We follow God’s commandments out of our love for Him. When we love someone – a parent, a guardian, a teacher – we do what they ask so that they may be happy. Even when we’re asked to do unpleasant things, we must be patient in our obedience.
Prayers/readings for study
O Thou the Compassionate God! Bestow upon me a heart which, like unto glass, may be illumined with the light of Thy love, and confer upon me thoughts which may change this world into a rose garden through the outpourings of heavenly grace. Thou art the Compassionate, the Merciful. Thou art the Great Beneficent God. (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Baha’i Prayers)
Lua and the Sick Man. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá asks Lua Getsinger to take care of a sick man. Ruhi Book 3, Lesson 5.
The Bird Hunter. Bahá’u’lláh asks an expert hunter not to kill innocent birds… Ruhi Book 3, Lesson 13.
Simon Says. The classic game. a teacher (or a child) is “Simon” and everyone must do as Simon says, as long as Simon says “Simon says” first.
Circle, Triangle, Square. A memory game from Ruhi Book 3, Lesson 10.
Blind Man. One child plays a blind person, and another acts as a guide. the guide must help the blind person navigate safely through obstacles from one end of a course to the other. var 1: the guide holds the hand of the blind person. var 2: the guide does not touch the blind person and only gives verbal commands. Ruhi Book 3, Lesson 13.
Thank you cards/gifts. cards or gifts for parents, teachers or guardians – works well on Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, parents’ birthdays… something that shows the love and appreciation towards those who we obey.
O SON OF MAN! For everything there is a sign. The sign of love is fortitude under My decree and patience under My trials. (Arabic Hidden Words, no.49)
Say: From My laws the sweet-smelling savour of My garment can be smelled, and by their aid the standards of Victory will be planted upon the highest peaks. The Tongue of My power hath, from the heaven of My omnipotent glory, addressed to My creation these words: “Observe My commandments, for the love of My beauty.” Happy is the lover that hath inhaled the divine fragrance of his Best-Beloved from these words, laden with the perfume of a grace which no tongue can describe. By My life! He who hath drunk the choice wine of fairness from the hands of My bountiful favour will circle around My commandments that shine above the Dayspring of My creation. (Kitab-i-Aqdas, para.4, page 20)
November 14, 2012: The class went well, although we focused mainly on memorizing the prayer and quote rather than the story and other activities. Since several children were showing signs of wanting to let out pent-up energy as we approached the house, running, jumping and screaming, we spent a little time at the outset playing some circle games, such as our usual name game (say your name and associate it with an action) and Tap Hands. Then we continued with the Unity Prayer, asked them about their understanding of unity, and then continued on to learn the quote, identifying difficult words. We had started late and had already spent much of the beginning of class on games, so we skipped straight ahead to our art activity—blow painting, with another brief game as we stepped aside to prepare the paint. We prepared six cups with diluted acrylic paint—red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple—along with a bunch of straws and coloured paper. We showed the children how to pick up the diluted paint with the straw—just cover the top of it with your finger—and asked them to drop bits of paint onto their paper, and then blow it around with the straw. The result was quite impressive!
And fun to make!
The point of the exercise, of course, was to produce a backing for the prayer we had read—copies of which I had printed out before coming. Of course, some of the children put so much paint on their papers that they couldn’t stick the prayer on right afterwards, and had to wait a while before trying again. That just shows that we really need to practice these kinds of projects at home before bringing them to the class, so we have a good idea of how to do them properly. (I’m reminded of the time I tried to teach origami without having learned to do it myself beforehand.) All in all though, this was a fun class, but I’m worried that because we spent so much time on games this time, we might lack time to finish all the other activities next week. Watch this space, I guess?
October 30, 2012: Not bad at all! We held class one day early due to Hallowe’en—we figured there’s no way we could compete with the sheer attractive force of all that candy. All the same, things went really well. We started by gathering the children from outside the apartment as usual; we noticed there was a new girl we hadn’t met before, so we invited her to join us. She’s eleven years old, and fairly articulate. It seems as though she goes to Sunday school, because she easily grasped many of the concepts we shared in class and related them to Christian concepts. After prayers and a short talk about the lesson, we continued with a few games, including the “Freeze & Think” game. When that was done, we embarked upon the painting project we had planned last week: creating a large banner to post up in our host’s home, based on the lesson. It turned out the new girl was very good at drawing, so we asked her to draw a version of the “Fortress of God’s love”, like the one in the colouring page from Ruhi Book 3. Everyone then worked together, paint pots and brushes in hand, to decorate the banner.
October 24, 2012: Our first lesson from the set on obedience! We started off by reviewing what we had learned about prayer, and segued into the lesson on the love of God as a stronghold. To be honest, it was difficult to keep things rolling smoothly this time, as the children were nice and distracted. We tried to mitigate it by starting off with a name game (since we had a new teacher helping out this week) but I think the cards may have been stacked against us from the start. Anyway, we did our best to present the lesson as quickly and smoothly as possible, but found ourselves swimming upstream through a torrent of hands-up-for-unrelated-stories-about-the-latest-movie-I-saw instead of answering the questions that were being asked. should we have given the children more time to decompress before launching into the class? I don’t know. They did well with the prayers, and showed reverence, courtesy and respect, so we expected the rest to go well. And to be honest, things didn’t go that badly—we just had to switch over to doing stretches in our squares and playing a game sooner than we would have liked, which meant less time for memorizing the quote. We did try our best to explain the quote in our own words, though. Oh well—we’ll have another chance next week. Sometimes up, sometimes down. The children were happy to see the finished poster from last time, and we posted it up on the wall of our hosts’ home, with the mother’s permission. We had a long drawing session too, giving out two things for them to work on: a copy of an imagination worksheet I found on Pinterest recently, and a copy of the drawing for this lesson.
“My love is my stronghold…”
We also discussed with them a painting project for next week’s class: to create a large banner to post up in our host’s home—again with the mother’s permission, and based on our lesson. After some consultation, we figured that the banner would likely feature the following: large letters reading “We love God” or something to that effect; a fortress; a moat; a bridge leading into the fortress; a queen in a carriage; lovely flowers; and sharks with lasers (???) We also plan to copy the quote from this lesson onto the banner, to explain the context (at least, I hope). Wish us lots of luck and confirmations!
September 27, 2008: 1.5 hours, 3 children, average age 8-9. we’re back to one teacher again (me). got off to a bit of a rough start (wow, how many times have I written that) and had to go over the rules with the kids. now that I think of it, I totally should have expected to spend this class going over ground rules. one of the children was especially impatient, “we already know the rules!!” (yet was throwing pillows and sitting improperly, etc). so we ended up spending a fair bit of time at the beginning just trying to get ready for prayers, which is never much fun. same child also wanted to read “the longest prayer in the prayer book”; had to reason with him a little on that point (we don’t want to discourage children to say prayers!). so I asked if the children knew people that they really loved talking to and listening to—conversing with—someone to whom they could feel comfortable telling anything. then I explained that praying is the same, but conversing with God. God listens to us, and we are able to tell Him anything that’s on our minds or on our hearts. if we pick a prayer from the prayer book and recite what it says, and yet our minds are elsewhere being silly and not paying attention to what we’re saying, then God wants to hear us and listen to us, but there’s nothing to listen to.
we’ll have to revisit this concept with the children, but especially with that one child—the concept that prayer is not just parroting the words in a book, but is something you genuinely feel. perhaps we should devote a part of one class to “how to choose a prayer”; is this an issue that others have had? how did you deal with it? is it something that becomes clearer to the children as they grow older? is it better to deal with it when they become junior youth? dunno, lol.
craft went very well; we made cards for our parents—I did a run to the new art superstore that opened up close to here, and picked up some really nice materials and stamps for the kids to use. it was genuinely fun to do for all of us—we weren’t many, of course, so that probably helped things go smoothly. kids were very excited to hear that there would be more art projects. need to fit in more games, though, especially for the one child who seems to have a lot of trouble learning without them. it almost seems like we should be taking more time for the class, that an hour and a half isn’t enough. now that our kids are older (8-9) they should have the capacity to keep their attention on the lesson as long as it is reasonably varied, and today’s experience seems to have borne that out.