In "Creating Home," a Tapestry of Faith program
Ask the children what kind of trash Henry David Thoreau might have found, when he walked in his woods. Tell them he most likely did not find much trash. Say, in your own words:
Thoreau lived on many acres of land by himself. Today, many more people share the land. As Unitarian Universalists, we believe that we have a responsibility to keep our shared natural spaces free of human trash.
Show the children the large garbage bags and the latex gloves you have brought. Explain that some of the trash will have germs, so that everyone will wear gloves while they collect trash in the bags. Tell the group where you will go to clean up trash. Children who know the place may have comments about the litter they anticipate finding there.
Ask children to don outdoor wear, if needed, and walk together to the cleanup location. When you arrive, explain where participants may go, and where everyone will gather when you call them back. Give guidelines about what not to touch without asking an adult, such as broken glass.
Dispatch the children in small groups, accompanied by an adult, to pick up trash for ten or 15 minutes. Then, call them back to rest. Send them for another round of cleaning, if you have time. Picking up human trash can be a spiritually draining experience so be sure to allow time for reflection and maybe some time to swing on the swings or run a relay race.
You may wish to lead some reflection before you leave the site. Gather the children, and ask them to point out the areas where they picked up trash. Invite them to compare how the area looks now with how it looked when they arrived. What would Henry David Thoreau think? In this opportunity for reflection, encourage the children to share how they felt about this experience, and what they think happened to make this place messy. What can we do to protect nature?
If participants did Activity 1: Preparing Nature Journals, the tidied-up green space might be an ideal setting for a ten-to-15-minute drawing activity. Ask the children to find an object or a view they would like to observe and draw and to sit quietly and comfortably where they can see it. Remind them that by picking up human trash, they have restored the green space to something more like what Henry David Thoreau might have seen. You can invite them to pretend they are alone, while drawing, sitting outside a cottage in the woods.
You could lead a Closing outdoors after the clean-up. Bring any items you want to use, such as the chalice. If this project is part of a regular Creating Home session, when you return to the meeting space ask some children to help you complete the Closing ritual: collecting name stones from the labyrinth, putting away the labyrinth, distributing the Taking It Home handout, and (if you have a Word Wall) posting today’s words.
Allow time for the walk back to the meeting place. If you are carrying large, trash-filled bags, the walk back may take longer than the walk to the site.
Most inexpensive, protective gloves contain latex. Check with parents for allergies to latex. If children are allergic, ask their parents for suggestions as to how to protect the participant's hands.
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Last updated on Friday, May 17, 2013.
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