Sunday, October 19, 2008

Today the elementary age classes (Treasure Hunters and Explorers) enjoyed a visit to the Sukkah in our courtyard while learning about the Jewish Holiday of Sukkot. This harvest festival is celebrated by the building of little booths, which families decorate with fruits and vegetables, and then eat meals in the Sukkah (and sometimes even sleep in them) during the festival. Melissa from Bet Chaverim showed the children how the Sukkah is decorated with fruits of the harvest, with the ceiling left partly open so that the stars may be viewed through the top. We ate our snack in the Sukkah and talked about ways that we share with others in our daily lives. The children helped to decorate the Sukkah and each made a Lulav. As part of the blessing of the Sukkah, the Lulav is waved in four directions, to show that God is everywhere.
"Some rabbis say that the different types of greenery in the Lulav represents different types of people. They say that the different kinds of leaves are tied together to teach us that all the different people of the world must work together in peace. Building a Sukkah reminds Jewish people of their history. Long, long ago there was a time when the Jews were slaves in Egypt. They wandered in the desert for 40 years, and built little huts for shade and rest. Today, Jewish people build little huts. They want to remember that not all families live in peace and comfort and safety." (From the Holidays and Holidays curriculum).
Talk with your child about what your family does to celebrate the harvest or Thanksgiving. What can your family do to help people who may not have permanent housing or enough to eat this season? What are some ways, small and large, that you encourage sharing within your family?

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

We're All In This Together

Welcome to a new church year! I'm a little behind getting my posts up, but hope to be more on top of things from her on out. My plan is to post once a week, so check back to see more about what is happening with children, youth, and families at Saltwater. I'll included information about the different classes, ideas of things to talk about or explore further at home, and updates and reminders about special events. If there are other things you would like to see here, let me know.

Things are off to a great start in the Lighthouse. We kicked off our church year with our annual field day event. Here is a photo of some of our children helping to clean up afterwards. It really does take everyone's contributions to make our church community the best it can be for all of us, as James was reminding us a few weeks ago. Many thanks to all who are pitching in.

Our classes in September were mostly focused on group building and getting to know one another. Here's a few highlights from each:

Discovery: Our preschoolers have been learning about many ways that we're all different and yet all the same. This is a big concept for little ones, and very important to our UU principles. On September 21 the children learned about hands. Ask your child about what hands do. Are everyone's hands the same? What are some special things your child can do with his or her hands?

Treasure Hunters: Our primary class has put the democratic process to work! For years this class has been called the Wumps. This year the children voted to change their name. "Treasure Hunters" fits well with our other class names, and captures the purpose of this class. We are hunting for treasures, as we explore world religions, we are searching for pieces of truth and discovering that all religions have something to teach us about the big questions in life.

Explorers: Our older elementary class has begun their study of world religions by learning about Islam and Sikhism. On September 28, the class talked about the Sikh holiday Diwali. Ask your child about Rangolis.

Jr. Youth: Our middle schoolers have brainstormed a list of the many faith traditions they hope to explore this year, and their advisers are busy lining up field trips to various houses of worship. Parents are encouraged to attend with their youth on October 19, to finalize plans and discuss logistics for class field trips. Some of our middle school youth attended a district UU youth conference on Vashon Island recently. Ask them to tell you about what they experienced there.

Sr. Youth: Our high schoolers began the curriculum Popcorn Theology by watching Back to the Future and talking about how our choices affect the future. They also cooked a delicious and simple soup lunch on October 5th. Watch for more of these soup lunches on future Sundays, and more thought-provoking movies to come.

Spirit Play: So far we have heard two stories about the creation of the world, and will be sharing several more in the following weeks. The children have been engaged in a wide variety of art responses to the stories, and also in some deep wondering about the stories. Ask your child about the story tellers who told the first stories around their campfire, and the creator who brought all living things to life from the roots of a great tree. We will be holding a parent orientation soon, and will invite anyone who wants to learn more about this new approach to religious education.

Creativity Club: This class is very excited to be creating with Legos! Soon we will be ready to begin programming robots. The class has also created rubber band cars and paper planes, and have been playing a lot of active group games. Ask you child about what they and others have been creating.