Tuesday, December 3, 2013


Our theme for Lighthouse Chapel teams today was "Welcoming".

The Open Minds team talked about ways we can be welcoming to others at Saltwater.  
They worked together to create a large welcome banner for the front desk in the Lighthouse.
The Loving Hearts team assembled birthday cards for children and youth with upcoming birthdays.
Sending birthday cards is one way we show one another we care, and this helps to create a welcoming community.
The Helping Hands team heard from Katie about her experiences in Haiti.
They made collection containers to collect money to support the Guest at Your Table project.  Welcoming a Guest at Your Table is something we all can do to practice being welcoming. For more information on Guest at Your table, visit:  http://www.uusc.org/guest

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Winter Approaches

Discovery children enjoy free-choice activities.

Today's story was about helping.  The ants helped the hungry grasshopper.

The Treasure Hunters enjoyed singing holiday songs. . . .

. . . and enjoyed sharing the holiday songs they knew.

They made pictures of autumn trees as they talked about holidays.

Explorers enjoyed a "snowball" game, learning about each other's interests.

They interviewed two guests from our church about what is special about our church and their religious beliefs.
The middle school youth also discussed seasonal holidays. . . .

. . . . and tried to explain Thanksgiving to their "alien visitors."

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Helping Others

Today the Explorer's Class made chalice cookies that the Caring Team will include in care packages being sent to recent graduates.  One of the important things we do at our church is care for others and give service, both to people within our congregation and to people in the wider community.

Want to make chalice cookies at home?  Here is the recipe we used:  http://tressabelle.wordpress.com/2013/01/06/uu-chalice-cookies/
We didn't have a chalice shaped cookie cutter, so improvised with a half-moon and a triangle (with red-hots for the flames).

The Middle School class also learned about helping others.  Children and Youth will trick or treat for UNICEF in the sanctuary following the service on October 27.  All are encouraged to come for costume.  If you child would like to trick or treat for UNICEF at home, we will have extra boxes available to take home.  Read more about trick or treat for UNICEF at http://www.trickortreatforunicef.org/

Tuesday, October 8, 2013


The forgiveness ritual can help us transform our hurt or angry feelings.  All ages gathered in the sanctuary today to participate in our annual community ritual of forgiveness.
"We forgive ourselves and each other, we begin again in love . . . " 
After the forgiveness ritual, the children and youth met with their leadership teams, to work together on projects that support the work of our church.
The Loving Hearts Team addressed birthday cards to children and youth with fall and winter birthdays.
Sending birthday cards is one of the ways we let each other know that each person in our community is valued and important.  We celebrate the growth of each of our young people.
The Helping Hands Team learned about the work of Hospitality House in supporting women who are homeless. 
The children thought up yummy, healthy dinner ideas that they and their families might bring to help the residents of Hospitality House.  Helping others is one of the important things we do in our church.
The Open Minds Team made "papel picado"--cut paper designs that are a traditional decoration in Mexico for celebrations and holidays.  Intricate cut tissue paper designs in purples, pinks, and oranges are used to decorate altars built to honor those who have died.
In November, our next intergenerational worship will be to remember those we love who have died.  We will build an altar together in the sanctuary, and it will be decorated with these beautiful tissue paper banners.  Remembering the gifts of those who are no longer with us, and supporting each other in times of loss are important things we do together in our church.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Discovery class practiced the forgiveness ritual today.  The children talked about how it feels when we hurt someone else, or when someone hurts us.  We talked about how it feels to say you are sorry and try to help the person you hurt, or when another person apologizes to you.  The children wrote or drew something they would like to forgive someone for, or be forgiven for on small pieces of paper, then burned those in the flame of the chalice.  We used tongs to be extra careful with the fire.  Next Sunday we will participate in the forgiveness ritual with the whole congregation.

The Explorers class has been learning about the five activities we do at church:  Welcoming, Worship, Learning, Service, and Creating Caring Community.  Today as service to our church, the children did a clean up of our art supply closet.  They tested markers to find ones that no longer work, and put away items that were not where they belonged.

Ideas to expand the learning at home:

In preparation for next Sunday's forgiveness ceremony, talk with your child about things that you might want to forgive someone for, or ask forgiveness for.  Is there something someone did that hurt you that you are still upset about and find it difficult to forgive that person?  Have you done something that hurt someone else that you would like to be forgiven for?  When we place that in the flame, it burns away, and helps us to feel a little better. Maybe the flame helps us to be brave enough to say “I'm sorry” to someone we haven't been able to say that to. Or maybe the flame helps us be less angry about something we wish someone else would say they were sorry for, and haven't.

How is your family involved in the 5 areas of church?  What do you do to be welcoming to new people?  When do you engage in worship?  How and when do you learn?  In what ways do you give service, either to the church or to the wider community?  What do you do to help create a caring community? Talk with your child about what you enjoy about our church and the ways you are involved.  Are there other ways you would like to be involved?

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Our Church and Ourselves

The middle school youth group made "mirror boards".  These will be added to throughout the year, creating reflections of who we are--those parts that can be seen by a mirror, and those which can't.

The youth also had a discussion about helping others, and ways we are each called to help.

The Discovery Class learned about some special rituals and celebrations in our church.   They practiced with some objects we use--a bell chime, a song book, candles and stones for sharing joys and sorrows.

The Explorers class also learned about special celebrations in our church.  We talked about how rites of passage are celebrated in our church to mark important milestones in people's lives.

Ways to extend the learning at home:

Look at the calendar in the church newsletter together and talk about any special events or celebrations that will be happening at our church.

If your child participated in a child dedication ceremony in our church, tell him or her about the dedication.  (If you are interested in having your child dedicated in the church, contact Rev. James).

Talk about how there are things about people we can see and things we can't see.  Look in a mirror together and describe who you see.  Then make drawings or collages of the qualities you can't see about yourselves just by looking in the mirror.  Talk about how everyone has aspects to themselves that we can't see just by looking at them.

Read the story Old Turtle together.  Talk about how important it is to learn from one another.  Unitarian Universalists believe that no one person has all the answers, and that we can all learn from each other.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Off to a Great Start!

Our classes for children and youth are off to a great start!  The Explorer's class talked about some of the different things we do at our church.  Two things we do are learn together and worship together.  As part of learning about worship, the Explorers wrote new chalice lighting words to be used in their class each week.

Explorers also made special candle holders that were used in a mini-worship at the end of class, and then taken home for personal or family chalice lightings.

The middle school youth group made personal aliens as part of their first Quest of the year.

Throughout the year, part of their challenge will be to explain what Unitarian Universalism is and what their personal beliefs are to their alien.

The Discovery class heard a story about our seven principles and the flaming chalice.  We make promises to one another (our principles) to help us all be in community together and to help us to be our best selves.

The Treasure Hunters class made cardboard houses representing each person's individuality.  Check our our village of individuals!

Ways to extend the learning at home:

Light a family chalice at dinner time or another special time each day.  
Here are some resources for chalice lightings for younger children and for youth.  Or write your own.
If you don't have a family chalice, consider making your own.  

Talk about our first principle:  The inherent worth and dignity of every person (Red Promise:  Respect All People).  Why is it important to respect to everyone?  When can this be difficult?  What can we do to remind ourselves that each person is worthy of respect?

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Green Energy and Enough Stuff

Toddlers in the nursery enjoyed playing in a large crawl-through maze today.

The elementary class was joined by the youth group for a special lesson on renewable energy.

The class made solar ovens out of pizza boxes.

Even though there was not enough sun for the ovens to work, the class still enjoyed a special snack of s'mores--made in the microwave instead.

 Here are a few ideas for extending the learning at home:

Talk about ways your family can conserve energy at home, work, or school.  Explore "365 Ways to Save Energy" for more ideas.  Do you have forms of green energy available to you?  Are there ways you can develop cooperative partnerships concerning energy issues in the congregation, your child's school, or the local community?  Read about the work of Interfaith Power and Light and meet some interfaith neighbors.

Learn how solar energy can change lives around the world.  Find out more about Solar Cookers International, a not for profit organization that "spreads solar cooking awareness and skills worldwide, particularly in areas with plentiful sunshine and diminishing sources of cooking fuel.  Since its founding in 1987, SCI has enabled over 30,000 families in Africa to cook with the sun's energy, freeing women and children from the burdens of gathering firewood and carrying it for miles."  View the inspiring video "A Liter of Light."  Discuss what other things can be accomplished with solar power?

Try some of the experiments from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory website or this web page for kids from Aliant Energy.

The Discovery class heard a story that introduced the idea of a no-presents birthday party.  Talk with your child about what is "enough stuff?"  How does your family celebrate birthdays?  What changes could you make to cut down on the amount of "stuff"?  Check out "Birthdays Without Pressure" on the website of the College of Education and Human Development at the University of Nebraska for family discussion questions and more.

Explore the website "Loop Scoops," a project of PBS kids by Annie Leonard, the author of the Story of Stuff.  Or go to the Story of Stuff website to watch the movie and look at the resources for more ideas.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Joy and Creativity in Nature

Discovery Class heard a story about bower birds, who build colorful, creative nests.

The children then created their own creative nests

The Treasure Hunters class explored the idea of play in nature.  

They acted out different animals for others to guess in a game of "animal charades".

And enjoyed singing some songs about animals, too.

The youth group learned a little about bicycling, another way to experience joy in nature!

Here are a few ideas for extending the learning at home:

Go for a family bicycle ride, hike, or other outdoor activity.

Visit a zoo, aquarium, farm, or other site that keeps animals.  Specifically watch for animals that are playing.  Notice with your child how they play.  Do they play with each other?  Do they use objects as toys?  Is it hard to tell the difference between playing and fighting?  Do the animals appear to experience happiness?  Ask the people responsible for the animal's daily care whether they think animals experience joy while they are playing.

Go for nature walks and pause often to observe any living beings you encounter.  Look for insects, birds, and mammals.  Talk with your child about what you see them doing.  Are they gathering food?  Creating shelter?  Fighting or threatening one another?  Playing?  Hiding from you?  What behaviors do you notice that help you tell the difference?  Select an animal that interests your child and research it together in books and online.  Find out how this animal plays and how playing is beneficial for it.

Go on a birding expedition, if possible, in a local nature preserve.  Look for nests and notice how they are constructed and the materials used.  Try to identify the different songs and sounds that local birds make.  At home you can learn about identifying birdsong online at the Nature Songs website.

Learn together about creativity and intelligence as it is expressed in nature.  Read books such as What Does the Cros Know? The Mysteries of Animal Intelligence by Margery Facklam.  On YouTube, watch a video of the Satin Bowerbird or the painting elephants of Thailand.