Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Short Attention Span Sunday School: Primary 5 Lesson 40 The First Pioneer Company Crosses the Plains


image by j. ken spencer


1/Write PIONEER on the board with the definition underneath:
“Someone who prepares the way for others who will follow”

2/Hang up the 16 paper wagons mentioned in the manual’s lesson outline.

3/Hand out pioneer bonnets (either made from paper or fabric patterns online, or bought) and western hats and suspenders (made from ribbons and attach with safety pins?, or actual suspenders) for the boys.
Bonnet sites:

Today we’re going to imagine that we’re traveling west across the plains with Brigham Young and that we’re the first pioneer company!

The journey for the Saints took almost 16 weeks!

See what we have around the room? 16 wagons
These wagons represent the 16 weeks!

Start off singing one of the pioneer songs in the Children’s Songbook or Hymnbook (hand them the words to whichever song you choose)

Play some sound effects that you’ve downloaded (phone/tablet/etc.) to set the mood.
These are sound effects for things mentioned in the 16 wagons answers.
When you mention these things in the answers, play the sound effect just for fun.
  • Horse neighing
  • Wagons rolling
  • Other animals like oxen, mules, cows, dogs, chickens, antelope, deer, wolves, buffalo
  • Bugle
  • Water sounds (for when rivers, streams, and boats are mentioned)


First, we’re going to do a little activity

Choose one kid to represent the first group of pioneers
Have them close their eyes (or be blindfolded)
Have that child walk slowly from one end of the room to the other with the other kids set up as “obstacles” along the way.
As they run into the “obstacles” have them start again with eyes still closed.
This time, have the other kids lined up into two rows, allowing a pathway to form to the door.

Talk about how if this kid represents the pioneers, and the rest of you represents the obstacles and challenges the pioneers faced along the way, what happened when I rearranged you? It was easier for them to get there

How do you think the first pioneers helped the next groups coming through? They marked the route west, they learned what obstacles were on the way and how to deal with them

Remember a pioneer helps to prepare the way for others who will follow.


Follow the activity in the manual with the 16 wagons
As you mention anything that you have a sound clip for, pause and play it just for fun.
Be sure to show the images from the manual.


With remaining time, follow wagon #4’s ideas.
  • You could create a fake campfire (ideas online) and have everyone sit in a circle.
  • Play some of the sound effects again to set the mood.
  • Sing “Come, Come, Ye Saints” (have words/hymnbooks) and bring a guitar if you can play, or invite a ward member to come in and play
  • Bring in a checkers game or make your own with small discs of some sort (paper etc.)
  • Pass around homemade (or bought) bread, biscuits, or cornbread and butter.
  • Talk about how they made homemade taffy for treats (and explain how taffy is made).
  • Find appropriate riddles to tell!


What was the pioneer’s goal? To escape persecution and find a land where they could live in peace and grow the church!
What is our goal? To live with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ again

The pioneers encountered many obstacles and they overcame them with faith.
As we encounter the many obstacles in our way as we strive to live worthy of the celestial kingdom, we can show faith as well!

Send them home with a small bag of taffy with a note about how the pioneers’ road was very difficult, but their reward was sweet, and perhaps include some of the words to the hymn Come, Come Ye Saints.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Short Attention Span Sunday School: Primary 5 Lesson 39 The Saints Build Winter Quarters




Post Mosiah 2:17 on the board with the word “service” highlighted or underlined or in some way made extra noticeable

Display map from the manual for this lesson or a similar map showing their trek.

Attention Activity from the manual - have index cards with the listed scriptures on them.
Cut them in half and pass them out to different kids.
Ask them to look up their scripture - when they say they can’t, explain they have to work together.
Have them find their puzzle partner and look up the scripture together.

After everyone’s read, ask what the common word is and write SERVE on the board.
Read together the scripture Mosiah 2:17 on the board.

Today we’re going to learn about how the Saints who were driven out of Nauvoo served God by helping and serving each other!


We’ve learned up until this point about the Saints having to move somewhat short distances. From one state to the next, or just 2-3 states over.
Starting with this lesson, we’re going to be learning about how these Church members became what we called the “pioneers”

What does a “pioneer” mean? What do they do? Discuss answers
Usually it means the first person or the first people to do something.
Or the first people to settle a new country or area.

What do you already know about the pioneers? Discuss their answers - they could say they used wagons, they made butter, they wore bonnets, they traveled through mud and cold, some of them died, they went to Salt Lake etc.

We’re going to start our first pioneer lesson watching the Mormon Tabernacle Choir singing a pioneer-related song, and showing pioneer-related scenes.

When I think about the pioneers, I think about how grateful I am for their sacrifices!

From Music & the Spoken Word Broadcast 2012 - Come Come Ye Saints


So remember how they built the Nauvoo Temple?
Then what happened? They were driven out and had to leave the city and the temple

They keep having to leave their homes to escape their enemies.

In 1846, there was one main group of Saints called Camp of Israel.
They were halfway across Iowa (show map) in April 1846.
Some in the group planned to go all the way to the Rocky Mountains by the summer, but they didn’t know if they’d be able to.
The weather had been bad, some were low on food and supplies, and many weren’t as far as they were on the trail.

The leaders of the Church decided to have temporary camps and plant crops on their way.
These temporary camps let some of the Saints stay, and would give shelter and food for the rest of the Saints who showed up later.

Two of these first camps were called Garden Grove and Mount Pisgah.

Around this same time, the United States was going to war with Mexico!
The US government asked the Church leaders to provide an army to help.
This was tough, right? They were on their way to a new area and they had little food and supplies.
But they said yes. Why do you think? They wanted to have a good relationship with the government
One of the reasons they said yes was because the army men would earn money from the government, and that money could help pay for things on their trip west.

500 men left the trek west in order to go to war in California.
They were called the Mormon Battalion.
Brigham Young promised these men that their families would be taken care of.
He also promised that if they stayed obedient and righteous, they wouldn’t have to fight!

As promised, other members did help the families left behind.

One day a woman came to Charles C Rich, one of the Mount Pisgah leaders.
She was sad and explained that her husband was away with the Mormon Battalion and she and her kids were hungry!

He asked his wife to give this lady some flour.
Sister Rich said they only had a little flour in the house, and there wasn’t any to buy.
Brother Rich told his wife, “Let her have all that there is in the house, and trust in the Lord to provide for us.”
So they did, but Sister Rich was a little worried about her own family.
Later that day, some wagons stopped in front of the Rich home.
A man gave Brother Rich $50, saying the Spirit told him that their family was out of money!
They were able to buy more flour because that man also told them that a wagon full of flour was coming to Mount Pisgah, so they could buy what they needed!
Both Brother and Sister Rich burst into tears when they realized how the Lord had blessed them!
They gave a little flour but received so much more.
They bought what they needed and also more to give to others.

Early in June 1846, a small group of Saints left Mount Pisgah to find a place where the Saints could stay for the winter.
They worked it out with some American Indians to be able to find a place on the west side of the Missouri River, and they crossed the river into what’s now known as Nebraska.
They found a large place with plants for their animals to eat.
They named it Winter Quarters.

Many Saints moved there!
By December 1846, there were nearly 700 homes and nearly 4,000 Saints there!
Some houses were made from logs, and some were dug out of the sides of hills.

Everyone worked hard to build Winter Quarters as a settlement.
Some men built homes, others plowed the land and planted crops.
Some took care of the cattle, some gathered hay.
The women spun yarn, knitted and sewed clothes, made leggings from deer hides.

Brigham Young told people to build a mill next to the river to grind wheat into flour.
He had others make baskets and washboards to sell.
They had a hard time, even though they were working hard.
They relied on the Lord and on each other.

Orson Spencer and his family had been driven out of Nauvoo with the rest of the Saints.
The Spencer family traveled toward Winter Quarters, but before they got there Brother Spencer was called on a mission to England!
He didn’t want to leave his six children - the oldest was 14 and the youngest was 4.
Their mother had just died of an illness and they had no one to take care of them.
He did accept the mission call, and took his kids to Winter Quarters and built them a home.
He asked his neighbors to help care for them.
The older kids in the family took care of the younger kids.

Everyone in Winter Quarters was divided into 22 wards to help take care of each other.
The leaders of each ward were told to look after the spiritual and physical needs of the people in the ward.
They held Sunday services and created schools.

A lot of people were sick there, mostly by malaria from mosquitoes and because they didn’t have fresh fruit and vegetables.
More than 600 died and were buried that fall and winter.
If people weren’t sick, they were taking care of the sick.

Many people were healed through fasting and prayer, and through the willingness of others to serve them.

They also helped people who weren’t members of the Church.
In December 1846, an American Indian chief named Big Head was camped near Winter Quarters with some of his family and friends.
One night they were attacked by a different group of Indians and some were hurt.
The people of Winter Quarters took care of them!

Even though there were a lot of hard times, the people in Winter Quarters enjoyed life and had fun with dances, celebrations, family gatherings, music, etc.

In January 1847, Brigham Young received a revelation on how to organize their trek west.
They were to organize themselves into small groups and prepare what they would need.
They should also keep building homes there in Winter Quarters for the Saints who would stay until Spring.
The first group, called the Pioneer Company, left for Salt Lake in April 1847.
Brigham Young led this group.
Other groups left later that year and in 1848.
By the end of 1848, Winter Quarters was empty - everyone had headed west!


Have this song ready to play for them on a phone or laptop.
Post up an image of the Savior on the board
Have the words for them printed out and handed out
Sing through the first verse together.
Sing through the second verse together.
Then have them close their hymnbooks or take the words away.
Have pieces of paper with the following clues, one per paper, and hand them out to different kids:
  • “because I have been sheltered” 1
  • “fed by thy good care” 2
  • “I cannot see another’s lack and I not share” 3
  • “my glowing fire” 4
  • “my loaf of bread” 5
  • “my roof’s safe shelter overhead” 6

Split the board up into 6 sections and put a small number in the top of each box, 1-6
Have kids one at a time draw their clue in the right box (the # on their paper)
Everyone guesses after each turn.
After everyone has drawn (and guessed), sing the second verse together
while looking at/pointing at each box as you go.
Add in the last part…”that He too may be comforted.”


Then move onto the third verse and have those words printed onto the front of a card, one per Primary Presidency member (4 including the Secretary).
Have the kids each write a message on the inside of the card about how thankful they are for their Primary leaders.

As a class fill 4 little bags with treats/candy/etc. and put a card in each.

Plan to hand these to the Presidency members after class.


Great things can be accomplished when people cooperate and serve each other!

Hand out flower-shaped or flower-themed treat or trinket/token with a note like this:
"Remember the story of the “flower” (flour) - when we give, we get back so much more!
What can you do to help others today?"

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Short Attention Span Sunday School: Primary 5 Lesson 38 Brigham Young Leads the Church



Post up a print-out of one or both of these maps, or have it up on a laptop

Post the Fifth Article of Faith

Sing “Latter-day Prophets” with this image posted:
...or just have their names posted on the board to follow along

Could also show them this video:

I love learning about our latter-day prophets.
So far we've learned about one - the first one, Joseph Smith.
Today we're going to learn about what happened after Joseph was killed.
How do you think the next prophet was chosen?

Do any of you know who the second latter-day prophet was? Start singing the song if they look like they don’t remember

We’re going to learn a little about Brigham Young!

But first we’re going to designate you as each the head of a Nauvoo family.
Have nametags ready and write on them either using their real name or a fake name something like, “The Johnson Family” or “Mrs. Johnson” etc.

We’re going to also learn about how the Saints first started on their pioneer journey.
You are each a pioneer family, so listen carefully!

Illustrate as much as possible to hold their attention

After Joseph was killed, the Saints were worried and sad!

The Prophet and his brother Hyrum were dead, most of the Quorum of the Twelve were away serving missions.
Before he was killed, Joseph had written them to come back to Nauvoo.
But they only received these letters after he was killed!

As soon as they heard of his death, the Apostles all came back!
The people were told by the city of Nauvoo that they should be “peaceable, quiet citizens, doing the works of righteousness” until the apostles returned to give them instructions on what to do.

Remember William W Phelps? Remind them about the printing press, the hymns he wrote, etc.
He was on the city council and he helped everyone stay calm.
Sidney Rigdon was first counselor in the First Presidency and had moved away, feeling unhappy with the Church.
When he heard of the death, he returned to Nauvoo too.
He felt like he should be the next prophet!
He was able to convince some people that he should be the next prophet.

When the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles had all returned, they met with Sidney.
Sidney told them why he should be the next prophet.
Brigham Young was the President of the Quorum of the Twelve, and he said they should pray about it.

They all met and a miracle occurred!
First, Sidney Rigdon gave a very long speech, for an hour and a half, about why he should be the new prophet!
Brigham Young gave a shorter talk, and a miracle happened while he spoke!
Suddenly, he appeared to look like Joseph Smith! And sound like Joseph Smith!
People wrote down their feelings about what they saw - they wrote that they were amazed!
It was as if Joseph Smith was speaking to them.

Members of the Church voted to keep the Quorum of the Twelve apostles as their leaders.
Sidney Rigdon wasn’t happy about this, and he wanted to be the leader.
Eventually he left the Church.

Brigham Young was set apart as the new prophet!

Today, how is a new Prophet chosen?
The senior Apostle (the man who has been an Apostle the longest) is set apart as the new President of the Church.

Before Joseph died, he told the Saints that some of them would move to the Rocky Mountains and grow the church there.

Where are the Rocky Mountains? Display a US map showing the mountain ranges and point out that the mountains in Utah are part of the Middle Rockies

So the Saints were making plans to move west when Joseph died in 1844.
They planned to leave in 1846, after the Nauvoo Temple was finished.
They knew they needed to leave as soon as possible due to persecution!

Some left before they were fully prepared because they were in such a hurry.
Some people tried to sell the property so they could buy supplies to move west.
It was hard because they were desperate to leave, and people took advantage.
One lady wanted to sell her house and 20 acres of land, and someone offered her only $10!
Many Saints traded land and furniture for horses, wagons, and cattle.

Wagons were needed to be built for their move west.
Most houses in Nauvoo were converted to workshops for building wagons.
Supplies for a family of five included:
  • One strong wagon
  • 2-3 yoke of oxen (usually a yoke is referring to a pair)
  • 1,000 lb of flour
  • A musket or rifle for each man
  • 25 lb of salt
  • 25 lb of soap
  • 4-5 fishhooks and lines

Play “Covered Wagons” on a phone, laptop, or simply a cappella.
Hand out the words so they can sing along.

The first part of the journey to the Salt Lake Valley was really hard for those first groups!
It took them 131 days to travel 300 miles across Iowa. Show on the map...

A year later, another group of pioneers took only 111 days to travel the 1,050 miles from Iowa all the way to the Salt Lake Valley.

Not everyone left Nauvoo right away.
Some stayed through the summer so they could harvest crops and try to sell their property.

In September (1846), around 800 anti-Mormon men with six cannons began to attack these Saints who remained in Nauvoo!

They fought for a few days and then the Saints were forced to leave.
Five men and their families were allowed to stay to try to sell all the property left.
Everyone else left with nothing, not even extra clothes or supplies.
They crossed the Mississippi River and formed camps on the Iowa side of the river.
Some were too sick to travel.
Many were too poor to buy the supplies they needed to move on.
Most only had blankets or branches for shelter, and only corn to eat.

A miracle occurred!
Thousands of small birds called quail flew into the camps. They were everywhere!
The people were weak, tired, and sick, but they were easily able to catch the quail.
They were starving so these quail provided important food.

Great illustration can be found here for a 1955 Friend magazine:

Brigham Young sent people with wagons and supplies to people in Iowa to help them.


Let’s look at the list of what they took with them when they headed west.
Let’s talk about each item and why they would choose to bring those things.
Go through the list

What would you want to take if you were going on a similar journey today?
Remember, there isn’t much room to take things.

Give everyone a piece of paper/pencil for their lists
Mark off on the floor (with string or tape) the dimensions of a wagon (58” x 45”)

Do you think the items on your list would fit?
How do you think they felt making these sacrifices?


Based on this game idea from The Friend

Hand out
- a glue stick per kid (or a small Ziploc per kid)
- a piece of paper per kid to act as their “wagon” - it could be a clip-art wagon like this:

Have separate slips of paper with images for the items listed above (oxen, flour, gun, salt, soap, fishhooks) and prepare them as mentioned below

Post these six scriptures up on the wall around the room:

Ether 9:18
And also all manner of cattle, of oxen, and cows, and of sheep, and of swine, and of goats, and also many other kinds of animals which were useful for the food of man.

1 Kings 4:22
And Solomon's provision for one day was thirty measures of fine flour, and threescore measures of meal

D&C 71:9
Verily, thus saith the Lord unto you -- there is no weapon that is formed against you shall prosper.

D&C 101:39
When men are called unto mine everlasting gospel, and covenant with an everlasting covenant, they are accounted as the salt of the earth and the savor of men.

3 Nephi 24:2
But who may abide the day of his coming, and who shall stand when he appeareth? For he is like a refiner's fire, and like fuller's soap.

Amos 4:2
The Lord God hath sworn by his holiness, that, lo, the days shall come upon you, that he will take you away with hooks, and your posterity with fishhooks.

On each scripture paper, have stapled to it an open Ziploc bag filled with the related paper images (the one that's underlined).

They will be reaching in and taking one per person.

Have them go from station to station (if your class is small, do it as a class) and read the scripture. If you want your class to take time to look them up, just put the reference on the paper (with the bag of images too).

Once they’ve read it, they get to collect the corresponding paper and glue it on their wagon.

At the end, talk about how it must have felt to be a pioneer family trying to gather what they needed!

Hand out wagon-shaped snacks like Ritz crackers….but don’t eat yet….


So let’s talk about our prophet, Thomas S Monson.
What will happen when he passes away?
Who holds the keys of the priesthood and the authority to lead the Church? D&C 112:30

Who will become the new President of the Church when the living prophet dies? (senior member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, Russell M Nelson)

Let’s learn a little bit about him.
Post or show an image of Russell M Nelson

They can eat the wagon-shaped snacks while you do one or more of the following:
  • Share details about his life (family, job, etc.)
  • Share some words Elder Nelson from previous General Conferences...ideas here:

Video idea:

Articles with information:


Brigham Young was chosen by the Lord to lead the Church after Joseph Smith was killed.
Our prophet today was similarly chosen by the Lord.
As we learn about Joseph Smith and Brigham Young, and how the Church stayed strong after Joseph died, our testimony of the Lord’s true church can grow.
The Lord will never let us be led astray, never let the Church end up in chaos, and there is an order to all things! We can trust in the prophet!

Pass out something like a box of wagon-shaped pasta or snacks with the Fifth Article of Faith on it and perhaps a thought about prophets and pioneers!