A relay race is a good way to help children understand how the Covenant operates, as it illustrates the idea of successorship—one person comes after another. If the classroom is too small for children to run around, this activity can take place outdoors or in a gymnasium.
Explain to the children that they will be carrying the torch of the Covenant in order to carry forward the religion of God, from its beginning to the present day. The “torch” can be a baton or stick, or a creatively decorated Olympic-style torch that has been prepared beforehand.
Arrange all the children in the class along a path that begins at one end of the classroom and ends at the other. If many children are present, the path can curve around or go back and forth across the room; each child should be able to run for at least four to five seconds. The race will proceed from one end of the path to the other, with each child passing the torch to the next child in line, similar to a relay race. If the torch is dropped, the child who dropped it must pick it up and take it to the next person in line. The goal is to bring the torch all the way along the path in as little time possible, without straying from the path or dropping the torch.
If anyone drops the torch, the race starts over from the beginning. This variation is best used when there is ample time and a relatively small number of participants.
June 23, 2007: 1.5 hours, 4 children, average age 7. Not bad for a class held right after coming back from a week-long road trip across the United States. All told, the lesson itself was what took the most time; one of the difficulties we ran into was getting the kids to be able to pronounce “Universal House of Justice”. We spent the past few lessons going over some of the Central Figures of the Baha’i Faith (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Shoghi Effendi) so this class was part review: what were the four main things we learned about ‘Abdu’l-Bahá? what were the two main things we learned about Shoghi Effendi? Then we asked: what did they both have in common? Answer: they protected the Baha’i Faith after the passing of the One whom they succeeded. That’s how the Universal House of Justice fits in. We brought a picture book with photos of the Arc on Mount Carmel, and explained the basics of what the Universal House of Justice is and what it does. As many times before, we also shared pilgrimage stories with the children—they always seem to have lots of questions when we do that, and since we know our own pilgrimage stories very well (we were there!) it’s not too difficult to tell.