Spirit Play is not the kind of curriculum that you can pull off last minute.
Except I sorta did.
I brainstormed on peace in light of recent worldwide events, namely Paris, but also Kenya, Beirut, and so on.
This led to the story of Sadako Sasaki and the thousand peace cranes, which is a touching story about war, loss, children, action, hope, and, above all, peace. And origami is a great project with all ages.
That led to the idea of the interconnected web of all beings, our seventh principle. A yarn web. This is a standard Unitarian Universalist (and also Girl Scout) bonding activity, as it's a metaphor for connection, interdependence, teamwork, and the like. Plus, it's beautiful.
So, we started class with our usual chalice lighting, which happens to be Gandhi's prayer for peace:
Gandhi's Prayer for Peace
I offer you peace.
I offer you love.
I offer you friendship.
I see your beauty.
I hear your need.
I feel your feelings.
My wisdom flows from the highest source.
I salute that source in you.
Let us work together.
For unity and peace.
We shared our class Joys and Concerns. We followed this with a brief metta meditation for the safety, health, happiness, and ease of all living beings.
I introduced our topics of peace and interconnection, lightly, with gentle references to world events because we have very young pre-K kids and more mature 7th graders, and a few in-between.
Then we did the yarn web. We pulled it, loosened bits of it, stretched it, admired it, and finally dropped it. Not stressing the metaphor too much.
I retold the story of Sadako and her one thousand cranes. And they all opted to do origami as their class work, though I also had materials for Tibetan prayer flags.
We all sat around the table with a pile of origami paper and a few books. Bud and the seventh-grader attempted the actual peace crane, which is a complicated fold. The littlest girl did several flapping butterflies, really getting the hang of the pattern by the end. Sis and another classmate folded pinwheels, while my co-teacher folded a tiny pinwheel, impressing us all.
We talked of origami and other things, enjoying our joint activity.
By the end, both Bud and Sis had vowed to make 1000 of each of their designs, just like Sadako.
And tonight, they were still working on their projects.
Now, that's what I call a successful class--it stayed with them. Whew!