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Faith In Action: Long-term — Responsibility Steps (15 minutes), Session 12: Making a Difference

In "Moral Tales," a Tapestry of Faith program

Materials for Activity

  • One copy of Leader Resource 1, "I Make a Difference" Grid
  • Newsprint, markers and tape
  • Copies of the Leader Resource 2, "I Make a Difference" Commitment to Act for all participants
  • Copies of Handout 1, "I Made a Difference" Certificate for all participants
  • Newsprint sheet with list of problems that children identified during Activity 5: If I Had a Magic Wand.

Preparation for Activity

  • Download, reformat if needed, and print out the three Leader Resources you will need: "I Make a Difference" Grid, "I Make a Difference" Commitment to Act and "I Made a Difference" Certificate.
  • Photocopy the "I Made a Difference" Commitment to Act and the "I Made a Difference" Certificate for all participants.
  • Draw on a sheet of newsprint the table presented on Leader Resource, "I Made a Difference" Grid. Label your newsprint four columns "Problem," "Small Step," "Small Step" and "Small Step" as shown.
  • You may wish to fill in the "Problem" and "Small Steps" columns using the newsprint with children's ideas from Activity 5: If I Had a Magic Wand. Or, you can do this with the group as part of this Faith in Action activity.

Description of Activity

In this activity, you will prepare and encourage children to take small steps on their own to solve problems they have already identified (Activity 5: If I Had a Magic Wand). Their experience is structured today with a handout that documents their "commitment to act" and rewarded, at a later date, with a handout that is a certificate for completing the actions they committed to do.

Have the children sit in a circle or around a table near where you have the newsprint and markers. Choose a problem from the list the children made in Activity 5 and, if you have not done so in advance, write it in the "Problem" column.

Then, revisit the solutions that students brainstormed for that problem. Engage the children to help you refine the solutions they have already suggested into three specific action. Write these in the three "Small Steps" column of the grid. Add your own ideas for small steps, if necessary.

Repeat this process for as many of the problems as you have time for.

This Faith in Action activity gives the children an opportunity to increase their sense of responsibility for problems they have already identified, and to identify ways they can express their responsibility and make a difference.

You may like to choose a group activity that requires individual, specific action from each person. Or, you can help each child identify small steps he/she will commit to take to make an individual contribution to solving a big problem.

Here are some examples of projects that might benefit from individual or group actions to provide something someone else needs or to take a stand and be heard about an issue:

  • Visit a local nursing home and bring home-made cookies or books or brighten a day for residents by acting out a story or asking them to tell stories about their lives.
  • Cleaning up an area that has litter, or starting a paper recycling program at the congregation or school.
  • Planning ahead to practice bullying prevention strategies at particular times, at school or with friends. For example, children can prepare themselves to, when needed, stand with another child who is being teased, invite a child who is picked on to play with them, tell other children to stop bullying someone or tell the teacher if they observe bullying.
  • Finding out what a local animal shelter needs and doing a drive.

If several children, in Activity 5, identified the same problem, you might suggest working on that one together, if it is feasible. If you are working on a problem together you can continue the planning and work in an additional session. Meanwhile, you may need to do some research to identify a specific project and some actions the children can realistically take to move the project along.

If the children have agreed to work individually, doing small steps on their own, all aimed at the same problem, use your newsprint grid to articulate the problem and at least three "small step" solutions. Invite each child to decide which small step he/she will do.

Or, you may allow each individual child to choose his/her own action(s) to help solve a problem of his/her choice. If children show passion about helping to solve particular problems, allow them to choose their problem and their small steps.

For each child, record the small steps he/she agrees to do on both an "I Made a Difference" Commitment to Act sheet and an "I Made a Difference" Certificate. Give the children the Commitment to Act to take home as a reminder, and be sure to mention this Faith in Action activity to parents, in person, via email, and/or in the Taking It Home handout for this session.

Tell the children that once their small steps are completed, they may bring the handout back to you, tell you what they have accomplished, and receive an "I Made a Difference" Certificate that you, and they, will sign. Make sure to keep each child's "I Made a Difference" Certificate and that their names are on them. You may choose in a future session to make a time for children to share the small steps they have done and receive their certificates from you. This follow-up activity is described in Session 13, Faith in Action.

To reinforce participation in this voluntary activity, and particularly to provide an incentive for children to do the small steps on their own, present the "I Made a Difference" Certificate or a special snack as a completion reward. You may wish to schedule a time for children to receive the signed certificates in a brief group ceremony when parents come to pick up their children, during a future session's Gems of Goodness activity, during congregational worship or at coffee hour. During the final ceremony or party it would be important to help the children to talk about how it felt to make a difference, and to connect this feeling with the idea that people actually doing something about a problem is an act of love, which is better than magic because it is real and makes the world a better place.

Including All Participants

It is not realistic to expect every child will follow up on his/her small step at home. Make sure your plans to reward children who do complete a small step do not exclude or embarrass children who, for one reason or another, have not done so.

For more information contact web @ uua.org.

This work is made possible by the generosity of individual donors and congregations. Please consider making a donation today.

Last updated on Friday, September 6, 2013.

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