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Book Reviews: November/December 2013

Preparing Hearts and Minds: An Activity Book for All Ages

Friends United Meeting, 1998, $15

Often I find myself at a complete loss for activities that will aid in instruction about Quakerism. Preparing Hearts and Minds has been a treasure of a resource, not only for teaching in a Sunday School class, but also as activities to utilize in my Children’s Moments.

For example, under the category of “Worship”, there is a preschool activity about centering. Anyone who has a preschool aged child knows how difficult it is for that child to slow down, let alone quiet themselves enough to center. I had all the children of my meeting do the activity while I softly spoke about thinking about God, wondering about him and listening very carefully. The children got very quiet as they focused on their coloring and watched the flowers unfold in the bowl of water. One of the boys said, “That’s just like me! God helps me open.” It was a pretty impressive thought for a four-year old.

The best part of this curriculum is the amount of activities and the various Quaker themes covered. I also like the fact that I can add to the curriculum and create more tabs as I find other activities that may enhance the program.

It is quite the useful resource for a First Day/Sunday School program. Even better, starting in January this curriculum will be on sale at Friends United Press for half off. It is my hope everyone will enjoy the riches found in these pages and will continue to add to its repertoire. It is worth every penny.

Annie Glen
Dublin Friends Pastor
Dublin, Indiana

Kids Can Know the Way: Kids Can Club

MennoMedia, 2013, 89 pp; 19.99

The Kids Can Club is a series of resources designed for children’s clubs, midweek programs, Sunday night, Children’s Camp, or other settings. Each of them: Kids Can Be Blessed, Kids Can Catch the Love, Kids Can Live Upside Down, Kids Can Make Peace, Kids Can Get It Right and Kids Can Know the Way are formatted in 10 sessions each. Every session centers on a story of Jesus as he interacts with friends — old and new. Each of the sessions are designed to encourage and challenge children to consider the way of Jesus and how even today, one can follow his way.

What is impressive is the idea that this program can be used in many ways. I have thought Kids Can Know the Way would make a great VBS program. The curriculum is geared for children from preschool to fifth grade and can be used in multi-aged groups. Mostly, this program is structured in such a way that the children are actively learning through songs, crafts, activities and discussion. I like the hints that are given to help teachers manage the whole program including how to work with unwanted behavior.

It is another series I would recommend for any church who have children of all ages. With many Quaker churches/meetings serving a few children of many ages, this series provides an organized program that will be beneficial to all of them.

Sparkling Still: A Quaker Curriculum for First Day School or Home Use for Children Ages 3-8

The Sparkling Still Working Group of Friends General Conference FGC QuakerPress, 2013, 89 pp., $12.50

Sparklers was a curriculum created in 1982 and became a favorite for many First Day teachers, including me. It consisted of many creative lessons that taught children about Quaker life. My daughters, now ages 23 and 28, loved coming to meeting as they found First Day school helping them know God and how God wanted children to live. The activities were fun and age appropriate.

Sparkling Still is the update of the much loved resource and is different from the old. It takes on issues that affect our culture today such as: grief, divorce, extreme weather, divorce, bullying and much more. An enjoyable and handy feature of this curriculum is a step-by-step master lesson plan allowing the teacher to design the program to fit the needs of the particular meeting.

Interestingly, Sparkling Still focuses more on the process of teaching and lesson planning rather than the lessons themselves. There are only seven sample lessons. The authors state, “Think of Sparkling Still as a trail map for the early miles of both the ‘inner experience trail’ and the ‘lived faith trail.’ The trails will weave in and out and overlap along the way.”

The sub-group that created this update have provided a new, more contemporary booklist providing the core element of each lesson and about which to wonder. It is their hope the lessons learned will extend to the family to assist them deal with the many societal changes that have occurred since the creation of Sparklers.

This book is full of many, many helpful hints to design and implement a very creative Quaker education. It is one that I believe will be as beloved as its predecessor.