Tapestry of Faith: Amazing Grace: A Program about Exploring Right and Wrong for Grade 6

Faith In Action: Nurturing the Seeds of Character

Part of Amazing Grace

Activity time: 15 minutes

Materials for Activity

  • Newsprint, markers, and tape

  • The list of traits developed in Activity 3 (or the list of traits you created to use in Activity 4)

  • Unlined legal sized paper, paper clips and pens/colored pencils/markers

Description of Activity

Youth apply the metaphor of the seeds to taking action toward the positive outcomes they want to see in the world. They identify the tools that help them and others nurture good character.

Introduce the activity by producing the gardening tool from your Conundrum Corner. Ask youth why they think it is there. After hearing some ideas, say that it is a gardening tool - just like we need if we’re going to cultivate our own mind-garden.

  • Ask them what some tools are for them to grow good character (you might offer suggestions like “being part of a spiritual community”, “having close friends”, or “being able to think critically”).

  • Write this list of tools on the newsprint. Introduce the idea that sometimes it can be hard to make good choices if we don’t have the tools or the equipment to do it.

  • Distribute the legal sized paper, one for each participant. Ask the group to fold or divide their papers into thirds (landscape orientation), and to title each of the three columns “seeds”, “weeds”, and “tools.”

  • Ask the group to consider the three lists posted on the wall. Tell the group they are going to be brainstorming things that they won’t have to share with anyone, that their lists will be for them alone.

  • On one side of the paper, in the first column, ask the youth to write what characteristics from the list they want to nurture in themselves. If they feel like they are already growing some of those traits, put a star beside them on their list.

  • In the second column, ask them to write down which weeds, or unwholesome traits from the list which they recognize in themselves, or are worried they might be developing.

  • In the third column, ask them to write down which tools from the list they already have available to them.

Ask the group to turn over their papers and fold them in half (blank side out, landscape orientation).

As a group, brainstorm a list of actions which they think are ways to be good, virtuous, wholesome, and write them on a new sheet of newsprint. Allow the group to discuss and evaluate the “goodness” of the actions if objections arise. These actions can be of any kind, perhaps relational (e.g. acts of service for our loved ones), social (e.g. writing to their elected representative), but you may choose to push the group towards ecological actions (e.g. composting, using reusable shopping bags).

The group may suggest some climate-related actions around which you might have an ethics discussion, like skipping school to attend a climate protest, or nonviolent direct action. Support the group in these explorations, but bring the discussion to a close before it becomes polarized. Be ready to acknowledge that the meaning of an action can be interpreted in infinite ways.

As the group creates the list, ask the group how any of the actions or practices relate to our Unitarian Universalist Principles. For example, a social justice protest might involve affirming the worth of everyone (first Principle), truth-seeking (fourth Principle), and using one’s voice (fifth); recycling might tap into supporting one another’s learning and growth (third Principle) and affirmation of all life’s interconnectedness (seventh).

  • Ask the group to return to their papers. On one blank side of the paper, ask the youth to make one last list. This last list will be of actions they want to try and take in the time before the next session. They may choose from the list of actions the group came up with together, or other actions they think of. Encourage them to choose two or three actions, which relate to the seeds they wanted to grow, and the tools they already have.

  • Ask them to fold their list in half twice again, enclosing all the text, and use the paper clips to keep them closed. If time allows, they can decorate the blank, exposed sides of their list. Ask them to keep their lists on them over the coming week(s), and to make a serious attempt to take the actions they’ve described.