Activity time: 10 minutes
Materials for Activity
- A copy of the story "The Scratched Diamond"
- A large basket
- Objects related to the story such as gemstones, particularly crystals or gems with etchings on them, a broken item that can still be used, wood with visible knots, pictures of diamonds, or a geode
- 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)
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 and prepare to read or tell it dramatically. You might use different voices to represent the king and the diamond cutter. Plan how you will use items from the story basket as props; you might hold up a crystal and pretend to be the diamond cutter looking at it very carefully to inspect the flaw.
- 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 participants 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. 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 or other instrument. When the sound has gone, say, in your own words:
This story is based on one told about 300 years ago by a Jewish teacher, the Maggid of Dubno. He often taught his followers by telling them special stories called parables.
Tell the story "The Scratched Diamond."
Sound the instrument to indicate the story is over. Guide participants in a brief discussion, using the questions below.
NOTE: Children may describe their own anti-social behavior, such as bullying others or refusing to share. If this happens, talk with them about how we can use the human flaws in ourselves to learn to be more loving. For example, you might notice that the child you bullied is sad. This could help you develop empathy. In this way the bullying itself isn't made beautiful but it can be turned into empathy, which is. Or, bullies often have followers. Bullies can learn to be good leaders, leading people to do kind things instead of mean things. Mistakes, failures, or poor choices can all be understood as opportunities to learn.
Process the story with the following questions:
- I wonder if there was a point when the king, the diamond cutter, or someone else in the story felt awe or wonder-like a big "wow" in their heart about something amazing.
- Have you ever had a time when you saw something get changed in a way that made you feel a big "wow" of wonder and awe?
- I wonder what it means to say a person can have scratches like a diamond?
- I wonder how people's scratches could be made beautiful? What are some "scratches" on us? What could they be turned into?
- Have you ever worked really hard to learn a new way to behave or to learn a new skill? Is that awesome?
To conclude, tell the group that Unitarian Universalists believe our own experiences can teach us new ways of seeing the world, new ways to love, and new ways to find beauty.
Including All Participants
Make sure everyone has an opportunity to experience the items in the 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.