- Items needed: two large, clear plastic cups, string, a dowel rod or ruler, a clear glass of water, food coloring, a large clear glass bowl, pencils, a small scoop of dirt in a baggie, tape, tacky wax, chalk and eraser, one sheet of colored card stock, a black marker, and small bag of butter mints.
- Measuring scale assembly instructions: Punch two holes beneath the top edge of each plastic cup (the holes should be evenly spaced and on opposites sides of the cup). Cut two 24 inch pieces of string. Stick one end of one of the strings through a hole on one of the cups, then stick the other end through the other hole. Tie the ends into knots. Do the same with the other cup and string. Cut another piece of string 40 inches long and tie the ends together so it forms a loop. Hang it around the center of the dowel rod and tape down the string on the dowel. Hang the top of the string loop on a door handle and make sure the dowel rod sits evenly. Make adjustments if needed. Loop each cup’s string over an end of the dowel rod and tape down the string on the dowel. The scale should sit evenly. Once again make adjustments if needed.
- Print and cutout all the signs. Tape the end of the arrow to the center of the dowel rod so the arrow points up. Using tacky wax, attach all the small words to the cardstock in random order.
- Print one crossword puzzle for each person in the class. Print and cut out some healthy food items and some junk food items (from clipartix). Print the scripture story pictures or display them on an electronic device.
- Before class starts, hang the scale on a clip or tack at the top of the board. Attach the sign “Health” in-between the cups on the scale. Attach the smiley face to the left of the scale and the sad face to the right. Put the cup of water and the food colorings in the clear glass bowl to help protect against spillage.
Show the children the scale. Explain that our physical bodies need the nutrients that are found in healthy food choices in order to sustain good health. Add pictures of healthy foods to the left cup, and the scale arrow will point to the smiley face which represents good health.
- What happens if we decrease the amount of healthy foods we eat (take off the healthy foods) and increase our consumption of junk food like candy bars, chips, soda, (put these items in the right scale cup)? (Good health could decrease.)
Explain that just as our bodies need proper nourishment to be healthy and strong, our spirits also need proper nourishment to be healthy and strong. (Put the sign “Spiritual” above the health sign, and take off the junk food items from the scale.)
- What does our spirit need in order to be healthy and strong? (Spiritual food such as scripture study, prayer, church attendance, etc.)
(Show the children the story pictures as you tell the story.
- Explain that after Jesus departed from the Nephites, the disciples continued to teach the people, and within a few years all the people in the land were converted to the Lord.
- The people listened to the disciple’s teachings. They repented and were baptized, and they received the Holy Ghost. Their spirits were nourished. (Write the things they did to nourish their spirits on the healthy food pictures. Tape them on the left scale cup as you mention each item.)
Have the children look up 4 Nephi 1:12 to find out what other ways the people nourished their spirits. (Have the children write the items they find on the healthy food pictures and put them in the left cup.) (They kept the commandments, fasted, prayed, and they attended church to hear the word of God.)
Explain that when our spirits are strong and nourished we tend to make righteous choices, and making good choices helps our happiness levels increase. Explain that because the Nephites nourished their spirits and were committed to following Jesus’s teachings, their happiness level increased. According to 4 Nephi 1:16 there never was a happier people.
Show the children the cardstock with the words on it. Have them take off the words they associate with happiness and put them under the smiley face. Then hand out a crossword puzzle and a pencil to each child. Have the children take turns reading the clues and finding the word on the board that matches the clue. Put a check mark next to the word if it is the correct word. Have the children write the answer in the correct spot on their crossword puzzle. Explain that the clues and words tell us what the Nephites experienced as a result of living the gospel of Jesus Christ.
(See the following answers for discussion ideas on some of the words.)
Fairness/Every man did deal justly one with another.
Sharing/They had all things common among them. (There were no poor.)
- What does it mean that the people had “all things common among them”? Each person gave the extra he produced (crops, flocks, etc), and this extra was used for those who were in need of help.
Healing/All manner of miracles did they work. (Read 4 Nephi 1:5) The miracles included healing the lame, the blind, the deaf, and raising the dead.)
Peace/There were no contentions, strifes, or tumults in the land. (Meaning there was no fighting, arguing, riots, or war.)
Charity/The love of God … did dwell in the hearts of the people.
Goodwill/There were no envyings. (There was no jealousy. There was only gladness that others were blessed.)
Honesty/There were no … lyings.
Safety/There were no robbers or murderers.
Virtue/There were no whoredoms nor any manner of lasciviousness (crude behavior). (The people were chaste and clean.)
Unity/ There were no divisions of race or class. (There was no manner of “ites.” The people were no longer divided into Nephites and Lamanites but were united.)
Help the children understand that each one of the clues in the crossword puzzle relates to how we treat people. Help them see that the most important key to happiness is how we treat others. When we live the gospel, we treat each other with love and kindness, and as a result we enjoy greater peace and happiness in our lives.
Scripture Story Continued
3) The people were blessed in all their doings because of their righteousness. They prospered and built cities. They were strong and multiplied. The people lived in peace for many years. After nearly 200 years, two generations had passed on, and the people had multiplied and had spread out over all the land.
4) Then sin slowly started creeping into the land again.
Show the children the glass of water, and put one drop of blue food coloring into the water. Have the children watch it spread throughout the glass and observe how quickly one little drop spreads. Explain that if people allow themselves to be exposed to a little sin, it can quickly grow and spread if left unchecked. We need to be careful about what we allow into our thoughts and lives.
4) The people had become very rich because of their prosperity in Christ, and they began allowing pride to take a hold in their lives. (4 Nephi 1:23-24) The people began to wear expensive clothing, jewelry, and other fine things of the world. From that time forth the people did not have their goods and their substance common among them. (4 Nephi 1:25)
President Dieter F. Uchtdorf said this about pride: “At its core, pride is a sin of comparison, for though it usually begins with ‘Look how wonderful I am and what great things I have done,’ it always seems to end with ‘Therefore, I am better than you.’
The people began to focus on themselves instead of helping others. (Put the words “selfishness” and “poverty” on the right side of the board. Do the same for the italicized words as they are mentioned below.)
Have the children read 4 Nephi 1:26-27 & 29 to find the ways pride and sin began to spread. Put a different colored drop of food coloring in the water for every item mentioned. (The water should turn brown.)
- They once again began to be divided into social classes. (Inequality)
- They built many different churches to themselves (not to God). The churches were built up to help people get gain (Greed). They denied the true church of Christ.
- These churches professed to know Christ but denied most parts of his gospel. (These people were no longer nourishing their spirits with the teachings of Christ and they were becoming spiritually weaker and weaker.) (Take out the items from the left side cup on the scale.)
- The churches became open to all manner of wickedness. They allowed the wicked to participate in sacred ordinances.
- One of the churches denied Christ and persecuted the members of the true church of Christ because of the members’ humility and belief in Christ. (Persecution) They despised them because of the many miracles which were wrought among them. (Hate) (Jealousy)
Point out that as the people let wickedness into their lives, it spread. Have the children observe the color of the water, and explain that instead of nourishing their spirits, they filled their lives with worthless, self-indulgent thoughts, and their choice became increasingly wicked. They were filling their lives with darkness and dirt. (Put the dirt in the cup on the right side of the scale.) The choices they made resulted in misery and unhappiness for many people.
5) Among the true church of Christ were three disciples that Jesus had given power to remain on the earth until his second coming. Before Jesus Christ departed, he had asked each of his twelve Nephite disciples what they desired of him. Nine requested to speedily return to him when their ministry on the earth was complete.
6) Three of the disciples asked to remain on the earth to bring souls unto Christ. Those three became translated beings who would not taste death.
7) Those who denied Christ began to try and exercise power and authority over the three disciples. They cast them into prison; but by the power of God which was in them, the prisons were broken and they came out. They also cast the disciples into fiery furnaces and into dens of wild beasts, and from each place they came out unharmed. (4 Nephi 1:30, 33)
- Why didn’t the people repent, realize their mistake, and change their ways after seeing these mighty miracles of God? (Their hearts were set upon wickedness. They wanted to do all manner of iniquity.) (4 Nephi 1:34)
The people dwindled more and more in unbelief and wickedness from year to year. Point out that the people had been given the wonderful blessing of the gospel. Show the children the butter mints and explain that they represent gospel blessings. Give each child a couple of mints to eat. Point out how sweet and wonderful they are. Put two mints in the water near the side of the glass so they are visible to the class. Ask the children to watch what happens to them in the dirty water. (They will dwindle away and disappear.) Explain that the Nephite’s faith and blessings dwindled and wasted away as the people increased in wickedness.
8) Once again the people began to divide into different groups of “ites.” Those who did rebel against God were called Lamanites, Lemuelites, and Ishmealites. They did teach their children that they should not believe. The children were taught to hate the children of God, just as the Lamanites had taught their children to hate the Nephites. The wicked grew in numbers and became more numerous than the people of God. The more wicked part of the people began again to build up the secret oaths and combinations of Gadianton. The robbers of Gadianton spread over all the land. (4 Nephi 1:34-39) (Add “Theft” and “Murder” to the right side of the board.)
9) Eventually, even those who were called the people of Nephi began to be proud in their hearts because of their exceeding riches, and they become vain like unto their brethren the Lamanites. (4 Nephi 1:43) After three hundred years had passed from the time of Christ, both the Nephites and the Lamanites had become exceedingly wicked.
Explain that just as our bodies feel miserable and sick when we are unwell, we can experience misery and unhappiness in our lives when our spirits are not strong and healthy because we tend to make choices that lead to unhappiness. In the next lesson we will learn about the increasingly terrible and sorrowful things that occurred among the Nephites because of the poor choices they made as a result of allowing wickedness into their lives. (Put the words “War” and “Destruction” on the right side of the board.)
Point out the lists under happiness and unhappiness and ask the children which they would prefer. Remind the children that if they desire to live lives filled with the blessings of happiness and peace, they must strive to follow the Savior and his teachings. Remind the children that the gospel of Jesus Christ teaches us how to make good choices that lead to happiness.
Weekly Reading Assignment
Remind the children to do their scripture reading assignment for this week: 3 Nephi 28:1-9 & 4 Nephi 1:1-18, 23–46