I saved this song to start teaching this week because this is the week that the presidency member starts teaching the Joseph Smith lesson as well!
I thought about simply teaching from the wonderful images I found in the LDS Gospel Art Kit and put into a flip chart. I could have the children help me to tell the stories. However, I have done similar things recently, and I always want to give the children a lot of variety so they look forward to singing time.
My inspiration came from the 2007 Friend, from a talk by Elder Mark E. Petersen that was quoted in the 2007 Friend, From the Pearl of Great Price, and from the Book of Mormon. I've put all the specific source credit at the bottom of this post but first, what I have planned:
1. I'll place the "Gold Plates" in a box under a blanket so it is partially buried. I made my own gold plates that are fairly true to size using cardboard and gold spray paint but if I didn't have this, I would have just used one of the books on my shelf that was about the same in dimensions (7 inches x 8 inches, and about 6 inches tall).
2. I'll display the picture of Joseph Smith being visited by two personages (which is in my flipchart that I made last week) and talk about how this is one of the most recognized pictures of Joseph Smith, and just touch on this part of the story lightly and quickly. While I did re-read Joseph Smith's history to teach this lesson, there is a great summary that can help you touch on this lightly in a more concise manner, in the 2001 Friend. I might just ask children to raise their hands and help summarize the story, depending on what feels right at the time. We did not have much time to teach this during the regular lesson time because of General Conference and the following week's testimony meeting going long, which is why I want to be sure to touch on this now.
I'll tell them we're going to learn a new song today that is about some important work that Joseph Smith did, and how that work blessed us.
I'll tell them that this song is unique in that the rhythm changes several times throughout the song, and ask them to listen very closely. I will have the pianist play the entire song. I will then ask them to listen again and try to clap and follow the unique rhythm. I will do it one more time if they aren't following very well and clapping together very well.
This is where Senior and Junior go in two directions.
a. In Junior Primary I'll tell them:
After Joseph Smith was first visited by Heavenly Father and his Beloved Son, life went back to normal in some ways. He went on with helping his family farm, and he told people about the visit, but most people either didn't believe him or were angry with him, or both. Then, one night, an angel visited him.
Q: Does anyone know the name of the angel that visited him?
Q: Can anyone tell me what the angel told him?
A: The angel told Joseph Smith that there was a book hidden in the ground that told about people that had lived here on earth before him. He told Joseph Smith about the book, and that they could not be shown to anyone.
The angel Moroni came and told Joseph this three times that night. The next day, Joseph visited the place where Moroni had shown in a vision that the plates were located but Joseph had to wait for four years until the angel would let him take the plates out of the ground. He was about 21 when Moroni told him he could take the gold plates out of the ground.
I'll then have a boy come up to the class "dig" the box out of a blanket, open the box, and take the plates out. I'll explain that these "plates" are about true to size, and show them how the pages were thin, like tinfoil, which I will hold up as an example:
I"ll read to them this quote from Elder Mark E. Petersen:
I will show them a stone box as an example and explain that in ancient times, they were not uncommon:
I'll then show them page 1 of the flip chart and sing that line of the song for them once, reminding them to listen carefully to the unique rhythm of the song. Then, I'll have them sing it with me twice.
I will then introduce to them the second verse of the song and have them sing that with me as well. If there is time, I'll talk about that verse as well.
b. In Senior Primary, I'll ask them if they can identify the song by the tune.
I will let them guess and identify it if they can.
Then, I will put up some word in random order: Moroni, Hill Cumorah, Nephites, and Book of Mormon.
The next part of this lesson is word per word from the 2007 Friend:
Tell the children that this song is about these four things, but none of these words is mentioned in the
song. Ask them to help you put the wordstrips in the same order that the song is in. Sing the song for them and then ask which wordstrip comes first. Because the first phrase is “an angel came to Joseph Smith,” the correct wordstrip is “Moroni.” Have the children sing that phrase with you. Sing the song three more times, putting one wordstrip in place each time. Explain that Joseph Smith took the gold plates from Hill Cumorah, that the plates are a record of the Nephites, and that the precious, holy book is the Book of Mormon. Because the song is short, sing the entire song each time that you ask a question.
Once we have gone through all the word strips, I'll put the flip chart up for them to see.
Then, time pending, I'll go back and review some specific details of the song with them, regarding the Book of Mormon.
From Joseph Smith History, I'll have them look up 1:30, 34. I'll also have someone help read the quote from Elder Petersen that I mentioned in the Junior Primary lesson.
If there is more time, I'll look up other scriptures that describe other lines of the song with them, and that go with the flip chart:
- 1 Nephi 18: 22-23 - about going to the promised land (vs. 2 of the song)
- 4 Nephi 1: 15-17 - about how there was no contention in the land (vs.3 of the song)
Additional Source Information/instruction:
From the 2007 Friend:
"1. ... Using questions and answers as well as pictures from the Gospel Art Picture
Kit, present the story of the Restoration of the gospel. Use Elder Mark E.
Petersen’s talk “More than a Farm Boy” (New Era, Dec. 2004, 33) to add
details to the story. For example, ask the children how big they think
the gold plates were. To illustrate the size of the gold plates, simulate
them by using paper that has the same dimensions. (Approximately 7 x
8 inches [18 x 20 cm] and 6 inches [15 cm] thick.) Ask what kind of box
would protect the plates from the weather for hundreds of years (a stone
box). Ask what we call the record that Moroni gave to Joseph Smith (the
Book of Mormon). Consider teaching “An Angel Came to Joseph Smith” (p. 86). You can
use the song to either present the story of the Restoration or to review
"5. Song presentation: “An Angel Came to Joseph Smith” (p. 86).
Before teaching this song, practice conducting the unique rhythm. Post
the following wordstrips in random order—“Moroni,” “Hill Cumorah,”
“Nephites,” and “Book of Mormon.” Tell the children that this song is
about these four things, but none of these words is mentioned in the
song. Ask them to help you put the wordstrips in the same order that
the song is in. Sing the song for them and then ask which wordstrip
comes first. Because the first phrase is “an angel came to Joseph Smith,”
the correct wordstrip is “Moroni.” Have the children sing that phrase with
you. Sing the song three more times, putting one wordstrip in place each
time. Explain that Joseph Smith took the gold plates from Hill Cumorah,
that the plates are a record of the Nephites, and that the precious, holy
book is the Book of Mormon. Because the song is short, sing the entire
song each time that you ask a question. Bear testimony that the story
told in the song is true."