In addition to the popular and useful Faith & Play(TM) and Sparkling Still materials, Friends General Conference makes a variety of resources available to guide Children’s First Day School and Religious Education.
Faith & Play™ Stories is a Montessori-inspired storytelling resource that helps children find words and images for expressing their experiences of holy mystery and wonder in their lives. Play is children’s practice, hence the name Faith & Play, deriving from Faith and Practice.
Faith & Play includes stories of Quaker faith, practice and witness, told in the manner of Godly Play® (a resource to teach stories from the Bible in an open-ended way that invites children to experientially find themselves in the stories). Godly Play and Faith & Play acknowledge that God is active in children’s lives long before they enter the religious education classroom, and at the core of this method is a deep respect for children’s spiritual lives. Participants hear and respond to the stories in age appropriate ways, making the method ideal for meetings with grade-level classrooms as well as for small meetings where few children are in diverse places developmentally.
This FREE DOWNLOADABLE resource contains children’s activities that are aligned with three of the FGC Newcomer Cards. The Newcomer Cards provide useful, welcoming information for adult visitors and newcomers. The children’s activities in these packets are aligned with: Quaker Testimonies, Quakers and Prayer, and You are Welcome Here!
Situations that meetings may choose to use these activities are:
- Children can be given these activities to use during meeting for worship, if a meeting does not have an active First Day School/Sunday School or classroom plans for child visitors.
- First Day School/Sunday School teachers can provide them to children as First Day School/Sunday School activities.
- They can be given to parents to share with their children at home and for follow-up conversations.
Children have the same need as adults for communion with God, Love, Joy, the Source. Children live from a place of connection–young children don’t have boundaries between time for work, time for play, and time to be connected with the Divine. For them, work, play, and worship is all the same thing.
This 9-page resource examines how worship can be integrated into the life of a classroom. By Christie Duncan-Tessmer, shared with permission from Newtown Friends School
Considerations When Choosing and Using Books in First Day School
The FGC Religious Education committee is encouraging Quaker religious educators to explore the many possible ways one can build a lesson around a single book. The Religious Education committee is calling such a lesson, especially one created using a form or template they have provided, a Lesson from a Book. (See sample lessons in this issue.)
There are scores of excellent books available, so it makes sense to plan carefully and maximize the use of these books in the First Day School setting. Many meeting religious educators are challenged by irregular attendance or by wide age ranges within the same classroom. A Lesson from a Book can easily be customized to fit your specific meeting environment. Plus, more than one lesson can be created from the same book. When Lessons from a Book are kept in a notebook for future use, your meeting’s resource library can grow surprisingly rapidly. This article will discuss some of the many issues to consider in selecting appropriate books for Lesson from a Book plans, and will explore some of the “hidden” messages for which we need to look when selecting First Day School materials in general.
A collection of book reviews and lesson plans for children’s first-day school.
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.
No matter what children’s Bible is used, when you explore the creation story with children please take care not to equate darkness with negativity or evil. After all, according to the story God, who is good, dwelt in darkness (the fullness of darkness?) before creation. Whether you are a parent or a teacher, you might help the children under your care name some of the many benefits of both darkness and light, each equally a gift of God.
Telling Stories by the Heart for First Day School
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. Then the young children and finally their parents abandoned the traveling tellers for the television, which presented stories quicker and slicker. The storytellers kept measuring tape, etc.). Stories are welcome telling the tales from village to village although their audiences became smaller and smaller and older and older. by Gail Eastwood, Humboldt (CA) Meeting and Karen Davidson Olson, GrassValley (CA) Meeting, Pacific Yearly Meeting
Planning and Facilitating Retreats for Children
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.
As the elementary aged retreat attenders eventually outgrew our program it became clear that the spiritual community of transitioning children needed to be sustained in what soon became the Junior High retreat program, for youngsters in grades six through nine. I coordinated both programs for four years, eventually turning the Junior High Retreat program over to other emerging leaders so that I could focus more closely on the younger retreat program. Today, both programs function simultaneously with their own coordinators, staff, and bare-bones budgets. The sixth grade year serves as a bridge, with some children staying with the elementary aged retreat community, and some heading off to the Junior High program. The choice of which retreat to attend is made by the 6th grader (with parental/caregiver assistance, of course).
Helping Prepare Children and Teenagers for Quaker Worship: Some of My Experiences Leading First Day School
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! To that end, my meeting decided to offer classes in First Day School on waiting worship. One year we offered eight sessions for our teen population and the next year we offered three sessions to our elementary aged children. Both groups were team taught.
A “Friendly” Look at Multiple Intelligences
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.