May 2021: Story

Mindful Moments with Lea about STORY: What Will You Make?

May 2: Stories remind us who we are as UUs

Story of the Week (linked here):Stuck by Oliver Jeffers

Mindful Moments with Lea about STORY: What Will You Make?

  • Remind the child(ren) about the importance of calming ourselves so we can better focus on each other and our time together.
  • Tell them that a special friend named Lea has written a song for us to learn and it is a song that teaches us something important about this month’s theme: we have the opportunity to write our own stories.
  • Center the child(ren) before playing the video.
  • After the video, talk and listen with your child to discover all the things you heard together.

Weekly Activities: 

Treasure Hunt for Story 

In this month’s treasure hunt, we are going to search for, and maybe tell, the story of our neighborhoods. We’ll begin by looking for the elements of a story (otherwise known as literary or narrative elements) and search out examples from our own neighborhoods and communities. Talk about the people, places, problems, events, and ideas that you see in terms of story elements: “Look! There’s Toby. I bet Mr. Green doesn’t know he’s out again. If our neighborhood were a story, Toby the Ever-Escaping Dog would be a fun character.” 

Spend a week answering the questions below by looking with new eyes, and then share what you find as a family. If a story emerges from your watching, tell that, too! 

Who do I see? Who do I know? Whose life do I admire or wonder about? [Characters] 

Where do we live? What are the places within the places (maybe a sunny alleyway between two favorite stores, or a patch of tall wildflowers along the fence line of a field)? [Settings] 

What are the problems in my neighborhood? What do people disagree about? Where are needs going unmet? [Conflicts/Tensions] 

What happens in my neighborhood? What events do we experience together? [Plot] 

What is my neighborhood about? What idea is big enough that it describes all of us? (Some ideas might be comfort, working hard, helping each other, beauty, playing, etc.) [Themes]

Coloring

May 9: Stories remind us who we are as a family (Mother’s Day)

Story of the Week (linked here): The Mommy Book by Todd Parr

Mindful Moments with Lea about STORY: What Will You Make?

Family Meditation: Tap Open Your Heart (turn on self-love)

Imagine your heart is a large window. When big feelings like anger or confusion or impatience fill your heart, they can make your window hard to see through clearly. This meditation cleans the window of your heart so you can unlock and open it so the bright sunshine and fresh air can come in again.

  1. Center yourself; sit and close your eyes.
  2. Focus your attention on your heart and chest; take a deep breath in and out. 
  3. Use your hand to gently wipe your heart clean.
  4. Take a deep breath in and say “ahhhh” as you breath out of your mouth to release the big, cloudy feelings.
  5. Breathe in and out like that at least two more times (until your window feels clean). 
  6. Now it’s time to unlock that window. Using your four fingers on one hand, gently tap on your heart to unlock the window. 
  7. While you tap, say aloud: “My heart is open. I love myself. I feel peaceful.” Tap and repeat for as long as you want, until you feel that lightness, that warm breeze, come into your heart.
  8. Take one last deep breath in and out of your heart. Go out in the world, leading with your heart.

Weekly Activities: 

We are Family Dance Party

Do a little moving around with the old disco tune!

  • Sister Sledge – We Are Family ( Luca Debonaire & DJ Marlon ClubMix)
  • The Chipmunks & The Chipettes- We Are Family (Movie Version) w/ lyrics

Coloring

May 16: Stories remind us who we are as anti-racists

Story of the week (linked here): Black Girl Magic by Mia Harris

Mindful Moments with Lea about STORY: What Will You Make?

Family Meditation: 

Finding Our Center

Invite the child(ren) to find a stuffed animal to be their meditation friend. It helps to find our center when we are facing conflict or doing challenging work, such as fighting racism.

Centering: Let’s get into our meditation positions.

I wiggle my fingers, I wiggle my toes

I wiggle my shoulders, I wiggle my nose

Now no more wiggles are left in me

I’ll be as still as still can be.

Sit comfortably in your chair or on the floor.

Put your hands on your lap or on your knees.

Sit up nice and tall.

Focus your eyes in front of you.

Find your breath moving in your body in and out.

Mindful Moment:

Stillness stops the worries and brings you back to your center. We all know what it’s like to be mad, when we feel sad, or when, we are worried. When we fight racism, we need to be able to find our center. Which is why it’s so important to develop the practice of stillness and finding your center. Stillness helps us make good choices. Stillness helps us be our best selves.

So let’s be still for a little while together with our stuffed animals, and watch our breathing.

[practice belly breathing where the child(ren) lie on their backs and a little stone or stuffed animal is placed on their tummies. They’re asked to simply observe the stuffed animal or stone moving up and down as they breathe for a minute or two.] – from Early Learning Nation 

Now return to us, here and now. Do you feel more centered now?

Weekly Activities: 

Sock Puppet Production

Using two or more old socks, some permanent or fabric markers, and whatever embellishments you choose/have (yarn, googly eyes, fabric, buttons, glue), create at least two puppets. Use questions and discussion to invite child(ren) to plan, rehearse, and act out a story using their puppets. This activity can be used just for fun or to tackle important issues, like racism or climate change, to help the child(ren) process complex thoughts and/or big feelings through play.

Coloring

May 23: Stories remind us who we are as living and interconnected beings

Story of the Week (linked here): Say Hello by Rachel Isadora

Mindful Moments with Lea about STORY: What Will You Make?

Family Meditation: Bear and Butterfly Mindfulness

Use two puppets, different from each other, or 2 of anything, such as pipe cleaners, which can be made into pretend puppets. 

Parent/guardian: Bear and Butterfly, welcome, we were just starting our meditation together,  breathing in and out, and being present in the moment.

Butterfly: Oooo, may I join you? Butterflies love to meditate. Is that OK?

Parent/guardian:: Of course! Please do! I’d love to be mindful with you, Butterfly.

Bear: Me, too. I like being still and mindful on my forest rambles. Can I join you too?

Parent/guardian:: Yes, of course. I’d love to be mindful with a bear as well! Today, we are being mindful of how we are interconnected through the story of life.

Butterfly: Oooh. the story of life, that’s beautiful and so much like butterfly meditation. I take deep breaths when I land on a flower, just smelling it and loving where I am in the moment. I become that flower, and become part of its story. I breathe in beauty and breathe out love.

Bear: Well, I know that feeling Butterfly. The story of life is part of a bear’s life, too. The story of life is all around me when I ramble in the quiet forest. I take deep breaths and listen to the sounds. Sometimes I just sit against a tree. Sometimes I see a spider’s web to gaze at. I follow each little web line. I breathe in peace. I breathe out love.

Butterfly: That’s beautiful, Bear. I can just imagine that web. I invite all of us to imagine that web. Breathing in and breathing out.

[PAUSE for a moment]

Bear: Butterfly, do you know what came to mind, just then? I was wondering how you and I are interconnected in the story of life? Have you ever thought about that Butterfly?

Butterfly: Hmmm, that’s a bit hard for me to do. You are big and furry. You ramble.  You have ears and paws. I have wings. I feed on nectar from flowers. I fly and flit around.

Bear: And yet, we are both interconnected somehow. Let’s think about how we are interconnected for a bit. We both live in nature, we both eat and drink, we both like to live and be mindful in the present. We both are breathing in and breathing out. 

Butterfly: Wait, I get it! We are different, yes, but we both are part of this story of life on this beautiful earth.  We both have a place because we are alive AND we both are friends. I see our interconnectedness now!

Bear: That’s right! You and I and everyone here are part of LIFE, in all its beauty. We are breathing the same air; we all are a part of the web of life.

Butterfly: OK, that’s great. AND I’m ready to be still and breathe a bit more, just enjoying the moment.

Bear: Yes, me, too. And everyone here, too. Breathe in peace and breathe out love for all of life.

[PAUSE together for a few moments.]

Butterfly: That was perfect! It really makes me feel peaceful and calm. [Deep breath.] Now I’m ready to do some more flitting and flying. Bye, friend! Bye, everyone! See you in the story of life again sometime!

Bear: [Deep breath.] Me, too. I really enjoyed being still. And now, I’m ready to ramble around and check out some logs and a creek I passed a while ago. Maybe I’ll go splash a bit just for fun. See you around, Butterfly! See you around, everyone!

Parent/guardian:: See you around Bear and Butterfly, it was great sharing a mindful moment with you two. I will think of Butterfly becoming one with the flowers and Bear gazing at the spider’s web as I move through the day, I hope you do too.

Weekly Activities: 

Family Show and Tell

Each family has stories they tell about themselves, often associated with an object or a picture. Start this activity with a conversation and family scavenger hunt through the home, encouraging each family member to find an object or picture that reminds them of a story of a particular time, memory, or person. 

Once each person has found their object or picture, invite one another to share their story.  Discuss the things each person has brought to the activity.  What kinds of things bring up family stories? What do they have in common? Why is it important to remember and share family stories? Discuss how our stories connect us (across generations, places, etc).

Consider recording each person telling their story to enjoy in the future, maybe at a holiday or other family gathering.

Coloring

May 30: Stories remind us who we are as courageous people (Memorial Day)

Story of the Week (linked here): Remarkably You by Pat Zietlow Miller

Mindful Moments with Lea about STORY: What Will You Make?

Family Meditation: Meditative Story on Winds of Change

Use the story of John Murray, from Tapestry of Faith, Creating Home,, adapted for young children, as a Meditative Story. Click here to check out the description of this new mindfulness meditation.

Centering: Let’s now get into our meditation positions.

I wiggle my fingers, I wiggle my toes

I wiggle my shoulders, I wiggle my nose

Now no more wiggles are left in me

I’ll be as still as still can be.

Sit comfortably in your chair or on the floor.

Put your hands on your lap or on your knees.

Sit up nice and tall.

Focus your eyes in front of you.

Find your breath moving in your body by taking in one breath through your nose and then slowly breathing it out through your mouth.

Mindful Moment: Winds of Change

You never know what the wind will blow in or which way the wind blows. The wind can change directions and maybe change your life. It happened a long time ago to John Murray. As a young man, John Murray had had a fine education, a good job, a loving family. Life was good. Then, suddenly, everything changed. John Murray’s wife and their son became sick and died. John lost his job, lost all his money, and was put in jail because he could not pay his bills.

Imagine a time when you felt sad. Breathe in, breathe out. Share that time with us if you wish. [PAUSE]

John was a very religious man, a Universalist, who had even spoken about a loving God. Now, he was not so sure what he believed. Friends urged him to go someplace where he could start again.

He sailed for America on a ship named the Hand In Hand. The wind blew the ship toward  New York. But then, fog rolled in and the ship got stuck in New Jersey instead. John and a few others volunteered to leave the ship, go on land, and get supplies.

As he was walking ashore, John saw a farmhouse with a small church beside it. It belonged to Thomas Potter. Thomas Potter greeted John, gave him food for everyone on the ship, and invited John to come back and have dinner with him that night.

When John came back, Thomas Potter showed him the church. Thomas Potter said that he believed in a loving God who wanted to accept all people. John said that he believed the same thing. Thomas Potter told John that he had built the church and was waiting for a minister. “You, John, are that minister. I have waited for you a long time”.

When have you been surprised at something? [PAUSE] Breathe in. Breathe out. Share that time if you wish.

John did not want to hear this. He was not a minister anymore and he was determined to never work in a church again. Yet, Thomas Potter seemed confident that John was the Universalist minister he waited for and he asked John to preach on Sunday. “I can’t preach on Sunday,” said John, “because as soon as the wind changes, my boat will set sail and I must be on it.” “If the boat has not sailed by Sunday, will you preach?” asked Thomas Potter. “If I am still here on Sunday, I will preach,” said John Murray.

No wind blew. No ship sailed. John Murray preached on Sunday morning in the chapel Thomas Potter built for him many years before.

When has something that seemed really amazing happened to you? [PAUSE] Breathe in. Breathe out. Share that time if you wish.

The Universalist message of the power of love was good news to many who heard. It was good news for John. He now wanted to be a minister more than anything and he did, for many years, and helped start Universalism in America.  He was thankful for Thomas Potter who built a church, just for someone to tell about love.

Who do you owe a special thanks to, who helped you when you were sad? [Pause] Share that person if you wish.

Weekly Activities: 

NPR Storycorps Podcast

StoryCorps began in October of 2003. One of StoryCorps core principles is public service. StoryCorps’ mission is to preserve and share humanity’s stories in order to build connections between people and create a more just and compassionate world.

StoryCorps’ purpose is to remind one another of our shared humanity, to strengthen and build the connections between people, to teach the value of listening, and to weave into the fabric of our culture the understanding that everyone’s story matters. At the same time, we are creating an invaluable archive for future generations.

Check out StoryCorps together this month.

Coloring