To help each child appreciate the great gift our Heavenly Father gave us when he sent Jesus Christ to the earth.
Place picture 2-41, The Birth of Jesus (Gospel Art Picture Kit 200; 62116) in a box, if possible, and wrap it as a gift. Write John 3:16 on a tag and fasten it to the gift.
Make a card for each child by folding a sheet of paper in half and writing Merry Christmas on the front. If possible, bring envelopes for the children to put the cards in.
Draw or cut out a paper star to represent the star the Wise Men followed (a star pattern can be found at the end of the lesson).
Bring simple articles of clothing (such as scarves or robes) to be used as costumes for role-playing Mary, Joseph, and the Wise Men. If costumes are not readily available, bring name tags to indicate the roles. Also bring a doll to represent Jesus and items (such as a box, jar, and vase) to represent the Wise Men’s gifts.
Prepare to sing or say the words to “He Sent His Son” (Children’s Songbook, p. 34). The words to this song are included at the back of the manual.
A recording of spiritual Christmas music (optional).
Pencils and crayons.
Picture 2-7, The Wise Men (Gospel Art Picture Kit 203; 62120).
Make the necessary preparations for any enrichment activities you want to use.
Suggested Lesson Development
Invite a child to give the opening prayer.
Follow up with the children if you encouraged them to do something during the week.
The Birth of Jesus Christ Was a Great Gift
Show the children the wrapped gift. Tell them there is something inside the package that represents a wonderful gift from someone who loves us very much.
Let each child have a turn to hold the package and guess what is inside.
Tell the children the tag is a clue. Read aloud John 3:16. Ask the children if they know now what the gift is and who it is from (you may need to remind the children that God is another name for Heavenly Father). Have a child unwrap the gift and hold up the picture so everyone can see it.
What is the gift?
Who is the gift from?
Why is the birth of Jesus Christ such a wonderful gift?
Help the children understand that one reason the birth of Christ is such a great gift is that Jesus Christ came to teach us the right way to live. He taught us that loving and helping others will make us happy. By sending Jesus to earth, Heavenly Father gave us a gift that will help us find happiness not just at Christmastime but always.
Sing or say the words to “He Sent His Son” with the children.
The Wise Men Gave Gifts to Baby Jesus
Scripture story and discussion
Point out that Heavenly Father wanted everyone to know about his gift to us, so he placed a beautiful new star in the sky.
Display picture 2-7, The Wise Men, and ask the children to tell the story of the Wise Men following the star to find Jesus (see Matthew 2:1–12). Help the children with any details they may have forgotten.
Read aloud Matthew 2:11.
What gifts did the Wise Men bring to Jesus?
Explain that frankincense and myrrh were sweet-smelling perfumes used in religious ceremonies. All three gifts were valuable and difficult to get. The Wise Men wanted to bring Jesus the nicest gifts they could find.
Why did the Wise Men bring these gifts to Jesus? (To show they loved and honored him.)
Why did the Wise Men bow down and worship Jesus when they saw him? (They knew he was the Savior, the Son of Heavenly Father.)
Have the children act out the story of the Wise Men. Give a part to every child who wants to participate. Children can be Mary, Joseph, and the Wise Men (have as many Wise Men as you need so that everyone can participate). You may also ask a child to hold the paper star. Help the children put on their costumes or name tags.
To add to the presentation, you may wish to play a recording of spiritual Christmas music softly in the background.
Narrate by reading selected verses from Matthew 2:1–12, particularly verses 2 and 9–11. You may want to have the Wise Men repeat Matthew 2:2 with you. (If necessary, explain that King of the Jews is another name for Jesus Christ.)
Giving Gifts of Love Brings Us Joy
Explain that just as the Wise Men brought gifts to Jesus to show their love for him, we can give gifts to others to show our love for them.
Tell the following story about a young boy named S. Dilworth Young, who later became a General Authority:
The Christmas that S. Dilworth Young was five years old, he saw a jigsaw puzzle displayed in the window of a store. The puzzle had a picture of an old horse-drawn fire truck on it. Dilworth wanted that puzzle for Christmas more than he wanted anything else.
Elder Young later explained what happened with the puzzle on Christmas Day:
“When Christmas morning finally came, I found hung on my chair a stocking full of good things. But right off I spotted my puzzle. It was wrapped in bright paper, but I could tell by the shape what it was. I quickly opened the box and was soon lost in the pleasure of putting the puzzle together.
“Before long my father came into the room and explained to my younger brother, older sister, and me that the Jensen family down the street had recently come from Denmark. He said the father had no job and no money, and then he suggested that we take our Christmas dinner to them. He also asked each of us to select our most loved toy and give it to a child in the Jensen family. …
“Before we left for the Jensen’s, I spent three happy hours playing with and enjoying my puzzle. I thought about giving something else, but I knew deep down that there was only one gift to give.
“At eleven forty-five we all started out. Father carried the turkey on a platter. Mother and my sister Emily followed with potatoes, gravy, dressing, cranberries, and dessert. And under my arm, carefully rewrapped, was my fire engine puzzle.
“When we entered the Jensen home, Father placed the turkey on the small bare table in the corner, and the others followed.
“Each one of us in turn then gave his present. Emily gave her beautiful doll to the girl. I stepped forward and looked at the boy about my age. ‘Here,’ I said as I pushed the puzzle at him. He took it from me and smiled. Next my brother gave his offering to the smallest child. And then we returned home.
“It was strange, but somehow as I walked the block between our house and the Jensen’s, it seemed as if my feet didn’t touch the ground. I felt as though I were floating on clouds of good feeling, for I knew I had made someone else happy.
“Even our Christmas dinner of canned beans, bread, butter, and bottled fruit had a special and unforgettable meaning on that special Christmas Day!” (S. Dilworth Young, “Friend to Friend: A Special Christmas,” Friend, Dec. 1972, pp. 20–21).
What did Dilworth do that made him happy?
Why was he happy after giving away his favorite toy?
Have you ever given something to someone else that made him or her happy?
Let the children talk about times when they have made others happy by giving them gifts.
Explain that when we give gifts to others, we show that we love them. While it can make us happy to receive a gift, it can also make us happy to give gifts. Point out that gifts do not have to be expensive to show a lot of love. Some of the best gifts are gifts of service.
Tell a story about a child who gave gifts of service. You may want to use the following story:
Christmas was coming soon, and Beth wanted to give Christmas gifts to her family to show them how much she loved them. But Beth didn’t have any money. She thought she wouldn’t be able to give any gifts, and she felt very sad. Then Beth remembered that her Primary teacher had told the class that some of the best gifts are gifts that money can’t buy. Beth decided to give gifts of service.
Beth made a card for every member of her family, and on each card she wrote something that she would do for that family member. On her younger sister’s card, she wrote that she would play a game that her sister liked. On her older brother’s card, she wrote that she would wash the dishes one night when it was his turn. For her mother she promised to watch the baby while Mother took a nap, and for her father she promised to help work in the garden. Her favorite gift was for her grandfather: she promised to give him a big hug first thing every morning for a month.
On Christmas morning Beth gave her gifts to her family. Everyone liked Beth’s gifts of service. They knew Beth loved them because she gave them such wonderful gifts.
Give each child a card and a pencil or some crayons. Tell the children that with these cards each of them can give a gift of service, just as Beth did.
Discuss some gifts that the children can give, such as making a brother or sister’s bed, setting the table for dinner, playing with a baby brother or sister, or running an errand for their parents. Help each child choose a gift of service and a person to give the gift to.
Help each child write I will at the top of the inside page of the card and for you at the bottom of the page.
In the middle of the page have each child draw a picture of what he or she will do for someone else as a gift of service.
If you brought envelopes, give each child an envelope to put the card in. Help the child write the name of the recipient on the envelope or on the front of the card.
Remind the children to give their cards when their families exchange gifts.
You may want to suggest that they make similar gifts at home for other family members or friends.
Remind the children that Jesus Christ is the most important gift Heavenly Father has given us. This is because Jesus will help us return to live with him and Heavenly Father someday. Explain that just as Heavenly Father showed his love for us by sending Jesus to the earth, we can show our love for others by giving them special gifts.
Bear your testimony that Jesus Christ is our Savior. Tell the children how you feel when you think about how much Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ love each of us. Also tell the children how you feel when you give gifts to others.
Encourage the children to remember Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ as they celebrate Christmas.
Invite a child to give the closing prayer.
Choose from the following activities those that will work best for the children in your class. You can use them in the lesson itself or as a review or summary. For additional guidance, see “Class Time” in “Helps for the Teacher.”
Sing or say the words to the first verse of “Silent Night” (Hymns, no. 204) with the children.Silent night! Holy night!All is calm, all is brightRound yon virgin mother and Child.Holy Infant, so tender and mild,Sleep in heavenly peace;Sleep in heavenly peace.
Sing or say the words to “Away in a Manger” (Children’s Songbook, p. 42), “Mary’s Lullaby” (Children’s Songbook, p. 44), or “Oh, Hush Thee, My Baby” (Children’s Songbook, p. 48). The words to these songs are included at the back of the manual.
Read Matthew 2:1–2, 9–11 aloud. Discuss the importance of the star to the Wise Men. Help each child cut two triangles out of paper and glue them together to form a star decoration (see pattern below). Let the children take their stars home.