bought a whole bunch of composition notebooks at the Back to School Sales for 10 cents each so it wasn't hard to get a lot.  Next, I bought a great scrapbooking packet from Hobby Lobby (use the 40% off coupon!).  I also managed to snag some Washi tape for free at Office Depot and Office Max with all the sales going on and we were ready!  Put a layer of Modge Podge on the notebook, add some scrapbooking paper (do the front and back one at a time) then Modge Podge over the whole thing.  We folded some paper over to inside then put another layer on top of the inside so it looked nice.  The notebook will bend a bit due to the Modge Podge (or use this homemade version) but if you put it under some heavy books after it dries, its no big deal.  Modge Podge will keep the paper from tearing off as you send it back and forth.  Decorate it however you please- I put a picture of the Grandparents we were doing on the front.  I brought lots of different styled scissors too so people could get creative.  At FHE, come up with questions as family you want to ask a particular family member that you want to get to know better.  We started with really simple ones but still learned something new about each other.  Answer your own questions then leave a page for the family member to answer.  Next, mail it to that family member, they answer and ask more questions.  Continue until the notebook is filled!  We like to add pictures and maps to our book as we go along.  Its been really fun and I totally recommend it (try it as a Christmas gift and at the end of the year, type up a copy for you and that family member).  Decorating the notebooks took most of the time. I had some sample questions for people to look at too so they could jot down a few for their FHE time.  I also think this lesson can be broken up into two parts with all the activities that are included which is fabulous. Oh! And I put butcher paper on all the tables since we were working with Modge Podge and I wanted an easy clean up! I put the Modge Podge in plastic cups and we used foam brushes to spread it on the notebooks. 

2. Indexing- Indexing is so easy but a lot of people still don't know what it is!  This is a great time to teach and start Indexing.  We asked people to BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) if possible so they could start indexing right away.  If people didn't have one to bring, no big deal- we just hooked up a projector and worked through some names together (some names are tough to read!).  If you don't know how to do Indexing, read this great article and how to here.  It really is not very hard and I love that all the YW can do it as well as the Relief Society sisters.  People DO need to know how to log in to their LDS account to do this, however, so make sure they know before they come!!

3. Write Your Own Story- Sometimes this can seem like such an impossible task that we wanted to break it down and provide a time to start writing.  We brought examples from our relatives of short stories that they had written.  The idea is to start by writing just one story- about one Christmas, or one birthday not your whole life story all at once.  One sister's mom wrote 40 short stories this way and they are very treasured books.  Her kids would read them all the time.  Another wrote short stories but compiled it in one notebook with photos and newspaper clippings, pictures, etc. about one specific phase of life (examples: When I was Young, My Years in the Air Force).  The great thing about short stories is they make excellent bedtime stories and are great for school projects!  We provided scrapbooking paper for the covers and blank paper for the inside.  After they wrote their story, they hole punched it twice and strung yarn through to tie it all together.  We also provided stickers, colored pencils, and stencils for people to use with their stories.  Most people wanted to have the questions to just fill out but we really wanted them to write just one simple short story.  I did however, bring questions for them to look at and get their minds going.  If you prefer to use the question format, however, I like this one

4. Digital Storytelling- Essentially making your own home movies out of pictures and other videos you have taken.  This was an instructional class on how to use movie making software that most computers come with or that's not hard to find.  She taught how to do transitions between pictures, how to add music, how to add titles, etc.  Its a great class.  If they were able to BYOD then they could start making their video as they learned.  These make great Christmas presents/ Year in Review for New Year's activities. Plus its great  to be able to know how to put your pictures on CD as a back up.  Its really easy to grab a case of CDs versus a suitcase of pictures in an emergency.

After the classes we met back together for a spiritual thought about why we picked Family History and how it ties into Personal Progress.  As we connect with our ancestors we progress ourselves.  Then it was time for pie because what's a fair without pie!

For decorations we used quilts as tablecloths and decor.  We put some quilts over easels to display next to the tables.  Then I grabbed all the baskets I had around my house to put on the table, picked up a bushel of hay, and got some metal cake pans to use to create different height.  I also was lucky enough to have one of those tiered dessert displays.  I grabbed some jars of various sizes and stuck some flowers in them and set them all around the table as well.  Nice and simple but beautiful (of course, I should have moved the chairs from the behind the table- oh well).  I recommend having just cold pie so you don't have to worry about heating any pie up during your activity!   I also put butcher paper on the tables we were eating on with a tin of crayons just for fun. 

It was a successful night where we were able to gather with Relief Society sisters and Young Women and do something together.  I'm really grateful that we were able to do this activity.   I have a few more ideas pinned to my Family History Fair board if you want to check it out. 

Do you have some great Family History activities?  I'd love to hear about them!