Activity 3: Story Basket and Centering
Activity time: 5 minutes
Materials for Activity
- A large basket
- Objects related to the story "Here They Come!" such as a piece of or picture of Transylvanian embroidery; pictures of a Transylvanian landscape, village or Unitarian church; or items representing your congregation's partner church or modern Romania
- A globe or world map
- A chime, rain stick or other calming sound instrument
- Optional: Box or small table and a decorative cloth cover to form a small altar
Preparation for Activity
- If your congregation has a partner church, include in the story basket pictures, correspondence, or items members of your congregation have received or brought from the partner church. Be ready to indicate the location of your partner church on the globe or world map.
- Place the story-related items and the sound instrument in the story basket.
- Set the filled basket in the storytelling area you have designated. Place a globe or world map within your reach.
- For an altar to hold story objects, set up a box or table next to your storytelling area and cover it with a decorative cloth. It is not necessary to ritualize the altar as a sacred place. It can simply serve as a focal point where objects related to the story will be visible while you tell the story.
Description of Activity
Gather the children in a circle in your storytelling area. Show them the storytelling basket. Say something like, "Let's see what's in our story basket today."
Tell the group the items in the story basket will be placed on the altar or table after the children have passed them around the circle. Take the items from the basket, one at a time, and pass them around. Objects that are fragile or should not be passed around for any reason can be held up for all to see and then placed directly on the altar.
Briefly name the various objects and tell where they come from. If your congregation has a partner church, explain about that relationship, and how the pictures or gifts from the church came to be with you today. Indicate the location of your partner church on the globe or world map. Indicate Transylvania. Tell the children the Unitarian faith began in Transylvania about 350 years ago (around 1568 CE). As items come back to you, display them on the altar for children to look at as they listen to the story.
Now remove the sound instrument from the story basket. Tell the children that every time you tell a story in Faithful Journeys, you will first use the instrument to help them get their ears, their minds, and their bodies ready to listen. Invite them to sit comfortably and close their eyes (if they are comfortable doing so). You may tell them that closing their eyes can help them focus on just listening.
In a calm voice, say, in your own words:
As you breathe in, feel your body opening up with air. As you breathe out, feel yourself relaxing.
Repeat this once or twice and then say:
Now you are ready to listen. When I hit the chime (turn the rain stick over), listen as carefully as you can. See how long you can hear its sound. When you can no longer hear it, open your eyes and you will know it is time for the story to begin.
Sound the chime or other instrument. When the sound has gone, begin telling the story.
Including All Participants
If anyone in the group is unable to hold or pass items, or cannot see the items, make sure you or a child in the group offers the person a chance to see and touch each object, as needed.
Some people do not feel safe closing their eyes when they are in a group. If any children resist, respect their resistance and suggest that they find a single point of focus to look at instead.
If you have a basket of fidget objects for children who may listen and learn more effectively with something in their hands, make it available. Remind children where it is before you begin the "centering" part of this activity. For a full description and guidance on using fidget objects, see Session 2, Leader Resource 2.