Activity time: 15 minutes
Materials for Activity
- Copy of the story, "Belling the Cat"
- Optional: Props such as paper doll or puppet mice and cat, and a bell
- Optional: Fidget basket (see Session 1, Leader Resource 2, Fidget Objects)
Preparation for Activity
- Read the story (Option 1) and the play (Option 2) provided with the story "Belling the Cat." Decide if you will read or tell the story, or engage children to act out the play. Note: Only use the play if you are sure the group includes five children who will be comfortable reading from a script. Adapt the story and print out the pages you need. Or, for the play, print six copies-one for you, and five for actors. Optional: Enlarge text to make scripts easy to read, and highlight one character's spoken lines on each copy.
- Optional: Use props to tell the story.
- Optional: Plan to invite children to retell the story using props after the discussion, if you think time will allow.
- 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 storytelling. See Session 1, Leader Resource 2, Fidget Objects for a full description of fidget baskets and guidance for using them.
Description of Activity
Children respond to a fable about failed leadership.
Read or tell the story.
Process the story with as many of these questions as time allows:
- All four mice posed solutions to the problem. Why did some of the solutions not work?
- Did the mouse who suggested belling the cat show good leadership skills? Why or why not? Affirm that having good ideas as a leader is not enough: Ideas need to be realistic and someone needs to carry them out-that person is a leader, too, even if the original idea was not theirs.
- Can you think of a solution to the mice's problem? Is there a way they could work together to keep safe from the cat? If time permits, invite participants to role-play solutions.
- Have you ever had to work together with a group of people to solve a problem? What was that like? Were there leaders in the group? What did they do that showed leadership?
Tell the group that every time the Signs of Our Faith group meets, children will discover more ways they can be good leaders: in their family, at school, among their friends, in their congregation, and with sports teams or music groups and other communities to which they belong.
Point out the newsprint with the human figure filled with leadership qualities. Read the qualities aloud again. Say that participants might already hold some of these qualities. Other qualities might be ones they want to develop. Say:
In our Signs of Our Faith group, we will support each other as we each find our own, individual ways to be leaders. Sometimes, the entire group will be leaders together. Everyone will get opportunities to practice leadership skills: not just at the congregation, but in their everyday life. Taking It Home has suggestions for ways to practice faithful leadership at home, school, at play, with friends, and in the world at large.
After the discussion, if you have time, invite children to act out "Belling the Cat" as a skit. Choose actors, assign parts and let the cast rehearse away from the group for several minutes.
Including All Participants
Support beginning readers who wish to be actors in the play.
If you are telling the story, you may wish to make fidget objects available to children who find it difficult to sit still while listening or can focus better with sensory stimulation. For a full description and guidance, see Session 1, Leader Resource 2.
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.