Alternate Activity 3: Religious Birth Days
Activity time: 10 minutes
Materials for Activity
Preparation for Activity
- Print Leader Resource 3. Keep one copy intact; with the other copy, separate the images from the names so participants can match them.
- Print Leader Resource 4, For So the Children Come. If the group includes strong readers and you wish children to participate in this responsive reading, make copies for children to share. (You may wish to enlarge the type.) Otherwise, make one copy so co-leaders can each take a part in reading aloud.
Description of Activity
A matching game highlights the importance of births in religions. This game helps Children identify several religious births and leads into a conversation about what Unitarian Universalism has to say about whose birth is important.
Say, in these words or your own:
Many religions have stories about babies-babies who grew up to be holy people, or babies who a religion considers gods. I am going to tell you some birth stories from different religions. Let's see if you can match pictures of the babies with my stories.
Display the images where all the children can see them. Read the descriptions below, in any order you wish. As you finish each one, invite the children to choose which baby has been described:
Baby Jesus (1) - Jesus was known to be special from the moment he was born. Shepherds in their fields saw a message in the stars at night, and traveled to bring rare spices as gifts to welcome the baby. Jesus grew up to be a kind, wise teacher. In Christianity, Jesus is considered both a real person who lived on earth and a Divine being, the son of God.
Baby Moses (2) - To save his life, Moses's mother put him in a basket and sailed him down the river. He was not alone: His sister watched from the bushes. He was discovered by the Egyptian princess, who raised him as her son. When Moses grew up, he discovered he belonged to the Jewish people who were enslaved in Egypt, and heard a call from God to lead his people to another land where they could be free. Moses was an important prophet of Israel who brought the people the Ten Commandments from God.
Baby Krishna (3) - Krishna's parents had to hide him, too, because his uncle was afraid of a prophecy that the child would conquer him and take the throne. Krishna was hidden away until he was safe. In Hindu religion, the baby Krishna was a new, human body to live in for Lord Vishnu, a god who had lived before but not in human form.
Birth of Aphrodite (4) - She had no parents. She was born of the sea. She came riding to shore on the ocean surf, on a shell, fully grown. She is the Greek goddess of love and beauty.
Baby Buddha (5) - This baby's mother was Queen Maya, of India. She dreamed that a white elephant pierced her with its tusks and then disappeared into her. The kings called wise men to interpret the dream. They declared that Maya would give birth to a son. They said if the son became a ruler, he would be great. However, if he ever left the household, he would become a great holy man, the Buddha. The king tried to keep his son inside the royal compound. Yet, he did escape and became a great holy man. Nowadays, to celebrate his birthday, some Buddhist people pour tea over statues of him.
The Birth of Ganesha (6) - Pavarti created a boy from the dirt of her body to protect her house. He was so good at his job, he would not even let her husband, Shiva, in. Shiva sent other gods to defeat the boy. One of them cut off his head. Pavarti was grief-stricken and Shiva felt badly, so he brought the boy back to life but could not find his head. He promised to give the boy the head of the next creature he encountered, which happened to be an elephant. Pavarti assigned the boy to be a new god, Ganesha, remover of obstacles. Ganesha is still prayed to today.
Afterward, invite further questions about these prophets and divine beings, and share what you know.
Then say, in your own words:
As Unitarian Universalists, we draw wisdom from many different religions So we believe is important that Jesus and Buddha were born, and Moses, and Muhammad, the prophet who founded the Muslim religion. We also find wisdom outside of religions-so we also believe it is important that wise, courageous people were born like Harriet Tubman, and Florence Nightingale, and Aung San Suu Kyi And of course, each and every one of us has wisdom and courage to help the world. So it is important that my parents were born, and your parents, and that you were born. We believe all people are important and all their births deserve celebrating.
A famous UU, Sophia Lyon Fahs, wrote a poem about this topic.
Share the poem (Leader Resource 4) as a responsive reading. Invite participants to read the italicized lines, or have co-leaders alternate the parts. If your congregation reads this piece during Christmas Eve services, remind the group of this and that the holiday of Christmas celebrates the birth of a baby who grew up to be an important prophet, Jesus.
Ask the children what words of the poem they remember. Ask what they think the poem means. Remind participants that the First UU Principle is "Each person is important." And so, each of our births is important, too.