When teaching spiritual principles to small children, it helps to have a hands-on activity or craft to go along with the core message. In my previous post –Recycling as a Spiritual Practice – I described an activity where children can use real-life leftover items to make something useful while learning about the importance of caring for our world in a way that is kind and supportive to all people and to Mother Earth! My hope is that the lesson will speak to them on some level each time they see something they can recycle or reuse in a meaningful way.
In this “Let it Shine” lesson the goal is to encourage children to be themselves, and to let the world know who they are with their words and deeds.
When teaching spiritual principles like the Laws of Attraction, Circulation and Harmony (3 separate laws) even very young children can learn that when they give, they receive (circulation); that the way that they act is what they will bring into their lives (attraction); and that when we seek things for ourselves, it’s important to know that it aligns with not only our highest and best Good, but the highest and best Good for all (harmony).
This “radiating” out of who we are is a basic concept and one that can be easily communicated in word and reinforced with a fun craft activity.
Supplies: glass votive cups, colored tissue paper (ask your members to save used paper from gifts they receive), Modge Podge, foam applicators, a small amount of cardboard and flameless candles.
- Have kids tear colored tissue into quarter-sized pieces.Precision not required 🙂
- Cut out a small piece of cardboard or cardstock paper to fit on the bottom of the votive; set aside.
- Apply a thin layer of Modge Podge to outside of votive candle holder and lay small pieces of tissue paper on the sticky surface, overlapping to create a stained glass look.
- Once all the glass is covered, use the foam applicator to dab any pieces of tissue that are sticking up and unglued – you want as flat a surface as possible to create the look of stained glass.
- Tuck any overlapping pieces near the bottom underneath and glue the small round cardboard piece you cut in Step 2 to the bottom.
- Allow to dry
These can be tacky-dry in about an hour if the layers of glue are thin enough.
Drop in a flameless votive to each cup and see the beautiful “stained glass” effect! Talk with the children about how each candle holder is an individual design (this method practically guarantees that no 2 will be the same), provides light and is beautiful to look at.
Remind them that we are like these candles – each one of us is unique, does things at home, at school and in our communities that are useful; and we are all beautiful in our own way. You can also show how if we hide who we are (put the lighted votive under an overturned bowl or cup so that they can’t see the light) that our light cannot go out into the world.
Examples in real life
Sometimes these lessons are difficult to conceptualize for young children so context is everything. For this lesson you can discuss that the “light” that shines out from each person can be their personality, or a special gift or talent they have or even just their behavior.
While encouraging children to be proud of any special talents or abilities is always a positive option, kindness is something that can be universally understood and practiced. Unlike dance or sports, no special talents are required to be kind, so all children – regardless of background, income level or family structure – can relate to the lesson.
With a kind heart, children can “let it shine” at school by being friendly to a new student, helping a student with a physical challenge to play with the group at recess, or by saying something nice about someone when others are being mean.
Sometimes it takes bravery to let our light shine. It might be hard to walk up to someone new and say hello, or to walk away from your group of friends to reach out to a child who is in a wheelchair. It can also be very scary to speak up in support of someone when others are speaking badly about them. The best way to be brave in a tough situation is to practice who we are, every day – to let our lights shine.
Older students may also be introduced to the quote attributed to Ghandi:
“Become the change you wish to see in the world“
We never know when a simple act of kindness on our part will inspire someone else to make the decision to be kind, and isn’t that the best way to share our bright, beautiful and unique light with the world?