Children and Youth Religious Education

Join us on a lifelong journey to deepen our connections to the sacred.

While our building is closed, our church is open! Our weekly newsletter, the RelEd Times, will continue to come out on Wednesdays, weekly lessons you can do at home will appear on this page, and we’ll share videos of Children’s Chapel and other activities. Check back regularly.

Weekly Lesson Plans

The worship theme for May is “Gratitude.”

Relatives and memorializing UUs.

The Relatives Came

Theme/Reflection: “Gratitude.” We are grateful for our extended families. To think about how good it feels to visit with family, which we’ll do again someday.

Chalice Lighting: Gather in a circle and give each participant a battery-operated candle or light a chalice/candle. (Or make a Flannel Chalice Board & Flames. See instructions under “Other resources” on this webpage) Say the following words:

We light this chalice to celebrate Unitarian Universalism (make “U” shapes with thumb and pointer finger),This is the church of the open minds (fingers to head), Loving hearts (hands over heart), And helping hands (hands out palms up)

Videos

Watch this reading of “The Relatives Came.” When you hear/see things you like to do with loved ones, stop and talk about them.

Follow-Up Activities

  1. Make a collage of the things the relatives did together with these pictures.
  2. Make cards to send to relatives letting them know you’re thinking of them. Color, cut, and glue the pictures of the things the relatives did together.
  3. Act out the activities the relatives did together.
  4. Talk about a time when you had to sleep on the floor.
  5. Coloring Pages.
Memorializing Unitarian Universalists

If you choose, begin by lighting a chalice or candle. Use the following words or others you like (you’ll find other chalice lighting words and video on this webpage).

Call: “We light this chalice for our Unitarian Universalist spirit growing, justice seeking community.”

Response: “I am a living member of the great family of All Souls.”

Optional Beginning Ritual: (Videos on this webpage)

  • Calling Out Names
  • Spirit of Life

Watch

Dolores leads the lesson.

Follow-Up Activities

  1. Create a UU Memorial Garden or Path as suggested in Dolores’ video. The photos and biographies of the UUs are here:
    Women: pictures and bios
    Men: pictures and bios
    (Take a picture and send to Dolores for a PRIZE.)
  2. UUs Word Search. (Send completed to Dolores for a PRIZE.)
  3. Activity Pages. (Send completed to Dolores for a PRIZE.)
  4. Spring Scavenger Hunt. (Send completed to Dolores for a PRIZE.)

Please contact James Ploeser (jploeser@allsouls.ws) for information.

Who’s in a Family? Zen Pig.

Families

Theme/Reflection: “Gratitude.” We are grateful for our families. A child’s first experience in human relationships and spirituality are within a family. Feelings of trust and security are developed in the home. This lesson nurtures a sense of pride in all kinds of families and homes.

Chalice Lighting: Gather in a circle and give each participant a battery-operated candle or light a chalice/candle. (Or make a Flannel Chalice Board & Flames. See instructions under “Other resources” on this webpage) Say the following words:

We light this chalice to celebrate Unitarian Universalism (make “U” shapes with thumb and pointer finger),This is the church of the open minds (fingers to head), Loving hearts (hands over heart), And helping hands (hands out palms up)

Videos

Dolores reads “Who’s in a Family”

Follow-Up Activities

  1. Make a collage of your family using the page provided or a plain piece of paper. Cut out the people and animals or draw your own.
  2. Pantomine the things that your family does together. (cooking, eating, reading…) What else does your family do together?
  3. Coloring pages.
Gratitude with Zen Pig, Sa’di, and Helen Keller

If you choose, begin by lighting a chalice or candle. Use the following words or others you like (you’ll find other chalice lighting words and video on this webpage).

Call: “We light this chalice for our Unitarian Universalist spirit growing, justice seeking community.”

Response: “I am a living member of the great family of All Souls.”

Optional Beginning Ritual: (Videos on this webpage)

  • Calling Out Names
  • Spirit of Life

Introduction: We’ll explore “gratitude” by comparing messages in the contemporary children’s book, “Zen Pig: the Art of Gratitude,” and in the poem “The Gulistan,” written by Sa’di in the 13th century. While “Zen Pig” appears to be a book for very young children, older children understand its content on a deeper level. We’ll also look at where we see our Principles and Purposes in these writings.

Read and Watch

Dolores reads “Zen Pig: the Art of Gratitude”

Zen Pig: The Art of Gratitude

Eons ago on a grassy green Knoll, lived a pleasant little pig who always seemed quite whole.

He enjoyed his life much more than most because he took the time to look at things close.

Wherever he was, he was always there, ready and willing to be fully aware.

“That Zen pig is special.” Is what others would say. Yet, Zen pig denied, and said, “I’ll show you the way.

Care for each other, as much as yourself. And never lose sight, that love is true wealth.

And when you speak choose your words with care. Only kindness and compassion will ease others despair.

We all make mistakes, so forgive yourself fast. Don’t expect to be perfect or happiness won’t last.

Never waste time thinking of the future or the past. Just enjoy this moment and all that it has.

Be thankful for all that you have, there is no need for more. You have everything that’s needed to walk through happy’s door.

When someone’s in need don’t think, just act. Give all that you can and don’t hold back.

Listen to my words and follow the path. Then you two will sit atop the Knoll with the green, green grass”

Namaste. (“The light in me loves the light in you.”)

The Gulistan, by Sa’di

I cried because I had no shoes until I met a man who had no feet.

Discussion

The quote by Sa’di is often mistakenly credited to Helen Keller. She did say that it was this quote that she lived her life by.

How do the texts relate to our UU Principles?

  • 1st Principle: We believe that each and every person is important.
  • 2nd Principle: We believe that all people should be treated fairly and kindly.
  • 3rd Principle: We believe that we should accept one another and keep on learning together.
  • 4th Principle: We believe that each person must be free to search for what is true and right in life.
  • 5th Principle: We believe that all persons should have a vote about the things that concern them.
  • 6th Principle: We believe in working for a peaceful, fair, and free world.
  • 7th Principle: We believe in caring for our planet Earth, the home we share with all living things.
  • 8th Principle: We believe in building a diverse, multicultural ‘Beloved Community’ that eliminates all forms of oppression.

Extinguish the Chalice

If you lit a chalice, extinguish chalice when the time is right for you. Use the “Blessing” (see video), or a reading to extinguish chalice. One can be found with the “Chalice Lighting Words” on webpage.

Follow-Up Activities

  1. Make a “Gratitude Wheel”
  2. Send someone a note thanking them for being who they are.
  3. Have a “Signs of Spring Scavenger Hunt”. E-mail to Dolores when completed for a prize!
  4. Activity and Coloring Pages. E-mail to Dolores for a prize!

Please contact James Ploeser (jploeser@allsouls.ws) for information.

Lei Day, Mother’s Peace Day, and Julia Ward Howe

Lei Day

Theme/Reflection: We can show “Gratitude” by giving to others. We celebrate the beauty of nature.

Chalice Lighting: Gather in a circle and give each participant a battery-operated candle or light a chalice/candle. (Or make a Flannel Chalice Board & Flames. See instructions under “Other resources” on this webpage) Say the following words:

We light this chalice to celebrate Unitarian Universalism (make “U” shapes with thumb and pointer finger),This is the church of the open minds (fingers to head), Loving hearts (hands over heart), And helping hands (hands out palms up)

Introduction

The Polynesian settlers of the Hawaiian Islands created the lei as an appeasement to the gods. Later, flowers became the symbol of friendliness and the “Aloha” spirit. Lei Day began in 1928 at the suggestion of the late poet, Dan Blanding. Today Lei Day in Hawaii is celebrated with lei contests, colorful pageants, and plays dealing with the state’s history and culture. Lei Day is observed in Hawaii on May 1st and leis are exchanged as signs of friendship. This celebration is similar to the Unitarian Universalist observance of Flower Communion as celebrated annually in many congregations. Flower communion was started in Czechoslovakia by Unitarian minister Norebet Capek in 1923. Usually flowers are brought to the service by congregants. The flowers are collected in baskets and at the end of the service each person is invited to take home a different flower. Just as no two flowers are alike, no two people are alike. Yet each has a contribution to make. By exchanging the flowers, we signify that we are willing, in the spirit of appreciation and patience, to march together in search of truth, disregarding all that usually divides.

Videos

Dolores reads “Hawaii Is a Rainbow”

Follow-Up Activities

1) Do a Hula Dance: Take 2 steps to the left, then 2 to the right.

Make up motions to the words: rainbow, sun, rain, sky, birds, trees, flowers, seas. Then read the following poem and lead the motions you have created:

Rainbows are beautiful, rainbows are beautiful, yellow for sun, blue for rain, let’s sing a rainbow, let’s dance a rainbow, up so high in the sky.

Rainbows are beautiful, rainbows are beautiful, orange for birds, green for trees, let’s sing a rainbow, let’s dance a rainbow, up so high in the Sky.

Rainbows are beautiful, rainbows are beautiful, red for flowers, violet for seas, let’s sing a rainbow, let’s dance a rainbow, up so high in the sky.

Sing/recite and hula through a couple of times. You could use the tune to “Frere Jacques.”

2) In Hawaii on Lei Day, people give each other flower necklaces, or paper made to look like flowers.

Make leis: draw circles on paper using a glass or other round item. Decorate circles, then cut out. (Older preschoolers can usually cut, so squares would be easier than circles if they’re doing it themselves.) Poke holes in the center of the circles/squares. String circles on yarn/string/shoelace… Put a piece of tape on the end to make it easier to string. Tie and wear or give to someone else. You could make several and give them out.

3) Coloring pages

 

Unitarian Julia Ward Howe and Mother’s Peace Day

If you choose, begin by lighting a chalice or candle. Use the following words or others you like (you’ll find other chalice lighting words and video on this webpage).

Call: “We light this chalice for our Unitarian Universalist spirit growing, justice seeking community.”

Response: “I am a living member of the great family of All Souls.”

Optional Beginning Ritual: (Videos on this webpage)

  • Calling Out Names
  • Spirit of Life

Introduction: The first Mother’s Day was started by a Unitarian woman as a day for women all over the world to work for peace.

Read and Watch

The story of the origins of Mother’s Day

Peacemaking for Kids of All Ages

Mother’s Day Proclamation, written by Julia Ward Howe in 1870

Watch this “MUST SEE” video about Julia Ward Howe writing “The Battle Hymn of the Republic, is narrated by her great-great-great grandson.

Discussion

How can you put the points in Peacemaking for Kids of All Ages into action?

For older children and adults: Choose some passages from Julia Ward Howe’s Mother’s Day Proclamation to talk about. Do you have a favorite part? Why?

Extinguish the Chalice

If you lit a chalice, extinguish chalice when the time is right for you. Use the “Blessing” (see video), or a reading to extinguish chalice. One can be found with the “Chalice Lighting Words” on webpage

Follow-Up Activities

1. Write postcards or notes encouraging people to vote. This very important project in working for equality is a partnership between the RE program and All Souls’ James Reeb Voting Rights Project. Watch this video by the Maxwells for instructions. The postcards should say one of three things:

  • Vote Your Power
  • Vote for Our Lives
  • Power to the People

Then put your postcards in an envelope and mail to Ann Maxwell at the address given in the video. Do not put her address directly on the postcard. If you have questions, contact Dolores (dmiller@allsouls.ws).

2. Watch a video of “Down by the Riverside,” a spiritual often sung at rallies for peace.

3. Have a “Signs of Spring Scavenger Hunt.” E-mail Dolores when completed for a prize!

4. Activity and Coloring Pages. E-mail Dolores when completed for a prize!

Please contact James Ploeser (jploeser@allsouls.ws) for information.

May Day!

May Day

Theme/Reflection: The All Souls theme for April is “Gratitude.” As Unitarian Universalists we strive to make the world a more kind and just place. In celebrating May Day we show our appreciation for others.

Chalice Lighting: Gather in a circle and give each participant a battery-operated candle or light a chalice/candle. (Or make a Flannel Chalice Board & Flames. See instructions under “Other resources” on this webpage) Say the following words:

We light this chalice to celebrate Unitarian Universalism (make “U” shapes with thumb and pointer finger),This is the church of the open minds (fingers to head), Loving hearts (hands over heart), And helping hands (hands out palms up)

Introduction:

May Day, celebrated on May 1, is a spring festival that marks the revival of life in early spring. It probably originated with the Ancient Romans who honored the goddess Flora by gathering spring flowers. It became a favorite holiday in medieval English villages, where they gathered flowers to decorate homes and churches and dance around a maypole.

Today children in the United States and Canada as well as some European countries make baskets, fill them with spring flowers and candy, and hang the baskets on doorknobs and run away or hide until the basket is discovered. This simple, old fashioned holiday brings much joy to those who receive the baskets

Videos

Play with Me

It’s Spring

Follow-Up Activities

May Basket Game

When you give a May basket, (Point to a friend.)
That’s a time for fun. (Smile.)
Set it on the stoop, (Pretend to set basket down.)
Knock on the door, (Pretend to knock.)
And run, run, run! (Run in place or make fingers run.)

Color & Cut: Pictures of flowers. Add those flowers to the May Basket.

Make May Baskets: Fold and glue the corners according to directions. Staple or tape ribbon to opposite sides for a handle. Decorate. Add the colored & cut out flowers.

Deliver May Baskets: Leave a May Basket on the porch/stoop of your neighbors. (Using social distancing)

Make a Maypole: a) Tie long ribbons/streamers/ rope/strips from rages… to the branches of trees. b) Find a way to secure a broom or pole standing up.

Maypole Dance: In its most simple form, the dancers simply stand in a circle around the maypole and, in time with the music, take 4 steps towards the maypole, 4 steps back and the circle for a count of 8. As they approach the maypole they can raise their arms, and then lower them as they back away.

Coloring Pages

Exploring “Gratitude” with “Did I Ever Tell You How Lucky You Are?” by Dr. Seuss

This is a Story for All Ages Sunday. You can begin by watching the story in the recorded Sunday service, or read it in the transcript.

If you choose, begin by lighting a chalice or candle. Use the following words or others you like (you’ll find other chalice lighting words and video on this webpage).

Call: “We light this chalice for our Unitarian Universalist spirit growing, justice seeking community.”

Response: “I am a living member of the great family of All Souls.”

Optional Beginning Ritual: (Videos on this webpage)

  • Calling Out Names
  • Spirit of Life

Introduction: It’s interesting that our theme for May is “Gratitude” at a time when life is so frustrating and discouraging. But it’s also serendipitous in helping us reflect on the many things we have to be grateful for, even if we must look hard to find those things.

Discussion

What are things that you are lucky to have?

How does the story “Did I Ever Tell You How Lucky You Are?” make you feel?

How do you show gratitude for being lucky?

What reminds you that you are lucky?

If we were in church, today would be a “Choose Your Own Adventure” Day. What does “Gratitude” have to do with “Choose Your Own Adventure”? (The children are really good about making connections between the monthly themes and Adventure Day. We ask this question every month.)

Extinguish the Chalice

If you lit a chalice, extinguish chalice when the time is right for you. Use the “Blessing” (see video), or a reading to extinguish chalice. One can be found with the “Chalice Lighting Words” on webpage

Follow-Up Activities

Make a “Gratitude Wheel” Watch Lydia’s “how-to” video. (LINK) You will need: File folder (or something like it) or construction paper, marker/crayon/pencil, metal brad or a twist tie, and a button

Have a “Signs of Spring Scavenger Hunt.” For a prize, e-mail to Dolores when completed

Activity Pages

Create 3 “Adventures”

  • Building/Dramatic Play: Use any building materials and dress up clothes.
  • Games: Bring out board games you haven’t seen for a while (if there are any left!) Or make up your own.
  • Gym: Turn an area of your house into a Gym or go outside. Make up a golf course using cans, pots or buckets. Make up a ball game. Make an obstacle course. Ride a scooter, bike, or skateboard through it.

Take pictures or videos of skits, games, creations. We’d love to see you on our webpage!

Please contact James Ploeser (jploeser@allsouls.ws) for information.

Big Orange Splot!

The Big Orange Splot

Theme/Reflection: The All Souls theme for April is “Liberation.” We liberate our spirits when we are true to who we are.

Chalice Lighting: Gather in a circle and give each participant a battery-operated candle or light a chalice/candle. (Or make a Flannel Chalice Board & Flames. See instructions under “Other resources” on this webpage) Say the following words:

We light this chalice to celebrate Unitarian Universalism (make “U” shapes with thumb and pointer finger),This is the church of the open minds (fingers to head), Loving hearts (hands over heart), And helping hands (hands out palms up)

Introduction: In “The Big Orange Splot,” Mr. Plumbean lives on a “neat street” where all the houses look the same. As seagull flies over his house and drops a can of bright orange paint on his roof, but instead of repainting his house to look like all the others on the street, Mr. Plumbean paints it to resemble his dreams. His neighbors sent each other to talk him into repainting his house to look like theirs, but everyone he talks to ends up painting their houses to look like their dreams also. In the end all the neighbors say: “Our street is us and we are it. Our street is where we like to be, and it looks like all our dreams.”

Videos

Two readings of Daniel Pinkwater’s “The Big Orange Splot.”

Read by 8th graders in New Zealand

Read by a teacher

Follow Up

  1. What is your favorite place to be? What colors would you paint your favorite place?
  2. Color pictures of houses. Decorate with stickers if you have them. Cut out and glue pictures on your house.
  3. Make an orange splot from paper, cardboard, or fabric, or use this one. Take turns hiding and finding it.
  4. Coloring pages
Liberation Through Self-Expression

If you choose, begin by lighting a chalice or candle. Use the following words or others you like (you’ll find other chalice lighting words and video on this webpage).

Call: “We light this chalice for our Unitarian Universalist spirit growing, justice seeking community.”

Response: “I am a living member of the great family of All Souls.”

Optional Beginning Ritual: (Videos on this webpage)

  • Calling Out Names
  • Spirit of Life

Introduction:

Mr. Plumbean lives on a street where all the houses look the same, and everyone likes it that way. Everything changes when a seagull splashes orange paint on Mr. Plumbean’s house. He decides to paint his house to reflect his colorful dreams. Living out our 1st Unitarian Universalist Principle: “We covenant to affirm and promote the worth and dignity of every person.”

Read/Hear: “The Big Orange Splot” by Daniel Manus Pinkwater

Mr. Plumbean lived on a street where all the houses were the same. He liked it that way. So did everyone else on Mr. Plumbean’s street.

“This is a neat street!” (actors in unison with ASL)

Then one day, a raptor flew over Mr. Plumbean’s house, carrying a can of bright orange paint. No one knows why. And he dropped the paint right over Mr. Plumbean’s house! It made a big orange splot on his house.

“Oooh! Too bad” (actors & congregation) “Plumbean’s going to have to paint his house”.

He supposed he would. He looked at the big orange splot for a long time, then he went about his business.

But the neighbors got tired of seeing the big orange splot. They told him he needed to paint his house.

So Plumbean went out and bought some paint. He bought blue paint, and red paint, and yellow paint, green paint and purple paint. When he was finished his house was like a rainbow! It was like a jungle! It was like an explosion!

People said, “Plumbean has popped his cork! Blown his stack! Flipped his wig! Dropped his stopper!” (gesture) They went away muttering. (actors & congregation mutter)

That night Plumbean planted palm trees and bought an alligator. In the morning neighbors found Plumbean relaxing in his yard, sipping lemonade, with an alligator by his side.

People shouted, “Plumbean has gone too far! This used to be a neat street (ASL) Plumbean, what have you done to your house?”

Plumbean answered, “My house is me and I am it. My house is where I like to be and it looks like all my dreams.”

They asked the woman/man who lived next door to Mr. Plumbean to go and have a talk with him. Tell him that they liked it before he changed his house, and he has to paint it back so they have a neat street again. The man/woman did as they asked. The next morning when they came out of their houses, they saw a big red and yellow ship next door to Mr. Plumbean’s house!

“What have you done to your house?” they shouted.

He answered, “My house is me and I am it. My house is where I like to be and it looks like all my dreams”.

“He’s got bees in his bonnet, bats in his belfry, and knots in his noodle!”

Then, one by one, late at night they went to see Mr. Plumbean. They would visit with him in his yard and drink lemonade. The next day that person would set about changing their own house to fit their dreams.

(Pause while one by one actors turn their houses around)

Whenever a stranger came to the street of Mr. Plumbean and his neighbors, the stranger would say, “This is not a neat street”. (ASL)

Then all the people would say, “Our street is us and we are it. Our street is where we like to be, and it looks like all our dreams.”

Discussion

Mr. Plumbean decides to be different by painting his house rainbow colors.

  • Are there ways that you show that you are different? If so, who are you different from? How are you different from them, and why do you show you are different from them?
  • Are there ways that you show that you are the same? If so, who are you the same as? How are you the same as them, and why do you show that you are the same as them?

At one point, the neighbors “decided they would pretend not to notice” the rainbow house of Mr. Plumbean.

  • Is ignoring a problem ever a good idea?

Mr. Plumbean says that “My house is me and I am it. My house is where I like to be and it looks like all my dreams.”

  • Do you think that Mr. Plumbean is his house and his house is Mr. Plumbean?
  • Are your clothes you, and are you your clothes?

What other of our UU Principles do you see in the story?

  • 1st Principle: We believe that each and every person is important.
  • 2nd Principle: We believe that all people should be treated fairly and kindly.
  • 3rd Principle: We believe that we should accept one another and keep on learning together.
  • 4th Principle: We believe that each person must be free to search for what is true and right in life.
  • 5th Principle: We believe that all persons should have a vote about the things that concern them.
  • 6th Principle: We believe in working for a peaceful, fair, and free world.
  • 7th Principle: We believe in caring for our planet Earth, the home we share with all living things.
  • 8th Principle: We believe in building a diverse, multicultural ‘Beloved Community’ that eliminates all forms of oppression

Adult version of the 7 Principles

8th Principle: We believe in building a diverse, multicultural ‘Beloved Community’ that dismantles systemic racism and other forms of oppression

Extinguish the Chalice

If you lit a chalice, extinguish chalice when the time is right for you. Use the “Blessing” (see video), or a reading to extinguish chalice. One can be found with the “Chalice Lighting Words” on webpage

Follow-Up Activities

  1. Design a house or houses that “reflect your dreams”. Use templates provided or draw your own.
  2. Design multiple houses and make a neighborhood. Tape them to a wall or large paper or cardboard. Name your streets.
  3. Draw a neighborhood. Watch video.
  4. Design a house from building materials. Take a picture of your creation and send to Dolores for a prize. (dmiller@allsouls.ws)
  5. Make an orange splot from paper, cardboard, or fabric, or cut out the splot provided.
  6. Have a “Signs of Spring Scavenger Hunt.” E-mail to Dolores when completed for a prize.

Please contact James Ploeser (jploeser@allsouls.ws) for information.

Earth Day and April Bunnies

The April Rabbits

Theme/Reflection: The All Souls theme for April is “Liberation”. With the bursting forth of spring come many surprises. As Unitarian Universalists we respect and celebrate all living things.

Chalice Lighting: Gather in a circle and give each participant a battery-operated candle or light a chalice/candle. (Or make a Flannel Chalice Board & Flames. See instructions under “Other resources” on this webpage) Say the following words:

We light this chalice to celebrate Unitarian Universalism (make “U” shapes with thumb and pointer finger),This is the church of the open minds (fingers to head), Loving hearts (hands over heart), And helping hands (hands out palms up)

Introduction: In “The April Rabbits”, each day of April brings rabbits to young Robert, equal in number to the day’s date. Each day’s batch is wackier in dress and behavior than the previous day’s! 

Videos

The April Rabbits, by Davis Cleveland

 

When Spring Comes, by Kevin Henkes

 

Follow Up

1) Play the “Bunny Listening Game.”

How to Play the Bunny Listening Game

This game is played just like Simon Says, only the bunny does the talking! Select someone to be the “Bunny” and that person wears the bunny headband. Give the “Bunny” a basket/bag with the picture cards inside. The “Bunny” selects one card at a time to read aloud to the others. For example, “Bunny says, touch your toes.” (You might want to eliminate the cards with touching nose and shaking hands. Unless participants shake their own hands)

The participants will perform the action named. If the “Bunny” does not say “Bunny says” and someone does the action, that person skips the next action. The faster the actions are named, the better. Switch “Bunnies.”

2) Cut out small pictures of rabbits. Glue the correct number of bunnies to a numbered page.

3) Bunny craft: Cut out bunny body pieces and assemble by gluing onto a piece of paper.

4) Create a simple “obstacle course” for participants to hop through, inside or outside.

5) Coloring pages

The Interdependent Web and Earth Day

If you choose, begin by lighting a chalice or candle. Use the following words or others you like (you’ll find other chalice lighting words and video on this webpage).

Call: “We light this chalice for our Unitarian Universalist spirit growing, justice seeking community.”

Response: “I am a living member of the great family of All Souls.”

Optional Beginning Ritual: (Videos on this webpage)

  • Calling Out Names
  • Spirit of Life

Introduction: Our 7th Unitarian Universalist principle calls us to “respect and care for the interdependent web of all existence, of which we are a part”. With Earth Day coming on April 22nd, we’ll explore ways to live out our 7th principle. Unitarian Universalists believe we should be friends of the Earth, not its conquerors.

History of Earth Day (video for younger children)

History of Earth Day (older): Earth Day founder Gaylord Nelson came up with the idea for a national day to focus on the environment after Nelson, then a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin, witnessed the ravages of a massive oil spill in Santa Barbara, California, in 1969. Inspired by the student anti-war movement, Senator Nelson realized that if he could infuse the energy of anti-war protests with an emerging public consciousness about air and water pollution, it would force environmental protection onto the national political agenda.

Senator Nelson announced the idea for a “national teach-in on the environment” to the national media. He then persuaded Pete McCloskey, a conservation-minded Republican Congressman, to serve as his co-chair and recruited a 25-year-old named Denis Hayes from Harvard as national coordinator. Hayes built a national staff of 85 to promote events across the land. April 22, falling between spring break and final exams, was selected as the date.

On April 22, 1970, 20 million Americans — at the time, 10% of the total population of the United States — took to the streets, parks, and auditoriums to demonstrate for a healthy, sustainable environment in massive coast-to-coast rallies. Thousands of colleges and universities organized protests against the deterioration of the environment. Groups that had been fighting individually against oil spills, polluting factories and power plants, raw sewage, toxic dumps, pesticides, freeways, the loss of wilderness and the extinction of wildlife united on Earth Day around these shared common values. Earth Day 1970 achieved a rare political alignment, enlisting support from Republicans and Democrats, rich and poor, urban dwellers and farmers, business and labor leaders. By the end of 1970, the first Earth Day led to the creation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of the Clean Air Act. Two years later Congress passed the Clean Water Act. A year after that, Congress passed the Endangered Species Act.

Today, Earth Day is widely recognized as the largest secular observance in the world, marked by more than a billion people every year as a day of action to change human behavior and provoke policy changes.

Now, the fight for a clean environment continues with increasing urgency, as the ravages of climate change become more and more apparent every day.

The social and cultural environments we saw in 1970 are rising up again today — a fresh and frustrated generation of young people are refusing to settle for platitudes, instead taking to the streets by the millions to demand a new way forward. Digital and social media are bringing these conversations, protests, strikes and mobilizations to a global audience, uniting a concerned citizenry as never before and catalyzing generations to join together to take on the greatest challenge that humankind has faced.

Discussion

1) In what ways did Earth Day bring together people of differing political views?

2) In what ways can we put our 7th Principle into practice? “10 Things I Can Do to Help My World” (though this book is written for younger children, the ideas are for everyone)

3) We’re going to create a journey of how we put Unitarian Universalism into action. When you name something you’ve done, you write, or draw a picture, of it in a footprint outline (or trace your own feet). Take all the footprints and make a path through your house. If you want a really long “journey”, make two footprints for each action, one written and one drawn.

Examples: * Something that helped make things fair? A compromise? (justice, equity, and compassion) *Helped someone else? (inherent worth and dignity, interdependent web)*Took care of nature or another animal? (interdependent web)* Listened to someone else who had a very different opinion? (search for truth and meaning, acceptance of one another)* Played with someone new whom you did not know very well? (acceptance of one another, encouragement to spiritual growth) (back when we could be with people)

  • 1st Principle: We believe that each and every person is important.
  • 2nd Principle: We believe that all people should be treated fairly and kindly.
  • 3rd Principle: We believe that we should accept one another and keep on learning together.
  • 4th Principle: We believe that each person must be free to search for what is true and right in life.
  • 5th Principle: We believe that all persons should have a vote about the things that concern them.
  • 6th Principle: We believe in working for a peaceful, fair, and free world.
  • 7th Principle: We believe in caring for our planet Earth, the home we share with all living things.
  • 8th Principle: We believe in building a diverse, multicultural ‘Beloved Community’ that eliminates all forms of oppression

Adult version of the 7 Principles

8th Principle: We believe in building a diverse, multicultural ‘Beloved Community’ that dismantles systemic racism and other forms of oppression

Extinguish the Chalice

If you lit a chalice, extinguish chalice when the time is right for you. Use the “Blessing” (see video), or a reading to extinguish chalice. One can be found with the “Chalice Lighting Words” on webpage

Follow-Up Activities

Watch the “Mother Earth Song” video. Here are the words. Make a shaker to play the rhythm. Use anything you have around the house that rattles or put dry beans/pasta/beads/ stones… in a container/jar with a lid.

Watch the “Earth Mother Chant” video.

Make a drum to play the rhythm. Use anything around the house that you can bang on. See “Drumming As A Spiritual Practice” on web page for ideas.

Listen to the reading of “The Curious Garden” by Peter Brown

Watch the video of “The Lorax

Do the Yoga pose, “Salute To the Sun.”

Have a “Signs of Spring Scavenger Hunt.” E-mail to Dolores when completed for a prize. (Link)

Coloring pages

Please contact James Ploeser (jploeser@allsouls.ws) for information.

Easter Sunday!

Easter Sunday

Focus:

Easter as a springtime celebration, the joy of returning life.

The significance of Easter for young children is its joyousness and hope. Their participation in activities that focus on returning life is an early experience in understanding the theological concept of hope.

Chalice Lighting: Gather in a circle and give each participant a battery-operated candle or light a chalice/candle. (Or make a Flannel Chalice Board & Flames. See instructions under “Other resources” on this webpage) Say the following words:

We light this chalice to celebrate Unitarian Universalism (make “U” shapes with thumb and pointer finger),This is the church of the open minds (fingers to head), Loving hearts (hands over heart), And helping hands (hands out palms up)

Videos:

Easter Parade, by Mary Chalmers (https://www.youtube.com/jcBY7qj8O6I)

Movement Activities:

  1. When Flowers Grow (Background music optional). Children are standing. As you move among them, tap each child on the head, saying, “You are a tiny seed being planted way down in the ground. Down you go.” The child stoops as he/she is planted. After several seeds are planted, say to the next child, “And you will make a good sun, and the sun stands over there.” Continue planting a few more seeds, then say to another child, “And you would make a good rain cloud and rain is over here on this side.” When all are planted, continue, “The little seeds are so quiet and still, and the sun shines and makes them warm all over.” The sun “shines” over all the seeds. “Then the rain comes and chases away the sun, then goes pitter patter down on all the seeds.” Rain “rains” gently on the seeds. “Then the sun comes back, and the seeds begin to grow. Ever so slowly they grow, and grow, and grow until the buds burst open and the flowers seem to hold up their heads to greet the spring!”
  2. Have an Egg Hunt or Scavenger Hunt
  3. Bunny Hop Races

Art Activities:

Making Easter or Treasure Baskets

  • Cut paper lunch bag in half. Decorate bottom half. Attach a handle made from a strip of other half. Shred rest of bag to use as “grass.”
  • Another version

Coloring pages

Exploring Easter and Other Spring Traditions

If you choose, begin by lighting a chalice or candle. Use the following words or others you like (you’ll find other chalice lighting words and video on this webpage).

Call: “We light this chalice for our Unitarian Universalist spirit growing, justice seeking community.”

Response: “I am a living member of the great family of All Souls.”

Optional Beginning Ritual: (Videos on this webpage)

  • Calling Out Names
  • Spirit of Life

Introduction: We’re going to explore the Christian story of Easter, the Pagan origins of Easter and resurrection stories from the world’s religions and mythology.

Easter story to read and draw

Reading of the book, “The Easter Story” by Brian Wildsmith https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CNFWv906PQo

Demeter and Persephone, a resurrection story from ancient Greece

Amaterasu, the Sun Goddess, a resurrection story from Japanese mythology

Easter Origins and Traditions with Amy, the puppet

Discussion: What themes do these stories have in common? Do you have a favorite? Why?

Closing:

If you lit a chalice, extinguish chalice when the time is right for you. Use the “Blessing” (see video), or a reading to extinguish chalice. One can be found with the “Chalice Lighting Words” on webpage

Follow-Up Activities:

  1. Crafts
  2. Easter Egg Chalice Coloring Page (https://www.uua.org/worship/words/image/easter-egg-chalice-coloring-page)
  3. Activity Pages
  4. Coloring Pages
  5. Signs of Spring Scavenger Hunt with Prize
  6. Egg Dying Patterns and Picture to Design
  7. Dye Eggs (use food coloring, Egg Dying Kit, or markers)
  8. Have a “Bunny Hop” Race
  9. Have an Egg Hunt (or scavenger hunt; see “Signs of Spring Scavenger Hunt”, with prizes)

Please contact James Ploeser (jploeser@allsouls.ws) for information.

Freedom to accept help, liberty bells, and more

All By Myself

Monthly Theme: “Liberation.” As young children develop, they often want to do things for themselves. In this story, a baby elephant won’t let the other animals help her reach the high leaves she wants on the tree. She learns that sometimes we have to accept help to accomplish our goals.

Chalice Lighting: Gather in a circle and give each participant a battery-operated candle or light a chalice/candle. (Or make a Flannel Chalice Board & Flames. See instructions under “Other resources” on this webpage) Say the following words:

We light this chalice to celebrate Unitarian Universalism (make “U” shapes with thumb and pointer finger),This is the church of the open minds (fingers to head), Loving hearts (hands over heart), And helping hands (hands out palms up)

Introduction: Today we’re going to hear a story about a little elephant who wants to do things by herself, without anyone’s help. Are there things you like to do for yourself (eat, get dressed, carry things …)? Talk about things that you like to do for yourself too (like cooking, organizing, driving …).

Story: Read or watch “All By Myself.”

Follow Up Activities:

  1. Make an elephant face by gluing ears and trunk on to the back of half of a paper plate (or use cardboard cut in that shape). Color the plate/cardboard and pieces first. Attach a tongue depressor (pencil, plasticware, layered cardboard from a cereal or other box) for holding up to face. Cut eye holes. Or glue/tape on eyes on the plate. Sample and mask pieces here.
  2. Act out the animals in the story (elephants, lions, birds, snakes).
  3. Go outside and act out the story using a tree if one is available.
  4. Coloring pages of elephants.

Exploring April’s monthly theme, “Liberation”

This is a “Story for All Ages” Sunday. You can begin by watching the story in the recorded Sunday Worship, or read it in the worship service transcript.

If you choose, begin by lighting a chalice or candle. Use the following words or others you like (you’ll find other chalice lighting words and video on this webpage).

Call: “We light this chalice for our Unitarian Universalist spirit growing, justice seeking community.”

Response: “I am a living member of the great family of All Souls.”

Optional Beginning Ritual: (Videos on this webpage)

  • Calling Out Names
  • Spirit of Life

Introduction/Discussion: The All Souls theme for March is, “Liberation.”

  1. How would you describe liberation? (getting free from being treated unfairly, to raise to equal rights and status, to free from restraint, freedom from limits)
  2. In the story of “The Bell of Atri”, who was liberated and how?
  3. Is there ever a situation where liberation wouldn’t be a good idea? (freeing a zoo animal, not buckling up in a car…)
  4. If we were in church, today would be a “Choose Your Own Adventure” Day. What does liberation have to do with “Choose Your Own Adventure”? (The children are really good about making connections between the monthly themes and Adventure Day. We ask this question every month.)

If you lit a chalice, extinguish chalice when the time is right for you. Use the “Blessing” (see video), or a reading to extinguish chalice. One can be found with the “Chalice Lighting Words” on webpage

Follow-Up Activities:

  1. Making a “Bell of Justice.” You will need: bottom half of a plastic bottle, plastic or paper cup, or empty soup can; foil; yarn/string/ribbon/shoelace; a way to punch a hole in the bottom of bottle/cup/can; tape or glue. Instructions: 1) cut the bottom half of the bottle or get the can or cup. 2) make two foil balls. 3) attach a string to each ball with tape. 4) put a hole in the center of the bottom of the bottle/can/cup. 5) cover sharp edge of bottle/can–for the bottle you could hold it quickly against the bottom of a warm iron, or cover with tape. 6) decorate the bottle/can with stickers, permanent marker, or glue paper/fabric. 7) insert end of strings through the center hole, so the balls are dangling down towards open end of the bottle/can/cup. 8) attach the string to the bottom of the bottle/can with tape or tie a knot. 9) Ring bell by holding bottom. 10) Decide how your family will use it. Options: Try using a larger bottle/can/cup and larger foil balls. Use more foil balls. Sample photo here.
  2. Coloring Pages
  3. Activity Pages
  4. Create 3 “Adventures.” 1) Building/Dramatic Play: Use any building materials and dress up clothes. 2) Games: Bring out board games you haven’t seen for awhile (if there are any left!) Or make up your own. 3) Gym: Turn an area of your house into a Gym or go outside. Make up a golf course using cans, pots or buckets. Make up a ball game. Make an obstacle course. Ride a scooter, bike, or skateboard through it.

Take pictures or videos of skits, games, creations. We’d love to see you on our webpage!

Please contact James Ploeser (jploeser@allsouls.ws) for information.

Curiosity about parents, curiosity about prayer, and more

Tell Me, Grandma. Tell Me, Grandpa.

Monthly Theme: “Curiosity”. As young children develop, they become curious about their parents. Making these deeper connections with those closest to us is a way to experience spirituality. In this story a young child asks her grandparents to tell her what her parents did when they were little. As she hears the tales of their antics, she can only imagine them as doing those things as though they were adults.

Chalice Lighting: Gather in a circle and give each participant a battery-operated candle or light a chalice/candle. (Or make a Flannel Chalice Board & Flames. See instructions under “Other resources” on this webpage) Say the following words:

We light this chalice to celebrate Unitarian Universalism (make “U” shapes with thumb and pointer finger),This is the church of the open minds (fingers to head), Loving hearts (hands over heart), And helping hands (hands out palms up)

Introduction: Today we’re going to hear a story about a little girl who wonders what her parents were like when they were little. She loves the funny stories that she hears from her grandparents.

Story: Read or watch “Tell Me, Grandma. Tell Me, Grandpa

Follow Up Discussions & Activities:

  1. Do you think mommy and daddy really looked like they do now, when they were little?
  2. Look at your family’s pictures of parents when they were young.
  3. Talk about some of the antics you did when you were little.
  4. If possible, call grandparents to ask questions about parents.
  5. On the activity sheet, circle all the pictures of things or activities that were mentioned in the story. Cut out the pictures and mount them on a piece of paper or cardboard to make a collage. If you don’t have cardboard, cut up a cereal, pasta or other box.
  6. Color the pictures of the grandparents and children.
Curious About Prayer and Blessing

Begin by lighting a chalice or candle. Use the following words or others you like (you’ll find other chalice lighting words and video on this webpage).

Call: “We light this chalice for our Unitarian Universalist spirit growing, justice seeking community.”

Response: “I am a living member of the great family of All Souls.”

Beginning Ritual: (Videos on this webpage)

  • Calling Out Names
  • Spirit of Life

Introduction: The All Souls theme for March is, “Curiosity.” Many of us are curious about prayer and blessing. Let’s explore some questions and thoughts.

Discussion:

  1. What is prayer? Google describes prayer as an invocation or act that seeks to activate a rapport with an object of worship through deliberate communication. It often refers to an act of request directed towards a deity or a deified ancestor. Another way to describe prayer could be a sharing of deep emotions and desires with our innermost selves and a universal power. Prayer can also be paying attention to others, focusing love and attention on others who are experiencing difficulty or pain, like in our “Calling of Names” ritual.
  2. Is praying the same as wishing really hard? For some people it is. We all have our own ideas about prayer. Others would not pray for special favors but would hope to feel in touch with the power of goodness in the universe, to gain insight into problems they face or decisions that need to be made.
  3. Do Unitarian Universalists pray? UUs use are not required to learn or recite particular prayers. Many UUs take quiet moments of prayer or meditation to sense their oneness with the whole of the universe or feel their connection with the source and spirit of life.
  4. How do people experience prayer? There are many ways and forms to focus on prayer. It could be through meditating, giving, walking, caring, art (like coloring or drawing), rituals such as our Child Dedications, music (see drumming video on this webpage), or journaling. (Today’s follow up activity will be creating a Journaling “Prayer” Book.)
  5. What is a blessing? A blessing is a beneficial thing for which one is grateful. Recognizing and feeling gratitude. Such as a blessing before a meal. We are not blessing the food: the food is a blessing that we’re grateful for. Or in our Child Dedications. We are not blessing the child; we are blessed to be welcoming that child into our Beloved Community. In the blessing we do at the end of Chapel, we are showing gratitude for being together.

Extinguish Chalice when the time is right for you. It could be before reading the conversation, or before doing the follow up activities. Use the “Blessing” (see video), or a reading to extinguish chalice. One can be found with the “Chalice Lighting Words” on this webpage.

Follow Up Activities:

  • Meditative Coloring Pages
  • Making a journal (VIDEO). In Rob’s March 22 sermon, he encouraged us to make a journal to write (or draw) about our losses and blessings. Keeping such a journal and looking back on it can be a form of prayer. If you have thoughts or prayers that are special to you or speak to you, write or draw them in there too. See Readings, Reflections, Prayers, and Blessings listed on this webpage, including the meal and bedtime prayers.

Please contact James Ploeser (jploeser@allsouls.ws) for information.

Wolf’s Chicken Stew, the Flaming Chalice, and more

Wolf’s Chicken Stew

A family of chicks is curious about where the treats that show up at their door are coming from. Intending to fatten up the chicks to make chicken stew, the wolf inadvertently forms new and curious friendships.

Chalice Lighting

Gather in a circle and give each participant a battery-operated candle or light a chalice/candle. Or make a Flannel or Felt Chalice Board & Flames (see directions on this webpage). Say the following words:

We light this chalice to celebrate Unitarian Universalism (make “U” shapes with thumb and pointer finger). This is the church of the open minds (fingers to head), loving hearts (hands over heart), and helping hands (hands out palms up).

Introduction

Today we’re going to hear a story about a wolf and a family of chicks that become friends. Do wolves and chickens usually get along? Sometimes friends happen when we least expect it.

Story

Read or watch “Wolf’s Chicken Stew” and emphasize the repetitive phrases. Each time the wolf brings the chickens a goody he says, “Eat well, my pretty chicken. Get nice and fat for my stew.” Encourage the children to say this phrase with you in a wolf voice. Let them practice the phrase several times before you read the story and tell them to say it when you point to them. 

Follow-Up Activities

Take turns hiding a chicken (stuffed animal, plastic animal, or picture) while 1 person, the Wolf, closes their eyes or steps out of room. Then, Wolf asks, “Where is that pretty chicken. I want some chicken stew.” The other players then will offer clues to help the wolf find the chicken. They can use clues like, COLD-WARM-HOT. When the chicken is found switch wolves.

Glue pictures of all the treats the wolf brought on to a strip of paper. Can you remember which he brought first? Next? (There are two pictures of each treat.) Do the/a chicken dance. Put on music and have the children dance like chickens, like chicks, and then like a wolf.

Color the wolf and chickens.

Curious About Unitarian Universalism: Our Flaming Chalice Symbol

Begin by lighting a chalice or candle. Use the following words or others you like, or see Chalice Lighting video linked on this webpage.

Call: “We light this chalice for our Unitarian Universalist spirit-growing, justice-seeking community.”

Response: “I am a living member of the great family of All Souls.”

Options for Rituals

Choose from the rituals in the videos on this web page.

  • Calling Out Names
  • Spirit of Life
  • Body Prayer
  • Blessing

Introduction and Conversation

The All Souls theme for March is “Curiosity.” When do you think curiosity is a strength? When could it be a weakness or challenge?

Have you ever wondered about the meaning and history of our flaming UU chalice symbol? To UUs, it is seen to represent the warmth of love, light of truth, and freedom to search for what is true and right.

Choose a flaming chalice history story to read or tell.

Follow-Up Activities

Extinguish the chalice when the time is right for your group. It could be before reading the story or before doing the follow up activities. Use the “blessing” or a reading to extinguish the chalice, which can be found with the “Chalice Lighting Words.”

Please contact James Ploeser (jploeser@allsouls.ws) for information.

Suffragists, dreams, and more.

Preschool

K – 1st grades

2nd – 3rd grades

4th – 5th grades

For links to gatherings for middle school and high school groups, contact James Ploeser (jploeser@allsouls.ws).

General Resources

Choose from the chalice lighting texts below.

Preschool Chalice Lighting Words

We light this chalice to celebrate Unitarian Universalism.
This is the Church of the open minds.
This is the Church of the loving heart.
This is the Church of the helping hands.

Children’s Chapel Chalice Lighting Words

Call: We light this chalice for our Unitarian Universalist spirit growing, justice seeking community.
Response: I am a living member of the great family of All Souls.

We Light This Chalice to Affirm, by Charles Howe

We light this chalice to affirm that new light is ever waiting to break through to enlighten our ways,
That new truth is ever waiting to break through to illume our minds,
And that new love is ever waiting to break through to warm our hearts,
May we be open to this light and to the rich possibilities that it brings.

For Every Time We Make a Mistake, by M. Maureen Killoran

Call: For every time we make a mistake and we decide to start again,
Response: We light this chalice.
Call: For every time we are lonely and we let someone be our friend,
Response: We light this chalice.
Call: For every time we are disappointed and we choose to hope,
Response: We light this, our chalice.

We Light This Chalice for the Light of Truth, by Mary Ann Moore

We light this chalice for the light of truth.
We light this chalice for the warmth of love.
We light this chalice for the energy of action.

This Flame Affirms the Light of Truth, by Elizabeth Selle Jones

This flame affirms the light of truth, the warmth of love, and the fire of commitment.
Extinguishing the chalice: We extinguished this flame but not the light of truth comma the warmth of love, or the fire of commitment which adhere symbolizes. These we carry in our hearts until we come together again.

At Times Our Own Light Goes Out, by Albert Schweitzer

At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has caused to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.

We’ll keep adding more, and feel free to suggest your own (send them to Dolores at dmiller@allsouls.ws).

I Praise the Blue Sky, by Anonymous

I praise the blue Sky.
I praise the sun that is in you.
I praise the bright moon.
I praised the shining stars in you.

The Only Prayer, by Johannes Eckhart

If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is thank you, it will be enough.

The Earth So Big, by Janet Goode

The earth so big and I’m so small,
I wonder why I’m here at all,
until, at dark, I see the sky
and then I think I know just why.

I’m here to look and think and ask.
To wonder seems to be my task.
That suits me fine; there’s much to see.
I sure am glad on earth to be.

Oh Great Spirit, by Unknown

Oh great spirit,
Earth, sun, sky and sea.
You are inside,
And all around me.

We Lift Our Hearts in Thanks, by Percival Chubb

We lift our hearts in thanks today
For all the gifts of life.

Earth, Who Gives Us This Food, Native American

Earth, who gives us this food,
Sun, who makes it ripe and good:
Dear Earth, dear Sun, by you we live;
To you our loving thanks we give.

God, We Thank You for This Food, by Unknown

God, we thank you for this food,
for rest and home and all things good,
for wind and rain and sun above,
for peace on earth and those we love.

Bedtime Prayer Thoughts, by Barbara Marshman
  • Think about the things you are thankful for today.
  • Think about something you feel sorry that you did or said today, and any way you can make it right.
  • Think about something you hope will happen, and any way you can help it to happen.
  • Think about being in a place of beauty or a favorite place where you feel safe and good.
  • Think about the people you love and their love for you. See each person’s face in your mind. Give them a goodnight
Thank You, God, for All Life Brings, by Robert and Polly Cooper

Thank you, God, for all life brings,
for health and play an all good things,
and help me use my heart and mind
to make me strong and keep me kind.
Amen.

I Am Thankful for the Night, by Rebecca J. Weston

I am thankful for the night
and for the pleasant morning light,
for health and strength and loving care
and all that makes the world so fair.
Amen.

These Are the Days, by William R. Murray

These are the days that have been given to us; let us rejoice and be glad in them.
These are the days of our lives; let us live them well in love and service.
These are the days of mystery and wonder; let us cherish and celebrate them in gratitude together.
These are the days that have been given to us; let us make of them stories worth telling to those who come after us.

We Give Thanks for the Earth, by Gary Kowalski

We give thanks for the earth and its creatures and are grateful from A to Z:
For alligators, apricots, acorns, and apple trees,
For bumblebees, bananas, blueberries, and beagles,
Coconuts, crawdads, corn fields, and coffee,
Daisies, elephants, and flying fish,
For groundhogs, glaciers and grasslands,
Hippos and hazelnuts, icicles and iguanas,
For juniper, jackrabbits, and June bugs,
Kudzu and kangaroos, lightning bugs and licorice,
For mountains and milkweed and mistletoe,
Narwhals and nasturtiums, otters and ocelots,
For pennies and persimmons, and polar bears,
Quahogs and Queen Anne’s Lace,
For raspberries and roses,
Salmon and sassafras, tornadoes and tulipwood,
Urchins and valleys and waterfalls,
For X (the unknown, the mystery of it all!)
In every yak and yam;
We are grateful, good Earth, not least of all,
For zinnias, zucchini, and zebras,
And for the alphabet of wonderful things
that are as simple as ABC.

Your Gifts, by Rebecca Parker

Your gifts–whatever you discover them to be–
     can be used to curse or bless the world.

The mind’s power,
     the strength of the hands,
     the reaches of the heart,
the gift of speaking, listening, imagining, seeing,

waiting

any of these can serve to feed the hungry,
     bind up wounds,
     welcome the stranger,
     praise what is sacred,
     do the work of justice
          or offer love.

Any of these can draw down the prison door,
     hoard bread
     obscure what is holy,
     comply with injustice,
          or withhold love.

You must answer this question:
What will you do with your gifts?

Choose to bless the world.

The choice to bless the world
can take you into solitude
to search for the sources
of power and grace;
native wisdom, healing and liberation.

More, the choice will draw you into community,
     the endeavor shared,
     the heritage passed on,
          the companionship of struggle,
     the importance of keeping faith,
     the life of ritual and praise,
          the comfort of human friendship,
               the company of earth,
                    it’s chorus of life
                         welcoming you.

None of us alone can save the world.
Together – that is another possibility,
     waiting.

Dolores shows us the ropes.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=2&v=iyxGNrjRtj4&feature=emb_title

So many things to do and people to see!

Adapted from The Church of the Larger Fellowship

You can create your own worship services at home. Sunday morning is the traditional time, but you may find another time that suits your family better. Weekly is the usual interval, but if less often works for you, try that and perhaps move to more frequency. (Readings, reflections, and prayers can be found on this webpage.)

Creating a Setting. You may decide to do one of the following:

  • Gather around a table with a chalice, candles, flowers, or special objects.
  • Form a half circle of chairs around the fireplace, perhaps adding a special picture on the mantelpiece.
  • Spread a bright-colored cloth on the floor, arranging bits of nature or art around your chalice in the center, and sitting around in a circle.
  • Gather outdoors in a beautiful spot.

Create a Pattern. Here is the format one family uses for a Sunday morning service in their living room:

  • Each member of the family lights a candle
  • Opening words: these can be a favorite poem or something appropriate from the newspaper, a magazine, or a book. Or you can repeat the same words each time, such as:

To this quiet place of beauty
we have come from workday things,
pausing for a while and waiting
for the thoughts that quiet brings.
Source unknown

  • Recorded music
  • Thoughts for the week: each person shares high points and low points of the past week, what they are looking forward in the coming week, and anything they’re worrying about
  • Closing words or a song they sing together

They take turns doing the opening words and choosing the music sometimes they go on to do a religious education session.

Another Way to Create a Service Together

  • Provide a box or paper bag into which you can drop ideas or themes for services as they occur to you. P.T. Barnum’s birthday, Harvest Moon, Helping Others, Making Our Home Ecologically Responsible, or Black History Month are some ideas to start with.
  • After your family worship, but while you are still gathered in your worship space, someone reaches into the box or bag and pulls out a slip of paper with a theme.
  • Decide among you who is to be responsible for 1) creating a visual focal point, 2) opening words, 3) a song, 4) a reading, and 5) a closing. Agree to present the service next time you gather.

You might also plan a service around religious questions that members of your family raise. Take some time to gather ideas and materials that focus on the question in different ways. (Use past ASC monthly themes or contact Dolores for suggestions.) Encourage other members of your family to say how they feel about the question or what their responses might be. The point, of course, is not so much to answer the question as to give it the attention and importance that it deserves and to keep these big questions coming.

If your family is interested in a sermon, check out our webpage of past sermons.

Fred Katz talks about drumming as a spiritual practice.

In Rob’s March 22 sermon, he encouraged us to make a journal to write (or draw) about our losses and blessings. Keeping such a journal and looking back on it can be a form of prayer. If you have thoughts or prayers that are special to you or speak to you, write or draw them in there too. See Readings, Reflections, Prayers, and Blessings listed on this webpage, including the meal and bedtime prayers.

Greetings from Anya, our nursery provider (VIDEO).

Greetings from Olivia, our nursery provider (VIDEO).

Welcome

Welcome to the vibrant and enriching program that is religious education for children, youth, and families at All Souls! Our mission, in alignment with that of the church at large, is to build a diverse, spirit-growing, justice-seeking community. We do this through meaningful lesson themes, arts, hands-on and physical activities, and open conversations. In addition to classes, there are many family friendly events, as well as opportunities to enrich our connections with the family of All Souls Church. Welcome, one and all, to our Unitarian Universalist religious community.

Read on for an RE adventure, as well as helpful information.

~ Dolores Miller, Director of Children and Youth Religious Education

Vision and Goals

The purpose of the Religious Education Program is to:

  • encourage and support our children’s spiritual and ethical growth;
  • provide an open, safe, and compassionate community;
  • offer young people a place to explore Unitarian Universalism and other faiths; and
  • support a natural development of religious faith based on direct experience.

The 2019-2020 registration form is available below. You must register your child(ren) for all classes, nursery through high school. You’ll find descriptions of the classes below. Ours is a cooperative program, so all parents/guardians must volunteer in some way. There is no waiver on volunteering. 

Classes and Other Offerings

Two professional caregivers provide supervised play for toddlers and babies. Remote hearing devices to listen to the service are available for parents who choose to stay with their children.

This year’s curriculum, “Celebrating Me and My World,” explores Unitarian Universalism. It helps preschoolers grow their sense of trust and caring and develop their self-identity and sense of connectedness with all of life. At the 11:15 am service, the 2-, 3-, and 4-year-old classes combine and follow the “Celebrating Me and My World” curriculum.

“We Are Many, We Are One” offers young children the opportunity to learn about their religious community and tradition, as well as the freedom to discover and express their uniqueness. At 11:15, 4-year-olds are with the 2- and 3-year-olds.

In the Theme-Based Workshop Rotation Model of Religious Education, children explore the monthly theme through a variety of venues. Workshops include UUism and world religions, performing and fine arts, meditation/yoga, social justice, nature, cooking, and games, and sports. Workshops are led by congregants who have a passion or talent in a particular area. Grade-level classes are guided by leading learners (class teachers) who provide spiritual and practical support and consistency in relationships.

Workshop Rotation FAQs

  1. What is Workshop Rotation? Workshop Rotation is a model of eeligious education in which the children experience the monthly theme/story through a variety of learning styles, by “rotating” each week to a different workshop in a different space.
  2. Who leads the workshops? Workshops are led by members of the congregation who have an interest or passion for a particular subject; for example, nature, art, cooking, gardening, creative writing, games, yoga, meditation, science. Leaders usually lead the same workshop each week for one month (hopefully), as children of different ages cycle through.
  3. What ages will be doing Workshop Rotation? Currently Kindergarten through 5th grade will be exploring Workshop Rotation on a weekly basis. High school and middle school students will participate at times and in ways as appropriate.
  4. What is the role of the class teacher? The teachers (or “leading learners,” as I like to call them), act as guides for their class, and provide the consistency necessary for creating the “Beloved Community” with their class. They will also lead the reflections and discussions.
  5. Will the classes have homerooms? In a sense, yes. K/1st will meet in Room 1, 2nd/3rd in Room 2, and 4th/5th in the Spirit Room. There, they will eat a snack, check in, and discuss some of the monthly themes. After about 15-20 minutes, the students will be called to Children’s Chapel, which will take place in the Studio. From there, they will be dismissed to their workshops, WHICH MAY OR MAY NOT BE HELD IN THE SAME ROOM IN WHICH THEY WERE DROPPED OFF. Please make note of posted signage and presentations to find the room from which to pick up your child.
  6. On what will the content of the workshops be based? The “core” of the workshops will be the monthly themes and said theme’s accompanying story. Click through here for more information on theme-based workshop rotation from the UUA.

Students dive deeper into Unitarian Universalism, world religions, and our Judeo-Christian heritage. Using this knowledge, they begin to look critically at the world that they inhabit. There is also an emphasis on deeper engagement on both fronts, with an increase in field trips and site visits as well as a turn inward towards the congregation at large, putting on events for them such as the pancake breakfast, haunted house, and chili lunch.

11:15 Service ONLY. For its high schoolers, All Souls’ offers a unique and empowering religious education opportunity. With support from adult advisors, the youth are challenged to take on responsibility for their own learning experience. They select their own methods and topics for spiritual exploration and are held accountable for cultivating an inclusive community environment rooted in the eight UU Principles. Activities include community service, social action, overnight excursions, student-led classroom discussions, and much more.

The All Souls’ Youth Group meets during the second service throughout the church year. Its activities and performance are monitored by the Youth-Adult Committee (YAC), in consultation with the lay-led Religious Education Committee. The YAC includes appropriate All Souls’ staff (youth ministry coordinator and/or director of religious education) as well as adult advisors, but its business is conducted and led by the youth themselves.

Our bi-annual Coming of Age (CoA) program is designed for youth (9th-12th grade) to explore and solidify their own beliefs, and thus to “come of age” in our UU congregation. This year-long program offers youth a chance to clarify their values, beliefs and spirituality in conversation the traditions of Unitarian Universalism and other world religions, as well as with adult mentors and program leaders. The CoA program culminates twice: first in youth presenting their own belief statements (Credos) to the congregation during Sunday services (typically in late spring); and secondly, on a UU Heritage Trip to historic sites in the Boston area, led by the Senior Minister and Youth Minister. CoA is currently scheduled for the 2019-20 and 2021-22 church years. Contact James Ploeser for more info (jploeser@allsouls.ws).

The UUA/UCC curriculum on sex and relationships will be offered this year to junior high (7th and 8th grade) all year. Sixth grade OWL will be offered in the fall only. In addition, for the first time we will offer OWL for children in 4th and 5th grade early in 2020.

On the 1st Sunday of the month, following the Story for All Ages, children in K-5th will choose from a variety of activities such as gym play, construction, crafts, and reading. Once a month parent volunteers and Middle School students will help facilitate these activities.

Led by dedicated volunteers, middle and high schoolers, and staff each week, Children’s Chapel brings together the K through 5th graders for worship and ritual. It includes a chalice lighting, hymns, meditations, and a story related to the monthly theme. Children’s Chapel is held on the second, third, fourth, and fifth Sundays of the month, unless that Sunday’s sanctuary service is intergenerational.

Integral to a child’s religious education is worshipping with the entire church community. Children ages K and up attend the first 15 minutes of worship in the sanctuary on the first Sunday of the month. Dolores and guests tell a story to the entire congregation that introduces that month’s spiritual theme. There is no Children’s Chapel on that day.

Held in the sanctuary during the regular worship service, this dedication ceremony celebrates the blessing of new life, expresses parents’ hopes for their children, and calls the congregation to lead and nurture a child’s spiritual life. Contact Dolores Miller (dmiller@allsouls.ws) to reserve one of the offered dates for your child’s dedication.

Children and youth take the stage to celebrate that “each child born is one more redeemer,” in our annual partnership with the music program. This year, with expanded roles and opportunities, the pageant is not to be missed!

Held in the cold of February when nights seem incredibly long, come to the warmth of All Souls on a Friday night for games galore. From tabletop games in the Library to cornhole in the Minister’s Corridor, a good time will be had by all!

Asking, “…why is this night different from all other nights?” congregants and friends celebrate Passover, drawing parallels between the Jews’ exodus from slavery in Egypt and current struggles against oppression. Children are especially welcome for conversation, good food, stories, and singing.

This clothing swap of gently used children’s clothing (sized for newborns through teens) is held in the spring. Save your clothing and pass them on to other All Souls families. Leftover clothing is donated to a local charity.

These choirs, for children and youth from 5 to 14, rehearses on Tuesdays from 6:15 to 7:15 pm. Led by Director of Music and Arts Jen Hayman, the children’s choir sings a vast variety of repertoire, including classical, world music, and pop music, and often collaborates with the adult music ensembles at All Souls and other guest musicians. For more information, contact Jen Hayman (jhayman@allsouls.ws).

Religious Education Committee

The Religious Education Committee embodies congregational responsibility for the religious education for children and youth by articulating directions and supporting the professional and volunteer staff in realizing the goals of the program.

Meeting once a month with RE staff, committee members articulate the direction and design of the religious education program by listening to parents and congregants, planning and implementing religious education events, supporting training sessions, and working with other adults in the wider congregation to build a truly intergenerational religious community.

Danielle Henry, Committee Chair

Julie Vallelunga

Allison Denny

Kirk Freeman

Dana Martin

Merrie Dodson

Kevin Hilgers

Shelley Finlayson

CYRE Safety Policies

All Souls Church (ASC) and its congregants want all people at the church to be safe. The Religious Education (RE) Safety Policy (Safety Policy) is about the reasonable boundaries, behaviors, and rules ASC and its congregants follow and respect to keep children and youth under the age of 18 safe. We ask that all adults in the church follow these rules with all children and youth in the church during church-related activities. We understand that individual adults may have grown up with different rules, or follow different rules within their own families. We, the Children and Youth Religious Education (CYRE) Committee, arrive at these rules and behavior expectations after research, consultation with child safety professionals, and prayerful consideration.

  • General: No adult should ever be alone with one child or youth, unless they are the parent or legal guardian of that child or youth. An adult mentor who is talking to a child or youth can find a place that provides some privacy, but may not be alone in a room with a child or youth. Examples of safe mentor conversation locations include a corner of Pierce Hall, a corner of the lobby, or in a room with the door open where the conversation can easily be seen by people walking by.
  • Background Checks: ASC RE staff will perform background checks on all individuals who regularly work with children or youth at church-related activities.
  • Registration: Parents/guardians must complete RE registration for each child or youth participating in RE. Registration may be done online or using forms available in each classroom.
  • Snacks: ASC will offer snacks at RE classes and events that are relatively healthy and unlikely to be allergens. Parents must notify the ASC RE Director of any special food allergies, so that ASC RE staff can make an effort to provide appropriate snacks.
  • Drop-Off: If a parent/guardian is the first to drop off a child or youth and there is only one teacher in the room, the parent/guardian will stay until another teacher or child or youth arrives.
  • During Service: During service, children or youth must either be in class or with their families in the service.
  • Outside of Service: In times outside of service and RE classes, children and youth may move through the church with age-appropriate independence. However, children and youth are expected only to enter spaces meant for people to occupy, e.g. children or youth cannot climb into closets, hide backstage, or go by themselves into the bell tower. Consider both the physical safety of the space and the likelihood that children or youth could get hurt out of view by objects or people. Parents/guardians are responsible for supervising children and youth.
  • Pick-Up: Parents/guardians must pick up children in 5th grade and younger promptly after class. Teachers may not dismiss a child in 5th grade or younger on their own, unless the parent/guardian has expressly permitted this in writing. Please be mindful of this when socializing after the service.
  • Off-Site Activities: Children and youth may not leave the church for RE activities without a signed permission form from a parent or guardian.
  • Emergency Plan: ASC will perform evacuation drills so that children, youth, and teachers are familiar with the routes. Parents/guardians will meet children and youth outside in the event of an evacuation.
  • First Aid: ASC provides limited first aid kits in every classroom. A more comprehensive kit is at the front desk. Teachers will promptly notify parents/guardians of any serious health issues.
  • Photographs: ASC will not publish pictures of children or youth in ASC publications or on social media without express parental/guardian permission, which may be provided at RE registration. Adults, children, and youth at ASC should not post pictures of or identify children or youth on social media without the permission of the child or youth and their parent/guardian.

Serious violations of the Safety Policy should be reported to the RE Director, Dolores Miller, at 202-517-1469.

Thank you for participating in the All Souls Church Religious Education Program.

Expectations for Behavior

In the RE Program, we seek to engage children and youth within an atmosphere of mutual respect and kindness. At the beginning of the church year, all classes create a “Class Covenant,” stating how they will be in community with each other. In order to ensure a safe learning environment for all participants, we expect a method of interacting guided by our covenants. In the event that a child needs help meeting these expectations, the following steps may be taken: verbal correction or sign, removal from the group, conversation with the Religious Educator, consultation with parents, parents asked to take part in class.

In the spirit of community, we ask that our children and youth “be present” in class. This means they do not bring books and toys into the room with them unless it is meant to be used with the lesson. Ideally, all children will be present in mind and spirit, but if your child has a special need to bring a book or toy from home, please speak with Dolores.

Registration Form

Use 0 for kindergarten; nothing for preschool
Use 0 for kindergarten; nothing for preschool
Use 0 for kindergarten; nothing for preschool
Tell us things we should know about your child(ren), such as allergies, special needs, coping strategies, interests, nicknames, etc.
Tell us about your talents and other offerings you might bring to the program.

Are you looking for a deeper, richer connection to a smaller group of our church’s children? Teaching may be the role for you. As part of a teaching team, you will work with a particular age group (preschool, K-1st, 2nd-3rd, 4th-5th, 6th-8th, or 9th-12th) at the service time you choose (9:30 or 11:15), teaching approximately twice a month for the whole church year. This year-long commitment provides the opportunity to get to know your students, their parents, and your fellow teachers in a meaningful way. Lesson plans, training, and year-long support are provided by the CYRE program to help you make the most of this ministry.

Have you always wanted to teach Sunday school, but can’t commit for an entire church year? Workshop leader may be the role for you. Each month will have activities and lessons focusing on the church’s monthly theme. After children’s chapel time, which all K-5th students attend, each class will go to a different theme-related workshop room for the remainder of the morning. This is where you, the workshop leader, come in. For the entire month, or part thereof (except for first Sundays), you’ll lead a workshop, assisted by the grade-level teachers, in a particular area. A different class will come to your workshop each Sunday, so, by the end of the month, you will have worked with all the different age levels, adjusting your activities as needed to each age group, but leading the same general activity each time. If you have a particular skill or interest you’d like to share, let us know. If not, we’ll help you choose one that will be fun and rewarding.

Are you energized by the idea of bringing many of the spiritual components of the All Souls adult worship experience to our church’s children? Children’s Chapel Team may be the role for you. Each Sunday (except first Sundays, when we have a Story for All Ages in the sanctuary) all K-5th children attend Children’s Chapel in the Studio before proceeding on to that morning’s workshops. Children’s Chapel includes child-friendly worship elements such as chalice lighting, joys and concerns, story, and music. Interested adults are needed both to lead children’s chapel services, as well as to assist through storytelling and/or providing music throughout the church year. Once children’s chapel is finished, volunteers are free to head back upstairs for the remainder of the adult worship service in the sanctuary.

Do you want to help out in CYRE, but don’t feel ready to step into a teaching or workshop leader role? First Sunday “Choose Your Own Adventure” Facilitator may be the role for you. The first Sunday of every month, children in Kindergarten and above begin the morning in the sanctuary with their parents and stay through the Story for All Ages. After the story, all K-5th children proceed to the lower level for a special first Sunday snack, then free playtime, either active games in the gym, or crafts, books, games, construction, and dramatic play in separate classrooms. This is where you, the Adventure Day Facilitator, come in. Adults are needed to supervise both the snack and the free playtime. No lesson plan to learn and just once a month, this is an ideal role for someone who is looking for a lighter volunteer commitment.

If you have time during the week to come in to the church and help the CYRE staff with various preparatory tasks, there’s plenty to do. Your help “behind the scenes” of the CYRE program would be greatly appreciated.

Our program serves children at All Souls, from the time they’re babies through their senior year of high school. The success of our program rests upon volunteers from our church community. Whether you are a parent or not, we need wide participation from the entire church community to meet our spiritual goals for everyone—children, youth, and adult volunteers. Volunteers are supported by our staff: Director of Religious Education Dolores Miller and Youth Coordinator and CYRE Assistant James Ploeser. A volunteer CYRE Committee provides additional support. Come, be a part of this vital, enriching ministry. You’ll be glad you did! Contact Dolores or James.