Tapestry of Faith: Sing to the Power: A Social Justice Program for Children Grades 4-5

Activity 2: Soap Carving

Activity time: 25 minutes

Materials for Activity

  • Tarp for collecting soap shavings
  • One bar of soap per person
  • Pencils to share
  • Table knives, screwdrivers, orange sticks, nails, popsicle sticks and/or other soap-carving tools

Preparation for Activity

  • Make sure you are comfortable guiding participants to carve soap. Watch a YouTube video which demonstrates how to carve a fish from soap. Visit this Wiki page for soap carving instructions with pictures.
  • Spread a large tarp on the floor and/or work tables so you can collect and discard soap shavings when you are done.
  • Set carving implements where everyone can reach them easily.

Description of Activity

Tell the group:

Trying to take off too much at once will cause the bar of soap to break. Carving soap requires patience and persistence. Let's see how much of these "water power" qualities we have.

Make sure that participants' hands are dry before they touch their bar of soap; water will make the soap slippery and difficult to handle. Distribute bars of soap and invite the group to each think of an object or shape to carve. Encourage participants to come up with a plan before they start carving. Suggest that a fish or turtle shape tends to work well, as does a sun or a face.

Invite the children to use a pencil to lightly carve the desired shape into the surface of their bar of soap, and then use tools such as a table knife or screwdriver to gently carve the soap.

This activity lends itself to conversation. Use some discussion questions from Activity 1 to help the group continue processing the story, "Phebe Hanaford Gets the Vote." Or, invite participants to think about other social justice movements besides the women's suffrage movement in which people showed great persistence. For instance, during the Montgomery, Alabama bus boycott, protesters walked to work and school every day for over a year before they won the right to sit anywhere on the bus they chose.

Including All Participants

Choose carving implements that are safe for all members of the group. Although some children this age are adept with a small kitchen knife, do not provide any utensils you think could challenge the dexterity or safe behavior of any group members.