This activity is much more than reading a book to children and wondering about it together. It involves building the circle of children and adult(s), sharing about their lives (plusses and minuses or “roses and thorns’), centering together through song and/or breathing, sharing and wondering about a book together, doing an activity to respond and reflect on the book, closing your time together. See pages 5-22 in Sparkling Still for more information about how to create the circle and other components of your time together with the children beyond reading the book to the children.
Welcome the children to the circle. Be sure to introduce everyone, if visitors are present.
Invite children and adults to go around the circle sharing one or two plusses and minuses from their day or week. It helps to ask for 2 items only, either 2 of one or one of each. Children are comfortable with a limit, unless another person’s comment sparks another one for an individual child.
Sing a centering song, such as “God’s Love is a Light,” hymn #218, Worship in Song, A Friends Hymnal, and/or one of the songs suggested in Materials Tab. In addition, or instead of, use breathing or other exercise to center the group. The simplest way is to breathe deeply 3 times. Adding lifting arms up and down with the breath or holding tummy during deep breaths can help.
Show the cover of the book, read the title and author’s name. Ask the children a question that invites them to wonder about the story. “Let’s see what happens.”
Read the story, holding the book so all can see. (See pages 16-17, Sparkling Still for a helpful technique.) Depending on reader’s comfort level with the children, allow comments during the story, especially from younger children.
After reading the story, invite the children to wonder about the story with you. (See pages viii – xi and 6-7, Sparkling Still, for more information about wondering with children and adults.)
I wonder what you liked in the story today?
After the children have finished wondering and are ready to go to the next activity, introduce the option for Individual Reflective Art Response or a Teacher-directed Activity.
For Individual Reflective Art Response, children choose from a collection of attractive art supplies and work individually for about 15 minutes to create something of importance to the child. It may or may not be a direct reflection on the story they just heard and wondered about. See page 7, Sparkling Still, for more information and references.
Practice sitting quietly for a few minutes using something from nature (a flower, a rock) to focus upon.
Practice having a short Meeting for Worship in which everyone sits comfortably focused upon a sand jar to “center” themselves.
Use a small red heart cut from felt or other soft material to stroke during worship to help children “center” their minds.
Provide a 5-minute warning before the children need to clean up. After clean up, gather the children in a circle and ask them to name one thing for which they are grateful. Sing songs while waiting for their parents to pick them up, or before joining the adults after the rise of Meeting for Worship.
If the children join their loved ones while Meeting for Worship is still in progress, before you lead them back to the meeting room, invite them to remember how they still themselves and some things about the morning that they may want to think about during the final moments of Meeting for Worship.