Friday, February 20, 2015

School of the Prophets

The School of the Prophets was established and held in the upper room of the Newel K Whitney Store in Kirtland, Ohio during the winter of 1832-1833.
In his talk, A Principle With a Promise, President Ezra Taft Benson describes the conditions and dimensions of this room as a little under 11'x14'.
My students measured and taped off an area that was this size and then I asked them to sit shoulder to shoulder during our lesson.
If I had access to picnic benches for them to sit on, this would have been even more effective.
This is a great setting for teaching the introduction to the Word of Wisdom or any other lesson/principles taught at the School of the Prophets.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

One Step at a Time

Grace to Grace
Doctrine and Covenants 93: 1-20 (Lesson 97 in Seminary Doctrine and Covenants Teacher Manual)
We have John's testimony of how Christ became like His Father and received the fulness of His Father's glory.
He became like His father, one step at a time, grace to grace
We, too, may become like our Heavenly Father, one step at a time, grace to grace.

To demonstrate this principle, I set up a ladder in our classroom and asked a student to climb to the top.
At first, the student was very willing, until I told him he could not use the steps.
We discussed how difficult this would be.
After some discussion, I had the students write on sticky notes the steps they need to take to receive the fulness of our Heavenly Father's glory.
We discussed the things they wrote down and then they placed the notes on the steps of the ladder, emphasizing the importance of each step.
As part of the discussion, we read this quote from the Prophet Joseph Smith.
(this is where I got the idea to use a ladder rather than have them just come up to the chalkboard and write their answers)
If you dont have access to a ladder, a small step stool will work or you can place stepping stones on the floor and ask them to go from start to finish without stepping off the stones, etc.
The students can label the stones just as we labeled the steps on the ladder.
There are lots of adaptations.

The following statement by the Prophet Joseph Smith clarifies one aspect of growing from grace to grace until we receive a fulness:

It is not wisdom that we should have all knowledge at once presented before us; but that we should have a little at a time; then we can comprehend it. When you climb up a ladder, you must begin at the bottom, and ascend step by step, until you arrive at the top; and so it is with the principles of the gospel—you must begin with the first, and go on until you learn all the principles of exaltation. But it will be a great while after you have passed through the veil before you will have learned them. It is not all to be comprehended in this world; it will be a great work to learn our salvation and exaltation even beyond the grave” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith [2007], 268).

Happy Teaching!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Skateboards and Scriptures

This idea was posted on Facebook by Thomas Mark Olsen
It is a Human Hungry Hungry Hippos game.
I used his idea and off I went to plan and set up the details for a super fun Scripture Mastery activity.
I call it Skateboards and Scriptures.
Who knew...Skateboards and Scriptures would be so fun together!!!
(On another note, this may be adapted for a party-scavenger hunt clues, etc. 
Adapt the balloon colors to match different holidays, seasons, etc. I used Valentine colors)

Other Adaptations for filling the balloons:
Cub Scouts-words to the Cub Scout Promise
Young Men/Boy Scouts- Scout Oath, Law, Promise, etc
Young Women- Young Women Theme
Young Men/Young Women- use the Scripture for the annual theme
Activity Day, Faith In God Activity, Primary Activity: Article Faith words 
Parties: Words to songs, Scavenger hunt clues, clues about the guest of honor's favorites, etc.

Because this is "Love One Another" week in our class and we are studying the
Doctrine and Covenants this year, I used D&C 25:13 as the verse and added two extra papers (see below) for a total of 18 balloons with papers in them.

This activity took about 25 minutes.
Everything was set up the night before
Set up was much easier than anticipated.

See the photos at the end of this post
Materials Needed:

  • 1 Skateboard per team
  • 1 Small-Medium laundry basket
  • Rope - to attach to skateboard. (Use the same length and type for each team- I got 50' nylon rope at the Dollar Store)
  • Balloons- enough for one word per scripture verse (1 color per team) 
  • Tape for marking off "Team Box" on the floor in the room
  • Scripture verse word strips to fill the balloons
  • Treats or prizes 

Set up and advance preparation:

  • Tape off the corners of the gym to make a "box" for each team to stand inside.
  • Choose a scripture verse and write or type it out. (I used the words from D&C 25:13 along with a fill-in-the-blank strip of paper for them to write the reference  "D&C _____:_____" and a strip of paper with the question "To whom was this scripture specifically given to?")
  • Cut the verse up so each word of the verse is separate. (I had 18 balloons per team)
  • Roll up one piece of paper (with one word on it) and place it inside a balloon, then blow it up.
  • Tie rope on to each skateboard
  • Before team members go to their "boxed off" areas, place the laundry basket and skateboard with rope tied to in inside their box
  • In the center of the room, scatter the colored balloons all over.
  • Divide players into teams and have them report to their boxes after you have reviewed the rules for play.
Method of Play:
  • When it is time for play, the first player lies belly-down on the skateboard with the laundry basket in hand. 
  • They push off and capture a balloon of their team's color. 
  • The players in the box hold on to the rope as the player pushes off and captures the balloon. 
  • Once the player has secured a balloon,  the team members pull him/her back to the team box where they deliver and pop the balloon, saving the paper inside.
  • As the team members pop the balloons. they begin to put the words in order to form a scripture verse. 
  • I did not allow them to use their scriptures or Scripture Mastery cards. Once they were done, they called me to ask for me to check to see if it was correct. If it needed to be changed, I  told them, but did not give them a clue as to why/where. Once it was correct, then they could look in their scriptures.
  • As the words come in, they are able to figure out the reference and answer the question that is in one of the balloons
  • Once all the words are in order, the scripture reference is named, and the question is answered, the team calls out "DONE" and the teacher or leader checks their work. If they struggle to complete, have them use their scriptures as a reference.
  • Prizes were given for each team. (I had a large bowl of treats. 1st place chose 4 treats, 2nd place chose 3 treats,  3rd place-2 treats, 4th place-1 treat) 
  • No touching the balloons with your hands until they have been retrieved with the basket and delivered back to the team box.
  • Only one balloon at a time may be retrieved
  • Player must remain on skateboard, "belly-on", when searching for and capturing a balloon.
  • Basket must be turned upside down- with the open end flat on the floor with the ballon "trapped" inside as the player is pulled back to the Team Box.
  • No team member may have a turn twice in a row, yet not all players must take a turn
  • Balloon must be retrieved with the basket
  • Balloons may be kicked out of your box with feet, but not touched by hands (if balloons from other teams float in to your space)
  • If the rope is too short for the player on the skateboard to reach,  the players in the box must form a "human chain or rope" to extend the length of the rope, with one player always in the box. The entire team cannot leave the box all at one time, one person must remain in the box as the connection to the person on the skateboard and those holding the rope and linked together.
At the conclusion, we discussed the application of this scripture and reviewed the counsel from Elder Richard G Scott that to memorize a scripture is to gain a new friend.
Regularly, I encourage them to surround themselves with positive friends and the best friends they ever have will be the scriptures.

There was a concern regarding marking or scratching the wood floor when I was first considering this activity. As I talked with my leaders and a few other people, I came to the conclusion that the wheels on our skateboards are rubberized, just like the wheels on the chair cart that is rolled across the floor regularly. In addition, the tables and chairs are set up on the wood floor regularly and have rubber caps on the bottoms of each leg. I watched carefully, and with confidence, I can say that the floors were not harmed by the skateboards rolling on them. The kids weren't using the skateboards to do jumps or tricks, etc.

A safety note: I did not use helmets, but recommend using them. It was a detail I did not think of, but will add the next time I plan this activity. Thankfully, no one was hurt.

Thank you Thomas Mark Olsen for this amazing idea.

Questions: Contact me at shaunahh @ gmail . com

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Be A Bell Ringer

The past two years, I have shared the following quote with my students and given them a jingle bell necklace to wear or put on their back packs, etc.
We have discussed the bells we hear at Christmas, the bell ringers we see at shopping malls, the significance of bells, the attention they bring, etc. 
Then discuss who the bell ringers are around them and how they, too, can be bell ringers.T

A bell ringer is someone who sounds a call, issues a warning, rings a signal, or chimes a time. A bell ringer, you see, makes things happen.
~Elaine Cannon~
(Elaine Cannon is a former LDS General YW President)

Order jingle bell necklaces from Oriental Trader or have the students make their own, which is very inexpensive. I have seen them at Dollar Tree, Michaels, Wmt, etc.
Be a "Bell Ringer"

Thursday, November 20, 2014


Second Coming "Scattergories" (see end of post for other adaptations)
We are studying the signs and events, listed in Doctrine and Covenants 43 and 45, that will take place before Jesus Christ's Second Coming. 
  • Preparation in advance (not necessary-but helpful) the day before, I assigned the students to read D&C Sections 43 and 45 and note the signs of the Second Coming of Jesus Christ for the next class. (About half of my students did this and they are the ones who got the most out of this activity, but everyone participated and learned more than they would through just reading in class and making lists in their journals, etc)
  • I divided my class in to teams. ( I suggest teams of no more than 3-4)
  • Each team had a rolling chalk board that was out of the other teams' view. (you can give each team a large piece of poster board and that would be easy to place them side by side at the end)
  • Based on D&C Sections 43 and 45 (where our lesson was from) they were to list as many signs of  Christ's Second Coming as possible in 15 minutes (this gave time for reading and discussion amongst team members)
  • Instruct them to write neatly and make lists in neat lines/rows 
  • I told them that once they listed the signs from those sections, they were also allowed to list any other signs from any other scriptures, just be prepared to name the source.
  • When the time was up, they rolled their boards side by side.
  • We started with one board, reading their list and comparing the other lists. Anything that was a duplicate had a line drawn through it.
  • We went through all the lists and the team who had the most signs listed that the others did not list was the "winning team"
  • We then discussed the signs that were most interesting, surprising, the ones that have happened already, etc.
  • They chose the top 4 signs that they want to learn more about-which is where I will focus more time as we study. 

This was a very effective way for the students to dig in and study the different signs of the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. I was very impressed with how interested they were and it helped me to know where to focus our lessons and discussions.

It was interesting to note the teams who figured out the use the footnotes to find other signs of the Second Coming. They used the Topical Guide and their "True to the Faith" books as they made their lists longer and longer. 

Going forward:
There is a list of 51 signs of the Second Coming in Bruce R Mc Conkie's book, Mormon Doctrine, under the heading, "Signs of the Times" pp 715-738. This will be helpful to use some of this as we study these lessons.

Other adaptations: 
I used this when we studied the names of Christ. They were not allowed to use their books for this one.  ( I think I gave them about 10 minutes)

With or without looking in their scriptures, have each team list the names of people in the Old Testament, New Testament, or Book of Mormon. I am going to do this with people we have studied in the Doctrine and Covenants and Church History after a few more people are introduced. (again, give a time limit-usually 5-10 minutes is good but I gave more time of the signs of the second coming as they had to read)

If they use their books, it is good to have them be prepared to state the reference or location. 

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Dispensation of the Fullness of Times

Doctrine and Covenants Section 27
This idea came from a member of the LDS Seminary Teacher Facebook group, Mark McCune. 
(seriously, if you are a Seminary Teacher-join that Facebook group). 

I took it one step further by attaching the names of the Prophets from the different dispensations.
I used this when teaching Doctrine and Covenants Section 27.
This will work well with Doctrine and Covenants Section 29 and a others regarding Apostasy, Restoration, Prophets, Dispensations, Fullness of Times.
If you have a specific suggestion of a Seminary lesson this goes with, please leave a comment below.

We met in the chapel and sat in front of the Sacrament table that was all draped in white cloths covering the Sacrament trays (this is a subject for another blog post)
After we discussed the emblems  and symbolism of the Sacrament, we moved to the other side of the chapel to discuss the Sacrament meeting that will be held at Adam-ondi-Ahman prior to the Savior's second coming.
I had the students search Section 27 to tell me who would be at that Sacrament meeting.
Some of the people who will be in attendance are the Prophets from each DISPENSATION along with Joseph Smith the Prophet of this DISPENSATION of the FULLNESS OF TIMES

To demonstrate DISPENSATIONS, First, line up the hymnals (I labelled mine) and name the Prophets who led during past dispensations...

Stack the dispensations up to show that we are living in the DISPENSATION of the FULLNESS OF TIMES. The dispensation that will usher in the Second Coming of the Savior, Jesus Christ.
If I do this again, I may leave a BLANK hymnal in between Peter and Joseph Smith to show the Apostasy. I discussed this verbally, but a blank would have been a more effective visual.
It was so powerful to see that our dispensation is so close to the Second Coming of Jesus Christ and that we need the fullness of the gospel to help us prepare for His coming.

This depicts the Prophet who headed each dispensation and other Prophets from that same dispensation. You could use this when you discuss Joseph Smith as the head of our dispensation and add the names of the Latter-day Prophets next to his name.

This visual can be used all throughout the Doctrine and Covenants lessons on Prophets, Restoration, Dispensation, Fullness of Time, Second Coming,  the 7 Seals, etc.

I have understood this concept for most of my adult life, but when I taught with this visual, it gave me clarity and understanding in a way I have never had.
Happy Teaching

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Sock-O-Bingo Scripture Mastery

Make a Bingo Grid on the Floor
(5x5=25 Scripture Mastery verses)
Make a "Sock-O" with any sock filled with beans, popcorn, etc.
It is fun to use a sock with a seasonal pattern/print
Divide in to 2 teams
 Place a card turned writing side down with a clue for each Scripture Mastery verse inside each square.
Have a team member throw the "sock-o" to a square, turn over the card and read the clue.
The team as 15 seconds to find the verse in their scriptures.
They can use their Scripture Mastery cards or bookmarks to help them (I used the same clues as the cards and bookmarks)
When a team member finds it, have them yell, "Contact"
They must state the reference and they have the option of:
1) reading the scripture from the book
2) Reciting from memory the scripture (or having a team mate recite it from memory-but a team member can only recite 1 scripture by memory during the entire game, otherwise the same  team member may recite it every time)
If they read the scripture, the team gets 5 points
If a team member recites it by memory, the team gets 10 points
If they cannot find the scripture in 15 seconds, the other team has the option to "steal" and get 5 points for reading it or 10 for reciting it by memory.
The first team with 5 in a row, wins.

You can adapt this with other rules or for teaching review questions, etc.
The "sock-o" can be used for many other purposes such as "hot potato" where it is passed around a circle while one student's back is turned to them. When that student says stop, the person with the "sock-o" recites or names the scripture using the key words or clues given by the person who is "it".