Friday, October 27, 2017

Short Attention Span Sunday School: Primary 5 Lesson 41 The Saints Settle the Salt Lake Valley



Write D&C 59:7 on the board: “Thou shalt thank the Lord thy God in all things”


Pass out a piece of paper to each kid with these questions on it for them to fill out at the start of class:

1/What’s something you used today that people in poor countries don’t have?

2/What’s a special talent you have? Why are you grateful for it?

3/What do you appreciate the most about the person sitting next to you?

4/What do you do often that makes you happy?

5/What happened this past week that you are grateful for?

Then discuss everyone’s answers and talk about what gratitude feels like.

Today we’re going to talk about GRATITUDE and how the pioneers showed gratitude towards their Heavenly Father!

Two alternative opening activities could be:
  • Give a child a piece of chalk and ask them to draw something they are grateful for and everyone will guess (everyone will get a turn).
  • Pass out a Post-It note to each person in class with a pen, ask them to write something they are thankful for (you could even give them more than one note each) and then have them stick it on the board or the wall.


Illustrate as much as possible to keep their attention

Remind them where the last lesson ended off (entering the Salt Lake Valley)

The first thing they did when they arrived was plant crops.
It was late summer, so the growing season had already passed.
They knew they needed to hurry if they wanted to have seeds for the next spring, and food for the winter for themselves and the people still coming on the trek west.

1,500 pioneers in 10 different companies were already on the trail!
They were supposed to arrive soon...early autumn.

What did they plant first? Potatoes!
Some people even began planting before they’d even eaten their first meal in the valley!
But the ground was hard, so some of their plows broke.
They needed to soften the ground, so they built a dam in a creek to flood the ground.
Then they dug ditches to bring water from the mountain streams to the crops.

They were irrigating the land and could grow crops there!

The day many of them arrived was a Saturday.
So they did a lot of work that day.
The next day was what… Sunday
So what do you think they did?
They rested from their labors, and they held worship services to thank Heavenly Father for bringing them safely to the valley.

The pioneers were so happy to have been led to a land of peace and safety!
They knew they still had challenges to overcome.

That Sunday, Brigham Young preached to the Saints and reminded them how important it was to keep the Sabbath day holy.

Then, the following days, Brigham Young and other men looked around the area and decided where specifically to settle.
President Young knew that there were a lot of good places, but where they already where was going to be the best place, and they agreed.

They decided to create Salt Lake City in large square blocks with wide streets.
(at this point you could show them the image from this site and even give them more information on this from the article)

When Joseph Smith received the vision for the city of Zion in Missouri, it was going to be similar.

President Young led some men to a place near a creek and said “Here will be the Temple of our God!”

By Saturday July 31st, they’d already built their first structure.
It was a simple building with no walls and a ceiling made from brush and branches.
It was supported by poles and called a bowery.
It was located near the site for the temple and was used for worshiping and gathering.

They kept irrigating land and planting crops.
Their corn and potatoes were sprouting by the second week.

Brigham Young returned to Winter Quarters three weeks after arriving in the Salt Lake valley, and got ready to lead another group of pioneers to Salt Lake.

In August and September, they built a big fence around a 10 acre block.
They built houses inside the fenced area, and the fence also helped protect against winds and against American Indians who wanted them to leave.

The fenced area was made bigger as more pioneers arrived.

There were log homes inside of it, with flat roofs made from poles covered with dirt and brush.
Do you think that kind of roof would be good or bad for really wet weather when it rained? Bad
In the spring, mud and water dripped through the roofs.
They had to use umbrellas inside!

Mice also liked to nest in those roofs.
Eliza R Snow was a pioneer woman who spent a whole night in bed with her umbrella up as mice and mud fell down through the roof!

In October 1847, the first school there started.
A 17-year-old girl named Mary Jane Dilworth ran the school.
It was held in a tent in the middle of the stockade.
Do your school have chairs? Desks? Chalkboards? This school didn’t have anything like that!
They sat on logs.
They did have books and used them to learn to read, write, sing, spell, and do math.
When it was really cold, they held school in a log cabin.
Wagons were taken apart to make tables for the school.
There wasn’t glass for windows, so they stretched greased cloths across the window frames.
Not much light came through, so the door was held open for light, even when it was cold.
But the kids were glad to be able to go to school and learn.

By the end of their first winter there, they were running low on supplies.
Many didn’t have shoes or clothes in good condition, so they used animal skins to make new ones.
Most of the food had run out except what they were saving for seeds for the spring.
They often had to eat plants, beef, and milk.
They were grateful when spring came and crops grew!

But in the spring, late frosts killed some of their crops!
And a drought killed some of their crops too!
The crickets came and began eating everything left!
The pioneers did everything they could think of to fight off the crickets!
What would you do?
Some tried to frighten them with loud noises.
Some tried to shake them off the plants.
Some chased them into piles of straw.
Some chased them into ditches filled with water.
Nothing helped! They kept coming!
They were everywhere! Fences, houses, beds, clothing.

The pioneers were really worried - if they ate all the crops, they would all die from starvation.
For two weeks, they fought them off and prayed for help.
They held a special day of fasting and prayer.

Susan Noble Grant was 16-years-old at the time and she said this:
“The answer to our fasting and prayers came on a clear summer afternoon.
“We were fearfully alarmed, for all of a sudden, circling above our … fields, appeared great flocks of screaming gulls. ‘A new plague is descending upon us,’ was our first thought. Down the gray and white birds swooped in hundreds, then in thousands, uttering shrill … cries as they pounced upon [the crickets]. … Then a strange thing happened. As soon as they had gorged themselves, they sailed over to a nearby stream, took a few sips of water, disgorged [vomited] and returned to join their screaming companions. All our people stood in wonderment! Our prayers were answered”

Show this image:

The seagulls came back every day for three weeks!
They ate crickets until all the crickets were gone!
They knew their prayers had been answered by a miracle.
They were very grateful!

They were able to grow crops, and celebrated their new life in the Salt Lake Valley.
By the end of 1848, almost 3,000 people were living there.
But there were still thousands left still to come.
They knew they had a good place to arrive at.

That first year in the valley had been hard, but they felt very blessed.
They’d endured their challenges!

They’d turned the desert into a place they could live peacefully and worship.


Have the song ready on a phone or laptop.
Have the words printed out and on the board and have them in a large font.

Sing it together once
Then the next time, on every 7th word, decide what you’re going to do instead of singing the word (clap your hands once, stomp your foot once, pull your ear once).
You could even come up with a list of things so for the first 7th word you clap, the next 7th word you stomp, etc. List your things on the board so no one forgets.
(why the 7th word? the sabbath day is the 7th day!)

It may also be helpful to underline or circle each 7th word (after singing it through the first time) if you feel your class needs help remember what those words are.



Everyone acts out things that are good to do on the Sabbath Day and the class guesses!
This could also be done as Pictionary on the board.

Good list of ideas:


adapted from

Use the play on words for Sunday/sundae and talk about what we’d put on an ice cream sundae.
Would you put on toppings like cucumber, seaweed, hash browns etc?
No, and on Sundays we should do appropriate things as well.

Treat them to a simple ice cream sundae.


- Download an image, draw an image, or create something seagull related (scrapbooking stores may have seagull stickers, necklace charms, etc.) and create a take-home with seagulls etc. and a note about gratitude etc.

- Pioneer related candy or treat, perhaps even potato-related since that’s mentioned in the lesson (if not on a Fast Sunday)

- Ice cream sundae/Sunday-related treat: perhaps ice cream flavored Jelly Belly’s, ice cream flavored gum, etc.

Keeping the Sabbath day holy is one way we can show our gratitude to our Heavenly Father!

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.
  • You could also play a virtual campfire off a YouTube video
  • 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.