Stories of Our World Family Introduction Booklist for Stories of Our World Family Games and Icebreakers I Am Unitarian Universalist Christian/Judeo Heritage Our Whole Lives (OWL) Hinduism Buddhism Islam African Tales Women’s History Earth Based Spirituality Celebrating Ourselves Social Action Sundays
Introduction This curriculum is designed to be presented in a continuous two year loop. Each year you will present the “I Am UU” sessions at the beginning of the year amd “Celebrating Ourselves” at the end of the year. After that, you are free to pick and choose. Also, the Social Action Sundays are to be used each year. A two year rotation might look like this:
Religious Education can seem like a daunting task – how can we teach our children all that we would like them to know about Unitarian Universalism AND the many other faith traditions that are practiced by the people who share our planet? Well, we can’t. There is no way that in the years we have children in our programs that we can accomplish this task. What we can do is expose them to some of the stories, activities and traditions of the major world religions and hope that they catch a curiosity that will keep them searching and learning as they grow in their Unitarian Universalist faith.
It is my hope that more than teaching our children about different religions, traditions and cultures; that we will be able to teach them how to learn more about themselves and the people in their immediate faith community. When we create opportunities for children and youth to experience their selves as an important part of a greater whole, that is where the real meaning making begins. As an adult, think of why you are in this particular community? Most often, adults are in fellowship communities for the connections they have with other fellowship members. While it is true that children often come because this is the community their family has chosen, whether they will return as adults is determined by the types of connections and the feelings of being a contributing member as a child.
With that said, I now reveal to you what it true of this curriculum and any other you may use. The curriculum is only a tool for creating ways to make connections between teachers and students, students as peers, and teacher to teacher. That is – you are the curriculum. It is your enthusiasm for being in this community, working with this population that is important. These stories, activities and ideas will help you to bring the group’s attention into focus each week. If you can think of an activity that is more appealing or better suited for your spaces, by all means, do that. If there is something you know about one of the religions or traditions that is not covered in this curriculum, skip one of these lessons and use your ideas instead. Show your class how teaching them in an expression of your Unitarian Universalist faith.
As you teach, be certain to have fun. This can easily be accomplished if you are always prepared. Take time to look over the materials each week. If your fellowship has a paid RE staff person check with them on a regular basis to see what they can do to help with supplies, etc. As well as being physically prepared, come to each class emotionally prepared. Be in a state of mind where you are glad to be spending time with your students. Don’t worry if you do not complete all the activities in the lesson plan each week, sometimes ideas come up or topics surface that should be expanded on. There is no final test for you or your students, it’s okay not to do everything in this curriculum. And be prepared for the days when your class will breeze through an hour’s worth of activities in 20 minutes. Let the group help decide how they will spend the rest of the hour. Playing games, cleaning the classroom, talking about current events, decorating the room or going outdoors and just hanging out with classmates is never wasted time. Try not to feel like you are being graded or judged as a teacher. You are a volunteer with diverse gifts to offer. Your fellowship community is grateful you are willing to give of yourself to help the children in the fellowship community feel important and included.
Finally, remember – you are the adult in the classroom. It is your job to be a well-differentiated adult who cares about the students. You are interested in what they have to share, and you share on a level that all your students will understand and be comfortable with. And as I tell first time teachers, don’t take things personally. You will be happier and so will your students if you understand that you are not trying to be their friend, but rather a mentor and role model.
Blessings to our friends in religious education –
Lori & Cheryll
A word about Children’s Fellowship – the leaders for Children’s Fellowship should not be classroom teachers. Create a space and routine that the children can become familiar with. Invite the minister and other fellowship leaders to lead Children’s Fellowship occasionally, or even just visit. Make certain there is quality leadership for the musical aspect as well.
Book List for Stories of Our World Family Curriculum
Create a circle with one less space to sit than there are players. One person starts in the middle (a teacher should be the first person “it”) and is “it”. This person says something like, “everyone who attended Sunday School at First Unitarian Fellowship last year.” Everyone who attended last year would then get up and look for a new place to sit. The last person standing is now “it”. You can prompt students with some of these ideas: *everyone who has a brother * everyone who likes math * everyone who went on a long car trip this past summer * everyone who is wearing blue *Etc. The teacher should intentionally become “it” after about 8-10 rounds. The last statement can be, “everyone who knows all about the Hindu religion.” You probably won’t get any movers, so this is a good time to say that today we’re going to begin learning about the Hindu religion.
2) Group Juggle
Have the children and adults stand in a circle. The teacher will explain the game. First everyone goes around the circle and says their name. Tell the participants to listen closely – they’ll need to know each other’s names to play this game. Next the teacher tosses a stuffed animal or beach ball to a person as they call out their name. That person in turn calls out someone else’s name and tosses the object to them. This continues until the object has been tossed to everyone. Repeat this action in the same order one or two more times. Next time, add one or two more objects to toss. As soon as the teacher says the person’s name they are tossing the object to, they immediately pick up another object, say the same name and toss the object to them. See how many objects you can keep tossing without people loosing track of where they are to toss the object. It’s okay to start over and prompt! Make sure you have lots of space and no breakable objects in the room!
Have the children and teachers stand in a circle. The teacher starts by saying their name and then doing an action, the sillier the better. Actions may be a hop, a silly noise, patting your tummy and head, etc. The next person then says their name and does a silly action and then repeats the names and actions of the persons who went before them. Prompting is okay in this game – there is a lot to remember! The person who started, the teacher, ends the game by saying the names and repeating the actions of everyone in the group.
When you’ve had enough fun with the ice breakers, invite the children to move to a circle on the floor or the table and take a moment to be quiet and prepare for the next very important activity.
During the first session, it is important to establish guidelines for how the people in your class will interact with one another. Let the children offer suggestions for “rules”. Write these rules on either a poster or large sheet of paper and post them in the room. Refer to them when needed throughout the coming year. If the children don’t bring them up, you may want to suggest things like; 1) No put downs; 2) One person speaks at a time; 3) Treat each other with respect; 4) Participate in the activities. The children usually come up with plenty of rules. It’s okay to add to them anytime in the year that the children agree their needs to be a new rule or an issue addressed.