Free Agency class idea
Kristol writes, "Recently, my husband and I had the opportunity to teach a class for our ward’s annual Youth Conference. We camped for three days in the mountains of Arizona and held our classes on a Saturday there. We focused our classes on some areas in the ‘For The Strength of Youth’ Pamphlet, and our class was on free agency. I just thought it might be nice to share since it turned out so well.
GOAL: TO HELP EACH YOUTH UNDERSTAND THE GREAT GIFT OF FREE ACENGY AND TO HELP THEM APPRECIATE WHAT A SMALL WINDOW WE HAVE IN THIS LIFE TO MAKE GOOD DECISIONS THAT WILL AFFECT OUR ETERNAL LIVES.
"MYSTERY CRAFT" SUPPLIES:
* FOAM POSTER BOARD (I got mine at the Dollar Store)
* 4-5 DIFFERENT COLORS OF CARDSTOCK (about 6-8 pages 8 ½ x 11)
* MARKER (not black as it will bleed through cardstock)
* COPY OF GOOD BIRDHOUSE DIRECTIONS (we used this one)
* COPY OF POOR BIRDHOUSE DIRECTIONS (I used the same directions as above, but took out all the pictures and the supply list, leaving only a few sketchy word directions)
ALL SUPPLIES NEEDED TO MAKE 4 BIRDHOUSES (we taught this class twice and had 2 teams in each class; you will reuse some of the supplies if you do more than one class)
* 2 SMALL BOTTLES OF CRAFT PAINT (different colors)
* 2 FOAM PAINTBRUSHES
* A PAIR OF KID’S PLASTIC SCISSORS
* A BUTTER KNIFE
* DUCT TAPE
* ADULT SCISSORS
* SPOOL OF THREAD (any color; will replace the twine in some instances - see directions below)
I cut out 30+ squares from the cardstock (about 8 per page). I mixed up all the colors and wrote one supply needed to make the birdfeeder on each card until all the supplies were done for 2 birdhouses (I left enough room on the card to write something below this). But I only included one card (instead of 2) for the craft knife. Then underneath that, in parentheses, I wrote a good decision that a youth might make (i.e. read my scriptures daily, do baptisms for the dead, don’t do homework on Sunday, etc.). So for each good decision they made, they got a part of the “Mystery Craft” that their team would be building.
Next, I made 2 cards for each of these: paint, paintbrush. I wrote in parentheses a good decision on that card under them. Then I made 1 card for each of these: kids’ scissors, butter knife, duct tape, adult scissors, spool of thread. I wrote a semi-good decision for these (i.e. don’t shop on Sunday but watch sports all day, serve others but not willingly, etc.).
On the rest of the cards I wrote only poor decisions (viewed pornography, stopped attending church, date others with low standards, etc.) and no supplies for these choices.
When all the cards were done, I mixed them up and numbered them on the blank side. I taped them number side up in random order on the foam board. I put all the supplies, including the 2 sets of directions, into a box so the kids wouldn’t be able to see them.
Playing the game:
We split the kids up into 2 teams; they took turns choosing numbers from the board and got supplies as they chose them. If they chose a bad decision, they got the choice to run 2 laps around the campsite (or wherever you choose) or just lose a turn. If they chose to run, the game would continue, but when they got back (if the game hadn’t ended) then the next person on their team to choose a number would choose 2 cards instead of 1. It benefited their team if they ran quickly so the game would still be on when they got back. If both cards were bad choices, they could run 4 laps and chose 4 cards when they got back (or they could run 2 laps or not run at all). No one could run for someone else! If someone chose the ‘directions’ card, they had to keep it secret from the other team. When all the cards were chosen, they went to 2 different places and started to make the “Mystery Craft”, using whatever supplies they had. If one team got more than they needed, they could “share” with the other team if they wanted. Or they could “trade” supplies as needed. We gave them about 20 minutes to finish the craft, and they could paint it if they wanted to.
When they were done, we gathered together again and we displayed their birdhouses. The team that had chosen the good directions (with the picture) invariably had a better birdhouse. The team that had the craft knife had an easier time making it, especially if one team only had the kiddie scissors to cut the bottles. We talked about why one team had an easier time of it in some areas and the other team didn’t in other areas. We started a discussion on the analogies about the birdhouse building and free agency: directions = joining the church; good directions = staying active/following commandments; poor directions=joining church of some other faith (only have part of gospel)/joining LDS church but only being part active; running laps = repenting (get more chances to make good decisions); not running laps = not choosing to repent; no one can run for you = you have to repent for yourself; sharing supplies = sharing gospel; trading supplies = sharing ideas with those of other faiths/being a friend; semi-good decisions = only get part of the blessings (got subpar supplies that weren’t as helpful). You can come up with all kinds of analogies!
I had strung a length of twine between 2 trees with a couple of round Styrofoam craft discs threaded on it in the middle (use whatever works). We discussed how the distance between the discs represented our time on Earth and how it was the only time we had to make the decisions that would affect our eternity, etc. It was a terrific visual!
We finished by reading a few excerpts from talks by Pres. Monson and other apostles on free agency and some things from the FTSOY pamphlet on free agency. We displayed their birdhouses in the main camp (some were better than others and that was great!). It turned out sooooo well and we really felt the spirit as we discussed it all."