General conference is a wonderful time. We listen to the prophet and other General Authorities. They teach us what we should be doing. They also help us remember the blessings we have.
President Gordon B. Hinckley said, “We have come to earth in this great season in the long history of mankind. It is a marvelous age, the best of all” (Ensign, November 2001, page 4).
What makes this the best of all ages? Can you think of things that make living today better than living in past years? Computers. Faster travel. Modern medicine. President Hinckley has reminded us of two very important things that we should be grateful for. One is the restoration of the gospel, which includes the blessings of the temple. He said, “The temple ordinances become the crowning blessings the Church has to offer” (Ensign, May 1998, page 88).
When a new temple is built, everyone in the surrounding area is blessed. Members young and old pay their tithing and do other things to be worthy to have a temple and to attend it. Because they are obedient, they are able to go to the temple and be sealed together as families. Others benefit from the temple as well. Many people feel the peace and joy that comes to the temple grounds as each temple is dedicated.
Another important thing that President Hinckley has reminded us to be grateful for is our parents. He said, “I hope that boys and girls will [have] a greater appreciation for their parents [and] more fervent love in their hearts for those who have brought them into the world” (Ensign, November 2001, page 90).
When we have more love and appreciation for our parents, we try harder to obey them. We work harder at being kind to family members. We try to show our love by having a respectful attitude.
We can also show our gratitude to Heavenly Father when we say our prayers. We can thank Him for our parents, for the blessings of the temple, for all the things that make this the “best of all” ages. We can thank Him especially for sending His Son, Jesus Christ.
And when we follow the prophet’s advice and the Savior’s example, our homes become happier and more peaceful.
Mount page 12 on heavy paper. Draw a picture of something special you are thankful for on each blank finger scene. Cut out each scene with its tabs, then glue the ends of the tabs together to make a ring. (Be sure to make two thumb rings larger than the other rings.) Choose the rings you want to use as you sing “I Am Glad for Many Things” (Children’s Songbook, page 151). Hold up all your fingers with rings when you sing “many things.”
(Note: All songs are from Children’s Songbook (CS) unless otherwise indicated; GAK = Gospel Art Kit; TNGC = Teaching, No Greater Call)
1. Review scripture stories of people who gave thanks to Heavenly Father. Divide the children into four groups and assign them one of these stories: • 1 Ne. 2:1–7 / Lehi takes his family into the wilderness, then builds an altar and offers thanks. • 1 Ne. 16:21–32 / Nephi relies on the Liahona to direct him to find food, then returns and gives thanks. • Mosiah 24:8–10, 16–25 / Alma and his people are delivered from bondage and give thanks. • Ether 6:1–12 / Jared and his people enter the barges, travel across the waters, and give thanks.
Have the children read the assigned scripture stories with adult leaders, then discuss why the people were grateful. Give the children paper and pencils to make paper stand-up figures (see TNGC, p. 176) of the characters and scenery for their assigned stories. Have the groups take turns sharing their stories with the rest of Primary, using the stand-up figures.
Use the same four groups to sing “For Thy Bounteous Blessings” (p. 21). Teach each group a different two measures of the song. Have the first group sing the first two measures over and over while you add the second group. As these two groups sing their parts, add the third group, and finally the fourth group. You can start with any group and add the others in any order. Sing the song as written and also as a round.
For younger children: Review Alma 37:37 and discuss what it means to “let thy heart be full of thanks unto God.” Read “Counting Blessings” (Friend, Nov. 2000, p. 5), which tells of a child who lists blessings in a notebook. Have the children draw a heart in their “The Temple—I’m Going There Someday” booklets. Inside the hearts, have them write their own list, or draw pictures of blessings they are grateful for.
2. We should always say thank you to Heavenly Father in our prayers. Review the steps of prayer by singing “I Pray in Faith” (p. 14). Help the children understand that an important step in prayer is to express gratitude.
Discuss the types of prayer they might offer—personal, family, invocations and benedictions, and blessings on food. Have them sit in a circle and pass a beanbag while the pianist plays songs of gratitude, such as “I Think the World Is Glorious” (p. 230), “I Am Glad for Many Things” (p. 151). When the piano music stops, the child with the beanbag tells something he or she would thank Heavenly Father for in a prayer. Continue passing the beanbag and listing items until everyone has a chance to mention something. In larger Primaries, you may need to make more than one circle. Older children might enjoy listing their blessings by thinking of words that begin with the letters that spell gratitude, thankful, or blessings.
Help the children learn to use proper prayer language by writing the first verse of “Tell Me, Dear Lord” (p. 176) on the chalkboard. Leave blanks for the words thine, thou, and thy. Give a piece of chalk to a child and have him or her listen as the Primary sings the song. Have the child write the correct word on one of the blanks. Repeat with other children until all the blanks have the correct words on them.
Invite the children to say one personal prayer during the week in which they give thanks to the Lord without asking for anything.
3. Help the children understand the importance of being grateful by reading and discussing D&C 59:21. Ask: “What does it mean to ‘confess not his hand in all things’?” How do we give thanks to Heavenly Father? (See Idea #2.)
Discuss the importance of saying thank you to other people. We can show our gratitude to others by doing something for them, by being kind. We can also express our gratitude by saying thank you. Have the members of each class think of some specific thing they can do to show their gratitude to someone—e.g., make a bed besides their own, read a story to a sibling, share a game with a friend.
Have each class take turns pantomiming their actions, and have the other classes try to guess the actions by asking yes-or-no questions. Have them substitute the words thank you for the action. For example, a question might be “Do you thank you in the house?” or “Do you thank you in the kitchen?” or “Do you thank you with other people?” Continue the questioning until the actions for each class have been guessed.
Sing songs of gratitude found in the CS Topics index, such as “Children All Over the World” (pp. 16–17).
Have the children write a thank-you letter to their Primary teacher, a family member, or a friend. Have them be specific about what that person has done to bless their lives. Encourage the children to give their letters to those persons. Challenge the children to express gratitude by saying thank you to people throughout the week and also by doing things that show their gratitude, such as being kind or quick to obey.
4. To emphasize the blessings of being in families, play a game, the object of which is to find other members of one’s “Primary family.” On slips of paper, write a family name such as “Jones” or “Smith” for each child. Create as many families as you need for the size of your Primary. For younger children, give family names that are also colors, such as “Green” or “Brown” and write the names in that color or on paper of that color.
Explain that families pass on some family traits through genetics and traditions. Discuss family traits such as height and hair color. On the chalkboard, list some family traits for each Primary family you have created. For example, the Joneses tug at their right ears; the Smiths all cross their legs at the ankles; the Greens smile with their left eyes closed; the Browns scratch their elbows.
Pass the slips to the children and have them find the other members of their Primary families without talking or seeing anyone else’s slip—but by observation only. Have the classes sit in a circle to observe each other while singing songs about families (see the CS Topics index). During the songs, the children should exhibit their Primary family’s traits.
After all songs have been sung, choose a child to represent each Primary family. Have the selected children take turns finding one other member of his or her family. The new member joins that family and, when it is his or her family’s turn, finds another member of that family. If the new member cannot remember, the rest of the already-found family members can help. Continue until all the children are in family groups.
Have the children return to their seats. Discuss how it felt to be a part of the Primary family. What are the blessings of being in a family? How did those who were left until the last feel? Were they fearful of being left out of a family? How do family-history and temple work help us as families? Review Mal. 4:6 with the children.
Express gratitude for the many families you belong to: your immediate family, the ward family, the national family, and Heavenly Father’s family. Help the children understand that we are more alike than different because of the divine characteristics we have from Heavenly Father. Sing “I Am a Child of God” (pp. 2–3).
5. Invite grandparents in the ward or branch to take part in a panel discussion (see TNGC, pp. 175–76). Have each tell a story about himself or herself as a child and how obedience to one of the gospel principles blessed his or her life. Have them discuss what they hope their grandchildren will do so that they can have the blessings of happiness and peace.
Have the children choose an area they wish to work on during the upcoming week, such as avoiding contention in their families or being more helpful. Have them write this commitment in their temple booklets. Invite the children to report to their grandparents in person or by phone call or letter the results of their efforts. If the children do not have a grandparent to report to, have them report to a ward family member—a Primary leader, the bishop (the father of the ward), or one of the panel members.
As a thank-you to the panel, sing “Grandmother” (p. 200) and “When Grandpa Comes” (p. 201) or “Families Can Be Together Forever” (p. 188).
If the grandparents have been to the temple, invite them to share their testimonies about the peace and happiness it gives them.
6. In the temple, we learn about the plan of salvation. Before Primary, on separate slips of paper, write words that are opposites, such as hot/cold, light/dark, happy/sad, tall/short, sick/healthy. Hide the papers under chairs.
Review the plan, emphasizing the gift of agency—the ability to choose. In order to have agency, there must be opposites. Have the children find the papers under their chairs and affix them to the chalkboard or wall, matching the opposite word of each.
Explain that some things are not always preferable over their opposites—hot and cold, for example. However, at times, one choice is clearly more desirable than the other. We would rather be happy than sad. Sing “Smiles” (p. 267).
The most important decision we need to make is to choose good over evil. Sing “Choose the Right Way” (pp. 160–61). Help the children memorize Josh. 24:15, “Choose you this day whom ye will serve; … but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” Discuss and list on the chalkboard how “my house” can choose to serve the Lord (e.g., family prayer, family home evening, attending church, family scripture study). Help older children discover the ways “my house” can choose to serve the Lord by having them locate scriptures in the Topical Guide under “Family, Children, Duties of” and “Family, Love within.” Discuss the blessings that come to the family by choosing to serve the Lord.
Sing “Our House Becomes a Home” from Friend, July 1996, pp. 12–13 or songs from “Choice” in the CS Topics index. Testify of the blessings your family has had because they have chosen to serve the Lord.
7. Additional Friend resources: “Blessings Everywhere,” Nov. 2001, pp. 14–17; Sharing Time, Oct. 2001, pp. 40–42; “Temple Blessings,” Aug. 2001, pp. 2–3; “Family Relationships,” Aug. 2001, pp. 8–9; “The Important Blessings,” July 2001, pp. 8–9; “A Happy People,” June 2000, pp. 34–35. See also: “Gratitude,” Ensign, Nov. 2001, pp. 43–44.