All sessions follow the same structure. Between an Opening and a Closing, activities guide participants to experience and discuss a variety of social justice issues that inform their world. Some issues discussed are privilege, racism and the value of different kinds of work.
Starting in Session 2, children work on their Window/Mirror Panel each time they meet. This work culminates in an exhibit for the congregation of all their panels together. Before you begin this program, decide what you want the final exhibit to look like, including where and how you will display the panels. Then, determine the materials you need to purchase. See Before You Start for detailed guidance.
Each session offers a Faith in Action activity. These activities are optional and the time you will need for them is not calculated into a 60-minute session. Nevertheless, Faith in Action is an important element of Tapestry of Faith curricula. You can incorporate Faith in Action into regular sessions, if you have time. You can adapt Faith in Action activities for the group to complete during additional meetings. You can open them up to multiple age groups in your religious education program, or expand them to the broader congregation. By design, Faith in Action activities often require the involvement of congregants or community members outside your group and additional meeting times and/or places. Before you commit to a long-term Faith in Action project, make sure you obtain the support of congregational leadership and the children's families.
Every session has at least one alternate activity. You may add these to a session, or substitute one for a core activity if the alternate better fits your group or the time available. Feel free to use alternate activities outside of the Windows and Mirrors program for gatherings such as family retreats, wide agespan religious education meetings or intergenerational dinners.
A quote introduces each session. You may read a quote aloud to your group as an entry point to the session. However, the quotes are primarily for leaders. Co-leaders may like to discuss a quote while preparing for a session. Exploring a quote together can help you each feel grounded in the ideas and activities you will present and can help co-leaders get "on the same page." Quotes are included in the Taking It Home section for families to consider.
The session Introduction orients you to the session topic. It may include a Mirror question and a Window question to help you focus on developing each child's self-awareness and their awareness of others who are unlike them in terms of the session's particular topic.
The Introduction may describe ways to use particular activities to teach the concepts, highlight alternate activities or suggest an alternate structure for the session. The Introduction will mention whether a session requires visitors, special materials or access to a meeting space you do not normally use. You may also find inclusion adaptations and guidance for handling particular directions the session may take.
The Goals section provides general outcomes for the session. Reviewing the goals will help you connect the session's content and methodologies with the four strands of the Tapestry of Faith religious education programs: ethical development, spiritual development, Unitarian Universalist identity development and faith development.
Each session includes learning objectives—the intended outcomes for participants in the core session activities. As you plan a session, apply your knowledge of the particular group of children, the time and space you have available and your own strengths and interests as a leader to determine the most important and achievable learning objectives for the session, and choose the activities that will serve them best.
The Session-at-a-Glance table lists the session activities in a suggested order for a 60-minute session and provides an estimated time for completing each activity. The table includes all the core activities from the Opening through the Closing. The table also shows the Faith in Action activity for the session. Note that you will need additional time beyond the core, 60-minute session, to include a Faith in Action activity. The Session-at-a-Glance table also presents alternate activities with their estimated times. Alternate activities can be substituted for core activities or added to a core session if you have time.
Taking five or ten minutes to center yourself within the session's purpose and content will support and free you to be present with the children and provide the best possible learning experience. Each session offers a short Spiritual Preparation exercise to focus you on the Window and Mirror questions put forth in the session and help you reflect on its connection to your own life and your Unitarian Universalist faith. Calling forth your own experiences, beliefs and spirituality will prepare you to bring the topic to the group in an authentic manner and help you experience teaching as an event in your own spiritual growth and faith development.
The session plan presents every element of the session in detail in the sequence established in the Session-at-a-Glance table: Opening, Activities, Faith in Action Activity, Closing, Alternate Activities. Next, the session plan presents a Taking It Home section with extension activities for families. Download Taking It Home and adapt it using your own word processing software.
Following Taking It Home, find all the stories, handouts, and leader resources you need to lead all of the session activities. Finally, Find Out More suggests additional sources to help the leader further explore the session topics. It can be useful to scan Find Out More before you lead a session.
If you are reading Windows and Mirrors online, you can move as you wish among sessions and their various elements (Opening, Activity 4, Story, etc.). Each element occupies its own web page. You can click on Print this Page at any time. However, if you click on Download Entire Program or Download Session, you will have a user-friendly document on your computer that you can customize as you wish, using your own word processing software. Once you decide which activities you will use, format and print only the materials you need.
Opening: Each session begins with a chalice-lighting and sharing of opening words. To ensure safety, obtain an LED/battery-operated flaming chalice or use a symbolic chalice. The Opening is a time for centering, both for individuals and the group. Take the liberty you need to shape an opening ritual that suits the group, works within space limitations, and reflects the culture and practices of your congregation.
Activities: Generally, the sequence of activities is designed to activate prior knowledge, pique interest, engage children in experiential learning including hands-on interaction with the topic, and help them process and apply their observations and new knowledge. The variety of activities presented in each session addresses different learning styles you may find among participants; you will find variations within many core activities as well as guidance about which alternate activities might be useful for your group. Choose according to the learning styles, developmental readiness, energy level and other aspects of the particular children in the group.
In most sessions, children work on their Window/Mirror panels as the last activity before the Closing. Make sure you leave time to clean up and to gather for a Closing that is not rushed.
Materials for Activity: Provided for each activity, this checklist tells you the supplies you will need.
Preparation for Activity: Review the bulleted preparation "to do" list for each activity at least one week ahead of a session. The list provides all the advance work you need to do for the activity, from securing parent permissions for an off-site walk to downloading leader resources, practicing telling a story aloud and organizing art materials.
Description of Activity: This section provides detailed directions for implementing the activity and a rationale which links the activity thematically to the rest of the session and to the entire program.
Read the activity descriptions carefully during your planning process so that you understand each activity and its purpose. Later, when you are leading the group, use the description as a step-by-step how-to manual.
Including All Participants: Adaptation to include all participants should always be part of your planning process. For certain activities, an Including All Participants section suggests specific modifications to make the activity manageable and meaningful for children with limitations of mobility, sight, hearing or cognition.
Faith in Action: An important component of the program, Faith in Action activities give children practice at being Unitarian Universalists in the world. When you lead a Faith in Action project, you create an opportunity for participants to actively express faith values.
Faith in Action activities engage leaders, participants, their families, other congregants, and sometimes members of the wider community, often outside the group's regular meeting time and place. They can provide a way for children to meet, inspire and be inspired by others in the congregation and strengthen multigenerational bonds.
Let the ideas offered in each session stimulate you to devise short- or long-term Faith in Action activities to reinforce and implement session themes for the children in your group. Take advantage of the expertise and interests of members of your congregation, opportunities for service and education in your community, and the Internet. Most Faith in Action activities will require you to make arrangements in advance. As you begin planning a Faith in Action project, you may find it useful to develop a materials checklist, a list of preparation steps, and a detailed activity description, as we have done for the core and alternate activities in this curriculum.
Taking It Home: The Taking It Home section is designed to help parents extend and share in their children's religious education experiences. The Taking It Home section may include games, conversation topics, ideas for incorporating Unitarian Universalist rituals into the home, or book or online sources families can use to further explore themes or stories. Customize the Taking It Home section to reflect the actual activities you have included in each session. Print and photocopy it for children to bring home, or send it as a group email.
Alternate Activities: You can substitute an alternate activity for a core session activity or add it to the session. Some alternate activities are simpler versions of a core activity; some require more time than a core activity; some are particularly suited to be inclusive of children with developmental or ability differences. Materials, preparation, and descriptions for alternate activities appear in the same format as they do in Openings, Closings, and Faith in Action activities.
Stories, Handouts and Leader Resources: Following Taking It Home and any Alternate Activities, you will find the stories and other resources you will need to lead every element of the session:
The full text of the session's central story and any other stories you will need for session activities
Any pages you need to print out and photocopy for participants to use in the session (handouts)
Any additional materials you need to plan, prepare for and lead the session activities. These might include illustrations to offer participants to include in a session's Window/Mirror Panel, a letter to parents requesting permission or supplies or detailed instructions, such as a recipe, for a particular activity.
Find Out More includes resources to further explore session topics. Scan this section before leading a session for relevant books, DVDs and websites; audio links to music that could enhance the session; and background such as biographical information about and excerpts from sermons by Unitarians, Universalists or Unitarian Universalists mentioned in the session..