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

Activity 1: Free Play

Activity time: 15 minutes

Materials for Activity

  • Name tags
  • Variety of free play options, such as toys, a puzzle, a story book, manipulatives, dramatic play props, and markers and paper

Preparation for Activity

  • Alert families that this week's topic is loss and death, and invite them to send in with their child a picture or memento of a loved one who has died.
  • Make name tags for the children you are expecting and set these out with a marker and a few extra blank name tags.
  • Display the free play options attractively, ready for the children to use, such as a puzzle with a piece already put in place, a family of ethnically and gender-diverse dolls sitting together in the dramatic play area, a group of trucks near a block garage, or an open picture book. Include the Memory Match Game from Session 5, the Chalice Flannel Board from Session 9, and the family jigsaw puzzle from Session 11.

Description of Activity

Free play time allows children to make individual choices, explore the environment, share time together, and build a sense of belonging and comfort with the group and the meeting room space.

As the children arrive, invite them into the Chalice Children room. Help them get comfortable by pointing out the free play area and noting the options for play that are displayed. Help them say goodbye to their parent(s) or caregiver(s).

If children have brought in a picture or memento of a loved one who has died, have them help you store their items in a safe place until the Memorial Service.

Guide and invite the children to play, helping them feel safe and welcomed.

Give a five-minute warning to the children that free play will end and clean-up will begin; follow with a one-minute warning.

Including All Participants

Free play must include options for all the children. For example, you might set up a craft project at a table that is tall enough to accommodate a child's wheelchair, with chairs or standing room for others.