Activity time: 13 minutes
Materials for Activity
- A copy of the story "Harriet's Freedom Journeys"
- A large basket
- Objects related to the story such as pictures or a book about Harriet Tubman, a ladle, railroad items such as trains or a toy train conductor
- A rain stick, or another instrument with a calm sound
- Optional: Box or small table and a decorative cloth cover
- Optional: Fidget basket (see Session 1, Leader Resource 4)
- Optional: Handout 1, Follow the Drinking Gourd Lyrics
- Optional: A recording of "Follow the Drinking Gourd" and a music player
Preparation for Activity
- 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 to become comfortable with telling it-and leading the chorus of "Follow the Drinking Gourd" if you plan to use 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.
If you did not teach "Follow the Drinking Gourd" to the children but wish to incorporate the song's chorus into the story, teach the chorus to the children at this time.
Remove the sound instrument from the story basket. Tell the children that every time you tell a story in Love Will Guide Us, 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. 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:
When I 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 instrument. When the sound has gone, invite the children to sing the chorus of "Follow the Drinking Gourd" with you, as guided in the story. Tell the story, engaging the children to sing the chorus where indicated.
Sound the instrument to indicate the story is over. Guide a brief discussion, using these questions:
- Why do you think Harriet was willing to risk getting captured, or even killed, in order to escape slavery?
- Why do you think Harriet decided to go back to rescue others, knowing that her freedom and her life could be in danger?
- I wonder what things are so important to you that you would risk everything for them?
Affirm about how brave it was for everyone involved with the Underground Railroad. It was very dangerous to rely on the Underground Railroad to make your escape. It was dangerous for conductors like Harriet Tubman to share their help and friendship, their food, or their home to help someone else. People did it because they knew that people owning other people is wrong. Ask:
- What do you suppose we can do today if we know a rule is unfair and wrong? How could we do something about it?
- How could we follow the example of bravery of Harriet Tubman?
Including All Participants
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.