Sunday, March 20, 2016

Sweetening Jacob 5

My children are gathered around the kitchen table, taking turns spinning plastic Easter eggs.
We just finished reading Jacob chapter 5 in one sitting, and had a surprisingly lovely time. So here I am sharing what we did, in the hopes that our experiences will be of use to someone else.
Before I begin, I would like to point out that my (reading) children range in age from 8 to (nearly) 13, and we came to this chapter on a leisurely Sunday afternoon. If you have younger children, children who can't really read yet, or approach this an hour after bedtime on a school night . . . you may need a miracle.

So, what did we do that worked?

  • I pep-talked the kids into getting this done in one sitting
  • We made it a special occasion with treats
  • We discussed symbolism

Do it in one sitting
Now, the kids did groan a bit when they heard we were doing all 77 verses of Jacob 5 today.
"Do we have to do it all in one day?"
Now, there's a lot to be said for slow-and-steady. But there's also a lot to be said for weekend warriors and doing big projects in a concentrated burst of determination.
There's a lot to be said to breaking the scriptures into a certain number of pages per day, so each day the family spends an equal amount of time reading. I, however, hate to have my storyline interrupted mid-chapter. Nope. For me, it's a chapter a day. Even when that chapter is Jacob 5.
(In case you're wondering, it took us 40 minutes, including discussion time).

Make it a special occasion with treats
Now, to help this work, we make it a special occasion. I don't frequently mix scriptures and treats, but that's what really sells this chapter to my kids.
The first year we read Jacob 5, we had an unexpected box of cookies in the cupboard. I usually avoid pre-packaged cookies, so there was some novelty there. At each page turn, I walked around the table and set one small cookie next to each child.
Today, it was Easter candy.
Now, I feel a little guilty admitting that. Somehow, cookies seem less sugary than candy. Healthier. But it's that time of year, and I was surprised to receive several extra bags of candy after I had already purchased our family's Easter candy. And the kids were excited about it, which was more to the point.
Each child read a column. After they finished their column, M rolled an Easter egg with a few sweets in it to them. We went around the table counterclockwise several times. The last time around, I skipped my turn so each of the kids got an equal amount of sweets (at their request).

Discuss symbolism
After the first time around the table, when it was my turn, I paused and asked if anyone thought they knew what the vineyard represented.
"The Earth?" guessed S.
"Yes, the Earth, or the world."
Then I asked, "Who do you think is the Lord of the Vineyard?" We decided it was probably Heavenly Father or Jesus Christ. Then we went back to reading.
A few columns later, I asked who could guess what the olive tree represented. When I said it was the House of Israel, there was a loud, "Oh!" from one end of the table.
The kids started breaking in with their thoughts: could the servant of the vineyard be missionaries? Does this represent the Dark Ages? and so forth.

If you want help understanding the symbolism, the Book of Mormon Student Study Guide has a chart of suggestions. If you scroll to the bottom, there's a visual timeline of Jacob 5, that could be really useful, especially for visual learners.

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