Friday, June 5, 2009

Appreciating teachers

Tomorrow during "the child in us" portion of the service we will ask all our Religious Education teachers to come forward to be acknowledged and thanked.

We have amazing and dedicated teachers! The ministry we do with our children and youth is vital to our own spiritual growth as well as theirs and to the growth of our faith tradition.

We are asking parents to please pick children up immediately following the service and bring them back to coffee hour to enjoy cake in celebration of our teachers. 

Monday, June 1, 2009

Next year's class plans

What follows is a description of our classes for next year!

This is a long post. This information will be available, soon, on our web site. It will also be available this summer in printed form as a brochure along with other information about our religious education program.

Spirit Play

for preK -Kindergarten (4&5 year olds)

and Grades 1-3 (6-9 year olds)

Sept 2009 - May 2010

Spirit Play is a child-centered story-based approach that encourages children as they explore and make meaning of some of life's big questions. Questions like, where did we come from? Why are we here? Each child is encouraged to explore at their own pace and follow their own interests in expressing ideas and stories they hear in class.

Spirit Play classrooms are set up very intentionally. After gathering together to hear a story related to our UU principles, celebrations or holidays, children choose their own works. They can use the story baskets, create art, and/or work with sacred symbols and practices such as labyrinths, mandalas, yoga. If they choose, a child can spend time looking at or reading books that also relate to some of the topics that have been introduced. These materials and others will be introduced in the class and left for the children to use as long as they are interested in them. They can choose to work alone or with others. They gather together again at the end of class to share a snack, a “feast.”

Spirit Play- The Great Story

for grades 4 and 5 (9 – 11 year olds)

Sept. 2009 - January 2010

The Great Story (also known as the Universe Story, Epic of Evolution, or Evolutionary Epic) is about the wonder of evolution. It is humanity's common creation story. It is the 14 billion year science-based sacred story of cosmic genesis, from the formation of the galaxies and the origin of Earth life, to the development of self-reflective consciousness and human technology, to the emergence of comprehensive compassion and tools to assist humanity in being a blessing the larger body of life.

This program uses the Spirit Play model as a way of telling the history of everyone and everything that honors and embraces all religious traditions and creation stories. It is the sacred narrative of an evolving Universe of emergent complexity and breathtaking creativity and cooperation — a story that offers each of us the opportunity to find meaning and purpose in our lives and our time in history.

Toolbox of Faith

for grades 4 and 5

February 2010 – May 2010

The expectations of life depend upon diligence; the mechanic who would perfect his work must first sharpen his tools. — Confucius

Toolbox of Faith invites fourth- and fifth- grade participants to reflect on the qualities of our Unitarian Universalist faith, such as integrity, courage, and love, as tools they can use in living their lives and building their own faith. Each of the 16 sessions uses a tool as a metaphor for an important quality of our faith such as reflection (symbolized by a mirror), flexibility (duct tape), and justice (a flashlight).

The goal of the program is that by reflecting on the qualities (tools) of our faith, children and leaders gain insight into what makes our faith important in their lives, and how they can grow in our faith.

Leaders are an important component of the Toolbox of Faith program. Leaders are not recruited to "indoctrinate" children, but rather to share the journey as seekers with the children. Leaders are not in the role of experts handing down information but are co-explorers and "beloved adults." Children value adults who are interested in their opinions and lives. They will reward those who work with them with trust, sharing, and affection.

Amazing Grace: exploring right and wrong

for grades 6 and 7 (11 – 13 year olds)

It is by no means necessary that I should live, but it is by all means necessary that I should act rightly.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Amazing Grace uses stories, activities, discussion, and more to help youth address such questions as: Why do bad things happen? What is the role of God, gods, and goddesses? Who am I? Is evil or goodness within us? Is it something we choose? What are my own ideas? How can I follow my own ideas and not somebody else's? Is "you decide for yourself" really the ultimate UU answer to these questions?

Amazing Grace offers sixth and seventh graders old wisdom in fresh form, and new understanding in active, challenging exercises. It invites them toward an adolescence enriched by self-knowledge and a deepening ethical sense. It is meant to be fun and engaging for youth and leaders alike. However, its enjoyment is always purposeful, and its messages are always meaningful.

The goals of this programs include:

  • Exploring right and wrong

  • Understanding such religious concepts as virtue, sin, salvation, heaven, hell, and redemption

  • Understanding such quotidian concepts as ethics, morality, curiosity, personality, character, integrity, guilt, and forgiveness

  • Experiencing spirituality

  • Internalizing the Golden Rule

  • Appreciating Unitarian Universalist approaches to faith, morality, and social justice

  • Exploring self

  • Expressing and living faith through action

Neighboring Faiths

for grades 6 and 7

February 2010 – May 2010

Neighboring Faiths introduces our youth to the faith traditions and practices of other religious groups in our community. The youth learn about other faith traditions and practices and then visit local religious services of these traditions.

Coming of Age

for grades 8 and 9 (13 - 15 year olds)

The purpose of the Coming of Age program is to offer 8th and 9th graders a modern Rite of Passage that is welcoming, affirming, dynamic and connects across the generations of our FUSS community.

There are four components to this coming of age program: mentored learning that acknowledges and engages multiple learning styles; practical testing such as values clarification and physical challenges; ritual for both group and individual; and celebration.

Some of the highlights of the Coming Of Age program at FUSS include:

  • Boston heritage trip

  • selecting and working with a mentor

  • community service project

  • ropes course

  • group retreats

  • an end of the year celebration/party for the youth and their friends

  • movie nights