Faith CoLab: Tapestry of Faith: Chalice Children: A Program about Our Unitarian Universalist Community for Preschoolers

Faith In Action: Congregational Clean-Up

Activity time: 30 minutes

Materials for Activity

  • Trash bags
  • Recycling bins
  • Optional: Disposable plastic or latex gloves
  • Optional: Rakes or other seasonal yard tools
  • Optional: Camera

Preparation for Activity

  • In consultation with the appropriate congregational leaders, determine an appropriate space in the building or on the grounds that the children can clean up.
  • Determine when the clean-up will take place, and communicate your plan to the parents and the congregation.
  • Optional: If you plan to take and share photographs of the children, make sure that parents and caregivers sign a release form.

Description of Activity

INTRODUCTION TO UNIT 1, Our Congregation Is a Special Place

The theme of the first unit of Chalice Children is "Our congregation is a special place." Engaging children and families (perhaps the entire congregation) in caring for the building and grounds develops their sense of belonging and teaches stewardship of resources. This can be a one-time clean-up as described in this Faith in Action, perhaps in conjunction with Session 2, A Tour of the Inside of Our Congregation, or Session 3, A Tour of the Outside of Our Congregation, or it can be expanded to a longer activity after Session 7, The Beauty of Nature (planting bulbs in the fall). If your congregation has a garden, consider organizing a "work party" on a seasonal basis, allowing children to connect with the life cycle of a garden. What other special places could the children care for? A memorial garden, an outdoor worship space (such as a labyrinth), the playground, a supply closet, or the sanctuary?

On the day chosen for the activity, bring the children to the designated area and explain that cleaning up and taking care of our space, both indoors and outdoors, is one way we show our love for our congregation. Provide background on the space selected, and invite the children to help clean up litter, remove weeds, rake, or otherwise tend the grounds outside, or sort supplies into containers in the supply closet, or clean up the sanctuary by removing coffee cups, trash, discarded orders of service, etc.

Optional: Take pictures during the activity and post them on Facebook, a blog, or other social media used by your congregation, or create a Chalice Children Faith in Action scrapbook to add to over the course of the program year.

An important but often neglected aspect of a service project is the opportunity to reflect together on the experience. When you are finished, gather in a circle. Go around the circle and invite reflections on what the children have accomplished today, individually and as a group. What was their favorite part of the activity? How did they help care for the congregation? What would they like to do again?

Learn more about the four-part process for leading children in a service activity (identifying, planning, executing, and reflecting) in the Tapestry of Faith program Sing to the Power.

While Sing to the Power is geared toward older children, the approach to planning Faith in Action activities can be adapted for younger children.

Including All Participants

Be certain that the area you select is accessible to all.