Friends General Conference

Together we nurture the spiritual vitality of Friends

Spiritual Deepening

Grounding Exercise

The Light, Seed, Christ Working In Us for Children

Photo by Marta Rusek
  1. Using Picture Books for Spiritual Deepening with Children (and Adults!)

    Children love books. Reading a book to children builds a sense of connection and shared experience from which lessons naturally arise. When preparing an inviting space for a read aloud, make sure children are all able to see the book. Position yourself, your chair, and the book so everyone feels included. Think about your voice and the pace of your reading. While you don't need to "do voices" to make the story interesting, your voice should be loud and clear, and your pace should be a bit slower than usual, everyday talking. You can ask children to hold thier noticings and questions for the end. And/or you may decide to pause at certain points to invite conversation about what's happening in the story. 

    Books may be presented in one lesson or presented in multiple lessons. Young children, especially, may need to have a story presented over several sessions. Teachers could repeat reading the book and asking wondering questions at each presentation and then move through the various activities over the course of more than one week. Young children love repetition and revisiting books and materials. It gives them a sense of what the book or activity is about and helps them feel some control over the concepts they are learning.

    When possible, links to video read-alouds have been included for those who don't have a copy of the book handy. Check your local library for suggested titles. Many of the books are available through QuakerBooks at FGC

  2. Thy Friend, Obediah by Brinton Turkle

    A favorite story in many Quaker collections. Obadiah, a young Quaker boy living in colonial Nantucket, is constantly followed by a sea gull that he wishes would leave him alone. When the gull is gone, Obadiah realizes he's lost a friend.

  3. I Wanted to Know All About God by Kroll

    A young girl tells how she experiences God in the natural world. She also discovers what God is like through the goodness (the love, comfort and sharing) of wonderful people.

     

  4. Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson

    A new girl, Maya, comes to school and is rejected by Chloe and her gang of friends. One day, the girl is gone. Chloe's teacher gives a lesson about how even small acts of kindness can change the world, Chloe is stung by the lost opportunity for friendship, and thinks about how much better it could have been if she'd shown a little kindness toward Maya.

    Video (7 minutes)

  5. Lighting Candles in the Dark: “No One Will Ever Know” 

    Lighting Candles in the Dark:  A wonderful collection of stories about courageous people who used nonviolent and creative action in difficult and dangerous situations. The focus of the stories is on helpfulness, fairness, the power of love and care of the earth.

    Summary of "No One Will Ever Know": Telling the truth even when it means you might lose, a surprise ending.

  6. Lighting Candles in the Dark: “The Punishment that Never Came” 

    Lighting Candles in the Dark:  A wonderful collection of stories about courageous people who used nonviolent and creative action in difficult and dangerous situations. The focus of the stories is on helpfulness, fairness, the power of love and care of the earth.

    Summary of "The Punishment that Never Came": Rufus Jones learned God was inside him, find out how.

  7. The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle

    While written for younger children, the story clearly illustrates the concept of transforming as the caterpillar becomes a butterfly.

    Video (2 minutes)

  8. The Summer My Father was Ten by Brisson

    Every year a young girl and her father plant a garden, and every year he tells the story about the year he was ten. That was the year he and some boys ruined old Mr. Bellavista's garden. It is a story of forgiveness when the young boy and the old man work to renew the garden.

    Video (8 minutes)

  9. Desmond and the Very Mean Word by Tutu

    A true story about Desmond Tutu. It is a story about the power of words and the secret of forgiveness. Desmond, the young boy at the center of this story, learns that words can hurt, and that “getting back” at those who do us harm does not always provide the desired result. It is forgiveness that releases us from the pain. 

    Video (12 minutes)

  10. Wondering with Children

    The practice of wondering about a story with children makes space for them to explore the ideas and images, words and characters in a story from the particular perspective of that moment in their lives. When we ask children to wonder about a story, we're not asking them for a factual answer to a question. To wonder can also mean to speculate, to doubt, to question, to be unsure. It can also mean to be in awe or to marvel. We invite children to do any of these things when we wonder together about the story we've just experienced. 

    Some Practical Tips

    • When you finish a book and begin to ask the wondering questions, make sure your posture, face, and voice are open and welcoming. 
    • Children who have not been asked to "wonder" before may be puzzled by this language. You may need to invite them into this experience very explicitly: When we wonder, we're sharing what we think, feel, or know about the story. There isn't one right or wrong answer. Let's listen in our hearts.
    • Starting with a question like, I wonder what part of the story you liked best? is open and inviting. Children usually know what they liked in a story.
    • Listen to and affirm responses. Try to avoid comments like, that's right.Instead, reflect back what you heard, you liked the colors. 
    • Use the book! Turn to the pictures or parts of the story children refer to.
    • Remember to be comfortable during periods of silence when children are thinking.

    Wondering Questions

    I wonder what part of the story you liked best?

    I wonder what part of the story is most important?

    I wonder where you see yourself in the story, or what part feels like it's about you?

    I wonder if there is nay part of the story we could take out, and still have all the story we need?

    By Melinda Wenner Bradley. Originally published in Sparkling Still by FGC Quaker Press. Used with Permission.

  1. Faith & Play: Quaker Stories for Friends Trained in the Godly Play Method (PDF ebook) offers stories for children that explore listening, worship, gifts, queries, and sense of the meeting, as well as three stories of witness about George Fox, Mary Fisher, and John Woolman, using the Godly Play teaching method. The stories and wondering together about them offer opportunities to build spiritual community and deepen our experience of Quaker faith, practice and witness.

    The following stories are recommended for exploring The Light, Seed, Christ Working in Us with children:

    Gifts, page 13

    George Fox's Big Discovery, page 33

  2. Sparkling Still: A Quaker Curriculum for First Day School or Home Use for Children Ages 3-8

    As Quakers, we recognize children as fully spiritual beings. For children ages 3-8, theis is the perfect moment to begin to intentionally explore through a Quaker lens their sense of self, relationships to family, the broader community, and the natural world. Sparkling Still is a curriculum designed for use in First Day School and/or at home.

    Sparkling Still provides:

    • Philosophical grounding in the Quaker concept of continuing revelation is discussed and explored through wondering questions
    • Practical considerations including a master lesson plan template and concrete suggestions about building classroom community as well as logistical concerns.
    • Seven ready-to-use lesson plans and nearly 30 pages of additional book suggestions and where to go for more ideas
    • An appendix with Teacher Resources including websites, books and articles to enrich and expand the leader's own spiritual growth and understanding of the faith development of children.

     

    The Sparkling Still Working Group of Friends General Conference.

  3. Games for Building Community and Having Fun

    Bird, Beast or Fish?

    Teacher whispers the name of a bird, beast, or fish (some examples: peacock, horse, shark, seahorse, dog, bear) to a first child up.

    The child mimes the bird, beast or fish.

    Other children guess out loud.

    The first child with the correct guess gets to be the next child up. Continue until all children get a chance to mime the bird, beast, or fish. 

    Tug of Peace

    Materials: a circular rope

    Have children sit around the circular rope facing center with their knees up.

    Lay the rope on the laps of those seated.

    Each person holds onto the rope with both hands and leans back.

    Using tension in the rope, each person should be able to lift themselves.

    Discuss the experience.