This past Sunday I knew UUSA member Janis Gray was giving the sermon and in it she was going to talk about a green slimy dessert that was a traditional part of her family Thanksgiving dinner. Can you guess what I decided to do during RE?
Before I answer, I’ll let you know that during Joys and Sorrows we talked about how Thanksgiving is both a time of joy and a time of sorrow. Many Native Americans call Thanksgiving the Day of Mourning and it is important that we acknowledge how terrible the Pilgrims were to the native people who lived on this continent before they arrived from Europe. It is also important to remember that not everyone has enough food to eat or a warm place to sleep. So, while we take the time to share a meal and family, let us not forget our past or our neighbors and friends who may not have enough.
Janis’s funny story about her family’s green dessert gave me the perfect excuse for us to make non-edible green slime! It turns out green slime is easy to make and not surprisingly, a big hit with the children. Here is the recipe: two Tablespoons Corn Starch, one and a half Tablespoons dish soap and a few drops of green food coloring – mix, mix, add more soap, add more starch, keep mixing and kneading until you get the consistency you want. The more you mix and knead, the better the slime becomes!
Once we got to the point where we could pull our slime and not have it stick to our fingers we took turns reading poems about gratitude in a book called Thanks a Million by Nikki Grimes. The book has beautiful messages and pictures.
Between the slime and the gratitude poems I think the children are set for Thanksgiving! Parents, you’ll be happy to know that this version of slime dries pretty quickly so you probably won’t be finding it all over your house.
Enjoy the time off school and work and remember, if you need help or support in any way, please do not hesitate to reach out to me.
This past Sunday we explored the Second Principle by learning about the Side With Love campaign work that UUs have embraced as integral to our work.
“SIDE WITH LOVE LOVE IS A PUBLIC ADVOCACY CAMPAIGN THAT SEEKS TO HARNESS LOVE’S POWER TO STOP OPPRESSION. IT IS SPONSORED BY THE UNITARIAN UNIVERSALIST ASSOCIATION AND ALL ARE WELCOME TO JOIN.”
The Side With Love campaigners wear bright yellow t-shirts when they are out and about and I thought it would be fun for us to make our own. We had a great time as you will see in the photo gallery below.
This past Sunday we read the story Not My Idea, by Anastasia Higginbotham. Not My Idea was difficult to read because conversations about race are hard, but oh so very necessary. There are no easy answers, but the message is clear – children need to learn about our US history, white systems of power and supremacy and how racism affects people every day in every way. Downstairs we talked about the book and the children talked about the fact that their parents often will not tell them what bad things are in the news and how this makes them feel. I found this site which parents and guardians might want to check out.
Following our check in we talked about voting and I read the book Vote FOR ME by Ben Clanton. (Spoiler alert!) Not surprisingly, the independent mouse who stuck to the issues won the storybook election. After reading the story and thinking about the candidates’ behaviors I gave them the opportunity to crack open the dress up box, make up a character and pick a UU Principle to turn into a campaign slogan. Since the Sunday’s group included children from Kindergarten up through 4th grade I was prepared for a wide interpretation of the activity, but in the end everyone got right to work and a few even took advantage of costuming to change their identities.
What were the two top themes? “Be kind in all you do and each person is important!
While the children were drawing I read the book Granddaddy’s Turn: A Journey to the Ballot Box, by Michael S. Bandy which is about a young boy who goes to vote with his African American grandfather who in the end was denied the vote because he could not read the constable’s illegal reading test. At the end of the story the young boy, now an 18 year old young man goes to vote for the first time with a picture of his grandfather in hand.
Today is Election Day – Go Vote! Your voice counts!
“Vote for Purple Dog for President!!”
Last Sunday our RE children could tell me which Principles related to cooking for Lucio Perez, a Guatemalan man who has been in sanctuary at the First Congregational Church for the past two years. In looking to link the corresponding principles I found this on the The First Parish in Lexington (MA) website:
Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, and Violet.
- Respect the importance and value of each person
- Offer fair and kind treatment to everyone
- Yes to spiritual growth and learning together
- Grow by exploring ideas and finding your own truth
- Believe in your ideals and voice your vote
- Insist on justice, freedom and peace for all
- Value our responsibility in the web of life
The RE children named Principles 1,2,4,5 and 6.
After a very quick explanation we got right to work and divided into three stations – one for salad making, one for lasagna making and one for pie baking. By the end of 45 minutes all of the children had taken a turn in the three stations and we had three significant dishes for one of our families to take home to bake and deliver on Monday. Thank you to those who donated the food for us to prepare. Lucio – we hope you enjoy the food!
This past Sunday was dedicated to the UU’s First Principle: The inherent worth and dignity of every person. Or as the children like to say, “Each person is important.”
We started the morning upstairs for the beginning of service. Reverend Rachael read a story about a snowflake that I have heard many variations of, but this particular version was found in the book A Lamp in Every Corner. The moral of the story (as they say) is that no flake is the same and many flakes are significant. Downstairs we continued the discussion, but instead of snowflakes we talked about people. I asked, if we are all important and worthy, then what do we do when someone is behaving badly? How should we deal with a person who is not being kind? Is someone who is a bully still important? Still inherently worthy? The children came up with a variety of strategies including asking an adult for help, avoiding the person and talking to the person.
We then split into two groups. The younger children read the story I’m New Here by Anne Sibley O’Brien which is a wonderful book about children from other countries coming to America and starting at a new school.
The older group started a people map which is an idea I got from Tapestry of Faith. In order to help them understand how important people are in their lives we started out by identifying everyone in our immediate family and then moving on to extended family, friends and people we know in town.
Principle Challenge! Learn the UU Principles by heart at some point this year! Younger children can learn the simplified version and I encourage the older children to memorize the more complex version. At the end of the morning I handed out a principle accordion flyer. If you and your child did not get one, come and find me!
This past weekend was very exciting. Friday night RE sponsored a sign making, pizza party and Meet Rachael party for all those who were in support of the UUSA marching in the Northampton Pride Parade. Many signs were made, pizza was eaten, Rachael was able to mingle and meet most of our families and allies.
Saturday, May 4th we gathered, mingled with the Northampton UU and marched about a mile to the fairgrounds. It was pretty incredible to be part of such a large group of people all feeling the pride, the love and support of each other. At one point the marchers were funneled into a mass of people and for a moment you couldn’t tell who was marching and who was standing still. My favorite moment was when someone yelled, “We love UUs. You are so reasonable!” After we finished marching the Northampton and Amherst UUs sponsored a table at the fairgrounds and we handed out UU literature to interested people.
Sunday, May 5th Rachael Hayes was in the pulpit. During her story for all ages she asked the children about our Tiffany window The Angel of the Lilies. I think it might have been the first time some of the children really looked at the window. Downstairs we made our own stained glass out of tissue and construction paper and some children chose to color in a black and white I made from a photo of our window. We talked a little about the window and I asked the children about angels. We didn’t get very far with that discussion so we’ll have to get back to it.
And we voted!! I asked the children to vote with markers and if they wanted to list why they were voting yes or no for Rachael to become our settled minister they could. The result was a unanimous yes! And upstairs it was a YES too – so – welcome Rachael Hayes! Go to the UUSA Facebook page to see the post and all of the celebratory photos.
What Do You Do With A Problem? by Kobi Yamada is a wonderful book about a little person who is scared by a problem, but then decides to face it head on and learn from dealing with it. Last Sunday our group discussed problems we have faced and what we learned when we dealt with them. Then we took a step back and talked about Climate Change which is of course no small problem! The children discussed solutions including some like: “we should all walk instead of drive” and possible inventions that we could develop to reduce our carbon emissions like a carbon vacuum.
Following our check in and discussion we made clay sculptures of inventions, faces of people dealing with problems and one child drew symbols on clay tablets. One of the cool things about having a small group is that even when we stop our “formal” discussion, once our hands get busy with the RE craft our informal chat starts up and this is usually when I see the “magic” of RE happen. Kids share ideas, materials and get to know each other through doing and being together.
This past Sunday I told the Parable of the Good Samaritan and I UUified a bible lesson I found online. We talked about how UUs have six sources, one of them being Christianity and I used my Jesus plush doll to introduce Jesus and his teachings.
After I read the story I asked the children a series of questions about what happened in the parable and specifically how we could think about the story using UU language. “At the UUSA, what term do we often use instead of God?”
What UU Priniciples can we reference when we hear the parable? There are a couple to chose from! The children thought of the most obvious and well known, Principle 1. Then we talked about how we can be good Samaritans for the earth which brought up Principle 7. We acknowledged that “neighbor” could apply to many more people and living things than those just in our immediate neighborhood.
- 1st Principle: The inherent worth and dignity of every person;
- 2nd Principle: Justice, equity and compassion in human relations;
- 3rd Principle: Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations;
- 4th Principle: A free and responsible search for truth and meaning;
- 5th Principle: The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large;
- 6th Principle: The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all;
- 7th Principle: Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.
For our activity we drew comic strips with stories based on the Good Samaritan and we shared them with each other.
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.