The Brass Plates
• Items needed: a pencil for each child, thirty feet of yarn or string cut into three foot sections, a bowl of water, a small sponge, and a rock.
• Print one copy of the Brass Plates Code for each child. Cut off and save the answer keys.
- Print and cut out the name tags and the location signs. Hole punch the top corners of the name tags. String a 3 foot piece of yarn through the holes on each name tag sign. Tie the ends together of each piece of yarn so that each name tag has a loop of yarn that will fit over a child’s head.
• Gather some basic items to use as props for the scripture story such as: two blankets (one to make a tent, and one to make a small cave), something to represent silver and gold (a treasure type chest, jewelry, or fake coins), paper cut up into four thin strips, a long stick to use as a rod, a plastic sword or a stick, a cape for Laban (this could be a tablecloth or a sheet), something to use as brass plates (such as a heavy book wrapped in cloth).
• Print the bookmarks onto cardstock. Cut them out and hole punch the tops. Tie tassels in the holes using ribbon or yarn.
Hand out a copy of the “Brass Plates Code” to each child. Do not give them the answer key. Tell them they have thirty seconds to figure out what section four of the “Purpose” says. It won’t take them long to figure out there is no possible way to do it out without help.
Explain that just like the task you gave them seemed impossible to accomplish, sometimes Heavenly Father’s commandments may seem difficult to obey. But with God’s help we can accomplish all he asks of us. Direct the children to put the “Brass Plates Code” under their chair for now, and explain that you will provide a way for them to do the coded message later on in the lesson.
Have the children look up and read the scripture 1 Nephi 3:7. Explain that in today’s lesson they are going to learn about a commandment the Lord gave to Nephi and his brothers. The commandment seemed impossible to accomplish, but with the Lord’s help they were able to do all they were asked to do.
After reviewing what happened to Lehi and his family in last week’s lesson, inform the children that Lehi told his sons that the Lord wanted them to go back to Jerusalem and get a record of the Jews that was engraved on brass plates. God’s word was written on the brass plates. It was important for Lehi’s family to have the brass plates so they would have a written record of God’s commandments.
Tell the children they are going to play a game that will show them why Lehi and his family needed a written record of God’s commandments.
Have the children sit in a row. Whisper the following message to the first person in the row, making sure no one else can hear what is being said: “Blessed are they who hear the Lord’s commandments and obey them.”
Have that person whisper what they heard to the person sitting next to them. Have each child pass on the whispered message until the message reaches the child at the end of the row. Have the last person repeat out loud what they think they heard. They probably won’t repeat the message correctly. Tell everyone what the original message was.
Explain that the whisper game shows how easy it would be to mix up the word of God if it isn’t written down.
Inform the children they are going to act out the scripture story of Nephi and his brothers going to get the brass plates. Direct the children to each choose a scripture character name tag. Have them put the name tag around their neck with the name showing in the front. Some children can play more than one part if needed.
Have the children help you set up the room. Use the example set up diagram as a guide. Place a blanket over two chairs to represent a tent. Form a line of chairs to represent the wall of Jerusalem. Set a chair in Laban’s house for Laban to sit on. Place the gold and silver in Lehi’s house. Put a blanket over a table or chairs to represent a small cave. Lay the rod by the cave. Set the brass plates in an area by Laban’s house. Tape the location signs to their appropriate spots.
Inform the children that you will be reading small parts of the story out loud. After each small part, you will stop and let them act out that part, including saying what the character might say.
Play Acting Script
(Have the children who are acting out the parts of Lehi, Laman, Lemuel, Sam and Nephi, stand by the tent to start the first scene.)
Lehi told his sons that they needed to go back to Jerusalem to get the plates so they would have a record of Gods commandments.
Laman and Lemuel did not want to go back to Jerusalem. They were angry saying it was too hard of a thing that Lehi required of them.
• Why do you think Laban and Lemuel thought it was a hard thing to go back to Jerusalem? It was a two week trip to Jerusalem each way, and they had to travel in the dangerous, bandit infested, hot desert. They also probably thought that Laban would not give them the plates.
Lehi said that he had not required it of them, that the Lord did.
Nephi said he would go and do what the Lord commanded. He had faith that the Lord would help them accomplish whatever He asked them to do.
The sons of Lehi journeyed back to Jerusalem.
When they arrived, they cast lots to see who would go to Laban’s house to ask him for the plates. The lot fell to Laman. (We do not know exactly what was involved in casting lots, but we do know it was kind of like making a choice by drawing straws or flipping a coin.) (Using the paper cut up into strips, direct the children to draw straws and have Laman win.)
Laman went and asked Laban for the brass plates.
Laban would not give Laman the plates. Laban became angry and threatened Laman.
Laman was afraid and ran back to his brothers.
Nephi’s brothers wanted to return to their father in the wilderness, but Nephi said they must obey the Lord and get the brass plates.
Nephi and his brothers decided to go back to their former home in Jerusalem and get their gold and silver to trade to Laban for the brass plates.
They took the gold and silver to Laban, but Laban was a greedy, dishonest, cruel person. Laban had them thrown out of his house, and he sent his servants to slay them so that he could have the brothers gold and silver.
The four brothers fled into the wilderness and hid themselves in a cavity of a rock to escape the servants of Laban.
Laman and Lemuel then became angry and began to beat Nephi and Sam with a rod. (Supervise this part carefully. You may not want the children to act it out; instead discuss how it would have felt to be beaten by a rod and the harm that it could have caused.)
An angel of God appeared and commanded them to stop. The angel said that the Lord would help them get the plates.
After the angel left, Laman and Lemuel were still afraid to go get the plates. They did not think it possible that the Lord could deliver Laban into their hands because Laban had many men at his command that could harm them.
• Why were Laman and Lemuel still afraid even after seeing an angel of God? Not even direct evidence of God’s power was enough to change their hearts. They did not have faith in God. Faith comes from the Holy Ghost’s witness that the things of God are true. Laman and Lemuel’s hearts were hard, and they would not let the Holy Ghost in.
(Show the children the bowl of water, rock, and sponge. Ask what would happen if you put the sponge in the water, and then ask what would happen if you put the rock in the water. Explain that Laman and Lemuel had hardened their hearts and would not let the Holy Ghost in. Nephi’s heart was soft because he was humble and teachable. He had allowed the Holy Ghost into his heart, so he had great faith in God.)
Nephi knew the Lord would provide a way for them to accomplish the task they had been given, so they went back to the city walls. As Nephi’s brothers waited outside the walls of Jerusalem, Nephi crept into the city at night.
As he came near the house of Laban, he saw Laban lying drunk on the ground with his sword next to him. The Lord had delivered Laban into his hands.
Nephi hesitated because he did not want to harm anyone. But Laban was a thief and a murderer, and the Lord told Nephi that it was better for one wicked man to perish than a whole nation to perish in unbelief. Nephi, his family, and future generations of his family could not keep the commandments and prosper if they did not know the commandments.
Even though it was difficult, Nephi realized that it was necessary to slay Laban, so Nephi smote Laban using the sword. (Do not have the children act out this part. Explain that in Nephi’s case he was commanded to slay Laban for eternal purposes – to protect a nation from perishing in unbelief, but remind the children that violence and killing is wrong unless under such specific circumstances as protecting lives.)
Nephi then dressed in Laban’s clothing and went to Laban’s treasury. (Have Nephi put on Laban’s cape.)
At the treasury, Nephi spoke like Laban and told Laban’s servant Zoram to bring the brass plates and follow him.
Zoram obeyed thinking Nephi was Laban. Zoram followed Nephi to outside the gates of Jerusalem.
Laman, Lemuel, and Sam were afraid when they saw Nephi. They thought it was Laban and they began to run away. Nephi called to them. They stopped when they heard Nephi’s voice.
When Zoram saw the brothers of Nephi and heard Nephi’s real voice, he became afraid and tried to run. Nephi held onto him and told him they would not hurt him if he would swear an oath to go with them into the wilderness.
Nephi explained to Zoram that the Lord had commanded him and his brothers to get the brass plates. Zoram believed him and swore an oath to go with them.
They all traveled back to the valley in the wilderness. Lehi and Sariah rejoiced when they returned safely.
• What was the main reason Nephi and his family needed the brass plates? Let the children answer the question. Have them check their answer by giving them the answer key to the “Brass Plates Code”. Inform them they can now fill out section four with the help you promised. Instruct them to fill out the rest of the code later at home to find out the other purposes of the brass plates.
With the Lord’s help, Nephi was able to keep a commandment that seemed impossible to do. The Lord will always prepare a way for us to obey his commandments.
Give each child a bookmark to help them remember this important lesson, and tell them they can use the bookmark to mark where they are reading in the Book of Mormon.
Weekly Reading Assignment
Remind the children to do their scripture reading assignment for this week – 1 Nephi 3:1-31 and 1 Nephi 4:1-38.