Diane Venzera, LLC

Curriculum & Trainings Solutions for Today's World

Sunday Morning Experience
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How can a leader create a program that serves the children, teens and the adults who support it?

Space

The Opening
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Routines are essential for young children because our brains are pattern-seeking. With routines, the children and teens know what to expect and that creates a sense of safety.

Involving children in the facilitation of some of the classroom activities helps to build community and increases cooperation. It also helps them take more ownership of their experience. Inviting even the youngest children into collaborative learning supports leadership development and prepares them to co-create more and more of the Sunday experience as they move into the upper grades.
Supporting Documents
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Being ready for the children/teens before they arrive helps to build a sense of safety and welcome. Create a greeting ritual that will help them to know that you are so happy that they have come. If any of the children/teens arrive early, they can also be the greeters for the classroom.
The Responsibility Cards are used to invite the children into co-creating the classroom experience. The more involved they are in the process, the more ownership they feel. It is important to have enough responsibilities identified so all who want one can participate. Introduce a few at a time each week so they fully understand what the different roles are. The cards are then placed near the check-in area so the kids can choose the one they want that week. Responsibility Card Descriptions

For middle school and high school students, the roles can be written on small stones and placed in a basket. As the students arrive, they can select a stone and then perform the function on the stone as it is needed.

Space

The Sacred Circle
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The Sacred Circle is the time for building community; engaging the children/teens in co-facilitating the experience; sharing announcements, learning about one another and setting the stage for the coming lesson.
Possible Activities for the Sacred Circle
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ACTIVITIES TO UNITE
Create transition routines to help the children/teens change activities.
  • Use a song and/or musical instruments to move the children/teens into the circle.
  • Invite the children/teens to take on the role of setting up the sacred circle.
  • Light/Turn on the Christ candle.
  • Affirm one another by saying: “My name is _______ and the light of God is within me.” Group response: __(Name)________, the light of God is within you.
ACTIVITES TO CENTER
Create a feeling of safety and engage in de-stressing and centering activities. You can also use some form of movement that will help bring blood to the brain and wake up their frontal lobes.
  • Breathing exercises: Breathe like a balloon; Be a pretzel; Drain away; Be a S.T.A.R.
  • Safe Keeping Chest: Teacher affirms: “My job is to keep you safe. Your job is to help keep it that way.” Invite children to place their photo in the chest one by one. Lock the chest after all photos are in it. Give it to the “Safe Keeper” to watch over during class.
  • Share a prayer/Bible Quote
  • Lead a meditation: the younger the children, the shorter the meditation.
ACTIVITIES TO CONNECT
Give the students opportunities to connect with their bodies and with others in the circle.
  • Blessing Angel - Sends well wishes to all those present and also to those not in attendance. This helps the students to know that they are held in light and love whether they are there or not.
  • Brain Gyms: These simple activities help with whole brain learning.
  • Movement/Song: Get the students up and moving giving them an opportunity to release some energy so they are able to pay better attention to the quieter aspects of the circle.
  • Prayer Requests: Give the students an opportunity to share prayer requests and/or learn a new prayer.
  • Check-In: This is for older students and is an opportunity for them to share what is going on in their world.
ACTIVITIES TO COMMIT
Review the Heart Agreement that is posted in your area
Collect a love offering
Celebrations – Invite everyone to look for the good and to celebrate
With young children, the adult leads and moves the time forward; children as helpers are guided in how to do their piece.
Elementary aged children are able to take more responsibility for the activities in the circle. The adult's responsibility is to model how each piece is done and then involve the children in doing their part.
Preteens and teens are responsible for facilitating the sacred circle. The adults provide support and encouragement.

Space

The Lesson
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Drawing Forth
As we plan our adventures for the Sunday Morning Experience, which we create for the children in our congregations, we need to ask ourselves how we can best serve them.  We must move past the belief that we, the teachers, need to have all the answers and are required to impart this information to our children. We instead are called to move into the understanding that we are each on a spiritual path, each have access to the Christ within and each are looking for a place that will allow our inner knowledge to unfold in a way that is unique to each one of us.
Supporting Documents
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"The vision of A Living Curriculum is to empower children and youth to use their spiritual wisdom to fulfill their soul’s purpose; to empower parents to see themselves as the prime spiritual educators of their children and youth; to empower facilitators to see education as a process, through which they effectively support the unfolding of the child’s spiritual nature and model the living of the spiritual principles; to empower a spiritual community to function with unity in diversity; to inspire a world educational community by its philosophy, process, programs and products." Unity Worldwide Ministries

Our lessons are issued based, helping make the experiences relevant to what children and teens are experiencing in their lives. The lesson intention sets the focus of the lesson and helps guide the students into finding solutions to their issues within them.
“Stories are how people make sense of themselves and their worlds. In young children’s spontaneous stories that they act out as they play, we can see how they believe people relate to one another, who they hope to become, and how they will behave. We can see adolescents play roles in their own and other people’s stories in order to figure out where they fit into their ever-expanding worlds. As adults, the true and imaginary stories we wish to tell and believe suggest we value most in this world. In a real sense, stories make people." (From: Shannon, P. (1995). Text, lies, and videotape: Stories about life, literacy, and learning. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.)
The questioning strategy is designed to take the participants deeper into the story and to help them see themselves within it.
Creative experiences are not about doing crafts or giving directions about how to all make the same thing. It is about creating open ended experiences that give the students an opportunity to play with the ideas that were discussed in the story. They invite them to come to their own conclusions.

Students also enjoy Object Lessons.
The Closing
Source: Rev. Kathy Kellogg, Unity World Wide Ministries

Breathe: Movement, breathing
Review: What more do we know about__________________?
• What did we do/talk about that made you think?
• How can we take what we learned out into the world?
• Did we meet our class commitments?
• Did we meet our heart agreements?
Intention: Check in with your intention
Announcements: Information for going forward
Pray out: “Prayer for Protection” or other favorite prayer. How will I close the experience?