Faith CoLab: Tapestry of Faith: Love Surrounds Us: A Program on the UU Principles and Beloved Community for Grades K-1

Activity 1: What Is Ritual?

Activity time: 10 minutes

Preparation for Activity

  • Clear a large open space for participants to sit in a circle on the floor.

Description of Activity

This activity prepares participants to learn about ritual in our congregations by first discussing rituals in their everyday lives.

Ask participants to sit in a circle. Say, in your own words:

We will talk about rituals today. Rituals are certain things we always do, usually at the same time. An example would be saying a prayer before a meal. Another example is our opening ritual here in our group. Now I am going to ask you to think about your morning routine at home, when you wake up and get ready to go to school. Then we will talk about a ritual that many Unitarian Universalist congregations around the world take part in.

Ask participants to sit comfortably, without touching their neighbors. Ask them to close their eyes if they are comfortable doing so and silently, in their heads, think about the answers to these questions:

  • How do you wake up in the morning? An alarm clock? Someone in your family? A dog?
  • Is it the same every morning or sometimes different?
  • What is the first thing you do when you get out of bed? Brush teeth? Wash face and hands? Get dressed?
  • What are the steps involved in doing these things? Do you do them in the same order every day?
  • Where do you go to eat breakfast? Do you always sit in the same spot? What do you eat?
  • Do you pack your backpack? Your lunch? Books?
  • Do you walk to school? Ride a bus? Does someone drive you? Think about steps that you always do to get to school.

Pause for approximately 20 seconds and ask them to slowly open their eyes. Ask participants if they thought about any things they do every day. Let them share their thoughts. After a minute or two of sharing, in your own words say:

Those are morning rituals. Just like how you get ready for school with certain rituals, people in Unitarian Universalist congregations participate in rituals, too. They light a chalice as we do here. What else do we do in our opening ritual? What is the difference between the ritual of brushing your teeth every morning and lighting the chalice in church on Sunday morning? Brushing your teeth is a personal ritual, but what the congregation does together in church is a religious ritual. We do it together because we are a religious community. Family rituals such as good night hugs and kisses, bring a family together; rituals in church bring all the people in the congregation together.

Affirm the elements of your opening ritual that children mention.

Including All Participants

If any children cannot sit on the floor, gather participants in a circle at approximately the same eye level.