Faith CoLab: Tapestry of Faith: Windows and Mirrors: A Program about Diversity for Grades 4-5

Activity 2: Story - The Children's Crusade

Activity time: 15 minutes

Materials for Activity

  • A copy of the story "The Children's Crusade"
  • A bell, chime, rain stick or other musical noisemaker
  • Optional: Visual images of segregation and the Civil Rights movement

Preparation for Activity

  • Read the story a few times. Consider telling it dramatically, rather than reading it from the page. Practice telling it. Claim the storytelling; for example, try adopting different voices for different characters. The stories here are written for a Story for All Ages moment-part performance, part ministry.
  • For storytelling, be ritualistic. Create a mood and time that is different from other moments in the session. For example, turn overhead lights off and use lamps. Position yourself where all can see and hear you. You may wish to wear a storytelling shawl.
  • To set the stage for this story, plan to share some documentary images of segregation and the Civil Rights movement. Gather the images you want to share. Make sure you have any audio/visual equipment you need. For Jim Crow-era, segregation photographs try the Library of Congress online. The Equal Justice Initiative website has a 1960s timeline. PBS provides a collection of images of racial segregation photos.The African-American History section of the website provides a collection of images of racial segregation signs posted at hotels, waiting rooms, rest rooms, a drinking fountain, etc.

  • Review the discussion questions. Choose some you think might resonate with this particular group and help them share their interpretations of the story and relate it to their own experiences.
  • If the group is very large, plan to form small groups for discussion. Each group should have at least three participants and an adult facilitator.

Description of Activity

Give instructions for the moment in the story when participants can stand, as they are able.

Ring the chime (or other noisemaker), make eye contact with each participant and read or tell the story.

Sound the chime (or other noisemaker) again at the end. Invite participants to think silently on their own about the story. Say:

Now we are going to practice listening and discussing skills-both are needed to help us understand the story from multiple perspectives. Let's find out what one another thought about the story.

Remind them not to assume others think or feel the same way. Ask everyone to use "I think" or "I feel" statements. Encourage the group to listen to each comment and then share some silence. Use the bell or chime to move between speakers.

Begin a discussion by asking participants to recap the story in their own words. What they recall indicates what they found most meaningful or memorable.

Then use the following questions to facilitate discussion. (If the group includes multi-age participants, phrase the questions to include everyone.) Make sure everyone who wants to speak has a chance:

  • What was Martin Luther King, Jr. asking the black community to stand up for?
  • Why were some adults afraid to do as Dr. King asked? Do you think their fear of jail was stronger than their need for segregation to end?
  • Do you think the children cared more about their civil rights than the adults did? Were they less afraid than some of the adults? Why?
  • Why did they want to march? (Affirm answers such as bravery, willingness to go to jail, determination, love for their parents and community, generosity, wanting to please Martin Luther King and the other adult leaders, trust/not believing they truly would be harmed, persistence, a sense of comfort in knowing their friends would be there also so they would not be alone.)
  • Why did the adults tell the children to sit down?
  • Why did the adults change their minds and allow the children to march?
  • (for children) Have you ever volunteered to help, and an adult ignored you or said "no?" Why did they say "no?" How did you feel? What was the outcome?
  • When the children marched, what happened? How did the children's actions affect the adults?
  • After the march, do you think children changed their expectations of themselves and of adults? Did the adults in the community change their expectations of the children?
  • Was there a time when you helped someone of another age do something important? Or perhaps a time when someone younger than you helped you? What gifts of age did you bring them? What gifts of age did they bring?

Conclude by articulating what the story teaches about different gifts that children and adults bring into re/making the world. Ask the group to think about:

  • What gifts of age do you have now? (mirror question)
  • How might you use these gifts together with someone of a different age to make the world a better place? (window question)

Thank everyone for their observations and sharing.

Including All Participants

If any participants cannot stand up on their own, tell the group before you begin the story that there will be a moment when they should raise their hands in the air (if possible) or nod their heads to signify answering the call with a "yes."

If you have brought documentary images and a non-sighted participant is present, ask a few volunteers to describe the photographs verbally.