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Before You Start (Wonderful Welcome)

For each session, you need a Wonder Box and a poster representing the Wonder Box.

Instructions for both appear in Session 1. See the advance planning chart below to prepare to fill the Wonder Box and add to the Wonder Box poster each time you meet. When you cannot obtain the suggested item or a suitable replacement to put inside the Wonder Box, you can use the icon you plan to attach to the poster.

If you share space with other groups, arrange to store the Wonder Box and poster between sessions. If you do not have wall space to display the poster, obtain a folding easel. .

Some sessions require materials to order or collect ahead of time. Some activities involve visits from people and animals. The chart below is intended to help with advance planning, but the best preparation is a careful reading of a session well in advance of leading it.

Note that Sessions 2 and 3 are designed to be done in sequence. The children make a group covenant in Session 2, The Gift of Covenant, and add consequences to it in Session 3, The Gift of Forgiveness.

In Session 9, The Gift of Mutual Caring, children focus on our connections with animals. Two activities suggest bringing live animals into the session. Find out from your director of religious education if animals are welcome in the facility and ask parents if any children have significant animal allergies or fears that would make it advisable to skip the live animal visitors. Make plans well ahead of time if you wish to include Alternate Activity 1, Visit from a Guide Dog, or Activity 4, Blessing of the Animals.

This chart provides a snapshot of Wonderful Welcome for long-range planning:

Session

Wonder Box

Wonder Box Poster

Visitors, additional co-leaders, and long-range preparation needed

1 Gift of Love

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Heart-shaped stickers — purchase

Activity 4, Shadow Play — Obtain equipment to cast shadows on flat, plain surface

Faith in Action, Intergenerational Craft Time — Coffee Can Music

Invite adult visitors.

Collect empty coffee cans with snap-on plastic lids.

2 Gift of Covenant

Copy of the seven Unitarian Universalist Principles in children's language

Paper chain — children make in session

FIA, Adults Covenant, Too! — Invite your minister and/or members of the congregation's board to meet with children. Prepare the adults to talk about their experiences with covenants.

3 Gift of Forgiveness

Dove and olive branch

Picture of dove and olive branch — Leader Resource

---

4 Gift of Kindness

Golden ruler

Golden Rule — Leader Resource

---

5 Gift of Invitation

Drinking goblet

Picture(s) of open doors — Leader Resource

FIA — Arrange with worship or coffee hour coordinators for the children to be ushers or greeters.

6 Gift of Friends

Woven friendship bracelet

Woven friendship bracelet — purchase or make

FIA — Plan session for a date/time when people will visit, such as a "Bring a Friend Sunday," or when your director of religious education can come tell visitors about Unitarian Universalism and the congregation.

7 Gift of Helping

Toy farm animals

Picture of the Earth with people around it — Leader Resource

FIA, Help the Goat Climb the Mountain for Heifer — Use Leader Resources and/or order free materials from Heifer International.

8 Gift of Families

Chinese characters for "kindness"

Chinese characters for "kindness" — Leader Resource

Activity 3, A Picture for Your Kitchen Wall — Find out how to pronounce the Chinese characters "ren" and "ci."

FIA — Research ways to create a Chinese New Year celebration to share with the larger congregation.

9 Gift of Mutual Caring

Stuffed dog toy

Picture of guide dog — Leader Resource

A4, Blessing of the Animals — To include live animals, first make sure no children have allergies or fears and confirm that animals are allowed in the facility.

FIA — Obtain ingredients to make Vegan Dog Treats. Contact no-kill shelter or guide dog training school to donate treats or funds.

AA 1, Visit from a Guide Dog — Confirm no children have fears or allergies that rule out a guide dog visit. Invite a trained guide dog and their owner. Work with the religious educator to arrange for a guide dog and its owner to visit.

10 Gift of Protection

Items from Nature

Picture of Earth — Leader Resource

A2, Nature Inventory — If needed, obtain parents' permission for walk outside. Invite additional adults for supervision and to make the activity multigenerational.

FIA — Engage additional adult volunteers to help conduct the energy survey with the children.

Find out from an energy company in your community how to conduct an energy survey in your home congregation. Or, schedule a time for an energy company auditor to lead the group in an energy survey.

11 Gift of Stewardship

Congregational directory, pictures of members and a few pennies

Picture of people at an event at your congregation

---

12 Gift of Acceptance

A toy platypus or picture of a platypus

Picture of platypus — Leader Resource

FIA — Arrange for the children to make a scheduled appearance during worship to present a musical pride parade, perhaps as a "Story for All Ages."

13 Gift of Learning Together

Alarm Clock

Picture of rooster — Leader Resource

FIA — Invite an adult to lead an arts and crafts activity, teach the children how to plant seedlings, or lead a yoga or dance activity. The important thing is that while an adult may demonstrate a skill, the children also have opportunities to help one another learn how to do it.

14 Gift of Spirit

Chalice

Picture of a flaming chalice

FIA — Arrange for the children to sing "This Little Light of Mine" in worship.

15 Gift of Ourselves

Toy embodied heart — purchase

Picture of a heart — Leader Resource

FIA — Arrange for children to present Wonder Boxes which contain the intangible gift of themselves to a gathering of the congregational community.

16 Gift of Community

Toy barn

Piece of cardboard — children make in session

FIA — Determine whether your congregation or community needs a community playground project. Identify stakeholders and invite some to visit and start the project with the children.

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 Wednesday, October 26, 2011.

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