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Alternate Activity 1: There Was a Young Woman Who Swallowed a Lie

Activity time: 20 minutes

Materials for Activity

Preparation for Activity

  • Copy Handout 4 for all participants.
  • Read the poem and clarify any references you do not understand. For example, you may need to look up Dr. Benjamin Spock, a popular pediatrician/author in the 1950s and '60s.
  • Learn the traditional tune to "There was an old woman who swallowed a fly," if you do not already know it. Become comfortable singing the song on the handout to this tune.
  • Optional: Invite a song leader to help with this activity.

Description of Activity

Distribute Handout 4 and tell the group it is a parody of the children's rhyme and song "There was an old woman who swallowed a fly." Remind the group of the pace and basic tune. Invite the group to read or sing the song together, encouraging loud and enthusiastic participation!

After reading/singing the song, invite reflection on the content. Were there any references they did not understand? Younger participants may not know who Dr. Spock was, for example, or that there was controversy in the 1960s about the birth control pill. If questions arise, see if participants can provide answers before sharing your own knowledge or research.

Post a sheet of blank newsprint. Invite participants to name the stereotypes mentioned in the poem; have a volunteer list them as they are mentioned. Some things that might come up include "women are nurturing," "wedding is when a woman is 'princess for a day,'" "girly things are 'fluff.'" Ask if any of these stereotypes are still part of our culture today. Have we as a society overcome or changed our views about any of these expectations of women? Invite the group to consider their congregation. Are any of these masculine/feminine roles evident in the way things are done? What is the gender breakdown among religious education leaders, for example? What about the people who set up and clean up coffee hour? What about the Board?

Finally, ask participants: What is the "lie" that she swallowed in the first place?

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