Activity time: 20 minutes
Materials for Activity
- Piano or guitar
- Song books such as Rise Up Singing by Peter Blood and Annie Patterson (Bethlehem, PA: Sing Out!, 2004); the hymnbook Singing the Living Tradition; and/or the UU Musicians Network's Come Sing a Song with Me, edited by Melodie Feather (Boston: Skinner House, 2008); or song sheets with lyrics
Preparation for Activity
- Set a date with your religious educator, minister and lay leaders for an explicitly multigenerational half-hour sing-along. Invite a song leader and/or piano or guitar accompanist. Use congregational announcements, board and committee announcements, your newsletter(s) and/or website, posted or mailed flyers, and word of mouth to pass the invitation along. Make it clear that babes-in-arms are welcome. If the sing-along will not be at a regular worship or coffee hour time, engage volunteers to offer transportation to elders and others who may need it.
- Choose a few songs ahead of time that participants of many ages may know.
- Consider starting the event with a brief synopsis of the story "The Children's Crusade" and some words to affirm that all ages contribute to our community's life and work in a variety of ways. You might include one or two songs sung during the Civil Rights movement such as "We Shall Overcome" (Hymn 169 in Singing the Living Tradition), "Blowin' in the Wind" (page 115 in Rise Up Singing), or "This Little Light of Mine" (Hymn 118 in Singing the Living Tradition).
Description of Activity
Singing songs together, especially ones that are important in your congregation, can foster a sense of multigenerational community and create special memories for children.
Welcome everyone. Distribute hymnbooks or song sheets. Lead the group in singing the songs you have chosen, using call-and-response to make sure all can join in whether or not they already know the words.
Include some songs that elders can teach and others that children can teach. Inviting young children to teach hand motions to a well-known song could be fun.
Warm up the group with games all ages can play together. Groups of 20 or fewer can play a Name Whip game. Participants sit in a circle and each introduces themself by saying their name and a word that starts with their first initial-for example, Dana Delicious or Amy Apple. You might ask participants to introduce themselves with a word that describes something they and other people their age do or like-for example, Dana Driving or Amy Aerobics. Each participant must recite the names and matching words for every person who has already spoken and then add their own name and word. The whip ends when the last person names everyone in the room and their age-related word. Then you might invite one or two volunteers (preferably of different ages) to name every person in the circle and the word they chose.
For another game, Do As I Say, have everyone sit in a circle. One person starts the game by repeating a simple action, such as patting their head or tapping a foot, but saying something different, such as "I am making a fist." Everyone has to repeat the statement each time the leader says it, but do the action the leader is doing. The first person the leader catches doing or saying the wrong thing becomes the new leader. If the leader gets mixed up first, they choose someone else to be the new leader. Younger children may need help with what to say but often find "opposite" motions easier to negotiate than adults. Older participants may need suggestions for a simple action to perform.
Including All Participants
Make sure the room is fully accessible and has seating options to make people of every mobility level comfortable. Invite people with hearing or vision limitations to sit where they can best hear/see.