Guest Author - Terrie Lynn Bittner
Purpose: To help toddlers and preschoolers learn the basics of the first vision.
Introduction: Use the pictures found in the July 2001 Friend (Diane Nichols, “Sharing Time: Joseph Smith—Prophet of the Restoration,” Friend, Jul 2001, 14). This can be found online at LDS.org. You can do it as they suggest, making a box stage, or you can make a flannel board story or even a stick puppet story with craft sticks. Tell the story to your children and then let them help you tell it again. If they’re very young, they can hold pictures. Older children can tell as much as they remember, answer your questions to remind them, or decide which picture comes next. Play with this as long as they child is interested.
Simple retelling of the story: (This has only the absolute basics.)
This is a picture of Joseph Smith. He was fourteen years old. Let’s count fourteen fingers. That’s how old he was. How old are you? Yes, so Joseph was bigger, wasn’t he? (If you know a fourteen-year-old, tell your child Joseph was that person’s age.)
Joseph was very worried. (Act out being worried and let your child do the same.) He had a big problem. He wanted to have a church to go to. Do you like to go to church? Joseph liked to go to church too, but he wanted to go to Heavenly Father’s church, and he didn’t know which one it was.
What should he do?
One day he read the Bible. Can you show me our Bible? Good job. Let me show you what he was reading. It was in the Bible. Can you say Bible? It was in the New Testament in the Bible. Say New Testament. It was in the Book of James, in the New Testament, in the Bible. Say Book of James. It was in James, chapter 1, verse five, and here it is! (Let your child “help” you read it by repeating the words after you.)
This means that if you don’t know what to do, ask Heavenly Father. Does Heavenly Father know what to do? He does. And He will help. So Joseph went into the woods and started to pray. Can you show me how you kneel when you pray? That’s what Joseph did! Soon, Heavenly Father and Jesus came to see Joseph? How do you think Joseph felt? Joseph told them that he didn’t know what church to join. Jesus said not to join any of them because none of them was just Heavenly Father’s church.”
Next, show a picture of Joseph grown up and explain to your child that when Joseph was a grown-up, he helped Heavenly Father’s church come back on the earth, and that is the church you go to.
You might want to take a picture the Sunday before of your church building. Turn a picture of your child into a stick puppet and let your child pretend to walk to the church while you discuss how happy you are to belong to the true church.
To help your child learn to identify Joseph, glue a picture of him to a piece of colored paper. Glue pictures of several other prophets on identical paper. Invite your child to find the picture of Joseph. Then spread the pictures around the room and ask him to get the picture by hopping, crawling, or doing any other action you choose.
Song: The Sacred Grove (page 87, Children’s Song Book.)