Activity time: 13 minutes
Materials for Activity
- A copy of the story "The Cat"
- A large basket
- Objects related to the story such as a cat figurine, picture or stuffed animal; images of Ganesha and/or Parvati; a picture book about Hinduism; or a map of India
- A rain stick, or another instrument with a calming sound
- Optional: Box or small table and a decorative cloth cover
- Optional: Fidget basket (see Session 1, Leader Resource 4)
Preparation for Activity
- Obtain a picture of Ganesha. Borrow a library picture book about Hinduism or download a picture from the Internet. Place it in the story basket, if it fits.
- Place the story-related items and the chime, rain stick, or other sound instrument in the story basket. Place the filled basket in the storytelling area you have designated.
- Read the story a few times. Plan how you will use items from the story basket as props.
- Optional: To provide a focal point where story-related items can sit while you tell the story, set up a box or table next to your storytelling area and drape it with a decorative cloth.
- Optional: If you have a basket of fidget objects for children who will listen and learn more effectively with something in their hands, make the basket available during this activity. Remind children where it is before you begin the "centering" part of this activity. See Session 1, Leader Resource 4, Fidget Objects for a full description of fidget baskets and guidance for using them.
Description of Activity
Gather the children in a circle in the storytelling area and show them the story basket. Say something like, "Let's see what's in our story basket this week."
Tell the group the items in the story basket will be placed on this table after the children have passed them around the circle. Take the story-related items from the basket, one at a time, and pass them around. Objects that are fragile, or which should not be passed around for any reason, can be held up for all to see and then placed directly on the table.
Name each object and ask a wondering question about each one. As items come back to you, display them on the table. Position the picture of Ganesha so children can see it while you tell the story.
Remove the sound instrument from the story basket. Tell the children that every time you tell a story, you will first use the instrument to help them get their ears, their minds, and their bodies ready to listen. Invite them to sit comfortably and close their eyes (if they are comfortable doing so). You may tell them that closing their eyes can help them focus just on listening. If someone is unable to close their eyes or sit still, invite them to hold one of the story basket items or an item from the fidget basket. In a calm voice, say:
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:
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. When the sound has gone, begin telling the story "The Cat." Start with this information, in your own words:
In the Hindu religion there are many gods and goddesses. Ganesha is a god with the head of an elephant and a human body. The god Shiva is his father and the goddess Parvati is his mother. Ganesha is thought to be wise and to bring good fortune. This is one of many Hindu stories about Ganesha.
Read or tell the story.
Use the chime again to indicate that the story is over. Then, ask:
- I wonder what this story teaches us about Hindu beliefs about animals?
- In Hinduism there is a belief called "ahimsa," which means "non-harm." What do you suppose that means?
- I wonder why Ganesha chased the cat?
- I wonder how the cat was feeling about being chased? What do you suppose the cat was doing that showed it was feeling that way?
- How can we tell when a cat likes something we are doing or wants to play with us? A dog? Other animals?
- How can we tell when a cat doesn't like what we are doing? A dog? Other animals?
- How can we tell what an animal needs?
- I wonder what you could do if you saw someone hurting an animal?
Including All Participants
Make sure everyone has an opportunity to experience the items in the story basket, whether by sight or touch.
You may wish to make fidget objects available to children who find it difficult to sit still while listening to a story or can focus better with sensory stimulation. Remind children where the fidget basket is before you begin the "centering" part of this activity. (For a full description and guidance, see Session 1, Leader Resource 4.)
Consider using rug squares in the storytelling area. Place them in a semi-circle with the rule "one person per square." This can be very helpful for controlling active bodies.