Tuesday, January 26, 2010

First Talk (featuring more Hazel Art!)

Hazel gave her first talk in Primary last week. When the assignment came a few weeks ago it was one of the few times in my life I felt ready. Thanks to Brook Waddoups.

Brook was in my ward in New York. When they moved in about a year after us we were thrilled to get her 5-year-old son Gideon in our scraggly Primary. Assignment rotations were short in that ward, and Gideon was asked to give a talk right away. As parents usually do, Brook came in to help him when it was time. Gideon stepped up to the podium and Brook knelt down in front and slightly to the side of it, facing him. I was surprised, expecting her to stand next to him and whisper the talk sentence-by-sentence into his ear, as is usually done with young children (and which immediately loses the audience because it makes the talk so disjointed and usually boring.)

Instead, Gideon stood up by himself and looked out confidently at the room. Brook produced a stack of purple index cards which she held up one by one for Gideon to look at. As she did so, Gideon glanced at the cards and spoke several sentences for each, detailing a number of scripture stories to illustrate his points. He concluded by explaining the scriptural origin of his own name and his hopes to become as great as his namesake. He finished with a simple testimony and sat down. I was floored.

I stopped Brook on her way out and asked how the heck I could help my children become so confident - and competent - at the podium at such a young age. She shrugged and said that's how her parents helped her give talks. She showed me the cards - they contained simple stick-figure drawings she and Gideon had created together to give visual cues to each part of the talk. I was totally impressed and tucked that impression away until I should need it.

Fast forward a few years to now. Hazel's giving a talk. She's 4 years old. She's demonstrated a strong ability to memorize but possibly at the cost of comprehension. I happen to have a lot of index cards in one of the office drawers. We'll give it a try.

We took the topic - "I know Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ love me" and I brainstormed with her a little during her bath one night. Then I wrote out her ideas into a simple talk structure. After the bath we sat down with the blank cards and I read some sentences to her. She chose which parts of the talk she wanted to draw pictures for, and I drew the rest (that's right, this post features Kari Art as well.) The process of taking ideas and words and interpreting them into art is one of the best ways to achieve comprehension, so by the time we had it all put together she knew exactly what she was talking about.

We practiced a few times. Each time we went through the cards she worded things slightly differently but got the point across. I love that. Sunday came. She stood up to the microphone. I knelt facing her. I flashed her cues. She spoke calmly, clearly, confidently. It was a thing of beauty. She was a thing of beauty. By the end it was clear that she really did know that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ love her. (And so do I.)

Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ Love Me
by Hazel Hickman

I know Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ love me.
(Note: Long hair and beards. Wings on the one on the left.)

They have given me my family and good food to eat.
(Note Mommy with baby in tummy, far left. Food on right includes pizza, pear, orange, apple.)

They have given me good friends and I feel good at church.

I also love Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. 1 John 4:19 says, "We love him because he first loved us."

I try to show my love for Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ by giving my heart to them.

I try to be reverent in sacrament meeting and Primary, and to share and take turns with my sister.

I know Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ love all of us.


KRISTIN said...

Awesome and thanks for sharing. Pierson is waiting patiently for his turn to use the microphone in Primary. In this ward it shouldn't be too long, and now I feel a little more prepared.

The LDSMommy said...

What a great way to help our kids not only give talks but understand what it is they are talking about!! I'm going to use this idea next time Sarah has a talk assignment in Primary! Heidi P.

Anonymous said...

Love it!

(That baby in utero is classic--please frame and hang it).

Alan said...

Wow! I'm in awe! You have no idea who I am and I have no idea who you are? My sister shared this with me through Google Reader. I'm totally floored. I was so sucked in that I read a bunch of your older posts until I hit the Twilight stuff and then I read some more. Then I hit your other blog and drooled for a few minutes. Anyways thanks for sharing! I hope I can remember this post a few years from now when my twins hit primary age.

Emily said...

So great! Put a big smile on my face. Thanks.

kat said...

shut up. total genius, and i love the artwork - both of yours. i will be stealing this idea - hopefully not too soon! :)

Lindsay said...

That is great. When my siblings and I were little, we were expected to have our talks memorized. My mom never once stood next to us and whispered in our ears. She taught us to memorize them by recording her voice saying it, which we'd then listen to over and over until we'd learned it enough to record our own voice saying, which we'd again listen to over and over. Come talk time, we were good to go. Unless, of course, we got stage fright.

I gave my first talk when I was three. I went through the process to memorize it, and did so successfully, but when it was Go Time, I froze. My mom sent my dad home for the tape player, and instead of giving my first talk live, the primary heard my recorded voice through the microphone. Not perfect, but it worked. :)

Hazel's getting so grown up!

Marie W said...

Spence has a talk coming up in March, and I am TOTALLY going to use the Gideon method. Thanks for posting this, Kari!

Jenifer said...

That is a fantastic idea!!!! Cayden didn't get to give his talk last time because we had sick other kids as well as a dad so no one made it to church but he was terrified and didn't want to so I'm very excited to try this when it's his turn again!

MiaKatia said...

Wow, wow, and wow. This is great. I can not wait to try this with the kids! I love it.

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