Shared Experiences 2016 – Part 1

 

July 17th: We’re Here for a Reason and Each of us Matters

A beautiful book, by author Nancy Tillman, called “You’re Here for a Reason” inspired us to remember that each of us matters, each of us is equally special and that all the small parts of our lives are part of a bigger picture that we cannot always see – a picture that makes up the story of our life here and now. We talked about how our story is linked to the stories of all the people we know and that we touch each other’s lives in many ways. Children shared beautiful thoughts about the people who especially matter to them and to whom they especially matter.

The story also illustrated, through words and pictures, how small kindnesses can travel and spread and surprise us. We made ribbons of kindness – lengths of rainbow ribbon with words about kindness on them – to fly, play or dance with or thread somewhere at home… These ribbons remind us of the importance and the delight of kindness in our world. 

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We also sat in the warm sunshine outside and shared the story of ‘The Little Lost Robin’ (by Baguley and Macnaughton). This gentle story tells of the unexpectedly special friendship between a hare and a robin that sees them helping each other in brave and tender ways. These characters mattered to each other just as we matter to each other, and they expressed their care and joy. To remind them of this story, children made tiny matchbox tree homes for little birds. One child thought to make her box a ‘Worry Box’ so that she could open it up and whisper her worries to the bird who could then sing them away. 

 

Some children enjoyed the relaxing experience of painting.
Three girls made one artwork with their paintings together – ‘Fireworks over the ocean at sunset’. 

 

We finished with a Presence Meditation – a way of remembering that we are here and now in the present moment, with God, our self and one another. We learnt gentle actions to the words
“You are here, I am here, we are here ” and repeated this with quiet, deep breathing in between. A peaceful way to end our time together.

 

 

June 19th: A Colourful Life

It was a grey, rainy day today…perhaps the perfect setting for thinking about ways to bring splashes of colour to our world. There are so many ways we use weather and colour language to describe our feelings, so we talked about these…and how we have to learn to find ways to help ourselves find happiness and hope when we feel a bit sad or grey. We chatted about ways that we can do this and ways that we can do kind things for others to help them feel more ‘colourful.’ 

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We enjoyed a delightful new book, “The girl who made rainbows”, (set in Newtown, Sydney and written by Warrington, Williams and Chiles).
It uses street art, simple text and splashes of colour to show how one girl brought colour to her rather grey neighbourhood.

We used colourful, corrugated rainbow card to make shapes and pictures, like the ones in the book, and made plans about how to hide these shapes in our homes or at school. Children had many creative ideas about ways this would make people smile and feel colourful.

We also had a relaxing time making God’s Eyes. These are special weavings that have been made for thousands of years, in places such as South America. These traditional, symbolic craftworks were woven as a contemplative practice and given as blessings. They symbolised people’s belief that God sees and understands everything. 

We listened to the beautiful story ‘You, Me and the Rainbow’ (by Petrea King). This book tells how every colour of the rainbow has lovely images and how sending rainbows to each other is a way of sending our love and saying a prayer. We made sun-catchers to hang up, so that the colours would remind us of this.

We ended with a ‘Rainbow Colours Meditation’. This is easy to do at home…

Lie comfortably on your back, loose and relaxed.
Breathe in gently and deeply a few times.
Close your eyes and imagine that you are looking up at a rainbow in the sky. Picture all the colours.
Lift your hand up to the rainbow and choose a colour.
Bring it down to your heart and hold it there.
Think of all the things that you love that are this colour.
Let these thoughts make you feel colourful inside.
Using your imagination, send this good feeling to someone else as well.
Lift up your other hand and choose another colour.
Bring it down to your heart and hold it there.
Choose as many colours as you like to do this with…
When you are ready, open your eyes again and sit up.
Be glad of all the colours in your world. 

 

May 22nd: Perfect Moments

Our theme of ‘Perfect Moments” was all about noticing how each day offers us many perfect moments if we know how to look, listen and pay attention. We talked about how a perfect moment is a moment when we are aware of something wonderful, beautiful, happy, exciting or peaceful…when our hearts feel content. We shared lots of examples like warm hugs from friends, a beautiful smile, seeing a colourful bird, patting our pets.  We also thought of moments like finishing a piece of work, getting home from a long day at school or scoring a goal! These are perfect moments in a day when things feel wonderful.

We also talked about how perfect moments are often just little moments – they can be short bits of our day, but they are gifts. Sometimes we think everything is going badly and we feel glum or cranky! But if we remember to notice these gift moments we can learn to be glad of the good things that help us to get through difficult things. We can treasure the special moments of joy.

Here is how our stories and art activities linked together:
‘Perfect’ (by Parker and Blackwood) describes all kinds of lovely things that make a day perfect. Children made booklets with things that make a day perfect for them. There were pictures of funny ideas, favourite meals, friends and family, hobbies and sports. One child drew a picture on her first page of happy thoughts and said: “A day is good when I start it with happy thoughts so that is why I drew that first.” We also made some cards or posters by turning our thumb prints into characters.

‘Little One’ (by Jo Weaver) tells the story of a mother bear teaching her cub all about life  – from how to fish to how to be gentle with friends. We reflected on people who have taught us important things that help us to have positive lives. We wrote letters to these people to thank them. We talked about how sending letters is a way of making perfect moments for others. Some children wrote mystery letters that they planned to hide in their home or sneak into their letterboxes. One child said “When Mummy thinks I am feeding the cat I will also be posting the letter for her and she won’t know who it was from!” 

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‘Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge’ (by Fox and Vivas) has many layers of meaning. We focused on how ordinary things became symbols and helped memories to be triggered. We thought about what things are symbols for us; what ordinary things can be meaningful and help us to remember special, positive things. We decorated little boxes and collected  things to put into them. One child put lots of smiley face beads inside – one for every person she could think of who smiled at her! Someone else collected butterfly and heart shapes that she said made her happy. 

We noticed how much our bulbs have grown! We remembered how we had planted our names and the names of people we could be kind to…we committed to this again! Good intentions grow and flower in the world, just like these bulbs. 

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May 1st: Caring for our Memories

Today our theme was ‘Caring for our Memories’.
We spoke about how we all have millions of memories and that we are always making new memories – every minute of the day! It is important that we feel safe in our memories and that we create many, many positive memories for our minds and hearts to treasure. As always, we began with an Acknowledgement of Country. Today we also remembered that Aboriginal people believed that the land held memories and that there were sacred places for special memories. In our Gathering Circle, each of us described a place that holds particularly special memories for us. For some it was a particular nook at home, for others it was a holiday place or somewhere in nature. 

Our first story today was ‘The Memory Tree’ (by Britta Teckentrup). Though a little sad, it is also a beautiful story about remembering people we love and how kindnesses and special times are never forgotten. The symbol of the tree reminded us that beautiful thoughts grow in us and in the world. We made trees to take home to put photos in. 

Our second story was ‘Together Always’ (by Edwina Wyatt and Lucia Masciullo). It is a delightful story about how friendship is created by doing special things together, doing kind things for each other and by remembering one another even when we want to do different things or don’t see each other as often. We shared stories about the friends we all have who we enjoy seeing often or whom we might only see occasionally. We talked about how all our friends are treasured in our memories and our hearts. We made portraits of ourselves or our friends, to keep or give away.

In our ending Gathering Circle, we reflected on memories that make us smile and talked about how important it is to recall happy memories, especially at the end of the day as we are going to sleep. We thought of some happy memories and held them close to our hearts in a short meditation. We read a reflection called ‘Before I Sleep’ that children took home with them.
It is here for anyone else who would also like it:
‘Before I Sleep’ reflection

 

April 10th : Your Name, Your Story

Today we invited children to think about their name as the title of their life story. We reflected on the importance of how our names are said. Children shared their nicknames and the special words people have for them. We talked about how we feel when our names are said in a kind and loving way. We practised saying our own names with kindness. We did the Fist-hand-heart Meditation together (see below for details). 

Through sharing the story ‘Sad, the Dog’ (By Sandy Fussell & Tull Suwannakit), we thought about how our name and how we are spoken to shape how we feel about ourselves. We also considered the people in our world whose name we could try to say with more kindness – maybe someone who is lonely or tricky at school or someone we are often cranky with!

As a symbol of our intention to say our own names and others’ names with kindness, we wrote our own name and the name of someone else onto little pieces of paperbark. We buried these into a pot of soil and planted bulbs at the top. We will watch the bulbs grow into flowers, just as we can notice kindness grow in our hearts.

Children took home a bulb for planting, to remember this ritual.
They took home a bulb in flower, to celebrate our first anniversary of Kaleidoscope!

Children also took home some beautiful works of art that reminded them of their experiences. 

 

Fist-hand-heart  Meditation

Sit or lie comfortably. Breathe slowly.  Close your eyes.
Make your hands into tight fists, so that it feels hard and uncomfortable…how does this make you feel? Perhaps you feel cross or angry, maybe you feel tight and wound-up, perhaps you feel stressed…

Now very slowly open your hands…start to relax the muscles in your fingers, slowly open your fingers, slowly unfold your hand…how does this make you feel? Maybe you feel more relaxed…perhaps you feel a sense of relief as your hands unfold…maybe you feel more open, making space for love again…maybe you feel peace flow through you…

Now put one hand on top of the other and feel how warm they are. Open hands can receive love and accept goodness. Move your hands to your heart…feel the warmth of your hands spread to your chest…How does this make you feel?…Perhaps you feel kindness for yourself and love for who you are… Whisper your name very softly a few times…use your kindest voice.… in this moment remember that you are created, you are held, you are loved.

Slowly put your hands back in your lap and open your eyes. Remember that this is a meditation that you could do for yourself anytime you needed some kindness. It is a way of remembering to be self-kind.

 

2 thoughts on “Shared Experiences 2016 – Part 1

  1. My daughter says Kaleidoscope is AWESOME!! She loves it because of all the craft. I love it for her because she always comes home with a smile and lovely things to say.

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  2. Re: Perfect moments day. I attended that day as an adult helper and found it to be so much more than enabling the children to enter into the activities mindfully. In also partaking in the activities I found myself being able to lose my ‘serious and organised’ adult self for long enough to get a sense of what the children might be experiencing. Afterwards I considered that the space that is offered is unique and extraordinary in its qualities, for the chance to be both childlike and contemplative. There were many ‘perfect moments’ brought to mind, and probably quite a few experienced, that day. And these will be the moments that, as grown ups in later life, the children here will recognise, and perhaps even remember, in later perfect moments of their own. At such times they may reflect that they have been in such a space before, and be deeply grateful for it. This is an immeasurable gift.

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