Religious Education Blog

Religious Education Blog The blog of the Religious Education Department of First Unitarian Church of Oklahoma City
10February

What Is The Nature of God?

QUUEST Activities for Feb 12 - March 5

What Is The Nature of God?

So many gods, so many creeds,
So many paths that wind and wind,
While just the art of being kind
Is all the sad world needs.
— Ella Wheeler Wilcox, American poet (1850-1919)

During the month of February, the elementary children will be learning about religious pluralism in an age appropriate way. They will learn about King Sigismund, the Golden Rule and become familiar with the phrase, “we need not think alike to love alike.”

On the date your child is in the Incredible Edible room he/she will need to bring something to place on the class altar. A photo, something from nature, a favorite small treasure. The items will be returned the same day.

EXPLORE THE TOPIC TOGETHER.
Talk about...

A couple of books to help with conversations and extend the ideas presented are in the RE library. Feel free to browse and borrow.

OTHER ACTIVITES:

  • Making puppets to retell the story of King John Sigismund and the Edict of Torda
  • Making a class altar and creating chalice lighting words
  • Making a crest of the Golden and Platinum rule
  • K-2, creating a garden mural, noticing diversity, looking at Big Questions
  • 3rd-5th creating an ending for a story, Anika and the Headscarf and learning about similarities and differences of several religions

DATES TO BRING ALTAR ITEMS
February 12…..1st-2nd grade
February 19…..Kindergarten
February 26…..3rd grade
March 5….4th-5th grade

Posted in Sunday Morning Classes

20August

RE Classes Resume This Sunday!

Time to get back on track...

RE Classes Resume This Sunday!

Classes resume meeting at 10:00 beginning this Sunday.

  • The Nursery is staffed from 9:45-12:20.
  • Preschool fun with paint!
  • Kindergarten families meet with Terry in the Incredible Edible Lab.
  • 1st-5th Graders go to Kaleidoscope for not 1, not 2 but 3 fun Chalice activities!
  • 6th-12th grade, Ann and Dorothy have “UU basics” ready to go...

Posted in Sunday Morning Classes

15September

Be a People of Invitation

Consider this article from Soul Matters..

What Does It Mean To Be A People of Invitation?

Do not try to save the whole world or do anything grandiose. Instead, create a clearing in the dense forest of your life and wait there patiently, until the song that is your life falls into your own cupped hands and you recognize and greet it. Only then will you know how to give yourself to this world so worthy of rescue. -Clearing by Martha Postlewaite

Create a clearing, listen for your song and let it teach you how to give yourself to this world. There is no better description of the religious life than this! And notice that it all begins with us inviting otherness into our lives. Yes, our song comes from somewhere deep within us. But, at the same time, it also comes from something or somewhere beyond ourselves. It takes time, but eventually we come to realize that to be whole and to find home a clearing must be made, cupped hands have to form and otherness must be invited in.

That otherness takes many forms. Most often, we Unitarian Universalists have focused on the otherness of diverse perspectives and ideas. We have a rich tradition of continually expanding the circle to make room for multiple voices. If there is one spiritual practice we all share, it is the practice of trying to hear and invite in voices other than our own. There is power and holiness in the chorus. About this we all agree.

But right along side the chorus of multiple voices and perspectives sits another kind of otherness. It is the otherness of our particular calling, our particular voice, our particular song. It is never separate from us and yet it is also never quite under our complete control. Every single one of us knows how easy to lose touch with it. As Postlewaite’s poem says, we make dense forests of our lives where what is most precious is not easily seen or heard.

So clearings become essential. Some may say that the sacred is earned by believing the right things. But for us the sacred never arrives until we are able to carve out the right amount of space. With all due respect to those who ask, Do you believe?, we’ve placed our lot with those who continually ask, Are you making room? Are you committed to the precious clearing? Have you arranged a life with enough space to invite otherness in?

And so as this new year begins, we start with cupped hands.

11January

Forgiveness

QUUEST Activities for Jan 8-29

Forgiveness

We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. (One) who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. — Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

During this month...the children are talking about forgiveness. Forgiveness is an action surrounded by love, both in forgiving and being forgiven, and the family is where forgiveness is first learned. Forgiveness is under-represented in the media; five- and six-year-olds may be more familiar with revenge, winning, and "I'm better" attitudes. The UU second Principle (We believe all people should be treated fairly) brings us the venue to discuss forgiveness. The group heard the Bible story of the Prodigal Son.

EXPLORE THE TOPIC TOGETHER.
Talk about...

  • When is it hardest to forgive?
  • Why is it so hard to say, "I'm sorry"?
  • How does it feel when your brother or sister does something unfair and does not say they are sorry?
  • Who can hurt you more, strangers or people you are close to?
Share which you think is stronger, love or unfairness.

EXTEND THE TOPIC TOGETHER.
Write the word FORGIVENESS across the top of piece of paper. Work together to think of places where forgiveness needs to happen, one place for each letter. Start with F for FAMILY. Notice opportunities to practice forgiveness. Discuss together with your child what is needed to let go of anger and grudges toward another.

A FAMILY ADVENTURE.
Visit a history museum. Read the stories aloud and talk about situations that might need forgiveness.

A FAMILY DISCOVERY.
Books about fairness for preschool and early elementary children include Being Fair by Cassie Mayer (Heinemann Educational Books, 2007); Zapizapu Crosses the Sea: A Story About Being Fair by Diane Abad Vergara (Trafford Publishing, 2007); Ser Justo/Being Fair(Spanish) by Robin Nelson (Lerner Group, 2005); Thank You God!: A Jewish Child's Book of Prayers by Judyth Groner (Kar-Ben Publishing , 2003); Let's Talk About Being Fair: An Early Social Skills Book by Joy Wilt Berry (Gold Star Publishing, 2000).

Children in upper elementary grades can read Being Fair: A Book About Fairness by Mary Small (Picture Window Books, 2006).

Family resources for parents to read include Storytelling to Teach Character and Prevent Bullying by Elisa Davy Pearmain (Character Development Group, 2006). Also explore the audio CD, Free to Be ... a Family.

A FAMILY GAME.
Forgive and Forget—a great family game using cards.

A FAMILY RITUAL.
End the day by saying to one another, "Good rest, may you forgive everyone who hurt you today. May you feel the joy of forgiving."

Posted in Sunday Morning Classes

17October

Letting Go

QUUEST Activities for October 25-November 8

Letting Go

The theme this month is Letting Go. The elementary children will experience each workshop once during the month. Use this guide to help with conversations about the experience in a particular week.

13th St Playhouse - Letting Go of Perfection


If you look closely at a tree you'll notice its knots and dead branches, just like our bodies. What we learn is that beauty and imperfection go together wonderfully. — Matthew Fox, theologian We reflected on Unitarian Universalism's celebration of each individual—imperfections and all. We taught that children need not be "perfect" to be loved, respected, and appreciated for their own unique gifts. A tale from India , "The Water Bearer's Garden," demonstrated that our very flaws can have corresponding gifts. Children learned about scientific "accidents" that resulted in inventions we enjoy today such as the Slinky and floating Ivory soap. Each child made a "cracked pot" to take home and remember the beauty of imperfection. This link will tell you more about the scientific accidents.

EXPLORE THE TOPIC TOGETHER.
Talk about...
What do you perceive as your flaws? In what way could they be seen or experienced as gifts?

A FAMILY GAME
Turn your imperfections into blessings. Allow each family member to suggest their own "flaw" for the others to help them re-frame as a gift. For example, someone who is often told they are "annoying" may also be very funny or be able to cheer someone up when doing the very same behaviors. Someone who gives family members too many instructions—"bossy"—may also be caring, knowledgeable, or responsible. Someone whose messy room is legendary is likely also to be easygoing or creative.

FAMILY DISCOVERY
Parents who wonder if they expect too much "perfection" from their children may like to read The Blessing of a Skinned Knee by Wendy Mogel (New York: Penguin, 2001). Mogel is a clinical psychologist who found, in Jewish tradition, meaningful guidance for contemporary parenting. In a 2006 article about her, the New York Times Magazine says:
There is a Hasidic saying that Mogel quotes, 'If your child has a talent to be a baker, don't ask him to be a doctor.' By definition, most children cannot be at the top of the class; value their talents in whatever realm you find them. 'When we ignore a child's intrinsic strengths in an effort to push [them] toward our notion of extraordinary achievement, we are undermining God's plan,' Mogel writes.


Kaleidoscope - Letting Go of Anger


If we could read the secret history of our enemies, we would find in each person's life, sorrow and suffering enough to disarm all hostility. — Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

The children heard a story about two friends who journey across the desert. During an argument one of the friends slaps the other in anger. The friend who had been slapped writes in the sand, "Today my best friend slapped me." The wind quickly blows the words away. Later the friend who had slapped the other saves him from drowning. This time the man carves in stone, "Today my best friend saved me." We shared this story to teach about forgiveness, and the value in letting go of past hurts and focusing on the kindnesses others have done us. After the story, the children had a chance to write their own hurts and kindnesses in sand and stone.

EXPLORE THE TOPIC TOGETHER
In order to forgive ourselves or others, we need to remember that we all make mistakes and that we needn't be perfect to be deserving of love. Your child will bring home a lump of clay on which he/she has written about an act of kindness that they want to remember. Ask them to share about it. Explore as a family ways in which you forgive each other for small things every day, and how that experience of choosing love over holding grudges allows people to be in relationship.

EXTEND THE TOPIC TOGETHER.
Try...
Notice opportunities to practice forgiveness. Discuss together with your child what is needed to let go of anger and grudges toward another.

A FAMILY RITUAL
Using construction paper or clay, ask everyone in the family to identify someone outside of the family that they hold a grudge against. Choose situations that you will feel safe tackling with your family. Have each person make a "grudge." Imagine what they might look like, small ugly trolls, or amorphous blobs, or hot coals. Share them with one another, stating what they are for. Acknowledge that forgiving is not the same as forgetting. Forgiving frees the heart of the one who has been hurt not to have to carry the bad feelings anymore. It does not mean that that person has to be your best friend. Make a ritualized saying, such as: This grudge is for ___ who did such and such. I will try to remember that they are only human. I may have hurt someone in this way too. I chose forgiveness and I no longer wish to carry this grudge.

Then have a ritualistic burning, throwing away or shredding of the grudges, followed by some kind of celebrating that makes everyone feel good. This might include having everyone share about something nice that someone did for them this week either on paper, on clay or through story sharing. You can also skip the "grudges" and focus only on the kind deeds. Or, focus on experiences of being forgiven.


Rhythm & Roll - Letting Go of Stress

When my anger's over
may the world be young again
as after rain —
the cool clean promise
and the dance
of branches glistening green
— Raymond John Baughan, in Day of Promise: Collected Meditations, Kathleen Montgomery, ed. (Skinner House, 2001); used with permission

We affirmed that anger is a normal, healthy feeling. While not particularly pleasant, it is our body's way of alerting us to problems. Anger can give us the energy we need to right wrongs. Nevertheless, as you know, it can get too big. Raging out of control, anger can be expressed in hurtful ways and hurts the person holding it. Children learned to recognize their anger, reduce its hold on them, and harness it constructively. Yoga can be used as a tool to release anger or stress.

EXPLORE THE TOPIC TOGETHER.
Talk about...
How we respond with love to our own anger, and to others who are angry. Ask your child(ren) about:

  • The yoga exercises
  • The Calming Beads children made, and how to use them
  • Ways they know to respond to someone who is angry, or what they do when they are angry.
  • Three Choices to Reduce Anger: Describes three strategies children (and adults) can use to slow down the body's reaction to anger. Try the strategies together and talk about when and how you can use them.

FAMILY DISCOVERY.
Explore these online resources: A Missouri Families article, "Helping Children Deal With Anger At Friends." Great information on the KidsHealth website about all kinds of issues related to being and feeling healthy.

The website of Seattle-based Committee for Children offers information, curricula, and videos on violence prevention, impulse control, and conflict resolution for use in K-8 classrooms, and links to fiction for children, arranged by age and grade, on topics including impulse control, anger buttons, identifying feelings, problem solving, and keeping out of a fight.

Parents Anonymous is a well-established family strengthening program designed to help all parents find ways to manage their own anger and create a safe nurturing home environment for their kids. Parents Anonymous groups meet in communities throughout the United States. Anyone in a parenting role can join at any time and can attend for as long as they wish.

Books with stories and guidance about anger management include: Kindness: A Treasury of Buddhist Wisdom for Children and Parents by Sarah Conover (Eastern Washington University Press, 2001), What to Do When Your Temper Flares: A Kid's Guide to Overcoming Problems With Anger by Dawn Huebner (Magination Press, 2008), A Volcano in My Tummy: Helping Children to Handle Anger by Elaine Whitehouse and Warwick Pudney (New Society Publishers, 1996), and How to Take the Grrr Out of Anger by Elizabeth Verdick and Marjorie Lisoviskis (Free Spirit Publishing, 2003).

A Family Ritual.
Buddhist practice includes meditation. Try meditation as a family, perhaps guiding simple stretching or movements followed by a few minutes of silence. You will find that this serves your children well prior to devoted time to concentration, for example, homework.


Incredible Edible Lab - Letting Go of Judgment

The children took part in a continuum exercise about their preferences and feelings about a variety of items and activities. It is okay to not be like everyone else and it is okay to not judge ourselves against others.

EXPLORE THE TOPIC TOGETHER.
Talk about...
We don’t have to like all of the same things to be friends. Ask your children about:

  • Lining up by preference for ice cream, school, shopping and more
  • Selecting a snack based on how it looks
  • Making and tasting a chocolate cake made with an unusual ingredient

FAMILY ADVENTURE.
Try one of these ideas:
A chocolate cake made with tomato or mayonnaise. A fruit smoothie including carrot juice or peanut butter. Look for and make a tasty recipe that uses an unlikely ingredient that, on its own, would not appeal to your child. Talk about how the recipe gives the unlikely ingredient a way to share its special gifts.

03September

Invitation

Come in, come in....

Invitation

Souls Matters is a resource group that over 100 other UU congregations and now 1UC use as a focus for worship and RE. It reminds us that UUism is distinctive, not an “anything goes,” religion. The monthly themes shared by the participating congregations are not just interesting topics. Rather they focus us on a spiritual value that our UU faith has historically honored and emphasized.

Our elementary RE program, youth chapel services, a sermon each month and hopefully a covenant group will focus on the same theme.

The QUUEST workshop leaders for Invitation are Cortney Custer, Suzanne Broadbent, Celeste Flemming and Lois Pokorny. They are helping our children learn and practice the skills taught in Heart Talk (also known as Compassionate or Nonviolent Communication). The skills of speaking and listening from the heart are explored via observation (sorting facts from judgments), needs and requests. Our first principle speaks to the inherent worth and dignity of every person, or in child language, each and every person is important. Talking with each other about what we want and listening to what others want is a way to invite others to be in relationship with us.

"Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing, there is a field. I'll meet you there. When the soul lies down in that grass, the world is too full to talk about. Ideas, language, even the phrase "each other" doesn't make any sense." Mevlana Jelaluddin Rumi - 13th century

Posted in Sunday Morning Classes

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