Religious Education Blog – October 2015

We began our new year with the Religious Education sponsored Kick Off Picnic. We had a great turn out and look forward to this new year with exciting plans and projects.
The RE Council has chosen a curriculum for this new year, Learning to Give. It is a UUA recommended curriculum that focuses on the UU Principles.
Children and youth will discover how philanthropy can be creative and that it encompasses many different talents and treasures. Children and youth will learn about the problem and the needs in their own community. Sessions will help children and youth identify a person’s basic needs, realize that many people in the world are lacking these needs and why this may occur, and encourage them to think of ways to help these people. In this interdisciplinary unit, children and youth learn how they can positively influence their environment through beauty. The concepts of community and working together for the betterment of the community will explore democratic values and the history of how and why people came to America. The children and youth will relate philanthropy to positive treatment and respect for others and consider the effects of their own behavior on others. The children and youth will participate in activities that teach tolerance, regardless of challenges and diversity. Children and youth will recognize that they belong to a global community that shares resources and interests. The learners will gain an understanding of the importance of environmental stewardship and how they can participate. They will gain awareness that they are part of a whole and that they have a responsibility to participate in caring for the Earth.

Lessons and activities for the month of October will be:
Oct. 4: What are common grounds? Using the book “This Land is Your Land”, this lesson will help the students understand the difference between private and public property. It will also help them understand that there are areas that are called commons. They will use this information to identify the commons around the church and decide whose responsibility it is to take care of those areas. Students then “gear up” with rubber gloves and plastic bags to protect their clothing and go to the playground and pull weeds, sweep areas on the equipment etc. caring for their own common ground.
Oct. 11: What is Philanthropy? This lesson will review with the students the concept of philanthropy. As a class, they will brainstorm possible ideas for the word philanthropist. The students will learn that even young people can be philanthropists. They will make and take a story book home that demonstrates philanthropy.
Oct. 18: Introduction to a Service Project. The children will understand that there are families in their community that may need their help and that they can decide ways to do that in class. The children will make posters that will be placed in the church to advertise their service project.
Oct. 25: Halloween Party: Tricks and treats for all!
It is never too early to instill philanthropy in a child; yet, teaching them that it is better to give than to receive can be a difficult task. Children should learn that philanthropy is not just for adults or for the wealthy, but that anyone making an attempt to better society is a philanthropist. Here are some ways to teach your child about philanthropy and charity. These ideas are easy and straightforward and can be as simple or elaborate as you make them.
• Spend time with your child by going through their winter clothes from last year. Any item that was lightly used and no longer fits should be placed in a pile to donate to a reputable local clothing drive. You can teach your child that another child will be able to use this clothing to keep themselves warm this winter.
• Go through the cabinets with your child and collect canned fruits and vegetables or other non-perishable items that can be donated to a local food bank or pantry. You could also go to the store and have your child pick out food items for your donation. Explain to your child that your donation will prevent other people from going hungry.
• Take your child to the local toy store and have them pick out an item for a less fortunate child. Many programs that work with children, including shelters and mental health centers, accept new toys year-round.
• Teach your child about charities and the services that they provide. Help him find a cause that is meaningful to him and make a donation in his name. If your child receives an allowance, encourage her to donate a portion of her allowance to the charity of her choice. Many children are eager to help other children in need, but don’t understand how to help.
• Volunteering is a fantastic way to get your child involved in philanthropy. The opportunities available expand as your children get older, but there are plenty of chances for children of all ages to help. For example, your little ones can help visit seniors in nursing homes, your adolescents can join an environmental group to clean up a dirty beach, and your teenagers can serve as mentors or tutors at after-school programs.
It is important to remember that the spirit of philanthropy is not about what or how much you give but rather about the feeling that you are helping others in need.
In support of the curriculum that has been selected for this year, families can encourage and extend the lessons at home. The following are some ways to help our children develop a sense of community and service.
Five More Ways to Raise Children Who Give, Share & Care
1. Model and teach giving and caring in your own family.
2. Share information with other families and include your children’s friends in volunteer activities.
3. Purchase books and materials that teach lessons of giving, sharing, and service for your home and church library. (A list of age-appropriate books with a variety of themes about giving and sharing may gotten from Rennie Tomley, DRE.
4. Read books to your children that contain messages of giving, service, caring and community. Discuss the concepts.
5. Walk around your “downtown” pointing out all of the nonprofit organizations, churches, libraries and human service groups that form your community’s powerful network of giving and serving.