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Activity 2: Story Basket And Centering
Activity time: 3 minutes
Materials for Activity
- A large basket
- Objects to place in the basket that are related to the story, such as a globe or map, pictures of a caravan, or a toy camel
- A chime, a rain stick, or another calming sound instrument
- Optional: Box or small table and a cloth cover
Preparation for Activity
- If you, or some of the children in the group, will be using the story basket and/or the centering activity for the first time, review Session 1, Activity 3, Introducing the story basket and Session 1, Activity 4, Centering. You may find the descriptions of these activities helpful.
- Optional: Place the cloth cover on the box or small table to create an altar as a focal point, next to your storytelling area.
- Place the story-related objects in the basket, along with the chime, rain stick, or other instrument. Place the filled basket in your storytelling area, next to the altar if you have made one.
Description of Activity
Gather the children in a circle in your storytelling area. Show them the story basket and say in your own words:
Let's see what's in our story basket today.
The story basket is introduced in Session 1, We Are All One. As this ritual is repeated in each session, children will come to expect it and be curious; they will tune in to find out what objects are in the basket and what the story will be.
Take the story-related items from the basket, one at a time, and pass them around. Briefly name the various objects. If you have brought a globe or map, locate Medina for the participants.
Children may ask questions about some of the items, begin to tell stories about similar things they have seen, or wonder aloud why an object is included. Tell them the group can talk more about the items after the story. Make sure you invite them to do so once you have finished the story and follow-up discussion.
As items come back to you, place them on the altar. 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 altar. Display the items for children to look at as they listen to the story.
Now show the children the chime, rain stick, or other sound instrument you have brought. Invite them to sit comfortably and close their eyes (if they are comfortable doing so). Suggest that closing their eyes can help them focus just on listening.
In a calm voice say, in your own words:
As you breathe in, feel your body opening up with air. As you breathe out, feel yourself relaxing.
Repeat this once or twice and then say:
Now you are ready to listen. 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.
The goal of this activity is to help the children settle in and deepen their ability to listen. The sound made by the instrument helps to activate children's concentration.
Including All Participants
Some people do not feel safe closing their eyes when they are in a group. If a child is resistant, respect that resistance. Suggest he/she instead choose a single point of focus, such as the altar display of story-related objects.