Raising kids so they understand the importance of the temple is tough. They might be impressed by its size and beauty, the pretty dresses of the brides taking pictures out front, and the gorgeous, colorful landscaping, but do they know how much more there is to the temple?
Until they enter its hallowed halls, they won't understand everything, but in the meantime, here are some fun, yet spiritual ways of teaching children just how important the temple is.
Build a temple as a family
The Salt Lake Temple wasn't the first temple built in the latter days, but it did take the longest: a whopping 40 years from its groundbreaking in 1853 to its completion in 1893.
Those early saints sacrificed much in order to bring essential temple blessings to their community. Kids today aren't asked to sacrifice in the same way, but they can still help "build" a temple with the help of a Brickem Young temple building set.
Brickem Young, a company started by an LDS family, offers miniature building brick sets which allow you to build either the Salt Lake or Nauvoo Temple. Each set also comes with a factoid sheet with ten interesting points you may not have known about the Salt Lake Temple.
The set creates an amazingly close resemblance to the actual buildings and provides a chance for the whole family to build a temple — and talk about its blessings — together.
FHE temple object lessons
Making the temple a subject for one or more Family Home Evening lessons a month is a good way to incorporate conversations about the temple into family life.
Younger children might need some help understanding what words like "covenant" and "sealing" mean, though, which is why interactive object lessons make FHE more fun and educational. Here are a few ideas:
1. Cut pictures of little people out of paper. Divide them up between two envelopes, but only seal one. Then allow a child to tip the envelopes upside down and observe the effect. This object lesson helps teach the principle of the sealing ordinance and forever families.
2. Pass out combs to several family members and ask them to comb their hair without bending their elbows. When they find it's impossible (but hilarious to watch), tell them to give the comb to someone else who will then be able to brush their hair for them. This lesson teaches the importance of temple work done for the dead; there are some things they can't do for themselves.
Visit MormonShare.com for these and many more free object lesson ideas.
With over 100 temples in operation and more being announced and completed every year, it's tough to keep track of which one is which and where they're all located.
The LDS Temple Match app is a free matching game on iTunes that asks players to match pictures of temples to each other, allowing them to learn the names and locations of each temple along the way.
Once all the matches have been made, an underlying picture of a living prophet or apostle appears. It's a great standing-in-line or long car ride activity and a good opportunity for you to share your thoughts and feelings about some of the temples you've visited.
Family history work
The key to temple blessings is family history work, so what better way to teach your kids about the temple than by introducing them to their ancestors?
There are many ways to involve them in the process, and you might consider which of the following options would be most appropriate for your children:
• visit a family history center
• ask grandparents to share stories of their parents or childhood
• read journals or personal histories written by their ancestors
• teach them how to index (better for adolescent-age children)
When kids make connections with their past, they'll understand even better how crucial temple work really is.