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Activity 3: Story Basket and Centering
Activity time: 5 minutes
Materials for Activity
- A large basket
- Objects related to the story "Finding Your Way: Ethelred Brown," such as a picture of Egbert Ethelred Brown (Leader Resource 2), a copy of Black Pioneers in a White Denomination by Mark Morrison-Reed, a printout of the Jamaican flag, a picture of Harlem in the 1920s, or a picture of a ship similar to one Brown might have sailed on from Jamaica to the U.S.
- 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
- Place story-related items and the sound instrument in the story basket. Place the filled story basket in the storytelling area.
- If you will make an altar as a focal point for story objects, set up the box or table you will use next to your storytelling area. Place the decorative cloth on the altar. 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 story-related items from the basket, one at a time.
Briefly name each item and pass it 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. As items come back to you, display them on the altar for children to look at as they listen to the story.
Explain that although there were no Unitarian churches where he grew up in Jamaica, Ethelred Brown felt called to become a Unitarian minister, and struggled against all odds to bring Unitarianism to his community, first in Jamaica, and later in New York City.
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, minds, and 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:
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 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 the fidget object basket available during this activity. Remind children where it is before you begin the "centering" part of this activity. For a full description of fidget objects and guidance on using them, see Session 2, Leader Resource 2.