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Zion’s Camp – Primary lesson 28 (in Book 5 for Valiant 8, 9, 10 & 11)

By Karen
I was asked last minute to substitute teach a Valiant 9 primary class last Sunday. Here are a few notes on lesson 28 and how it went for us in case it is helpful to anyone:

1) We started by seeing if anyone in the class had been to Missouri (one family had just been to Kirtland, so it seemed worth asking! 🙂 ) No one had, but we talked about where it was and that there was a city the Saints were trying to build there, and they were going to call it Zion.

2) At that point I realized they probably didn’t have a clear idea of why  they were going to call it Zion. So, we stopped and talked about Enoch’s city. I explained that a long time ago there was a man named Enoch who taught the gospel, and when people believed they came to his city, and then he kept teaching and more and more people kept coming to his city. We talked about how there was a whole city full of people who were keeping the commandments and being good to each other and that there weren’t any people who were poor because everyone took care of each other. Then I told them to imagine even a group of 5 people who got along and took care of each other, then to imagine 200 people doing that. They smiled and could see that that would be hard. (We also talked about how there are millions of people in the Church today, and how hard it is to get millions of people all keeping the commandments and getting along and taking care of each other so that there isn’t anyone who is poor.)

I explained that Enoch’s city actually did this, and God decided to translate everyone in the city, and take them up to heaven. Then I asked if they remembered what the earth was like when Noah taught. (They did, of course.) Then I helped them see that the reason the earth was so wicked is because Enoch’s city had been taken to heaven. Enoch was only a few generations before Noah. I was hoping that by connecting Zion to Noah – a story they knew well – it would help make Enoch’s city more real to them.

Then we talked about how God has promised that when there is another Zion city here on earth, both cities can come together and all those people can come back to earth and we’ll have the Second Coming, etc.

So, this is why Joseph Smith and the early Saints were always gathering together. God commanded them to gather in Kirtland and make a temple. Which they did, and then they had to leave. So they did this again and again, and one of those times was a special place where God wanted them to make a city called Zion. He wanted them to keep the commandments, get along, and take care of the poor. He wanted them to build a temple there too.

But, those around them didn’t like them, and of course mobs came to make them leave.

3) After this background, we talked about what Zion’s Camp was. We told the story and drew out some principles (which I’ll mention later). Then we watched the video about Zion’s Camp and paused it here and there to talk about it and draw out more principles. Near the end, I paused it and just asked the kids what more they had learned and we had a nice discussion.

4) Here are some of the principles we drew from the story of Zion’s Camp:

  • Sometimes the reason we think God wants us to do something isn’t the whole story
  • Sometimes we aren’t ready to receive the whole blessing God wants to give us (we read the first verses of D&C 105), but even then He still gives us other blessings anyway
  • Sometimes God wants to make sure that those who are leaders in the church, or in a ward, or as parents, are willing to do whatever God wants them to do because they are examples and teachers to others
  • Sometimes because some people are being bad, good people suffer too (we had just watched the part in the video where someone good dies in the camp, and the reason there was sickness at all was because some were being bad). But, even when that happens, we can still be happy (we noticed that he was still faithful and still called God the one who guides the camp, etc.)
  • Sometimes God wants to help us but we want to do things our way. Sometimes we get stressed about something even though God is in control.

Those were some thoughts from our Valiant 9 class this last Sunday. If you’d like to share your thoughts or experiences, please comment below. Thanks!


“Sometimes children have so many, many questions”

This conversation is from the 2007 Worldwide Broadcast on Teaching, and I liked what it had to say about teaching, children, and questions. What are your thoughts?

Sister Beck: Sometimes I work on crafting my questions. But I think this seems to be what we are saying: the more questions we can get from the learners about something, the more they are engaged in the learning.

And the thought that came to mind was that when Joseph Smith read a verse of scripture in James, it created questions in his mind, and he said, “How am I going to know? And will I ever know? And if I don’t figure this out, I’ll never know.” And he was in a learner mode when he asked God. But that to me is a challenge as a teacher—not so much the questions I am asking but what is happening that is helping other people to ask questions so the Holy Ghost can teach them….

Sister Naomi Wada: Sometimes children have so many, many questions, and I have prepared so many examples or experiences or visual aids, and I can’t utilize all of them. I’m sometimes busy answering questions. Is it all right? I have tried to simplify the lesson, and if there is just at least one topic I can focus on and just be able to teach them, at least they feel comfortable.

Elder Holland: Good. You said that better than I said it at the start. Don’t try to do too much. With a Primary child—well, maybe with any child, maybe with any of us—if we can get one thing across, one idea, one principle, something sterling and significant that Brother Wada still feels a week later, that is probably worth any good classroom experience. So be reassured. Don’t be reluctant about that.

Elder Kerr: What she just said has opened my eyes. What more exciting environment in the classroom is there than the fact that the children or the adults in the class are asking questions?

Elder Holland: Somebody is responding.

Elder Kerr: They’re thinking.

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.

New page at called “Children’s Lesson Helps”

by Karen

Emily Jensen at Mormon Times just pointed me to a new area of dedicated to helping parents and Primary teachers find resources for teaching children. It’s called simply “Children’s Lesson Helps.” You can browse by topic, or by lesson number! They’re still getting it up and ready, but it looks like the first few lessons from each manual are available.

Here is a sample: