Mindfulness – Flame Gazing

This Sunday morning during the time for all ages Rev. Steve read Bagels From Benny which is a sweet story about a little boy who thinks he is thanking God by giving God bagels, but discovers that he is in fact feeding a homeless man.  Benny’s grandfather helps Benny see that by helping to make the world a kinder place he is in fact thanking God.  Rev. Steve connected the book to the UUSA Wednesday morning breakfast and urged families to come help during the holidays.

After the upstairs portion of the service the children had a mindfulness session with Lesley that was focused on a candle flame.  We are now half way through the year and the children are now much calmer and more focused in their mindfulness practice.  And they are so thoughtful when it comes to describing their experiences!  We gazed at the candle in the light and then with the lights off.

Following the quiet reflection time we talked about how this mindfulness practice connects with our UU Principles and then we just about had enough time to make lumenarie out of shiny red holiday paper.  The paper was hard to hole punch through, but the children persevered and each went home with a small electric candle.

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On Sunday, December 2nd we read a short history about Hanukkah and then we divided the children into two groups to play the dreidel game.  Like good UU children, they would not let their friends and peers “lose all” and as a result, the games would never have ended if not for the parents knocking on the classroom door.

 

Happy Hanukkah!

Mindful Thankfulness and Shifting our Perspectives to Feel Better

This past Sunday Leslie came to share a mindfulness practice.   Most of our children have been practicing with Leslie for several years and they are now able to sit and listen with great attention and not only that, they have an incredible emotional awareness.

   

This Sunday we did two activities.  The first was to think of a person, place, pet or thing that we are thankful for.  We then walked between two lines (about 12 feet apart) and with each step we thought of our thankfulness for that person, place, pet or thing.  The children walked between the lines slowly and purposefully about three times.

Leslie called the next activity “Ice, Ice, Baby” and was centered around the feelings associated with thinking about and then holding an ice cube.  After imagining holding an ice cube those who wanted to could share how they felt – annoyed, scared, excited.  Then we each took a cube of ice and held it without talking.  Leslie talked quietly, guiding us through a series of questions.  She asked us to hold the ice cube in different ways – with our fingers, in our palms, on the back of our hands.  When we put what was left back in the ice bowls we talked about how we felt at first and then how our feelings changed as we continued to hold the cubes.  The kids realized that they were coping with the cold and wet in different ways.  Leslie finished the activity by talking with us about how we can purposefully change our perspectives and the children identified how they felt at the beginning and at the end of the exercise.

We ended with Leslie teaching us a sweet song in Arabic and Hebrew.

Have a good week!

Candidates With Principles

What if our elected officials used our UU Principles to run for office?  Two Sundays ago I asked the children to bring a doll or a stuffed animal in and pretend that they are running for office.  I asked them to pick a principle or two to turn into campaign slogans.  They also had the opportunity to write a campaign speech and to pass out buttons and make signs.  This was the second time I organized this activity and I can tell you it helps the kids learn the principles and they have fun!

Improv Puppetry and the 7 UU Principles

 

This past Sunday Rev. Steve read Nana Upstairs Nana Downstairs by Tomi dePaola – a beautiful and moving book for children about death.  We continued the discussion of death downstairs.  Children shared their own stories and experiences.  We talked about what we believe happens when people die and then the big connect…  what UU’s believe.  As many of you know, the UU faith does not tell people what to believe on this topic, and instead people must search for what they believe to be true.  Which led to the question, “Do UUs think it’s OK to believe anything?”  NO!  And we have our Seven Principles to guide us!

To help us remember the Seven Principles we sang the Seven Principle Song and then we managed to divide up, create puppets and short skits to act our our principles all in about 25 minutes and just in time for parents to see the results!

Here is a link to one version of the song and below is our version sung to Do Re Mi.

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Mindfulness- learning to live with mistakes and unknowns

This week children practiced paying attention to the present moment using a couple of simple tools for calming and focusing. We discussed ways that we can pause and reset our thoughts in response to a mistake or a disappointment. We will followed up with a painting and drawing activity that uses the idea of re framing and resetting as a creative inspiration.  Many Thanks to Lesley for joining us.

 

Step one – mindfulness using a very full glass of water.  Believe it or not, the glass made it around our circle with all of our eyes closed and very little spillage!

 

 

 

 

Step two – what happens when you can only draw one part of a drawing and you have no control over the rest.  Wonderful surprises!

 

 

Step three – what happens when you use salt on your water colors?  More wonderful and unplanned beauty.

 

 

 

 

Chalices of Many Kinds

This past Sunday we reviewed the vocabulary we learned during the construction of our shoe box sanctuaries and we talked about the UU chalice.

The worship leaders for Sunday were two amazing special guests Reggie Harris and Greg Greenway who use music and song to present their stories in a program they call – Deeper Than Skin.  During the Story for All Ages Reggie talked about singing This Little Light of Mine from the time he was little to help him deal with waking up in the morning.  We helped him sing it through a couple of times.

Since our upstairs time was longer than usual I skipped reading the book I planned to use, and instead we made our bodies into chalices!

 

From there we drew our own chalices using crayons and water color paint.

 

And with the help of my volunteer, we got everything up on our bulletin board for this colorful presentation.

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Since the upstairs worship went over, I told the children to open the games closet and find something to play together.  While they were busy with that I fired up the popcorn maker for a quick snack.  I can tell you this, in the process of deciding which set of Uno rules to follow, they did a lot of UUing all by themselves!

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Sanctuary Activity Finale

 

This past Sunday we learned a new word – chancel – the “stage” where the choir, minister and musician sit.  We were fortunate enough to learn this term from Rev. Steve who spent the morning with us.  Thank you Rev. Steve.

Since not everyone got to finish their sanctuaries and it is time for us to move on to other topics, the children took their boxes home and hopefully a few will return fully renovated.

The UUSA, thanks to Brenda (our Music Director) and Maura (a parent), is encouraging children to be part of the choir officially once per month during out multi-generational services.  Maura will be leading the children’s choir practice after RE on most Sundays.  This is very informal and children are encouraged to come when they can.  You can hear the music here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DAww-RGMa5g.  The children and the choir will only be singing the first verse:

Hymn 78 in Singing the Living Tradition; words by Mark Belletini; musical arrangement by Grace Lewis McLauren.

Summertime has turned the starwheel, autumn is upon us.

Sweet the angling sun, sweet upon the air the smell of blue mist rising.

Summertime has turned the starwheel, autumn is upon us.

Glorious the trees, glorious the sight of rust leaves falling, falling.

Summertime has turned the starwheel, autumn is upon us.

 

 

A Sanctuary is never truly finished?

IMG_5508 This past Sunday we took the time to talk about the different kinds of sanctuaries and then we talked about our sanctuary.  What is in it?  It turns out that “pew” is a pretty funny sounding word that is hard to say without smiling.  I knew better than to keep the discussion going – we had work to do!

And so our sanctuaries are in progress and judging by the thoughtful speed in which the chairs and windows are being built, we just might be working on this project all year.

Below are some photos of sanctuaries that do not look anything like our UUSA’s.

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Wishing for a sweet year and Sanctuary

This past Sunday Rev. Steve told a story about a little girl who was challenged to find a red house with no windows, a chimney and a star inside.  Can you guess where she found it?  (See the end of the blog post for the answer.)  Moral – don’t give up on difficult challenges – sometimes you need to look and think really hard!

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Downstairs we talked briefly about the Jewish high holiday of Rosh Hashanah and the food that is eaten to welcome a sweet new year – l’shana tova!  May you have a good year!  We thought about how different groups of people celebrate the new year at different times of the year and then we ate apples and honey.

Literally buzzing like bees we zoomed right into our activity for the morning – making small models of sanctuaries.  I decided at the last second not to give too many directions and wouldn’t you know it, the children like diving in without preconceived notions.  Next Sunday we are going to list all the different parts of a sanctuary so they can consider putting more into their spaces and they will get to know terms like: pews, stained glass windows, hymnals, pulpit, etc.  Thanks to Libby, my adult assistant, I compared the project to making a doll house and that took care of all my worries about the kids not understanding scale.

If you have a moment, google UU sanctuary.  The UUA is working very hard to develop different sanctuary movements.  Click here for one example.

 

**  She found an apple – it looked like a house, the stem looks like a chimney and if you cut the apple in half, it looks like it has a star inside.