Image courtesy creative commons license flickr.com byjlk Nov. 2009
Monthly Theme: The First Principles and Ordinances of the Gospel Make It Possible for Me to Live with God Again.
Monthly Scripture: “We believe that the first principles and ordinances of the Gospel are: first, Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; second, Repentance; third, Baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; fourth, Laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost” (Articles of Faith 1:4).
Week 1 Faith in Jesus Christ leads us to love Him, trust Him, and keep His commandments.
* Whip out your Faith in God books! In it, it says, "An important part of faith in God is keeping your baptismal covenant and staying spiritually strong. To help you develop faith and resist temptation, do the following things:
• Pray daily to Heavenly Father.
• Read the scriptures regularly.
• Keep the commandments and live “My Gospel Standards” (see back cover).
• Honor your parents and be kind to your family.
• Pay your tithing and attend tithing settlement.
• Attend sacrament meetings and Primary regularly. "
Play a game of charades, acting out these things that our Faith in God books encourage us to do to build our faith! Under the learning and living the gospel section of the book, it has an activity to complete, "Tell a story from the Book of Mormon that teaches about faith in Jesus Christ. Share your testimony of the Savior." Have the children divide into small groups or pairs and do so!
* Bring in a fruit by the foot. Can we just eat this? If someone says yes, try stuffing it in your mouth with the wrapper. Doesn't work. What do you have to do to eat it? Unwrap it, unroll it, break it into pieces or roll around your finger or wad it into a ball, then of course throw out the trash.... Faith isn't just something that happens and bam, sweetness and yumminess! You have to work on faith. You have to open up your heart to faith, just like we opened the wrapper.... and you have to unravel it and work on it. Along the way of faith you will find love, trust and a desire to keep the commandments. Try to somehow hang the fruit by the foot up on the board. At the end of it, have a picture of Christ. Have the children brainstorm different ways to strengthen their faith and write it on the board, getting closer and closer to Christ. Ask the children if they can think of any stories from the scriptures that have faithful people in it. Always close your lesson with your brief testimony of what you have taught.
* I know I'm going to have some whack job tell me this idea is nuts, but here's what I have to say- If you don't like it, don't use it. I pray over everything I write, but I am not a prophet nor claim to be one. I don't have inspiration about what exactly you should do to teach your group of spectacular children. :) With that said, get out the transformer toys!! This will catch the children's attention. What do transformers do? They change from big hairy robots into cars. It almost seems impossible that a robot as tall as a building could change into a small little Camero, but it does. We know transformers aren't real. It's just a movie. But what we'll talk about today is very real. It is something that helps to change a person too.... does anyone have any ideas?? What helps change us?? (Remember, be supportive of all ideas given, even if it's not what you are looking for. For example, someone might say Baptism... to which you can reply, "You are absolutely right! Baptism does change people, what are some other ideas?") In general conference last year, Elder Scott said, "When faith is properly understood and used, it has dramatically far-reaching effects. Such faith can transform an individual’s life..." Then have questions, scriptures (Look at such examples like Alma the younger and Paul), and songs about faith attached to about 10 different transformer toys. Let the children come up and choose one. End with this quote by Elder Hales, "The first step to finding faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is to let His word—spoken by the mouth of His servants, the prophets—touch your heart. But it is not enough merely to let those words wash over you, as if they alone could transform you. We must do our part. Or as the Savior Himself said, “He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.” In other words, hearing requires an active effort. “Faith without works is dead.”
* Watch part of Finding Faith in Christ, HERE is a link to it. The whole video is 30 minutes. It's a really good one. I especially like the beginning, because Jesus just wakes up and calms the storm... He doesn't complain, or say give me 5 more minutes, He just up and does it.
* Here is a Bible Crossword Puzzle (from The Friend) of people of great faith.
* Here is a great sharing time from the Friend focusing on Alma 32:21.
Week 2 Repentance brings forgiveness.
* Pass out some hearts to the children and let them make a quick note to the Bishop. Have them bring up to a box. Tell the children you are going to wrap it now. Do a really bad job, put the bow on your head!! Is this gift wrap worthy to be given to the Bishop? He deserves better right? And so it is with us and Heavenly Father. We don't want our lives to be messy and full of sin, we want to be neat and clean when we present ourselves to him.... and the way to do this is by repentance!! Read 3 Nephi 27:19 "And no unclean thing can enter into his kingdom; therefore nothing entereth into his rest save it be those who have washed their garments in my blood, because of their faith, and the repentance of all their sins, and their faithfulness unto the end." Have a child unwrap the messy paper. Have 6 pictures of people in the scriptures who were good examples of repentance and forgiveness... invite a child to come up and tell the story, then help wrap a part of the present. And of course, have a couple children deliver the present to the Bishop after church!
* Have a child come up to the front and hold a "Can Not Enter" sign. Tell the primary you are going to whisper a special word in their ear. Happiness, heaven, and progress is to the right side of them. They can't let anybody past them unless they come up with that special word. Invite a few children to come up and say a word. Each time the child holding the sign can say, Sorry, that's not the word.
"Every principle and ordinance of the gospel of Jesus Christ is significant and important in contributing to the progress, happiness, and eternal life of man; but there is none more essential to the salvation of the human family than the divine and eternally operative principle, repentance. Without it, no one can be saved. Without it, no one can even progress." (President David O. McKay, Man may know for Himself: Teachings of President David O. McKay, 43)
* Never underestimate children. You can ask them hard questions and often be edified by their wisdom.
Why do we need to repent? Why can't we just repent right before we die? Why can't we repent after we die and just make sure someone has our name to do temple work for us? What does it take, what do we need to do to repent?
A quote I've often used to show how important our bodies truly are is this, "It is my judgement that any man or woman can do more to conform to the laws of God in one year in this life than they could in ten years when they are dead. The spirit only can repent and change, and then the battle has to go forward with the flesh afterwards. It is much easier to overcome and serve the Lord when both flesh and spirit are combined as one. This is the time when men are more pliable and susceptible. When clay is pliable, it is much easier to change than when it gets hard and sets." (Elder Ballard, in Bryant Hinckley's Sermons and Missionary Services of Melvin Joseph Ballard, 241) Give the children some play dough and let them create something for a few minutes.Then invite some children forward to share their creation and say something they know about repentance.
* "God is good. He is eager to forgive. He wants us to perfect ourselves and maintain control of ourselves. He does not want Satan and others to control our lives." (Spencer W.Kimball, The Gospel of Repentance, Ensign, Oct. 1982, 2) Have a picture of a remote control car cut into a 8 pieces. On the pieces have 8 questions, songs and scriptures having to do with repentance. As the children take down pieces of the controlled car, have the words "I WILL REPENT!!!" written, so it will be slowly revealed.
* Here is a rollerbox story about repentance you can prepare and share from the Friend.
* Here is the story of Miriam and her process of repentance. You could easily have a few children act it out. I always like to use fruit leather as edible leper spots.
Week 3 When I am baptized, I make a covenant with God.(These have been recycled from a previous post)
*What is a covenant? A binding agreement or promise between God and a person or group of people.
Play Wheel of Covenants! Bring in a spinner with different values and earn points as a primary! Phrases to be solved: (Take out 2-3 words or have them fill in the word or guess a letter….) Have pictures to accompany the phrases once solved!
Take upon ourselves the name of Jesus Christ
Stand as a witness for God
Keep the Commandments
The Gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands
Enter into the Kingdom of God
Have children come up at the end and hold the pictures. Bear testimony if we do these things like take upon us the name of Jesus, keep the commandments and stand as a witness for God by being baptized then He will keep up His part of the covenant and bless us with the Holy Ghost and let us enter into His kingdom.
* Bring in a large blue shower curtain (Dollar store!) or large piece of blue butcher paper or old blue sheet. Have tape!!, glue sticks, coloring crayons and plenty of sheets of paper. Make a primary mural depicting the story of Alma and the Waters of Mormon! (Mosiah 18) Show GAK picture 309 and BRIEFLY tell the story of what happened there. Invite the children to share what they know about the story. Children can draw people being baptized, Alma, plants, flowers, clouds…. Invite older children to find out…. Things We Covenant: and Things Heavenly Father Covenants when We are Baptized: (Gospel Principles outlines these perfectly… have them write down and add to the mural!) And voila! You have a great visual to use for other lessons on baptism!!
*Here is a great resource with ideas from Cheryl Esplin! The kids could do the mazes together in partners for Senior Sharing time.
*Here is a flannel board baptism story from the friend magazine.
* Here is a wonderful roller box presentation on covenants with additional ideas from Ann Jamison from the friend magazine.
* Here is a super duper board game you can enlarge and play called “Keeping My Baptismal Covenants” by Jennifer Rose and Beth M. Whittaker.
Week 4 The Holy Ghost comforts and guides me.
* "The gift of the Holy Ghost operates equally with men, women, and even little children. It is within this wondrous gift and power that the spiritual remedy to any problem can be found. 'And now, he imparteth his word by angels unto men, yea, not only men but women also. Now this is not all; little children do have words given unto them many times, which confound the wise and the learned' (Alma 32:23)." Boyd K. Packer, "Prayer and Promptings," Ensign, Nov. 2009, 45
Have a first aid kit. Invite the children to come up and choose items from the kit that have questions, songs and scriptures about the Holy Ghost on them.
* Have the word “Holy Ghost” written in about 10 different languages on the board.
“In every language, the Spirit of God—the Holy Ghost—guides, or can guide, every member of the Church.” Boyd K. Packer, "The Cloven Tongues of Fire,” Ensign, May 2000, 7
Have a globe with small numbers attached. Invite a child to come up and spin the globe, using their finger to stop it. Have the numbers correspond to questions, songs and scriptures having to do with the Holy Ghost.
* Hold up a blankie. Does anyone have a special blankie that they love, that gives them happiness and comfort? After Jesus was crucified, the apostles were very sad. Do you think Heavenly Father dropped blankies from the sky to help them feel better? Read John 14:26, "But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you."
* Has anyone ever stayed at a hotel when they've gone on vacation? What was it like? There is a hotel called The Comfort Inn... do you think if you stayed there forever you would have comfort forever? Maybe, maybe not. There is only one real way to have comfort all the time, and that is by having the Holy Ghost with you. He is the true comforter!! Have a hotel drawn on the board with the words, The Holy Ghost Comforter Inn. Have different pieces of furniture the children can add to the hotel with questions, scriptures and songs about the Holy Ghost.