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The Program (World of Wonder)

If I had influence with the good fairy who is supposed to preside over the christening of all children, I should ask that her gift to each child in the world be a sense of wonder so indestructible that it would last throughout life. — Rachel Carson, 20th-century environmental activist and author

Wonder. What is it? Where do we find it? How do we keep it? Children are born with an ability to feel wonder, and our world is full of amazing plants, animals, spaces, processes, textures, and patterns that can awaken it. But to nurture and preserve a sense of wonder, children need time to explore, observe, engage, and rest in that world. In this, children can often benefit from an adult model and guide.

This program delves deep into our Unitarian Universalist seventh Principle. It instills respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part, and appreciation of its beauty, excitement, and mystery. It is founded on the premise that direct experience in nature is essential to children's physical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual development. Time spent experiencing and exploring nature during the kindergarten and first grade years can set a pattern for the rest of children's lives, bringing lasting openness to the wonder nature can spark.

The program begins and ends with a call to go outside, and ideally, leaders will take the children outside each time the group meets. Each session offers a nature walk. Other activities can take place outside as well, such as role-play activities and crafts. For example, you can read or tell a story outside in a comfortable green space.

Stories introduce the themes of the first 15 sessions. The stories illuminate some aspect of the web of all existence: noticing the web, who and what are part of the web, enjoying the web, caring for the web. Many kinds of connections between children and nature are made explicit, while some are left for the children to discover. The program culminates in a Wonder Walk in Session 16. The program purposely avoids the doom and gloom of environmental degradation, focusing instead on the joy and wonder of nature. However, some challenges and potential solutions are presented in various sessions, particularly in Faith in Action activities.

For more information contact web@uua.org.

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Last updated on Friday, May 17, 2013.

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