Activity time: 15 minutes
Materials for Activity
- Magic wands for all participants, made in Alternate Activity 2: Making Magic Wands, made by you in advance, or store-bought
- Participants' "I Make a Difference" handouts begun in Activity 1, Gems of Goodness - Responsibility
- Markers or pencils
Preparation for Activity
- Decide whether this session has room for Alternate Activity 2, Making Magic Wands, or whether you will purchase wands for the group or make simple ones yourself. You can make magic wands by stapling shiny ribbons or cut-out stars onto 1/4-inch wooden dowels or long, stiff plastic straws; as described in Alternate Activity 2, Making Magic Wands.
- If the group will not do the wand-making activity, obtain the materials and make wands in advance for all participants plus a few extra for co-leaders and unexpected guests. Or, purchase wands at a party store, an arts-and-crafts store, or a toy store.
- If children will already have magic wands (for example, from Alternate Activity 2, Making Magic Wands), ask everyone to place their wands behind them or under their chairs before beginning this activity. If you will distribute magic wands, have them nearby.
- Prepare to offer examples of small, concrete steps that children have taken to tackle big problems. In Leader Resources, find books and websites that feature young people taking action.
- Post newsprint where you can write on it and children can see it.
- Make sure all participants received the handout, If I Had a Magic Wand, in Activity 1, Gems of Goodness - Responsibility and have each filled out their handout.
Description of Activity
In this activity you will guide the children to figure out some things they can really do to change problems that concern them. You will demonstrate that an individual's actions do make a difference.
This activity has two parts. In the first part, you will draw out children's passion and concern about problems both locally and in the world, and help them articulate things they would change if they had the power to do so. In the second part of the activity, you will guide them to identify real steps they can take to help solve these problems.
Tell the children, in your own words:
When I was young I used to wish that I had a magic wand which could bring me anything that I wanted and could take away all of the problems in the world.
Today we are all going to pretend that we do have a magic wand. If you like, later, you can think about what fun things you would do or ask for with your wand, but right now we are going to imagine that we can use our magic wands to help make the world a better place.
Imagine that with this wand you could help to make a problem that is happening to someone or something, go away. It could be someone or something in your school or neighborhood or in the world. Maybe someone that you care about is sick, or someone you know is picked on at school or after school. Maybe you want to help animals at a local shelter to find homes, or you are concerned about littering, global warming or war.
Then invite children to take out the magic wands they have made, or pass the magic wands you have brought around the circle. Ask each child to make a wish. Make sure that the child who is speaking holds up their wand (while others do not), and everyone else listens. Write down the thing each child wishes on the newsprint, with their name next to it.
After everyone has shared, thank them for their thoughtful suggestions. Tell them that you wish that these problems could be solved with a wave of a magic wand, but that that is not the way that problems get solved. Tell them that magic that they cannot explain does not usually solve problems but that when each person acts out of caring and does some small thing to help, then a true lasting experience of wonder happens in which the world becomes a happier and more love-filled place.
You might give them some examples of every day small acts that help make the world a better place. For example you might have a sick friend or relative to whom you give comfort by calling on the phone or by doing their shopping for them so they can rest. Give examples of small ways that you or the congregational community helps to make problems better. Give them the examples of scientists and doctors whose daily work helps to find cures for many diseases, and of people working tirelessly to make changes to clean up rivers, end war or hunger, protect endangered species, and reduce global warming. Mention the actual actions people do, such as helping to wash oil off of birds after an oil tanker spill or using a re-usable lunch bag or "travel cup" to reduce their disposable waste.
Next, look at the list of problems that the children expressed concern about. If there is something on the list that more than one child expressed, use that as an example. Ask for suggestions of what one person could do that might help even a little. An example for stopping bullying might be; telling the target of bullying that you are sorry that people are mean to them, inviting them to sit with you and your friends at lunch, or telling the teacher if you see someone being mean to them. Steps to solve world hunger might include; taking a UNICEF box with you when you trick or treat, adding some of your coin collection to it at home, using some of your allowance to help support an agency that feeds children in poor areas of the world, making a poster for a bake sale to raise money, or telling your teacher at school that you want to have a bake sale to raise money. It will also help if the teacher describes a few simple and concrete steps that children have taken. Look at the resource section under books and websites that feature young people taking action.
The goal of this session is to show the children that even a small gesture of help, comfort or support is a valuable contribution, and makes the world a more love-filled place.
Including All Participants
When you ask children to share about a problem that they would like to change, you are potentially inviting them to talk about a problem that may be troubling them personally. If you make the request that they think about a problem that is hurting someone else, or other living beings, or if you limit their "wishes" to those they would make on behalf of others at their school, in their community or in the world, you will lessen the possibility of this happening. It is, however, possible that children will share personal experiences of pain. If this happens, try to give them concrete steps to feeling safer, expressing their feelings, and asking for help. If you think the child has experienced abuse or neglect or is in need of more help than you can give, inform your director of religious education to make sure congregational and state policies can by activated, as necessary, and to facilitate the child's issue being explored by professionals.