Lesson 4: The Tree of Life

Primary 4: Book of Mormon, (1997), 12–15


Purpose

To strengthen each child’s desire to obey the word of God and be worthy of eternal life.

Preparation

  1. 1.

    Prayerfully study 1 Nephi 8, 1 Nephi 11, and 1 Nephi 15:21–36. Then study the lesson and decide how you want to teach the children the scripture account. (See “Preparing Your Lessons,”> p. vi, and “Teaching from the Scriptures,” p. vii.)

  2. 2.

    Select the discussion questions and enrichment activities that will involve the children and best help them achieve the purpose of the lesson.

  3. 3.

    If possible, prepare a labeled copy of the tree of life visual for each child (see the sample at the end of the lesson).

  4. 4.

    Materials needed:

    1. a.

      A copy of the Book of Mormon for each child.

    2. b.

      Rope, twine, or string about fifteen feet (five meters) long; a blindfold; and two word cards, one labeled Birth and the other labeled Eternal Life.

    3. c.

      The tree of life symbols and meanings chart, with the meanings covered with strips of paper.

    4. d.

      Pictures 4-9, Jesus the Christ (Gospel Art Picture Kit 240; 62572); 4-10, The Birth of Jesus (Gospel Art Picture Kit 200; 62116); 4-11, The Crucifixion (Gospel Art Picture Kit 230; 62505); 4-12, Lehi’s Dream of the Tree of Life (62620); 4-13, The Tree of Life and Rod of Iron; and 4-14, Lehi Reaching for the Fruit.

Suggested Lesson Development

Invite a child to give the opening prayer.

Attention Activity

Have two children stand in front of the class, one on one side of the room and one on the other. Have the first child hold the card labeled Birth, and have the second child hold the card labeled Eternal Life. Blindfold a third child. After turning the child around a few times, see if he or she can walk from the first child to the second child without help. Then have the two children stretch the rope or string between them, each holding an end. Have the blindfolded child try again to go from the first child to the second child, this time holding on to the rope. Discuss why the second time was easier than the first. Explain that while we live on earth we are all trying to return to Heavenly Father. He has given us something to hold on to so we can find our way back to him.

  • What has Heavenly Father given us to lead us back to his presence? (Scriptures, prophets, the Holy Ghost.)

Show the picture of Jesus Christ, and tell the children that this lesson will explain how following Christ’s teachings can help us return to Heavenly Father’s presence.

Scripture Account

Using the suggested pictures and the Book of Mormon, teach the account of Lehi’s dream from 1 Nephi 8 and the interpretation of the dream from 1 Nephi 11 and 1 Nephi 15:21–36. (For suggested ways to teach the scripture account, see “Teaching from the Scriptures,” p. vii.) Explain that the scriptures often use symbols. A symbol is usually a familiar object that is used to represent a principle or teaching. For example, a lamb may be a symbol of purity, so Jesus Christ is called the Lamb of God. Explain that in this lesson the children will learn about symbols that Lehi saw in a dream and their meanings.

Discussion and Application Questions

Study the following questions and the scripture references as you prepare your lesson. Use the questions you feel will best help the children understand the scriptures and apply the principles in their lives. Reading the references with the children in class will help them gain insights into the scriptures.

  • Why did Lehi want his family to eat the fruit of the tree of life? (1 Nephi 8:10–12.) What does Heavenly Father want for all his children?

  • Why do you think some of Lehi’s sons ate the fruit of the tree and others didn’t? (1 Nephi 8:13–17.) What are some reasons we do not always obey Heavenly Father’s commandments?

  • What do the symbols in Lehi’s dream mean? Show the tree of life symbols and meanings chart, uncovering each meaning as it is discussed.

    Symbols:

    Meanings:

    1. The tree (1 Nephi 8:10)

    1. The love of God in giving the world his Only Begotten Son (1 Nephi 11:21–22; John 3:16)

    2. The fruit (1 Nephi 8:11)

    2. Eternal life (1 Nephi 15:36; D&C 14:7)

    3. The rod of iron (1 Nephi 8:19)

    3. The word of God (1 Nephi 15:23–24)

    4. Mist of darkness (1 Nephi 8:23)

    4. Temptations of the devil (1 Nephi 12:17)

    5. Great and spacious building (1 Nephi 8:26–27)

    5. Pride of the world (1 Nephi 11:36)

  • When Nephi asked the angel to show him the meaning of the tree, he saw a vision of the birth and ministry of the Savior. How do the birth and ministry of Jesus Christ show God’s great love for us?

  • What does the fruit of the tree represent? (The gift of eternal life.) Nephi saw that Jesus Christ, because of his love for us, would be crucified for our sins so that we might repent and gain eternal life. Explain that eternal life means living with Heavenly Father as families in the celestial kingdom. What must we do to obtain eternal life?

  • What does the iron rod represent? (The word of God.) How will reading the Book of Mormon every day help us stay on the path back to our Father in Heaven? (1 Nephi 15:24.) How has reading the Book of Mormon blessed you?

  • What does the mist of darkness represent? (The temptations of the devil, which can confuse us and lead us astray.) In what ways does Satan tempt us to leave the strait and narrow path? What can we do to resist his temptations? Why are we happier if we stay on the strait and narrow path?

  • What does the great and spacious building represent? (The pride of the world.) In what ways have you been made fun of because you were trying to do right? Who influences people who make fun of us?

If possible, give a labeled picture of Lehi’s dream to each child to take home. Have the children suggest choices they may make during the coming week that will help them hold on to the iron rod. (Answers may include reading daily from the Book of Mormon, obeying parents, praying, being honest, choosing good friends, choosing good entertainment, and so on.)

Enrichment Activities

You may use one or more of the following activities any time during the lesson or as a review, summary, or challenge.

  1. 1.

    Play a matching game. Using the information from the tree of life symbols and meanings chart, write each symbol from Lehi’s dream and the meaning of each symbol on a separate 3″ x 5″ card. Use six other 3″ x 5″ cards to make three sets of matching pictures or symbols, such as smiling faces, stars, and hearts. Mix the cards up, and place them face down in four columns on the floor or table. Have the children come up one at a time and turn over two cards. Read aloud what each says. If the cards match, leave them face up. The game is over when all the cards are face up.

  2. 2.

    Help the children memorize 1 Nephi 15:23–24.

  3. 3.

    Sing or read the words to “He Sent His Son” (Children’s Songbook, p. 34), “I Will Follow God’s Plan” (Children’s Songbook, p. 164), “I Am a Child of God” (Children’s Songbook, p. 2), or “The Iron Rod” (Hymns, no. 274).

Conclusion

Testimony

Bear testimony that by obeying the commandments we can return to live with Heavenly Father.

Suggested Family Sharing

Encourage the children to share with their families a specific part of the lesson, such as a story, question, or activity, or to read with their families the “Suggested Home Reading.”

Suggested Home Reading

Suggest that the children study 1 Nephi 8:5–34 at home as a review of this lesson.

Invite a child to give the closing prayer.