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Faith In Action: Long-term - Protecting Seals, Awareness/Fundraising
Activity time: 15 minutes
Materials for Activity
- Newsprint, markers, and tape
- Multiple sheets of poster board or large, blank sheets of paper
- Optional: Magazines with pictures of baby seals, scissors (including left-handed scissors) and tape or glue
- Color markers
- A copy of the story, "The Wounded Seal" (Session 4, In Another's Shoes, Stories)
- Leader Resource 3, Faith in Action Letters to Parents
Preparation for Activity
- With your director of religious education, religious education co-leaders, and congregational leadership, shape and schedule the components of a Faith in Action project in which the children will engage the whole congregation in seal protection awareness and/or fundraising.
- If you have not done so, customize Leader Resource, Faith in Action Letter to Parents to describe your project. Prepare a handout and/or email for parents to distribute after the children meet today.
- The Description of Activity includes guidance for leading children to move forward on three different activities: (1) retelling "The Wounded Seal" during a future congregational worship, (2) leading a congregation-wide letter-writing campaign during a future coffee hour, and (3) raising money for a seal protection advocacy organization with a bake sale at a future coffee hour. You may be doing more than one of these. If the group's Faith in Action project will involve a combination of these activities, today you might involve one or two co-leaders to work with the children in smaller groups on different aspects of the overall project.
- If you have not settled on which activities to do for a long-term Faith in Action: Protecting Seals project, today you may opt to lead the group in a brainstorming discussion to choose activities together. Use the activity descriptions here to feed your contributions to the brainstorming.
- If you will do a Faith in Action: Protecting Seals long-term project that is quite different from those presented here, do read these activity descriptions. Some of the guidance offered may apply to your project.
Description of Activity
This Faith in Action activity is the second step in the long-term project your group began in Session 4, In Another's Shoes which featured the story, "The Wounded Seal," and explored empathy.
This Faith in Action project offers three possible activities that can be done individually or all together. If the group did the short-term, letter-writing or card-making Faith in Action activity in Session 4, you may be able to activate their enthusiasm for involving the whole congregation in letter-writing. If the children enjoyed the participatory telling of the story, "The Wounded Seal," they may be excited to retell the story to the whole congregation. The goals for these activities are to engage the children in sharing their concern for seal protection with others in the congregation, to give them a chance to see adults in the congregation demonstrating empathy and caring by taking action to help other living beings who are suffering.
Retelling "The Wounded Seal" during worship
Today, engage the children in practicing how they will tell and act out the story for the whole congregation. Remind the group that their goal will be to help people learn, as they learned from the story, to empathize with the seals' perspective on seal hunting. If you will also invite the wider congregation to take action by letter-writing or supporting a bake sale, tell the children that the story will build empathy for the seals, and thus make people want to help.
Your group can present the story to the congregation in several ways. You might read or tell the story, with the children staying in their seats. Or, you might tell or read the story while the children act out the parts as they did during the original storytelling. If a second adult can help the group present the story, one can tell the story and the other can guide the children's movements, as you may have done when you told the story in Session 4. Or, you might assign children character parts to act out while you tell the story. There are really only three major parts (Seal Hunter, Companion, and Wounded Seal) with many seals and a horse!
Gather the children and ask which of these options they would most like to do. Try to keep this simple by telling the children that they will be doing just what they did the first time you told the story as they acted out the movements, but they will do it in a slightly more coordinated fashion now that they know the story better and know what movements to make.
Retell the story, using the copy of "The Wounded Seal" with participatory instructions that you have printed out. Stop as needed to remind the children, and to let them remind each other, of the movements they found in the original telling.
This rehearsal opportunity will keep the story fresh in children's minds and deepen the empathy and concern for the seals they can share with others in this Faith in Action project. If you have not done so, customize Leader Resource, Faith in Action Letter to Parents to describe your project. The sample letter requests that parents bring their children 30 minutes early to the designated worship service and dress children who will be seals in gray or brown.
Leading a congregation-wide letter-writing campaign
If the group will involve the whole congregation in protecting seals through a letter-writing campaign during a future coffee hour, talk with the children today about how you can make this successful. Suggest they make posters to announce the letter-writing campaign if they do not think of this, themselves.
Provide materials at work tables and invite children to make posters in small groups or on their own. Some of the children may have limited writing skills. You may wish to form teams that include one child who wants to write and one or two who prefer to decorate a poster.
As they begin, help them create text for their posters by leading a discussion. Ask them what they want other people in the congregation to know about seal hunting and seal protection. As they generate phrases for the posters, write these on newsprint. Post the newsprint so the children can copy the words onto their posters.
You can talk with them about how they will staff a letter-writing table, what needs to be on the table, how they can help younger children write letters, and how they might talk about seal protection with adults in the congregation. Lead a discussion about where the posters should go. Ask for volunteers to help you distribute posters now or after this meeting.
Make sure to send home information for parents about the letter-writing campaign, especially if you need to convene the children at a time and place outside the regular Moral Tales sessions. You can adapt the bake sale letter in Leader Resource, Faith in Action Letters to Parents.
Raising money for seal protection advocacy with a bake sale.
If the group will involve the whole congregation in protecting seals through a fundraising bake sale during a future coffee hour, talk with the children about how to make this successful. Ask them what kinds of foods they know how to bake and which they would enjoy baking with their parents. Suggest they make posters if they do not think of this, themselves.
Write the words "Bake Sale" and "Help Protect Seals" on newsprint and post it so the children can copy these words onto posters. Distribute the poster-making materials and invite children to work in small groups. Help them divide tasks so some children write and others decorate.
While the children are making posters, initiate a discussion about what they want other people in the congregation to know about seal hunting and seal protection. Talk with them about how they can help on the day of the bake sale both at the bake table and by giving out information and talking to members of the congregation about seals. Lead a discussion about where the posters should go. Ask for volunteers to help you distribute posters now or after this meeting.
Customize and photocopy Leader Resource, Faith in Action Letters to Parents to solicit baked goods and alert families about the bake sale date. This is especially important if you need to convene the children at a time and place outside the regular Moral Tales sessions.
Including All Participants
There may be members of the congregation who do not wish to take part in this activity. Some may want more information to help them make a decision about participating; you may wish to download information from one of the seal protection advocacy organizations mentioned in Session 4, Leader Resources to have on hand when the children actively engage with adults. Tell children that giving adults more information can help awaken their empathy, just as meeting the Wounded Seal awakened the Seal Hunter's empathy.
Let the children know that Unitarian Universalists respect one another's choices in matters such as this, and that some people may not agree to help, including possibly some of their parents.