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Activity 4: Processing The Story (10 minutes), Session 5: Forgiveness

In "Moral Tales," a Tapestry of Faith program

Materials for Activity

Preparation for Activity

  • The children will remain seated in the storytelling area for this discussion. If the session has enough time, you may wish to lead Alternate Activity 2, Quick Stretch before you begin this activity. Review the activity and download and print out Leader Resource, Quick Stretch Exercises.

Description of Activity

This activity makes a bridge from the story to the children's personal experiences of interpersonal conflict and forgiveness. You are also introducing (or reinforcing their understanding of) the third Unitarian Universalist Principle, Acceptance of One Another and Encouragement of Spiritual Growth.

Tell the children that you are going to replay certain parts of the story so that they can ask questions and share experiences they have had that were similar to those in the story. Introduce each part you want to revisit by saying:

Let's go back to the place in the story where...

Start with:

Let's go back to the place in the story where... Nagib slapped his friend Mussa.

Guide a discussion using these questions:

  • Have you ever had something like that happen to you? How did you feel? (Some will say they felt like hitting back, or felt sad, or mad.)
  • What do you think would have happened if Mussa had slapped Nagib back?
  • How do you think Nagib felt after he slapped Mussa?
  • Have you ever hurt someone because you were angry? How did you feel afterward?

Stop here and tell the children that it is not wrong to feel anger. When someone hurts us or someone we love, anger is a natural reaction. Talk to them about how sometimes anger causes us to act in ways that we regret. But sometimes, if we are careful like Mussa, we can choose a way of responding that will make us feel good in the long run. Remind them that Mussa made a choice to forgive.

Then say:

Let's go back to the place in the story... where Mussa wrote in the sand.

Lead a discussion with these questions:

  • Why did Mussa write in the sand instead of slapping Nagib?
  • I'm wondering what Mussa did that helped him not to slap Nagib back?
  • Have you ever felt like fighting back when someone hurt you, but you did something else instead? How did that feel? What did you have to do in order not to fight back?

Then say:

Let's go back to the place in the story... where Nagib saved Mussa from drowning.

Lead a discussion with these questions:

  • How do you think Mussa felt when he was saved by Nagib?
  • How do you think Nagib felt? Why did he help Mussa?
  • Have you ever had a friend help you? How did it feel?
  • Have you ever helped a friend? How did it feel?

Then say:

Let's go back to the place in the story... where Mussa wrote in stone.

Lead a discussion with these questions:

  • Why did Mussa write in stone this time?
  • How do you think Nagib felt when Mussa wrote his good deed in stone?
  • What if Mussa had written about the fight in stone?
  • What does writing in sand have to do with forgiveness?
  • What does writing in stone have to do with forgiveness?

Remind the children:

It feels good when we keep track of things others do to help us. And, although it can be hard to do, it also feels good when we let go of things others did that hurt us.

It is important to say that forgiving does not necessarily mean that we forget how someone else has hurt us. Sometimes if there is a person who is unkind to us we need to remember what they can be like so that we don't get hurt again. You might ask the children if they have any examples of this. If you need to prompt, say:

  • Is there someone who has taken things that are yours and not given them back?
  • Is there someone who has talked about you behind your back more than once?
  • Do you know anyone who often plays too rough, even if you don't like it and say "Please stop?"

Tell the children:

We can still treat people kindly if they have hurt us before. But we don't have to lend them things or trust them with our secrets.

If it sounds as if any children have been bullied, do not single out a child who has mentioned this. Remind the group that there are times when you just need to stay away from someone, but it can help you to practice forgiveness rather than holding hate in your heart. If a child mentions a situation that you think represents a safety issue for any children, shared your concern in confidence with your director of religious education.

You may also wish to tell children about Unitarian Universalism's third principle, "Acceptance of One Another and Encouragement of Spiritual Growth." The story demonstrates how forgiveness means accepting that others are not perfect, just as we are not perfect, yet are still worthy of our love. In your own words, say:

In the act of forgiving others we are keeping our hearts open, practicing compassion, and keeping a relationship with others which is an important part of spiritual growth and being in a community.

Including All Participants

If you have a basket of fidget objects for children who listen and learn more effectively with something in their hands, make the fidget object basket available during this activity. For a full description of fidget objects and guidance on using them, see Leader Resources.

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 Thursday, October 27, 2011.

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