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

Activity 3: Circle Time

Activity time: 5 minutes

Materials for Activity

  • Chalice-lighting words, written on newsprint
  • Chalice with tea light flame or other preschool chalice option
  • Feelings Chart or Feelings Flashcards by Todd Parr

Preparation for Activity

  • In advance, alert parents and caregivers about the topic of this session. Ask them to let you know about any losses or deaths their preschooler may be thinking about.
  • Children's conversations about sadness often include instances of the death of a pet or a family member. Prepare yourself to respond to children's expressions of confusion or deep feelings.
  • Post the chalice-lighting words on the wall near the Circle Time area.

Description of Activity

Bring the chalice into the circle, either on the floor or on a small table or stand. Say, in these words or your own:

Welcome to Circle Time! First we light our chalice.

Point out where your chalice-lighting words are displayed. Repeat your chalice-lighting words as you "light" the chalice:

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

Say, in these words or your own:

Now we share our names and feelings. How are each of you feeling today? We will go around the circle and each say our name and point to how we're feeling today on the Feelings Chart [or Feelings Flashcard]. If you would rather not share today, you may say, "No, thank you."

Once everyone who wishes to has shared, say, in these words or your own:

For all the feelings that we feel today, we know that we have our friends, our families, and our church [congregational] family to share them with.

Introduce today's theme, in these words or your own:

What makes people sad? What makes you sad? [Point to the sad face on your Feelings Chart, or, if you are using the Feelings Flashcards, point out the Sad Feelings Flashcard.] What do you do when you are sad? What do grown-ups do? Do they ever cry?

Share some times that you were said, which will help elicit stories from the children. For example:

Once I broke my favorite cup, and that made me sad. I cried a little. When my dog Rusty died, I cried a lot. Can anyone tell us about a time when they were sad?

As you respond to the children, acknowledge their feelings, show your sympathy, and support their caring behavior. For example, you could say, in these words or your own:

That must have made you feel very sad.

You miss your grandfather, don't you? I'm sorry that he died.

It was good to hug your brother when he lost his best truck. You helped him feel better.

Make note of the people, pets, or other reasons for sad feelings which the children name, so that you can recall them during Activity 5, Memorial Service.

Tell the children about memorial services at your congregation, using these words or your own:

When someone dies, we can have a special service at our church [congregation], called a memorial service. At a memorial service, we remember the person who died. Sometimes people tell stories about that person or play their favorite music. Often, there are beautiful flowers. Today we will have our own Memorial Service for the sad things that we have shared with one another. But before we do that, let's read a story together.

Including All Participants

If any child has mobility limitations, you could hold your circle activities in a circle of chairs to make it easier to include a wheelchair or for a child to sit while wearing leg braces.