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Purpose:  A unit for classroom, home, or retreat use to help children heal from sadness and be a friend to others who are sad.

Grown-ups are not the only ones who may find their heart aching and searching for a way to find comfort.  Children can also find themselves facing sadness and not particularly know how to express it or how to deal with it.

Intended Age Group:  Kindergarten to 5th grade

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Open Discussion, Teacher Led Chalkboard List, or Individual List on Paper

1.   Why would you or someone else be sad?  (Answers will vary.)

  • A pet died
  • Someone is being me to me
  • My parents got divorced
  • A relative passed away
  • We moved away from my friends
  • A foster child healing from abuse/neglect
  • An adopted child thinking about their birthparents (possibly feeling guilty since they sincerely love their adoptive parents too)
  • Someone they know was in a car accident

2.  Is it okay to be sad sometimes?  

Yes.  We miss people who move or pass away.  No one likes someone else being mean to them.  Our pets are dear to us and it’s sad when they die because we took care of them.

3.  As Orthodox Christians, what are some ways we can mend our hearts when we are sad?  Why do these help us not be sad anymore?

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 Activities

1.  Be the Bee

Read and discuss the following analogy used by Elder Paisios with your children:

I know from experience that in this life people are divided in two categories.

A third category does not exist; people either belong to one or the other.

The first one resembles the fly. The main characteristic of the fly is that it is attracted by dirt. For example, when a fly is found in a garden full of flowers with beautiful fragrances, it will ignore them and will go sit on top of some dirt found on the ground.  If the fly could talk, and you asked it to show you a rose in the garden, it would answer: “I don’t even know what a rose looks like. I only know where to find garbage, toilets and dirt.” There are some people who resemble the fly.

The other category is like the bee whose main characteristic is to always look for something sweet and nice to sit on. When a bee is found in a room full of dirt and there is a small piece of sweet in a corner, it will ignore the dirt and will go to sit on top of the sweet. Now, if we ask the bee to show us where the garbage is, it will answer: It only knows the good things in life and is ignorant of all evil. This is the second category of people who have a positive thinking and see only the good side of things. They always try to cover up the evil in order to protect their fellow men; on the contrary, people in the first category try to expose the evil and bring it to the surface.

When someone comes to me and starts accusing other people and puts me in a difficult situation, I tell him the above example. Then, I ask him to decide to which category he wishes to belong, so he may find people of the same kind to socialize with.

Bee Activity:

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A.  Print out one sheet for each child participating.  Each child will cut out their bee and three flowers.

B.  For classroom or groups – (The following are suggestions) Have each child write about 1) What did they enjoy most about class today?  2) What do you like most about the person sitting to your right?  3)  What do you like most about the person sitting to your left?

For families – (These can be personalized for each individual family especially if you have a child(ren) who is having a hard time seeing the positive in your family due to any number of circumstances.  The following are suggestions only.) Have each child write about 1) What do they like most about their family?  2) Something they like that mom or dad does for them  3) Something nice their brother or sister does for them

C.  The bee and flowers can be glue to a sheet of construction paper for an individual project or attached to a wall or refrigerator as a group or family project.

 

2.  Have You Filled a Bucket Today?

Read Have You Filled a Bucket Today to the children.  (It is a popular book.  More than likely, you will be able to find it at your local library.)

After reading the story, discuss ways we can make others sad (intentionally or not) and ways we can make others happy.  Is it important to ask for forgiveness when we hurt others?  Is it important to forgive those who have hurt us?  What are ways we can ask for forgiveness?  (Going to confession, Forgiveness Sunday, asking the person to forgive us)

Fill a Bucket Activity:

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A.  How can you fill someone else’s bucket?  How can you fill your own?  (Answers will vary.)

  • Telling my mom and dad ‘I love you’ just because
  • Doing my chores or homework without being asked
  • Holding open a door for someone
  • Inviting someone new to the parish to play with you during Fellowship Hour
  • Offer to get a plate of food for an elderly person who has a hard time walking after Divine Liturgy
  • Put up an elderly person’s plate and cup after they are finished eating
  • Offer to help clean up after Fellowship Hour
  • Put up my own dishes without being told
  • Pick up my toys
  • Brush my teeth without being told
  • Tell my mom or dad thank you for something they’ve done for me

B.  Print out one bucket and one or two sheets of rain drops for each child participating in the activity.  Each child will cut out their raindrops and bucket.  Then have the children write their answers from the discussion above on their rain drops. The raindrops can then be glued onto the bucket.

 

3.  Light a Candle Activity

A.  Have each child light a small taper candle in church and ask them to silently say a prayer for the person who is sad and/or a prayer asking God to guide them to happiness.

B.  For families:  Purchase a seven day candle and light it in church for a loved one who is no longer with you.  (My boys do this for their birth mom on her birthday each year.  It is a day for them to remember her, cherish her, and respect her for bringing them into this world.  Usually, my boys will ask questions about her afterwards and it is an opportunity for them to discuss how much they miss her.)