Sunday, November 30, 2008

Diwali Celebration

Last Sunday, Dolly Mangla and her husband Sanjay, who moved here from India a few years ago, visited the Lighthouse to help us share the celebration of Diwali.

Dolly explained that Diwali is a 5-day festival celebrated all over India. It's like Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years all rolled into one. People give thanks to the gods for the food they have and pray for good fortune in the coming year. They give each other presents, buy new clothes, make special foods, and shoot off firecrackers.

Dolly introduced us to Lakshme, goddess of fortune. Diwali is called a "festival of lights", because people light candles and hang lanters, so Lakshme finds her way to their house.

During the class time, children made paper lanterns to hang at home, and clay lamps (called "diyas") that are put at the altar. They also made sand paintings called "rangoli", which are decorations in the house to welcome Lakshme.

After the diyas were done, we took a break from crafts to assemble the altar. Dolly showed us how to do "pooja", which is a ritual honoring the gods. We lit candles and incense, and put an offering of food on the altar, to represent being grateful for what we have, before we eat. Then Dolly put a red dot on the foreheads of all the gods at the altar, and on her own forehead. That demonstrates honoring the gods, and giving the same honor to ourselves. We played special, joyful music and moved a candle in a circular motion around Lakshme, while everyone clapped.

After pooja, we had a special snack. It was an exciting day! Thanks to all the extra adults who helped us manage a very busy class!

Diane Schairer,
Teacher, Treasure Hunters Class

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Creating the Universe

Our Spirit Play class has been exploring stories of creation from different times and cultures. The story in the photo comes from Northern Africa. In this story, Nana Buluku, the Great Mother, created the world. Her twins, Mawu and Lisa, were the sun and the moon. They were mother and father of all the other gods--seven pairs of twins. Each pair was given a piece of the earth to rule and care for. Mawu-Lisa took care that none of the lesser gods were ever seen by people. That is why people speak of the sky as a spirit, and storms and lightening as spirits too.

Ask your child to tell you about the creation stories we've shared in class. Why might so many ancient cultures told creation stories? How are the stories similar and how are they different? How do you think the earth came to be?

This week, we explored a scientific story of the creation of the universe. Ask your child about the great blast of heat and light, the particles, the exploding volcanoes, and the first raindrops that fell to earth helping to cool the crust and prepare the planet for the coming of life.

Next week (November 30) we'll be doing experiments to help illustrate the big ideas from this story. Come join us if you are in town!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

The Sounds of Discovery

The world seen through the eyes of a preschooler is full of wonder ready to be discovered! Our Discovery class have been exploring how we experience life through all of our senses. By connecting with teachers and classmates who know and care about them they are growing spiritually. Today the children took a listening walk around the church and shared what they heard. Then they made shakers filled with beans and played music together. We learned that "if you are so quiet that you can hear your own breathing, you are being quiet enough to pay attention to the other sounds around you." We experienced the joy of making music together.

Ask your child what we heard on the listening walk. Take a walk around your home and discover what you can hear when you are quiet enough to listen. Enjoy playing some music together.

Sunday, November 9, 2008


The Treasure Hunters class learned the story of Savitri, about a princess who becomes a heroine because of her mind and heart, not her beauty. The children acted out the story as a play during their class time as part of their study of Hinduism.

The story of princess Savitri is one of the best-known and best-loved tales of India. It appears within the Mahabharata, India's great national epic, which is much like an Old Testament to the Hindus. This epic, written down at around the time of Christ, had already been passed on orally for centuries. It arises from a time when legends were born--an age of walled cities, of sun and fire worship, and of woman far more independent than later Indian culture allowed. (From the book, "Savitri, A Tale of of Ancient India" by Aaron Shephard.)

Ask your child to tell you the story as they remember it. Talk about what makes a good hero or heroine.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Day of the Dead

Last Sunday, the children's classes at 9:30 celebrated Dia de Los Muertos, or Day of the Dead. Together we created an alter commemorating loved ones who have died. We also decorated skull masks.
Ask your child about the alter and the items on it. You might want to have a conversation about departed family members or friends, especially those who died before your child could remember them.
If your child is struggling with the idea of death, or with the loss of a loved one, sometimes celebrating a ritual like Day of the Dead may be helpful. If you find you or your child need resources for dealing with death or grief, let me know. Also, check out the resources on dealing with death and grief posted under the resources section to the right.