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Activity 4: Hospitality Hat (10 minutes), Session 12: John Murray

In "Creating Home," a Tapestry of Faith program

Materials for Activity

  • A hat for children to share
  • A piece of blank paper, a marker, and tape or a safety pin
  • Optional: Scissors

Preparation for Activity

  • When you choose the hat that will be associated with hospitable behavior in this activity, be conscious of stereotypes. A white or black hat could perpetuate racial stereotypes; a pink or blue hat could lead to children associating hospitality choices with gender. In the same way, you night want to stay away from sports caps, or any hat strongly associated with an ethnic group. A "silly" hat, such as a jester's hat, may work the best.
  • Write the word "hospitality" on a piece of blank paper and affix the paper to the hat you have brought to be the "Hospitality Hat."
  • If you would rather not have children share a hat, cut the piece of blank paper into a heart shape, and write the word "hospitality" on it. Use the safety pin or tape to affix the "Hospitality Heart" to the clothing of each child who takes a turn at role-playing hospitality.

Description of Activity

Children will practice being hospitable in different situations and work together to define "hospitable" behavior.

For this game, you will use a hat labeled with the word "hospitable." Explain that volunteers from the group will act out a few different situations, or scenarios. Each time, one child will be the host and another child will be the guest. The host will try to be hospitable to the guest. When the actors are done, the group will decide whether the host was hospitable and has earned the Hospitality Hat.

Tell the children that before you begin the role-playing, you want to make sure everyone has a good idea of what it means to be "hospitable." You can ask for some suggestions of hospitable behavior. Affirm correct ones. Then say:

In the story about John Murray, he came to Thomas Potter when the ship got lost and the people on board were in trouble. John Murray was an unexpected guest, a visitor who wasn't invited. What did Thomas Potter do that was hospitable to John Murray?

Guide the group to remember that Thomas Potter greeted John Murray, gave him food for everyone on the ship, invited John to come back for dinner that night, and showed John something he loved very much, the chapel.

You may decide to act out the first scenario with your co-leader or one of the children acting the role of the guest. Put on the "Hospitality Hat," and explain the scenario:

  • A new person comes to a congregational potluck dinner.

If you are modeling the role of host, introduce yourself (with your real or a made-up name) to the guest, ask the guest his/her name, and say "Welcome!" Extend hospitality further, with statements such as:

  • Do you want to make a name tag for yourself? I can show you where the markers are.
  • Please let me introduce you to some more people here, so you will feel more comfortable.
  • Oh, please don't worry that you have not brought a dish. Everyone is welcome and there is plenty of food to share.
  • Do you prefer coffee, tea, juice, or water? We have all of them!
  • There is a coat room over there, if you want to hang up your coat.
  • I hope you enjoy all the yummy food.

If you are modeling the host role, ask the children for more suggestions of what to say in your scenario. If a child is the host and seems to need some prompting, ask the group for suggestions.

End the scenario by thanking the role-players. Then ask the group, "Did the host succeed in being hospitable?"

You may use these suggestions for scenarios. Use your own ideas, as well, especially ones specific to your congregation or community.

  • A new student is assigned to your class at school.
  • A new child comes to Creating Home.
  • You are at home playing a game with your family and a cousin arrives for a visit. (Use this scenario to talk about being safe and never talking to strangers unless you have family or trusted adults right beside you to tell you it is okay.)
  • Someone you do not know sits next to your family in a worship service.
  • A new child moves into your neighborhood and comes to your house when your family is just about to eat dinner together.

In order to give a "host" or "guest" role to every child who wants one, you may need to repeat or slightly modify a scenario. After each scenario has been enacted, involve all of the children in affirming the "hospitable behavior" of the host and offering suggestions for more hospitality. If a child seems to need help with what to say as the host or as the guest, engage the observing children in generating suggestions.

This exercise may give you the opportunity to talk about empathy. You might ask them how they would feel if someone said to them what is being said during the exercise. Or, choose prime moments to stop the role-playing and ask, "How do you think this person feels right now?"

It is easier for children to understand hospitality as something we do to be polite. It is not so easy for young children to understand that true hospitality is an acknowledgment of our connections to and dependence upon each other.

Including All Participants

If the children in the group are too young for role-playing, you can use a variation in which each child holds two cards, one that says "yes" and one that says "no." You and your co-leader can act out the scenarios in different ways. Try various scenarios with the host being warm and welcoming, and then with the host acting rude, abrupt, and disinterested. After each very short scenario, ask the group whether the host was "hospitable" and instruct them to vote "yes" or "no" using their "hospitality cards." After each scenario and vote, either ask the children or say yourself how the host's behavior was, or was not, hospitable.

For more information contact web@uua.org.

This work is made possible by the generosity of individual donors and congregations. Please consider making a donation today.

Last updated on Friday, May 17, 2013.

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