In "World of Wonder," a Tapestry of Faith program
Part I, Making the Toys
Having learned about the importance of play, this activity empowers participants to take action to benefit shelter cats and dogs by making toys for them to play with. Care of the earth is reinforced by using recycled materials (be sure to point this out to the group).
Gather in a circle. Ask children to tell you briefly why playing is important for animals. Affirm that animals learn when they play, and playing reduces animals' stress and helps them create bonds with other animals.
Say, in these words or your own:
When animals are kept in captivity, like in a zoo or at an animal shelter for dogs and cats that don't have homes, they stay healthier and get sick less often if they are allowed to play. Today we are going to make toys for cats and dogs to play with while the animal shelter tries to find them a good home. This will help the animals stay happier and healthier.
Set up the materials for each toy at a different table and staff each table with a volunteer (a congregational youth group may enjoy leading these projects). Divide children into small group at each table, and explain that they will move from table to table to make different toys. Each table leader will demonstrate how to make the toys.
Optional: If you are not taking the toys to a shelter or having a shelter representative come today, close the session by gathering participants in a circle and leading a brief discussion with questions such as:
Close by saying:
As Unitarian Universalists we believe it is important to take care of all of the living beings in the web of life because we are all connected to each other.
Ask the World of Wonder children to lead participants in the song "We've Got the Whole World in Our Hands." Plan to share the photos or video with the children.
Part II, Delivering the Toys
By creating and donating toys to a local animal shelter, participants make a concrete connection with the animals that they are helping. This both fosters empathy and also empowers the children as caregivers.
If possible, travel together to the animal shelter to donate the toys. If you are visiting a shelter, take a tour and visit with the animals there. As you go, encourage the children to notice how the animals are behaving and especially watch for playfulness.
Or, gather the participants who worked on the toys at your congregation with a representative of the shelter that will receive the toys. Have the representative talk briefly about the animals they serve, addressing the need that animals have to play and sharing stories about animals they have seen playing.
When you are finished, gather in a circle and briefly ask children what they know about why playing is important for animals. Remind them that when animals play: they learn, their stress is reduced, and they create bonds with other animals.
Process with questions such as:
Ask the World of Wonder children to lead participants in the song "We've Got the Whole World in Our Hands."
Plan to share the photos or video with the children in a subsequent session.
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Last updated on Friday, May 17, 2013.
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