Activity time: 20 minutes
Materials for Activity
- A large basket
- Objects related to social action, justice or service projects, or personal faithful actions the congregation and/or members have done; photographs of actions, name tags or photos representing the guests who will speak to the group; or items related to a story a guest plans to tell
- A chime, rain stick or other calming sound instrument
- Optional: Box or small table and a decorative cloth cover to form a small altar
- Copies of Leader Resource 1, Preparing to Share Your Faithful Journey
- Optional: Fidget object basket (Session 2, Leader Resource 2)
Preparation for Activity
- Several weeks ahead, identify one or more youth or adults from your congregation whom you admire for their "faithful action" and use of personal agency for positive change. Invite one or several to come and tell their personal story to the group. Provide them with Leader Resource 1 to help them prepare. Tell them the time frame for the presentation, a question-and-answer period, and remaining activities for which you hope they will remain with the group. Confirm guests' participation two or three days before the session.
- Optional: Invite guest(s) to bring an item for the story basket that reflects the story they will tell the group.
- Place the story-related items and the sound instrument in the story basket.
- Place the filled basket in the storytelling area you have designated.
- To make an altar as a focal point for story objects, set up a box or table in your storytelling area. Place a decorative cloth on the altar. It is not necessary to ritualize the altar as a sacred place. It can simply serve as a focal point where objects related to the story will be visible as stories are told.
Description of Activity
For this final session of Faithful Journeys, rather than a story about someone from another place or time, the children will hear one or more members of your congregation share their own stories of agency for positive change. Their action(s) might encompass political action, social service, advocacy, environmentalism, teaching, or thoughtful help to others in need - anything that connects with one or more of our Unitarian Universalist Principles.
Gather the children and guest(s) in your storytelling area. Show the storytelling basket. Say something like, "Let's see what's in our story basket today."
Tell the group the items in the story basket will be placed on this altar or table after the children have passed them around the circle. Take the items from the basket, one at a time, and pass them around. Objects that are fragile or should not be passed around for any reason can be held up for all to see and then placed directly on the altar.
Briefly name the various objects. As the items come back to you, display them on the altar for children to look at as they listen to the story.
Now remove the sound instrument from the story basket. Invite the children to let the sound help them get their ears, their minds and their bodies ready to listen. Suggest that guests may use this time to relax and get ready to tell their story to the group. Invite everyone to sit comfortably and close their eyes (if they are comfortable doing so). In a calm voice, say, in your own words:
As you breathe in, feel your body opening up with air. As you breathe out, feel yourself relaxing.
Repeat this once or twice and then say:
Now you are ready to listen. When I hit the chime (turn the rain stick over), listen as carefully as you can. See how long you can hear its sound. When you can no longer hear it, open your eyes and you will know it is time for the story to begin.
Sound the chime or other instrument. When the sound has gone, introduce the first guest briefly and invite them to tell their story. After each story, invite the children to ask questions of the storyteller; use questions from Leader Resource 1 to prompt. If you have several guests, you may prefer to have a single question-and-answer period after all have told their stories. Be aware of the time, so it is allocated as you wish.
Thank guests for joining you. Tell them what the group will do next, and invite them to stay for the remainder of the session.
Including All Participants
If anyone in the group is unable to hold or pass or cannot see the items, make sure someone in the group offers the person a chance to see and touch each object, as needed.
Some people do not feel safe closing their eyes when they are in a group. If any children resist, respect their resistance and suggest that they find a single point of focus to look at instead.
If some children in the group find it difficult to sit still while listening to a story, you may wish to make fidget objects available. Fully described in Session 2, Leader Resource 2, fidget objects can provide a non-disruptive outlet for a child who needs to move or who benefits from sensory stimulation.