“One-Minute-a-Day Church History,” Ensign, Mar. 1998, 72–73
Our family has enjoyed studying Church history by using a variety of approaches that have helped our children become familiar with important people and events of the past. As we alternate teaching methods, our children stay attentive and interested.
A minute a day. We decided to use the manual Our Heritage as the basis for a simple introduction to Church history. We committed ourselves to study the book one minute each day for a month. To prepare, I read the book and wrote down 31 of the most important stories, quotes, and events on small pieces of paper and put them in a jar on the kitchen table. Because our family likes a challenge, I left out one important word or name in each of the stories. Every night after the blessing on the food, we take turns reading one of the slips of paper and supplying the missing word. Then we talk about the story. Even though we set aside just one minute for this activity, we have found the discussion often takes much longer. This activity has helped our family gain a broad overview of Church history.
Dramatize stories. Many stories from Church history are both fun and easy to perform as a play. After reading the story, family members are given individual parts, and sometimes we even fashion simple costumes. With a bit of prompting and rehearsal, the children portray men and women from the past.
Draw on personal stories. To make the events of Church history even more interesting, we add stories from the lives of our own or other ward members’ ancestors. This helps our children feel a personal connection to events of the past.
Surprise guests. My husband and I sometimes don a hat, an apron, or another quick costume and go outside and knock on our own front door. We introduce ourselves as someone from the past and tell an inspiring story before exiting through the front door again. Even though our children know we are just pretending, they treat our “visitors” with respect and listen to their stories. In this way Lucy Mack Smith, Parley P. Pratt, and Erastus Snow have “visited” our home.
Other books. When we read a story from Church history that really fascinates us, we try to find other books that tell us more. We have been led to biographies of Church Presidents, history books, and even the hymnbook. But most frequently we are led to the scriptures.
Travel. Occasionally we take the opportunity to visit Church history sites. While it’s possible that we might visit Nauvoo or attend the Hill Cumorah Pageant one day, we have found other historical sites nearby, including monuments, museums, and cemeteries, each with historical interest.
Finding ways to make Church history interesting for our children has helped them better appreciate the sacrifices made by early Saints and gain a better understanding of important events from the past.—Elizabeth G. Ricks, Centerville, Utah