Faith CoLab: Tapestry of Faith: Building Bridges: A World Religions Program for 8th-9th Grades

Program Structure

Each workshop focuses on one or more religions except Workshop 1, an introduction to the program, and Workshop 22, a conclusion. All workshops follow the same structure. An opening and a closing bracket each workshop meeting in ritual, establishing continuity and helping to define the religious education space and time as sacred.

Storytelling is an excellent teaching tool, and stories are central to Building Bridges. Each central story tells about the history of a faith or illustrates one of the religion's core concepts. Accompanying activities deepen understanding of the story and of the religion that is the focus of that workshop.


A quote introduces the subject of each workshop. Leaders may choose to share it with the group if they feel it enriches discussion. Co-leaders may choose to discuss the quote as part of their workshop preparation to help ground them in the workshop concepts and develop a shared understanding of the material.


The Introduction identifies key concepts, offers suggestions about activities, and describes the workshop’s connection to other workshops. The Introduction will also alert you to special preparation needed for the workshop.


The goals describe general outcomes for the workshop. Reviewing the goals will help you connect the workshop’s content and methodologies with the four strands of the Tapestry of Faith religious education programs: faith development, Unitarian Universalist identity, spiritual development, and ethical development. As you plan a workshop, consider the youth, the time and space available, and your own strengths and interests as a leader to determine the most important and achievable goals for the workshop and the activities that will best serve those goals.

Learning Objectives

The learning objectives section describes what a participant will learn, become, or be able to do as a result of the workshop activities. Think of learning objectives as the building blocks used to achieve the larger goals of Building Bridges.


This table lists workshop activities in a suggested order and provides an estimated time for completing each to conduct a 90-minute workshop. The table includes all core activities from the Opening through Closing, shows Faith in Action activities, and lists Alternate Activities. You will need to extend your schedule to fit in Faith in Action; you will need to adjust or extend the schedule to use Alternate Activities.

Workshop-at-a-Glance is a guide to use in your planning.

Many variables inform the time required for an activity. Large group discussion takes more time than small group discussion, but small groups will need time to share with the large group. Youth enthusiasm may lead you to continue an activity longer than planned, and youth disinterest may lead you to move on more quickly than you expected. When planning, remember to consider the time you will need to move participants from one space to another and for clean-up.

Spiritual Preparation

These exercises will guide you to call forth your own life experiences, beliefs, and spirituality. Taking time in the days before the workshop to reflect on its content and in the moments before the workshop to center yourself will support and free you in your work with youth.

Workshop Plan

The Workshop Plan presents every workshop element in detail and in the sequence shown by the Workshop-at-a-Glance table. It also includes Faith in Action, Leader Reflection and Planning, Taking It Home, Alternate Activities, and Resources.

If you are reading Building Bridges online, you can move as you wish among a workshop's elements: Opening, Closing, Faith in Action, Activity 4, Resources, 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 Workshop," you will have a user-friendly document on your computer that you can customize as you wish, using your own word processing program. Once you decide which activities you will use, format and print only the materials you need.

Two regular activities deserve special mention:

  • Fact Sheet – Participants review a handout on the workshop’s featured religion. Review concepts not covered in earlier activities and answer questions. Since participants take the fact sheets home, consider providing a folder for each participant. Keep extra copies of fact sheets for youth who miss a workshop.
  • Time Line – The Religions Time Line is updated or referred to in every workshop. The time line visually places each religion in its historical context and shows that major religions have emerged in clusters.

The sequence of activities has been carefully thought out, with some leading into the next. Look through the full workshop before deciding how to adapt it.

Activities are designed as a mix of the quiet and the active, and involve a variety of skills and learning styles. Keep this balance in mind as you adjust the workshop to meet your group’s needs.

Faith in Action: Every workshop offers a Faith in Action activity. While these activities are optional, Faith in Action is an important element of all Tapestry of Faith curricula. Some Faith in Action activities can be completed in one meeting; others are longer-term and require the involvement of congregants or community members outside your group.

Closing: Each workshop ends with a spoken unison closing and extinguishing of the chalice. This bracketing of the workshop in ritual establishes an element of continuity and helps define the religious education space and time as sacred.

Leader Reflection and Planning: It is helpful for co-leaders, at the end of each workshop, to spend a few minutes reviewing what they have done and planning what they will do next. This segment suggests a few discussion ideas.

Taking It Home: This section provides activities and suggestions for involving families in the ideas and projects of Building Bridges, including discussion, games, family trips, photography, and faith in action activities. Taking It Home activities are primarily addressed to youth, but will be more effective if read and supported by parents. Discuss with parents the best way to communicate with them.

Alternate Activities: Every workshop offers alternate activities. Depending on your time and interests, you may choose to replace one or more of the workshop's core activities with an alternate activity, or add an alternate activity to your workshop. You may also use the alternate activities outside the program for gatherings such as family retreats, multigenerational dinners, or other events involving youth.

Engagement: There is no substitute for direct experience and personal contact with people of other faiths. A special alternate activity in most workshops is the Engagement activity. While your circumstances will affect which and how many of the 16 engagements can be arranged, the more, the better, to assure youth gain the maximum benefit from this program. See “Implementation” for more about engagement.

Resources: Each workshop contains the stories, handouts, and leader resources needed for the workshop. Under the heading "Find Out More," are book and video titles, website URLs, and other selected resources to further explore the workshop topics.