Gathered here in the mystery of the hour. — from "Gathered Here," Hymn 389 in Singing the Living Tradition
The theme of Unit 4 is "We make friends." Each session emphasizes the idea that the Chalice Children group (and the congregation as a whole) is a place to make friends and to be a friend, and that being a member of this group means helping to make it a friendly place for others. In Sessions 25—29, a "friend"—each child's teddy bear—is used to introduce potentially scary concepts (being lost, or sick) in a nonthreatening way.
Preschoolers' social development can vary greatly. The youngest children may still engage in parallel play; four-year-olds may be learning to express their feelings; kindergarteners may be more willing to conform to goals and norms established by parents, teachers, congregational leaders, and society.
In this session, the children explore and play with shadows. Sophia L. Fahs identifies play with one's shadow as one of the 12 main types of experiences connected with natural religious development in young children. Playing with our shadow is an experience that awakens wonder and the thrill of discovery. Shadows also bring a bit of mystery into our world. However, darkness and shadows can also be frightening for small children. Sharing our fears with our friends can help us feel less afraid and less alone in the darkness.
This session will help preschoolers:
- Understand that all people, and every object, have shadows and that sometimes we might find them scary
- Experience the Chalice Children group as safe and caring
- Feel a growing sense of belonging to and identity with a Unitarian Universalist congregation.
- Reduce their fears by playing with shadows and talking about what they are afraid of
- Be reminded that they can ask questions about things they do not understand
- Connect the story they read in this session with the fact that all people are afraid sometimes.