Activity time: 15 minutes
Materials for Activity
- A copy of the story "The Dervish in the Ditch"
- A large basket
- Objects related to the story such as a symbol or statue representing Sufism, several small plastic horses, a toy carriage, a baby jar with dirt and grass
- A chime, rain stick, or other instrument with a calm sound
- Optional: Box or small table and a decorative cloth cover
- Optional: Fidget basket (see Session 1, Leader Resource 4)
Preparation for Activity
- If using a calendar in the story basket, highlight the summer and winter solstices (respectively the longest and shortest days of the year). You can find these dates with a quick online search.
- Place the story-related items and the chime 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 so you will be comfortable telling it.
- 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.
As items come back to you, display them on the table. Then say, in your own words:
Today we are exploring the "wisdom in religions of the world." This is the third Source and it says Unitarian Universalists believe all faiths and beliefs have something important to share. Today we will learn about Sufism. It is a very old religion and a very gentle religion. Sufis believe that by opening your heart to love you can be closer to God. A devoted Sufi is called a Dervish.
Remove the chime from the story basket. Tell the children that every time you tell a story, you will first use the chime 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 (or, 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 Dervish in the Ditch." Use the chime again to indicate that the story is over.
- Do you think the carriage driver was intentionally trying run down the Sufi and the student?
- What did the Sufi say to the driver? ("May all your deepest desires be satisfied!") What do you think he meant by that?
- What could the Sufi have said instead? (Probe responses: Would that be a hurtful response, or responding with love?)
- How do you feel when someone pushes you aside? Do you take it personally, that is, do you assume they did it on purpose to hurt you?
- Did you understand why the Dervish responded with love? (It may be helpful to remember that desires dwell in your heart, and bring the discussion to Sufism.)
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.