Have you ever received a special gift that made you happy? How did you show gratitude?
This year, we have learned about a wonderful gift that Heavenly Father has given to His children. He gave us His Son and the plan of salvation.
Remember these words from “I Will Follow God’s Plan” (Children’s Songbook, 164–65)?
My life is a gift; my life has a plan.
My life has a purpose; in heav’n it began.
My choice was to come to this lovely home on earth
And seek for God’s light to direct me from birth.
Heavenly Father’s plan includes many gifts. We received a body and were born to a family. With the gift of agency, we can choose between good and evil. Because of our Savior, we will be resurrected, and if we choose good, we will receive the gift of eternal life. We are blessed with prophets, revelation, prayer, scriptures, priesthood, covenants, and temple blessings.
How do we show Heavenly Father that we are grateful for these gifts? Remember the next part of the song?
I will follow God’s plan for me,
Holding fast to his word and his love.
I will work, and I will pray;
I will always walk in his way.
We thank Heavenly Father in our prayers and by the way we live. And as we show our gratitude—
Then I will be happy on earth
And in my home above.
Color a small box or envelope to represent a wrapped gift. Then cut out the shapes on page 16. On the home shapes, write blessings you receive from your family. On the star shapes, write blessings you receive from the Savior. On the temple shapes, write blessings you receive by being a member of the Church. Think of other blessings to write on the gift shapes. Put all the shapes into the box or envelope. During family home evening, share the shapes and discuss the gifts we receive from Heavenly Father.
Note: If you do not wish to remove pages from the magazine, this activity may be copied, traced, or printed from the Internet at www.lds.org. Click on Gospel Library.
(Note: All songs are from Children’s Songbook unless otherwise noted; GAK = Gospel Art Picture Kit, TNGC = Teaching, No Greater Call.)
1. This year we have learned about the plan of salvation and its many blessings. Using GAK pictures, summarize the principles and accompanying blessings that have been taught each month from the Sharing Time Outline. Post the pictures on the board. Remind the children that all over the world, children are learning and living the plan of salvation. If possible, invite a returned missionary from your ward or branch to share an experience of children living the gospel with joy. Sing “Children All Over the World” (pp. 16–17). Divide the children into groups of eight to ten and seat each group in a circle. Play a game of “Remembering Blessings.” The first child says, “I am thankful for _______ .” The second child says “I am thankful for (repeats the response of the first child and adds his own).” The third child says, “I am thankful for (repeats response of first and second child and adds his own),” and so on. Invite the children to share the game with their families in family home evening. Pass out paper stars and crayons to the children and have the children draw one blessing for which they are thankful. On one of the points of the star, punch a hole and loop a piece of string or ribbon through it. Invite the children to share their Christmas ornament with their families. Sing “For Thy Bounteous Blessings” (p. 21) in a four-part round. Bear testimony of the gratitude you feel for Heavenly Father’s many blessings and the happiness that comes to you because of the plan of salvation.
2. This year we celebrate the 200th anniversary of the birth of Joseph Smith. Post or draw a large map of the eastern United States on a chalkboard. Identify the following places: Sharon, Vermont; Palmyra, New York; Harmony, Pennsylvania; Fayette, New York; Kirtland, Ohio; Nauvoo, Illinois; and Carthage, Illinois. (This could also be presented using a timeline instead of a map.) Prepare the following pictures and written references to teach the life of Joseph Smith and put them in paper bags: Bag 1—Birth: Primary picture 3-7, JS—H 1:3–4; Bag 2—First Vision: GAK 403, JS—H 1:15–20, “Joseph Smith’s First Prayer” (Hymns, no. 26); Bag 3—Moroni: GAK 404 and 406, JS—H 1:29–35, 59; Bag 4—Translating Book of Mormon: GAK 416, JS—H 1:61–67, “The Golden Plates” (p. 86); Bag 5—Priesthood: GAK 407 and 408, JS—H 1:68–72, “The Priesthood Is Restored” (p. 89). (Children who have scriptures published since 1999 will also have photographs and descriptions of many of these historical sites after the Index. You may want to include these references.) Divide the children into five groups and give each group a bag. Have them look up and discuss the scripture reference. Invite each group to come up and post the picture on the map or timeline, role-play or give a brief summary of events, lead the song, and express how this event helps build their testimony that Joseph Smith was the prophet of the Restoration.
For younger children: Invite an adult member of the ward or branch to role-play the Prophet Joseph. Using the map, pictures, and songs, share these major events in the life of Joseph Smith. Bear testimony of the Restoration and the role of the Prophet Joseph Smith.
3. Tell the story of the birth of the Savior by dividing the Primary in two groups. Provide simple costumes and the following references for each group (Group 1: Hel. 14:1–7 and 3 Ne. 1:4–21; Group 2: Luke 2:1–17). Invite each group to read the references. Choose a child to be the narrator and read the scripture references as the other children role-play the story. Invite Group 1 to perform the story of Samuel the Lamanite. Sing “Samuel Tells of Baby Jesus” (p. 36). Invite Group 2 to perform the nativity from Luke 2. Sing “Away in a Manger” (pp. 42–43). (For younger children: Involve as many children as possible in the role-play and have a leader tell the story in simple words as the children act it out.) Invite the children to share these stories with their families. Bear your testimony of Jesus Christ.
4. How do we express our gratitude to the Lord? Invite the children to look up “thanks” or “thanksgiving” in the Topical Guide. Give them time to look up a reference and choose a verse or simple story to share. Take a few responses. Teach them that one of the purposes of prayer is to give thanks. In your own words, tell the story of Nephi as he relied on his father and the Liahona to find food and then gave thanks (see 1 Ne. 16:21–32). Have the children find and read 1 Ne. 16:32. Review the four parts of prayer as you sing “I Pray in Faith” (p. 14). Explain that you can also express gratitude by the way you live or with a song of praise. Choose a number of Primary songs of praise or gratitude and write the names on pieces of paper. Post them on the board print-side down. On strips of paper, write case studies. For example: “You are not prepared for the math test, but you know that the person you sit by always does well on the test. You can show you remember the Savior by …”; or “Walking out of the grocery store, you see a wallet on the ground. It has money in it. You can express gratitude to the Lord by …” (See TNGC, p. 161). Put the case studies in a basket and pass it down the row as you sing “I Am Glad for Many Things” (p. 151). Stop the music and invite a child to choose a paper from the basket, read the case study, and answer the question. They can then either pick one of the papers off the board or invite a friend to choose. Sing the song as an expression of gratitude toward Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. Repeat as time permits. Express your gratitude to the Lord and encourage the children to remember the Savior and express their thanks in word and deed.
5. Friend references: “Gratitude,” Nov. 2002, 2–3; “I Am Glad for Many Things,” Nov. 2002, 13–14; “Count Your Blessings,” Nov. 1999, 12–14; “More Blessed to Give,” Jan. 2004, 2–3; “Make a Joyful Noise,” Feb. 2004, 12–14; “Light of the World,” Dec. 2003, 2–3; “The Prophet’s Counsel: The Six Bs,” Feb. 2001, 24–25. These references and others can be found at www.lds.org. Click on Gospel Library.