Spirit Play (grades k-6)

Our Philosophy

Spirit Play is based in story and ritual, play and creativity. It gives children the tools to make meaning of their lives and questions such as Who am IWhere did I come from, and What is my purpose, within the container of Unitarian Universalism. We use the Montessori approach with key elements of a prepared classroom environment, child-directed activities, and trained teachers. These elements free the children to choose their own focus after an initial lesson or story within a safe and sacred structure shepherded by two adults.

This style of learning environment encourages independent thinking through wondering questions, offers children real choice within a structure, creates a mixed age community, and develops an underlying sense of spirituality and mystery.

Check out what to expect in Spirit Play below!

Registering for Spirit Play

Before the service, we ask that parents register their children for Spirit Play. You can do this by visiting the tree stump in the classroom wing and tapping on “Spirit Play Registration,” or by using this link. Registering helps us create the safest possible learning experience for your child!

Please do not allow your children to be unsupervised in any of our classroom areas, and please make sure you check out with one of our classroom volunteers before leaving with your child. When a child is not properly checked out, it initiates an emergency search. We also ask that you pickup your child before attending coffee hour so that our volunteers may have plenty of time to engage with their spiritual community as well.

Where To Go, And When

Children should obtain a nametag, just like their parents, either at the welcome desk or from the nametag racks, depending on how long you’ve been attending.

Children begin with their families in the sanctuary for shared worship. It is important to us that our children know that they are part of a larger community than just what takes place in the classroom wing. We want them to know and be known by all the members of the Fellowship, and understand their importance and place in our community.

After the time for all ages, the congregation will sing Go Now Children, and a Spirit Play guide with the sign you see to the left will lead the children to room 6 in the classroom wing for their Spirit Play time.

The Guides

Spirit Play is staffed with enthusiastic and knowledgeable guides who have been trained in the Montessori approach to classroom management. This means they allow the children to make choices and even struggle a bit, only offering help when it is requested or safety is a concern.

Our guides model the values of curiosity and joy, as they share stories and answer questions. They seek to create a calm and engaging environment that is conducive to exploration and community building.

The Experience

The Spirit Play classroom is a highly prepared environment. Children arrive and sit on the rug for a chalice lighting and a shared story with a basket of physical supporting elements to help bring the story to life. After a shared discussion about the story, which is designed to highlight one of our UU principles or central figures, the children are invited into “work time.”

During work time, children can select their own activity from the prepared trays and activity spaces around the room. They may choose to work alone or form a collaborative group to build, paint, write stories, read books, or investigate our natural world with science trays. It is not uncommon to find the whole room silent, as children are deeply invested in their chosen project. Other days, though, you’ll find a raucous explosion of enthusiastic sharing.

When the weather is right, or the children are squirmy, we occasionally end our time together on the playground. When we do, you’ll find the sign to the right on the door of the Spirit Play classroom. To check your child out from the playground, please pass through the classroom find the two exit doors. The door on the left of this pair will take you to the playground. The door to the right will take you to the parking lot. Again, please make sure that a Guide knows you are taking your child.

Please send any questions about our children’s and youth programs to Director of Religious Exploration, Skyla King-Christison at dre@uucorvallis.org

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