Valiant 8-11 Lesson 4 “The Tree of Life”

By Mandy

Link to Lesson Manual online

As we have emphasized in our mission statement, this post is not to replace the lesson.  I hope to give you a starting point to organize your own lesson in an inspired way that meets the unique needs of the children you have a stewardship over.  This happens for me by asking some important questions:

  1.        “How can this lesson point to Christ?”
  2.        “What can I do to invite the Spirit to testify of the truthfulness of the doctrine?”
  3.        “What can I do to involve the children and help them feel the relevance of this lesson in their lives?”

Purpose:  To strengthen each child’s desire to obey the word of God and be worthy of eternal life.

  • I think, as I read this, “How do I help this to happen?”

As I studied the suggested scriptures, I realized that I achieved several of my objectives by focusing on specific verses.  In 1 Nephi 11, Nephi receives in a vision an explanation of the dream his father had about the Tree of Life.  This chapter focuses on Christ (objective 1) and answered for me the question of how this lesson helps children “desire to obey the word of God and be worthy of eternal life”—love.

How can this lesson point to Christ?

  • What is the one “take-away” that I want the children to hear if they get nothing else from this lesson?  The meaning of the Tree of Life.

1 Nephi 11:21-23 reads:

21 And the angel said unto me: Behold the Lamb of God, yea, even the Son of the Eternal Father! Knowest thou the meaning of the tree which thy father saw?

22 And I answered him, saying: Yea, it is the love of God, which sheddeth itself abroad in the hearts of the children of men; wherefore, it is the most desirable above all things.

23 And he spake unto me, saying: Yea, and the most joyous to the soul.

What can I do to invite the Spirit?

  • Bear testimony.

In the Gospel Principles Manual, it states: “The mission of the Holy Ghost is to bear witness of the Father and the Son and of the truth of all things.” (http://lds.org/library/display/0,4945,11-1-13-12,00.html).  When we bear testimony of the Father and the Son and of true principles, we invite the Spirit to bear witness of truth.  We don’t have to reserve testimony just for the end of the lesson, although that is the appropriate way to close.

  • Go to the scriptures.

“And now, as the preaching of the word had a great tendency to lead the people to do that which was just—yea, it had had more powerful effect upon the minds of the people than the sword, or anything else, which had happened to them—therefore Alma thought it was expedient that they should try the virtue of the word of God.” Alma 31:5 (http://lds.org/scriptures/bofm/alma/31.5?lang=eng#4).

I know there are a lot of scriptures to cover and it wouldn’t work well to just sit and read the entire body of the scripture in class!  As we involve the children, we can utilize the scriptures in meaningful ways.

What can I do to involve the children and help them feel the relevance of the lesson?

This will depend a lot on the age group and maturity level of the class.

  • Use the activities.  My almost-8-year-old daughter’s class is high energy.  I think that there is a window of opportunity at the beginning of class to set the tone for the lesson (there could be a separate post just for classroom management!!)  The activity using the symbols of the Tree of Life and their meanings would be a great way to start the class.  It lets the children be involved while still starting out in the scriptures.  The second activity, acting out the “rod of iron” with the twine would be a fun way to reinforce the principles taught if used later in the lesson.  Again, there is so much in this lesson that I think it is important to prayerfully consider what to focus on that will be relevant to your class.  Above all, an emphasis on the scriptures that point to Christ and testify of His love is paramount.
  • Make assignments.  With older children, I would love to make assignments before hand to have them read specific verses on their own (ideally, it would be nice to hand them an envelope with a slip of paper the Sunday before the lesson asking them to read specific scriptures and be ready to present them to their class and then give them a reminder call on Saturday).  When it is time to do the activity with the symbols and their meanings, each child can present their verses and more fully participate in the lesson.
  • Ask thought provoking questions.  1 Nephi 11:35 reads:  “And Laman and Lemuel partook not of the fruit, said my father.”  In my scriptures, I at some point wrote, “Why?”
  • Liken the scriptures to their lives.  As we get to know the children in our class and pray about our lessons, we will be guided to include specific teachings that will bless them in the challenges they face.  We can think about what experiences they are having and help them understand how the same principles that guided Nephi in his quest for obedience can likewise guide them in their quest to “obey the word of God and be worth of eternal life.”
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2 thoughts on “Valiant 8-11 Lesson 4 “The Tree of Life”

  1. I have a class of 8-9 year olds. I am really trying to spend more time in the scriptures, getting them familiar with scripture language, rather than paraphrasing.
    This lesson was perfect because I had them all lie on the floor, pretending to be asleep (no wiggling, no snoring-a deep, calm sleep).
    As they ‘slept’ I was able to read the dream in a quiet voice, and just explained phrases that I thought the might not understand. Then, when they woke up, we talked about Nephi asking to see the dream, and then went into interpretation of it.

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