Here’s the lesson report for Monday – Thursday this week.
Today we began the story of Moses and the Exodus. I debated for a while whether or not to focus this lesson in on courageous women or courageous people. I went back and forth for several days trying to decide whether it would come off too feminazi to focus in on just the courageous women…. Eventually I decided to go ahead and focus on the women, not because they are females, but because they were people who were courageous behind the scenes. Their part only amounted to a few verses, but their efforts were part of what eventually occurred: the freeing of the Hebrews.
We started out with a game of Hang the Bishop (hangman, with a necktie). Our phrase was Women of Courage. They couldn’t get “women”. It was actually getting painful, so finally we had to start giving clues. Finally they got it.
I used a couple of the questions from the lesson manual to talk about Who was courageous, how, why, and the result.
After this discussion I asked the kids if they were disturbed by the idea of a prophet offing the Egyptian. Nope. No one thought it was particularly upsetting. They just said he must have done something to deserve it. I pushed it a little bit, though, and so we read the Acts 7 portion that gives a little more explanation of why Moses killed the Egyptian. The commentary in the Institute manual says that Jewish tradition is that the Egyptian was assaulting a woman.
I went back to the courageous women and asked the following questions:
– Do you know any courageous women?
– How have these courageous women blessed your life?
– Which of your successes can you attribute to the influence of courageous women?
– How can we show our awareness and appreciation for their influence?
I asked each kid to write a letter to a courageous woman in their life and deliver that letter that day. I was surprised with the way they wrote — so diligently. It was silent for a few moments while they wrote their letters. Wrapped up.
I don’t normally like to use the “write a letter” method (because I think it’s a cop-out), but in this case it worked out very well. Turned out to be a good lesson.
Today was Tuesday, so we did Moments. The kids’ friend got baptized over the weekend (thanks primarily to the efforts of a girl in my class) and so we got to talk about that and some other experiences for a few minutes. My DD shared her experience, too. She’s bashful about participating, but she ends up doing it.
This section is about Moses feeling inadequate when called, and so I wrote “The Lord can draw a straight line with a crooked stick.” This is one of my favorite sayings, and I read it in an Ensign article some years back, when I was Relief Society president. The saying has really stuck with me.
We talked about what Moses was concerned about in some detail. At some point, I realized that I had not, in fact, actually read this material. Fail. I thought I had done this day’s reading, but somehow had only gotten partway finished. Luckily the kids had read, so they could run the show for me. Whoops. I don’t think they knew i hadn’t read, and I sure didn’t say…. :)
I passed out one of the plain versions of the Apply poster and we talked about how we can apply Moses’ experience in our lives. We talked about past, present, and future experiences that we may feel in adequate to perform. A mission, job, parenting, callings, etc. I asked the kids to list some things that they felt inadequate about. One student shared her experiences with a speech impediment. Another has a learning disability related to memory that has been a real struggle for him. Another struggles with depression. It was a great, frank discussion that showed that we all feel inadequate but can find help.
We read the following scriptures and talked about how each scripture shows ways that the Lord will strengthen us:
– 1 Nephi 3:7
– D&C 60:2–4
– D&C 121: 7–11
When we read 1 Nephi 3:7, I asked the kids how Nephi knew that the Lord would provide a way. They grasped for a few minutes for the answer until one boy said that Nephi had askted for the Lord’s help before. Nephi knew God would provide a way, because he had tried Him and found that the Lord will help when we act in faith. Certainly Nephi had experience that were trying when the Lord helped him, and so he knew that the Lord would provide a way. I told the kids that they have all had experiences that the Lord helped them with and that they will have more. They can know the Lord will provide a way because He has before. That seemed to stick.
I shared my experience with being called as Seminary teacher. While I wasn’t excited about the prospect of a daily early morning gig, I wasn’t nervous or afraid. I knew Heavenly Father would help me (and he does) because of my experience when I was called to be Relief Society president at age 31. I was intimidated and knew unequivocally that there were dozens of other more experienced women who could serve in that position better than I could. However, I committed to do my best, and the Lord helped me. I know personally that the Lord draws straight lines with crooked sticks. When we allow ourselves to be instruments in His hands, he blesses us.
It stuck. Had a kid post a quote on Facebook later, and this turned out to be a really great lesson, too.
In preparation for today’s lesson I wrote the name of a plague on a little sticky note and stuck one under each of the seats in our class. I surprised the kids by playing a YouTube video for our opening song: Louis Armstrong’s Go Down Moses. They loved it. They have studied these songs in history class in regards to the Underground Railroad, but I guess they never thought about them in a religious sense before. I love spirituals myself, having grown up in the South, and so I was happy they liked it. The song stuck in their heads and they were relieved to not have to sing themselves. :)
We moved from the couches to the chairs and I told the kids that I had stuck a note on the bottom of their seats. I asked them not to look until I had given them their instructions, which were to draw the plague they had. They could look in the scriptures to draw the plague, but then they had to put them in order from memory. My secretary set the timer for 4 minutes, and ready, go.
This activity took a few minutes. There isn’t too much you can pull from this, except for the table that is in the lesson manual about the gods that were owned by the plagues. I didn’t want to spent a lot of time on something that’s really in the category of “nice to know”, but the kids clearly were interested in the idea that the plagues (and Moses’ rod) demonstrated how God had ultimate power and the gods of the Egyptians had none. This probably took 5-10 minutes.
Then I passed out the Name Game cards and they put those in order for the rest of class. We got out a bit early, but no one minded.
Today we talked about Passover symbolism. I had a handout from my friend Brent that took the verses in Exodus 12 and talked about what they stood for. I will list them in a later blog entry since they are downstairs, and I’m not :) I did Body Pump at the gym on Monday and seriously messed myself up. BADLY. I was nearly completely unable to walk Tuesday and only slightly better Wednesday. I’m still sore today. Steps are murder, but at least I’m not actually collapsing from jello-legs any more.
Anyway, this lesson went well, too. I showed the 3 minute video on Passover from the “Prepare a lesson” section at http://si.lds.org/ . I let the kids sit on the couches while we did a verse by verse analysis about the symbolism of the Passover, emphasizing how it is an ordinance intended to point to Christ, so that he could be recognized when he came. Instead, the Hebrews “looked beyond the mark” and focused instead on perfect observance instead of paying attention to the message behind the symbols. Today we use the sacrament to remember Christ, instead of looking forward to his arrival.
I spent a few minutes going briefly over the passover seder and haggadah we would do on Friday so they’d know what to expect. I will write another blog post about the seder and how that worked.