Faith CoLab: Tapestry of Faith: Riddle and Mystery: A Program on the Big Questions for Grade 6

Activity 2: Concentric Circles

Activity time: 15 minutes

Materials for Activity

Preparation for Activity

  • Decide how you will form groups. If you plan to give each group both of the leader resources, make copies.

Description of Activity

In this activity, participants draw concentric circles indicating the various circles and spheres within which they live. To these circles they add radii showing how they connect with the circles and spheres beyond themselves. The results look like spider webs to reinforce the meaning of the seventh UU Principle.

Explain that "concentric circles" means one circle inside another. Illustrate the point on newsprint. Put a dot in the center of the circle you have drawn and say, "Imagine that this dot is you. You are standing inside concentric circles. The first circle might be your family." (Draw a small circle around the dot.) "The second, wider circle might include your friends." (Draw a second circle around the first.) "And so on, one circle around the other, as far as you can imagine."

Divide participants into groups of three or four. Give each small group a sheet of newsprint and several markers. Invite them to start with a dot or an X in the middle to represent a single person (like one of them), then draw a series of concentric circles around the point to represent some of the groups to which they belong, such as family, schools, clubs and organizations, their community, state, nation, etc. and label each circle with very small letters. (Demonstrate the lettering on the newsprint.)

You may offer Leader Resource 1, Circle Possibilities; invite the youth to use these ideas along with their own. After about five minutes, ask the groups to add some lines to show how the person in the center connects to everything else. They can add as many such lines as they want, spacing them more or less evenly around the circles and drawing them out to the circle where they might logically go. For example, they might draw a straight line from the center to the family circle, and write the word "love" along the line; "taking care of" might go to a world or environment circle, or somewhere in a family circle. Demonstrate on your newsprint.

You might provide Leader Resource 2.

When the small groups have finished their drawings or time is running out, call them together to compare results.

  • How are the drawings the same and how are they different?
  • What do they look like? (If nobody suggests "webs" or "spider webs," do so yourself, and ask if what the idea of webs has to do with Unitarian Universalism. Point out, if no youth does so, that the seventh UU Principle speaks of "the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part." Many Unitarian Universalists think of a web when they think of the way we are all connected to each other and everything else in the whole universe.
  • Read the seventh Principle aloud, and note that it says everybody should "respect" the interdependent web. Ask what "interdependent" means. Note that the word means that all parts of the web or all parts of existence depend on each other. Ask if youth agree with that idea. How do other parts of the web depend on them? How do they depend on other parts?
  • How does the idea of responsibility fit into the seventh Principle? How does "responsibility for" connect with "belonging to" any of the concentric circles?
  • Human beings are social animals, like all primates. What is the importance of belonging to groups for social animals? Are there people who don't belong to any groups at all? If so, what do you think that feels like?
  • How can we make people feel connected to a group? Think of examples from your own life. How do you know what concentric circles and lines of connection to draw?
  • How does your UU congregation connect people, help them feel they belong?
  • Have you ever felt connected to a group that included members who denied that you belonged? What did that feel like? What does our UU faith have to say about who belongs and who doesn't?