Faith In Action: Home and Away - Long-term
Activity time: 30 minutes
Materials for Activity
- Blank paper for all participants
- Long letter envelopes and postage stamps
- Crayons, markers, and items to decorate cards
- Text messages made from Leader Resource 2, Home and Away Cards, scissors (including left-handed scissors), and rubber cement or glue sticks
- Optional: Photographs of individual participants, or a digital camera and color printer
- Optional: Return address labels pre-printed with the address of your congregation
Preparation for Activity
- Obtain a list of college students connected with your congregation and their college addresses. If your congregation does not have this information, it might be a good time to collect it. Call each family that has a college student, ask if they would like the children to send the student a card, and obtain the student's college address. You may also ask if the family knows of another family with a college student who might like to receive a card.
- Ask your director of religious education about whether you need to seek parents' permission to use or create photographs of children for this project. Then, by email or in a handout ask parents to provide a photograph of their child to include in the card to a college student.
- You may wish to use a digital camera and a color printer on-site at your congregational meeting place to create photographs of individual children or the entire Creating Home group. If you choose to do this, make sure at least two adults will be leading this activity.
- Download and customize Leader Resource 2, Home and Away Cards to produce text messages to glue inside the cards. On your computer, you may wish to make the font size larger, giving five- and six-year-olds more room to write their names and the names of the college students to whom they write. Photocopy your customized Leader Resource page to make enough text messages for the cards you plan to send. If you have more than one text message per sheet, cut out the blocks of text.
Description of Activity
This activity will attune children to faith home members who have left and will return. With hand-made greeting cards, the children communicate with these absent members to show that the faith community keeps them in its thoughts.
In many congregations, college students living away from home are often a lost part of our Unitarian Universalist faith homes. Around mid-August, young people who have grown up in our congregations start to slowly disappear. They may float in and out of worship when they are home for a weekend or a vacation. We notice them again for a few weeks at Christmas and then they appear again magically just before summer.
Gather children at work tables and distribute paper. Show the children how to fold the paper to make a card. Allow them decorate the card any way they wish. Explain that the cards will go to young adults who used to be in religious education, just like they are now, when they were younger. As the children work, remind them that the cards they are making are not associated with a special occasion or a holiday. The cards are just to remind the college students that people from their faith community are thinking of them.
If you are taking and print digital photographs on the spot, have one adult do this while another adult helps children with their cards.
If you are including photographs with the cards, help each child write their first name on the back of their picture. If children prefer to glue a photograph to the card, help them write their names under their pictures.
On the inside of the cards, help children glue the text message you have made from Leader Resource 2, Home and Away Cards. Help the children write the college student's name and their own name in the appropriate blanks. Depending on how many college students' names you have, some children can make two or more cards, or you may have two or three children work together on a card for a single college student.
Children can fold their cards to fit into the envelopes and attach the postage stamps. If you have return address labels with the faith home address, children can also put those onto the envelopes. You will need to do the addressing.
Including All Participants
Your congregation may have other kinds of absent members to recognize, in addition to or instead of college students. A military employee who has been dispatched from home, a member of the faith community involved in a long hospitalization, or a member visiting for an extended time with a new grandchild or an ailing parent are examples. Adapt this activity to fit your faith home community.