When was the last time you checked out the Web site for the Church’s Friend magazine at friend.lds.org? If it’s been a while, you may be surprised by what you’ll find there today.
All the Church magazine Web sites are in their very early stages of development. They started by being a library of current and past issues of the magazines. However, they are now beginning to develop additional content and interactivity. The Friend magazine is a great example of this. The home page is divided into two sections:
Why visit the site?
The center of the home page offers to children a selection of entertaining ways to learn many of the same things they already enjoy in the magazine. Hopefully, children will enjoy their time on the site because it helps bring gospel principles to them in a way that’s fun and spiritually uplifting. Plans are to add several new features to the site each month.
The right sash on the home page includes features geared toward assisting parents, teachers, and Primary leaders. Parents can trust the site to have safe games and no advertisements that may be inappropriate for children. Parents also like that the site’s activities give parents a chance to engage with their children in teaching opportunities that often lead to child-parent discussions.
What’s available on the site?
- Hidden Pictures. The hidden pictures puzzles allow children to look through a drawing just as they would in the magazine and find hidden pictures. However, instead of circling or coloring the hidden pictures, children on the Web site click on each image they find. As they do, the image appears in color. After all the images have been found, the whole page appears in color. There are currently 5 hidden picture pages.
- Puzzles: There are currently 16 puzzles. Most of the puzzles include art from stories found in the scriptures, however there are a few puzzles of temples and church history events. There is a related song that plays in the background of each puzzle and hints are included to help children who are a too young to figure the puzzles out.
- Matching Games. There are currently 4 matching games: Temples, Scripture Stories, Prophets and Apostles, and Latter-day Prophets. These games also have music that plays in the background as well as a timer that children can use to see how long it takes them to complete a game. There is a background image behind the cards that slowly reveals as each match is found. The background pictures and the order in which the cards are displayed changes each time a new game is loaded. The photos of the latter-day prophets and current prophets and apostles line up along the bottom of the page and when they are scrolled over, the name of the prophet or apostle appears.
- Interactive Coloring Pages. The Web site includes four interactive coloring pages that allow children to color online. Music also plays in the background as children color these pages. The pages can be printed, although the images will not print full page.
- Our Creative Friends Slideshow. This is one of the most popular sections in the Friend magazine. The Web version simply takes the drawings and includes them in a slideshow format. This is updated each month.
- “Matt and Mandy” and “For Little Friends” videos. These videos are also updated each month. The videos combine the drawings from the magazine with the audio story. Each video is 1-2 minutes long. There are almost 20 videos on the site.
- Listen to Stories. This link on the home page allows children to easily navigate to the stories from an issue. Children can choose a story to listen to by selecting the image from the magazine that relates to the story. Updated monthly.
- Scripture Stories. This link simply sends visitors to scripturestories.lds.org, where they can view the videos or listen to the MP3 audio files of the stories that are in the Old Testament, New Testament, Doctrine & Covenants, and Book of Mormon readers.
- Surveys. This is a Web-only feature that asks children 3 or 4 simple questions. When the next month’s magazine is posted, the results from the previous month’s survey are posted as well.
For Parents and Teachers:
- Print Coloring Pages. This link, which is located in the children’s section of the page, allows parents to print coloring pages published in the Friend over the last few years.
- Sharing Time. This helps Primary leaders to plan for next month’s sharing time. Resources for a month’s sharing time are posted about the middle of the previous month.
- Print Activities. Parents or teachers can find and print any of the pages from an issue that would be considered to be an activity, such as Funstuf pages, crafts, recipes, and coloring pages.
- Music. The home page includes a link to the Children’s Songbook. It currently also includes a link to a song published last October called “The Family is of God.” In the near future, more music printed in the Friend will be made available.
The Friend staff would welcome your comments and suggestions for future content. E-mail them at firstname.lastname@example.org. Those hoping to have their work published in the Friend can find Writers’ Guidelines on the bottom right of the Friend home page. Likewise, submissions by children and by adults can now be submitted using the “Submit Your Material” link on that page.