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In "Love Will Guide Us," a Tapestry of Faith program
Gather participants in a circle in the storytelling area and show them the story basket. Say something like, "Let's see what's in our story basket this week."
Tell the group the items in the story basket will be placed on this table after the children have passed them around the circle. Take the story-related items from the basket, one at a time, and pass them around. Objects that are fragile, or which should not be passed around for any reason, can be held up for all to see and then placed directly on the table.
Name each object and ask a wondering question about each one. As items come back to you, display them on the table. Then say, in your own words:
Today we are exploring the Jewish message of love. Jewish teachings that tell us to love all others as we love ourselves are part of our fourth Unitarian Universalist Source. The story today comes from the Torah (the Jewish holy book). It's about Jacob and Rachel. It's also about being different.
Ask the children briefly if they have ever felt excluded. Ask them why it is important we are inclusive of everyone. Affirm that as Unitarian Universalists, we believe it is right to treat everyone the way we want to be treated, and we work to make sure everyone is treated fairly and accepted for who they are.
Say, in your own words:
In the story you will hear, two people were not accepted because they did not behave the way people expected them to. The story was written a very long time ago, when gender stereotypes were very strict. That means girls and boys were expected to act a certain way, according to their gender: girl, or boy.
Optional: Tell the children you would like two volunteers to role-play the story of Jacob and Rachel. Explain that the volunteers may choose costumes (if you have brought some) and will act out the story as you tell it. Assign roles and invite volunteers to quickly put on costumes and rejoin the circle.
Remove the sound instrument from the story basket. Remind the children that you will 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 just on listening. If someone is unable to close their eyes or sit still, invite them to hold one of the story basket items or an item from the fidget basket.
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. Then say:
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 instrument.
If children will play roles, invite them to come join you. Indicate the parameters of their "stage."
Read/tell the story. When you have finished, sound the instrument again. Lead a discussion with these questions:
Ask the children to take a moment and think about things they like to do. Say, in your own words:
Sometimes boys or girls fit a gender stereotype, but just as often, they do not. Gender stereotypes are wrong and unfair. They hurt all of us, because they do not fit many of us. Whether our gender is " boy" or "girl," most of us like a few things people do not expect us to like because of our gender, or we don't like some things people do expect us to like. Whether someone is a girl or a boy and what they like to do or wear should not matter. We need to accept everyone, whether they fit a gender stereotype or not.
Note participants' reactions to the story and discussion. If a child seems especially uncomfortable, consider mentioning your observations to your religious educator or minister.
For more information contact web @ uua.org.
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Last updated on Thursday, October 27, 2011.
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