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Our 2017 School Theme
It isn’t fair!! I felt like September quietly snuck up on us. The warm lazy hazy days of summer were replaced by falling leaves and a crisp fall air. I didn’t feel ready!! Maybe it had something to do with using all my free time this summer, to laminate everything in sight for our current home school year for the little girls because I was worried how to keep them entertained while I taught Big Girl. But, I came to find that we actually haven’t used any of my busy bags because Joy School is absolutely amazing that even Babykins seems to be engaged for the time her attention span allows her. So when I was taking to my bosom buddy on the phone about her girls being in school full time, she enlightened me on this super cool idea that she had found from nieniedialogues. For the last couple of years she had started creating these super sweet back to school family nights that focused her girls on teaching a specific principle from the scriptures that she felt they could benefit from. So lo and behold, I truly had to jump on board too!! Because how is that not a great idea?! So if you want in on our 2017 School Theme just keep reading!!
Life is An Amazing Adventure
With a little thought and a lot of prayer I felt prompted that our family’s school theme this year would be: Life is An Amazing Adventure. When I went on to seek out what I could pair with that in terms of relating it to a gospel principle I stumbled upon this quote. It is by Pres. Uchtdorf, who said, “discovering who we really are is part of this great adventure called life.” And I felt that, that was what I needed to focus on with my girls. With the experiences my girls had endured this past year and for who knows how long they needed to know that life was still good. And I thought that was the lesson. But the spirit prompted me further and I realized that wasn’t the full lesson. This is the theme that will just keep giving to me for the whole year.
Where the Wild Things Are
But the teacher in me focused on adventure and I tried to think of a book that I could relate to having an adventure and almost suddenly “Where The Wild Things Are” by Maurice Sendak popped into my mind. It was a book I vaguely remembered as a child but I couldn’t shake the feeling that I needed to share this book with my girls. So off I went to youtube in search of it because I didn’t have time with our busy jam packed schedule to get the book for the day I was hoping to do our back to school party. (Truly, the only downside to living in the country is being far from stores on a moment’s notice) When I heard the story I could truly see why I felt the urgency to share this book with my girls. If you haven’t read it or can’t remember it, I’ll give you a quick run down. It is about a boy named Max who gets himself in trouble by acting like a wild thing and gets sent off to his room without any supper. He ends up imagining this whole new world that is full of wild creatures that are terrible and fierce. Max becomes the king of the wild things but then starts to feel lonely and decides to come home to where someone loves him and his food is hot. The end of the story shows Max back in his room with a bowl of hot supper waiting for him. It sounds simple enough and so I shared it with my girls. Our night sort of went like this:
I had the girls dress up in costumes from our dress up box. There only instruction was to pick something that they could act like a wild thing. Big Girl was a dragon. Curly Girl was a lion. Babykins was a mini dragon. And they gave mommy a dinosaur hat (a leftover give away from Big Girl’s dino party) I really played up how great it was to be a wild thing. We played Don’t Eat the Wild Thing (Don’t Eat Pete) because my girls seriously can’t get enough of this game. Wild Thing leap where we tried to see who could jump the furthest across the room, we played freeze dance and roared as loud as we could. After our games were done we decorated these gorgeous green iced cupcakes making them into Wild Looking Things with Bananas and chocolate chips for eyes. I let them eat their cupcakes like wild things and then we ate our supper of Chicken Nuggets, Cucumbers, and Cheese Buns at the girls request. After we were done I had the girls settle down on the couch for the big reveal.
Nephi Travels to the Promised Land
I showed the girls a compass and talked to them about what it did. I related it to the story in the Book of Mormon that talks about Nephi’s family taking an adventure to travel to the Promised Land and how Heavenly Father had given them the liahona which was like a compass. The only trick that made the liahona work was based on whether Nephi and his family were being obedient or not. We talked about acting like a wild thing and how it is fun but being a wild thing always has a time and place. With that in mind we jumped into the story. The girls sat totally engaged as the story was read aloud and then looked straight at me when it was over.
So I asked the girls what are wild things in our lives? The girls talked about their bad experiences that had happened to them but then Big Girl looked at me and started spouting off the exact answers I was looking for. “When we talk back, or don’t share our toys. When we are naughty and are mean, and hit or push.” I nodded enthusiastically, and I asked if Big Girl knew other wild things in her life. “Yeah!!” She piped up with her eyes a light, “and when our friends call us names and try to make us feel bad so we will do what they want us to do, even if we don’t want to do it!! Friend A and Friend B are wild things aren’t they mom??”
I wanted to cry I was so happy because we had spent the summer dealing with some not so nice little friends that left Big Girl questioning her worth by how they treated her. It had gotten so bad that we avoided them at all costs. But, she still wanted to be friends because of her little social personality. Somehow, though in the lesson she understood what it finally meant to be a wild thing. But that wasn’t where I wanted to leave the lesson or impression with them. I then asked what Max did to become King of the Wild Things. And my girls knew. “By standing up for himself and being brave.” Did Max always stay with the Wild Things or why did he go home? At first the response was “well because he was hungry” and then the true answer came as we discussed what our home represented. And then I told my girls how proud I was of them and that I would always be their safe place to come to. That I would always be willing to listen to them because they are loved. And then Big Girl slightly bent her head down and got really quiet. I didn’t know what to do. So I sat there for a moment and waited. She looked up at me and the smile that was there previously was gone. Her face was reflective and resolute; “I don’t want to be a wild thing anymore”. She slipped off her costume and the other little girls followed.
And you know it was simply amazing to watch. How something so simple became so in depth for my girls and the lesson taught was amazing. It has become a code word at our house when behavior it starting to get a little out of control. But it was an experience that I will truly always cherish and never forget because the lessons that they learned and I was taught by teaching them will never be forgotten.
Planning your own 2017 School Theme and Motto
So, a little birdie told me that you really want to know how to plan your own Back to School Party theme and so here it goes. I will totally give you the run down on how simple it is to do. And please learn from me, that you probably don’t want to be planning last minute! Gift yourself some time to prep this and get everything you want. I wanted to give the girls little compasses but am still on the search for some!! I probably could order them online but anyways, give yourself time to plan and prep because it will be that much better if you do!!
Brainstorming your theme
When it comes down to the theme the best thing that you can do is to first pray and then sit and wait. I am sure you will have a thought come to your mind quickly about what your little family needs to focus on! It will be amazing what you will come up with. And if at first you can’t think of anything don’t panick!! That’s the last thing you want to do. Sometimes it may take a couple of days to think so you will want to be kind and patient with yourself.
So, once that brilliant idea pops into your head what you will want to do is find anything that will relate to what your theme is. When I thought of life is an amazing adventure I googled it because I wanted a free printable to hang up on the wall. I of course found the one I shared but found that the printable link actually was broken so I ended up making my own. You can grab it from my library if you want it too!!
From there I searched Pinterest to find a way that I could incorporate adventure into our school room in terms of decorations and also activities for games to do the night of our Back to School Party. If you are a book nerd like me you can also google a code word from your theme and the age bracket to find a book that would be a good fit. Because I dropped the ball and didn’t get the book I may have Santa deliver it as part of a reminder before starting the new year of how to behave and act!!
Finally to sum it all up I really think in order to have an amazing Back to School Party Theme is think of a theme, find a scripture or quote that inspires. Jump on pinterest for free printables and ideas. And then party party party. No really, all you need to do is plan this how you would want it go every year and really make this fit your family by using your personality and smarts! For us I wanted something cute to hang on the wall to be a visual reminder. I wanted a story that my girls could pick up and read that we could refer back to. I probably will write our family theme and year on the inside of the cover so that the girls could go back and remember and be a source of inspiration for them. And then I want everything to come back down to drawing my girls hearts closer to God so that is why my huge push is to have it be centered on a scripture or conference talk!! Because for me what it comes down to is a family tradition that will inspire my girls and be part of the glue that keeps us together and hopefully it will be the same way for your family. But have no fear you will know exactly what you need to do!! So keep your chin up!!
Because oh puh-lease!! You’ve got this momma!!