Saturday, February 25, 2006

Security blankets and teddy bears

Project Linus is a very cool sight from Gary's blog. "Linus" as in security blanket - they give security blankets "to children who are seriously ill, traumatized, or otherwise in need...[and]. . . to provide a rewarding and fun service opportunity for interested individuals and groups in local communities, for the benefit of children."

Another is Hugs Across America. This grass roots group started in a school in NYC in the aftermath of 911. They give teddy bears to children in disastor situations.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Prayer Stations

This week, during the message, Lisa created prayer stations for the kids in another part of the building. We used one large room with a closing partition and closed the partition.

The babies, toddlers, and children waiting for their turn played on one side of the partition. The other side of the partition was set up as "sacred space". She had each station numbered. Each station for sitting had a colored cloth to sit on. She took two children at a time through the stations with another adult.

She asked the children to look for each number and once there, told them a little about that particular kind of prayer.

Station 1: This station was for sentence prayers (mostly "thank you" prayers) She wrote the sentences on a huge pad of paper. One of the kids asked why there was a dot after his name. The dot for the end of the sentence.

Station 2: a cloth on the floor and a picture of Jesus kneeling to pray. She taught them the Jesus prayer, a singing prayer, a simple prayer asking forgiveness, a sentence song that we sang three times.

Station 3: a different colored cloth, a different picture of Jesus more iconic in style. He's holding a Bible. This was for listening prayers.

Station 4: the kneeling rail and The Lord's Prayer on the wall. We kneeled. She spoke one phrase at a time and the kids repeated it after her. Enthusiastically, I might add.

Station 5: the communion table - purple table runner, wooden cross, a solid rectangular purple candle on each side lit, pita bread on a small stoneware plate and juice in a matching challis. She talked about communion.

After each of the kids had gone through the sacred space we gathered with the littler ones on the other side and she did praise prayers, praying with a loud noise: a music tape and rhythym instruments walking over and around the toys. We discovered an eight month old who likes to sing.

At the end, the partition was openned and the kids who were old enough to draw were each given a huge piece of paper. I didn't hear the "assignment". But it went well.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Song of Songs - the end result


After wrestling for about a month with this I decied to tackle the story of Song of Songs with 4-8 year olds! We are all still alive and well. Here's the scoop.

The kids stayed in service for the opening and confession and then they had their own time in their own space. Before we even started, C (4 yrs old) was excited because she had learned the first song at the beginning of service.That was cool! Two songs we could have done (but didn't): "His Banner over Me is Love" (we did that two Sundays ago?) and "I Will Rejoice in You and Be Glad" (another oldie) "As a Doe" might work, too.

We did Song of Songs as a multi-sensory story about a king and a girl who loved each other. I had a brown sheet on the floor for our tent, a flat rubbermaid container for sand and lots of pictures of concrete objects from the story strewn around on the sheet (palace, antelope, mountains, apple tree, etc) . I used faceless puppet type dolls to tell the story: Solomon more golden, Shulammite more brown, lady friends lighter from being in the palace. :)

Pruned it to a picture book format of 32 short pages but ended up having to skip a lot of it to keep things moving. If I did it again I would seriously prune the story to at least half of what I did. A picture book story is more clearly a story and faster paced. I focused more on the imagery than the story. That may have been a mistake.

My hope was to catch lots of sensory images for the kids. As it turns out all the sensory detail was almost overwhelming. (Which I find interesting given the nature of the tale.) They listened to the story. They picked out the pictures to go with the story from the pictures strewn on the sheet.

We focused on things in the story: things to see, hear, taste, smell, touch. So we were trying to give them words and language and experiences and memories to go with the words as the place to start interacting with the Word. I think that part worked. I think it worked especially well.

Our eight year old was right with me. I think he enjoyed it the most. Our two four year olds were torn between wanting to play and wanting to hear the story.

We also noticed eyes, hair, etc etc. A neck like a tower was pretty funny. We used a necklace and earrings.

We included the smell of spilled perfume and blew it around with pieces of paper for wind. We had lots of foods to tastes from the story. They like cashew nuts. Not crazy about the figs, but they tried them!

My two high school helpers had the idea of taking the pictures on the sheet and gluing them in succession on a long paper as the kids picked out the pictures during the story. They wrote the name of each picture next to the picture. That turned out to be a really good idea. The visual representation of the story, I think, made the experience something a little more concrete. Because the idea for that came as we were starting, we didn't have Solomon and the Shulamite and the ladies among the pictures. Can't have a story without characters. :) Maybe we'll add them next week.

One of the four year olds
used the dolls to tell me a story after we were done. The other kids helped hang the story banner out in the hall.

What would be most interesting to me is what the kids took home, if anything!

Next week one of the moms is doing different prayer stations with the kids. Should be fun!

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Back to Children's Spirituality

On the serious side I'll tell you how our kids' time goes for Song of Songs after Sunday.

I'm reading Children's Spirituality again. Catherine Stonehouse "Children in Wesleyan Thought." I enjoyed her book, Joining Children on Their Spiritual Journey: Nurturing a Life of Faith.

It was interesting (from her article in CS p. 133-148) that Wesley, as a Christian leader, was so atuned to children. Encouraging parents to provide "nurturing environments" for their children, Sunday school, home devotions and instruction, Christian school all came from a deep belief that children were people to be nurtured and encouraged in the faith at whatever age they demonstrated interest and response.

I was especially looking forward to reading this because I transcribed my great-grandmother's diaries a few years back. She was having kids around the turn of the century and I was captivated by her attention to her children and her astute observations. They were very strict, straight-laced, religious Victorians so her observations surprised me. They were also faith-filled Methodists. So, thinking back, as a child I was interacting with 60-90 year old faith-filled people who had been strictly raised and deeply loved. I get to ponder that for a while.


Very cute! If my Buddy List opens by itself when I get on my computer between 6:30 and 7 am EST I see the long list of names with bubbles and cute little yellow Z's next to them. A whole long list! Once there was a name with no Z's so I sent a message and a couple of hours later was politely informed that the only way there would be a real person around at that time in the morning would be if they were deathly ill. :-) heh!

So fun!

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Justice in a picture book

Given "justice" as an Artisan value or for anyone interested in children's rights, I just read a picture book based on a true story, The Carpet Boy's Gift by Pegi Deitz Shea (Tilbury House, Gardiner Maine, 2003) about the carpet children in Pakistan. It indirectly (and directly in the post script) tells the story of a boy working with the Bonded Labour Liberation Front to free these children in Pakistan. The story is set in the 1990's. The boy (not the main character of the story) was shot in Pakistan for his work. Very sad but the story is told in a way that focuses on the work he did to free others and what he was freeing them from, not on his death. It's probably best for K/1st and up.