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.
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.