Activity time: 5 minutes
Materials for Activity
- A large basket
- A chime, a rain stick, or another calming sound instrument
- Story theater, made using Leader Resource 1, Story Theater
- Newsprint, markers, and tape
- Optional: Box or small table and a cloth cover
- Optional: A globe or a world map
- Optional: A plastic bag containing sand for the story theater
Preparation for Activity
- Make the story theater, as guided in Leader Resource, Story Theater.
- If you usually set up an altar as a focal point for objects in the story basket, see if the story theater will fit on the box or table you use for an altar and can be seen well by all the children when they are sitting in the storytelling area. If not, set the story theater on the floor or a better-suited table in the storytelling area. Make sure all children will be able to see it.
- Place the altar cloth if you have one, the chime, rain stick or other sound instrument, and the plastic bag of sand if you have one in the story basket. Place the filled basket in the storytelling area you have designated for Moral Tales.
- If you do not have a plastic bag of sand for the story basket, add sand to the story theater once you have placed it on the floor or a table. You will need enough sand to form the banks of the river so that it is thick enough to write "Nagib" in and have the letters show.
- Write the word "FORGIVING" on newsprint.
- Optional: If you have a basket of fidget objects for children who listen and learn more effectively with something in their hands, make the basket available during this activity. Remind children where it is before you begin the "centering" part of this activity. See Leader Resources for a full description of fidget baskets and guidance for using them.
Description of Activity
In this activity you will introduce the children to the concept of forgiveness, and to the story, "Mussa and Nagib." Gather the children in a circle in your storytelling area. Show them the story basket and the story theater. Tell them:
This is our story theater. It won't fit in the story basket but it is our item of focus for today's story.
Make sure all the children can see the story theater from where they are sitting. If you like, invite some or all the children to come closer and inspect the story theater.
Hold up the plastic bag of sand, if you have one. Empty the sand into the story theater.
Ask the children to identify what they see in the story theatre. Prompt for sand, clay rocks, paper water, and two figures of people. Tell them that today's story is an old one, set in the Middle East in a country called Persia which is now called Iran. You can show them where Iran is located on a globe or map, if you have one.
Tell the group:
The story that we are going to hear is about two friends who have a fight, and the choices they make about what to do with their feelings. The second man chooses to forgive his friend for hurting him.
The act of forgiveness is one of the most important choices we can make. Forgiveness can help us keep our relationships with others. It can help us have hearts full of love rather than bitterness.
Post the newsprint where you have written the word, "FORGIVING." Ask the children if they can find two words in that one big word. The answer is "for" and "giving."
Suggest that keeping these two small words in mind can help the children remember what "forgiving" means. Tell them that forgiveness means giving kindness, empathy, and love to another person, even if they have hurt us. When we are angry at ourselves and forgive ourselves, we are giving kindness, empathy, and love to ourselves.
Now remind the children that you will begin the story by playing the sound instrument. Remove the chime, rain stick or other instrument from the story basket. Invite the children to sit comfortably and close their eyes (if they are comfortable doing so). You may tell them that closing their eyes can help them focus just on listening.
In a calm voice, say:
As you breathe in, feel your body opening up with air. As you breathe out, feel yourself relaxing.
Repeat this once or twice and then say:
Now you are ready to listen. When I hit the chime (turn the rain stick over), listen as carefully as you can. See how long you can hear its sound. When you can no longer hear it, open your eyes and you will know it is time for the story to begin.
Sound the chime or other instrument. When the sound has gone, begin telling the story.
Including All Participants
Some people do not feel safe closing their eyes when they are in a group. If any children resist, respect their resistance and suggest that they find a single point of focus to look at instead.