Monday, August 28, 2017

Short Attention Span Sunday School: Primary 5 Lesson 34 Joseph Smith Teaches About Baptism for the Dead



Post John 3:5 in big words on the board:

“Jesus answers, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.”


Invite a youth who has done baptisms for the dead (or another ward member who has done a lot of temple work or family history work) to come in and speak to your class at the beginning about their experiences and what they have felt while performing this particular service in the temple!


After the visitor has left, pick one child and have them hold their hands behind their back. Then tell them to write their name on the board (obviously they can’t).
Pick another child and ask them to help. (have them go up to the board and write the other child’s name). Or come up with your own variation on this and pick something else for that first child to do, etc. One idea is to ask everyone who wants a Starburst candy, then pick one of the kids and say they can have it but they can't unwrap it, then ask for a volunteer to help and unwrap it for the child. (idea from

When has someone helped you by doing something that you couldn’t do for yourself?
How did you feel having someone help you?

Let’s read the scripture on the board.
What does that mean? Being baptized is one of the first steps toward returning to live with Jesus and Heavenly Father again / Say the 4th article of faith

Many many millions and billions of people have lived on the earth.
Have they all had the chance to be baptized?
Baptism by immersion by the true authority hasn’t always been available.
Or maybe they died before they could take that step.

So how will they be able to return to live with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ? Someone must be baptized for them

It makes sense that there would be a way, since Heavenly Father loves all of his children!

Today we’re going to learn about baptisms for those who have passed away.


We’re going to start with a video showing scenes from Joseph’s life relating to this topic!

This is a great Church movie that’s worth downloading to show scenes for future lessons too.

Scenes and time stamps to skip to:
12:16-15:22 - Alvin’s sickness, passing
31:52-33:07 - Kirtland Temple vision of the celestial kingdom/Alvin, Joseph telling his mother that hope isn’t lost for those who haven’t been baptized
50:26-52:40 - Discussion about seeing Alvin again with dying Joseph Smith Sr, discussion about binding on earth and in heaven (this section could also be shown the following week about the temple)

illustrate as much as possible to hold their attention

We're going to dive into the story about how church members learned about baptisms for the dead.

So do you guys remember Governor Boggs?
He was the new governor of Missouri? He didn’t help the Saints when they needed help with the mobs.
And he issued the Extermination Order telling them that they had to leave.
In 1842, he was shot and wounded!
He had a lot of enemies, so there were a lot of suspects.
Missouri government leaders accused Joseph Smith!

He knew he was innocent, of course, so he made a statement to a newspaper.

But two months later, he was arrested along with one of his bodyguards, Porter Rockwell.
Boggs accused Rockwell of firing the gun and he accused Joseph of telling Rockwell to do it!

The law said that they couldn’t be arrested, though, so they were released.
Joseph knew he was in danger, since there were all these lies and such, so he went into hiding.

During this time, he wrote letters to the Saints in Nauvoo.

These letters are D&C 127 and 128. They’re about baptisms for the dead!

Have them get out their scriptures and open to D&C 127 and 128 and have them take turns reading the heading...and possibly specifically D&C 127:5-12 and D&C 128:12-17.

Starting back in 1840, the saints were performing baptisms for the dead in the Mississippi River, but soon they would have a temple in Nauvoo to do them...we'll learn about that next week!

As we saw in the video, when Joseph was younger, his brother Alvin had died.
This was before Joseph received the gold plates.
In the Kirtland Temple, Joseph had received a vision of future of the celestial kingdom and saw Alvin as a spirit.
He was surprised to see Alvin in the celestial kingdom because he hadn’t been baptized.
The Lord had told Joseph at that time that everyone who would have received the gospel, been baptized, and lived righteously if they’d been given the opportunity will be able to be in the celestial kingdom.

Joseph learned that baptisms for those who have died can be done “vicariously” using people on the earth as “proxies.”
What do those words mean? Write them on the board
Vicariously = a person does something in place of someone else
Proxy = the person who does the work is a proxy

In the temple, we are the proxies. We go down into the water and are baptized and it’s their name that is said.

So baptisms for the dead is service - we are doing what they can’t do for themselves.
This was actually done in Christ’s time too!


Download various photos of LDS temple fonts and discuss the symbolism of the 12 oxen, and why the fonts are usually below ground.
- Information in D&C 128:13
- And here:


Before this lesson, ask the parents to send you a photo of a family member their child is fond of. Perhaps someone who has passed away, or photos from a family reunion, etc.

Display a photo of your family and talk about who’s in the photo and how it felt to be together.

Pull up the photos the families sent you and have each kid talk about who is in the photo, how they feel being with that relative(s), etc.

We want all of our family to have the opportunity to be sealed to us for eternity.
The family members who aren’t part of the Church or who have died without knowing about the Church deserve to have a chance to learn about it and accept it.

That’s what temple work is about.


Pull up Family History - I Am Doing It (Children’s Songbook, 94) on a phone or laptop.
Have the words for them printed off to follow along as you sing!

Talk about the words - perhaps each child take a line and talk about what it means.

It’s a very catchy tune!


Tree Top fruit snacks with a note attached with the lyrics to the Family History song and the words “family tree” highlighted in green.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Short Attention Span Sunday School: Primary 5 Lesson 33 The Saints Work to Build Nauvoo, The Beautiful

Write on the board: “Cease to be idle” - D&C 88:124


What takes a LOT of work? They’ll have a lot of different answers
Do you know about the Olympics? Winter Olympics and Summer Olympics?
What are some sports you like to watch during the Olympics?
How much work do you think it takes those athletes to be able to compete?

We’re going to watch a video about someone who worked really hard to swim in the Olympics:

What did you learn from this video about hard work?
Did he start swimming a week before the Olympics? No, he had to start when he was young, he had to be good enough to be in a training program, he had to be good enough for a coach to work with him to help him, he had to put in many many hours

What have you accomplished by working hard?

What does idle mean? “To be lazy and unwilling to work or to waste time doing little or nothing”

Discuss more in depth the scripture on the board - talk about each phrase. What's hard about each request? What's easy? How can the Lord help us fulfill that scripture?

We’re going to learn today about the importance of hard work! And how the early Saints put in some hard work to make something really great!

illustrate as much as possible to hold their attention

Also have prepared name tags with names written on it, one per person in your class. The names on the name tags are people from the stories in the lesson: Drusilla Henricks', Drusilla's husband James, Elijah Fordham, Margarette and Wallace, whistling and whittling brigade boys, Louisa Barnes Pratt, Joseph Smith, etc.

Tell them to pay special attention when they hear "their" name

After the Saints were driven out of Missouri, they went to Illinois and settled on the banks of the Mississippi River in a small town called Commerce.

Joseph Smith renamed it Nauvoo. It means “beautiful” in Hebrew.

The Saints worked hard to make Nauvoo into a prosperous city!
The men farmed and built homes and businesses.
The women cared for the children, nursed the sick, and took care of the homes. They also cooked over fires, sewed clothing for their families, cared for the animals, grew gardens, made soap, candles, and cloth, dried meat and fruit, and made butter, cheese, jam, jelly, and maple syrup.

When the men were called on missions, their families had to take over their work.

One lady, Louisa Barnes Pratt’s husband, was called on a mission.
While he was gone, Louisa not only supervised the building of a house for the family but she also did some of the building herself!
She also worked as a seamstress to provide food and other things for her family.
She was really good at sewing, and made suits for Joseph and Hyrum Smith!
The next year she taught school in her home to earn money!

Children also worked hard to build up the city of Nauvoo.
If they were older, they helped take care of the animals and farms, gathered wood and berries, and helped make cider, soap, and candles.
They also went to school, too!
One group of young boys helped with a really interesting thing called a “whistling and whittling brigade.”
There were a lot of criminals who came to Nauvoo. Saints didn’t want them in their city, but they didn’t want to do anything violent to get them out. So a group of young boys created a “whistling and whittling brigade” - whenever they saw a suspicious stranger, they would surround him on the street and walk along with him. They wouldn’t talk, but just whistle and whittle as they followed him. That stranger would get annoyed and frustrated but because he couldn’t fight all the boys at once he would just leave town.

All that hard work turned Nauvoo into a beautiful and large city!
There were many log homes, and some two-story brick homes.
The houses and yards were neat and clean.
Show them images from this site:

They worked hard but they also took time to play and have fun.
They attended the theater and held dances, programs, choir and band concerts, and parades.
They played ball, wrestled, and had stick-pulling contests.
They did fun things to help them have fun with their work: quilting bees, built barns and houses together, and held log-sawing races.

They also helped each other with their life challenges.
Drusilla Hendricks’s husband James had been shot during one of the fights with the mobs.
He couldn’t work, so Drusilla provided for her family.
Her family often was close to starving but neighbors would listen to the Spirit and bring them food.
One man told Drusilla that he’d been busy but listened to the Spirit that stopped him in his work and told him to bring food.

She also helped provide for her husband and five children by taking in boarders, raising a garden, milking cows, and feeding livestock.
She made gingerbread and drinks and sold them at town celebrations.
She also made and sold gloves and mittens.

One winter, they could only afford a little cornmeal for food.
Her husband asked her to pray for help and she did, and felt strongly they would receive food.
A man sold them some food and told them they wouldn’t need to pay for 12 months!

Joseph Smith himself was a really hard worker! Remember how he helped with everything? He was a missionary too, he helped build the Kirtland Temple, etc.? He also helped with Nauvoo. He was one of the heads of the military there and also one of the city government people.

He also was a nice helper for children.
Margarette and Wallace, two neighbor kids, were on their way to school and they got stuck in the mud! They began to cry, but the Prophet came along and helped them out of the mud, cleaned off their shoes, wiped their tears, and cheered them up before sending them on their way to school.

He also helped at home. Emma was busy because she was often cooking and cleaning for people coming over for dinner or to stay at their house. Some stayed for weeks!
He helped her by building fires, cleaning the fireplace, bringing wood and water into the home, and taking care of their kids.

One man told the Prophet that all that was “women’s work” and the Prophet shouldn’t do those things.
The Prophet told the man that he should love and cherish his wife by helping her.
That man listened and tried to help his wife more.

The Saints did the Lord’s work by helping others, and the Lord helped them!
Here’s a story of a miracle!
Malaria was a big problem when they first moved there. The land was swampy, so mosquitos could live there because they like to live in water. Mosquitos spread the disease malaria.
Many Saints came down with this disease! It causes chills and fever.
Emma Smith helped many people when they were sick. Their 6-year-old got sick with it! Even the Prophet got sick with it!
However, the Prophet was blessed to be able to heal people.
Wilford Woodruff reported that they visited a man named Elijah Fordham.
He was near death. The Prophet went in and took hold of his right hand and spoke to him, but Brother Fordham was unable to speak.
He seemed to almost be dead already!
Joseph held his hand and looked into his eyes silently for awhile.
Brother Fordham soon seemed to be different, and he was able to see and speak!
Joseph asked him if he knew him, and Elijah whispered “Yes.”
The Prophet asked if Elijah had faith to be healed.
He answered, “I fear it is too late.” and said the Prophet would have healed him if he’d come sooner.
The Prophet asked if he believed in Jesus Christ.
Elijah answered weakly, “I do.”

Joseph stood up straight, still holding his hand silently for awhile, then said loudly: “Brother Fordham, I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to arise from this bed and be made whole.”
Wilford Woodruff wrote, “His voice was like the voice of God, and not of man.”
Brother Fordham arose from his bed and was better! He kicked off his bandages, put on his clothes, at a bowl of bread and milk, and followed the Prophet out into the street!

Ask the kids to retell "their" story...the one for the person on their nametag
Have them come up and face the class and retell it (with your help)


Pass out hymnbooks you’ve brought from the chapel.

Turn to the hymn Put Your Shoulder to the Wheel, 252

We’re going to sing this together but first we’re going to read the words together.

As we’re reading the words, I want you to pick some of your favorite phrases.

Sing together all the verses.

Talk about what everyone’s favorite phrases were and why.

Why does this hymn describe the people in Nauvoo?
How can work make us happier?
What do you like about work? What do you not like?
How can we make work more fun?

*If this video has already been shown, find another similar service-oriented video on

We’re going to watch a really neat video.
It shows how someone’s really really hard work blessed the lives of others.


We’re going to watch a video that shows how money from our Church and hard work from people in a village has really blessed their whole village.


What ideas do these videos give you for your own lives?
Pass out index cards, something small enough they can stick in their scriptures etc.

Tell them to think of at least one way they can do extra hard work to help someone this week. Have them write it on their card and ask them to remember through the week.


- Brainstorm a class-level service project for someone in your ward
- Thank you notes for those who serve your Primary class, like the Primary Presidency
- Act out some of the stories from the lesson
- Play Charades or Pictionary on the board based on clues from what they did in Nauvoo and/or in the stories from the lesson


Hard work brings a feeling of accomplishment and can bring blessings to our lives and the lives of others!

Take home ideas:
- “Cease to be idle” scripture printed out
- If not taught a Fast Sunday...a small bag of wagon-wheel shaped food (to refer to the hymn) with note attached OR bottle of water (to refer to the clean water video) with note attached