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Posters, Songs, and Rhymes for Chalice Children

Songs, chalice-lighting words, and rhymes are introduced in Session 1 for use throughout the program. Before the first session, write these words on newsprint or make posters to display on the walls as a helpful prompt for leaders (and children who can read). Include some clip art, if desired.

Clean-Up Time

Sing to the tune of “Row, Row, Row Your Boat”:

Clean, clean, clean up play,
Gently as we go.
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily
The room is getting clean.

Clap, Clap
Clap, clap,
Stamp, stamp,
Turn around and jump!


Circle Time

Sing to the tune of “London Bridge”:

Circle Time is here again,
Circle Time, here again,
Circle Time is here again,
Now it’s time for Circle Time.


I Wiggle

I wiggle my fingers. [wiggle fingers]
I wiggle my toes. [wiggle feet]
I wiggle my shoulders. [wiggle shoulders]
I wiggle my nose. [wiggle nose]
Now no more wiggles are left in me, [leader sits down]
So I’ll be as still as still can be.

Feelings Chart / Feelings Flashcards

In every session, the children have an opportunity in Circle Time to identify how they are feeling. You will need a chart that shows faces in various states of emotion (angry, happy, frustrated); if your congregation does not already have one, the Center for Emotional and Social Foundations for Early Learning offers a free downloadable feelings chart (PDF, 4 pages). You can adapt this feelings chart, make your own chart, or purchase a set of Feelings Flashcards created by Todd Parr (available from an online source such as Amazon). If you create your own feelings chart, make it large enough to help everyone recognize the emotions it shows from a distance across the circle. You might mount it on cardboard and/or laminate it, for durability.

Welcome, Chalice Children

Sing to the tune of “Little Rabbit Foo-Foo”:

Welcome, Chalice Children.
We are Unitarians.
Jump into the circle,
Jump, jump, jump.

Welcome, Chalice Children.
We are Universalists.
Jump into the circle,
Jump, jump, jump.

Welcome, Chalice Children,
My name is [leaders’ and children’s names, in turn].
Jump into the circle,
Jump, jump, jump.


Alternate verses:

We are Chalice Children!
Welcome to our circle!
We are Chalice Children!
Clap, clap, clap!

We are Unitarians!
We are Universalists!
Welcome to our circle!
Clap, clap, clap!

We are Chalice Children!
Let’s all welcome [name of a child in the group]
Welcome to our circle!
Clap, clap, clap!


Find a Friend at Church

Sing to the tune of “The Farmer in the Dell”:

I’ll find a friend at church.
I’ll find a friend at church.
Heigh ho, the derry oh,
I’ll find a friend at church.

We’ll skip around the room.
We’ll skip around the room.
Heigh ho, the derry oh,
We’ll skip around the room.


Variation: Instead of “skip,” ask each child to choose an action, such as run, walk, hop, or jump.

If You’re Happy and You Know It

If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands. [clap-clap]
If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands. [clap-clap]
If you’re happy and you know it, then your face will surely show it.
If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands. [clap-clap]

If you’re happy and you know it, stomp your feet. [stomp-stomp]
If you’re happy and you know it, stomp your feet. [stomp-stomp]
If you’re happy and you know it, then your face will surely show it.
If you’re happy and you know it, stomp your feet. [stomp-stomp]

If you’re happy and you know it, shout “Hurray!” [hoo-ray!]
If you’re happy and you know it, shout “Hurray!” [hoo-ray!]
If you’re happy and you know it, then your face will surely show it.
If you’re happy and you know it, shout “Hurray!” [hoo-ray!]

If you’re happy and you know it, do all three. [clap-clap, stomp- stomp stomp, hoo-ray!]
If you’re happy and you know it, do all three. [clap-clap, stomp- stomp, hoo-ray!]
If you’re happy and you know it, then your face will surely show it.
If you’re happy and you know it, do all three. [clap-clap, stomp- stomp, hoo-ray!]


Variation: Sing this welcome song to the tune of “If You’re Happy and You Know It” (from Channels to Children: Early Childhood Activity Guide for Holidays and Seasons, copyright 1982):

Good morning, [child’s first and last name],
How are you?
Good morning, [child’s first and last name],
How are you?
How are you this special day?
We are glad you came to play.
Good morning, [child’s first and last name],
How are you?


It Isn’t Any Trouble

Sing to the tune of “The Battle Hymn of the Republic”:

It isn’t any trouble just to s-m-i-l-e.
It isn’t any trouble just to s-m-i-l-e.
So smile when you’re in trouble.
It will vanish like a bubble,
If you only take the trouble just to s-m-i-l-e.


Variation: Instead of “s-m-i-l-e,” substitute “g-i-giggle-e”:

It isn’t any trouble just to g-i-giggle-e. [giggle]
It isn’t any trouble just to g-i-giggle-e. [giggle]
So laugh when you’re in trouble.
It will vanish like a bubble,
If you only take the trouble just to g-i-giggle-e.


Variation: Sing “ha ha” repeatedly in the first two lines and substitute laughter for the smile or giggle:

Ha, ha, ha ha ha ha, ha ha ha ha. [laugh]
Ha ha, ha ha, ha ha, ha ha, ha ha. [laugh]
So laugh when you’re in trouble.
It will vanish like a bubble,
If you only take the trouble just to laugh. [laugh]


Welcome Poster

This may help ease the separation blues.

     Sign In.
     Say “Hi.”
     Find Some Play.
     Kiss “Bye, Bye!”


Chalice Lighting

     We light this chalice for
     The warmth of love,
     The light of truth,
     And the energy of action.


Chalice Extinguishing (closing words)

    I gather the warmth of love,
     The light of truth,
     And the energy of action
     Into my heart as we blow out the chalice.
     Back into the world of do and say,
     Carry it forward into the dawning day.
     Go now in peace. Amen


How to Read a Story Book

Here are some suggestions for reading picture books to a group of children.

  • Gather the children in a circle. This will help the children move if they need to and then get settled before the story is started, so they don’t interrupt the reading. It also serves as a reminder that if they stand or sit right in front of the pages, no one else can see. Invite them to find a place to settle so that everyone can see.Hold up the book and say, in these words or your own:

        Here's how I am going to read the book. Does anyone need to move so that they can see and hear?

  • After the children have found a place to sit, remind them that this is a time to listen to the story. Focus on reading the story with engagement and continuity, for the enjoyment of those who are listening. The co-leader or a helper can work “behind the scenes” to quietly handle interruptions and problems.
  • At the end of the story, try not to paraphrase a moral or add your thoughts immediately. Make room for some silence—you might try counting to five, slowly. See if any of the children will share their thoughts spontaneously. Ask questions such as, “What did you think?” or “Any thoughts?” to elicit their comments and reflections.
  • Spend a few moments, if possible, connecting the story to the larger picture of our Unitarian Universalist faith, using the background information for leaders that is provided. Keep it short and simple, and then transition into whatever activities are planned for the morning.

Suggestions for Preschool Chalices

Here are some ideas for creating a safe “flaming” chalice:

  • Use flower pots—they are breakable but sturdy and easily replaceable. Place the pot upside down for the base of the chalice. Place the saucer right side up on top of the base. Glue with strong glue if you wish to permanently adhere the two pots together.
  • Find unbreakable wooden chalice shapes at thrift stores.
  • Use heavy glass, such as a cake stand or goblet, which won’t be too fragile.
  • Make a flannel board chalice shape and flannel “flame” pieces, one for each child. Write the children’s names on their flame pieces, and invite them to place the flames on the chalice.
  • Use battery-operated tea lights for the flame. Lights that flicker are especially nice.
  • Make a tissue paper flame: Twist strips of red, orange, and yellow tissue paper, stick them on a metal jar lid with double-sided tape, and place them on the chalice.
  • Use a whiteboard with cut-out foam shapes of a chalice and flames.

The Preschool Environment

Preschool in the UU congregation should reflect the caring and attention needed for families and their preschoolers to feel safe and comfortable. It should reflect basic UU values, including respect for differences, helping one another, curiosity, and cooperation.

The preschool environment should beckon the children and help the families feel safe and comfortable about leaving their children in it.

Offer play centers. Noisy and busy activities should be in one place, and quieter options, such as reading and puzzles, should be in a more protected place.

In a UU preschool environment, provide experiences that engage children with the natural world, such as a table of pine cones or milkweed pods. Encounters with nature are often among the first spiritual experiences in a child’s life.

Community-building experiences, such as joint play in a pretend kitchen or play with blocks, are also important. These activities help children develop a sense of how to interact in a friendly manner, through collaboration and cooperation, which are essential UU values.

Finally, create a special place for Circle Time, where the chalice is lit and the story is read. This could be a circular rug, a circle of carpet squares, or a circle of child-size chairs, large enough for the children and leaders to sit in a circle together. A low table, just 6–10 inches off the floor, is ideal for holding the chalice as the children sit on the floor around it.

A clean, bright, large meeting room is needed to accommodate the children in the group for the variety of activities in this program. Other areas needed for various activities include:

  • table space for activities, with child-size chairs
  • a library and a display table
  • wall space for posting pictures and artwork
  • open floor space for games and movement activities
  • access to a sink
  • access to a safe outdoor space for playing and walking
  • cupboards or shelves to store Chalice Children projects, games, and resources.

If possible, collect and keep in your room:

  • toys for free play
  • basic craft supplies
  • a music player, and preschool-appropriate musical recordings.

Most important, make sure that the room looks welcoming and friendly to young children—a place to work and play and grow.

Separating from Parents and Caregivers

One big issue for some preschool children is the stress of separating from their parent(s) or caregiver(s). A routine ritual based on the steps described below can lessen the stress of saying goodbye. Consider providing these suggestions to parents and caregivers:

  • Sign In. Hang up your child’s coat, and then sign in with your name, the child’s name, and your cell phone number (if appropriate). Put your cell phone on vibrate so the preschool staff can call you if they have any concerns or questions or if your child needs you.
  • Say “Hi!” Greet the leader(s), and greet your friends, your child’s friends, and other families. But keep it brief. This is not a time to catch up on news. We suggest that you wait until you have left the room to have a conversation with another parent. Extending the time for separation can extend a child’s anxiety.
  • Find Some Play. Help your child find an engaging toy or activity, or take your child to see what the leader is doing. If your child is unsure about your leaving, make sure that you are near the leader at this point and can physically hand your child to the leader.
  • Kiss “Bye, Bye!” Exchange a hug and a kiss with your child. Say “Bye-bye, I love you. See you after our worship service!”, and smoothly move out of the room. The leader can usually find an activity and calm your child within just a few minutes. If not, the leader will give you a call.

Offer these four steps on a poster on the door or clearly visible inside the room to help parents understand the importance of a routine to help soothe the anxiety of separation.

Faith in Action Resources

Creating Justice Together: Service Projects for Families and Multigenerational Groups edited and introduced by Susan Dana Lawrence (Boston: Unitarian Universalist Association, 2014) is available from inSpirit: The UU Book and Gift Shop:

Parents and caregivers are the primary religious educators of their children. This collection of multigenerational service projects from the Tapestry of Faith curriculum series, suitable for families and other multigenerational groups, helps adults engage with children in practicing and exploring a living faith that is active, expresses caring intention, and changes the world. Each project guides adults and children to connect experiences with values and to share or journal reflections so that growth in faith can be rich, personal, and long lasting.

Doing Good Together is a national nonprofit whose “only aim is to make family volunteering accessible, easy, and enjoyable.” Big-Hearted Families, a program of Doing Good Together, provides a searchable database of service project ideas.

These blogs might be helpful:

Background Reading for All Tapestry of Faith Programs

  • Nurturing Children and Youth: A Developmental Guidebook by Tracey L. Hurd (Boston: Unitarian Universalist Association, 2005), available from inSpirit: The UU Book and Gift Shop
  • The Gift of Faith: Tending the Spiritual Lives of Children, Second Edition, by Jeanne Harrison Nieuwejaar (Boston: Skinner House Books, 2003), available from inSpirit: The UU Book and Gift Shop
  • Welcoming Children with Special Needs: A Guidebook for Faith Communities by Sally Patton (Boston: Unitarian Universalist Association, 2004), out of print, available online in PDF.
  • Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder by Richard Louv (Chapel Hill, NC: Algonquin Books, 2005)
  • The Outrageous Outdoor Games Book by Bob Greyson (Torrance, CA: Frank Schaffer Publications, Inc., 2001) offers group projects, games, and activities geared for multiple intelligences and a variety of learning styles. All games are easy to play, require little or no preparation, and include step-by-step instructions.

Recommended Resources

Books recommended for use with this program include A Cup of Light by Pamela Baxter, Feelings Flashcards by Todd Parr (as well as many of his other books), and Meet Jesus: The Life and Lessons of a Beloved Teacher by Lyn Tuttle Gunney and Jane Conteh-Morgan. See more recommendations in individual sessions.

Recommended websites and blogs include Call and Response, the blog site of the UUA Faith Development Office; UU Parenting with Michelle Richards; and Teach Preschool with Deborah J. Stewart.

Two supplemental resources from Tapestry of Faith are provided at no charge online to enrich teaching and learning with children:

Unitarian Universalist Principles and Sources

Unitarian Universalist congregations affirm and promote seven Principles:

  • The inherent worth and dignity of every person
  • Justice, equity, and compassion in human relations
  • Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations
  • A free and responsible search for truth and meaning
  • The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large
  • The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all
  • Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.

Unitarian Universalism draws from many Sources:

  • Direct experience of that transcending mystery and wonder, affirmed in all cultures, which moves us to a renewal of the spirit and an openness to the forces that create and uphold life
  • Words and deeds of prophetic women and men, which challenge us to confront powers and structures of evil with justice, compassion, and the transforming power of love;
  • Wisdom from the world’s religions, which inspires us in our ethical and spiritual life
  • Jewish and Christian teachings, which call us to respond to God’s love by loving our neighbors as ourselves
  • Humanist teachings, which counsel us to heed the guidance of reason and the results of science, and warn us against idolatries of the mind and spirit
  • Spiritual teachings of earth-centered traditions, which celebrate the sacred circle of life and instruct us to live in harmony with the rhythms of nature.

Creating Justice Together:
Service Projects for Families and Multigenerational Groups

Susan Dana Lawrence
From inSpirit: The UU Book and Gift Shop
This book belongs to the Tapestry of Faith Toolkit Series provided by the UUA Faith Development Office. Toolkit Books provide background knowledge, inspiration, and practical guidance to program and lead UU faith development and to help us explore and live our faith in our...

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For more information contact religiouseducation@uua.org.