The program focuses on the seven Unitarian Universalist Sources. Sessions 1-3 explore origins, including the origin of the universe and the origin of our species through evolution. The concept of "guiding" stars is introduced with a Night Sky display which includes the Big Dipper and a North Star, the steady star that always points toward love. Sessions 4-11 deepen the concept by exploring love within our communities and congregations and how we live with our human flaws, deal with death, and understand our interconnectedness with other living beings. Sessions 12-15 explore how love guides us in times of challenge to say no to evil, take action to promote love, and build trust where there is division. Session 16 teaches that love is the Golden Rule and invites participants to summarize and reflect on the overall program.
All 16 sessions follow the same structure. Between an opening and a closing ritual, participants engage in up to five activities. The Opening includes a chalice lighting, opening words, a song, and introduces the Source for the day. If time allows, consider regularly using Sharing Joys and Concerns in your Opening to deepen connections and empathy (Alternate Activity 1 in every session). Another optional extension of the Opening adds a UU Source Constellation to the Night Sky (Alternate Activity 2 in every session). The Closing reinforces learning about the Source with a song and reading.
The sessions revolve thematically around central stories from our Unitarian Universalist Sources. You are guided to ready the children for a story in each session by sharing a story basket and leading a centering exercise. The story basket will hold items you bring, related to the story. The centering exercise requires an instrument, such as a chime, which makes a sound that gradually fades away. Before You Start, in this Introduction, further describes the story basket and centering. In the sessions, find suggestions for story-related objects.
Faith in Action time is not included in the 60-minute core session, yet Faith in Action is an important element of the overall Tapestry of Faith program. Some sessions' Faith in Action activities can be completed in one meeting; others are longer-term and require the involvement of congregants or community members outside the group.
Each session provides at least one Alternate Activity. Depending on time and the interests, abilities, and learning styles you observe in the group, you may choose to replace one or more core activities with an alternate activity or add an alternate activity to your session.
As you design your program, decide whether the group needs extra meetings to incorporate additional activities or to complete a long-term Faith in Action project. Long-term Faith in Action projects usually need meetings outside your regular session time, with different people or at another location. Before you commit to expanding or extending the program, gain support from congregational leadership and the participants' families.
How to Use This Program
The program includes an Introduction and 16 sessions.
Each session has its own Introduction, followed by a Session Plan. In each session Introduction, find:
Quotations. The quotations that introduce each session are primarily for leaders, though at times you may wish to read one aloud to the group as an entry point to a session. Exploring a quotation together can help co-leaders feel grounded in the ideas and activities. These quotations are also included in Taking It Home for families to consider.
Goals. Reviewing the goals will help you understand the desired outcomes for the session and connect its content and methodologies with the four strands of the Tapestry of Faith religious education programs: ethical development, spiritual development, Unitarian Universalist identity development and faith development.
Learning Objectives. These show how participants will learn and grow as a result of the experience of the session. As you plan, apply your knowledge of the particular group of children, the time and space you have available, and your own strengths and interests as a leader to determine the most important and achievable learning objectives for the session. Choose activities that will serve them best.
Session-at-a-Glance. This table lists the session activities in a suggested order for a 60-minute session and provides an estimated time for completing each activity. The table includes all the core activities from the Opening through the Closing. The table also shows the Faith in Action activity for the session (though you will need additional time beyond the core 60-minute session to include a Faith in Action activity). The Session-at-a-Glance table also presents Alternate Activities with their estimated times.
Spiritual Preparation. Taking five or ten minutes to center yourself within the session's purpose and content will support and free you to be present with participants and provide the best possible learning experience. Each session offers a short Spiritual Preparation exercise to focus you on your own life and Unitarian Universalist faith. Calling forth your own experiences and beliefs will prepare you to bring the topic to the group in an authentic manner. We believe that teaching is a spiritual practice.
Following the Session Introduction, the Session Plan presents every element of the session in detail in the sequence established in the Session-at-a-Glance table. The materials and preparation needed and a step-by-step description are provided for each core activity, Faith in Action, and alternate activity. Additionally, the Session Plan provides Taking It Home with activities for families; Stories, Handouts, and Leader Resources for all session activities; and Find Out More with resources for leaders and parents to explore session topics further.
Adaptation to include all participants should always be part of your planning process. Under Including All Participants, many activities suggest specific modifications to make the activity manageable and meaningful for children with particular limitations or needs.
If you are reading this program online, you can move among a session's elements: Opening, Closing, Faith in Action, Activity 4, Story, etc. Each element occupies its own web page. You can click on "Print This Page" at any time. If you click on "Download Entire Program" or "Download Workshop" you will have a user-friendly document on your computer that you can customize as you choose, using your own word processing program. Once you decide which activities you will use, format and print only the materials you need.
To distribute Taking It Home and other handouts or letters to parents, you may wish to go green; download and adapt these documents, then use email to distribute to all children's families.