Alma Counsels His Sons Helaman and Shiblon
• Items needed: some vegetables, matches, a winter hat and gloves, a display board, a writing instrument for the display board, a page protector with a piece of cardstock in it, tape, a Book of Mormon for each child, and one to two Tootsie Pop suckers for each child.
• Print two copies of the treasure chest onto cardstock. Cut out the treasure chests and glue the halves together with strong glue. Finish putting together the treasure chests by folding them and taping the parts together where indicated. (The treasure chest is from the June 2000 Friend,”One of God’s Greatest Gifts.”)
• Print the scripture references and matching word strips onto cardstock, and cut them out. Tape one scripture reference to each Tootsie Pop stick. (Optional: tie a gold ribbon on each Tootsie pop.) Color the bottom of each Tootsie Pop with a different colored crayon or marker. Put each scriptures color on the back of its matching word strip. (Check the game answers found in the lesson to see which scripture goes with each word strip.) Divide the Tootsie Pop suckers between each treasure box. Put the word strips on the page protector with rolled pieces of tape.
• Make a Nakamura lock paper airplane and practice using it before class according to the directions in the lesson.
• Make two treasure maps using the instructions as a guide. Before teaching this lesson, hide the treasure boxes in the locations marked on the maps.
• Print the reading chart.
Show the children the vegetables, the matches, and the winter hat and gloves. Ask what words of counsel and warning their parents have given them concerning these items. (Eat their vegetables, don’t play with fire, and wear gloves and a hat in the winter.)
• Why did your parents give counsel and warning about these items? (Because their parents love them and want them to be safe, healthy, and happy.)
Point out that our parents give us counsel and warning about many things in life because they love us. Explain that in today’s lesson they will learn some important counsel the prophet Alma gave to his sons Helaman and Shiblon. The counsel is recorded in the scriptures because it is applicable to us too. We first read about the counsel Alma gave to his son Helaman. Helaman is to be the next spiritual leader of the people. He is also to keep a record of the people and keep the past records safe. Alma stressed the importance of the scriptures in his counsel to his son Helaman. Alma told Helaman that keeping the records was a small and simple thing, but it would bring to pass great things. (Alma 37:6-7)
Show an example of how small things can bring about great things by showing the children the paper airplane you prepared. Explain that airplanes and ships have a small item on the back of them called a rudder. The rudder controls the direction a plane or a ship goes. Demonstrate this by bending the back vertical edge of the airplane to the right. Fly the plane and it should go to the right. Also demonstrate bending it to the left so it will fly left.
Explain that just as a small rudder determines the direction a large plane or ship goes, so can reading the scriptures, and doing the things found in them, change the course and direction of many people’s lives.
Have the children look up Alma 37:8 and list on the board the great things the scriptures did for the Nephites and Lamanites who heeded them.
1. Enlarged the memories of the people. The people could fall into sin if they did not have a written record of God’s word to remind them of the right things they needed to do. Read Mosiah 1:5-7
2. Convinced many of the error of their ways, bringing them to repentance. Alma 37:9 reminds us that the people of Ammon (who had once been Lamanites) would not have changed from their evil and murderous ways if it had not been for the scriptures Ammon taught them.
3. Brought many to a knowledge of their God to the salvation of their souls. In Alma 37:4 it talks about the scriptural records of the Nephites going forth to every nation so people could know the mysteries they contain. A mystery is something people don’t understand. Through the scriptures we get to know and understand God and his purposes. His purpose is to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man. He gives us commandments and scriptures to show us how to gain eternal life and bring salvation to our souls.
Treasure Map Activity
Show the children the treasure map and explain that just like a treasure map shows how to find a treasure, the scriptures show us how to obtain the treasure of eternal life. Ask what would happen if they went to look for the treasure but chose not to look at the map to see how to find it. They wouldn’t find the treasure. Have the children read Alma 37:46.
• What happens if we have the scriptures but are slothful and choose not to do the easy and simple thing of reading and following them? We would not gain the treasure of eternal life.
Tell the children that you have hidden two treasure boxes somewhere in the building or outside in the grounds. Divide the children into two groups and give each group a map. Have the children follow the treasure map and find the treasure you have hidden. Tell the children to bring back the treasure box without opening it. When they are all seated and you have their attention, open the treasure chests and show them the treasure. Ask how they would feel if they had not found a treasure box because they chose not to follow the map, and how they would feel if they saw the other group with their treasure and saw what they could have had.
• How will it feel in heaven if we don’t follow the map (the scriptures), but eternally we realize the treasure we could have had? What can we do to make sure we follow the map while we are on the earth?
• What age should we start following the map? Alma explains in 37:35 that children should learn wisdom and learn to keep the commandments in their youth. Point out that the scripture means we should begin to study and learn the way to eternal life from the time when we are very young.
President Gordon B. Hinckley explained why we should learn wisdom in our youth by telling the story of a young tree he had planted. After planting the young tree, he hadn’t paid much attention to it. But after several years he looked out the window and noticed it was leaning, misshapen, and out of balance due to a strong east wind that hit that part of the yard the hardest. When he saw the damage done to the tree, he tried to straighten the tree, but by that time the trunk was a foot in diameter and he couldn’t budge it. He had to cut a huge branch off the tree to balance it, which left a big scar on the tree and was probably very traumatic for the young tree. President Hinckley wished he had taken the time to attach a support system to the tree while it was young to shore it up and keep it straight and true.
(Ensign, November 1993, 59)
In President Hinckley’s story, the tree represents a person who did not gain needed gospel training in their youth. The wind represents Satan’s temptations. Because the person wasn’t supported with a knowledge of the scriptures and other gospel truths as a child, he/she was susceptible to the warping influence of Satan’s temptations throughout their life.
If we are wise we will learn good habits in our youth and take the time to properly shape who we will become by reading and applying the scriptures in our lives. Sin can damage a person’s life and leave huge scars that are difficult to heal. Sin is so damaging that it is the one thing a Book of Mormon prophet (Alma) counseled us to have an everlasting hatred toward. (See Alma 37:32)
Alma didn’t want the damaging effects of sin in his son’s lives, so he counseled his sons Helaman and Shiblon on how to grow straight and true so they could gain the greatest treasure of all, which is eternal life. Remind the children that a straight and true person means someone who follows what is right and doesn’t bend and go with Satan’s temptations. Alma’s counsel to his sons also applies to us and teaches us how to grow straight and true.
Once again show the children the treasure of Tootsie Pops. Point out the sticks on the Tootsie Pops and explain that the stick helps support the wonderful treat so it stands straight and makes it easy to get access to it. Also show the children the scripture references that are taped to the Tootsie Pop sticks. Explain that each of the scripture references is an item of council that Alma gave his sons. Just like the Tootsie Pop sticks gives easier access to a wonderful treat, if we will do the things found in the scriptures we will stand straight and true and gain access to the greatest treasure of all – eternal life.
Show the children the word strips, and tell them they are going to do a matching game with the scripture references. Have the children take turns choosing a Tootsie Pop from a treasure box, looking up and reading the scripture reference out loud, and then choosing which word strip best describes what they learn from that scripture. (You may wish to have the scriptures bookmarked in your scriptures for quick and easy access for the children to read, or you may wish to have all the children look up each scripture.) Have the child check to see if it is a correct match by checking the bottom of the stick and then checking the back of the word strip. The colors should match if it is a correct match. Each child gets to keep the tootsie pops they match up. (You may wish to have them tape the matching word strip to their Tootsie Pop stick to remind them what the scripture says.)
Discuss the scriptures with the children as they make their matches. (The bulleted items below may help with the discussion.)
Alma 38:11 & 14 – Be humble
• What problems does pride cause? Answers might include the following: thinking we are better than others, thinking we don’t need the Lord’s help, etc.
• How can we overcome pride? Acknowledge the Lords hand in our lives. Acknowledge our weaknesses.
Alma 37: 36-37 – Pray always
• How does prayer help us? We can get direction and help from a loving father who knows all things.
Alma 38:5 – Have faith in God.
• Trust the Lord that he can help you with your problems.
Alma 38:12 – Control your emotions. Avoid wasting time.
• Bridle means control, and passions are emotions and feelings. So we are to control our anger, impatience, and other emotions and not let them control us. Idleness means unwilling to work, or being lazy and wasting time.
Alma 38:1 – Be obedient to be blessed.
• When we are obedient we are blessed with his spirit to help guide us, but if we disobey we cut ourselves off from that help and guidance. Also see D&C 130:21 – When we obtain any blessing from God it by obedience to the law upon which is is predicated.
Alma 37:34 – Persist in doing good works for they will bring you joy. True joy comes from serving and loving others.
Alma 38:13 – Don’t exhibit or do your good works to gain the praise of others.
Alma 38:10 – Teach the word of God. Be hard working and self-controlled.
Alma 37:46 – Put effort into keeping all the commandments, even if they are easy.
• We are told to do some basic, simple things. An example would be to read the scriptures and say our prayers. Sometimes we don’t realize the important things we can gain from such simple acts, and so we don’t do them, and then we lose our opportunity for eternal life.
Alma 38:2 – Continue striving to do the right things throughout your life, until death.
Encourage the children to read their scriptures daily. Remind the children that the scriptures are a map that can lead us to the greatest treasure of all, eternal life. In order to gain the guidance the scriptures have to offer, we need to read them and apply the things we learn from them into our lives. Give the children the new reading chart, and encourage them to keep reading their reading assignments each week so that they can gain the important direction found in the scriptures.
Weekly Reading Assignment
Remind the children to do their scripture reading assignment for this week – Alma 37:1-20 &35–47 and Alma 38:1–15