Sparklers (1982) is back as Sparkling Still. Updated and re-imagined! You will find everything you need to create lessons for children ages 3 to 8 and build a classroom community. Topics include sense of self, family and community, the natural world, the Bible and Quakerism, worship, celebrations, empowerment, and Quaker testimonies, as well as guidance on hard issues like grief, divorce, extreme weather, violence, and more.
QuakerBooks of Friends General Conference carries a number of children’s story Bibles. None of them pretend to be Bibles, per se. Rather, they are severely edited retellings in language appropriate for children. They are quite different, and appropriate for different age levels. In this article I will comment on seven children’s Bibles and provide selections from each so that you can gain a sense of their style, age appropriateness, and approach. We will look at how the different authors treat some of the same passages, such as the creation story in Genesis.
The problem of sporadic attendance in First Day School is common to large and small meetings. The number of school, sports, and enrichment activities available to children has expanded leaving them exhausted or otherwise engaged on Sunday mornings. Religious Education Committees have to work hard to creatively find ways to thrive in spite of these cultural pressures. To have a vibrant First Day School, we need to offer well-planned lessons, create opportunities for personal engagement, and work more explicitly at communicating with families and developing our sense of community.
Many years ago in Africa, storytellers traveled from village to village sharing myths, gossip, and lessons with the people. Together, they laughed and cried and shared their bond of humanity. Then television came to the region. The television started telling the same stories as the tellers. However, the stories on the television were embellished with magnificent special effects and beautiful or handsome narrators. The people turned to the stories on television. First the young adults, attracted to the hip young narrators, switched to television.
Middle school and high school Friends represent two entirely different groups in terms of developmental needs. The former (roughly grades 6th through 8th) are young adolescents entering a stage of rapid and volatile growth driven by raging hormones. As they leave the quiet and protected years of childhood, they begin a transition into adulthood. Yet, these years are marked with awkwardness, confusion, and uncertainty. Fortunately, as high school begins, their bodies adjust to the dramatic physical changes and their emotional roller coaster starts to settle.
In 1989 we began a new retreat program called Junior Yearly Meeting Elementary Retreats under the care of New England Yearly Meeting (NEYM) for children in grades two through six. We provide five retreats during the school year held at larger meetings around New England, and two retreats, spring and fall, at Woolman Hill Retreat and Conference center located in western Massachusetts.
Multiple Friends have expressed concerns in recent years about how many children and young people seem to have trouble making the transition from Young Friend (in First Day School) to Adult Friend (in meeting for worship, committee work, etc. ). I think we need to be intentional about helping them cross over and stop underestimating their capacity for spiritual experience!
My “Friendly” outlook in writing this article is to look at the concept of multiple intelligences through the eyes of a Quaker and to consider possible applications in a First Day School setting. There comes a point in the life of a Friend when the realization comes that the inner and outer lives are connected. It is this inner light felt by individuals in the sense of “daily living” that we can present Friends social testimonies of peace, simplicity, equality and ecological witness to children in our classes.