FHE Lesson #1

March 23, 2009 | 21 comments
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I’ve decided to start a new series of FHE lessons based on the Gospel Fundamentals book.

Lesson #1: There Is a God

Introductory Activity: Put one magnet under a table and another above it. Show how you can make the magnet above the table move. (Or: go outside and look at the effects of the wind. Or: boil some water in the microwave and look at the effects of the heat. Or do all three.) Point: there are things that are real, even though we cannot see them. We can, however, see their effects on the world. God is real. Although we cannot normally see God, we can see God’s effects on the world.

Main Activity: Print the following out and cut apart the questions:

1. What are some things that show us that there is a God?
2. What do we know about God?
3. What do we not know about God?
4. How is God like us?
5. How is God different from us?
6. How does God show love for us?
7. How can we learn about God?
8. How can we be more like God?

Next, cut a piece of white paper into eight pieces. On each piece write one of the numbers from 1-8 with a white crayon. Hand out the pieces and let the kids color over the number with any other color of crayon until the number appears. Point out that the number was always there, but you just couldn’t see it until you made the effort to see it. God is somewhat like that: always there, even if we don’t realize it until/unless we make the effort to realize it. Now let them pick the question whose number matches the number that they colored over. Discuss each question.

Missionary Moment (We are introducing this feature of our FHEs in an effort to be sure that our children are ready to explain their beliefs. We’re going to pin one of my husband’s old missionary name tags on a volunteer and then ask the kinds of questions [related to the lesson] that we think an investigator might ask):

How can you really know if there is a God?

21 Responses to FHE Lesson #1

  1. Sister Sherrell Stover on March 23, 2009 at 10:36 am

    Upon reading comments made about the 2007 GC there was much notice of the 75% ratio for time spent, men over women. There were several whys. Picture this. Wife/Mother is on all fours. The Priesthood holder is standing on her back, able to see ever higher because of her steadfast foundation, why would she need more time? She is, thankfully, doing the job, well. ( and yes I was a tom boy). That we can be the family rock is more spiritually fulfilling than more time can ever express.

  2. Matt W. on March 23, 2009 at 10:42 am

    Julie, this is fantastic. I am shamelessly going to copy this! I’ll return and report how it goes with a 5 and a 2 yr old.

  3. Ardis E. Parshall on March 23, 2009 at 10:42 am

    Sister S, I have the same reaction to your image as to the talk about women being doormats so that husbands can go in with clean shoes to God.

    Anyhoo …

    Julie, you have more and better ideas for working with children than I have ever heard from any one person. These are wonderful. Do you come up with them out of thin air, or keep a mental file of ideas that you can adapt to various lessons, or — ? It’s amazing.

  4. Julie M. Smith on March 23, 2009 at 11:01 am

    Sister Sherrell Stover, I have no idea what relationship your comment has to my post.

    Ardis, thanks. I think this sort of thing gets easier with practice and following a formula. What I did was read the GF lesson and think: What are some ways to illustrate the main principle concretely? (In this case, that something can be real and affect the world even if you can’t see it.) Then, when you get to the part of the lesson that is basically a Q-and-A, how can you wrap that into something a little more interesting, ideally in a way related to the lesson?

  5. Alison Moore Smith on March 23, 2009 at 11:36 am

    Julie, thank you so much for this.

    Having six kids, 16 years apart, we’re always trying to find things interesting to a wide age range. Recently I’ve been thinking about how we need to do some serious focus on fundamentals for the little kids. The older kids have heard it but we often assume the younger ones have picked it up by osmosis. Being the baby of my family, I know that’s often not true.

    Thanks to you, I have a great way to get started on this. I’ll be a regular “subscriber” to your column!

  6. Cynthia L. on March 23, 2009 at 11:49 am

    Gospel Fundamentals is an excellent book. I used it in our FHE’s a while back, when it was just DH and I no kids, and it was great for us too. Members who have never attended Gospel Essentials class are really missing out imho.

  7. Steve Evans on March 23, 2009 at 11:50 am

    I wonder if Sister Sherrell Stover is married to Russell Stover. ‘twould explain much.

  8. Cynthia L. on March 23, 2009 at 11:51 am

    Hm, I apologize for the extra apostrophe in FHEs.

  9. Ardis Parshall on March 23, 2009 at 12:15 pm

    Thanks, Julie, I’m still amazed. The magnets and wind might have occurred to me, but certainly not the white crayon.

  10. Hunter on March 23, 2009 at 12:24 pm

    Julie, I have also admired your apparent gift for teaching children, but I have to admit that when I saw that you were creating a FHE lesson based on that blandest of bland books, Gospel Fundamentals (groooooan), I was a little disappointed.

    However, having read through your ingenious lesson plan, and reviewing the table of contents of GF again, I’m determined to give this a try. Yes, these fundamental topics really are necessary for a developing testimony. White crayons here we come!

  11. Ginger on March 23, 2009 at 12:47 pm

    This is great! Thank you so much! This seems like one of those lessons that will actually keep my kids’ attentions.

  12. Alison Moore Smith on March 23, 2009 at 2:14 pm

    As a bonus, you’ve figured out a way to use up the dozens of white crayons at the bottom of the crayon box!

  13. Diane on March 23, 2009 at 2:32 pm

    This is not about FHE lessons but about the Book of Revelation commentary. Did Julie just quit or are they published somewhere else?

  14. Julie M. Smith on March 23, 2009 at 3:39 pm

    Diane,

    I’ve been slacking. I’ll try to get back on the wagon soon.

  15. Matt W. on March 23, 2009 at 11:15 pm

    Ok, here’s how it went.

    We started with dinner on the patio, talking about wind and God, but the five year old was like “yeah, and…” while the two year old refused to eat dinner. So we went inside and talked about the magnets, to which the five year old said “We can see God when we die!” and the two year old begged for food because she was starving. I changed it up a little, and drew pictures of smiley faces with the white crayon instead, and while I was getting them ready, looked at the computer to ask my 5yo “What are some things that show us that there is a God?” and she said “Not the Computer!”. At this point the 2yo went apoplectic, basically from exhausting herself from by refusing to take a nap all afternoon. So my wife took her for a walk, and brought her back to watch Dora while we colored over the pictures and my daughter really liked that part. I tried to be clever and say “Seem when you do the right things, the picture appears! What things do we need to do in this life to be sure to see God in the next?” The 5yo: “Ugh…die?” And then I put the 2yo in the Car and drove her around until she finally fell asleep.

    So it was a success.

  16. Hunter on March 24, 2009 at 1:04 am

    “So it was a success.” That made me laugh.

    OK, we tried the lesson, too. I taught it, and, even though my opinion may be a bit biased, I think it was a success. We ended up hosting a brother- and sister-in-law and their three kids for dinner and FHE, so, with our three, I was worried how it would go, having a formal lesson and all. Surprisingly, the kids (ages 3 to 10) did really, really well. They enjoyed the magnet, boiling water, and wind illustrations (believe it or not, the kids had flown kites earlier in the day). We had a good round-the-table discussion (quick!) with each of the eight questions (and yes, we did the white crayon thing, which they loved). And then threw in the missionary-angled question. We got some of the so-called “Sunday School answers,” but also some heartfelt, thought-out ones, too.

    Writing it out, it sounds like the lesson went on and on, but from start to finish, it was no more than 20 minutes. I think I could try this again. Me likey. Thanks!

  17. Julie M. Smith on March 24, 2009 at 9:01 am

    ““What are some things that show us that there is a God?” and she said “Not the Computer!””

    LOL!

    It was really fun to read your reports, Matt W. and Hunter. Thanks for posting them.

  18. iguacufalls on March 24, 2009 at 11:36 am

    We started late last night, so we didn’t do the activities with the wind or microwave, but we talked about them. It was my 4 year old’s turn to teach the lesson, so I sat him on my lap. I had to “prompt” him loud enough for others to hear the questions, since he felt like repeating them at .5 decibles.

    When we mentioned that we can’t see what makes the food warm in the microwave, he said, “but if we turn on the light and look inside, we can see the food spinning!”

    The white crayons were a hit, like with Hunter and Matt W., especially when the older kids got a hold of them and drew their own words – “Hey, my paper says ‘YO!” Anyway, I think it went over well. Thanks for giving the idea!

  19. Lupita on March 24, 2009 at 12:28 pm

    What Ardis said!
    Great book and class. I’m looking forward to FHE!

  20. Stephanie on March 24, 2009 at 9:23 pm

    Still wondering about Sister stovers’ comment . . .

  21. makakona on March 30, 2009 at 8:21 pm

    i guess it goes without saying that julie rocks. but seriously julie rocks! i unashamedly lifted this lesson for tonight. i have four daughters, ranging three months to five years.

    we ate dinner in the backyard and rolled straight into the lesson. got through the opening song and prayer without a fight breaking out between the 4yo and 5yo, so the evening was instantly a success! it goes without saying that the three month old slept through the entire lesson and the newly-turned two-year-old stripped naked after the prayer and spent the lesson riding a scooter in circles around us.

    we did magnets on the edges of the patio table and on the dinner pot. the kids pinted out how they were sticky, but that they couldn’t see anything sticky on the magnets. the wind was simple, as we were outside in kite weather.

    the white crayon was genius, even though the kids saw the numbers right away. they stayed seated, at the table, and involved while they colored their notecards. we may do coloring sheets at every fhe, it was that big of a deal. even the 2yo quit scooter-ing long enough to scribble on her card. the big girls loved reading the corresponding notecards and we had a fun time discussing our answers. our oldest attends a catholic school, so we always like using lessons that reinforce what we do and don’t believe about god.

    when we got to question eight, the 4yo said that we couldn’t make stars or clouds like god can and the 5yo shouted over her that we could “create” other things. i LOVED that answer and it of course reminded me of elder uchtdorf’s talk. they had fun brainstorming how each of us creates things.

    i made little missionary nametags for each of the older three and had them pretend to come to our door. the 5yo told us they were missionaries who taught people about god and the scriptures and the 4yo shouted, “yeah, i’m a missionary, wanna to see my UGGS?!” and shoved her foot onto my lap. we pretended to not know anything about the church and it kept their attention to roleplay, though we got a lot of raaaandom comments from the 4yo. again because of the parochial education, we did a lot of, “sometimes i go to a friend’s church and the people are very nice, but they told me xyz about god. what do YOU believe?”

    it was a really great lesson and i couldn’t believe how involved it kept the kids. and then the 2yo pushed too many buttons and dad had to step in to say the closing prayer because mom was cranky. thanks, julie! i can’t wait for more! i’m bookmarkig them for our “summer fhe series!”