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Activity 1: Inner/Outer Self-Portrait (20 minutes), Session 1: Looking In/looking Out

In "Windows and Mirrors," a Tapestry of Faith program

Materials for Activity

  • Card stock or construction paper for all participants
  • Markers in a variety of colors
  • Scissors (including left-handed scissors), glue sticks and tape
  • Optional: Magazines with images that children might choose to reflect their appearance/outer selves, or interests/inner selves

Preparation for Activity

  • Set markers, paper and other art materials out on work tables.

Description of Activity

The children consider how they appear to others and how they see themselves as they make two self-portraits, one on each side of a sheet of paper.

Invite participants to consider who they are in the world. How might others who are meeting them for the first time see them? Guide them to think about not only their physical appearance, but the ways they like to spend their time. Do they like baseball, ballet, both? Do they like to go to a library, swimming pool, playground, shopping mall, your church? Are they animal lovers, outdoor people, video-game players, fashion lovers, music fans, musicians? Do they think they are smart, funny, shy, a good friend?

You might say:

Think about the way other people in your life see and experience you. What do people see you are interested in? How do people see you interact with others?

Give participants time at least five minutes to work on their outer self-portraits.

In the second part of this activity, participants create an inner self-portrait. Say something like:

We have been looking at our outer selves and how others may see us. Now turn over your paper and think about your inner self. Think about what you know about the inside of yourself. Who is your true self? What are the dreams and thoughts that maybe just a few people—or maybe only you—know? Think about your inner self for a few moments. Then create a self-portrait of the inner you with drawings, words, or symbols.

You will not have to share your inner self-portrait.

Be attentive to the children as they work, but resist commenting on the content or execution of their self-portraits.

Let children know when time is almost up.

Engage everyone in cleaning up. Then gather the group in a circle. Invite the children to share something about their self-portraits with the group if they choose. Ask:

  • What are the differences between their inner and outer self-portraits?
  • Was there a lot that they chose not to show others about themselves?
  • Was one portrait harder than the other to make?
  • How does who you are affect how you see others and how you see the world?
  • Does anything about your portrait show that you are a Unitarian Universalist?

Have the children take their work home to share with their families.

Including All Participants

If your religious education program does not already have them, order a set of multicultural markers and crayons to ensure children of various skin colors have materials to represent themselves.

Probably some children in your group are approaching puberty. Some may be self-conscious about their inner thoughts, so be clear that the sharing and discussion part of this activity is voluntary. Some may have problems at home or school that they have kept to themselves, such as a bullying situation or uncomfortable interactions within the family. If this activity alerts you to the possibility that a child's safety or well-being is at risk, speak in confidence with your director of religious education or minister.

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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