January: Heavenly Father Prepared a Way for Me to Return to His Presence

2014 Outline for Sharing Time: Families Are Forever, (2013), 2–3

Supplement the ideas provided here with some of your own. Plan ways to identify the doctrine for the children and help them understand it and apply it in their lives. Ask yourself, “What will the children do to learn, and how can I help them feel the Spirit?”

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).

Week 1: I am a child of God and can be like Him someday.

Identify the doctrine and encourage understanding (seeing pictures, singing a song, and reading a scripture): Show several pictures of baby animals to the children and ask them what each animal will grow to be (for example, a kitten will grow to be a cat). Show a picture of an infant child and ask the same question. Explain that there is something special about a human baby that is different from animal babies. Invite the children to listen for whose children we are as you sing together “I Am a Child of God” (CS, 2–3). Ask a child to read Psalm 82:6, and discuss what the song and scripture teach. Write on the board “I am a child of God and can be like Him someday,” and ask a child to read it out loud.

Encourage application (sharing): Invite several children to share ways they feel love from a parent. Explain that Heavenly Father wants us to feel His love as well. Share a way you feel God’s love for you, and invite several children to share ways they feel His love for them. Ask the children to listen for what whispers to us of His love as you sing together “I Know My Father Lives” (CS, 5).

Invite participation: Children feel important when they participate in learning. Whenever possible, invite children to write on the board or read scriptures rather than doing it yourself.

Week 2: Heavenly Father provided a Savior and makes it possible for me to return to His presence.

Encourage understanding (discussing the Atonement): Draw a straight path on the chalkboard ending at a place labeled “Eternal Life with Our Father in Heaven.” Put a picture of a person at the beginning of the path. Explain that the picture represents all of us and that we need to follow the path to get back to Heavenly Father. Tell the children that we cannot return to Heavenly Father by ourselves. Erase part of the path, and ask, “What could help us continue on the path?” Ask a child to read or recite the third article of faith. Show a picture of Christ in Gethsemane, and briefly explain the Atonement. Tell the children that Christ’s Atonement is like a bridge that will help us return to Heavenly Father; if we repent and obey the commandments, we will be able to live with Him again. Draw a bridge on the board, and move the picture of the person to the end of the path. Invite a few children to share their feelings about Jesus Christ and His Atonement. If time allows, sing “I Lived in Heaven” (CS, 4).

Week 3: Jesus Christ is the perfect example for me to follow.

Identify the doctrine (discussing examples): Ask, “Who has set a good example for us?” Write or have a child write responses, including Jesus Christ, on the board. Explain that all of these people set good examples for us, but only Jesus set the perfect example. Tell the children that He “went about doing good” (Acts 10:38) and showed His love by serving others, and He wants us to follow His example.

Encourage understanding (hearing stories and drawing pictures): Before Primary, ask four adults to come prepared to briefly discuss one of the following pictures and scriptures and how we can follow Jesus’s example.

Divide the children into four groups, and assign one of the adults to each group. Ask the children to listen to the adult talk about the Savior, and invite them to draw or write on a piece of paper how they can follow Jesus’s example. Invite one child from each group to share what they learned with the rest of the children.

Class teachers can help lead in small group discussions, encourage participation, and maintain reverence.

Encourage application (singing a song): Sing “I’m Trying to Be like Jesus” (CS, 78–79). Ask the children to follow Jesus’s example this week and be prepared to report what they did next week.

Week 4: I can return to Heavenly Father by following Jesus Christ.

Identify the doctrine (reviewing): Draw the path from week 2 on the board. Ask the children to explain who made it possible to return to Heavenly Father. Ask a few children to report how they followed Christ’s example during the previous week. Invite them to share other ways they can follow Jesus (such as being baptized, praying, and obeying the commandments). Write their responses on the board.

Encourage understanding (hearing a scripture story): Tell the story of Jesus calling His Apostles (see Matthew 4:18–22), and invite the children to do the actions with you. For example: “Peter and Andrew earned their living by catching fish. One day as they cast their nets into the Sea of Galilee (cast nets) they saw Jesus of Nazareth. They heard Him say (put hand to ear), “Follow me.” Even though Peter and Andrew were in the middle of their work (pull nets), they immediately left their nets (drop nets), and followed Him (walk in place). James and John were in another ship mending their nets (fix nets). Jesus called to them, so they left their nets and followed Him (walk in place).” Ask the children if they would leave what they were doing if the Savior said to them, “Follow me.” Have each class lead the other children in pantomiming an activity, such as swimming or playing with toys. Ask them to stop what they are doing and walk in place when they hear the words “follow me.” As they pantomime each activity, hold up a picture of Jesus Christ and softly say, “Follow me.”

Tip: The Savior should not be portrayed by children in a dramatization.

Encourage application (discussing examples): Ask the children to share ways they can follow Jesus Christ today. For example, they could respond to a parent’s call to family prayer or a teacher’s invitation to be reverent.

Teach with the Spirit: Pray for guidance and seek the influence of the Spirit as you prepare your sharing times. As you prepare and teach with the Spirit, He will confirm the truthfulness of what you teach.