Week 5 – How did it go today?

What happened in the children’s religious education classes today? What worked well? What do you wish went better? What would you do differently next time?

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2 replies on “Week 5 – How did it go today?”

Teaching the preschoolers today was fun. In both preparation and execution. I felt spiritually challenged – sometimes in unexpected ways.

First, I decided to look at the lesson in the curriculum earlier in the week, to encompass fully the ideas there, and to let them percolate for a longer period. When I saw that the lesson was going to be “I Can Move” in Celebrating Me and My World, I was delighted. I had been sitting too long and embraced the invitation to move!

But then the first “oh no!” After a quick search and checking in with Hong, I realized the lesson’s books and music were not in the church library. So with a credit at Borders, I went to look for a new set. At Borders, I remembered – my, what a lot of junky choices for music! Do we really want to listen to Mickey Mouse’s or Dora’s voices singing at Sunday School? No. I will protect my sensibilities (and the children’s) by not giving into Disney’s domination of the market. So I kept hunting around… My daughter was happy to read while I browsed, and the store clerk worked very hard as a team-mate to find a simple, fun version of the hokey-pokey. She and I laughed together about the arduous quest. When I noticed my husband was itching to get home- and didn’t dive into the humor and spiritual growth in all these minutes ticking away, I thanked the clerk and agreed we’d look on iTunes from home. (Oh, darn, bookstores really will go extinct, even Borders- just too much trouble and time? I was giving it my best shot – related, receptive, exploring and playful…but still, a no go.) G didn’t intend to be dis-spiriting – he mentioned how we could save our $26 credit for another time – maybe even Christmas gifts to each other – cool.

As my tired little family got into the car to head home I realized I needed one more supply. It was a Jello instant pudding mix – and Safeway wasn’t too far away, could we make it? Since we needed milk at home, anyway, we made a quick stop. This was another spiritual field trip for us as it turns out… G and I had been wanting to show L that Safeway is a terrific place to shop despite her 9-yr-old prejudices against it. She will learn through experience that all grocery stores are created equal. Her black and white thinking about healthy vegetarian vs. junk food will move into the lovely span of grays that make up real life. Cool! I was confident – smug with myself about how teaching CRE keeps us expanding our perspectives. I really was earnest about it. Sieze the moment, I thought.

So, as the store’s lay-out was new, we vigorously oriented ourselves and took our journey over to the jello lane — past the aisle of cold cuts, and one of krispy cremes… Unfortunately the organic produce I promised L was at the far end, out of sight. When we arrived at our destination, and read the jello instant pudding label – we quickly realized the color dyes and sugar and preservatives made it a no go. I chose not to cave to convenience but to commit to CRE as a darn good place to live one’s principles, to walk the walk. So I settled on milk and organic chocolate syrup as a good-enough substitute for the lesson – the point of which was no more than to shake food up and move. My very own Yes! to independent, out-of-the-box thinking.

So now the lesson… (and by the way iTunes was terrifically fun to browse for songs: Hokey Pokey by Chenille Sisters, Where is Thumbkin? and Shake Your Sillies Out by the Wiggles, Jump Up by Dan Zane. Also Raffi’s The More We Get Together and Willoughby Wallaby Woo. In case the children wanted more I also had If You’re Happy and You Know It by Rob Newhouse and I’m the Only Me by Tom Chapin.)

So there were 2 children and one dad. I brought the childcare providers into the circle, too, for everyone to learn names. We had fun with the songs/ games; the girl clinging to her dad relaxed a bit and slowly connected with the activity and group. In between two groups of songs, we lay down and got quiet with our bodies, taking some transitioning time, and noticed our heartbeat and breathing, and where we touched with the floor. Throughout the lesson, the boy eagerly shared about the toy frog he brought with him.

Finally, the snack activity! We washed hands and I brought out the tray with yogurt cups and lids, milk, organic chocolate syrup, cinnamon, napkins, and a lipped measuring cup for small hands to pour their own milk. The dad especially liked how I put small (half-teaspoon) dabs of chocolate in each cup before the children added their milk. “With a small dab there is plenty of flavor,” he noted. Everyone enjoyed shaking up the chocolate milk; while slurping it all up (1-2 half-cups each), we sat and talked casually around the table – about foods we like, climbing trees safely, and of course B’s toy frog. Afterward, in free play, the dad and I helped the two children build a tower for the frog king. In the last few minutes, we had a closing good-bye, saying we hoped each of us would have a good week of moving our bodies in joyful ways.

While I was cleaning up, a second and third parent came in and hung out a little bit as several children kept up with building the tower into a castle. I hadn’t seen one of the parents, a friend, for awhile, at least not enough to talk much. It was lovely to have even a few minutes of relaxed time, with the kids at play, to just BE together. We happened upon a conversation where I realized her daughter could have a serious, chronic illness and it’s been on their minds awhile. I was glad we had had enough time of just BEING together that she offered me the privilege to know more deeply about their lives.

Hey, Laura, thanks for the great detailed post about your teaching stint.

I like the way you point out how teaching Sunday school is a way to live out your spiritual/political values (no overly commercial yucky music, no food with chemical additives, etc.) — this is something I have not thought about enough, and you have given me lots to chew on.

I also was moved by what happened as you were cleaning up — a parent came in, and you had time to talk, and be part of a conversation that turned very serious. I was inspired by the way clean-up turned into a moment of spiritual companionship.

(P.S. I walked into Laura’s class while they were doing the Hokey-Pokey, and it looked like they were all — adults and kids — having a blast. I think maybe I should ahve stayed and danced with them, but alas I had something else I had to do.)

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