Sundays are crazy. And it's gotten to where all the "stuff" we take to church is no longer fitting in the diaper bag. I decided it was time that the older kids were responsible for their own things to take to church, so I made them their own church bags. I found the perfect size canvas bags at Walmart for $3 a piece. They were very stiff so I first washed and dried them a couple of times. Then I cut out each kids' initial with fabric scraps and sewed them on to each side. I intentionally left a raw edge around the fabric because I like the look. After they were sewn on, I washed them three more times to REALLY fray the fabric.
Each kid also has their own pencil bag full of pencils and crayons. No more fighting over colors! And everyone is responsible for keeping track of their own drawing utensils. Each bag also contains their scriptures, a new coloring/activity book, a spiral notebook, a special picture photo book, a snack, and a spilproof cup of water. At the end of the meeting the kids were excellent about cleaning up their own stuff and taking it with them to Primary. It worked like a charm this week and they were really excited about their new bags; now let's see if they will keep it up! To make things more interesting, I plan on surprising them with something new in their bags each week. Don't know what yet, but I hope to come up with some cute activities to change it up a bit. When church was over, I got a kick out of seeing them walking down the hall with their bags draped over their shoulders. Also, they were able to put their Primary stuff from the day in their bags, rather than bombarding me with everything to hold in my already full hands.
The picture books were the really fun part for me. We have had a serious reverence issue in Sacrament Meeting for a long time, so I wanted to make something that would remind them to be more reverent, especially while they are passing the sacrament. I found these photo albums for $1 a piece. Each holds 38 photos, which was just right. I went to the church's website and found the gospel art kit (you can find it here). I went through and picked out my favorite pictures of Christ, the Book of Mormon, and my favorite Bible stories. I also found pictures of temples, prophets, even the Articles of Faith. I saved each picture as a JPEG to my computer, then with a little Photo Shop, I added titles and descriptions to each picture. Then I uploaded them online and had them printed off as normal prints. Simple! The very first picture in the album is a picture of our own family. Today during Sacrament Meeting they LOVED flipping through their new photo albums, and it really kept the spirit!