Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Holiday crafts

Our youngest children and our youth enjoyed making holiday crafts last Sunday. The Discovery Class (preschool and kindergarten at 9:30) made festive candle holders and the youth group (grades 6-12 at 9:30) made holiday greeting cards using rubber stamps.

Monday, December 12, 2011

December 11

The Treasure Hunters class make clothespin dolls to act out the story of Savitri.

The Discovery Class shows off their creations during a lesson on using our senses.

The Explorers class cooked "Something Wonderfuls" and learned about Hindu family worship.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Wise People and the Elephant

The Storytime class hears the story of the Wise Men and the Elephant.

Today’s story comes from our third source, lessons from the world’s religions.  We learn from many cultures.  This story is from the religion of Buddhism.

Long, long ago there was a great teacher who told stories.  The name we give this teacher is Buddha.  It means enlightened one.  We call him that because his stories can help us see things more clearly.  It is as if these stories bring light into a dark room.

One day the Buddha said “Truth!  Truth is like this!”

There was a monarch who often wondered about the great questions of life who decided one day to set up a test. An elephant was to be brought into the throne room.

After the elephant was brought to the palace and into the throne room the monarch gave a second order: the five wise people who taught at the gates of the city were to be brought to the throne.

Each of the wise people happened to have been born blind.  The monarch had each wise person placed near a different part of the elephant’s body.  The first wise person was stood next to the elephant’s ear.

The second wise person stood by the elephant’s tail.

The Monarch had the third wise person stand holding the elephant’s tusk.

The monarch stood the fourth wise person right in front of the elephant holding onto the elephant’s tusk.

The monarch then had the fifth and last wise person stand touching one of the creature’s legs

Then the monarch issued the challenge.  “You are each holding what we call an elephant.  Now tell me what an elephant is like.” 

The first wise person who was holding one of the elephant’s large ears said, “An elephant is like a banana leaf.”

The second wise person was holding the elephant’s tail and said, “No.  No.  No.  An elephant is like a paint brush.”

The third wise person was holding onto the elephant’s tusk exclaimed, “They’re all wrong!  An elephant is like a plow made of metal, and sharpened to cut through the earth.”

The fourth wise person who was in front of the elephant holding its’ trunk said, “Hear my words.  An elephant is like a great snake.”

The fifth and final wise person who was holding one of the elephant’s legs declared, “I tell you an elephant is like the trunk of a giant tree.”  Before long the five blind wise people began arguing with each other calling one another “Fool” and “Crazy.”
They fought and fought crying “An elephant is like a tree.”  “No it is like a fan.”  “Any person with sense knows that an elephant is like a plow.”  “They are like paint brushes.”  “Elephants are like snakes.”

“This,” said the Buddha, “Is what truth is like.”

I wonder why each wise person named something different to describe an elephant?
I wonder what they each thought when the others gave a different answer?
I wonder if the elephant could be all these things?
I wonder what he meant…”this is what TRUTH is like”? 
I wonder what  TRUTH means to you?

Members of the Spirit Play and Creativity classes invented an animal-themed game following the story of the Wise Men and the Elephant.

More Lessons from Hinduism

This month, the Explorers and Treasure Hunters classes have been studying about the Hindu religion.

The Treasure Hunters made art using rice flour, inspired by Hindu Rangoli designs.   

The Explorers did a photo scavenger hunt through books on Hinduism.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Facing Fears at Halloween

Halloween is a special holiday with ancient roots. The ancient Celtic people believed that this was the time of year when the spirits of the dead were closest to the spirits of the living. It is a time to honor ancestors and to celebrate the end of the harvest. It’s a time for honoring the darkening days and for enjoying things that are spooky and scary. On Halloween, we make a game out of being afraid, and maybe that helps us to deal with our fears during the rest of the year.

Sometimes something can seem scary or not scary depending on how we think about it.  Children at the 11:00 class made Halloween masks that show the two sides of something scary. Each child picked something that might be scary—like a spider or a tiger or the dark or a zombie. On one paper plate, we drew that thing as a really scary, vicious thing. On another paper plate, we draw that thing thinking of it as not scary at all, just a part of the natural world, or a fun made-up thing. 

These two-sided masks can remind us that the face that people are seeing on the outside is different than the one you are seeing on the inside. Maybe some of the things we assume are scary and dangerous don’t really have to be that scary at all—and maybe we need to be careful about our assumptions about people and things we don’t really know.

Halloween Party

The youth prepare to scare

Making beaded spider bracelets
Black cat scratch art

The haunted room held scary surprises


Spook-tacular costumes

Monday, October 24, 2011

Rangoli Designs

A Rangoli is a colourful design made on the floor near the entrance to a house to welcome guests. At Diwali, Hindus draw bright Rangoli patterns to encourage the goddess Lakshmi to enter their homes.  This Sunday, children in the Treasure Hunters and Explorers classes began their study of Hinduism.  The children made these beautiful patterns as part of their lesson.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Salmon Pageant

 Last Sunday's intergenerational worship service enacted the lifecycle of the salmon and drew a connection between that cycle of life and our own.  A big thank you to all of those who worked on the pageant and to everyone who shared personal reflections.

Following the pageant, a group of us traveled to Soos Creek watch the salmon who had reached their journey's end, and the place where new lives will soon begin.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Celebrating Me and My World: Our Hands

The Discovery class (preschool and kindergarten at 9:30) explores what it means to be a Unitarian Universalist by celebrating what makes each of us wonderful and then extending outward to see the world is a wonderful place as well. Today the children explored their hands. From the curriculum, Celebrating Me and My World: "As Unitarian Universalists, we believe that we should keep on learning and growing. Young children learn about the world by manipulating things with their hands--to explore, to discover, to play, and to make beautiful things." The children played games using their hands, talked about some of the things we can do with our hands, and made paintings of their hands. Unitarian Universalists believe that we should always keep on learning about our world and ourselves. We use our hands to help us learn. What are some things your hands have helped you to learn?

Monday, October 3, 2011

Lighthouse Chapel Teams

Lighthouse Chapel teams are a chance for children and youth to work together on a project benefiting our church or community. On each chapel Sunday, children and youth can choose from one of three teams.

Open Minds: Creates things for our classroom and chapel space, helps with planning chapel worship, or makes props to be used in intergenerational worship services.
Today our Open Minds team created salmon puppets for the "salmon pagent" worship service on October 16.

Loving Hearts: Reaches out to people in our church community by making cards or small gifts of support or celebration. Today our Loving Hearts team made "thinking of you" cards to be used by the Caring Team.

Helping Hands: Works for social justice through service projects and raising awareness about needs in our community or around the world. Today our Helping Hands team made posters advertising the Trick or Treat for Unicef collection on October 30.

Forgiveness Sunday

Today the children and youth joined the adults in the sanctuary for our annual forgiveness ritual. Afterwards, the children at 9:30 met together to do some forgiveness-themed crafts.

The forgiveness tokens can be given to someone to help in making an apology, or as a token of forgiveness, or as a reminder to carry around of the importance of making amends with others.

This honey pot was inspired by the Jewish tradition of dipping apples in honey to celebrate the new year, Rosh Hashanah. Apples and honey are a traditional treat on Rosh Hashanah, symbolizing the sweetness of a new year.

Rosh Hashanah, the celebration of the new year, is followed ten days later by Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. During these ten days, the Days of Awe, Jewish people work to set things right in their relationships with others and with God.

Here are some possible uses for this honey pot your child has made. Maybe you will think of others:

  1. At dinner time (or another time when you are together as a family) pass the pot around. Have each person take an apple and share a wish with everyone for the coming year. Encourage wishes for the good of the family as a whole.

  1. You and your child could use the apples to talk about things you are sorry for or want to forgive someone for. Each apple represents a member of your family. Take turns considering each apple and the person it represents. Is there anything you need to do to set things right with that person? (Is there something you’d like to apologize for, or something you’d like to forgive them for?)

The most important custom of the Days of Awe is to apologize to others for things we have done to offend them in the past year. The desire to have a fresh start and to repair relationships is universal. Like our Jewish friends, we Unitarian Universalists believe in forgiving others, and in trying to right the wrongs we have done.

Monday, September 26, 2011

The Flaming Chalice and Covenants

Classes at 11:00 have been learning about the Flaming Chalice, our primary religious symbol of Unitarian Universalism. The older children heard the story of Jon Hus, an early Christian reformer who taught equality and religious freedom.

Our flaming chalice is like a big cup. It represents our community. We put a candle in our chalice because the flame is mysterious and beautiful. It can remind us of the spirit of love and mystery that some people call God. It can remind us of the importance of knowledge and of learning about our world. It can remind us of the power we have to change ourselves and the world for the better.

One of the things we do together as Unitarian Universalists is to create covenants. Covenants are agreements about how we will be with one another and in the world. With our children, we explain that a covenant is a promise. We make promises with one another about how we will treat each other and the world. Here is the covenant that our preschool and kindergarten class wrote together this past week.

World Religions--First Stop: Judiasm

Classes at 9:30 this year are learning about World Religions. This week our elementary age classes studied about Judaism.

On Wednesday, one of the most important Jewish Holidays, the Jewish new year Rosh Hashanah, is celebrated.

Rosh Hashanah is a time of introspection and prayer, as well as celebration. It is a time to ask forgiveness of others who we have wronged during the year and to do good deeds.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Today in the Explorer's Class (grades 4-5 at 9:30) children talked about the religions they will be learning about this year and some of the holidays we will be celebrating together. We shared jokes from around the world and went outside to play a tag game played in another part of the world (Blind Man's Bluff). We learned that the over-arching theme will be "Under the Sky All People Are One Family." We talked about things we'd like to do in class.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Big Questions and Tough Stuff

These are books and resources related to the topic of our final two sessions of our parenting group. Most of these titles are available in the Lighthouse to view or borrow.

Big Questions and Tough Stuff: Religion
Hide and Seek With God
”Where one might find God differs from religion to religion; in fact, answers to this question may well be a part of what differentiates one religion from another. Jews might say they find God in historical actions of freedom and justice; Christians might say God is revealed in the love found in the life and person of Jesus; and Muslims might say they find the one God in the words of the Quran. God is found in everything that is: earth and sky; light and dark; people's caring actions; within ourselves; and even in the not knowing. For if God is a symbol for ultimate reality, values, and mystery,one's unknowing can be considered one's ultimate reality. This metaphor in which God hides and humans search is supported by the UU Principle which urges us to affirm and promote a free and responsible search for truth and meaning. We search in all of our Sources: our own experience, the `words and deeds of prophetic women and men,wisdom from the world religions, Jewish and Christian teachings, and humanist teachings.” This storybook contains 29 enchanting tales that portray God in many different forms--as transcendent mystery, the mother and father of life, peace and silence, light and darkness, and more. These delightful stories offer children the beginnings of a religious language for talking about God.

Let’s Talk About Interfaith Families: This booklet is designed to help us explore how we live our lives as UU people who embrace a pluralistic and inclusive faith. It will help us to think about and to discuss the concept and the reality of interfaith families. The booklet begins with a discussion of faith structures and practices and how we integrate different faith stances into family life. It then suggests ways to build bridges of understanding and create interfaith ceremonies and celebrations for UU families.

Parents as Resident Theologians includes 6 sessions and 12 readings to help parents and kids explore together their beliefs about God, prayer and other religious issues.

Bridge Magazine: Online magazine dedicated to a coexistence in a world made up of billions of unique individuals who all deserve the right to live as they choose. Includes resources for interfaith families.

Unitarian Universalism is a Really Long Name by Jennifer Dant
This one-of-a-kind picture book is a colorful introduction to Unitarian Universalism for children ages five to nine. Simple language and appealing illustrations offer children accessible answers to commonly asked questions such as: Who are we? What do we believe? How do we worship? Who leads us? Do we read the Bible? What is our religious symbol? Do we pray? What is Sunday school? How do we celebrate? "This appealing book answers children’s basic questions about Unitarian Universalism with friendly words and charming pictures—an excellent resource

Meet Jesus: The Life and Lessons of a Beloved Teacher by Lynn Tuttle Gunney
Meet Jesus is a picture book that introduces young children (ages 4-8) to Jesus and his lessons of love, kindness, forgiveness and peace. Meet Jesus emphasizes the humanity rather than the divinity of Jesus, giving the story broad appeal for liberal or progressive Christians and non-Christians alike. The text includes Bible references with corresponding Bible passages in the back of the book.

Big Questions and Tough Stuff: Life Issues
OWL parent guides A session-by-session guide to what children will learn through the OWL curriculum. Helps parents answer children's tough questions about sexuality issues.

Badger’s Parting Gifts by Susan Varley. A gentle book about death and the gifts our loved ones leave behind.

The Tenth Good Thing about Barney by Judith Viorst When a young boy’s cat dies, his parents help him to deal with his grief by holding a funeral for the cat. They ask him to think of ten good things about his cat, and after talking about death with his father, the boy is finally able to think of the tenth good thing: his cat is in the ground helping to grow flowers.

What Every 21st Century Parent Needs to Know by Debra Haffner
Addresses the big questions, including drinking, drugs and teen sex. Utilizing what she calls the Affirming Parent style, Haffner offers a number of viable solutions to common problems, ranging from Internet use to over-scheduling. An ordained Unitarian minister, Haffner’s tendency is to interpret the stats about children and youth from the bright side. readers will appreciate her just-the-facts-please approach.

The Shelter of Each Other by Mary Pipher An honest appraisal of the pressures on families. Phipher doesn't blame parents for everything. She gives many examples of the way in which outside pressures and the lack of a supporting culture can tear families apart. She offers principles and practical guidelines to help families bond and shelter each other while still giving each other room to grow.

Taking it Home: Families and Faith These booklets were written for congregations and families to use at home and in community to support them through life transitions and spiritual/ethical challenges. Topics include marriage and committed relationships, divorce and broken relationships, families and loss, and the time/money balance. http://www.uua.org/religiouseducation/families/20092.shtml

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Resources Relating to Our Principles

Our most recent parent group meeting focused on sharing our seven Unitarian Universalist principles with our children. Here are some resources you might find helpful related to this topic:

UU & Me "Like Unitarian Universalism itself, these stories are diverse in content and style but share a common grounding in the search for truth, beauty and love. Read them aloud and discover what thoughts and feelings they uncover for your family. Use them as a tool for learning more about our faith heritage. Or simply leave them on the bedside table of a young reader in your life. The child you give this collection to is sure to discover what it means to be a Unitarian Universalist kid.” (from the introduction). This book is a collection of stories that were originally published in the World magazine. More of these can also be found as archives here

Welcome: A Unitarian Universalist Primer (also available as an e-book)is a basic introduction to what it means to be a Unitarian Universalist for adults and teens, including the principles, sources, music, readings, and reflections on our basic practices.

Sunday and Every Day: My Little Book of Unitarian Universalism is a basic introduction to what it means to be a Unitarian Universalist for children, including the principles, sources, music, readings, and history of Unitarian Universalism.

Everybody is Important: A Kids’ Guide to our Seven Principles (new!)features two stories for each Principle, inviting children to think about how the characters in the stories can use the Principles to help them decide how to treat each other, what to love, and what to hope for ourselves and all living things.

UU Theme Book Lists Organized by Roberta Altamari (disc)contains lists of children's books related to the 7 Principles and other themes. A great resource for tracking down a book related to opening conversation on a particular topic.

Families: Weave a Tapestry of Faith is the four-page, full-color insert in every issue of UU World magazine. Each themed insert brings home stories, activities, and reflections adapted from Tapestry of Faith lifespan faith development resources.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

More Parent Group Resources

These are resources that tie in with the topics discussed at our most recent parent group: Family Rituals, Traditions, and Spiritual Practices

The Book of New Family Traditions Full of meaningful, creative ideas for family life, this book guides you through simple steps that help families fully cherish special moments and milestones, help heal wounds of trauma and loss, and strengthen the indomitable spirit of identity within a family.
How to Bury a Goldfish offers more than 100 new traditions and rituals to commemorate and honor special moments and milestones.
A Cup of Light is written for young children and explains the symbolism of the flaming chalice.
A Child’s Book of Blessings and Prayers a treasury of graces, poems, and prayers from around the world.
Circle Round: Raising Children In Goddess Traditions is a terrific resource for pagan families
Full Circle: Fifteen Ways to Grow Lifelong UUs is drawn from interviews with people who were raised Unitarian, Universalist, or Unitarian Universalist and who have remained active in our faith as adults

The following are some music resources we have available in the Lighthouse:
May This Light Shine: A Songbook for Children and Youth
Let Your Heart Sing: 24 Joyous Songs for Intergenerational Singing (and CD)
Now Let Us Sing: Songs for Children of All Ages
Family ValUUes: Orange Coast Unitarian Universalist Church
Wake, Now, My Senses: The Musicians of the First Unitarian Church of Oakland (CD)
The Fire of Commitment: Music of Jason Shelton (CD)

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Parent Group

Our monthly parent group is up and running! Each month, on the second Sunday, a group of Saltwater parents meets to discuss parenting from a Unitarian Universalist perspective.
Today's session focused on determining what we ourselves believe as the first step in teaching our children about religion, and finding and using "teachable moments" to help enrich our children's spirituality.
I will be posting here a list of resources that I find and others in the group suggest that relate to each session's topic. For today's session:
Tending the Flame: The Art of Unitarian Universalist Parenting includes information about developmental stages, suggestions for incorporating spiritual practices into family life, teaching the Principles in age-appropriate ways, answering difficult questions on religious matters and dealing with religious disagreements. We will be reading and discussing chapters from this book each month within our parent group.
Phil's Little Blog on the Prairie A blog written by the Lifespan Program Director of the Prairie Star District. Phil's post on "The Complete Family Ministry Toolbox" contains many useful links, including to some resources for having "Caring Conversations" with our children.
Is Your Bed Still There When You Close the Door? provides suggestions for opening the door to deeper, more meaningful and thought provoking conversations with children. Although written from a secular perspective, it has great tips on getting meaningful conversations started and asking thought-provoking questions.
Nurturing Children and Youth provides information about children's stages of development, including moral and faith development, and ways for parents and other adults to offer children support at each stage.
The Gift of Faith illustrates how religious community plays an integral role in deepening the faith of parents and offers ways to foster spiritual awareness in the home and includes practices for marking the many events in children's lives as religious occasions.
Parents as Spiritual Guides offers six sessions which aim to bring spiritual growth into the home, where the communion and rituals of family life can support the "dynamic process of faith development."
Religious Education at Home includes information on Unitarian Universalism, communicating about spirituality, worship and meditation, and doing religious education.
(All print resources are available to view or check out from our Family Ministry library in the Lighthouse building at Saltwater Church.)