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In her book Nurturing Children and Youth: A Developmental Guidebook
: Unitarian Universalist Association, 2005), Tracey L. Hurd discusses developmental characteristics of school-age children. She notes that by age seven, children's learning disabilities and behavioral or psychological issues may have appeared and been identified. Individual learning styles and strengths may also be apparent. Children who need glasses often get their first pair around this age.
In a section on moral development, Hurd notes that the typical child in this age group is "passionately interested" in moral issues:
She seeks what is fair and right... By developing games with rules, playing sports, or creating or belonging to clubs, the school-age child practices figuring out what is fair... This play is practice for more generalized moral decision making.
In general, a child in second or third grade is:
Hurd offers a variety of strategies that speak to these developmental considerations and may help you shape your sessions effectively. Some of these include:
As you plan your Moral Tales sessions, be aware of activities that might pose difficulties for children who are differently abled. All spaces, indoor and outdoor, need to be accessible to anyone who might be in the group. Check the width of doorways and aisles, the height of tables, and the terrain of outdoor landscapes.
Find out about participants' medical conditions and their allergies, particularly to food. Sessions 6, 9, 15, 16 and the Gems of Goodness celebration, if you have one, include food or food preparation activities. Make sure all of the children can eat the ingredients you plan to use, or adjust the recipe. You will also want to consider food allergies when planning a mid-session snack.
Each session mixes active and quiet, expressive and listening, and whole-group and individual activities, along with alternate activities that you can substitute for core activities if you feel they better suit a group. As you begin to recognize different learning styles among the participants, let this information guide your selection of activities for each session.
You will often find the suggestion to bring out the "fidget objects" basket in the "Including All Participants" sections. This is a basket full of manipulable objects, such as pipe cleaners or clay, to keep restless hands and minds busy. It may be helpful to make fidget objects available if or when you feel some or all of the children are having difficulty sitting through longer periods of listening or discussion. Find more information about fidget objects in the "Before You Start" section of this Introduction. A full description of what they are and how to use them appears in "Leader Resources" in each session.
Some activity descriptions mention specific concerns or suggest adaptations under the heading "Including All Participants." Feel free to devise your own adaptations to meet any special needs you perceive. As the leader, you will know best how to provide a fully inclusive learning experience for the group. If you have questions about the accessibility or adaptability of a particular activity, please ask your director of religious education for advice.
In the Teacher Development section of the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations website, find descriptions of a helpful resource book
, Sally Patton's Welcoming Children with Special Needs.
For more information contact web @ uua.org.
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Last updated on Thursday, October 27, 2011.
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