Activity time: 10 minutes
Materials for Activity
- A copy of story, "John Murray and the Winds of Change"
- Optional: “John Murray and the Winds of Change” coloring sheet, and crayons
Preparation for Activity
- Download, and print out story, "John Murray and the Winds of Change." Review the story and prepare to tell, rather than read it, to the group, and to lead the interactive parts of the story.
- Optional: If a visitor will be coming later in this session to talk about your congregation's way of welcoming visitors (Activity 3: Ways to Welcome), leave two or three minutes after you have finished the story, "John Murray and the Winds of Change," to help the children generate a few questions for the guest. Encourage the children to ask why the congregation practices hospitality, as well as how.
- Optional: Print the coloring sheet and copy for all participants. Place coloring sheets and crayons where children can use them when invited but will not be distracted beforehand.
Description of Activity
An interactive story using wind imagery introduces one of our Universalist ancestors, John Murray. Gather the children in a circle. Before you present the story, tell the class that the wind plays an important part in it. Ask the children if they can blow gently like the wind. Practice blowing together. Invite them to gently blow whenever you say the word "wind" in the story.
You may say:
You can blow every time you hear the word "wind." But, it is a little bit tricky. You will notice that some of the time this story talks about an actual wind that blows. And sometimes it talks about the image of the wind. It might talk about the wind to give an idea of something else that is like the wind. When you hear me say "the winds of change," you can still blow, but the story isn't talking about real wind. It's talking about when changes come like the wind. You can feel them, but you cannot see them or stop them.
You may like to ask children if they have ever felt "the winds of change." An example might be when a child enters a new school classroom for the first time. He/she might feel excited, nervous, or afraid, but cannot exactly see the change happen, nor control it. Another example might be the birth of a sibling, or changing from one best friend to a new best friend.
Tell the story, encouraging children to blow when you say the word "wind." At the conclusion, engage the children in discussion around the following questions:
- Has your family ever received guests in your home, as Thomas Potter received John Murray?
- Did you or your family do anything special to make the guest feel welcome? Did you serve food and drinks? Introduce yourselves? Show a guest your artwork or toys? Ask questions to be friendly and start a conversation?
- In what way did Thomas Potter show hospitality to John Murray? Did he offer food and drinks? Introduce himself? Engage him in a conversation? Show John Murray something that was special to him?
- What if Thomas Potter had not done any of those things? What might have happened? If he only just gave John Murray some food, but wasn't friendly, do you think John Murray would have been willing to stay and become the minister Thomas Potter was wishing for?
Including All Participants
Offer children the opportunity to color the illustration provided for “John Murray and the Winds of Change” to engage different learning styles and to help children focus on or relate to the story. A coloring activity can be a "preview" of a story. It can work as a quiet activity to help children physically settle. You might use it afterward to help the group recall and respond to the story.