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
  • A bright work lamp or flashlight

Preparation for Activity

  • Post the chalice-lighting words on the wall near the Circle Time area.
  • As shadows can be frightening for small children, anticipate that children may bring up a variety of fears. Helping children think and talk about shadows, their shapes, and how and why shadows occur can help children feel more at home with their shadow and the world of shadows. In general, be sensitive to children's feelings and help them talk about their fears. The article Top 10 Toddler Fears from the Parents Magazine website offers some additional tools for helping children talk about their fears and offering reassurance.

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. Say 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 [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:

Today we are talking about shadows. Who has seen a shadow? Who knows what causes a shadow? When an object blocks the light, the light creates a dark area around the object. This dark area where the light can't reach is called a shadow. Who would like to see a shadow now?

Project your own shadow on a wall, using a lamp or flashlight. Draw out the children's feelings about shadows with questions, for example:

  • What does your shadow look like?
  • Does it look like mine?
  • What does your shadow do?
  • Can you play with it?

Gently draw out any fears by asking, in these words or your own:

When I was little, there was a tree outside my window that made big, weird shadows on my bedroom floor at night-and sometimes I was afraid of those shadows. I would hide under my pillow until I fell asleep! Are you afraid of a shadow? Are you afraid of other things? I'm afraid of grasshoppers, and I used to be afraid of cows. What do you do when you are scared?

Reinforce the fact that all people have fears and that sharing our fears together is one way to help overcome them. Say, in these words or your own:

Here at [name of congregation], we know that everyone has fears-both grown-ups and children do. Sharing our fears with one another can help us feel less afraid. Today we're going to play with our shadows, but first let's read a story about shadows.

Including All Participants

Consider holding 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.