January 24, 2009: 4 kids (three ~9 yr olds; 1 ~5 yr old); 1.5 hr class. Class went surprisingly well, considering. I started out the day by creating a written activity (word search, to go along with the other written activity); went to print things out and my printer wasn’t working. So I figured, OK, I’ll print them at the Baha’i centre. Took a taxi to the Baha’i centre, since class was starting soon. Got there, and the internet was down (it’s been down since last week!?!!?) Gaaaaaaaaah. So I had to come up with everything on the fly. Miraculously, things went ok. We started with prayers right away, without waiting for latecomers. I found that this helped some of our more unruly kids concentrate on the prayers and not lose too much of their attention. One boy came in late though, and this did provide a bit of distraction, but overall everyone was well-behaved during prayers. It was afterwards that everyone got crazy. I gave them too much leeway i think, and allowed them to carry on too long with disruption, and so i lost control of the class. At a few points i managed to stop the distractions with a very firm “No.”, which actually impressed me. Two of the kids had to have a time out while we played simon says, because they were being too unruly and not listening to directions. I’m still not great at discipline, but I think (hope?) I may be learning a little. 😛
We’ve developed the following materials for our own children’s classes over the years; you might find some of them useful just as they are, or they might help inspire you to create your own materials on different themes.
Our downloadable materials are now divided by language for easier searching.
Do you have materials you’d like to share with us and the world? Get in touch with us!
Today’s lesson: obtaining permission.
Dec. 8, 2007: 1.5 hours, 6 children, average age 7-8. I was skeptical about how this class would turn out, because, to be honest, the topic seemed bizarre at first—how do you explain this Bahá’í law to children? Of course, the curriculum we’re using is quite clear—when we observe this law by asking permission before entering a home or laying hands on someone’s belongings, we are showing them courtesy and respect. So we spoke to the kids about this during the lesson; they seemed to get it, but in retrospect, I think I may have spent too much time talking. we could have integrated some sort of activity to help the children understand, for instance, a short dramatic exercise. that’s for next time, maybe. All in all, this lesson went well. the children found the maze challenging, which was the point behind it—I designed it from scratch to illustrate that we need to have the presence of mind to ask permission before impulsively infringing on someone’s property. in retrospect, this kind of thing applies in many different situations in class—sharing crayons during the colouring portion of class, respecting the property of the Baha’i Centre where we hold our classes, asking for permission before taking snacks out of the cupboards, and so on.
Today’s lesson: seeing a doctor when ill.
Nov. 10, 2007: 1.5 hours, 7 children, average age 7-8. Great class! There is a lot to be said for team efforts. The class started with beautiful prayers—which the children love and vie with each other to say (!)—and continued with songs in which everyone joined in. We had four Haitian children (all related), so one of the songs we sang was “O God, Guide Me” in Haitian Creole, which is fun to sing and has a catchy rhythm. All the kids like singing it. Then we continued on with the lesson, which I had read a few times the night before—I still found I needed the sheet in front of me, though, and I still started to waffle on at some points (caught myself before losing the kids’ attention, though). The children had so much to say about visiting the doctor that we had to moderate the conversation a lot. It was really a topic they got into. So much so, in fact, that while we were working on the activity later on, they were so focused that you could hear a pin drop. Part of that, of course, should fall onto the skill of the teacher who animated that part of the class.
The activity itself worked out quite well; since they seemed to have a natural interest in the topic, it was perfectly natural for them to express their own experiences visiting the doctor’s office. We put together a sheet similar to the one provided in the Alaskan Materials for the Furutan lessons, with a quote at the top, an empty space to draw, and a few lines at the bottom to tell the story. We noticed a few things during the activity: the children shared limited materials together (pencils, markers, etc), which is important for them to develop collaboration skills, and, thanks to having three teachers on hand, we were able to give at least a little time to help each of them bring out their ideas and nurture their own creativity. We focused on getting some of the younger children to practice their handwriting skills, and allowed them to finish by colouring their drawings.
Today’s lesson: ‘abdu’l-bahá.
May 26, 2007: 1.5 hours, 5 children, average age 6-7. Despite procrastinating (!!!) on this lesson up til pretty much the last moment and a rather hasty blitz of last-minute preparation, the content of this lesson turned out rather well. We had a whole set of materials available about ‘Abdu’l-Baha, created by someone (locally?) a few years back for the commemoration of His visit to Montreal in 1912. Very nice materials, including stories and an fill-in-the-blanks exercise sheet—I’ll post it here if I can get permission. We also supplemented these materials with a picture sheet called “What Would ‘Abdu’l-Bahá Do?”, so the kids had plenty to do. (N.B. La version francophone de cet exercise est disponible, titrée Que ferait ‘Abdu’l-Bahá?)
The lesson revolved around four important points about ‘Abdu’l-Bahá—points that everybody has to know about Him:
- ‘Abdu’l-Bahá was the Centre of the Covenant of Bahá’u’lláh.
- ‘Abdu’l-Bahá was the Servant of Bahá.
- ‘Abdu’l-Bahá was the Perfect Exemplar of Bahá’u’lláh’s Teachings. (The “What Would ‘Abdu’l-Bahá Do?” sheet tied in with this.)
- ‘Abdu’l-Bahá was the unerring Interpreter of Baha’u’lláh’s Words.
We discussed these until everyone got it; afterwards, these same points were repeated and illustrated in the materials used—the children cut out the illustrations (very nicely, too) and pasted them onto colouring paper for effect.
No big complaints about this class. The only place where we had a bit of a hiccup was that the fill-in-the-blanks exercise we used asked questions that we hadn’t covered in class, so we had to do tell some extra stories during that portion of the class so everyone could get it.
Also, it was impressive listening to the questions asked by the kids during the lesson. Some of them, rightly so, had (and still have) quite a difficult time understanding why someone would ever have wanted to put Baha’u’llah and ‘Abdu’l-Baha—who were such loving and kind and gentle people—in prison and treat them so badly. We told them what we knew: that certain people in power saw that everyone loved and followed Baha’u’llah, and feared that they would lose their own influence over those people. So, thinking to get rid of that threat to their continued influence, they persecuted and imprisoned Baha’u’llah and His family. These aren’t easy questions to answer, but the fact that the children are asking them shows that there is a real love for ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and Bahá’u’lláh growing in their hearts, and that’s so good to see.