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Activity 1: Story - Dorothea Dix

Activity time: 10 minutes

Materials for Activity

  • Copy of the Story "Dorothea Dix"
  • A bell, chime, rain stick or other musical noisemaker


Preparation for Activity

  • Read the story. Prepare to read or tell it dramatically.
  • Create an atmosphere to set this time apart from other activities of the session. Turn off overhead lights and use lamps. You might don a storytelling shawl to enhance the moment and help you claim the storytelling.

Description of Activity

Gather the children. Ring the chime, bell or other noisemaker and make eye contact with each participant. Tell the story.

At the conclusion, ring the chime again to signify the end of the story. Invite the children to think silently on their own about the story. Say:

Now we are going to practice listening and discussing skills-both are needed to help us understand the story from multiple perspectives. Let's find out what one another thought about the story.

Remind them not to assume others share their opinions. Ask everyone to use "I think" or "I feel" statements. Encourage the group to listen to each comment and then share some silence. Use the bell or chime to move between speakers.

Begin a discussion by asking participants to recap the story in their own words. What they recall indicates what they found most meaningful or memorable. Use these questions to facilitate discussion, making sure everyone who wants to speak has a chance:

  • What do you think Dorothea Dix was like? What kind of friends do you think she had? What do you think they did together? (this age is so peer-oriented, and we're asking them to think about their religion as a choice, it might be good to help them relate to Dorothea Dix when she was their age - can you think of better or more questions?)
  • Why do you think it was so important for her to help poor children?
  • Can you imagine what she heard the day she walked into a Unitarian church?
  • Do you think it was a difficult decision for her to change churches, even though no one in her family was a Unitarian?
  • Have you ever made a choice in your life that was different from your family? If yes, what was that like?

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