Sunday, June 2, 2019

May 26 and June 2, 2019 - Curiosity and Beauty: An Exploration of Ramadan


Dear Parents and Caregivers, 

We've had a fabulous couple of Spiritual Exploration sessions with the kids, exploring the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.  A perfect fit with Curiosity as our May worship theme, the kids had lots of questions about it.  Many from last Sunday were good teachers to the new kids there today!  Many thanks to all the LSE volunteers and Community Lunch assistants too.

Main takeaways: 
Children will understand the basics of what Ramadan and Eid are.  (See below for the basics.). 
  • Last Sunday they read the book, My First Ramadan.  
  • We tasted dates, which is often the first thing Muslims end their fast with each day. 
  • Many children decorated table tents with basic facts about Ramadan for the Community Lunch tables at church.  Some of you took some home last week.  
  • This Sunday we read a funny book called Nabeel's New Pants: An End Tale, available at KHLibrary.  
Children will associate Ramadan with community service and giving to the poor.  
  • Since part of fasting is to build empathy for those without food ALL year, las week we husked corn for the Community Lunch. The kids did an awesome job and were totally engaged and proud of what they did.  
  • Today we talked about the Muslim tradition of Zakat ("zuh-KAHT ") of giving money to the poor, following the belief that all that we have is from Allah/God and not really ours, but ours to share with others.  We made collection jars for families who wish to to start a tradition of collecting spare change.  When the jar is full, decide as a family on groups you might want to give money to.  Examples include:   Good Samaritan Haven, Vermont Foodbank, UCM Community Lunch
In that spirit of Eid--a time of celebration and generosity and June’s theme, “What does it mean to be a people of Beauty?” we sent your child/ren home with a marigold, which--like each of them--will grow and spread beauty over the coming summer.  Marigolds thrive anywhere, and if possible would love to get put in the ground today!

  • Children start fasting for Ramadan around age 7 or 8.  Would you want to try out fasting for just two or three days your first year or more?  
  • Where should we put the family Collection Jar so we remember to put spare change in it?  
  • What was the funny part about Nabeel's pants that were too long for him to where at the Eid festivities?  
  • Plant your marigold and notice how the Beauty spreads over the season!

If you like, watch couple short videos on Ramadan:

1. An animated music video telling children the basics of Ramadan Moon by Yusuf Islam (formerly known as Cat Stevens)

2. How to be an Ally during Ramadan -- more for older kids or adults, but great images of people observing Ramadan

You could join in the Islamic Center of Vermont's monthly Community Supper, open to all. Next church year, our middle school curriculum for 6th-8th graders will be Crossing Paths, which includes a visit to the Islamic Society of Vermont.   

Basics for the whole family to know about Ramadan:

Who: Muslims around the world.  Muslims are people following the religion called Islam.  1 out of 4 people in the world is a Muslim.  
What: Ramadan is a 30 day Muslim holy month that follows the lunar calendar.  
Where: Wherever Muslims live, with the highest concentration in the Middle East, but there are some Muslims in every country in the world!
When: This year it's May 5-June 4th.  When Ramadan ends, it begins a 2-3 day festival called Eid, which includes going to the mosque, dressing up, sharing delicious food and giving gifts.  
​Why: Muslim's believe this is the month, 1400 years ago, when the prophet Mohammad first received the words of Allah (God) which form the first chapters of the Quran.  
How: Most Muslims observe Ramadan in the following ways: fasting (no food or water) from sunrise to sunset with some exceptions (young children, nursing / pregnant mothers​, the sick or very elderly, etc.), spending time with family, praying, and going to Mosque.  Ramadan is a time to be introspective, reading the Islamic holy book of the Quran, and to focus time and money on those who are poor or sick.  

Thanks for sharing in the exploration of Ramadan with us!

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

May 12, 2019 -- Curiosity in many forms

Sunday May 12, 2019

In the Children's Chapel we introduced the theme of Curiosity and went several directions with it.  The kids knew a lot about curiosity.  We talked about wondering how to do something that you've never tried before.  They knew about asking someone who does know a lot about whatever you're curious about.  That picking good questions to ask is an important part of curiosity.

In general, curiosity is a really good thing that helps us learn.  Sometimes we have to be careful about what we say or do to act on that curiosity.

We read the book Don't Touch My Hair by Sharee Miller.  The kids were captivated as the main character explains how she loves her fluffy, big, curly hair but so does everyone else.  People are always commenting on it and always touching it--usually without asking first.  We talked about if you're curious about someone, get their permission before just touching.  This applies to hair, skin, clothing, wheelchairs, babies, etc.

Continue the conversation at home:  

  • Have you ever had something that everyone is curious about and wants to touch?  How did it feel?  How did you respond?
  • Can you think of a time you were so overcome with curiosity you touched someone or something without asking first?  What might you say if you had a do-over?  

Since it was also Mother's Day, we followed up with some ways to celebrate our own mother or some mothers who we care about even if they are not our mothers.  We were making gift certificates and curious to brainstorm what things we might be able to do for our mothers / parents / friends to make their day special.  Ideas included: just helping out more, cuddling them during a thunderstorm, making them a cup of tea or coffee, helping make everyone's beds around the house, making them breakfast, helping to clean the house.

During the 9am Spiritual Exploration time, we brainstormed hand motions to go with a song for next Sunday's worship which celebrates Lifespan Spiritual Exploration.  The song is "From You I Receive."  If your child was there at 9am, ask them if they remember the hand motions and you can learn it early.  Music here.

During the 11am Spiritual Exploration time, we had enough extra volunteers that we added a choice option of going outside to pick-up litter--thinking of Mother's Day on a big scale of caring for Mother Earth.  Our tie into Curiosity was, how many cigarette butts might we find.  What would you guess?  We were about 10 of us going out for 20 minutes, just around the church yard, and the library yard across the street.  Our guesses were between 25 and 59 or so.  Scroll down to find out the total!

That's right, we found approximately 232 cigarette butts during our brief time outside.  Thank you to the amazing litter picker-uppers and the mathematics team work to figure out the answer to our question.  Our estimate was far too low.  It led us to ask other questions, like "Why do people who smoke throw out the butts?"  "What are they made out of?"  "Could more places put out large cans like we do at the church, to concentrate where the butts get dumped?"

An example of some of the Mothers Day appreciation that some kids chose to focus on.  (We did have copies with blank gender pronouns, for mothers who may use other pronouns besides she/her/hers.).

April 14, 28, and May 5, 2019: All Species Day

Sunday April 14 and Sunday April 28 were in part spent preparing for All Species Day--an opportunity to celebrate the WHOLENESS of the web of life of which we are a part.

May 5, 2019 was an actual Multigenerational Service completely dedicated to All Species Day.  Click here to listen to the story that Rev. Joan and I wrote, which wove through the entire worship service.

Spiritual Theme: As Unitarian Universalists, the 7 principles are a guide for how to live.  The 7th principle is to honor the interconnected web of life.  What can we do at church to honor that web?  

1. We talked about what animal energy was living inside of us on that day and moved as a group like those animals that were mentioned as we went around the circle.  

2. All ages were given a chance to make masks or other animal / plant props either for themselves on May 5th, or as loaner masks.  

On April 14th, kids who wanted a different option made pudding for the free Monday Community Lunch that we serve at the church.  

Both groups showed great teamwork and honoring of our covenant in how they shared materials and tasks.  

Thank you to all the kids, youth, and volunteers who helped make this Multigenerational Worship Service come to life!

Continue the conversation at home:

  • What animal or plant energy is living inside you today?  (Enegetic = bunny? tadpole?  Shy = kitten?) 
  • Go for a walk and look for signs of plants and animals that are interconnected.  (ex. insects pollinating the flowers, food chains, etc.). 
  • Can you think of a lesson you've learned from nature?  (ex. a soaring hawk might remind us that sometimes relaxing can actually help us get where we want to go, or a loud pair of nesting birds reminds us to speak up and work hard to protect or defend that which we care about)

                        Below: Great flier made by 3rd grade artist Elena Guadagno.  Thank you, Elena!


Sunday, April 7, 2019

April 7, 2019 - Forgiveness as a Key to Wholeness

Sunday April 7, 2019
  • Names & Gems of Joy and Concern (just like the adults do Candles of Joy and Concern). 
  • Introduce this month's theme of Wholeness. We guessed at the American Sign Language for Wholeness, and turns out we were pretty much right:  ASL for Whole.  
Today's focus: "Forgiveness as a part of Wholeness"
Spiritual Theme: We all make mistakes and hurt people sometimes.  Knowing how to ask for forgiveness and to give forgiveness is an important part of accepting the whole of our friends and families.  

1. We read the book Horrible Bear! with good stomping to accompany it.  
2. Like the characters in the book, we talked about saying you're sorry is 1) saying "I'm sorry," and 2) offering to fix it.  "Fixing it" can take many forms.  We acted out scenarios of things that might happen at church and what more you could do besides just saying "I'm sorry."  Examples include:
  • bumping someone so they spill a drink --> getting paper towels to help clean-up
  • knocking a block tower over --> helping rebuild it
  • stepping on someone's toe --> offering them some tea or a special treat

1. Many kids also heard the story Mussa and Nagib.
2. We drew things we want to let go of on the Budda Boards or on the scrap paper, and recorded the kindnesses our friends give us in our Gratitude Books, like Mussa records Nagib's kindness by carving it in a rock.  

Continue the conversation at home:  
  • Why did the girl in the book stop being mad at the Bear?  (she broke her stuffed bunny's ear and realized accidents can easily happen, and it wasn't his fault)
  • Can you think of a time when you accidentally broke something special to someone?  Did you say you were sorry?  Did you offer to fix it somehow?
  • Read the story of Mussa and Nagib as a family.  Try to think of some things you would each write in the sand, and others you would carve in stone.  Add these to the Gratitude Book (stone) or scrap paper to get recycled (sand).  

Sunday, March 31, 2019

Mar. 31, 2019 -- Celebrating Transgender Day of Visibility

Sunday March 31, 2019

Today's focus: Celebrating Transgender Day of Visibility 

Welcome: Welcome In song and chalice lighting
Introductions: Names and "Where would you like to journey to?"
Movement activity: Different ways to journey around the room (kids came up with ideas like flying, hopping, sliding, twirling, and more).  

  • We followed up on the book Introducing Teddy.  We talked about how it's important to dress and act how you want, and that being a good friend is the most important.  (We talked about how some boys may like to wear nail polish or fancy jewelry or dresses, but still feel like a boy and they are not transgender.) 

  • I introduced the terms gender and transgender.  We did talk about how sometimes a boy might wear a skirt or dress and that doesn't necessarily mean they are transgender, just they like wearing dresses.  

  • We talked about how some people don't feel like genders we usually hear talked about.  If someone doesn't feel like a boy/man or girl/woman, or if they feel like BOTH genders, they may use they/them pronouns, or others like xe, xem, xeirs (x pronounced like a z).  It's good to ask someone what pronouns they use, just to make sure.  We talked about the pronoun stickers for name tags at church, at the Welcoming Congregations table.  

Gender stereotype sort: Kids had fun sorting a pile of toys, books, jewelry, clothes and other items into three piles...   Boys, Girls, and Both (during the 11am I realized "All genders" would be more inclusive that 'Both' and changed it).  

At the 9am, most kids agreed right away that nothing was JUST for boys or JUST for girls.  They had good reasons for each item.  

During the 11am the kids put many things in 'Both' but enjoyed sorting some things based on who USUALLY likes those things the most.  They were clear that it was FINE if someone from a different gender wanted to dress in a princess dress and that you could step in if you heard a kid saying, "That's only for boys" or "That's only for girls" and mention that all toys, clothes, colors, and even make-up can be for anyone!   

Two older kids during the 9am looked at the current restroom signage in the vestry and made a recommendation for a more gender inclusive sign.  They made a display for coffee hour.  We discussed this as a whole group during the 11am service (in the 9am we watched the dance portion of the service instead).  

Continue the conversation at home:  
  • Try a role play at home, of someone telling a kid that "boys can't be princesses", or "girls can't be firemen."  What would be a kind way to help teach them?     
  • What are some gender neutral words for: fireman (firefighter) mail man (mail courier), police man (police officer), stewardess (flight attendant), waitress (server)   
  •   Read (or watch these video links) of these fabulous books:
  1. I am Jazz   by Jessica Hershel and Jazz Jennings
  2. Jacob's New Dress by Sarah and Ian Hoffman
  3. Red by Michael Hall

May 26 and June 2, 2019 - Curiosity and Beauty: An Exploration of Ramadan

  Dear Parents and Caregivers,  We've had a fabulous couple of Spiritua...