Faith CoLab: Tapestry of Faith: Miracles: A Multigenerational Program on Living in Awe and Wonder

Activity 3: Miraculous Flexagon

Part of Miracles

Activity time: 35 minutes

Materials for Activity

Preparation for Activity

  • Read Description of Activity, below. Then read Alternate Activity 1, Paper Snowflakes, a simpler paper craft activity, which might work better with younger children. Decide which to use.
  • Consider inviting an adult volunteer to join the group for this activity to provide pastoral care. It may be helpful to have an adult available to speak privately with a participant for whom painful experiences arise.
  • Download and adapt Leader Resource 1; then, copy templates and instructions for participants. First, pencil letters on the template (the strip of paper with triangle folds drawn, which appears on the left-hand side of the Leader Resource). Be sure to pencil the letters clearly, in the exact positions shown. Then, make copies so that each participant will have 1) the instructions provided on the Leader Resource and 2) a template suitable for them to write or draw on and easy for them to fold as shown. We recommend that you photocopy the instructions separately from the template. Children who are still developing fine motor skills, and perhaps other participants, may prefer a larger template to fold into a hexaflexagon. Enlarge the template on Leader Resource 1 by photocopying just the template image three times, at 150% size, onto 11x17-inch paper. You can then place several larger-size templates together on a sheet of 11x17-inch paper and make regular copies (100% size).
  • It is recommended that you research flexagons and hexaflexagons (a hexaflexagon is a six-faced flexagon). For an entertaining introduction that you may decide to show the group, watch the YouTube video “Hexaflexagons” by Vi Hart. Use the resources in this session’s Find Out More section to better understand how they work and to practice making them. Make a practice flexagon to show the group.
  • Cut flexagon templates from the handouts for participants who may lack the dexterity to do it themselves (or for all participants, to save time). The shape must be cut precisely in order to fold properly into a flexagon.
  • Post blank newsprint and make three columns:
    Hurtful Act / Problem Inside / Change to…

Description of Activity

Participants explore the difference between evident and hidden characteristics by making and manipulating a hexaflexagon, a three-dimensional, folded paper object that reveals six different faces depending on how it is folded (flexed).

Participants fold paper strips into hexaflexagons. They reflect on the nature of an inner transformation and write or draw their ideas on the side of the paper, which will end up on the inside of their hexaflexagon.

Show the group a sample hexaflexagon. Say, in these words or your own:

Before we transform our paper into hexaflexagons, let’s talk about how people transform.

Remind them that the landowner in the story changed. Use the same words the participants used to describe the landowner’s transformation. Then ask:

When the landowner kept all the land for himself, he hurt the people who were hungry. Do any of you know people whose actions hurt others? Think to yourself for a moment.

Give the group a moment. Then ask if anyone wants to share an example. Be ready for a child’s revelation that they or someone they know are being bullied or experiencing another kind of cruelty at school, at home, in your congregation, or elsewhere. Listen with discernment. In the case of serious threat to health or safety, follow your congregation’s safety policy, which might include talking to the participant after the session and letting them know of the need to share what you have heard with parents, your religious educator, or your minister as appropriate. Make sure you know the guidelines for mandated reporting.

Choose an example of a person’s hurtful action that a volunteer offers, and lead the group to process:

  • What is happening inside the person that makes them act in this hurtful way? (E.g., anger, indifference, selfishness, loneliness, greed. Write responses in the “Problem Inside” column.)
  • What would the person need inside them that could make them act differently? (E.g., love, caring for others, kindness, understanding, willingness to share. Write responses in the “Change to” column.)

Offer this scenario if the group is reluctant:

Suppose there is one kid in your class at school who never brings a lunch, or any money to buy lunch. Let’s suppose there is another kid in the class who always brings snacks, and a big lunch, and money. This second kid teases the first kid by showing off their big lunch, every day, and makes comments such as, “What are you, poor?”

Write “Lunch Bully” in the Hurtful Act column.

Gather the group’s ideas for the Problem Inside and Change to columns.

Now ask:

Does this story have any other examples of a hurtful act?

Prompt if needed (“What about the other kids in this class?”) and add “Bystanders” in the Hurtful Act column. Then gather the group’s ideas for what is happening inside the bystanders (Problem Inside) and the feelings or attitudes that would make the bystanders act differently (Change to).

Process additional examples quickly, briefly describing on newsprint the Hurtful Action and the group’s Problem Inside and Change to ideas. If the scenario has a “bystander” component, take the time to draw it out.

Now distribute the hexaflexagon templates you have made from Leader Resource 1, and instructions from Leader Resource 1. If participants will cut out their own templates, distribute scissors. Distribute copies of Handout 1, Hexaflexagon Illustration; color markers to share; and scissors (if participants will cut out their own flexagon shapes), at worktables

Invite participants to cut out their hexaflexagon templates. Then, invite them to imagine a person whose actions hurt others. What positive qualities (indicate the “Change to” column) might that person need to develop more of, inside themselves? Ask them to write or draw the positive qualities using only the triangles marked, B, C, H, I, O, and P. When they fold their flexagons, the positive qualities will be on the inside.

As the group works, ask:

  • Since we do not have Brigit’s magic cape, what could we do to help a person change themselves inside, so they would stop doing hurtful acts? How could we show our passion for fairness, like Brigit did by stretching her cape?

Visit worktables. Help participants identify the correct triangle panels to draw or write on. Invite participants to describe what they are writing or drawing and tell you more about the “miracle change” they envision inside a person. Ask, “What tools, besides the magic cape, did Brigit use to help the landowner change?”

  • Her love for and care for the poor
  • Her commitment to justice and fairness
  • Her faith that the landowner should help, instead of hurt, the people
  • Her belief that people who do hurtful things can change
  • Her determination to change an unfair situation.

Make sure everyone has time to fold up their flexagon. Optional: Use cellophane tape to secure the folded flexagons.

Point out that although qualities such as kindness, caring, and love are on the inside, and cannot be seen, we know what is inside people by the way they act.