Life of The Buddha

marriage-coloured
from buddhanet.net

Buddhanet is a great website for people of all ages to learn about Buddhism, for people who want to follow the Buddhist path, those who have no prior knowledge and everyone in between.

We began by telling the story of Siddhartha Gautama using the printable picture book you can find here.  The whole book is 93 pages long so I chose 20 pages that I felt were the key images and told an abridged version.

buddha page
from buddhanet.net

The main points I wanted to convey were that Siddhartha had been a prince and wanted for nothing, he saw old, sick and dead people, this shocked him and he wanted to discover a way to help them from suffering.  He then saw a monk and decided to leave his family and riches behind to become a monk to discover the root and cure for all human suffering.  He tried to realise this through asceticism, by refusing all comfort, including food and water but realised that if he did not look after his basic needs he could die before understanding the world.  After eating and drinking he sat on a mat under a tree and mediated until he reached an enlightened state.  He traveled far, teaching people that greed was the root of suffering and speaking to people of all ages and backgrounds as equal.

I then mixed the pages up and as a group we put them in the right order on the floor.  This helped the children learn the story and meant they could see it all at once, so could look at the images in their own time.

Each child chose an image to colour in and take home.

This was a good introduction to The Buddha but it’s a big story with a lot of ideas to fit in one session.  I think I will revisit the story again and spread it over a month to explore it and some of the questions and ideas it raises in more depth.

Iqbal Masih

Iqbal-Masih-300x300
http://moralheroes.org/iqbal-masih

 

Iqbal was one of the people we looked at during our theme on justice and standing up for what is right.

Iqbal was taken to work in a factory from the age of 4 as he had been used as security against a loan taken out by his parents.  Several years later, he attended a Builder’s Union meeting and discovered that for the past few years, he had been kept working illegally but due to a corrupt government and police force the law had never been enforced.  He spoke to the crowd and they rallied to get him and his fellow slaves free.

Iqbal then traveled the country and the world, speaking out against child slavery and it is estimated that over 3000 children escaped after hearing his story.  He also traveled abroad to tell his story and wanted to become a lawyer to fight for all bonded children to be free.

At the young age of 13 he was shot dead.

We read his story in the book Iqbal: A Brave Boy from Pakistan it is suitable for under 9 year olds.  For older children or for a more in depth background, this graphic explores his life in more detail.

Some of the questions I offered were…

Is there anything unfair in the story?
Is it right for people to own children?
Should children be forced to work if they can earn money to help their family?
What kind of jobs do you think people would use children for?

We discussed that children could be used to go into small places, or for delicate work such as in the carpet factory or stitching small things.  Also that it was not very long ago that it became illegal for children to do dangerous work in the UK and that even their great grandparents may have started working rather than go to secondary school.  We rounded up with the realisation that in many places in the world, children are still being forced to work rather than be able to play or to go to school.

Activity

We did paper weaving for the craft activity in this session.  We did simple weaving but for older children or adults it is easy to adapt to more complex designs using larger pieces of paper and/or thinner strips.

There is a good tutorial for simple paper weaving here and here is some inspiration for more advanced designs.

Follow Sara’s board Iqbal Session Craft Ideas on Pinterest.

Story of a Brave Girl and Boy from Pakistan

malala iqbal coverThis is a double book telling the story of Malala and Iqbal, two children who were injured whilst standing up against injustice.

 

 

Malala, is reasonably well known but the iqbalstory of Iqbal is less familiar.

Iqbal was taken to work in a factory from the age of 4 as he had been used as security against a loan taken out by his parents.  Several years later, he attended a Builder’s Union meeting and discovered that for the past few years, he had been kept working illegally but due to a corrupt government and police force the law had never been enforced.  He spoke to the crowd and they rallied to get him and his fellow slaves free.

Iqbal then traveled the country and the world, speaking out against child slavery and it is estimated that over 3000 children escaped after hearing his story.  He also traveled abroad to tell his story and wanted to become a lawyer to fight for all bonded children to be free.

At the young age of 13 he was shot dead.

malalaFor those unfamiliar with Malala’s tale, she and some other girls, continued her education in the face of great obstacles, including being shot in the head.  The world, inspired by her story pulled together to transport her to the UK where she survives and now travels the globe, telling her story and raising support for girls who do not get an education.  She is the youngest Nobel Peace Prize winner.

We did two sessions on this book, both exploring the theme of standing up for justice.

The session on Iqbal can be found here.  Malala to follow.

Grandfather Ghandi

Written by the grandson of Mahatma Ghandi, Grandfather Ghandi is a story of a very personal moment in a very public life.  Arun and his family have left tgrandfather ghandi coverheir fairly typical life to live in his grandfather’s village.  Arun is happy and excited to be living with his grandfather but he does not fit in very well as the way of life is not what he is used to.

One day he loses his temper at another child and feels he has let down his family name.  “How could he, a Ghandi, be so easy to anger?”  His grandfather explained in a beautiful manner that everyone, even he, feels anger but it is how you channel the anger that matters.

We really liked this book, the illustrations are evocative of a hot and dusty environment and the story was easy for the children to relate to.  It assumes some prior knowledge of Mahatma Ghandi, which I didn’t cover.  This would have helped with the children’s understanding of the situation at the start of the book and the reverence that he was held in, but the story itself is of the relationship between a grandson and grandfather and this came across well with the children.

We had a conversation about why people get angry and what happens when they do.  Also about how to channel the energy of anger in useful ways rather than destructive ones.

The children were then invited to draw pictures depicting how it feels to be angry, here are some of the images created.

Ghandi kids pics

A Penguin Love Story

And Tango Makes Three‘ is the and tango makes 3 book covergorgeous true story about two male penguins at the New York Central Park Zoo who set up nest together and were given an abandoned egg to care for.

The illustrations work so well with the tone of the story telling and I think it is a lovely book for any child or church children’s bookshelf.

We had worked from books for several weeks so to mix things up a bit, I showed this YouTube video of the story.

Suggested Craft Activities

penguin_mask_craft  Penguin Masks 

This is a really simple penguin craft if you are short of time.

 

pnt-093Toilet Roll Penguin

This is the craft we did, it’s also simple but a little bit more fiddly so best for those with better cutting skills (age 5+) and a longer session.  We needed quite a bit of adult guidance to get these done in time

 

 

The Family Book

family book coverThe Family Book by Todd Parr is a colourful book showing how families can be different while maintaining the essential things that make a family a family.  It saddens me that this is a banned book in some places because of it’s references to same sex parents.

Parr uses a variety of animals and people to show every type of family I can think of without placing any as better, or more normal, or different unusual than others.  20160126_201940 This is one of my toddler’s favourite books because of it’s bright colours and simple images but the children in our group (eldest is 6) all enjoy it and it’s one that gets asked for when it’s free choice story time.

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This is one of my favourite pages as it touches on a big subject but is open to interpretation so the children can understand on may levels.

 

Todd Parr has written several books in this style, I’m looking forward to reading the rest of his work.

Martin Luther King

In keeping with our theme of Justice and to acknowledge Martin Luther King Jr’s birthday (January 18th).  He is the subject of this session.

We have A Picture Book of Martin Luther King, Jr., which is an informative image lead biography.  There is a nice YouTube telling of it too.

There aMLK Task imagere many many Martin Luther King Jr. resources around.  I wanted something that could spark conversation so decided on this from Teachers Pay Teachers.

There are various statements and the children have to decide if they are just or unjust.  They range from the reasonably straight forward “Teachers choose the kids with nice clothes to be student of the week” to the more complex, “Parents make decisions for their kids”.  It has some American vocabulary but I plan on reading the statements aloud so will translate on the go.  You could miss out or rewrite the relevant cards.

For an older group of children this could be a pair work or small group activity.  It might be interesting to see how their choices compare and would be a good discussion point for the wider group.

After dividing the statements, the children have the opportunity to come up with their own just and unjust statements.


20160117_120835This session worked well with our 4-6 year old group.  There was some more time at the end of the session so the children drew pictures of things they would like to change in the world.

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Looking Backwards, Looking Forwards

For the first session of the year I like to do an activity where we look back at the year, see where we are and to look forward.  This is quite difficult for younger children who don’t really have much concept of when things have happened.

This year however, I have found this great printable page to use as a focus for this.  It covers past, present and future.  I particularly like the gender and age neutral figure that the children can decorate as themselves.  Also that some prompts are very obvious and others need a bit more thought, making it suitable for a wider range of children.

From http://www.skiptomylou.org/2015-year-in-review-printable

In our group the children range from 4 to 8 and they will all be able to participate in this activity, although the younger ones will likely need quite a bit of help with the actual writing.

How I Use This in a Session

After our opening circle I will ask the children if they know what it means that it is a new year and introduce or discuss the idea of a year being the length of time it takes for the earth to go around the sun.  We can demonstrate this as a group with one child (being the earth) walking around the others (as the sun) speaking the months of the year.

For older children we could introduce the idea of different countries or faiths celebrating the New Year at different points in the sun’s cycle.  E.g. Chinese New Year in February or the Pagan year beginning at Samhain.  Also we could introduce the idea of the lunar calendar.

Round up this section with this or similar – “Whenever the New Year is celebrated it is a good time to look at the year that has just finished and the year that is to come so we are going to think about some of the things that have happened, what is happening now and what we might like to happen in the next year.”

Colour and fill in the activity sheet.

For the closing circle I would ask the children to make some wishes for the next year.  A wish for themselves, a wish for a specific person other than themselves and a wish for the world.

Winter Animals Worksheet

Today at Bright Lights (Sunday School) we looked at what animals do in the winter.  I normally source worksheets from teaching resource websites but I couldn’t find anything that covered the subject in the way I wanted so I made one myself.

The animals are, hedgehog, dormouse, butterfly, swallow, lizard, snake (duh), goose and fish.

The migrating ones are the swallow, goose, butterfly and fish.

The hedgehog, dormouse, lizard and snake hibernate.  Technically reptiles don’t hibernate as it is something only mammals can do but they do sleep through the winter.

We discussed what migrating and hibernating was, did the worksheet and made nests from leaves such as a hedgehog may make to hibernate in.

The children then played at being hedgehogs.  Curling up in to a ball when I pretended to be a predator and snuffling at the ground for worms.  It was a very comical sight.
Activity Tips – For younger children I would pre cut the animals.
If you are colouring in the animals, do this BEFORE sticking or the damp paper will rip.